Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Breeze

Twenty days back in the states and I'm already plotting my escape. Doesn't take long. My excuse is Boxing Day matches - Chelsea of course, and RSC is moving the production of Hamlet to London in November. Yes, Patrick Stewartand David Tennant were that brilliant. Oliver Ford Davies is now my favourite Polonius interpretation. He's part doddering uncle who tells the same story over and over and over and over again only to get lost halfway through the telling; part over protective father willing to do what it takes to shelter his daughter; part co-conspirator. He was gobsmackingly brilliant. I don't need to prattle on about Patrick Stewart. He's been with RSC since the 60s. His portrayal of Claudius as an 80s type Wall Street business tycoon complete with pinstripe suits was spot on. Tennant exploded as Hamlet. His soliloquy was delivered in Levi's, a red t-shirt, and bare feet. Such rage and tenderness and madness.

But I am off topic.
It's Friday.
1453 hours.
29 degrees
I'm sitting in a fold up chair on the porch, the dog in the shade as well watching the world go by. This would be a perfect day for caravanning. Or sitting in Leicester Square. Or even hanging about Surrey and Greenland Docks. Even in Leeds with my mates who are enjoying a day of festival merry making and a Metallica show this evening or rather now as it's just struck 8pm. A day to be any where but in New Jersey fobbing off things I have to do.

But Goldy is happy to be able to hang about outside. Monday. Monday I will sort out the last of the work stuff. Meetings on the 28th and the 2nd and 3rd with the kids coming back the 4th. Summer is almost over. Quickly coming to a close and all I can think about is the next spate of days off.

Nice days off are so much better when this.... is your view: Stratford Upon Avon

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Stonehenge (and it's lesser known cousin Woodhenge)

In ancient times...
Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
Lived a strange race of people... the Druids

No one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock ... of Stonehenge

Stonehenge! Where the demons dwell
Where the banshees live and they do live well
Stonehenge! Where a man's a man
And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan


Stonehenge! Tis a magic place
Where the moon doth rise with a dragon's face
Stonehenge! Where the virgins lie
And the prayers of devils fill the midnight sky

And you my love, won't you take my hand?
We'll go back in time to that mystic land
Where the dew drops cry and the cats meow
I will take you there, I will show you how


And oh how they danced
The little children of Stonehenge
Beneath the haunted moon
For fear that daybreak might come to soon

And where are they now?
The little people of Stonehenge
And what would they say to us?
If we were here...tonight
-Spinal Tap 1984

And now, show some love for the Woodhenge...

The Joys of Caravaning

I took a nice weekend and "penciled myself in" to the diaries of my mates A and K who had purchased a caravan during the winter. I have been looking forward to this weekend ever since. Many Friday's I get reports from A that the caravan is being prepped for a weekend of merry making. It was to much fun to be missed and I had to get on board (not a great space coaster, but something similar - better food). Now, I know many of my mates and much of the Top Gear viewing public find caravans evil, anathemas to car worshiping serious drivers. Caravan holiday makers drive slow, sleep in their ugly boxes, and "how do you bathe?" LOL Rest assured, no caravans were set on fire or blown up for amusement. Instead, it served as a nice homestead to many days of mucking about Portrush, Balleymoney, Coleraine, and the North Coast.

In The Beginning

Sulis Minerva, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Aphrodite, Muhammed, and and Freyja were sitting around smoking stoggies and drinking whiskey. At stupid o'clock in the morning Kris turns to Jesus and declares this is the best whiskey he's ever had! Suli chimes in, "For sure!, Jesus, where ever did you come by such fine elixer?"

Jes gets a gleam in his eye, "Just something I cooked up. I've been knocking about with an idea."

"Wot's wot?" Freyja quzzically asks.

"Yeah," says DiDi, "Wot's the buzz?"

"Tell us wot's happening!" Bud prods.

"I think we should build a paradise that is as smooth and warm as this brew! A place so gobsmackingly beautiful people will sing about it til the end of time!" Jes swoons and nearly falls out of his barcalounger.

"And upon this land we shall place the sacred cow!" screams Kris, holding up his glass.

"And populate it with people brash, outrageous, and fearless!" DiDi chimes in.

Ahmed adds, "We must give them stunning views of green and blue. For their noses the smell of fertile earth. The taste of lamb and potatoes in stew, the feel of the soft breeze as it kisses their cheeks."

"Ahhh, Mohammed my friend, you are a poet, a romantic!" giggles Minnie.

"We shall give them this whiskey, the elixer of us godz! We shall make their tongues wag and their blood boil!"

"Kris, my friend, are you sure? Can one race of human kind handle such magnificence?" asks Jes.

The other godz chimed in oh yes, yes, it will be wonderful, let them have it all, it shall be as heaven on earth, and on and on it went. Ahmed put his mix tape into the CD player and for seven long days and nights the godz busied themselves, hammering this, and chiseling that, planting, sowing, reaping, creating to the strains of "Smoke on the Water", "Whipping Post", "Big Love", "A Touch of Evil", "Gold Dust Woman", "I Speed at Night", "Talk of the Town", "I'm Burning for You". . . On and on they worked creating a masterpiece for the senses. Day and night they toiled and drank and toiled some more, played some cards, and drank. On the morning of the eighth day it dawns on them that they should have created the union first and the mandatory union break second. They vowed that from hense forward the people of the land shall work no more than 35 to 40 hours a week. Anything more is just crazy talk! And thus, the ICTU was formed.

"And wot do we call this wondrous creation?" Freyja tiredly asks as she takes a long draw from her stoggie.

"Eire!" says Bud proudly.

"EIRE!!!!" they all exclaim. And so it was written. And so it was done.

2008 July 25

Ok - this bus trip wasn't as traumatic as going to Paris. I had a seat to myself until Birmingham. By the time we hit the second rest stop, my seat mate begged out and sat behind me with the dude-man (who, yes, was the epitome of dude-ness). Luckily he was still sitting with me when basic maths broke down in Manchester and they tried to fit more people on the coach than there were seats for. A "nice" family that I can only describe as the Gallaghers (of Shameless) fame with two extra babies boarded and much crying, walking up and down the eisles, swapping infants, and general loudness ensued. But at L16 ($34) you get what you pay for. The coach (National Express) wove it's way up thru the midlands and into Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway - ok, there is a massively cool brick bridge that I must come back and take pictures of) to dump us out at Strenraer ferry terminal. Now that is a water crossing vessel! POSH!!!! It's like a small cruise ship: restaurant, coffee bar, arcade, play area for kids, movie/tv room, comfy seats and a quiet area where I could get some kip. The trip to the ferry took from 1730 hours to 0400. The ferry left at 0430ish with arrival in Belfast close to 0730. My pimped out ride was waiting for me!

Today's exploring included stops at a Dunluce Castle, a trip thru Coleraine and Portrush, and a 2km walk that had me crossing a rope bridge 300m above the Atlantic on 2x4s strung together with rope. Yes, I think Carrick a Rede should play prominently in the next zombie movies. Lets see how fast someone can scale the steps leading to the bridge and traverse it with legions on undead on their tail! I felt like i was being chased by zombies trying to cross it. You betcha sweet bippy it was windy. My stomach was wibbly wobbly and I kept fighting the vision of my toppling head over heels off the bridge crashing into the water below. Obviously I made it, not once but twice - as the only way to get back was to cross the bridge again. Needless to say, the views of the Atlantic are stunning. I have yet to visit a vista on the Antrim Coast that isn't just gobsmackingly beautiful. The air is crisp and clean (and cow) smelling. I honestly don't know about Slartibartfast and his award winning fjords; but the Antrim Coast definitely got a few statuettes that year. The north country is such a vibrant mixture of blues and greens and water and grass, white sands, rocky cliffs, rolling hills, and cow and sheep lined pastures and fields.

The next three days was spent eating, site seeing, beach shenanigans, ice cream lolly's (think Rita's on a stick), watching movies on the DVD player when the sun went down, drinking, card playing, driving thru the country side, sleeping in the ASDA parking lot, more ice cream lolly's, eating, 2p slot machines, eating, drinking, and mondo hugs from my favourite little bolshie lass! (I hope she never changes! Refreshing to see that kind of spirit in a child! Her parents do good work.) If you ever want a sure fire great holiday destination - the North Coast is your place!

Ah the Things I have Forgotten

Someone once said "I have forgotten more things than you ever knew." Or something to that effect. It was a movie, of course, and the line has always stuck in my mind. Why random lines from movies stick, when other things such as paying bills, where I put the car keys, birthdays, and just about everything else falls into that random black hole void in my head is unknown.

I do realize that I haven't blogged about Stratford or the Dr Who exhibit at Earl's Court, Stamford Bridge, the Wedding, Caravanning, or visiting family in Dublin. I have literally hundreds of pictures that have already been sorted and burned (not printed for my scrap book - yes, I'm that obsessive, but it is a valid art form. Just wander into any barn at any county or state fair and you see what I aspire to. It's not easy! But I figure the twins: Jack and Molly, Goldy and Casey prefer having pens and paper all over the table than sharing their space with cows. )

Since most of you have seen Blink 2.0, I shall start with the trip to the Earl's Court exhibition center and the Dr Who exhibit. The easiest way to the exhibition center is to take the district line to West Brompton. You exit the tube station and walk across the street. Easy Peasy. The exhibit was in the basement. It only covered seasons 28, 29, and 30. There were plenty of props and small kiosks that gave an over view of the season, episode by episode. There were even stations where you got a glimpse into the special effects that went into making the show.

My favourite parts were seeing the Face of Boe (and we all know who that is don't we!), K9, and the Weeping Angels. The Ood portion was great as well. There were about five plexiglass encasements that depicted creating an Ood mask from start to finish. The amount of work that went into creating the creatures is astounding. There is so much detail into making it look realistic. The Oos, as I'm sure you saw, had eyes that blink, "eyebrows" that arch; their faces were quite animated. That takes more than just an actor in a rubber mask. Yet the marriage of actor and puppeteer is so seemless, when you watch, you take for granted the number of people that made the scenes possible. I also enjoyed looking at the costumes. You get a very distorted picture of the body types of people watching them on the television. I'm always "surprised" by how "short" many actors are in "real life". LOL Looking at the wedding dress from The Runaway Bride and the outfits from Family of Blood - Catherine Tate is my size (plus the boobage) and Freema Agymon is a pixie. She is very VERY small (as evidenced by her costumes).

The next three pictures I have been told are the most disturbing. Call it an awakening of childhood fears or superstition or just plain creepiness - the characters forthcoming elicited an uneasiness amongst many viewers.

And now for something completely different.....

Not sure what to say here. It's Chelsea FC!!! It's Stamford Bridge. It's my mecca. To think, on this spot once stood a stadium that saw well over 100,000 people gather to watch a match. On this spot, a club and it's debts was sold for a quid. From dizzying highs to devastating lows and still Chelsea and Stamford Bridge forged on. My how we've grown.

Like a moth to a flame, every time I've ever been to London, since 1995, I make tracks to Stamford Bridge. The grounds have changed, the tour guides have changed, the Megastore has changed, the museum has changed but the spirit of Chelsea has remained. It's a much aligned club and as such has caught flack from supporters and detractors. Since the club has got a bit of dosh in the coffers, the detractors like roaches are scurrying out of the cracks. Not bad for a club that was in danger of being relegated from Division 2 football. I can only snigger at those that accuse us of "buying" our trophies and players. Of course we buy players - just like everyone else who has a football team. We do our best to buy the best players, although there is disagreement on who is best. But at the end of the day it's all about who's on the pitch, the fortitude of our starting 11.

Both of these excursions - Dr. Who exhibit and Stamford Bridge I did on one day as you can see Stamford Bridge from the exhibition center. I did have a bit of a visa faux pas in the Megastore. LOL But as I buy gear once a year, I'm sure it can be forgiven. Besides, I bought things that I had wanted but couldn't afford on other trips (thank the footy godz for sales) and things that had been on "the list" for ages (my tie). After such a long day, I do believe I took my spoils and headed home. I was a goodly Monday.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Things I Miss

So I've been back in the states for three days. It's distinctly different. It's like being in the USA breeds laziness and apathy. I think I've left the house once - that's not counting taking Goldy for a walk, and I drove there. Yup. LOL So even tho I am grooving on central air conditioning, napping with Goldy and Molly, my car, re-runs of X-Files, new episodes of Burn Notice and Eureka! So here is a list of things I dearly miss about good ol' Londontown!

The Best Things about London that make me Misty Eyed

  • The free London papers. They literally try and force them on you walking into the tube and once there, you have to move them off the seats to sit down. So everyday you get your daily dose of "news" whether you want it or not! LOL

  • The Tubes - yes, I miss mass transit. LOL I miss using my Oyster Card, I miss the long treks at interchanges, I even miss the darn tourists stopping and unfolding maps with bewildered looks on their faces.

  • The Surrey Docks - my local pub. I miss just going there and spending hours doing nothing but surfing the web, chatting to old Norris, bothering Daz, watching sky sports without the sound, drinking lemon aid, eating the Beer and Burger special. I once spent nine hours in that pub. Not doing much of anything, but hanging out. It didn't seem like nine hours; I should've been on the clock!

  • Lemon Ade. It's NOTHING like what you get here in the states. It's fizzy like a 7up or Sprite, but tastes like powdered lemon aide. It's the best drink ever!

  • Ice Cream - yeah, ice cream. Sure I can run to ACME and get some or Rita's; but ice cream is more of an all the time thing in England and Ireland. Everyone gets ice cream lolly's. It's normal and natural and is as prevalent as breathing.

  • Being able to text or call my mates and it not cost an arm and a leg. I have a local number, O2 sim card, and no 5 hour time difference. So it was dead easy to randomly call or text my mates.

  • My mates!!! I miss all my friends. No, I didn't see them everyday, but I could have if I wanted to. Three of them work in the city so it was easy enough to meet up after work. Any day of the week at almost any time of day I could go get a hug or a face lick or just hang.

  • Having something to do and somewhere to go. I did spent time lounging around, but it still involved having to get dressed and leave the house. Even if it was something as minor as getting food or going onto the internet; I had to dress, leave, use Oyster, take public transport.

  • Dr. Who Confidential, nuff said!

  • Football news: yes, there was a glut of it and yes, some of it was inane; but just the fact that there was so much news about the upcoming season was really cool to have access to.

It is a bit of an adjustment to come back to the states. My body still says it's five hours later than the clock time. I still want to have a decent breakfast: eggs, sausage, bacon, soda bread, tea: but now I have to make it myself and the cupboards are bare. I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I get up and either get caught up on my DVR stuff or while away the time on the computer and have no one really to talk to. There is no pub to go to and I've gotten used to drinking lightly (amazing how little it takes to reactivate those darnable Irish genes! LOL). Sky sports in America is crud. I have to jump thru firey hoops to watch my beloved Chelsea - FSC has scant few games, Chelsea TV is only on Sky network (which you don't get in the states), so I have to order Setanta...

  • Whinge

  • Whinge

  • Whinge

The worst part: Metallica are playing in Dublin on August 20 and all my friends will be there. Everyone that I know and love will be there for a show and I miss it coz I'm "stuck" in the states.

I know I have plenty to be "thankful" for: Goldy, Casey, the twins Jack (who has gotten fat) and Molly, my car, the look on my nephew and brother-in-laws faces when they saw all the chocolate, having a tennis court out back, central air conditioning, being able to choose something to wear from ALL my Metallica/Maiden/Chelsea t-shirts... and stuff to look forward to. I convinced my sister to go up to NYC to try and get tickets to see HAIR - this summer's Shakespeare in the Park offering and if we can't get tickets then to the Bronx Zoo. There is also the Rodin Museum in Philly - see another cast of the Gates of Hell. And a new job starting August 28th.

But I do miss what I consider "home".

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