Thursday, September 24, 2009

All the world's a stage.

"It's beautiful", said Jules "if you've never been, you've got to go". Well with that endorsement we zoomed off to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see Anne Hathaway's cottage. "Did it hold up to her description"? I hear you ask. Well, it did, but while the cottage and grounds were picturesque there was tinge of British naffness attached to the whole experience. For example; we couldn't locate the 'sound system of Shakespeare quotes' as we sat in the garden arbor. "But wait fair maiden, what's that in yonder corner"?, "tis a Tupperware box is it not"?, "make haste then friend and bust it open"! Bloody hell we laughed our arses off as we broke into the box and pushed 'play' on the ancient tape recorder, which barely played anything audible from the one sad little speaker. British ingenuity at work!

However, the cottage was a veritable haven in comparison to the Americanized exhibit that is Shakespere's birthplace. Interesting yes, well maintained yes, helpful staff...very, but it just didn't feel right that this historical site had become 'attractionized'. Let's just say it wasn't our cup of tea and worst of all, I bought into it (let me confess right now) and overpaid for a Shakespeare Christmas ornament! Agh....

What are a pair of girls to do but go to 'The Old Thatch Tavern' for lunch and order EVERY appetizer on the menu!

The next day, assuring ourselves that we'd now stick to our tired and true 'follow your nose' plan, we found ourselves much more at home on the Portobello Road.

As we sipped coffee we leisurely meandered in and out of some proper fabby antique stores. We perused the market stalls, all the while eavesdropping on conversations spoken in every accent under the sun and generally basked in being tuned in, tapped in and turned on.

Talking of antiques.......

We had to do it....

All I can say is this, if you're in London I highly recommend you go and make a fool of yourself to get this idiotic iconic picture. As traffic is constantly being halted by fake nitwit crossers (as shown above), the laughs at yourself and others are totally worth the humiliation.

I couldn't have said it better myself!

Monday, September 21, 2009

London and Windsor.

Despite the Mercedes Benz Jules had rented and parked in front of our flat, it took the purchasing our Oyster cards to make us feel like we'd 'arrived'. However, using it took careful observation of another commuter to figure out how to swipe it (we are indeed strangers in our own land). Yes, yes we all know, mind the bloody gap!

The Long Walk at Windsor was one of our few 'must do's'. It's a three mile stroll from the castle to the statue of King George III and as we walked in a delightfully empty park, I believe the potency of our contentment (for a moment) made the whole world a more peaceful place.


Polo anyone?

As luck would have it, we started our return journey as the only working hackney cab in the park came clopping up behind us. "Can we grab a ride" I asked...."well, I am a taxi" he said. "how much then"? we asked, "Twenty Quid", he replied and with an unspoken unequivocal yes, Jules and I climbed into a 100 year old horse drawn cab and 'lady mucked' our way back into Windsor.

We'd been fantasizing about the perfect man and possible perfect park moments, but hadn't had the foresight to conjure up this spectacular experience.

One last look......

After buying provisions grown on the castle grounds at the Windsor Farm Shop, we hopped off the bus in Eaton to browse through the antique stores, sip beer by the river and congratulate ourselves on a magnificent day. Jules will be going home with a Victorian bread board and myself, a silver tipped cane!

Back in London after a hard days meandering we pondered if we should have a Snog, but decided against it.....down boys!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yorkshire pride.

Yorkshire is brilliant. It's as rough as it is smooth, as beautiful as it is plain and more than anything it's real. It was a great week filled with simple family visits, amazing walks and runs in the park, together with the merging of my palate as a grown up with my taste buds as a spog. Yes, yes, yes, gray is the cliche colour for English weather but when the sun comes have to be here to delight in the jewels that are illuminated by the late morning sun.

I walked into the green grocers and what hit me was the wondrous smell.......Jesus, it's been years since I smelt veggies as good as those. In comparison, Safeway is just a sanitised odor free zone of cleaned, packaged and ready made food. Convenient for sure, but the olfactory joy of sniffing out what you want to eat is hard to beat.

Nature doing it's thing.
A ginger inspired Rooney....bless.

Ducking for cover.
Mummy in the zen of her embroidery.

Anyway.....I have left the tranquility of the North and headed down South (like a migrating Loiner) to London. I can't bloody wait to trog around some of my old haunts, catch the tube, gasp at the architecture and have a damn good time with my best mate Jules.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday times.

Sunday Lunch at the Windmill in Linton. Sausage, chips and a rocket salad, washed down by half a John Smiths, Ladies and Gentlemen, it doesn't get any better than that.

This scene reminds me of a painting by Constable, but instead of a classic painting it was just a field on a post lunch walk with my bro through Hettchel Woods.

Here we are playing silly buggers with the self-timer.

Caught in the act of jumping for joy.

Good grief it's pretty here.

Later in the afternoon I ran into this octopus tree and I want it to be friends with the rainbow eucalyptus.

Test driving the senior transport!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Class Virgin.

With the UK being my destination, I always enjoy the departure lounge part of the journey, as the ratio of British to US accents starts tipping in favour of the old country (and that mysterious 'u' starts reappearing in my spelling).

Having been born in the sixties in the UK, the class system is still on my hard drive. Standing in the Virgin Atlantic queue (who's directive was 'Upper Class'), the fist 20 years of my youth arose to remind me I was sneaking into an area where, according to my accent and upbringing I didn't belong. Luckily after 28 years of living in the US I didn't give a shit and felt completely deserving! Yet I did ponder later 'would I have felt that way had the airline not been British'?

When the stewardess asked me quietly “Is this your first time in Upper Class”?, I blurted “yes, it is, does it show”,?! “no, no”, she assured me as we chuckled, “we ask everyone, so we can familiarize you with the in-flight chair and entertainment system”! Phew, and I thought she had spotted the impostor! (With apologies for the blurry turbulence enhanced picture-hic!).

The green and pleasant land.

How to pick up girls from Leeds...

Tempting Heathrow.....very tempting.

I had partaken in the joys of free beer and Earl Grey at the Upper Class lounge at LAX. However, I had also found myself behaving like an urchin from the street, 'steeling' a complimentary granola bar and apple for the harsh reality when 'poof', 10 1/2 hours later at LHR I'd be back to my regular middle class life.

As fate (or karma) would have it, about an hour after landing and whilst awaiting the 15:30 train to Leeds, I found myself at a waiting-room-less Kings Cross Station, sitting cross legged on the floor and eating my stolen apple. A first class act all the way.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Lahaina Pali Trail

"That thing is so ugly", I remember thinking when I first drove by the net curtain that hugs the cliffs as you drive toward Lahaina. However, over the years I've come to appreciate this chain link armor that protects the main artery road, connecting the West side to the North Shore.

It's quite a feet of engineering, bolted into the side of the mountain and draped lovingly over the voluptuous curves of the hill side.

Inspired by a bunch of friends hiking into the crater this weekend for an overnighter, I decided a good walk in the wilderness was on the cards, (or perhaps I just needed the validation that I'm not a strenuous hiker chick?).

" The Lahaina Pali Trail is an old Hawaiian horse and foot trail built in the early 1800s. The trail was used as a more direct route across the arid southern slopes of the West Maui Mountains, connecting Lahaina and Olowalu with Maalaea and Wailuku. There are two trailheads that zigzag up the mountain, crossing ridges and gullies to the 1,600-foot ridge."

The views were amazing, nice downwinder on a flat day.

My goal was to reach the 20 wind turbines at the top of the ridge. As I huffed and puffed my way up the hill I decided this was close enough to tick the 'I got to windmills' box!

The turbines spin independently of one another, but for a few joyful revolutions these three were in perfect sync. It was a 'Christopher' moment of pleasure....(the protagonist of 'The Curious Incident Of The dog In The Nighttime').

It's a wonderfully baron and wind swept place and for the most part I had the journey to myself.

Shade was in short supply so these kiawe trees were more appreciated than those whose thorns stick in my feet at Kanaha.

The 10:00 am snorkel.

Not to be outdone by the tourists on the 'Four Winds', upon returning to my truck I pealed off my sweaty gear in favor of a clean bikini and was in the water within minutes. Ahhhhhhhhh never had a quick dip been more appreciated and as the hike was rated 'difficult', I'll also say deserved! Thank f**k I didn't hike the crater (but damn I hate missing out on a good time)!