Friday, March 30, 2012

Last Day in London

Since Friday is packing day, and we have to be at the apartment when Seven Seas shipping company arrives to pick up our 5 cardboard boxes of stuff, we Tubed into London on Thursday for one last time. 

Our agenda included finding the London Stone, the former location of Mary Sidney's house on Aldersgate Street, the Bodicea Statue on the Thames, lunch at the Crypt, dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, and an evening performance of Noises Off (a comedy that's getting great reviews).

We accomplished all of that, and I'll post photos as soon as possible (probably after I get home because we leave for Heathrow at 7:30 in the morning). Meanwhile, without comments, here are a few sample photos.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Farewells in Uxbridge

On Tuesday night we met a former Brunel classmate of Robin's, Kelly, and her husband James, for dinner at Ask, an Italian restaurant in downtown Uxbridge. Great company. Delicious meal. Super nice couple.

Wednesday we made two trips to the Brunel campus. Our timing was lucky on one of the trips and we caught the U3 bus at the half-way point. 

"Please mind your head" mates. As we walked back from Robin's night class we thought we should stop at a pub for a farewell cider. Our usual, The Metropolitan, was crowded so we went a few doors up the street to The Queen's Head.

I've mentioned The Queens Head before. Been here since the mid-1500s. Probably burned down once or twice over the years and rebuilt.  

A lovely lady kept making eyes at me. I love pubs. 

Portrait of a Queen's Head barmaid. 

The walk back to our flat takes through the ready-for-bed Uxbridge town centre. 

On the walk back to our flat, walking along a small side street, we grab a night shot of a Dual Carriageway sign. Across the street, just out of view, is the Gardeners Arms pub. Last night when we passed the pub, I went inside to inspect the loo while Robin waited outside on the patio. When I came out she was sitting at a table chatting with a guy that had just been in a knife fight, his right arm pretty messed up and bloody, his face was bruised and scratched, his nose looked unusually flat. He wanted a light for his cigarette, but we didn't have one. When Robin asked if he was OK, he said "It alright. No worries. Just part of the tour." I missed a photo op here, dangit. Especially when he asked Robin for a kiss. Oh well. Next time. Like he said, "Just part of the tour."

The Shakespeare Authorship Question, Summarized

Sonnet 81. It's like a transcript of what actually happened.

Three More Days

Just three days left to squeeze in another adventure or two.

We walked to the Brunel campus this morning so Robin could take care of a few errands, like closing her bank account and fixing a payroll office mistake. We're going back to the campus this afternoon for a farewell coffee meeting with her PhD supervisor, then off to her last class of the semester.

Fashion statement in the grocery store. I like this look. I'll be wearing a similar outfit to Albertson's when I get home, if Robin will loan me some tights.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we Tube back into London for a final day of fun and photo ops, including dinner again at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and Noises Off, "The ultimate comedy" that has "Too many joys to list." Years ago I saw a movie version of this play and I thought it was brilliant. Of course, that was before I was the sophisticated theatre-goer that I is now.

Friday I'll post photos from our Thursday night-out, then it's back to Heathrow on Saturday morning for the trip back home.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Backtrack to Dingle

Here are some photos from our Dingle Day, courtesy of Jamie who is recovering in Kentucky (but with fond memories). Jamie's birthday is the 28th, so we made this a dual-birthday celebration. However, we will celebrate again on the 28th. Because 67 is not for wimps. 

A very Dingle street.

The Dingle harbor. Crazy busy in the summer I'll bet. 

Funghi & Carla. I sense a connection here.

Darnit Dingle, you're just so adorable.

Robin and a friendly Irish chap at Inch Beach, on the way to Dingle.

 He looks familiar, but I can tell he's Irish. The hat is a dead giveaway.

Had trouble shaking the Irish guy. In a situation like this you just stop in the nearest pub, then walk back out alone.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More Miscellaneous

At Mark & Spencer stores here you can buy single glasses of wine for £2.50.

Experimenting with the Brushes app on the iPad. Adding color to a sketch.

New easy-to-take-off/put-on shoes for flying home and going through airport security. The other shoes I brought are very airport-unfriendly. High-top lace-ups with lots of metal hardware. Very comfortable for walking, very inconvenient at security checkpoints. 

Farewell Malt Shovel

Late Sunday afternoon Robin decided she needed some books and articles from the Brunel library so we walked to the campus. Since we're leaving soon we thought we'd have one last meal at The Malt Shovel, a short walk from the campus. 

The outdoor dining area is nice on a day like this.

Always studying. . .

. . .while the rest of us are relaxing.

The Malt Shovel is next to a canal. While waiting for the handmade salmon fishcakes to arrive I walked over to the canal. The building is a tea house. Water locks for the canal are on the right just ahead. There are two barges in the lock, waiting for the water to lower them down to the next canal level.

"Yes Love, I realize some blokes have a larger barge than I do. You don't have to keep reminding me!"

One of the gates in the lock.

When the water level is low enough, someone from the barge pushes the gates open.

More signs of Spring.

Spring & Open Fields

It's a beautiful Spring Sunday so we decided to explore a dirt path next to our apartment complex that we walk past almost every day. The path leads to huge grassy fields. Some have soccer goals in them, others are just huge green grass areas. I wish our dogs were here.

Both before and after this field are other fields almost this large, separated by hedge rows. The path curves to the left ahead, leading to another field almost as large as the first three put together.

Another path going up a small hill.

View from the hilltop. A sports complex is just beyond the track below. You can see the roofs of our apartment complex just before the horizon. 

The weather is forecast to be this nice until after we leave for home this coming Saturday. We hope to make it back here again before then with a picnic lunch.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sketchbook Pages

It's not entirely clear why the Yeomen Warders are called Beefeaters. The most popular explanation seems to be that they were regularly given a very large portion of beef as part of their pay and rations. Or maybe they had something against Fisheaters.  

Felt tip pen study. If you call your class drawing a "study," you're an artist. If you call it a "drawing," you get kicked out of class. I only do studies. While learning about Shakespeare.

Miscellaneous Photos

No need to feel shy about kissing your sweetheart goodbye at the train station. It's encouraged here.

Great art at St. Pancras train station. Just to the right, out of view, is an interior entrance to the Booking Office Restaurant in the St. Pancras Hotel.

Girlfriends chat on the Heathrow Express.

In St. Pancras station you'll find a brilliant sculpture of Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate, who is credited with saving the old St. Pancras station and hotel from demolition.

The Booking Office Restaurant. The hotel says it's casual dining, but it seemed pretty elegant to me. We had a delicious late-night dinner here.

Jamie gets excited when we ride on the Tube. Stay calm and carry on.

It's a fact, I'm sure.

A view of the River Thames as we make our final approach to Heathrow from Ireland. Less than two hours on an airplane can get you to a lot of interesting places, if you start in London (or anywhere in Europe). If you're in Texas or California, two hours on an airplane might not get you out of the state. 

Just stating the obvious for any UK blog readers that haven't been to California or Texas.

The Dingle Society

I received an email from Santa Fe friends Jean & John Cheek that said they also had been to Portmagee and Dingle, and have eaten at Out Of The Blue, the great little seafood restaurant I praised in an earlier blog article. Jean and John actually spent the night in Portmagee, and two nights in Dingle.

They also informed me that the first Trans-Atlantic cable was laid from Valencia, the island next to Portmagee (where The Bridge Bar is located). After lunch at the Bridge Bar we drove to Valencia and drove all around the island, not entirely by choice. A bicycle race was in progress and we were re-routed around the populated part of the island and along the scenic coastal route.

Since that makes at least six of us (John, Jean, Jamie, Carla, Robin, & me) who've been to Dingle and have dined at Out Of The Blue, I've proposed to John and Jean that we create a Santa Fe Chapter of The Dingle Society.

Membership requirements:
(1) Been to Dingle, Ireland
(2) Dined at Out Of The Blue

Meeting format:
(1) Call to order.
(2) A toast: To Ireland, Dingle, and Out Of The Blue.
(3) Meeting adjourned.

Society slogan:
Everything Fresh or Alive
(inspired by the official OOTB blackboard)

I'll be working on membership card designs.