Posts Tagged ‘London’

You know, all in all, 2010 was a pretty good year all told. I had some of the worse episodes of feeling depressed in my life in it (I hesitate to call it depression, more a pity party that needed a good slap) however, looking back, the pros far outweighed the cons.

I’ll get to the good stuff tomorrow, for the moment some of the things that sucketh last yeareth. Interestingly, and thank God, most of these things seem to be single events as opposed to long-term drawn out things. For this I am extremely grateful and blessed and even more embarrassed about the pity party.

Moving offices

I don’t mention work at all, or rarely, and certainly not openly disparagingly. However the move in locations from run down but functional building to previously condemned building that had been “spruced up” where the water was undrinkable for 5 months and the toilets didn’t work for 7 was a cause of considerable distress for all concerned. Even trying to be  buddhist about it wasn’t working. The workplace hasn’t recovered really. I am actually glad to be on nights cos morale here is in the (non functional) toilet.

Sam’s Death

My brother-in-law in law died this year after an extremely long battle with cancer. He left behind his wife and two children.  I would not dare to say his death had the effect it did on his immediate relatives however our families are so entwined now his death was incredibly hard. And so young. Fortunately, his was the only significant loss that directly affected me last year, for which I am extraordinarily grateful. Unfortunately this year looks like it’s going to be harsh already as I was told two of my friends had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer on New Years Day.

The Bionic Bum

I made light of it but my gluteus tendonitis was absolutely agonizingly crippling at one point. I literally couldn’t walk a step without crying, the pain was so intense. And I wasn’t being stoic either. Lord if there had been drugs available I would have downed them in an instant. The worst night of it, when I couldn’t walk without screaming, I spent on my bed, sobbing with pain all through the night and feeling so sorry for myself. Much of it was pain related however there was also the realisation that if I had died no one would have known and certainly no partner I could rely on to help me out. So I just lay there in bed, a sobbing mass of pity, feeling more alone than I’ve ever felt in my life. Fortunately the next day I could walk without screaming and I could get to the phone and get some help (and wonderful help came) but wow, that night…. that night was harsh.

Making a total cock of myself

Oh I am good at that! I actually am including this only cos the last entry was so rugged. I am well used to making a total idiot of myself, despite my best intentions. Whether that is urinating loudly in front of the Queen Of North Carolina (incidentally, that post went ballistic. People I had never heard of wrote to me to tell me how funny that post was); wearing the wrong eyewear in the cinema; taking my entire extended family to one of the worst outings of their lives (so bad all other outings are measured by it : “Yeah, it was bad but it wasn’t Cadbury World bad.”), setting off alarms in the middle of the night or killing my mother in a walk across London, basically I will make a twit of myself if I can. Welcome to my life.

Absent Friends

Most days that’s the hardest one of all.


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You know how you hear a song or a piece of music and you’re transformed back to the time when you first heard the song.  When I was 19, and the first time I returned to England, I heard Feargal Sharkey’s A Good Heart is Hard To Find. Good Lord it’s awful.  However, whenever I hear it now I remember the first time I was discovering London, the 19 year old falling in love with England.  

There was a number of songs that gained personal meaning for one reason or the other during the holiday. As pure self-indulgence I am listing them here and giving some insight into what or why they gained notoriety.

As I can imagine that would be boring for anyone reading this, instead of listing the song title, I’ve listed a song lyric. Guess the song before you click on the link.  See.  A game out of my indulgences.  Doesn’t get better than that.

“I want your love I don’t wanna be friends.”

I started off easy.  You should know this.

This song was EVERYWHERE! All the countries I visited I heard it played.  If there was an anthem to the trip, this is it. I could not stop hearing this song and it is so annoyingly infectious. This is the song that i will hear when I am 60 and be transported back to a lake house in North Carolina, a bus station in France, a pub in Exeter, an airport in Toronto…. too many excellent memories for this one song.

“And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine By being my friend”

This song! Drove me insane. I could not stop singing it in the weeks prior to visiting America.  First song played in the car in Charlotte was this soundtrack.  Someone telling me something. 

And some notes about this particular YouTube clip. There are better clips of For Good but this is the last performance ever of the artist (Kristen Chenoweth) in the role of Glinda, the white witch in Wicked.  And for those who don’t know, this song is all about the character saying goodbye to each other.  Watch the whole clip. It’s doubly heartbreaking.

 “We’re surfing in the air We’re swimming in the frozen sky”

I’ve taken you here before and you know the reason why. I’m nothing if not a completist.

“And darkness still inside you Make you feel so small”

On the plane play list returning to England from the US.  Some of the lines of the song were especially pertinent. Listen to the lyrics more than the singing.   I included the Glee version, even though I appreciate it is wuss rock and there are better versions, as this was the one on the plane and I seriously love Glee. Glee is just so much fluff and  an excellently fun tele show. If you haven’t watched it I would recommend it. Highly. 

“There are no lyrics”

 Only one person will get the significance of this, which I include to make that person  giggle. Everyone else, move on. Nothing to see here.

“I don’t mind spending everyday Out on your corner in the pouring rain”

Ray and I had driven through Washington and seen so many famous sights my mind had been blown. We had just finished a mountain of fries at Z-burgers and were heading back in the car to Baltimore Airport to send me on my way to Charlotte. This song came on while we were driving. It was just one of those gooey moments of being really happy that I will remember.  And I like this song.

“As he came into the window It was the sound of a Crescendo”

I missed this. I’m not sure how. But when I saw it, for the first time at my friend’s place at 3 in the am after a really long night, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It’s a great song. But good God, were MJ’s video clips self-indulgent or what??!!! I included this 9 minutes epic not expecting you to watch all of it, unless you are super bored.  He patented the shoes that made him be able to bend over like that tho. And the reason the song gets included here. The second time I heard it was with the same friends. Odd. Clearly the song hangs around them.

“These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you”

Just in case you don’t know, hover the cursor over a link or a photo and text will appear. And the text for this is particularly true.  This song drove me nuts as I kept hearing it in Brighton at the start of the holiday and never heard who sang it/ rapped it.  I’m not a fan of rap but the chorus by Alicia Keys is enjoyable and why it gets here. It sticks out (like those things that stick out) amongst all the other songs though.

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met”

You wont get this one. Even I didn’t know what the song was except that I spent days humming it to myself at the end of the holiday. You know that annoying tune you can’t get out of your head. I explored the song on the internet when I got back wondering why it was playing on my brain.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lyrics and its pertinence to my current situation. And yeah, muppets. Ah well. I’ve clearly proven I have zero taste in music.

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Ianto’s Shrine, Cardiff Bay

Oh I loved this day. It was one of the highlights of my holiday.

For those who missed it, the picture below is the shrine dedication of a group of fans to a character who died in a television show; said television show being filmed at Cardiff Bay. It was simultaneously touching and sad. Touching because people clearly were affected by the fictional death of this character; sad because people clearly were affected by the fictional death of this character.

Wars are raging, people are starving and people are writing love letters to Captain Fiction.  So many outpourings of love for a television character. It really is a skewed world.

Having said that, the day was just hysterical! I haven’t laughed so much in forever. I mean, really. It’s a tele show, people.

Doctor Who Experience – Cardiff Bay

I fell in love with Doctor Who when I was 11. Loved it ever since, even when it was rubbish. Visiting an exhibition of props and costumes was a no brainer. I’ve written enough about it recently not to need to rehash. Suffice to say, if you have a vague interest you will love it and if you’re a fan you’re not going to need my recommendation.

Dawlish beachfront, Devon

Dawlish: home of the most magnificent ice creams and the neo-nazi ducks. Amusingly that ice cream has proven to be the most commented upon item of this blog which, given the breadth and scope of my travels, is no mean feat.  People found it completely fascinating for some reason and, to their great sense,all wanted to try one. I should really include the pic of me looking lovingly at the ice cream which is hysterical in its sadness. Instead Dawlish beach, and a pic of the sea front I really quite like.

Jasper, Exeter Quay

You know how some children, who are too young to know any better, think that you are the most amazing thing because you know about a television show or some cartoon character they love.  And you know that you’re not at all special however you cant help but enjoy the fact that, for a brief moment, the child thinks you are. That was Jasper, my cousin Deb’s little boy, who at the age of 6 thought I was the bees knees because I knew about Doctor Who and liked buying sweets. heh! Who was I to argue. He’ll work it out soon enough.

The Elfin Oak, Kensington Gardens, London

I discovered this purely by chance. I had gone to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground first thing in the morning. the morning was sunny but the park was covered in fog which had not burnt off yet.  The park was closed however the Elfin Oak was directly opposite the entrance.

for those who may not know, the Elfin Oak is a 900 year old hollow log that, in 1928, artist Ivor Innes was commissioned to carve little fairy figures and woodland creatures into its bark.  the level of detail is incredible and especially so when you realise it’s age.  Go here for some more, had-better-access-to-it pictures of the Oak. 

The Elfin  Oak itself is in a cage. presumably this is to stop vandals however the cage’s grid is so small it makes taking pictures of it incredibly impossible. This was the best shot I got and that was putting the lens through the tiny grid in the cage.

It is delightful however, particularly given its history and its age. Can you imagine children in the 1920’s seeing this? It’s impressive now in this day of video games and 3D television. Kids back then, best you get is a book or a play if you’re lucky, it must have been amazing.

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight

I think I should avoid seeing musicals about cats.

On the last night before leaving England Mum and I went to see the West End production of The Lion King.

Due to it taking an hour to be signed into the CHIL we were running late for the performance. The ever so tightly wound up lady at the Underground Heathrow Express counter was incredibly ill versed in knowledge of her city however she did give a sterling piece of advice. Get a Taxi.

Even though we knew we were going to miss the beginning of the performance, we caught a taxi with 25 minutes to spare. This turned out to be one of the best things about the night. Completely fortuitously we had a lightning tour of London; Wellington Arch; Nelson Column; Buckingham Palace; Victoria Memorial; London Eye and other monuments and moi without my camera. Most of these places I had seen before and had no real need to revisit however, in the context of a distraction from the fact we were late, it was fantastic.

Also the taxi Driver turned out to be completely brilliant. Not only was he witty and entertaining, we had a fascinating discussion on the effects of the recession on our respective countries and he got us to the musical with minutes to spare. Complete genius! He I remembered to tip.

Anyway the Lion King. Turn away now if this is your favourite musical.

Based on the huge Disney animation of the same name, ten years ago the show opened in Broadway and swept the awards with its cleverness in adapting a play about cartoon animals into an intensely clever production that (sort of) makes you think there are animals onstage.

Did you look at the opening number in the link up above? It’s very clever isn’t it. The people being animals. That elephant was great. And the giraffes are inspired. Sadly the opening number had been forever ruined for me by this brilliant moment in Modern Family (about to start in Australia) where the gay couple introduced their adopted child to the circle of life music. (I desperately looked for a clip of this as it is hysterical however nada unless we pay).

The gist of the Lion King is that it was really clever. They used people wearing headdresses, shadow puppets, puppets, costumes, dance and lighting to create animals on stage. And it works really, really well. Very clever.That was my review to my mum, who loved it.

It was really boring though.

It was interesting to watch the video clip above cos the cast there had far more energy and passion than was evident on the night. The London cast were very much going through the paces. The young Simba (the future Lion king) was played by an effusive young british actor. However his British accent I found very irritating. Think Eton plum in your mouth.  “Fah-ther, must one go into the Shadowlands?” It was off-putting, not that the Lion King should sound american either, I guess. The alleged comedy relief (Timon and Pumba) were uninspiring and I was hoping poachers would come and take the adult Lion King away. And it possibly didn’t help that the audience thought they were in a panto and kept booing the villain. sigh.

Have you seen Wicked? It’s also really spectacular however it has passion and heart to go with it. Other than the reprise of He Lives in You did the cast get close to any energy. That song was the best thing about the night (and really clever!) Can You Feel the Love Tonight suffered from one poor actor dressed up, I presume as a flower but for all purposes looked like a really embarrassed watermelon wedge (and whoever knew that would be a sentence I would be writing).

So maybe I should consider a carer as a reviewer after all cos I’ve got catty down well. Speaking of catty, I also saw Cats in London years ago and was underwhelmed then as well. What united the shows though was my inability to see properly. In Cats I was placed behind a structural support beam (why!!!!), in the Lion King the man in front of me was a giant. Probably  six five. Fortunately his friend who was, no joking, six ten sat on the end seat so I counted my blessings.

So maybe that didn’t help my enjoyment of the show. Hyper extending my neck to watch the show. That and the watermelon wedges.

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Lounge room – Heathrow

Buying into an airline club membership was money well spent. It is soooooo much more  pleasant here then mingling with the masses downstairs until you have to. When you’re tired, and we’re tired already before we even start thanks to CHIL, its been a Godsend.

CHIL turned out to be even worse than we thought. cockroaches are fun Lauren, get a mirror ball out for them and they will boogie all night. breakfast was surprisingly decent after they worked out who we were… didn’t update the room numbers.

gotta go. Flight being called. More soon.

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Last Minute Chaos, Not My Fault Honest.

Really quickly, and I will go into details later, but it is 0100 on the night before we leave to go back to Australia

The blog has about fifteen entries still in draft form so I will get to them soon. It just wont be as chronological as I would have liked.

So we are in the Crappiest Hotel In London (CHIL) and the room is so small your luggage has to sit on the bed if you want to move to the bathroom.

The bathroom toilet seat was broken and, as we  were off to the Lion King (another blog but remember that I am insanely critical), we did not report the toilet till 11 pm.  When the repair man realised he couldn’t fix it (yes the repair man came at 1130) we were then swapping rooms at midnight. Dragging loads of luggage. The luggage is way over weight.  Then I didn’t realise I had to tip the management guy helping me carry suitcases. So now I have guilt to go with the luggage hernia.

CHIL is the Thistle, near Heathrow. I am watching the cockroaches party. Lastminute.com can be very useful but not this time. Avoid Thistle hotels, except for the one in Wales.

This is not the worst hotel I’ve been in, however. Chicago, take a bow. A story for another time. There has been no gunfire here at CHIL, for example. Touch Wood.

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AKA How I nearly killed my mother.

We’re in London tonight en route to the French house of the Rat tomorrow.

It was an amazing trip up from Exeter to London today. The bus route was way more scenic than last time and I abs fabbed at Harrods and Harvey Nicks as we drove into London.

We have booked an amazing hotel that is opposite Hyde Park and has the most stunning view. The Eye was illuminated(well half of it) before dinner but now has now been turned off???? I didn’t take a pic before dinner so no pics sorry.

Hyde Park is stunning and I will go for a walk early tomorrow. But getting here was a challenge.

We arrived in London at the bus station and someone who shall remain nameless had the bright idea that we could use the Tube to get from  the Bus Station at Victoria Station to the hotel at Kensington Gardens. On paper it looked not too far at all.

It was miles.

Not only was it miles but there were steps. Lots and lots of steps. (Where were the escalators I remembered?)

And we had two suitcases.

And it was rush hour.

It was not my brightest idea. London is a wonderful city however it is not  best seen at rush hour with its citizens having to deal with its tourists. I can forgive London many things though and especially when I am an idiot.

So the taxi is booked for tomorrow.

Cos even I am not THAT stupid.

And just in case I cannot get wi-fi access while we are on the continent be reassured that I will be writing down my mindset in my oh so obsessive ways and will update when I am back in the UK. I truly don’t expect there to be an issue but if I stop talking to you for four days you will know why.

Thanks for all the comments and see you soon, possibly even tomorrow.

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