London, London, London!

Driving from the Cotswold area there were plenty of scenes like the one below.  Guess which horse I am…..

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LONDON!! What an exciting city. Finding it easy it easy to get around on the Underground we parked and rode in. Well, we did have help at each station.  It seems my Stetson/boot wearing  com padre made it clear we were tourists along with my holding a giant map pronouncing stop names incorrectly.  Our B&B is located in the East End on Cable St. It seems this was the stomping grounds of Jack the Ripper. We also discovered that it  was  one of the most heavily bombed area in “the blitz” 1949.  Many of the buildings are of the 50’s era.  Now mostly inhabited by families of immigrants from all over the world we experience multi-cultural and multi-languages while walking down the street.  It seems the history of  this end of London has always been inhabited by tough and resilient people. We were fortunate to see an exhibition celebrating the women of the East End at a nearby church.

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This picture  is from the rooftop patio of our B&B Cable Street Inn  and shows a mural depicting a famous riot of this neighborhood.  When Mussolini came to power, Fascism was growing in popularity.  Hitler was seen to be progressive with his ideas and had a small smattering of support.  The people in this neighborhood weren’t having it and a 3 day riot broke out.  The neighborhood is quite proud of their accomplishment and believe this was the turning point to stop the growing Fascist support in London. Quite impressive.

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Time to wander along the Thames River.  We learned the Thames is a tidal river and is actually very clean with regulations over the past 20 years.  This makes my tree hugging heart happy. I did notice the ground, sidewalks and river were cleaner than I expected in such a large city.  An obvious reflection of London Pride.

image.jpegWestminster and G.  We eventually meandered to a restaurant which became a healthy eating favorite; Bar One. We spent time there  watching the people pour out of offices to scurry home from work. My brain is unprepared for the combination of the old architecture next to modern buildings and a thriving business community  seemingly oblivious to the contrast.

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Tower Bridge in the picture below.  Full of history and mystery.

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Moving on to the Tower of London and a Beefeater Tour. VERY interesting and informative.

Beefeater tour well worth it.

Our Tour guide, Clive, was so fun.  There are 37 Beefeaters all of whom live within the tower walls with their families. A fact I would not have believed until  I saw their apartments.  How great would that be to live in so much history?  image.jpeg We ended up spending most of the day exploring the tower.  We stood in the moat, marveled at old “graffiti”, weapons old to new, armor, architecture…. Camera roll below:

Apparently this particular knight was not taking any chances and protecting his favorite body part under all circumstances.

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imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageOn to Piccadelly Circus and the madness of rush hour! We managed to arrive just at 17:00 hours.  Lots of traffic speeding by.  Beautiful facades every direction.

imageimageAhhh LONDON!  You have found two new admirers.

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The Porch House Shenanigans

Stow on the Wold is a historic village in England who’s charm can’t be beat. We pulled up to our Inn after a day at Stonehenge.  The Porch House dates back to 947AD.imageStone buildings rise up from the rolling green fields creating a serene artistic backdrop to the day. Our room was charming with a sweet view over the park area. image

A perfect sitting area for morning coffee…

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G was excited over this toilet seat of solid cherry wood to a high polish. Of course the handle works (you guessed it) backwards (flushes up).  image

After settling in time to roam downstairs.

The rock walls, heavy wood and slate floors, and rough wood beams create  a time machine and our imaginations explore the possibilities…

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Sitting in the bar area watching people go by, G decides to have a drink.  Walking up to the bar and to our favorite waitress, he asks her for a screwdriver for him and a cider for me.  She pours the cider and hands him a real screwdriver, the actual tool. Thinking she is being funny he calls her “clever girl” (in his fake accent of course ).  Aparently she has never heard of a screwdriver before (in her defense neither had the bartender).  That’s OK Jenny, I had never heard of flat water before yesterday.   #The Porch House image

England meanderings

 

I could live here it’s so beautiful and charming.   Well, except for the driving. What maniac dedided to change the steering wheel to the right side.  If you have never done it (and want to loose some weight) I highly recommend it.  It’s aerobic!  I am sure my heart rate was at maximum level every time the British accented GPS  said “take the second left” as I am going CLOCKWISE around the roundabout.  It’s worth it to drive to the tiniest towns full of history.

It seems I am a collector of three types of photos; 1. Gravestones

Churches…

imageimageimageimageimage…and doorways.

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My husband is wearing his Stetson cowboy hat everywhere and his ostrich boots which draw a few stares.  So far only two brave souls have asked to take his picture.

We are loving the open air markets Wednesdays  and Saturdays. Homemade breads and pastries, meat pies, fruits and vegetables…

But then there was the pig booth. imageJust about anything one could do to pig parts is represented.  Thank goodness they left out the privates. I told G that Pig privates must not have the FLAVOR of bull privates or this place would have it.  He is ignoring me now.  Speaking of G, he answers people’s questions in a terrible British accent.  He won’t stop.  People just look at this black Stetson wearing, Ostrich boot havin’, American with a terrible British/Mexican accent with the most confounded looks.  Sigh.

Moon Salute

We have been getting up well before the butt-crack of dawn to adjust to upcoming 8 hour time change for a trip.   So this morning at 3 A.M. I began  my yoga, the Sun Salute, in the darkness.  Beautiful full moon last night so why not just change it to a moon salute?  The moon feels like a friend over my shoulder as I stretch and bend in the silver light.  Suddenly I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.   I spun around very fast! (Well it FELT very fast. Like the Flash…if the Flash was a 56 year old lady in her backyard doing the sun salute to the moon). I landed in my version of a crouching tiger/hidden dragon pose  ready to do battle only to see the object  moving about 10 feet away!  I jumped and screamed a little simultaneously realizing it was only my moon shadow. Caught by G, who was watching and is  now laughing hysterically.   In spite of my efforts to turn my yip and a dash into an impromptu part of my moon shadow dance, I have fooled no one.cropped-cropped-fullsizerender-32.jpg

I really like rocks~It’s a problem

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I am hugging this rock because I love it.  I didn’t want to leave it and really studied how to get it out. Even though it is a basalt rock and has been in that location for millennium, I am sure it wanted to come home with me.   It is a lot heavier than it looks. I will have to resign to  a visit now and then. Each place we go I assign a memory to a rock and bring it home. Sometimes it’s just a tiny pebble I slip in my pocket (like the time my daughter swam in the freezing cold tide pool at pebble beach). Sometimes it’s a big one (Like the time  I told G “Never-mind, you can’t lift that one”…so it’s in our front yard now).  My rock memories are everywhere.   I need them like Tootles needs his marbles.

image      imageG thinks it’s funny to hide random rocks, marbles, weird statues, or anything he finds in the yard somewhere on a shelf   for me to discover.  It’s become a such a thing that even some of our friends have joined in.  While standing in the kitchen after some house guests  had left, we found a jade skull among the random rock/marble/statue collection.   Another time it was an iron peace sign.  He is quite proud of this tradition he started.   Some of our best days have been hunting for unusual rocks or panning for gold.   Of course it is  fine when we are on the road but this  time we are flying.   We are taking an extra  checked bag  that is  filled with gifts and goodies to leave there.  Some see an empty bag, I see opportunity.   We can check up to 50 pounds. Not sure how Customs would look at the situation.   Hmmm ….. “But Mr. Customs officer sir, they are MEMORY ROCKS! They’re IMPORTANT!” One does not go around taking pennies/wishes out of wishing wells either right?  It’s logic, I think they would understand. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society

Saguaro Love

imageEvery May the forests of saguaro cactus bloom and hold their bouquets to the sky.image.jpegIt’s my favorite time of year.

The flowers turn into red fruits later. A brave bird has made a home in the cradle of arms.imageSome birds peck holes in the body of the Saguaro and stuff them with nests  for their birdie families. The holes leave scars and  when a saguaro dies the scar remains kind of like a leather boot.  Ambitious birds made the condos below. Which I turn into what I THINK is art.

The inside of the Saguaro is full of fiber, water and has ribs.   Below is a picture of  a dried Saguaro  that fell in the yard. Most of the fiber is scraped away leaving just ribs.

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Tohono O’Odham people have lived in the desert for centuries and make wine from the red fruit. NATURALLY I had to try it.(They had me at WINE).   image

While  cooking the “recipe” I  noticed it smelled like potatoes. So I put in more sugar.  That might have been a mistake and I think I waited too long for it to ferment because it was WAY too strong. It did taste suspiciously like Vodka. Well if Vodka was 100 proof and tried to kill you. Poured it out just in case, didn’t want to set anyone on fire from the inside.                                                    (I’m kind of a hero like that. You’re Welcome ). image.jpegSo here is the Saguaro  fruit rinds displayed in the Tohono O’Odham tradition to bring the Monsoon rains to the desert. Like magic it rained the next day.  There just might be something to these old traditions.

This is Tucson!

Practice Packing

Preparing for our upcoming trip I decided to practice packing.  Here I am trying to cram 3 weeks with of clothing for indeterminate weather into 2 carry on bags.   The Ryanair flight restrictions are extremely strict. Basically about 5 inches less in width than American flights.    Checked baggage cost is determined by weights and being frugal (cheap) decided to try just carry on.    Missing from the picture on the left above is my underwear (because I want to keep a LITTLE mystery).

I used packing cubes and rolled clothing which is suggested all over the Internet. I really like this idea and really kept everything organized.  I can take one or two things out and it retains shape.  Shoes are stuffed in the top and bottom in plastic with rolled up socks in them.  I was surprised how well it worked!

The cubes I ordered came with “secret pouches”. It literally says that:

I am using the secret pouch for electronics and sewed lines in the bag to keep everything separate.

I thought about painting over the “secret pouch” so that TSA won’t stop me and say “Hey, look in here!  It’s a secret pouch! Let’s strip search her!”  It could happen as I am typically singled out for a wanding at least.  Also several TSA agents have gone to second base on previous trips.  Not sure what wild haired middle aged woman is causing havoc but I must look like her.  (I really wish she would stop).

Finally I got it all in the two bags.  Practice packing success!  Now that I know it can be done I am a little disappointed that I am not leaving tomorrow and have to hang this stuff back up.  Sigh.