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Archive for March, 2011

with just two days to go till I go on my break, it is time to celebrate and start packing!

celebrate....it's time for a break!

Normally when you go on ‘holiday’ you would expect to pack your suitcases (or in today’s world with weight restrictions….just 1) and you begin to select items that will be of use

remember the camera!!!!

 or much needed, party clothes, ensure you have enough toiletries, pack any meds, insect repellent, perhaps slip in a book or two to read while you are lounging on the beach, and of course you would expect to take some clothes along (or not!) 🙂

heading for the sun and surf...suitcase following close behind

But essentially you only pack a few of your possessions and the rest of your belongings stay at home.

Well not me! I am one of those people in the very bizarre situation of living out of a suitcase permanently rather than just when on holiday.  So for me it is not a case of packing a few items to go away, I have to literally pack everything and take it with me!

Why?

why?

I may have mentioned before (or perhaps not) that I work as a Carer for the elderly (in some cases make that slave) and in this capacity I move around a lot.  So essestially I have to take everything that I will need with me in one suitcase!  This usually leads to lugging a very heavy suitcase around town (not for the faint-hearted).   This also means that I have to ‘move out’ everytime I go on a break.

So my home is my suitcase and when I take a break I have to take everything that I have with me…….out!

Most disconcerting.  Can you imagine having to pack up all your belongings, take down pictures, pack away books and ornaments, remove all traces of your existence from the premises…….every time you go on holiday!

on holiday 🙂

Not only that, but because I work as a live-in Carer I don’t have a home of my own! So I usually have to board, bed-down,

a bed......hope he ain't in it when I get there!!!

 couch-surf, doss-on-the-floor or find a place to stay with various friends or my one and only relative in the UK…..my daughter.

...... 🙂

Other than that I live in a hostel (not the most exciting of venues).

So ‘going on holiday’ for me is a different kettle of fish.

....fish anyone?

 And as much as I look forward to my breaks and love to go ‘on holiday’ I loath having to pack all my stuff away and lug a heavy suitcase about town.

The only good thing about lugging the suitcase around town is that I am reaching the age (have reached?) where lovely young things with muscles offer to carry my bag up or down the stairs.

mmmmmm 🙂

I guess I make a sorry spectacle standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs with a very forelorn look on my face (this is deliberate!).  If I wait long enough and look dejected enough….some sweet young thing usually stops to offer his help 🙂 heehee there are perks to getting old!

do I look pathetic enough?

So with just 52 hours to go on my MUCH NEEDED break….it’s time to pack my bags and go!!!!

On the plus side……I don’t have much junk, I do a clearout on a regular basis and my total wardrobe can fit into one suitcase!  Ok I fibbed on that one….I have a storage unit where I keep all the extraneous stuff that I have accumulated over the years, just a pity I can’t live in it while I am on ‘holiday’.

this is what I really need....actually make that 'have-to-have'

whey hey…….holiday times, time for adventure!!! Coming soon more London adventures …………………

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I got some extra time off on Monday afternoon and of course made my way into Central London (where else would I go?) 🙂

Unlike other trips where my intention is to just go #walkabout, this time I had a particular destination in mind: the Monument, just over London Bridge from Southwark.

the monument london

the Monument, built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of 1666

I am doing an article for the online travel site GotSaga, and have been gathering photos on various venues for the post.

After climbing the 311 steps to the top, taking my fill of the fabulous views from there across London and taking hundreds of photos (ok well maybe dozens!)

view of Tower Bridge in the distance from the viewing platform of the Monument

I returned to terra-firma via the incredibly dizzying spiral staircase, at which point I decided to go walkabout anyway 🙂

Let me say this right now……if you ever come to London….be absolutely sure that you go walkabout in The City of London.  It is fascinating.  I had noticed a fab clock on the side of the St Magnus-the-Martyr church just down the way from the Monument, so made my way there first.  whoo hoo!!! You will never believe what I discovered there, tucked away in an unobstrusive corner!

check this out!!!!

the remains of a Roman Wharf dated AD75 🙂

and yes I got to touch it. 🙂 I even took a photo of my hand touching the wood!! (don’t even say it, ok!) 😉

I will write more about this fantastic monument later.

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Yesterday I had some time off so made my way through to Twickenham to visit my daughter who has been quite peaky the last week and needed some ‘Mummy TLC’. 🙂  The weather was great by the time I arrived there and it was lovely to see the sun (the journey took 1.5hours!!!!).

transport for london, trains from barons court to richmond, district line to richmond

waiting at Baron's Court for the first train to Richmond

First we had a cup of tea and a wee chat and then went for a stroll along the river. She was looking decidedly pale and needed some sun.  We crossed the river via Twickenham Bridge and taking a short-cut along a delightful little road, we passed the entrance to the Old Deer Park.

deer park richmond

the entrance under the bridge to the Deer Park, Richmond

The houses that lined the road were wonderful, gardens and lawns beautifully maintained with the spring flowers and greenery sprouting vigorously.  The flower boxes are a delight of colour.

richmond

delightful houses, window boxes filled with colours of spring

As we reached Richmond Green, which certainly lived up to it’s name,

richmond green

living up to it's name...Richmond Green

we walked to the right and behold…..the remains of ‘Richmond Palace’!!! OMG!!!  Show me a palace or a castle and I go weak at the knees.  It was extraordinary to stand under the archway that led into the courtyard knowing that 3 of our Monarchs lived here at some stage of our history.  King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Right up my alley; I was enchanted.

richmond palace richmond

inside the courtyard of Richmond Palace showing the King's Wardrobe on the right

Yes it did say private land, and no I did not take heed!!  We strolled around the courtyard and discovered the ‘Trumpeter’s House’, ‘Number 2 The Wardrobe’ as well as the ‘Palace Gate House’ 🙂

the trumpeters house richmond palace

Trumpeter's House, Richmond Palace

Can you just imagine living in a house called ‘The Trumpeter’s House’!!! How marvellous.   The courtyard is delightful and so quiet you would never guess your’e right in the town.  The ancient hinges on the wall are massive and show just how enormous the gates themselves must have been to require such large hinges.

richmond palace

...now that is what you call a hinge!!!!

From there we walked past a magical row of houses named ‘Four Maids of Honour Row’……how quaint can you get!!!!

4 maids of honour row richmond palace

4 Maids of Honour Row, Richmond

Next we walked across the green to the town and made our way to a wee tea-room, a delightful little place, quaint and twee.  There we relaxed and chatted over a pot of tea and scones with jam and cream (of course!!!).

scones and tea in richmond

scones with jam and cream

After tea we walked back to the green and lay out on the green, green grass in the sun….the citizens of Richmond were scattered about on the grass, relaxing, playing games, throwing ball, little kiddies running about, parents trying to keep up; the buzz of conversation and laughter filled the air.

As the sun started to slip down the horizon it got chilly, so we decided to head on home.  I unfortunately had a deadline too. 😦

A quick stroll along the main road where we passed a pub called ‘The Old Ship’. Above the entrance were two lovely old lamps!

the old ship richmond

The Old Ship has stood on this site since at least 1735

the old ship richmond

old lamps and carved wooden detail

and then along the embankment that forms part of the Thames Path that runs approx 180 miles along the Thames riverbank from the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich in South East London to Kemble in Gloucestershire.  The grassy verges were filled to the brim with people all sitting out enjoying the sun.  I have never seen that particular area so heavily peopled before.   It’s quite weird….it’s like in winter everyone gets packed away in a box, and when the spring arrives…they all get let out again.

richmond embankment

along the embankment near Richmond Bridge

Along the way we passed some amazing houses…wow!!  Richmond upon Thames has, and is surrounded by, a great selection of historic houses and stately homes.

can you imagine that the water reaches right up to the wall at high tide

 I saw a heron fishing

heron fishing at the deer park in richmond

a heron fishing

 and stopped at the old ‘Meridian Line; that used to be positioned here (now moved to Greenwich).

meridian line richmond, kings observatory old deer park, kew road, richmond

where the meridian line used to be positioned. if you follow the line as the crow flies you will reach the King's Observatory

Then it was back home, a quick stop on the bridge to take photos….the river was looking absolutely fabulous.

the river thames richmond

River Thames as viewed from Twickenham Bridge

Then home for one final cup of tea and finally I had no option but to head on home…..a journey that took 2 hours!!!! urgh.  Sunday on TFL is no joke!

richmond upon thames

map of Richmond Upon Thames

There is so much to do in Richmond, and with a fabulous selection of historical houses, quaint and ancient pubs, high street shops, a number of restaurants and tea-rooms, the Old Deer Park, boating on the river and the Thames Pathway….you are spoilt for choice.  It’s a wonderful area and so worth the trip out of London…a trip that is an adventure in itself.

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Southwark to Greenwich – possibly (?) in the footsteps of Geoffrey Chaucer.  (and I have finally finished documenting this leg of the journey! – it takes longer to write about the journey & upload the photos than it took to do the walk)
The 2nd leg of my journey was meant to start at 6am…….hahaha. I only woke at 9am!!!  Again I tweeted my about stops on my journey and sent photos along the way. Hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did 🙂
09:55 urgh! So much 4 an early start! Still in bed! Hahaha. Had awful nite; soft bed 😦 but just about to up & going 🙂 #njgtravels whoo hoo
I had really intended on making an early start, wanting to catch the sunrise, but after a really late night decided that the world could get on without me and since this was my walk, I could wait a bit before starting….no rush 🙂
09:55 RT of a quote – Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking. (Ogala Sioux)
I finally got my act together, had breakfast and with my camera in hand, was on my way. Hooray!! I kept my twitter app open on my phone and watched the tweets go by and it was quite weird how the quotes kinda matched what I was doing!
11:08 rt of a quote – Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. -Doug Firebaugh
Then finally…..
11:09 I’m on the road again….tahdeedah I’m on the road again. FINALLY!! only 4hours l8! Hahaha. #njgtravels Good thing i have no train to catch!
Ha!!! of course I had a train to catch, a bus too. First bus 214 to Kentish Town, then onto the tube and the start of my journey.
11:11 next stop #London Bridge 🙂 This is like groundhog day! Only earlier #njgtravels
As a reminder of the places I had visited the day before, I made a quick tour for some more photos and then….
11:45 the adventure begins. 1st stop St George the Martyr church c12th century #njgtravels at last 🙂
It’s amazing to me to walk along these ancient roads and I revelled in the history of the area.
12:09 passed The George Inn, leaving London Bridge & Southwark Cathedral behind #njgtravels
Of course I did not stop in today, just waved goodbye and set my sails for Greenwich.
12:13 Tooley Str & Jamaica Rd part of Chaucer’s route? #njgtravels
Tooley Street; a road in South London connecting London Bridge to St Saviour’s Dock runs past Tower Bridge on the Southwark side of the River Thames, forms part of the A200 road.

tooley street

Tooley Street, an ancient byway survived many reincarnations

The earliest name for the street recorded in the Rolls is the neutral regio vicio i.e. ‘royal street’ meaning a public highway.  I planned to follow Tooley Street then into Jamaica Street and thence to Deptford via Rotherhithe.  First I passed London Bridge Station

london bridge underground station

London Bridge Station

 This was the first time I had actually walked so far along Tooley Street. My usual walk would be on the riverside along the Thames Path.  Mounted on the wall I saw an old WW2 sign that said “Is your journey really necessary?” …..uuummmhh yes!!!

is your journey really necessary?

12:26 now exploring unchartered territory. Never been this side of #london b4. #njgtravels
Hmmmm. Really interesting to see all the new buildings amongst the old. Passed a great little pub with a fabulous frontage; The Shipwright’s Arms.

shipwrights arms tooley street southwark

the Shipwright's Arms......a delightful entrance

I stopped for loads of photos along the way and could probably have done the walk a lot quicker but for that. 🙂
12:55 making good progress! Passed Tower Bridge, now in Jamaica Road. Taking a detour to look at the Thames. #njgtravels
Tower Bridge is just marvellous and certainly the most magnificent of all London’s bridges.

tower bridge london

Tower Bridge - London

Once I reached Bevington Street I had grown bored with the buildings and apartment blocks on the route so decided to head for the river for a bit of a break.

Whoo hoo….I met up with the Thames Path…whey hey. I did not realise it ran this far. See…I have been here 9 years and  am still discovering things 🙂

river thames london

looking back along the river from the Thames Path near Bevington Road

13:09 okay. Have decided to follow the Thames Path 4 a way. Interesting things to see 🙂 #njgtravels
It was way cool and looked so much more interesting so I decided to continue along said path and find what I could find!  At my point of entry I found a wee pub “The Justice” that had been used by Sir Paul McCartney for scenes from his film ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street’ and for his music video ‘No More Lonely Nights’.

old justice pub rotherhithe london

Old Justice - exterior & interior used by Sir Paul McCartney

As it was closed I did not get to go in, another time perhaps. I marched on, aware of the time ticking along….that waits for no man!!! By now I was getting tired and thirsty and all the water in the river was beginning to look really inviting 🙂 and then….
13:14 hooray! I spy an Inn. This traveller is going in 4 a pitstop! Just met Dr Alfred Salter #njgtravels The Thames path is gr8
Wonderful.  I discovered a sculpture of Dr Alfred Salter (born 1873 and started Guy’s Hospital 1889) and his daughter Joyce who died from scarlet fever aged 9 in June 1910, and their cat.

dr salter

Dr Alfred Salter - born 1873

Diane  Gorvin’s sculpture shows a kindly Dr Salter waving to his daughter Joyce who is leaning against the Thames wall with her cat nearby. It represents the “daydream of an old man remembering happier times when his ‘sunshine’ was still alive.”

Joyce Salter - died of scarlet fever 1910

Marvellous. I love discovering things like this…..our hidden gems.
13:25 whew! Gr8 to put the old feet up for 5min. At the Angel Inn, fab views frm upper lounge. Prop. Jackie a peach. Allowed photos 🙂 #njgtravels
Definitely worth the stop and something to bear in mind for the future, I stopped off at the Angel Inn for a bit of feet up and something to drink.

angel inn rotherhithe

Angel Inn, Rotherhithe - a fine place to tarry awhile

The views from the upstairs lounge are fabulous and the Sunday lunch that was being eaten a few feet away smelled delicious.  The coke went down exceptionally well and slaked my thirst.  The proprietor was lovely and allowed me to roam about and take photos. The Angel Inn is a 19C restored pub on a 15C pub site, originally kept by monks from Bermondsey Abbey and mentioned by Samuel Pepys.
13:26 i dont usually drink coke but by golly this 1 is going down well. #njgtravels
The opposite side of the Thames is yet to be explored by this adventurer and looking across the river at the buildings lining the bank was really enticing.

view across the river.....begging to be explored

13:28 there are some awesome buildings across the river. Bear further exploration l8r. #njgtravels
After my drink I set off once again, but not before having a quick look at the remains of King Edward III’s (1327-1377) moated Manor House.   Don’t you just love that we preserve these places instead of ripping them out!!!

ruins of King Edward III's Manor House - directly opp the Angel Inn

From there I walked along the winding Thames Path, marvelling at all the interesting buildings. I spied a Church that demanded further exploration: St Marys the Virgin, 14C rebuilt 1715 is the 3rd church on the site and Grade II listed. Features of note are: Timbers from Termeraire. Grinling Gibbons carvings. A fine ‘peel’ of eight bells. Tomb of Prince Lee Boo of Pelau. And has links with sailing of the Mayflower.   Whoa!!! This little church was frequented by Capt Christopher Jones of Rotherhithe, captain of the Mayflower and apparently the Mayflower set out not far from this spot all those years ago.

saint mary the virgin rotherhithe captain christopher jones of the mayflower

Saint Mary the Virgin Rotherhithe

The little pub ‘The Mayflower Inn’ (1780 as Spreadeagle) displays a list of passengers who sailed on the Mayflower.

mayflower in rotherhithe the mayflower

Mayflower Inn, Rotherhithe

The pub looks absolutely darling and I noticed that they serve afternoon teas there…hmmmm gonna have to come this way again sometime. 🙂  Venturing only just a few yards along I made another discovery…………
13:48 oooo! I just discovered Brunel’s Museum. Awesome 🙂 def gonna come back #njgtravels
Wow!!! how amazing. ‘A scheduled Ancient Monument and International Landmark Site’ the museum dates from 1842.

brunel museum rotherhithe

the Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe - 'A scheduled Ancient Monument and International Landmark Site' the museum dates from 1842

There are a number of metal structures, tiny replicas of some of his works dotted around the grounds of the museum.  Definitely have to visit this area again.  On the move again, I chanced upon a small enclosed garden and patio hidden behind a screen of hedges.
13:52 just passed Cumberland Wharf & the statue of a wee boy reading the Sunshine Weekly. Cute. #njgtravels
how cute is this.  I am constantly amazed at the delightful sculptures that abound in this city.

sunbeam weekly rotherhithe

reading the 'Sunbeam Weekly' - Cumberland Terrace, Rotherhithe

Besides the other wonders I discovered I also visited the Bascule Bridge which replaced the original swing bridge over dock entrance of Surrey Water.

bascule bridge rotherhithe

Bascule Bridge Rotherhithe

Along the way I passed some girls collecting for a memorial to a friend who had died. Chatted to them briefly and they were highly amused by what I was doing and when I told them my twitter handle was ‘notjustagranny’ they burst out laughing. hahaha
14:12 rightio! Back on Jamaica Rd. Brilliant detour along Thames Path. Has started raining, wish me luck! Eish #njgtravels
After a long walk and further exploration I finally made my way back to Jamaica Road. Popped in at Southwark Park 1869 (63 acres, designed by Alexander Mckenzie)

southwark park

Southwark Park - 1869

for a quick look see and after picking up a rather marvellous brochure from Rotherhithe station I discovered that……
14:25 btw its Sunbeam Weekly not Sunshine Weekly hahaha #njgtravels – So that corrects that error! 🙂
The Rotherhithe Road Tunnel 1908 looks quite interesting and the archway at the entrance/exit is constructed by parts of the Greathead Shield used to partly dig the tunnel.

rotherhithe road tunnel rotherhithe

part of the Greathead Shield over the entrance to the Rotherhithe Road Tunnel - 1908

14:36 mmm, interesting. Just did a quik detour to look at Rotherhithe Tunnel & Southwark Park. Nice. On the way again. #njgtravels
From there I had planned to walk along Brunel Road into Salter Road in a semi-circle following the curve of the river to Surrey Docks.  But the weather had other ideas and it started to rain.  So I hailed a carriage (aka a bus) and travelled in ….maybe not style but certainly in comfort out of the rain. (I am sure Chaucer would have done that same!)
15:00 now in Deptford = Chaucer’s 1st stop. Did what any sensible pilgrim wld, took a modern day carriage aka a bus 🙂 Its raining! #njgtravels
Geez…..I sure hope that Deptford was a little more interesting in Chaucer’s day.

deptford

looking along the road at Deptford

Not to offend anyone but it sure ain’t pretty.  Mind you it was probably forrested in his day and they most likely had to contend with wild boar and highway men!!!
15:08 i hope Deptford was a tad more interesting in Chaucer’s day! #njgtravels …in the rain! Urgh must be insane!
It was still raining but I was determined to walk and not take a bus again, so ignoring the wet I soldiered on. The I spied…..
15:18 ok, Deptford…all is forgiven. Just spotted a gorgeous little church, St Lukes. Lovely 🙂 #njgtravels

st lukes deptford

St Luke's Deptford - very cute

Whey hey!!! Just spotted a sign that told me I was not far at all from Greenwich and my destination.

4.5 miles behind me from Tower Bridge to Deptford...almost at Greenwich

15:23 15min or less till #Greenwich if i dont get distracted! #njgtravels
Well famous last words…..of course I got distracted.  A sign showed me the way 🙂 Hahahaha. I spied a signboard that told me if I walk thataway I would see a statue of Peter the Great. How could I not take a detour.  Mind you by now I was dead keen on getting to a loo!!! and a cup of tea would not have gone amiss….but never to bypass something of interest I followed the detour and boy am I glad I did.
15:36 taking a small detour to see statue of Peter the Great. See! I told u 🙂 Fab view of Canary Wharf. #njgtravels
Wonderful, wonderful!  The views along the river in all directions was fabulous.  The statue was brilliant and not at all what I had expected.  Had fun sitting on his throne (not quite the kind of throne I was wanting, but hey…) and surveying the peasants heehee!!!

peter the great statue greenwich

view along the Thames from my vantage point on the throne 🙂

15:39 am sitting on Peter the Great’s throne. Hpe he doesnt mind 🙂 Brilliant views along the Thames. #njgtravels

peter the great

a fabulous emsemble...Peter the Great towers above the wee man on his right and the throne on his left & a cannon

Tsar Peter I of Russia (described as ‘Peter the Great’) travelled to Europe in 1697-98 as a young man, to study new developments in technology, especially shipbuilding.  He lived near the Royal Dockyard in Deptford, at the home of the writer John Evelyn, for much of his four-month stay in England. The monument includes one dwarf jester holding a ship and globe, while Peter standing next to a throne, carries a telescope. Next to the throne is an ornate cannon.
The statue was unveiled by Prince Michael of Kent in June 2001.
Created by: Cleve Severin – Erected 2001 to commemorate the Tsar’s visit

After I had had my fill of the scenery and sitting his lordships throne I headed back to the main road.  The light was beginning to dim and I still wanted to head for the Royal Observatory…my aim was to stand on the Meridian Line.   I bet if Chaucer had known he would be able to do that he may have postponed his trip somewhat!!!   and yes……….tah dah…………
15:40 from where i am now its 4.5 miles to Tower Bridge behind me! Whoo hoo!! Almost there #njgtravels

And finally I entered the outskirts of Greenwich.  Hooray!!!

greenwich book place and gallery greenwich london

Greenwich ......hooray!

15:55 I’m here! #Greenwich hooray! 4 hours 5 miles 1,000’s of steps & i am here! 🙂 #njgtravels
and now it was……………….
15:56 time for a cup of hot chocolate! Think i deserve it, am frozen! 🙂 #njgtravels
Hhmmm, on 2nd thoughts and as the light was getting dim………
16:03 actually, am heading up to the Observatory 1st. Getting dark & want to stand on Meridian Line #njgtravels 🙂

Whew, thanks heavens I had decided to do this first. The Observatory closes at 5pm!!! so I just had enough time to whizz thru, take some photos, stand on the line where east meets west,

prime meridian line royal observatory greenwich

16.19 - standing on the Prime Meridian Line, Royal Observatory, Greenwich

 a quick visit to the observation deck and then head downhill……

royal observatory greenwich

the Royal Observatory perched on a hill overlooking Greenwich...the climb is a 'bit' of a challenge!!

I have been to Greenwich before and climbed the blessed hill to the Observatory. It wasn’t any easier this time around either!
16:33 whoa! The walk up to Royal Observatory is a challenge! The view phenomenal Stood on Meridian line 0’00 degr longitude awesome 🙂 #njgtravels

17:27 whew! At last i am sitting down! Journeys end @starbucks #Greenwich. Cappuchino in front of me 🙂 yay #njgtravels
OMGosh did that coffee taste ever so good. And it was marvellous to take the weight off my feet! I had intended going to Costa Coffee for a hot chocolate…..but it was closed!!! dimwits.  After the coffee I meandered towards the station, first visiting the Greenwich Market, great place. I love the little alley ways and cobbled streets in the area.

greenwich market

narrow alleys and lanes of Greenwich Market

I visited St Alfrege Church as well…wow! Gorgeous interior. Made a quick visit to the Mitre Pub, looked fun albeit noisy so was glad I had changed my mind about sleeping there that night. And then it was………….
17:51 ok! My carriage awaits – aka the DLR – heading home= shower & bed! Gr8 day 🙂 #njgtravels

and again a marvellous quote to end the journey.
17:51 rt of a quote – Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” ~Henry Miller

greenwich tube station

underground at Greenwich station

 after a long day and fun day of exploration, discoveries galore and doing what I love…walking, photographing and generally having a good time I reached home. And one last tweet for the day!
19:45 rt of a quote – Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~Mahatma Gandhi #quote

What a great time I had. Rotherhithe is filled with delights that I have yet to see, so with the brochure in my hands, my next visit will be more extensive and since I won’t have a schedule to run to I will be able to explore some more and definitely stop off for lunch at the Angel Inn, afternoon tea at the Mayflower Inn and visit the Brunel Museum and St Mary the Virgin amongst others. Another adventure!!

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It was with the greatest sadness that I learned today of the death of an icon; Elizabeth Taylor.  The first I heard of the news was in a text from my sister who lives in South Africa to ask if I had heard anything.  I had not, but immediately got onto twitter and there it was 😦 – “Elizabeth Taylor Has Died at the age of 79 – NYTimes.com”

At that precise moment I was standing on the Stone Gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral looking out across London and marvelling at how lucky I am to live in this wonderful and beautiful city.  My sister thought it was quite apt that I should be at St Paul’s on hearing this news.

As I read the newsfeed on twitter I felt an inextricable sense of loss.  A deep sadness that threatened to overwhelm me at that moment and I found myself in tears as I looked out over the city.  This may seem odd to anyone reading this blog, but Elizabeth Taylor, although I never met her personally, played a big part in my childhood.   My mother was a huge fan of hers and we saw every movie that had Elizabeth Taylor in it.

As children growing up in the ‘backwaters’ of South Africa (I joke of course), to us, Elizabeth Taylor seemed almost always in the news; London, Hollywood and in fact ‘overseas’ in general always looked glittering and enticing, an unreachable world of glamour.  It helped of course that she was incredibly beautiful and ‘appeared’ to lead a charmed life.

As children we, my sister and I, thought that my mother was incredibly glamorous, with her lovely long titian hair that hung down her back.  When she dressed up to go out, we hung around admiring her outfits and jewellery; entranced as she ‘did her face’.   We thought she was the image of Elizabeth Taylor and often told her that.  Needless to say she scoffed at the very idea, but truly when she did her hair up in the swirls and curls of the swinging sixties fashions, she looked almost identical to Elizabeth Taylor, more particularly when she wore a turban on her head….an egyptian beauty in Jo’burg. 

So as I stood there, hundreds of feet above the city, the wind was taken out my sails and I sat down on the bench nearby with a thump.  At that moment it felt like a link, albeit  a very tenuous link, to my mother had just broken.  She, Elizabeth Taylor was only 79!  that is still such a young age in today’s world.   My mother died 27 years ago just a couple of months short of her 53rd birthday.   

I have surpassed that age and next month celebrate my 56th birthday (urgh – I am far too young to be 56!!!) and it suddenly came home to me that it was time I made some changes in my life.  I have been threatening to quit my job for a very long time now.  I feel like life is whizzing me by, working 24hours a day/7 days a week with the occasional break and days off (of course I always make the most of those breaks & days).  I keep finding reasons to not quit, like I have debts to pay, I want to save up for a campervan and/or blah blah blah!   Frankly it is just total fear that keeps me from making the break!

And so, in that very moment, as the news hit home, and I sat there with tears running down my face, I made the decision to quit my job.

There is so much I still want to do and places I want to go and I am damned if I am going to my grave not having been to or done the things I want to do.  “When people say, ‘She’s got everything’, I’ve got one answer – I haven’t had tomorrow.” Elizabeth Taylor.

So goodbye Elizabeth Taylor and au revoir Mommy, we miss you.

my Mother and daughter. taken 3 years before my Mom died.

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Super Moon

I nicked this off facebook tonight. I love stats (being an Credit Controller in my previous life, why wouldn’t I?) whee, look at the figures.  I love that I get to see things like this.  Living history.  One day I will be able to tell my grandchildren about the Super Moon and show them the photos.

updated: 19:25 my photo of the moon rising in London

Super Moon over London March 19 2011 at 19:10 GMT

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The last few years have been like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie, what with earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes occurring round the world and in terms of reality make the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” look pale in comparison (or rather too realistic).  I am sure many will agree that these events has been observed with increasing unease.  The 2004 Boxing Day quake and tsunami shook the world in many ways.  The Haitian and Chilean earthquakes followed and again we watched with horror at the total devastation that occurred, unable to believe that such terrifying events could occur outside of the blockbuster movies.

Then just recently Pakistan and then Australia were hammered by devastating floods and following close on the heels was the New Zealand earthquake.  I was reminded of a blog post I read a few months ago via my wordpress friend Thomas (click here to read the article) wherein the Indian Scientist concerned linked the beaching of whales and dolphins to seismic activity beneath the waves.

If you look at the happenings around the world, his theories certainly hold water. The number of whale and dolphin beachings that occured recently seem to add weight to his theories. Then the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami occured and once again we were left horrified at the scenes that unfolded before our eyes. Watching all of this has left me wondering why we think we can in any way even begin to think that we ‘control’ nature.  There is little control at all.

I think we are often lulled into a false sense of security by benign weather, long lazy days of sunshine and balmy winds and then all hell breaks lose and we are tossed about like so much flotsam and jetsam…..absolutely no control at all.  Somehow it reduces all our daily issues and makes them totally inconsequential in the face of the fury that gets unleashed.  What does it matter that the tube is late, or the price of fuel has gone up, or whatever issues we face in our daily lives when you see the pain and despair of people who have lost loved ones in the blink of an eye.  We get so involved in our own little worlds and it takes something like these natural disasters to shake us out of our reverie.  Petty arguments seem ridiculous when you realise that thousands of people woke that day, went about their daily business and hours later they were no more.

On March 19, 2011 the Moon will pass by Earth at a distance of 356,577 kilometers (221,567 miles) – the closest pass in 18 years and according to some experts in their field, this will cause an increase in natural disasters.  There is a lot of ‘scientific’ speak on the websites I have read that makes no sense to me whatsoever, but nevertheless, it doesn’t sound good.   I just watched a video on youtube that has sent the heepy creepies up my spine!!! I am not sure if I am terrified or excited.  Is this the end of the world?  According to our interpretation of the Mayan predictions the world is meant to end in 2012…… will it?  Eek! I hope not.

Here is the video:

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irish blessing st patrick jonathan swift gullivers travels

may the sun shine warm on your face, may the wind be always at your back

 

An Irish Blessing (A Blessing from St. Patrick)

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

May the rains fall soft upon your fields,

And, until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

(Traditional Irish Blessing; origin unknown, attributed to St Patrick)

A few years ago (ok so probably 13 years ago) my sister and her husband moved to Ireland.  The Celtic Tiger had just woken up and the Irish Economy was booming.  Them two were IT experts and my sister was hired by a large corporation in Ireland to be their IT person.  She did all sorts of wonderful things, none of which I could explain to you since none of it makes any sense to me.  I am so not IT literate and most of the time her IT language was like gobbledy gook to me.  I knew she was speaking English but the words she used had no meaning in any context for me.  I guess that’s how a foreigner would feel landing on our fair shores for the first time.

Anyhow, I flew over to join them in October 2001 to help her celebrate her 30th birthday and as mentioned in a previous post, I never went home again. 🙂  (I now live in London) So, arriving in Ireland was like a bird being let out of a cage and I revelled in the freedom I found there.  I also fell in love with the people, the culture, the history, the towns and villages and just about everything Irish, especially the music and the dancing.

I also loved the fact that in the far distant past on my paternal grandfather’s side we have Irish lineage, in fact I believe that we are distantly related to Jonathan Swift.  Although I am not sure I should mention that coz of course history tells us he went insane.  Mind you, one would have to be a bit daft to write that kind of story.   So whereas in the past I did not much contenance the fact that I had Irish heritage, and pretty much ignored it, once I arrived in Ireland I found a new sense of historial root attachment and made much of the fact.

One of the many things I discovered about Ireland that I loved, and there are many many things, was the above Irish blessing.  I think it is one of the loveliest combinations of English (Irish?) words  in history.   The Irish people are true poets at heart, can wax lyrical on just about any subject you care to mention, and some of the most well known poets and literature giants of history are Irish.  They have a way with words.

So in closing, wishing you all a very happy St Patrick’s Day and may the wind be always at your back.

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If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. Terri Guillemets

bee gathering nectar from crocus bloom

It is such a gorgeous day in London today. I do love spring and thrilled at the prospect of all the gorgeous blooms that appear to brighten our days

snowdrops sparkle with early morning dew

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marie curie great daffodil appeal

daffodils for Marie Curie

Today dawned bright and early and I heaved a sigh of relief.  I was scheduled to do an hour’s stint for Marie Curie UK in Hampstead in the afternoon as part of the Great Daffodil Appeal, and I was thankful it wasn’t raining.   I have never done something like this before and felt quite excited.

At 12noon I headed off for the bus and in due course arrived at my destination in Belsize Park.  I had intended walking across the Heath to Hampstead and make my way from there, but for some reason I misread the map and thought I would not be able to get there in time. So used the bus instead. Of course once I was on the bus, I had a proper look at the map and realised I could easily have done it. Ah well.

I arrived full of the joys of spring and bounced into the fund-raising office where I made the acquaintance of the lovely Emma with whom I had previously corresponded.  The ladies in the office are lovely.  Then it was time to kit up and before I knew it I looked like a very poor imitation of old Mother Hubbard.

heeheehee!!! dont I look just marvellous!!! not! certainly not going to influence fashion in any way

Hahahaha! what a scream. The hat was way too big for my head and kept slipping down over my face, eventually I had to fold my ears over at the top to hold the rim!!!   Before I even left the offices I had tipped all my daffodils onto the floor.   Amidst gusts of laughter at my clumsiness we picked them up and then I started off; looking scary enough to make babies cry!

In no time at all I was in Hampstead and proceeded to tempt passersby with my wares.  What a great exercise in human observation.

First off I would like to say that people are really generous and lovely and I had some great interactions with folks who came over just to put money into my bucket with no expectation of return.  I was surprised by two young lads of about 13 years or so, who came over and contributed.  I got to chat to young and old alike, making many of them laugh with my exhortations of “can I interest you in a daffodil” or “step on over folks for the latest in spring fashion accessories….buy a daffodil” 🙂

It was great fun.  It was interesting being on the ‘other’ side of the bucket for a change, and I made many observations.  It pleased me greatly that many people came over, sometimes making a journey across the road just so that they could contribute and get their daffodil.  I would say about 70% of people were more than happy to contribute.  Some people just wanted to donate without wanting anything in return. Others were more than generous.  Some people just laughed at me and commented that they were sitting ducks, yet more than happy to make a contribution. One elderly gentleman looking very dapper with a bow-tie and waistcoat came over to chat, and another bloke stopped to show me the scar on his head from a brain op to remove a tumour.  One lady stopped to buy a daffodil and told me how they were fund raising for a friend who had cancer.

On the other side of the coin, so to speak, many people avoided eye contact at any cost. Many just looked right through me as if I had not even spoken, and others brushed me off with annoyance. Lots of folk went by with a ‘I’ll get one on my way back’ and never appeared again. Perhaps they went by after I had gone.  Others did indeed come back with change to buy their daffodil.  On the whole I would say it was a very positive experience and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Definitely something to add to my list of ‘things to do’ for the future.

If you would like to find out more about the Marie Curie Cancer Care organisation click here They do a brilliant job and I recall in 2003 they cared for one of my clients when she was dying. Not only do they support the patient but they support the families too.

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