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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Post Script


I’m at work now. I came in yesterday for a half day after the chiropractor. This was a good thing because nothing had changed & I was ready to leave after a few hours. I needed to work my way back.
Got home yesterday to find himself in a cranky mood as the internet/cable/phone had been out all day and after 35 minutes on the phone with them and telling them about the very ill old lady who lived there so we couldn’t be without phone (leaving out the part that she wasn’t actually there and wouldn’t be for 2 weeks... it’s like I’m on vacation still) got them to come out the same day instead of Wednesday. They showed & pronounced it’s the line & they’ll have to send someone today to replace that.
Then, this morning, Himself’s car wouldn’t start. Dead. Very cranky. Not a pleasant ride to work with him. Ahhhhhhh. The real world. Cable’s got nothing on my life! Maybe I'll skip the book & go straight to television...

Home again, home again


So, we’re actually home. The Grosvenor in London was the ONLY place we stayed that didn’t have free wi-fi so nothing got posted from there & the Skylounge at Heathrow is not Delta’s lounge, it’s shared by all eight of their partner airlines so my platinum card wouldn’t get me in. Nothing got posted from there. Consequently, there will be several posts going up during the course of today. I don’t want to put it all up as one as it would be VERY long.
As I said, we’re home. Landed at a bit after one yesterday and were home by three. I’d done three loads of laundry by seven and at eight, we ordered a pizza & were in bed by nine Having got up at five, left the hotel at six it was then two AM for our bodies! 
So, We went to a lovely place a few blocks from the hotel at half eight Saturday night & had a wonderful last meal. Himself had curry & I had a rib eye. The food was excellent & the service was good. It was pub-like but was a bakery/tea room that also served dinner & had a full bar. Popular with the locals because a party of six came in & asked for a specific table. Then a group from the French Embassy (guessing here but it was just down the road) and knew the staff by name. As it was a bakery, we felt obliged to have dessert & port. 
Back to Grosvenor. Bed by ten.
As I said above, up at five, downstairs at six. No breakfast. A mix-up about the time. Walked 10 blocks to the Hyde Park Corner underground station which turned out to be closed for the weekend due to maintenance. We could have taken a cab to an open station but, by the time I’d hailed a cab & got us & our luggage into it, my sub-conscious couldn’t bear the thought of getting out & shlepping down long flights of stairs to the underground and my mouth just said “Heathrow”. So, instead of my brilliant plan to get us to the airport for ten pounds, it was five times that. Oh well. I wasn’t sure which station would be the next one open anyway so...
Got to Heathrow, eventually got the bags checked, couldn’t get into the lounge, had to have breakfast at Starbucks, got to the gate and onto the plane which took off on time. 
It was a rough-ish flight as we skirted the edges of Irene but uneventful. I watched ‘Water for Elephants’ and ‘Of Gods & Men’ as well as reading most of ‘Sarah’s Key.’ It wasn’t a cheerful flight but Himself & I had our row of three to ourselves so we were less uncomfortable and the wine with lunch was acceptable. Immigration was, as always, crowded, hot, loud & less than pleasant but we got through and were hardly acknowledged by customs. 
Unpacking, laundry, three weeks of mail (that will take a day or two,) bills. The joys of coming home. 
Himself has fed me and now I must bathe, dress & head to the chiropractor for an adjustment (my head has turned less & less for the last ten days) and then to work and see if I still have a job. Hmmmmm... not sure what I want that answer to be...
I hope you’ve enjoyed, or at least found this informative. It’s been interesting and entertaining keeping a blog so perhaps for the one of you who’s always asking when the book is coming out, I’ll start doing this more often under a different heading. We’ll see. 
Anyway, the vacation’s over & life awaits so....
Later.   

Monday, August 29, 2011

And back to London


Up at six, bathed, breakfasted & out of the house by half seven. At E’burgh Airport at half eight. Pulled out of a line of lots of people to the counter to check in at nine as the flight was at quarter to ten and we’d never have made it through the line by then with only two people working the counter. Security was a breeze. At the gate just in time for boarding. Uneventful flight. Easy Jet will nickel & dime you to death selling you every thing, including charging two pounds fifty for a cup of hot water & a Starbucks Via packet (Starbucks single serve packets of instant) but, they also, along with cologne, perfume, and just about anything else you can think of, sell coach & train tickets in-flight so we got them. At 30% less than advertised on line. 
Landed. Shuttle to train platform. Train from Luton Parkway to St Pancras/King’s Cross. Underground from St. P. on the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus (packed,) change for the Central Line to Marble Arch. Walk a few blocks along Park Lane at Hyde Park and we’re at The Grosvenor House. Himself said “this room’s alright but the bed is horrible” yet he’s soundly sleeping on it as we type!
After checking in (yes, they had a room available when we arrived three hours before check in) & freshening up we headed around the corner to a pub for lunch. Turned out to be the same as the one where we dined in South Kensington one night which, turns out, is a chain with about thirty pubs in London. They’ve bought & taken over pubs that were run down & in trouble, given them a good refurbishing and have a pretty good product even though one hates to see the end of the individually owned, family run ‘Local.’
After a trip back to our room to get what someone, who shall remain nameless, swore was an English Heritage Foreign Visitors Pass, which,turned out to be a brochure about them with the receipt from Housesteads Roman Fort (Hadrian’s Wall... last week) stapled to it, we went to Apsley House, the ancestral home of the Dukes Wellington. It’s pretty much still the way it was when expanded in the early 19th century with a fabulous collection of dishes, silver, swords, and art, most of which was given to the first Duke after he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. 
The seventh Duke, who inherited upon the death of his nephew, consulting with his son who agreed that they couldn’t afford to keep up the house, let alone restore it (it had been badly damaged when a bomb hit the building next door,) gave the house and most of the collections & furnishings in the public & state rooms, to the Government with provision of a small apartment for the family in the house, after WWII. The current (eighth) Duke still resides there with his family occupying about three rooms at ground level, four in the lower level, and five on the top floor (that would be the third in the US but is the second here.) Not a bad ‘small apartment‘ that The Government takes care of as they own the building. And of course, he has the right to use the state rooms for special occasions, like Christmas dinner, the kids wedding receptions, that sort of thing.  
After, we left just in time to get caught in a terrible rain. we arrived back at Grosvenor almost drenched. Himself is, as I said earlier, napping while I do this and soon we’ll  bathe & dress for dinner, which I think will be here in the Hotel as it looks like the rain may be settling in for the evening. Up early (5:00AM) to get to Heathrow and head home. 
I’ll report on dinner from the airport lounge. 

Last day in Scotland


So, Friday arrived. Finally, a typical Scottish Day. Grey, cold, pissing with rain, and, a fairly steady wind. We lounged about the house with coffee while I packed Himself’s & my bags in prep for the flight/coach/train down to London in the morning and about half eleven, having bathed & dressed, we set off into town for the last time. We went in by a different route as we were on the search for the house where Himself lived for several years as a wee one... 1313 Inverleith Terrace. We found the terrace eventually but not 1313. When we put that into the Garmin it consistently changed the house number to 35 which was as high as they went on the road. Himself did, in the end, admit that after 49 years he might have misremembered the address but was sure that it wasn’t #13 which was just as well because it was under renovations and covered with scaffolding and screening so that we couldn’t have got a photo of him on the steps (to hang next to the one of him on the steps as a three/four year old) anyway. 
We then proceeded round/through town to the car park nearest the Playhouse where we’d end our day and headed into the city center where we went to a pub called Jekyll & Hyde for a performance of ‘Rachel’s Cafe,’ a one person show based on the experiences of Rachel/Eric, a transgendered person who really runs the cafe in Bloomington, IN. The concept was very good, the venue & set close to perfect, the acting could have been just a bit better. The Actor was pretty good as Rachel but failed to fully become Eric at the end of the day. Dennis and I had hoped for something that might move us to tears but it was just sweet. Perhaps Rachel’s had it that easy. We gave it three stars.
After the show, it was raining again/still and we headed Quickly to the Royal Scottish Museum for The Queen exhibit. Four rooms done as the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s/80’s, 90’s/2000’s/2010’s and began with the photo taken of the new Queen as she stepped off the plane in London when she returned from Kenya after news of her father’s death going on to her most recent official portrait for her Diamond Jubilee next year. It was well done and we all enjoyed it.
When we came out the museum, the rain having almost stopped, we wandered over to the Royal Mile in front of the Castle and strolled down the length stopping here and there to browse. I’m afraid it’s really a lot like Duval Street these days full of tee-shirt/souvenir/cashmere and kilt shops. And pubs. OK. So there are no kilt or cashmere shops on Duval Street but you know what I mean.
We got to the bottom and turned toward the car park where we made a stop to swap our trainers for dress shoes and our windbreakers for sport coats then headed to Julliano’s a bit early for our reservation at six which was a good thing. We had a relaxed meal with desserts and just got to the playhouse in time for a drink before curtain. The performance was fabulous. A world premier and an old classic, the names of both I’ve forgotten and don’t have handy but will edit in later for the purists who must know.   
The crowd was better inE’burgh than in London. No one in shorts & flip flops, a few people in jeans & tee’s but most were well dressed or dressed up. Lots of men in skirts. Formal. With the ruffles, bow ties, cutaway coats, and hats too. Ranging from about 12 years to 80. Whole families of ‘em.
Home. Nightcap. Bed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A last day in the Highlands

So we woke up this morning, bathed, dressed & staggered down to breakfast. Actually, there was no staggering because I’d had a great night’s sleep & our thoughtful landlord & lady had an electric kettle, tea, nescafe, wrapped cheese, biscuits & chocolates in the rooms so I’d had tea & a biscuit already. Breakfast was great. Except possibly for the life-sized Elvis in the corner glaring at us. There was a foursome of Americans at the next table who seemed as put off by him as I and Christopher found out from them later that they were from New Hampshire but because Himself doesn’t play the game properly, he didn’t ask where in NH.
After, we gathered our things, paid the bill and headed out into the cold morning, it was 48 F (welcome to summer in the highlands!) we headed first to Fort George. Our landlord had told us, upon hearing that it was our first stop, that it was a new fort (built from about 1739 - 67) but worth the visit. He then said that it had been build after a major battle in the area between the Protestant English & the Jacobite Scots to prevent further insurrections but that there was a clan who’d turned & fought with the Brits and so if we had to ask directions or anything, be sure it wasn’t a Campbell we were asking because you can’t trust them at all. He was serious.
Fort George is still an active military base but is open to the public because, being 250 years old, is of some historic value. The men stationed there were on 3 weeks leave (prior to being shipped out) so the place was practically empty. It was fascinating. 
Spent a couple of hours there and then headed for Lock Ness, the monster, and, Urquhart Castle. It’s of course, a ruin. But, there was a great Cafe (in which we got a 10% discount with our Scottish Heritage passes,) a good film presentation (packing 1000 years of history  into 8 minutes. The perfect length for any presentation. The ruins were interesting but I think we’ve all reached our maximum capacity for broken walls and scenic overlooks.
We headed home to Peebles.
We did stop at a number of scenic overlooks. 
We took about 100 photos in 4 hours.
Dennis said, as our camera battery died, ‘when our camera dies, we don’t have to stop any more.’ Himself reminded him that we had 2 i-phones & an i-pad with which to take pictures. We turned a 4 hour drive into 11. Lots of photos.
Had dinner at home and are about to retire. Tomorrow, pack, into town about noon, a bit of sight seeing, a play, a photo/painting exhibit of the 60 years of Betty Windsor’s reign, dinner and The Scottish Ballet. Saturday, Himself & I fly to London then home on Sunday. I’m depressed at the thought of leaving.
Later. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And one more for today...


So we reached our B & B shortly after 5:00, checked in, did a bit of un-packing and had about an hour’s rest before dressing and heading out for dinner. We walked along the river front, checking out menus until we decided. Nico’s. A ‘French/Scottish brasserie.’ They were well trained... if they were trying to ignore us. One couple who’ been seated just after us, got up & left. We were discussing leaving when the waiter showed up and asked if we were ready to order. He seemed quite taken aback that we wanted to order drinks. When we finally got food, it was like a trip to heaven. We had venison carpaccio & smoked salmon for starters and I could have left happy then but that was followed by lamb chops, steak & ale pie, fish & chips and a lovely Pino Noir. For sweet there was banana creme brulee with baileys ice cream & tiramisue & port & muscat. It was orgasmic. Somewhere during dinner, we realized that we were the only gays in the village apparently but they’ll survive. Be Calm and Carry On! 
We staggered back along the river, past the fly fisherman, to the B & B and, having had a night cap as the sun disappeared about 20 minutes ago at about 9:55, are now getting settled in for the night. Breakfast is at 8:00 and we’re ‘wheels up’ by 9:30 and heading t Fort George. Then, we’ll do the lake and try to get in at least 1 more historic site on the drive back to Peebles.
Good night for now.  

Look out... here's some more!


So Stirling was not a ruin. Anymore. It has been re-roofed and restored very carefully, in large part back to it’s 16th/17th splendor. The wood carvings from ceilings & doors have been reproduced and the originals, or what’s left of them, are in air-tight display cases in the exhibit hall. It was a splendid place & another well done audio tour. 
Next up was Doune Castle. We did not know until we got there but it was the castle used for most of Monty Python’s Holy Grail and the audio guide was narrated by one of the cast from the film This made it even more wonderful for us. The audio guide kept saying things like, at the entrance gate, “if you’d like to know about the attempted siege of this castle using a ‘Trojan Rabbit’, press the green button now” and there would be excerpts from the film & bits about the making of the film. (Most of the extras at the wedding festivities were tourists whom they persuaded to stay for the day.)
Doune was also a ruin. By 1800, the roofs had fallen in as well as the floor of one set of bedrooms into the great hall. Over the last 200 years several wealthy, noble-born history buffs and, more recently, Scottish Heritage have worked to replace all the roofs, the minstrel gallery, and doors. They’ve also shorn up the outer walls are presently rebuilding a section of collapsed wall. I think that, even without the Monty Python bits, Doune was one of the best, most informative we’ve seen.
Pub lunch down the road & now we’re back on the road again, officially in the Highlands.
Stay tuned. 

Catching up on the drive to Inverness


So... It’s Wednesday. I’ve missed an entire day of typing/blogging. Stay Calm & Carry On however, be prepared for a long post.
 We awakened yesterday, breakfasted, bathed, dressed & eventually headed out. We went to tour Traquair House, the oldest, inhabited house in Scotland dating to the 11th century & still inhabited buy the successors (through a nephew) who brew, bottle & market ale. 27 Monarchs have stayed there including Mary, Queen of Scots who spent her last night, before she fled Scotland & was condemned to death by Elizabeth I, there They are a Catholic family (or were) and fell out of political favor with EVERYONE, except the priests they were hiding, and ended up selling off property to settle debts which reduced the size of the estate greatly and then, it sat empty for nearly 100 years while the heirs lived elsewhere. The good news is that there wasn’t enough money to ‘Victorianize’ the place so it’s still very much as it was in the 16th/17th centuries. 
Great house. Great museum, filled only with actual things from the house & family: Quilt embroidered by Mary, Q of S; Cloak worn by her ladyship when she went to visit her husband in The Tower on the night before he was to be beheaded and traded clothes with him so he could sneak out; vestments worn by priests made to look like/double as bed & pillow covers & bell pulls to make them easy to hide. Great tour. Had lunch there, then went back to the house for a bit.
Grabbed our warmest clothes & headed out again for town stopping at Roslin Chapel. Fantastic! We had a great guide who was quite funny. She was there before Dan Brown when they averaged 8,000 visitors a year & survived the 1st year after “The DaVinci Code when they had 170,000. There are some wonderful carvings (pretty much every column, vault, door/window frame and lots more) and the history (family church on land still owned by the St Clair family who are the heirs of the Laird who commissioned the church. Of course, he died during the building and his son was much less worried about his soul than the father’d been so he but an exterior wall where none should have been & called it done when it was just the Presbytery. Hence, it’s a chapel, not a church. (Also and active Episcopal Parish! I will go to Sunday services there next I’m in the neighborhood.) 
The rumors abound about the place including the treasure of the Templars, the Holy Grail, the missing statues  (127 of them) from the chapel, the Ark of the Covenant, are, or at some time have been, believed to be hidden in the crypt which has been sealed for hundreds of years & the current Laird refuses to open ‘because there’s nothing there but dead knights... let them rest in peace.) The rooms (2 of them) downstairs used in the film, had been the residence of 9 priests during the early years of the church so that one could always be saying mass for the family. The sitting room opens out into the grave yard. 
We left there & headed into town, parked, picked up tickets & queued up for The Bad Boys of Ballet’s performance of Rock the Ballet. Oh my! That hour went by in about 14 minutes. We then had dinner at a pub-ish place, freezing off various parts of our anatomy at the last available table on the terrace, and then headed to the Castle for the Tattoo. Several hundred military personnel in full regalia playing pipes, drums and an amazing variety of other instruments, as well as Scottish folk dancers & some maneuvers teams for good measure, was like the largest half time show ever except that we stood to sing God Save the Queen & then all joined hands to sing Auld Lang Syne before the finale with fireworks, then the Scots version of Taps by a lone piper on the battlements as they retired the flag. I almost wept. 
After, car, home, bed.
We’re now breakfasted, bathed, dressed and in the car on the way to Inverness, Via Sterling Castle & several other exciting piles of medieval stone (I’m beginning to feel the way I began to feel in Rome about fallen brick walls... seen one...,) so we can spent a moment looking for the Locke Ness Monster. 
I’ll let you know this evening if we find him!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A ruinous day!



Ruins, ruins everywhere! We spent the first part of the day, after breakfast, organizing, ordering tickets & mapping our route to to car parks for the shows we’ll see for the rest of our time. And, Dennis made sauce. That done, we dressed & headed out. 
We went first to the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey and spent hours. It is a wonderful place that took 120 years to build & was added onto several times over the next several hundred. 
Lunch at a nice pub across the road. Tried Haggis. It was very good. Of course, I ordered the starter which was battered, deep fried haggis balls. What isn’t improved by battering & deep frying! We met Bryan & Jim on our way out. We were no longer the only gays in the village! They’re a nice couple from Dallas who are here following Bryan’s genealogical quest looking for forebears in the Abbey yard. They’ll be at the Tattoo tomorrow so we might run into them & have a drink.
Then we went up the road to the castle/jail & toured that. Interesting but...
Then we went to Dryburgh Abbey a few miles away. This has much less standing but was bought by a Baron in the 19th century who began excavation & preservation as well as landscaping the surrounding property as a park. It was later a favorite of Sir Walter Scott who is buried there along with his wife, daughter & son-in-law.
After this, which didn’t have an audio guided tour so we spent less time, we tore off the couple of miles to Melrose Abbey. This has more of the building still intact that the other two and is spectacular. We had about an hour there before they closed. All three were started in the 11th century and took over 100 years to build, were added to & improved for the next 4 or 5 hundred years and then fell into disrepair and were all abandoned by the 16th century though Jedburgh & Melrose had congregations that used the ruins (they built walls of stone or wood to close off the parts that still had a roof and just set up there) until the late 19th century.
After all these ruins, we headed to Sainsbury’s for a few things & went home, fixed some small food & had drinks then a very lovely meal of pasta, sauce, salad & garlic bread. Now we’re watching a bit of Fringe on 3, then we’ll play a few hands of cards while we wait to have room for the Rhubarb/Raspberry Tart with the Claret. Then I think bed.
More in the AM.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Had a good lie in this morning, didn’t surface until about quarter past seven. Found Mark up & shifting the damp laundry about. We keep trying to find a sunny place to put the airing rack but of course, the sun is only out for three minutes at a time & then hides behind clouds for a half hour & shows up in a different place.
After breakfast, our hosts came round for a visit. Lovely couple. I skipped church to be here when they came because I think they wanted to judge type of people to whom they’d let their house for ten days & decide if they should be worried. They answered all our questions and explained a few oddities of the house.
After they left, we headed out to the town centre, parked, and set out on a five mile walk down across the river, past the ruins of an old castle. Fabulous views. It was quite enjoyable. After, we rewarded ourselves with Tea at an old estate, the name of which escapes me as it contains two unused sylibles and four or five completely unused letters making the pronounciation that of an ENTIRELY different word. Even Garmin, Google & MapQuest can’t agree on it but it was quite nice.
Everyone is currently having a lie down (I do NOT do naps. Waking up is bad/hard enough once a day... why in hell would I want to do it again later the same day?) leaving me to do another load of laundry. We realized too late that doing it all together was not the wisest thing. We’re just going to divide the socks because we can’t remember who’s are who’s. Oh well.
At half past five, Dennis joined me & at six, we woke the boys, dressed & were out by seven on our way into Edinburgh for our first Fringe experience. Dennis did an admirable job getting us into the city centre and finding the car park. We walked a circuitous route, zigging & zagging, through the U of E, to the Meadow Big Top to see ‘The Lady Boys of Bangkok‘ which was soooooo politically incorrect it was amazing. It was not worth the entrance fee but was none the less, very entertaining in parts. We had Thai food from the pavillion and drinks from the bar & it was a marvelously lively caberet show. The ‘Lady Boys‘ were beautiful & the boys who were boys in the revue were very good dancers.
The show included Lady Gaga, Dolly, Liza, some Benny Hill, some Village People, some Celine, and lots more, ending with the boy boys in kilts performing 500 Miles (The Proclaimers) followed by You Take the High Road and the crowd, some of whom had been on their feet for a while, went wild for these two numbers. 300 people on their feet dancing & singing along. An experience for sure. I guess they're a bit sheltered here because the show was a great deal like every drag show I ever saw at The Copa in Ft Lauderdale in the 70's & 80's but with a larger cast. Bad lip-syncing et al. But a good time was had by all.
After a less hurried stroll back to the car park, Christopher did an excelent job getting us out of the city & home. Tomorrow, a bit of a lie in and then off to the borders to see the ruins of several abbeys & castles (all the good stuff’s ruined!) then home for a rest & back to town about half five to park, dine & attend the Tattoo at the Castle.
Cheers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our last big move


So... Off we went, on the ‘shortest route’ setting of the Garmin quite by accident. The road was not as bad as yesterday’s trip but... we turned a 3 1/2 hour drive into an 8 hour odyssey  There were lots of stops but many were 5 minute breaks mostly to do with needing to release a bit of tension from things like - leaning away from the shear drop for the last 30 minutes!
We went through some of the most amazing countryside on the face of the planet. We stopped at a marina for hot chocolate and watched a woman swimming in water that was colder than the beer at the local pub. We stopped in the town of Pinrith where there was reputedly a great museum but we were misled and only stayed 15 or 20 minutes. We found the most marvelous pub in the middle of nowhere (a village with about 10 houses in sight,all farms and far apart) for a wonderful lunch. We stopped in Housesteads at the most well preserved section of Hadrian’s wall where there’s a museum & the excavations of the old fort dating from the early 1st century and manned by Roman soldiers until the 5th century. Very interesting. More interesting was the realization that every meadow wall, every barn, every house for MILES, had been built by dismantling the surviving remains of the oldest structures in the area.
we headed on down roads that were bigger and roads that were worse but at every turn the view was amazing.
Having dawdled so much, we didn’t reach the house in Peebles (just outside of Edinburgh) until about six. We unloaded and unpacked, put in a load of laundry and then Dennis  I headed for Salisbury's and got provisions. Came home & Himself did very nice chicken boobs with sauteed veg and salad. Did more laundry. There’s no dryer so there are boxes, briefs & socks hanging EVERYWHERE. Tomorrow we’ll take them to the launderette to dry them otherwise, they might never.
Bed soon. Must see what time services are in the AM. 

Another full day

So after a delicious full English breakfast this AM, bangers, ham, fried eggs, hash browns, toast & beans, we piled into the car and headed off into the countryside. I think that for poor Mark, who was driving the first leg, it was the most harrowing half hour of his life. When I was last in The Lakes, I was a) in my 20’s and b) what driving I did was in a Mini which was about half the width of the giant Chevy SUV we’re driving. The road was, in places, about eight feet wide, at blind curves on hills with stone walls on one side & twenty foot drops on the other while the car is six feet wide. This was a two way road. Poor Mark performed brilliantly but we turned a ten minute drive into 30 and he swore he’d never drive again.
So we got to Chapel Stile, a village in Great Langsdale where I spent some time with Stella & Elsie when I was in my early twenties... about fifteen or twenty years ago. (I know. Dennis called me on that too when I switched from twenty years to in my twenties.) We parked near the local (pub) and walked into the center of the village (sort of walking to the center of Enchanted Place only on a curvy hill & everything was 200 years older) and I found Ivy Cottage, where we’d stayed and then walked up to the old church which was pretty much unchanged since the last time I’d walked up to it to services. The big difference was that when we walked to Morning Prayer that Sunday morning in June, it was snowing lightly and, because it was summer, they did NOT see a need to turn on the heat in the church.
Today, the weather was superb with a temp in the mid 60’s and clouds coming & going.


We left Chapel Stile and headed to Grassmere, having decided to skip Buttermere because the map assured us that the roads from the one to the other would be even more narrow and no one wanted to try them in our huge car. When er got there and found a place to park, we headed into the Wordsworth Museum and then toured Dove Cottage where he lived for 9 years and did a great deal of his writing. Both were very interesting, especially the size of the house where four adults and three children lived. Very cramped. 
After a nice lunch we came pack to Ambelside & took a walk to the park about a mile away for the great views of the lake. It was very chilly standing by the shore so we headed back & I diverged through the church yard and went in to see the church which had some very nice features and, seems to have a thriving spiritual community, but then there’s little else to do up here I guess.
Back to the B & B, rested, showered, dressed, and we were off to Farenelli’s for dinner & a movie. It’s a large complex at the bottom of the road where they have four screens, a bar, a lounge with live music, and a restaurant all fitted into several adjoining buildings that are very old but have been gutted & redone. We saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Well done. I’ll need to see it again. there were lots of great throw away lines and other references to the original like in one of the last scenes, as the apes were heading through the trees, heading out of town, you saw the headline of the paper, just thrown in the drive, saying ‘fist maned mission to mars lost.’ 
Home at ten. To bed.
Now, to pack, breakfast, and then, we’re on the road again to Edinbourgh via two stops, one of which is a portion of Hadrian’s wall that’s survived in good shape and a museum.
More later from Scotland.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A quiet finish


So at 8:00, we walked down the road to a lovely place for a meal. The service people were very nice, although, I think we frightened away the young man who took our drinks order... it was his first day and after playing 20 questions about the brands of whiskey, the difference between scotch, Irish, Tennessee & Kentucky, the brands of vodka, and the wine list, it was hours before we saw him in another part of the restaurant.
I got to see the look of shock on Dennis’ face when they turned people away at 8:15. He didn’t believe me when I’d said the town shut at 9:00 but it was practically deserted when we walked back at 9:45. Mark retired & Dennis, Christopher & I played Monopoly until a bit after midnight. We were the last up & had to turn out the lights for the land lord.
To day, we’re striking out for points north mostly... Grassmere, Buttermere, and chapel Stile (where I stayed at Ivy Cottage in 1982 and walked to church in the snow in June) and any other village that gets in our way.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


So, Himself is leaving a trail of stuff all over Britain. This A.M. I discovered he left the hair brush, deodorant and shaving cream in the bath at Staughton Harold House so we had to, after considerable discussion of who’d done this, go to the chemist’s & replace them. Had “Proper Porridge” at Pret a Manger and then came back to the hotel, got everything together, checked out & took the car to the car park outside the wall. We then did a bit of shopping on the way to the cathedral, in which Margaret, Himself & I attended Mass some 17 years ago & had a good look around but this time, we popped for the 5 pounds & got the audio guide as Dennis & Mark had never been. It was a fascinating, well done tour and as an added bonus, I ran into the woman who organizes the flower gild & we talked shop for a few minutes. We then went into the cloister to take a photo in about the same place Christopher & I posed 17 years ago. 
After the Cathedral,  we went to the ruins/excavation of the old Roman (yes, I know... everything Roman is OLD) amphitheatre, shopping a bit more on the way, and then walked the walls back to the car park on the river side of town. We piled in & set off for the lakes, a 2 hour drive mostly on the M6. About an hour into the journey we stopped for a pint a snack at the Priory Inn in a small remote village reached by crossing a bridge barely wide enough for the Chevy and CLEARLY marked ‘WEAK BRIDGE‘ then through a tunnel that I believe Dennis only went through because there was no way/where to turn about and go back. The village was lovely as was the food. I had Black Pudding on toast with red onion preserves Margaret!
Back in the car and we took the scenic route which was a bit harrowing at times due to the two lanes being about a lane & a third wide with people walking the pavement on both sides and cars flying by in the opposite direction but Dennis did a brilliant job of driving us here as I made a feeble attempt to navigate. Thank God for Garmin!
I’m now in the Conservatory at The Olde Vicarage, Ambleside where, as the door is open, it’s about 58F and there’s a mist falling. Dennis, Mark and Himself are upstairs resting and we reconvene here in a few minutes to walk to dinner. 
More in a while I’m sure as this town pretty much closes by 9:00.

A day for a drive


Good morning everyone. 
Last night’s journey to Widnes was splendid. Himself & Garmin got us there in 30 minutes (at half past five) without a hitch and we had tea and a nice visit with Elsie, saw the improvements to the gardens, and a nice chat over the fence with Ray & Frances.  Just before half-six, we grabbed the cheese tray and headed out for the short drive to Jon’s, Elsie not being up to the walk, and were met enthusiastically by Archie, his Shiatsu. His daughter Beth was there & as we were about to sit down to dinner, the older child, Sadie, called in for a few minutes. I hadn’t seen either of the girls since Jon’s 40th birthday weekend 14 years ago. It’s very sobering to see the babe in the photo in my hall a married young woman. Damn... I think I need a cane.
After drinks on the terrace in the back garden on a beautiful evening we went to table where Jon had outdone himself as usual, in spite of not leaving the shoppe until twenty past five.
There was wine, a starter of smoked salmon & prawns (I got Jon’s salmon & he got my prawns) followed by chicken breast stuffed with herbs & cheese with asparagus, carrots and boiled new potatoes, followed by an apricot tart and champagne, followed by lovely cheeses with crackers & grapes. The conversation was a great combo of gossip about people we know in common, travel experiences & future plans.
After dinner, we saw a few photos from Sadie’s wedding this past June and all to soon it was getting late, which sneaks up on you when the sun doesn’t set until after nine, and time to take Elsie home & make our way back to Oddfellows, our hotel in Chester. It is, Marie, just next to the Grovesnor inside the city wall sparking many fond memories of Janet’s birthday trip.
Of course, I carried the camera & took 1 photo of the garden & not a one of Elsie or Jon!
Home, nightcap in the pub and sleep.
Now, to shower, dress, breakfast and then have a turn round the city before we set off for Ambleside and The Olde Vicarage... 

A very full day


Wednesday:
This morning, I awoke at half-six to birds singing in the back garden & geese being very loud in the field beyond.
After dressing, I wandered down to the conservatory and was greeted by Michael who fixed me a cup of tea then set off to the market for fresh eggs & bacon. I was soon joined by Steven who, it turns out, beside being part of the management team of a not-for-profit hospice, does flower arranging on the side. We had a grand conversation. 
Breakfast was a marvelous affair in the dinning room with a cream Damask covered table laid for 9 with Blue Royal Derby and beautiful old silver. We had fresh fruit, followed by toast & jam then a buffet laden with eggs, ham & bacon & cereal. & fresh coffee & endless pots of tea. More stimulating conversation including the marvelous moment when himself said that Mr. Reagan & Mrs. Thatcher were both hard nosed bastards. He hadn’t noticed the very LARGE and several small photographs of Michael with her and when Michael said “actually, she’s quite a nice person” it was greatly amusing to several of us to watch Christopher back-peddle. 
After exchanging contact information with everyone, we gathered our things, said our goodbyes and headed off to Nottingham where we toured the museum in the castle which had a vast collection of mostly unrelated items from the 11th century to the end of the 20th. There were extensive silver collections, crockery, textiles and, in the cellar, all manor of bits from the excavations when shoring up the foundations 50 years ago. There was a great exhibit of military stuff from the Nottingham Volunteers & the N’ham Guards which kept Himself amused while Dennis & I went through the contemporary art, the historical paintings and then played with a group of children in an interactive exhibit where various wooden boxes, when carried through the exhibit, triggered something causing various notes & patterns of various musical instruments making a marvelous symphony as we moved around. 
We eventually headed out to the lower court for photos with the statue of Robin Hood and then down the road to The Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest pub in the Empire repudiated to have been open on the same location in the caves at the bottom of the castle since 1189. We had a bit of lunch and a pint at the pub and are now in the car headed to the old walled city of Chester where, after checking in to Oddfellows, Himself & I will leave Dennis & Mark on their own for the evening & drive about 20 Miles to the town of Widnes, on the Mersey (which is why I can never sing “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”)  to have tea with Elsie & then go to Jonathan’s for a meal.
If we get back to the hotel early enough, which was pretty certain when we were going out but a bit more iffy now that Jon is entertaining us, I’ll try to get some of this posted before it becomes a novel. 

Tuesday evening, a 1 night Weekend in the Country


So, we arrived at Staughton Harold House, Martin & Michael’s country place, at about half-five, right behind Steven who was also there for overnight. He’d come from Herford, on the Welsh borders where he runs the front of house for a Hospice Centre and had driven up that day to meet up with his friends Arthur & Jim who were spending a few days with M & M before a weekend in London & then back to their home in Malta (as opposed to their home in Majorca, or their home in the south of France.) It was truly an olde fashioned ‘weekend in the country,’ even if it was only one night, with a house full of very interesting & entertaining people. We had tea in the conservatory then retired upstairs to shower & dress for drinks & dinner. 
We reassembled in the conservatory at 7:00 and were introduced to Arthur & Jim (who’d been napping when we arrived) and to have drinks & snacks and then left in two cars for the 2 mile drive to the next village, Breedon on the Hill, for our meal at Three Horseshoes Tavern. The food was excellent, the company enchanting, the wine fabulous & the treacle tart amazing. Michael is well known in the village as a member of the House of Lords and when Dennis & I tried to give him our cards early to pay for the meal, he just smirked at us and didn’t even acknowledge our request. When His Lordship makes arrangements to entertain, no one changes them. 
After the meal it was back to the house for a nightcap in the drawing room & then retiring to our wonderful suite for a great night’s sleep.

And later that Tuesday...


Tuesday:
So we left the flat to pile into a van with a mad man driving who seemed to want to set a record for getting us out of his van faster than anyone he’d ever taken that far. 
We arrived at the car hire safe but a bit frazzled in about 20 minutes (about half the time  I’d thought) and got the car in short order. We upgraded to a Chevy SUV because our luggage would have never fir into the VW Wagon we’d reserved, loaded in our bags and, with Himself at the wheel & Dennis as navigator we were off. Mark & I make a marvelous chorus in the back seat calling out ‘keep left,’ ‘not that far left,’ and ‘watch out’ every few minutes. 
Made it to Blenheim Palace in an hour and spent 3 hours on the tours and having lunch. So much history and beauty crammed into one house. It’s amazing. The state rooms on the ground floor, about 8 sitting rooms & a dining room, were shown to us by a guide who was very knowledgeable especially about the art, which was mostly made up of family portraits but were wonderful. The upstairs tour was a walk through a further 8 rooms guided by audio, visual, and mechanical presentations... In the first room was a staged exhibit of the 1st Duchess Marlboro arguing with the stone worker and the maid told us, from a projection, about the building of the house. Next room went back to John Churchill’s affair with the king’s mistress in a replica of her bed chamber with a wax likeness of her in the bed. Doors & curtained panels opened & closed on their own according to que. All rather Disenyesque but interesting.
We left Blenheim and pressed on to Stratford Upon Avon for a very quick turn around town which mostly involved looking for a wine shop to buy gifts for tonight’s hosts and then did the requisite trip down the nave at Holy Trinity to pay homage to the Bard... One can get into the church and see the old church and certainly get into the shoppe but if one want’s to actually get past the choir and up to see the Shakespere’s grave, you must pay the man at the choir 2 pounds. Each. This is a whole new level of ‘the division of shameless commerce.’
We are now on the M40 barreling our way to Martin & Michael and running late of course. Christopher has done admirably at driving and Dennis excels as navigator. I wonder if we can keep them enjoying this arrangement so that Mark & I can continue to lounge in the back playing the part of Miss Daisy?
10 minutes to Martin & Michael. And a drink!
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A night on the town.

So, thanks to the lovely blokes who began scaffolding the place opposite at 6:15 AM, I’ve a bit more time than I’d planned so...
Warhorse was amazing! We laughed, we worried, we wept & we cheered. If you get to New York or London, or it goes on tour, it is a must. 
I would never have thought I could get so caught up in what is largely a puppet show but it was so well staged, with such simplicity, and such great lighting that you were swept up quickly. And then could spend the entire interval wondering about the engineering. And... well I'll stop before I say to much.
After the show, we headed to a place in the next road that advertised an ‘after theater prefix menue’ but was in fact closed. As were the next four places we tried so we headed off to Joe Allen’s which was fine with me as the one on Miami Beach has closed & I miss it but on the way, Himself spotted a ‘hangout’ that was having ‘Monday Madness’ which meant that it was full of young footballers & rugby players having burgers that were 50% off. I was very conflicted but, they had Kentucky bourbon and with my very large burger & chips being only 2.50, I could have another drink (or 2) so we went in. It was actually very good. 
After, a quick walk to the underground (in the rain to make the effect complete) and we were soon back at the flat all tucked up for the night. 
The car will be here soon to take us to the car hire place & I must still pack my new french press & a few other things so, more later.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our last full day in town


So here we are on our last day in town. 
Up this morning & Dennis did the eggs & bacon then after dressing, he & Mark headed into the city for some business at the Bank of England. While Himself readied, I pressed shirts & trousers for the theatre tonight then we headed for the underground. Arrived at Lambeth and headed to the Imperial War Museum. Guess who won that coin toss!
Interesting to see tanks, big guns, bombs and planes from such a spread of years all together to notice the differences & new developments. Also a very moving and well done Holocaust exhibit through which I wept a few times.
Headed down Lambeth Road to Lambeth Palace. More of a fortress. Not at all what I’d have expected but I can say I’ve been to the seat of The Anglican Communion even if Rowan wasn’t available to see me.
Walked back across Lambeth bridge & to Westminster Cathedral (RC,) not to be confused with The Abbey (CofE,) and had a look around. Nice place built in the late 19th century to look much older. Might be finished in the future. Marble & plaster only go up about 16 of the 40 feet leaving the brick exposed and the ceiling is unfinished but full of nice monuments, tombs and such. 
Walked to Victoria Station, such crowds in the middle of the day, and headed back to South Kensington. Grabbed take away from Pret a Manger and returned to the flat for a rest (euphemism for my packing while Himself naps) and will soon be dressing to go to the show. We’ll dine after, perhaps at the Grill at the Savoy, and be home late. 
We are being picked up by the car & driver at 9:30 in the morning to go to Heathrow & get our rental car in which we then head north for the day ending up at Martin & Michael’s so I might not be able to do any typing for the next 36 to 48 hours (we’ll be driving, touring, drinking & dining with friends twice in that order for the next two days & the next place to stop will be Ambleside at The Old Vicarage on Thursday afternoon.)
  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday afternoon

Lunch with Alec was wonderful. We walked to his flat in a very circuitous way and went up for a visit, then, crossed the road to a very nice Tapas place where he told us fabulous tales of dinner with Rex Harrison, drinks with Carol Channing, film sets with Peter O'Toole, dinner at the White House with the Carters, and lots of touring. When we left him, we made a quick stop back at the flat to grab the i-pad and then went to Kings Road to get a sim card & activate an account over here so we don't have to pay roaming charges outside of the flat. That accomplished, we made stops at Kheils, Mark's & Spencer's, and a few small shops along the way back. We stopped by St Luke's, Chelsae where they were serving tea on the porch but just missed the 'last call'. It is a lovely building on vast grounds where they've taken up almost all of the head stones & used them as a border about the wall & drive so that the grounds could be turned into a play ground and football field to one side and a beautiful garden on the other. I'm sure the owners of the stones didn't mind and they were all worn almost completely smooth so you couldn't tell who's was who's anyway.

Home. Rest. Bathe & dress. Off to the local Pub for fish & chips, steak & kidney pie & a few pints then back to Westminster to cross the bridge & ride the London Eye. Even for someone who's sometimes been stuck on his roof while putting up Christmas lights (yes, there have been one or two times that I had to wait for Himself to come up the ladder and sort of climb down with me... I can be that afraid of heights) it was amazing. The view at night cannot be believed and the sun set just before we reached the top. The thing is 135 meters high. (135 meter = 442.913 385 83 feet)

After, a stroll back across the bridge, lots of photos, a quick trip on the under ground and we're back in the flat having a nightcap. And, a few minutes before 11:00, I'll say good night. Tomorrow's a long day with lots to do before we must ready for drinks with friends of D & M before the performance of Warhorse and dinner.

Stay tuned.

The weekend so far...

So, yesterday I was the first awake a bit before 7:00 AM meaning, I guess, that I'm aver the jet lag & back on schedule. The rule for the day was the first up had to deal with coffee. Remember, no coffee maker. I dressed & headed to Starbucks, they ARE EVERYWHERE, on the next road. It was, of course, raining but it was that soft English rain through which one can walk for quite a while without actually noticing that you're getting drenched.

I asked for a 'Box of Joe' to go. I'm so tired of being looked at as if I'd just stepped out of my space craft! They don't do that here. One of them actually asked, after I'd explained the concept of a box of brewed coffee and to go being take away, why one might want such a thing.  I spent 20 minutes trying to explain the reasons & occasions on which I've gotten one and at the end, he said 'wouldn't tea have been easier?" Resisting the urge to kill him (remember, it's not yet 7:30 AM, I've had no coffee and am beginning to despair eve having any) he finally told me that they had a french press for sale. This made the whole thing worth while & I was the hero of the day when everyone else finally surfaced an hour latter.

After lounging about for a bit, Christopher & Dennis did a nice breakfast of eggs & bacon then we were off by 11:00 to be tourists.

We headed to the underground to be told the train we wanted was shut for the weekend for repairs so we headed back up to get the bus to Portebello Road for the Saturday Market. Portebello Road is a long stretch of mostly antique & 'craft' shoppes and on Saturday, there are twice as many vendors set up in stalls on the pavement. This draws in what appeared to be 93% of the populace of London and is a great deal like trying to navigate Lincoln Road at 10:00 PM on Saturday night or McFarlane Rd on Saturday afternoon of the Coconut Grove Art Show.

There were a great many beautiful things to be had for reasonable prices (as long as you didn't convert from pounds to dollars) so Christopher dragged me away.

We all hopped on the underground and surfaced at Westminster where we purchased out Tickets to tour the Houses of Parliament and then went past St Stephen's Tavern to lunch at a nice little Italian place. After our meal, we did the tour of the Churchill War Rooms. These are the VERY fortified underground rooms adjacent to Downing street where the P.M. ans his wife, along with a staff of hundreds, pretty much lived and ran the war during the Blitz. It's run by the Imperial War Museum & mostly was left exactly as it was the day the war ended as if they'd just turned the key & gone. The bits that had been taken away were of course almost all found & returned. There's also a vast exhibit about the P.M. It was fascinating. Then, off to Westminster.

The tour began & ended in Westminster Hall which is what remains of the Old Westminster Palace. (Edward the Confessor moves the palace to that location in the early 11th century and the hall was added by Wm II at the end of that century.) A GREAT deal of history has taken place in that room and it was awe inspiring to stand on the spot where Cromwell & Guy Faulks stood their trials, Richard II was deposed, the coronation banquet of Henry VIII, and, not in this order but, Edward VI, George V & VI, Mary, Albert, Victoria, George & Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) lay in state.

The tour was informative and the rooms amazing. We started in The Queens rooms which were all done up in gold, moved through to The Lord's which were all done in red and then on the The Commons which were all green. The Commons was hit by a bomb in the Blitz & is not as grand but still very impressive. Also got a lesson on the Gov't which confirmed that they're making it all up as they go and still seem to make it work.

At the end of the tour, Dennis & Mark headed back to the flat to dress for the Ballet & dinner (which they enjoyed very much) and Himself & I wandered across Westminster Bridge until Himself realized that we were heading for the Millennium London Eye. I very much want to ride this thing & Himself very much doesn't so we headed for Knightsbridge to shop. Or to look at the shoppes. We strode about for a bit while I eyed Ferragamo shoes for only 650.00 pounds and a D&G coat for only 895.00 and Himself groused about not finding an Apple Store.

After about an hour, we headed home, had a drink, dressed and headed out at about 9:00 for a VERY nice meal at an Indian place a few blocks from the flat. It was a pleasant stroll (we took a very circuitous route stopping at EVERY shoppe on the way in my never-ending search for
 a) real honest-to-God Kentucky bourbon... everyone here carries Jack Daniels which as everyone knows, comes from Tennessee and is harsh & sour.
 b) ginger ale to put with said bourbon
The entire country seems to have a shortage of these two important commodities leaving me forced to consume Jack & water.
The Restaurant was AB FAB, the food excellent, and, they had bourbon. A very nice one of which I'd never heard. Ginger ale was beyond them.

Home and in bed by 11:00

Up this morning, dressed and off to church. I'd chosen St Stephens, Cromwell Road as it promised to be High Church, was nearish, and the website spoke of music. Arrived after a pleasant 10 minute walk to be one of 9 people, inclusive of the Altar Party, who sat through a low church service that seemed more from the Roman Missal than the CofE Prayer Book. I almost went out to re-check the sigh to be sure. Maybe that was just because it was the Feast of the Assumption. Th celebrant might have been in a  coma. It was hard to tell. Oh well, at least it was a beautiful stone church from the 1830's.

Back at the flat we're now readying to go meet Alec McCowen at his flat for lunch. He's a retired star of the British stage who knows everyone (including Dennis & Mark, who also know everyone) and has had quite an exciting career playing the West End & Broadway as well as touring extensively in the 60's & 70's & 80's. Should be a fun afternoon.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the flat...

So everyone woke up, we made some calls to make and/or firm up arrangements for the next few days with people here in town and we were, all showered, refreshed and out & about by around 6:30.

We stopped at the desk downstairs to inquire about a few things like, we've discovered that there's no coffee maker or hand/dish/paper towels in our flat. The afternoon/evening young lady at the desk seemed bewildered by the whole conversation. I got the feeling that she'd ever heard of coffee never mind a coffee maker, & she said she'd have to check on towels. Wait 'till we complain that the once cube tray has cracked in half! We'll try with the morning person. She seems a bit more with it.

We bought passes & hopped on the underground a block from our flat and headed to Covent Garden. I of course got Piccadilly Circus in my mind & got off the train there. Fortunately, Dennis, Mark & Himself followed me (rather than saying "Oh, let him go. He'll find his way home eventually!) And more fortunately, Dennis realized the error immediately so we turned round & got on the next train... Of course, it was the height of the rush hour & getting onto both trains was a lot like getting a 350 pound man into a size 30 speedo... NOT PRETTY! We rode the two more stops & came up into a lovely evening with throngs of youngish people standing about having a pint in front of their favorite pubs in the square with street musicians scattered about.

We took a round a bout walk through French Connection where I realized, I'm to old, to the market & beyond to a lovely Middle Eastern place recommended by friends where we stopped for a meal. The food was great. The service was good too until sundown when the ENTIRE staff went to the cellar to say their Ramadan Prayers & break their fast. I'll give them that they were hungry as the sun didn't set 'till 9ish & they'd been fasting all day but it was a looooooong time between courses.

A quick ride home & we're all in bed by 10:30 (except Himself who slept longest & most soundly.

Tomorrow, after we solve the coffee issue (Starbucks 'box of Joe from a block away & then I'll go to Marks & Sparks to pick up a cheap, like there is such a thing, french press) we'll go do touristy things. Under consideration are the millennium eye (I'm dying to, Dennis is willing, Himself refuses,) and the Churchill war museum. I think tomorrow, we divide & conquer.

Still no smell of smoke or other signs that there's been any trouble here.

Stay tuned for the net installment and good night Mrs. Minivere wherever you are.


So here we are.

An absolutely un-eventful flight during which I slept a bit in spite of the size of the cheap seats. The flight was full, in fact it was over-booked & they were begging for volunteers to take a later flight through JFK which would arrive Heathrow 3.5 hours latter but as we'd already arranged ground transport, we didn't take up that offer.

We were met, as planned, by Dennis & Mark with car & handsome driver who delivered us to our flat (Harrington Court Apartments - how nice of Joyce Harrington o have a lovely old building converted to rather spacious flats for our use!) where we dropped our bags and headed to the V & A (Victoria & Albert Museum located just 3 blocks away) to do a tour of the medieval & renaissance exhibit. Beautiful things. Why can't I find workers like that in Dade County? I NEED all my doors inlaid.

After a couple of marvelous hours, some of us were feeling absolutely knackered so we headed to lunch at Greenfield's (not greenstreet's) Sidewalk Cafe and then, feeling slightly better we went off to Tesco for provisions and returned to Harrington Court to put them all away and unpack.
So far, not one burnt out building, fire, barricaded road, thrown brick, or even the smell of smoke in the air.
Now all my lazy companions are napping and I'm marveling at the ficticiousness of British air conditioning. Fortunately, it isn't remotely hot out and once the works crew and the renovations workers across the road cease for the day, we can open the windows & be MUCH more cool. It's currently 71 with a low expected of about 59 (Fahrenheit.)
The other English eccentricities that will be difficult (for some of us) are the total un-awareness of Kentucky bourbons. I might be forced to drink Tennessee whiskey for the duration but pray for a large spirits shop to be around the next bend. And of course, the fact that ice cubes are considered... un-necessary. The flat comes with an ice cube tray - ONE (1) - that makes - EIGHT (8) - ice cubes at a time. Eventually. They did/do not see any reason why the tray should be full of ice when you check in.

Well, this is more than I'd planned to post so I'll go finish un-packing & perhaps press a few shirts while I wait to see if everyone is gong to get up for dinner or just sleep through. I hate jet-lag. Mine will set in just as we sit down to dinner. Perhaps tomorrow, I'll learn to add a photo with a post !