To London And Back Again

Remember when I said I was taking the slow train to London to see my friend David earlier this week … well I’m back. I actually came home three days ago, but I’ve been working so hard on a new project that I am just now getting back to my blog to share some of the photos from my trip.

David met me at Paddington Station and after dropping my one little bag at the hotel we began our walk around London.

London’s City Hall is the lopsided looking building above.

I can never get enough photographs of Tower Bridge, especially at night.

I took this shot of David photographing the Tower of London. I like the way he’s right where the walls come together to make a triangle.

After taking about 20 photos trying to get catch the cupid at Piccadilly Circus, I gave up and decided that this one would have to do.

This is the Sofitel St James where my friend David graciously shared his suite which was named after the first actor to receive a knighthood, Henry Irving.

This shot of Trafalgar Square is a little different and you can see Big Ben in the background to the right.

David is in the background of this photo looking as if he can’t decide what to have for brunch. I went straight to my favorite area, the dessert table. Despite wanting a little nibble of everything, I went with an apple muffin with big apple chunks. That means I can count it as fruit … right?

I was attracted to this statue because of the bird on the shoulder and the shadow it cast. I was glad I took the photo as it gave me a chance to see what Edith Cavell did with her life. Take a look if you have a minute.

The cafe in the crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

I was a little shocked to see the trash behind The Queen’s guards near St James Park.

I love this view of the London Eye from St James Park.

Someone was passing out peanuts to the squirrels in the park and the one below got a bit close thinking I had a nut for him.

This was taken at Roast, a restaurant David took me to for a yummy late lunch.

This was my lunch of mashed potatoes, applesauce, and pork belly. Mmm!

We were on our way to the theatre where we had a date with some red shoes when I snapped this one.

This was a fish stall in an open air market. It was pretty fishy even in the open air.

We had dinner of dim sum a this beautiful restaurant before making our way to the theatre. We were off to see The Wizard!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s newest show was in its second night of previews … does it look familiar to anyone?

This was the last bit of my trip home. I had to change trains at Plymouth and when I got on I found an unusual non-paying rider in the seat across from me.

Traveling Light To London – Packing The Essentials

London Skyline From The London Eye

This Monday I will be traveling by train to London to spend a view days with my friend David who came for a visit last summer with his partner Steven. He invites me to join him every time he comes London and I’ve not been able to before now. To get in the mood for my temporary transition from a country mouse to a city one, I’m posting a few pictures from my last trip to London.

These were taken last September when my sister came to visit and John joined us in London for my big birthday. I loved his present of a Canon G11 which is able to isolate accent colors when you shoot in black and white mode. This camera is definitely one of the essentials I’m packing for my trip.

This is another shot from the London Eye. If you want to get a look at London from the air, this is well worth the cost of the ride.

Artists like the one you see here, always amaze me.

Be sure you double-click on this picture to see the man on the pier. I didn’t see him when I took the photograph, but thought he added something to it when I saw him later while editing the image.

This shot reminded me a bit of photographs I’ve seen of Venice even though it’s the Thames and that’s not a gondola.

This is the bag I am taking for a three-day trip. It’s actually an old leather briefcase-handbag I used to use for work. Even though I’m pretty good at packing light, this maybe an interesting challenge as it’s not very big and a bit narrow. I’ll let you know once I get it packed.

Change Of Plans – Suggestions Anyone

For the last six or eight months, John and I have been planning a big trip in September. Having walked the 105 miles of the Tour du Mont Blanc almost two years ago, I have been looking forward to doing it again with him this fall to celebrate a big birthday I have coming up. To make it even more special, we’ve been planning on taking my sister Margaret with us on the long walk through the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps.

Things got a bit complicated when Margaret and I began to plan her travel arrangements so that the timing might work with the schedule for the TMB. Because she was coming from Alaska, most of the flight options had her traveling for a minimum of 19 hours (it was difficult to find these) or up to 38 hours with the exception of one airline which could get her here within about 10 hours with connecting flights, but only flew from Alaska one day a week.

After all three of us had put in too many hours at the computer with no real progress and loads of frustration, I offered up an alternative plan … one that seemed less like an endurance event (which the TMB really is) and something more restful and less time restrictive.

Instead of walking a path that looks like this … or sleeping in places like this, I suggested a totally different sort of trip to Margaret and she decided it sounded good to her as well.

Even with the change, she will still be here for most of the month of September and for the first time since we were twelve and fourteen, we will be able to celebrate each others birthdays in person. She’s a September birthday too and since John’s birthday falls between ours, we’re going to be eating a lot of cake that month. The big question is, where are we going to be when we are blowing out our birthday candles.

A few days after she gets here, we’ll head for London for a week of exploring. My 50th birthday will happen while we are there, so John will come up the day before and stay overnight in order to celebrate the milestone with me too. Now here’s where you come in, I’m looking for suggestions for things you think we should see and do during our week in London and I’d like to have a plan that includes something special for my birthday.

Having been there a few times, I do have some ideas, but I would love to see if you can surprise me with something I haven’t thought of yet. I’m not sure what is on Margaret’s list, (we just decided on the change recently) but I do know that I would like to photograph London from the top of the London Eye on my birthday.

I would also like for us to see a show or two in the West End, but I am not sure what might be enjoyable. I’ve seen several there in the past. I loved Billy Elliot when I saw it in 2005, and Miranda and I saw my all time favorite musical, Les Miserables when we were there in 2003. I’m not opposed to a more serious production either as I was thrilled to see Ralph Fiennes in Brand on the same trip with her when she was fifteen. If you’ve seen or heard about a production that you think is too fabulous to miss, please let me know so we can consider it for our list.

After our week in London, we’ll be a bit closer to home as we do up the southwest part of England for a week or two. Then we’re off by plane to the next place on our list. It’s one of my favorites and if you’ve reading me for long, you may have already seen some of my photographs from there. Can you guess where we will be by the images below?

A Gift for Abelard & Heloise

This is one I snapped on our honeymoon.

I can’t wait to show Margaret where I was standing when I captured this familiar Paris scene. The seventh picture holds a clue.

Margaret and I will be spending seven days in Paris on our own for a sister’s week. We have a lot already in mind to fill our days, but tell me what you’d want to see and do if you were joining us. I’m looking for things I may not have thought of yet.

Lastly, I could use suggestions from my Paris blog friends on short term holiday lets. I’d like to book a place soon and I have scoured the internet looking for a place that is not too pricey, works well for two, and is in a decent location. We don’t mind walking, (I’ll need it to offset my bread intake) and I have used the Metro before so we are fairly flexible. While I would prefer a studio apartment, if you have a hotel recommendation that is reasonable, I’d be open to having a look at that as well.

I’m so looking forward to spending this time with Margaret. We’ve not had a chance to travel together since we were children and I don’t think our memories of fighting over who had more room in the backseat of the car on road trips in the late sixties and early seventies is going to compare at all with the memories we’ll be making in September 2010.