Monday, September 28, 2009


Sorry about the wait. I know you were on the edge of your seat with baited breath waiting to hear the next installment of my adventures overseas. I know...but indulge me.

I flew overnight (Gotta love trying to sleep while sitting straight up in coach...afraid my trips to Sydney in business class have ruined me forever) and arrived at Heathrow a little after 11:00 the next morning. I made my way to the Heathrow Express train that would take me to Paddington Station where I was to meet up with Phil.

And how did my weekend start out with a bang? I got on the train intending to pay my ticket (19.00 one way!) once I was on the train. The man taking the tickets said he'd be back to collect my money. As we were getting off at Paddington (and still having never given my money to the guy) I noticed him coming back up the aisle. I stopped him and told him I never paid and his response? "Consider it your welcome to London," he said with a wink. Nice...welcome indeed!

After meeting up with Phil, we took a cab back to the apartment to leave my suitcase there. Going on along the banks of the Thames River that weekend was The Mayor's Festival, a gathering of small booths of crafts, food and live music. Sort of interesting but oh, so crowded. And if you know me at all...I hate crowds. We walked for awhile and then Phil thankfully suggested walking up to Leicester Square to the half price ticket booth to see if there were any seats still left for any shows that night.

So where did we find ourselves after a dinner of some good pizza? Sitting at a theater getting ready for the musical "Hairspray" to start! That's right...Phil agreed to see a musical. And what a fabulous show! Ah...the singing, the dancing...And the best quote of the night as we were walking back to the tube station to go home? And I quote Phil here, "That wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be." I can feel him coming over to the dark side...

The next day we woke up and decided to take the tube to the British Museum for the day. It's a free museum that has thousands of well...old stuff. Exhibits on Africa, Ancient Egypt (thought of you, Claire, while looking at all the mummies), Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, and the Middle East. Pretty cool. And what can I check off my list as having now seen it? (Well, it wasn't really on my list, but I do vaguely remember hearing about it in school at some point.) I give you...The Rosetta Stone.

A stone with a bunch of writing on it that unlocked the mysteries of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. All in all, a neat museum. Interested in more...check out
Monday morning began with Phil going off to work and me starting out on my day of exploring. And where did I end up? I took the tube to Victoria Station and walked up to fabulous Buckingham Palace. I saw the traveling exhibit of Princess Diana's dresses while at a museum in Sydney so I could not pass the chance to actually get into the palace to have a look around. Apparently every year between the end of July and the end of September the Queen leaves the palace to go...I really have no idea but the fact of the matter was, she isn't there so they open the palace for tours. Free, you ask? Uh...right. 16.50 later and armed with my "free" headset guide, I was off. You can go at your own pace through the 20 rooms they have designated for the tour and did I ever make the most of the opportunity.
Let's just say here that the Queen does not live in a shabby place. I'm telling you...I have never seen anything like it. Absolutely stunning, opulent, over the top, etc. There was also an exhibit of the Queen's dresses from different overseas tours that she has done in the sixty years since naming the countries of the British commonwealth. Not quite like Diana's wedding dress, but definitely a close second. The tour ends in the garden which you walk through until you're escorted out of the back gate. (Of course after you walk through the palace gift shop. Truly...there's a palace gift shop. And yes...I did add another Christmas ornament to my collection of places we've been.) Alas...the garden was the only place you could take pictures. As soon as I can get them from the camera still in London, I'll post.
After my tour of Buckingham Palace, I walked through St. James' Park, took some outside pictures of Churchill's The Cabinet War Rooms Museum (by the of the best museums I've ever been in!), the Prime Minister's house at 10 Downing St. (actually a picture of the huge iron gates and weapons-armed guards that guard his place), Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye ferris wheel. Of course I was hungry after all this walking and tourisming so where did I stop to eat? Of course, McDonald's. Oh yeah...I'm still lovin' it.
And would you believe my luck? The Houses of Parliament were also opened for tours since the members were gone for the summer, so I got in on a tour of that as well. Fantastic! The House of Lords, the gold throne that the Queen sits on when she opens Parliament every year, the House of Commons...all of it, so darn interesting.
Tuesday morning found me saying goodbye to Phil :( at the tube station while he went on to work and I hopped on the tube to find my way back to Paddington Station and then back on the Heathrow Express to get back to the airport. Can we say a little crowded at rush hour? Can we say I was standing up not holding on to any part of the subway because we were so packed in like sardines that I didn't need to hold on to anything because none of us could move? Can we say hurray for fresh breath and deoderant when forced to stand so close to a perfect stranger?
Can we say how awkward it feels to be staring at said perfect stranger when your faces are three inches from each other?
All in all such a great long weekend. And capped off by a seat in business (was less miles than purchasing a seat in coach...whoo hoo) for the flight back home where I could watch The Proposal on my own little tv screen. And an episode of America's Next Top Model. And an episode of Trading Spaces. And an episode of Peter Perfect Design Show. And The Proposal again. And three sets on my ipod. And several chapters in my book And...(it's no flight to Sydney, but 8 hours is still a long to be on a plane...)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Seriously...Who Buys This Stuff? Sky Mall Edition

I'm back from London. Such a great weekend! I'm holding off a bit on posting about the actual trip because I need to see if Phil can email me the pictures I took (and left on the card in the camera that's still in London) to add to the post. A sneak peak...a musical, some seriously old stuff, a big stone, two fantastic tours, and making my way on the tube. More to follow.

But today...some musings regarding the Sky Mall magazine. I've spent quite a bit of time on planes in the past two years and always pick up a Sky Mall to pass some time. Listed below is my list I call, "Seriously...Who Buys This Stuff?"

1.Truck Antlers
Weatherproof molded plastic antlers that you attach to the front seat side windows. Really...why would anyone do that?

2. The Indoor Dog Restroom
It's a mat and tray system that lets your dog pee on the mat which allows liquid to drain into the tray below it. Who wants to pick up a 2 feet square tray and carry it over to your toilet to empty? It holds up to two gallons. Uh...eew.

3. The World's Largest Crossword Puzzle
It holds the Guiness World's Record for it's size. It's 7 feet by 7 feet and has 28,000 clues for over 91,000 squares. I'm all for a good crossword now and then, but that's ridiculous. Who clears wall space to hang a 7 ft by 7 ft crossword puzzle?

4. The Talking Timepiece
It's a watch with a "pleasant female voice" that with the push of one button repeats the current time. Maybe I'm not getting it, but can't you just look down and see the time on the watch? Although "you can supplant the female voice with a built-in rooster call". Interesting...

5. The Voice Activated R2D2
It's an actual little robot (a bit over a foot tall) that moves around from room to room. It even "dances while playing the famed cantina music". What every household in America truly needs for a mere $170.00.

6. The Hidden Litter Box
Made to look like a clay pot that holds an artifical plant. You can turn the hole that the cat walks through to face the back of your living room. I think if your cat's litter box is in your living room, there are more serious issues at hand here.

7. Your Passenger Seat Office
A workstation that straps to your car's passenger seat and "provides a non-slip writing surface, hanging file section and space for your laptop and printer." The picture shows a lady with one hand typing on her laptop, the other grabbing a file folder out of the hanging file section, and her cell phone tucked under her cheek while looking at the page coming out of her printer. me crazy but aren't you actually supposed to be driving when you're behind the wheel of your car?

8. Peanut Butter Maker
"Fill the hopper with your favorite nuts and grind them into smooth or chunky butter." I got to say the picture of carmel-colored goo flowing into the vat below is quite nasty looking.

and personal favorites...

9. Decorative statues for your backyard garden
"Treebeard Ent with Mystical Orb"- a two foot tall sculpted tree complete with eyes, nose and mouth with limbs holding out a white ball
"Basho the Sumo Wrestler"- also comes with 27" diameter piece of glass to use for a lovely table for your next garden party
"The Dragon of Falkenberg Castle Moat"- 2 foot long dragon complete with scales, wings and a treacherous tail. "Your neighbors will steer clear when they see this intricately sculpted dragon"...yeah, no have a dragon statue in your backyard.
"Bigfoot, the Garden Yeti"- with his characteristically huge feet, "you will have your neighbors doing a double-take as they admire your creative home or garden style!" I don't think that's why your neighbors are doing the double-take. You have a statue of Bigfoot in your back yard.

So there you have it. London to soon follow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back to London

I'm flying back to London tonight to see Phil for a couple of days. (And yes, I'm sure everything will be fine and good, but I'm not so sure I'd have picked this particular day to fly if I had been aware of the exact date when I booked it.) To be honest, I'm more concerned whether or not someone is going to be sitting right next to me or not on this overnight flight. My dramamine is packed (alright, no...I haven't quite packed yet but it's coming) in order to knock me out as soon as possible, but I have no grand illusions of hours of restful sleep sitting upright in coach. So hopefully the seat next to me is empty and I can stretch out a bit.

No big plans for the weekend yet, but I did note with excitement on the internet yesterday that at the Royal Air Force Museum in North London they're putting on a Battle of Britain Weekend with lots of cool stuff going on. Will Phil relent (he wasn't wild about the idea when I pitched it over the phone yesterday) and decide to take us there? Will we spend a day at Oxford or Cambridge? Maybe Bath? I'll let you know when I get back.

Oh...and Monday when he's at busy at work? I've got my day planned out. I'm spending the day with the Queen. At least at her residence. They open Buckingham Palace up for tours from the end of July through the end of September so I'm going to hop on the tube and go spend the day touring the palace and gardens. Blogs and lots of pictures to follow when I get back, but to hold you over...from when we were in London four years ago.