Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I'm here again!

Hello, London, so good to see you! ;)

Arrived, doing well, and enjoying most everything so far. I will admit, I did secretly enjoy my 5 minute Mafia Wars break an hour or two ago (in between checking email, working on remote desktop stuff and trying to figure out whether to go to sleep or not, it being a way-too-early-9:30 at the time :D), but besides that little glimpse of home, I've adjusted pretty well to being in a completely different capacity and doing work I normally don't do in my "normal life".

What I've enjoyed most so far:
the new girls I've met and gotten to know (a little, since yesterday), having tea often, the bunnies! (there are wild bunnies on the grounds :D), and my laptop + internet situation have worked out so much better than I thought it could have (strong signal, everything works wonderfully, wirelessly).

I feel like I need a proper post, but as I haven't taken any pictures or really given the "you're in another country"-thought any time to mellow and grow, maybe tomorrow I can start working on a more daily series of blog posts.

Definitely happy to be here!
- Anne

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

UPDATE: Adding all the extra words.


Well, I realize that now (since I'm home and all), it's quite leisurely and *should* go back and edit/enter my thoughts/writings/jotting-down-of-thoughts for all to see read. ;)

So, just a minute. Let me collect my things and then we're off! :D

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 6 -- Day in London (3) (evening)

21 AUGUST | London: V&A Museum, Out-and-About

Well... today has been an interesting day. I'm on Nicole's laptop, downstairs, while she finishes things upstairs and the couple whose house this is are asleep. Here's a more detailed account of my day. :)

Left the house we're staying at around 2.00pm (didn't wake up until 11.00am--wonderful!); got coffee at Caffe Vergnano (again), and I think the barista was a little annoyed that I wanted take-away, but hey!, it's the whole day, I'm not going to not take my yummy coffee with me. :) Need to buy a can of beans for Stephen. Will go again on... *thinks*, Friday, when Nicole and I get back to London (for the day only, then off to Oxford on Saturday, then back to London for Sunday and the half of Monday that we're here). So yes. I know there was something coherent I wanted to say about the day.


Well, after that was a quick stop at the Internet Cafe (where I've made friends with the guy who works there, only because I smile and am nice and he's nice (but not my type), and sort of remembered me, maybe, from two days ago? either way, I was interested in buying stamps (even though they didn't have any at the time, so I think we bonded :D), near Gloucester Road stop (sw London) and I'd just gotten coffee at Leicester Square stop (central to ne London--and when I say "London", I mean "downtown/touristy/central London"), so it was a trek across town, but worth it because (1) I knew the internet cafe was clean/safe/friendly/good and (2) I knew where it was. :) Always helps! Then over a stop to South Kensington (where the V&A is near), to pop in to the V&A museum. And WHOA. So much stuff, I forgot how much stuff they have. I completely forgot it's separated by continent firstly and time period secondly. The current exhibit (or maybe it's the current "costume" exhibit, because it seems like that room always just has clothes) was New York Fashion, which was inside the main costume collection (okay, that's what it was, I remember now). And dude, did I take pictures! (I took pictures. *nods*) The only drawback is that most of them aren't with flash (flash ruins in my opinion), so Mum might not like it so much. But they're so much more artistic this way! :D Lovely, lovely collection. Popped out to the central garden (named after someone) with bamboo-pole-tent sculptures out on the green--got many pics of those too. Realized that they have a whole 'nuther museum for modern art just after I'd asked an attendant where the modern art was (the Tate Modern museum is superb for modern art), but he smiled and pointed me towards where the 'modern' era section was (third floor, right off the lift), so that was very interesting. Lots of furniture. ;) Wandered through the gift shop but it was closing right to when I would've figured out what I wanted to get people so I'll have to go back on Friday or Sunday. Sunday I'm doing a HARRY POTTER WALKING TOUR!!! (Do I sound excited!) So yeah, I'll have to fit all this stuff in. Want to go to the Transportation Museum of London (north somewhere?), and buy pretty print posters -- sort of like the Train Museum in York, when I came to the UK last time, three yrs ago.

Well, it's been good so far. Mostly just walking and looking. I feel too touristy taking pictures with people about, but I might have to for-go the angst and do it on Sunday as that'll be the last real day to do it right. Monday will be too travel-y to be able to worry about ... taking pictures of 'touristy' things. Pretty architecture, funny signs, people walking, that sort of thing.

OOOO! Guess what I saw today while about to cross the street to the internet cafe?? Guess! I'll give you a hint, it was a special car... and it was a Volvo... and it's not in the states... it was a C30!! Didn't even know they had them here for real, I thought they were concept cars all over. It was awesome! I totally thought it was an S60 and then WHOA! it had no end! :D Just a hatch-back thing, with super-sleek modern lines. SOOOOO PRETTY! :D I wish I'd taken a picture. Goodness, of all the Volvos to see whilst I'm here (excepting a classic 240, which I haven't seen here yet, although London is a little too posh for those), it was the one when I didn't have my camera out! Hehe, oh well. ;) Maybe I'll see another.

Yesterday, when we were out with the girls, going around London, we ended the day in Harrod's, and leaving, I was waiting on the sidewalk by the building while the others finished, and all these cars were blocked in the road (small, between-building road), and drivers and the Harrod's gentleman at the door were directing traffic (all the cars were very expensive, very important peoples' cars, with drivers), I notice there's a new-looking (like recent year) Rolls Royce sitting right in front of the exit, driver sitting on the left side of the car (like in the States), and right before I'd come outside, several very expensive-looking women, all decked-out in jewelry/scarves, had just gone in. The license plate was in a foreign language, and we wondered if they weren't Egyptian royalty or something. Nicole mentioned that's very possible. Also, two Bentleys were hanging out by the curb too. You know, just chillin'. :D

That's not even the half of it, just the interesting parts, but I need to get off at the moment, so I'll have to post more later.


Day 6 -- Day in London (3) (mid-day)

21 AUGUST | London: Internet Cafe, V&A Museum

Well, it's 15.48 here (3.48pm) and I've got to jet off to the V&A Museum in just a minute (have to find out where it is, too), so this is just a quick note to say hi.

Hope everyone is well! :)

I wrote up long 'posts' about the last two days--didn't stay in Bath, not so long story, but too long to explain here; Edinburgh tomorrow which I'm THRILLED about :D. I'm traveling around London today by myself (although it took me nearly an hour just to get into downtown and then across town by tube), so it'll be wonderful. I'm so excited about the V&A; they have one of THE coolest sculptures hanging in their foyer that I think I've ever seen (both in pictures and real-life). Blown-glass woven together -- just gorgeous. Also, lots of wonderful costumes, etc. to look at, and the gift shop! :)

Let me know if any not in my immediate family wants me to pick them up something while I'm here! (Just jot down a comment or two. :D)

Things have been a little emotionally taxing the last few days (mostly internal), but I love this city, even if I can only take it one day at a time, and enjoy just a small portion at that. V&A for today is perfect. Here, let me find the website... V&A Museum

Well, much love to you all -- will write again probably either tomorrow or Thursday (I know of an internet cafe in Cambridge, but not necessarily in Edinburgh so it might be until then. On Friday I'll bring my notebook and write up the other days' entries, how 'bout? :D)

~ Anne

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Day 4 -- Day in Bath (photos)

19 AUGUST | Bath: City Tour, Jane Austen Centre

Well, seeing as how I am fascinated with all things macro, I've decided (in ... post- actual-day -events, writing this now) that I shall have an "On the Train to Bath" post, followed by a more comprehensive account of our day in Bath, followed by yet another post filled with lovely pictures, followed by yet another post will all the 'filler' pictures that everyone is longing to see (from my earlier trip).

So, without further ado! *waves hand in the air*

Bath is situated approximately an hour or so west of London by train. We'd already bought our tickets prior to leaving the U.S. so everything was already booked, etc. It's not hard to buy tickets the day-of (I bought a second return; long story), it's just more expensive. (In some cases, ridiculously more expensive.) So. The plan, as far as I'd decided as of that morning (which was not really a solidified plan, and really rather what I wanted to do more than what I should do), was to stay in Bath for two extra days. Today being Sunday (this will be written in present and past tense so bear with me, *grins*), I was planning on staying through Tuesday afternoon and coming back to London later that afternoon. I'd packed a bag before leaving for Bath, this morning, and had been carrying it with me. So I buy another ticket (they wouldn't change the dates; he said I should've switched it yesterday, and I felt like telling him I hadn't known I was wanting to stay yesterday ... jerk!, but I didn't), and we quickly bought breakfast (coffee and a pastry) for me because I hadn't gotten breakfast from the house (too concerned with not being late), and was quite hungry. Food in hand, we boarded the train, found our seats, and settled in.

Here is breakfast. One very yummy pain de raisin (the bestest when left either in one's bag all day and then eaten, or left in the fridge all day or over-night and then eaten) and one latte. Not the healthiest of breakfasts, but certainly one of the yummiest. And exactly what I was wanting for that morning; on a train, writing my thoughts, passing through the countryside, sipping on coffee, nibbling on a pastry. Suited the mood, I think, very well.

Here's me. Wearing a boat-neck striped sweater, jeans, hat and Birkenstocks. Very French. *smiles*

I hadn't been taking many pictures in general, so I figured now, on an empty train, when no one was there to wonder why, I took pictures of the train. Thus we have Inside-and-Outside-the-Train, ticket stubs, as well as a little scenery. The first picture is a close-up of the ticket stub; I've saved almost all of the day travelcards for the tube and the train tickets all throughout the trip, to make some sort of artistic, framed wall piece out of them. Then my writing journal; very awesome as it's all 'graph' paper. The next two are the inside and outside shots -- the overhead lights, and the outside tracks as we head out of the station. We left from Paddington Station this time. Then the next two photos are leaving the London city area -- industrial buildings and car parks. It was wonderful to get out of the large city and back to smaller-sized cities and small towns.

These next two photos are simply artistic. My favourite being macro, I focused on the proportions of the cup: the 2/3rds brown to the 1/3 blue-and-white. The curves of the slope as the cup enlarges towards the top add an interesting flow to the photo, too. I think the part I like the most of this first photo is the fact that the bottom left portion is blurry -- fuzzed and smudged a bit. Adds interest! :) The other photo is a close-up of my window. Isn't it awesome! You can almost see the individual water droplets!

These next six are of the countryside (!), out my window. Sorry for the 'ghost' images of my hands/the camera. That was with the flash off. It just appeared anyways; the glare on the window from the sun was probably too much to not do that. Anyways, look how gorgeous that landscape is! The first three or four are good representations of English landscapes (not the best, seeing as how it's out a train window and not from a hilltop so as to show off the hedges and dividing of property better); the fifth and sixth are when the sun came out and there was blue sky! (I'm all for rain, don't get me wrong, and the sun does seem to complicate things most times, but that blue of sky was just too pretty not to capture! :D)

So, those are the pictures I have from the train ride TO Bath. Next comes my thoughts on Bath, what we did, where we went, etc. etc. ;)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 3 -- Day in London (1) (photos)

18 AUGUST | London: St. Mary Abbot Church of Kensington Gardens


These are photos of the church park (sorry, I've forgotten the name); let me see if I can 'Google' it. *wanders off*

Okay! So it's the St. Mary Abbot's church of Kensington, thus on Kensington Street (the High Street Kensington tube stop), and the gardens are partially memorial gardens (link). The first time I visited London was in March of 2002, with two friends, and we stayed in a hostel in Notting Hill for part of the week. The Notting Hill tube stop is just a couple stops away from Kensington Street, so I think we were exploring that day or something and stumbled across the gardens. They're in between the buildings, so you're secluded and yet out in the open, with breezy trees above and plenty of air around. You can't see the streets though, or the people shopping. Luckily, for that would seriously hinder relaxing.

Photo 1: Flower Bed
-- This was the bed of various flowers directly in front of where I was sitting. There is a walkway (sort of like a 'thru' sidewalk for pedestrians coming from the main street on the adjacent sides of the buildings/gardens) in the middle of the picture, walking away from me (people are there), and I had come from the walkway in the right of the picture leading to the High Street. The presence of fences possibly keeps the 'garden' area safe from people trekking all over it. And the 'memorial' aspect to it would definitely suggest enclosure. People were mainly just walking through to get to the other street(s) for the time whilst I was sitting there.

Photo 2: Columns and Walkway
-- This is the 'walkway' I came from and in through to get to the bench I'm sitting at. It's a slight incline while just under the columns and cross-beams but then levels out.

Photo 3: Purple and White Flowers
-- These were just behind me, in a large flower bed. The mixture of two different kinds of flowers works well here, I think. The tall, skinny purple ones with shorter, rounder white. Reminds me of a well-decorated, beautiful home for some reason. ;)

Photo 4: Breakfast!
-- I love this photo! Not only for the fact that's it's a 'breakfast' picture (sidenote. check out a 'breakfast'-themed blog called "Simply Breakfast" (here) for amazing food pictures!), but also because the deep, rich colour of the bench accentuates the white of the lid and the tan of the bag so well! Breakfast was a raisin cinnamon roll(?), the equivalent of a raisin cinnamon roll/danish combo, with a latte from Caffé Vergnano. So yummy! :)

Photo 5: Close-up of Flowers
-- Here's a close-up of the first flower bed. The picture is a little blurry, but you can see the intensity of color as well as the variety of colours. France, anyone?

Photo 6: Pigeons
-- These are my breakfast companions. *grins* They were very polite. Not too much graveling, not too much squawking. :D I fed them the bits of danish I didn't want. And the very crumbly bits.

Photo 7: Pigeon #1
-- The BRAVE pigeon who ventured the closest! Eeeee!

Photo 8: The Stone Path
-- Isn't this picture gorgeous! The colouring of the stone is just beautiful. It reminds me of many of the ancient burial sites I visited while in the UK back in 2003, as well as in Scotland that same trip. Very old stone, weathered. Gives it a very attractive green-grey glow. It also reminds me of The Lord of the Rings a LOT, for some, unknown-to-me reason. Perhaps the stone? :D

Photo 9: Memorial Gardens
-- This first picture of the small, circularly enclosed garden area across the walkway from where I was includes the gates out of 'my' garden area because the iron is lovely! The bright green contrasts well with the darkness of the fence.

Photo 10: Gardens, Close-up
-- Here, you can see the circular aspect of the garden itself with the central pedestal surrounded on the bottom with bricks, in a circle, and to either side are stone benches and hanging plants/vines/trees that make this garden in particular, very special.

Photo 11: Gate Top
-- Another shot of the gateway, this time with only the top showing. I like how bushy the green of the trees/plants are in the bottom half of the picture counteracted with the solid black in the top half of the picture.

TOMORROW: Photos of Bath (just a few; will have to find my 'old' ones for some real fun :D) !!!

Day 3 -- Day in London (1)

18 AUGUST | London: Internet Café (near Gloucester Road)

(GOOD GRIEF--it just took me 5 minutes to login to this account!)

Never mind that ... :) I'm here!
First off, it's raining, a little bit of a drizzle but enough to make me need to buy an umbrella. Next, I'm dashing about town buying odds and ends -- mobile phone, hair dryer, curling iron, coffee (:D) ... Stopped in a Whole Foods, too! Not nearly as helpful as ours back home, but anyways. Surprized to see it, and all.

Plans are thus--eventually make my way back east (spent 2 hours getting from where I'm staying to downtown London this morning--bugger of a trip if you ask me, which you shouldn't ;D); supposed to call Nicole and meet up with them (her and the girls she went to Stratford with) for the trek back. added. Romford is a bit out of the way, so traveling alone at night is a little sketchy. Best to do it with other people.

Tomorrow is BATH!!! (I'm so excited!) (Can't you tell?? :D) And I'm changing my plans to stay in Bath a couple extra days; before I was just going for the day -- last night, whilst sitting on the bathroom floor forlorn about the lack of countryside, I decided I'd switch those next two days in London for two days either in Bath or in a small town nearby. Stay at a bed&breakfast, that sort of thing. Besides, I actually have things to do in Bath, whereas for London, I was coming up short. Plus, I'll have plenty of time there on Thursday and Sunday coming up.

Whew! Next off is to find a loo, find the way to the right tube, and see if my mobile works yet. It's super cute, turquoise Nokia (pre-paid). :) (I'm such a girl.)

Visited off High Street Kensington (here, High Street is like the main street) the little church park where we went the first time I was here -- just the same as before -- very cute. Popped into Topshop and Urban Outfitters, but too crowded and too pricey. Not really in the mood for clothes shopping anyways.

What else ... well, it's really neat being here, for one,--Oooo, my phone just turned on! YAY :D Now I can text Nicole when & where to meet for the tube.

Oh, I was going to mention I love all the different words here. "tube" for subway, "queue" for wait in line, "way out" for exit, and one of my favs, "lift" for elevator.

I wrote a long bit yesterday whilst waiting at Bower House (where Nicole was working with others) manor, but I'll have to post it later -- probably tomorrow or Monday, and I'll backdate it. :) Sneaky!

Well, I really need to find a loo (bathroom :)) and get back towards the east side of London, and find an umbrella if at all possible. Sainsbury's, also, for I really want to buy this cute little birdhouse I saw advertised there for only £2 ($4.00).

I hope everyone is doing well! Please reply with comments if you want. :)

~ Anne

p.s. on the up-side, I'm very glad I brought all those clothes I packed -- it's chilly here, and I look very posh (well, except for my hair, but now I've got things for that.) So that's all good. ;)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Day 2 -- Arriving in Romford (photos)

17 AUGUST | Romford: Bower House

Photos! Here are a few photos (don't we all love pictures better than words!); mentioned in the previous post, they're of Bower House in Romford (north-east of main London), where Nicole was working for the two weeks before, the grounds, as well as a couple 'interesting' "me" photos.

Click ON the images to enlarge.

Photo 1: Red-Brick Wall
-- I was sitting on a bench next to this (pretty!) wall; look at all that moss and greeny/yellowy stuff! Just had to take an 'artsy' picture. (My favourite option on my Elph is 'Digital Macro', so it's no wonder half of the trip pictures are super zoomed-in. Apologies up front, sorry folks! :D)

Photo 2: Bower House (back)
-- This is a back view of the 'house'. It's really just one of the buildings on the estate, but you can notice the window details and the white moldings/cornices (?) and the traditional red-brick.

Photo 3: Bower House (back) (again)
-- Another view of the back of the building, and the flower bed, this time.

Photo 4: Steps
-- These are the steps I was sitting on, taking the other pictures. The black & white setting added a weathered, aged look to it; I love the detail of the moss/erosion of the steps and how the majority of the picture is blurry. I'm all for blurry, interesting pictures! :)

Photo 5: Weird Stick Thing
-- I have no idea what this thing is! It was in the grass, next to the bench, in this odd, spider/spider-web sort of shape. Definitely made of twigs, so... what? Someone wove it? I don't know. Just weird. A cool weird, though.

Photo 6: Bench and the Lawn
-- Here's a good view of the grounds to the left of where I was seated. The green grass, the trees that border the property, and the lone bench. There were various ones like this scattered throughout the grounds so people could sit and contemplate the landscape/work/etc. and relax a moment. They were actually pretty comfortable as benches go.

Photo 7: Red Shoes!
-- My shoes! Pretty red shoes. And it's blurry. It's like a home-run with this picture! :)

Day 1 -- On the Airplane

(This is, of course, not actually from that day -- as internets are not available on airplanes -- but is just a summation of thoughts and events.)

16 AUGUST | Airplane Flight: Over the Atlantic Ocean

Hi! It's me! I'm on the plane, headed across the Atlantic towards the UK. We were served dinner and a 'breakfast' of sorts (more like lunch), I watched Next (the new movie with Nicholas Cage and Jessica Biel), skipped 300, and Pathfinder (also a dud, I hear) was not working well enough to watch. So, was a little disappointed that Lord of the Rings wasn't actually playing on the flight (:D), because that would have been a perfect way to spend nine (9) consecutive hours, stuck on a metal craft hurdling itself through the expansive of sky at thousands of miles per minute and confined to a seat no wider than me, without any hope of being able to fall asleep. *smiles*

I read a little. Bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the Houston airport bookshop before I left. Was feeling a little sentimental, I think, and needed something I knew I would enjoy. Plus, the book is -what- 800+ pages? Plenty for a trip across the seas. Ended up reading the first few chapters. :) All by the light of my dimmed t.v., for felt that turning my overhead light on, whilst everyone else on the plane was trying to sleep, would be very rude of me. There were a couple people up, but they were on the sides of the plane, and not in the middle, like me. I felt it was very clever to use the t.v. :)

The flight itself was good. No bad turbulence, no bad food, an empty seat next to me, and that sort of enjoyable calm that comes with flying at night, the cabin lights off, and the whole plane 'asleep'. It's wonderful to be awake, and just be surrounded by sleeping people -- quiet and relaxing. There was a man across the plane who was up reading too, his wife asleep next to him, and he was trying to read just by the general light in the cabin. He glanced over at my special 'night light' and yet kept reading in the dark. Maybe he didn't want to copy me. :)

There weren't any memorably handsome, single guys on this flight, but the flight attendant (a guy, obviously), was cute-ish (for the first half of the flight, then he sort of got less cute the longer I had to stare at him) was very nice. He brought me coffee before we'd had our 'meal' (followed by the designated 'after-dinner-beverage' time), because it was what I'd asked for (not water or soda), and he made the pot just because I asked. It was tremendously nice. I was very appreciative. :D More coffee after dinner, and dinner was yummy. Don't remember what I had, but I remember it really hitting the spot. Was watching Next when they brought the tray, so I don't think I paid much attention to anything else. ;)

We eventually arrived at Gatwick Airport around 11:00am or so, the following day. I was supposed to gather my things, go through customs, buy a Gatwick Express ticket (an express-train for direct travel from the airport to London Victoria Station -- a hub for outer-London travel), pick up check-in luggage, and find the train. It all worked out well enough. My biggest complaint would be the roll-y suitcase and the small box of books I agreed to take for a friend who just moved out to London. I was about to take my Arc'teryx pack (soooo much easier to travel with), because it's a backpack-oriented pack, top-loading, and easy to run with it on (to catch trains and such). But I'd over-packed, of course (:D), in retrospect, and also had that box of books that would've been a really big nuisance after about 10 minutes of carrying it in my arms. Executive decisions. :) Anyways, next time I'll definitely take my pack and just keep myself from packing too much!

Well, since this day is really 'over' and the rest of this entry belongs on the 17th, I'm going to end here.
Glad to be here. :)

Love y'all!

Thursday, August 16, 2007



So here begins the records of my travels abroad to the UK (England and Scotland for now), and any such other travels that will (inevitably) come up in the future.

Hurrah! It's finally here, today, the day I'm leaving for London, England. Am very excited (can't you tell!), and a little nervous. Still have errands to run, then we've got to all get showered and ready and then it's off to drive to the airport (... in Houston). Genius that I am thought that flying out of Houston International would be a good idea. We'll see. :)

I've located several internet cafes in the various cities I'll be traveling to over the next 10 days, so I'll keep you all posted on my whereabouts, adventures, travels with friends, and all the exciting things that happen.

Much love!
~ Anne