Friday, August 31, 2012

I Spy Friday

During the Olympics, we never knew what we were going to see
so we started keeping the camera by the balcony door.

One evening we were relaxing and watching TV and we heard loud music outside.

It got louder and louder and we realized is was "Rule Britannia!"

And we looked out and saw this...

A big, honkin' cruise ship floating by!

It went through Tower Bridge and tied up next to the HMS Belfast.  

 A few days later, we heard the music again and it was backing it's way down the river.

You just never know what you're gonna see.

We are getting out of the city and going to the New Forest this weekend.
And my Mom and step-dad arrive on Wednesday!
I can't even tell you how excited I am!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quirky Brighton

Okay.  It must be said.  
You Brits are a quirky bunch.  

Now, please don't take offense.  I'm married to a Brit and probably one of the very quirkiest ones, at that.
It's one of the things I love the most about him.  

And I put up with you Brits "takin' the piss  out of" Americans on a daily basis.
So don't get your knickers panties pants all in a twist.  

Unfortunately, my facial expressions usually show exactly what I'm thinking.
I have the worst poker face EVER.  
TE often catches me with my mouth agape and a dumbfounded expression on my face.
Case in point, during the entire two hours of Spamalot.
(I don't get it.)

Any country that came up with Benny Hill, Monty Python and Embarrassing Bodies is quirky.
(Have you seen this show?  Unbelievable!)

Recently, we took a day trip to one of the quirkiest places in England.

It was the hottest day of the Summer and probably the busiest day of the year for Brighton Beach.

And I use that term Beach very loosely as there is not a grain of sand in sight.   

Most English beaches are pebble beaches.  Pebbles as in rocks.  Ever had a rock in your shoe?

"Let's go to the beach and soak up the sun!"
That, I get.  

"Let's go sprawl out on some hot rocks!"
Quirky, right?

Out in the water is the burnt out remains of the West Pier which
was built in the 1800's and destroyed about ten years ago by arson.

For the past 350 years, young beach goers have been enjoying Punch & Judy Puppet Shows. 
It's another quirky British institution.  I found this on YouTube.  Take a look.  Say it with me, folks.  "Quirky!"

It was a fun place to photograph.  We walked along the beach and down to the waterline.   

Brighton is on the South Coast of England 
and people have been flocking here since the 18th Century.  

 We stopped for lunch.  TE had a full English Breakfast (cold beans and black pudding?  very quirky) and I had traditional Fish & Chips. 

Jellied Eels?

This is the Brighton Lobster.  He has his own Facebook Page.  (Of course he does.)

 There were about a million people up and down the coastline.
But, probably only 50 actually in the water.
That's because it's cold.  Oh, and did I mention the rocks?

Apparently Prince Edward visits Brighton to have his future read by Ms. Petulengro with the magenta tresses.
(It could happen.)

We then explored Brighton Pier and all that it had to offer.  It's locally known as the Palace Pier.  I hear it's been a tradition for over 100 years to take your sweetheart out to the end of the pier for a kiss.  I love that tradition!

We stopped into a pub and were treated to the Beatles!  They were fantastic and how can you not smile and tap your foot when you hear "She Loves You!"

We didn't go on any of the rides, but did enjoy some ice cream.


 We also spent a little time walking through the Brighton Lanes Shopping Area and made a quick stop at Choccywoccydoodah, a Cake and Chocolate Shop made famous with a reality show here in the UK.  Everything in the window is a quirky, chocolate creation.

 It was an odd day.  We paid £25 to park.  Had some nummy ice cream.  I got a rock (or 20) in my shoe.  We saw the Beatles.  It was crazy crowded.  We were at the beach but no fruity rum drinks or tanned skin in sight.
If you could see my face, you would see a perplexed expression.  I'm glad we went, but what an odd place.  

What do you think of Brighton?


P.S.  After this weekend, the BBC reported that beachgoers left behind 23 tons of trash!  I've noticed that littering is VERY common in the UK.  They need a campaign like "Don't Mess with Texas!"  It is  a shame so see so much "rubbish" being tossed about.) 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Birthday!

TE's wonderful Mum turns 70 today!

His parents took the train up from Folkestone last weekend so we could celebrate.  

Today they are leaving for their very first cruise!  
They are heading out to see the Norwegian Fjords. 

I think she liked her goodies.  Every woman needs a black pashmina.

"To be seventy years young is sometimes far more
cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old"

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Happy Birthday to a wonderful lady!
Enjoy your cruise!!

We love you!!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our London Neighborhood

After three trips to Ikea, we are finally feeling settled in our new place.  I'm so happy we found this apartment/flat.  It's such a wonderful little area of London.  I thought I'd share it with you via a photo walk.  

You'll arrive via Tube or Train to London Bridge Station which is South of the River.  Be sure to look up.  

That's the Shard, London's newest skyscraper.  It's the tallest building in Western Europe and will open next year with shops, restaurants, apartments and offices.  It's getting quite mixed reviews by Londoners.  What do you think?

Head East along the Thames and you'll pass the London Dungeon and plenty of shops and restaurants.  You'll pass Hay's Galleria, the HMS Belfast, The Scoop, City Hall and Potter's Field.   This is a wonderful area to spend a day in London.  

Eventually, you'll arrive at Tower Bridge.  

Tower Bridge took 8 years to construct and was opened in the late 1800's.  We're going to take a tour when my Mom is here, so I'll post more info in a future post.  It is a beautiful bridge and I can't get enough of it.  

Did you know that it opens to let large boats through?  

Continue East along the Thames and you'll arrive to an area called Shad Thames.  

This was once the largest industrial port along the Thames.  Food and spices were brought here from all over the world and offloaded to massive wharfs and warehouses.  It was called the Larder of London and it was said that if you walked along this area you could smell the world.  TE's dad was telling me that he remembers the area well, in particular one warehouse that was chock full of oranges. 


The narrow cobbled streets run between the warehouses.  Above you can see the ramps and catwalks that were once used to roll barrels of cargo between the buildings.  Now the lower levels are shops and restaurants and the upper floors have been converted to apartments.  

If you cut through one of the shops or walkways to your left, you will come out onto the Thames Path.  

The last warehouse was closed in the 1970's and in the 80's and 90's the area was revitalized and turned into a lovely residential area.   There are amazing restaurants and bars along Butler's Wharf with some anchors and chains scattered about for atmosphere. 

The steaks at the Butler's Wharf Chop House are wonderful, not to mention the views.  

Be sure to stop in at the Design Museum to see their most recent exhibit.  They also have a cafe and a quirky shop.  

This is the Head of Invention by Scottish sculptor, Paolozzi.  

“Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.”  Leonardo Da Vinci

At the end of Butler's Wharf you reach St. Saviour's Dock, a place of pirates and executions.  This entire area of the Thames is known as the Pool of London and is the deepest part of the River. 

Did you know that London is full of underground rivers?  This is the where one of them, the Neckinger meets the Thames.  

The Thames is a tidal river, so twice a day the water rises up the sides of these converted warehouses.  

This pedestrian bridge was built to connect the Thames path between Shad Thames and Jacob's Island.  


So, this is where we live... Jacob's Island in Bermondsey.  

It was once described by Dickens as "the filthiest, the strangest, the most extraordinary of the many localities that are hidden in London."  Thankfully, it's changed a bit since then.  

Jacob's Island was once a London Rookery (slum) surrounded on all sides by water.  The man-made canals surrounded an area infamous for it's squalor.  It was called "The Very Capital of Cholera" by local paper in the mid 1800's. 

Charles Dickens visited the area for research and his story Oliver Twist is set in Jacob's Island. 

"... crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it - as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage: all these ornament the banks of Jacob's Island."    Charles Dickens

The canals were filled in in the late 1800's and eventually the worst tenements were demolished in the mid 1900's.  The area was heavily bombed during WWII.  Now the area has been rebuilt with converted warehouses and modern residential buildings.  

Little Oliver Twist.  I'm ashamed to say I haven't read this classic.  Oliver! the musical version was on TV last weekend and I loved it.  I'm going to have to read it now. 

Just over Bermondsey Wall West, you will find a large community of House Boats on the Thames.  

And this is where we find our new home, Providence Square.  It's a modern complex with a large Japanese Garden as the centerpiece.  

I absolutely love the garden island and the pond that surrounds it.  I'm becoming a crazy bird lady.  Our balcony is over the pond, so I keep a container of oats on the balcony and feed the ducks and moorhens a hundred times a day.   The massive Koi fish eat anything that the birds miss.

They now come quacking and peeping outside the window if I neglect them.  


I could watch them all day.  This little one is Romeo.  (Yes, I've named some of them.  I gotta get a job.)

It's wonderful to have a little slice of nature right in the middle of London.  

These stairs lead to the parking garage in the basement where we can access our apartment which is up on the 2nd (actually the 3rd)  floor.  

From our balcony, you can just see one edge of Tower Bridge.  You can also see the Tower of London and "the Gherkin."   It's actually 30 St. Mary Axe or the Swiss Re Building.  It opened in 2004 and was nicknamed the gherkin, because it looks like a kind of like a pickle.  

We think it looks more like a Mont Blanc pen and I'm quite partial to it.  

So there you have it.  A little stroll to our new place.  I didn't think I would like any place as much as Notting Hill, but I'm so happy we ended up here.  It's terrific.  

We can't wait to have more visitors so we can share it with you in person.  That's an open invitation, by the way!!


As always, all pictures are ours and this is not a sponsored post.