Day Three

So the bag, was super heavy. Like, wearing a 50 gallon fish tank on ya back, heavy. All it really took was my short walk inside the Chicago airport with that thing and I was ready to chuck it. So after my one hour STANDING train ride to Gloucester Road, then a 30 minute walk in circles to find the hotel, I was in agony.

I bring this up now because by my second day, which was yesterday in our timeline here, however not yesterday as in the day that happened before the one we’re in now – pay attention! –  I decided to suck it up and ship some nonessential items stateside. Items like my fancy-pants outfit for the concert, a couple pairs of shoes, and because I figured the bag would get heavier before it got lighter, I went shopping for souvenirs. At Harrods.  Again, we’re still in yesterday, got it?

Now, back to today – day three today, not actual today – I needed to find a box. A rather large box. I started super early and went to… the post office. Turns out, I had started too early, and the location down the road from my hotel was not open until 10am. Next, I walked to the nearest [non-express] Tesco on West Cromwell. Now, I was already ON W. Cromwell, so I didn’t think it’d be so far. Wrong! I walked and I walked and they were open, but didn’t have a box. Not an apple box, not a shipping box I could purchase. Nothing. So, I went to a stationary shop near Earl’s Court. No dice. They were very friendly and I did find my other essential item: packing tape!

After a few more stops I found a Marks & Spencers Simply Food and lo and behold, in the bakery section – a gorgeous bread box newly devoid of contents! What a feeling of victory! I was on top of the world! I was so grateful to M&S that I decided to purchase the Sunday newspaper. I know, CALM DOWN!

I practically skipped back to my hotel – where I was rapidly running out of time before check out – and began to pack up my findings. Next problem – this box was HUGE! My crinkled newpaper wasn’t cutting it, so I did the only thing a reasonable person could – I went shopping again.

Not thrilled about having to maneuver through Piccadilly Circus, I steeled myself and made it to Lillywhites for rugby and footballs. They’re lightweight and they take up a lot of space!

Fast-forward to check out time… I left the large package and appropriate (we’ll get to this later…) shipping and customs forms (thanks to my good friend Squish via the handy dandy internet) with the front desk staff. I’d like to say right now – the Base2Stay staff were amazing! Multiple people were extremely helpful and went out of their way to look after the box as I made my way to Bristol, then Paris, then back to London – not intending to visit the hotel again during my trip (we’ll get to this later, as well).

By 2:30ish, I collected my still pretty ridiculous bag and took a cab to Paddington Station to meet up with Kate. I think we figured meeting around 4 or 5pm.

I tried to get as much of my wandering/perusing out of the way early, because I knew that once I put my backpack down, it would be an ordeal getting it back on my shoulders. I shoved through the London 2012 giftshop, a couple of souvenir stands, the flower stand, I think I picked up a sandwich from my new favourite store – Marks & Spencers Simply Food – and then found a table where I could set up camp.

Kate and I agreed to meet at the bear. What bear? WHY THE PADDINGTON BEAR! The statue. Trouble was, people kept congregating all over that thing! It was really unsettling how many inconsiderate groups of people decided it would be a good idea to ruin such a lovely photo op with their luggage, etc. I soon became frusterated and decided I needed to do something passive agressive about it! I started taking pictures of that loveable bear statue right through everyone’s luggage and whatnot. Of course, everyone looked at me like I was being rude. Hah! Um, excuse me sir, you’re the dumbass who decided to sit in Paddington’s lap. I’m taking a picture of Paddington. Not you.

Anyway, the hours ticked by. And they ticked by. After about four of them, I started to wonder what would happen if I couldn’t find Kate. What if she missed her flight? What if something happened? There really wouldn’t be a way to hear from her.

Is that not the Hogwarts Express?

A couple of months back I asked Kate for her synopsis of the day. In her words:

~ Hellish travel day, a plane – delayed to tube from Heathrow – had to get off once to wait for a new train then had to get off tube to take another line. Then that line ended before Paddington so I have to get out of tube station and walk to a bus to the bus to the Paddington stop to finally meet you near a bear I thought would be huge only to see you aren’t there. Luckily seconds later you happened to turn around and I happened to look in your direction and we found each other (aww…) many hours after we had scheduled. By the time we got to Bristol I was already tired of carrying my bag (see, it wasn’t just me!)  and knew we had to figure out how to get to our hotel. Pleasantly surprised when a cheap, short cab ride later we arrived at a very posh hotel that suited us very well. We had a little snack and decided to get some rest. I passed out immediately. ~

Okay, back to me now… it’s sweet that she thinks the hotel I booked for us was posh. It was quite nice, actually, I just would have liked it a little closer to city centre, as it rained the entire time, that was a lot of trekking around soaked with drippy spectacles.

I don’t recall the snack Kate is referring to – I recall starving. Anyway, we unpacked then went to bed. Or, I went to bed. Kate woke me up some time in the middle of the night because she was feeling jetlagged and chatty.

I think we talked for a few hours before returning to sleep. I really missed my friend.

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Day Two

As Kate departs for London (yes, again), I find it fitting that I’m finally getting around to posting this…

~  ~  ~

October 7, Base2Stay, Kensington

Although it pained me to even consider sleeping in the night before, I’m glad I did. After about 10 hours of much needed sleep, I headed out to do some exploring in “my” part of London. I also thought it would help if I re-acclimated myself to the Underground before meeting up with Kate. She can be so bossy, even though I am nowhere near navigationally challenged.

I began by hightailing it to High Street Kensington via Earl’s Court. I was on a mission to find the local Whole Foods, in search of a specific brand of whey protein. The protein was a no-go, but I did find the store the most gorgeous Whole Foods ever! Being harvest season, the store was decked in all its autumnal glory with Hollywood-ready pumpkins and assorted gourds and beautiful bakery fare. And that was after only making it about 15 feet inside the store!

My next stop was Zara as I was on a mission to find a trench coat. This mission was successful.

Harrods Pie Case

I think I wandered the halls of Harrods for a couple of hours before making it down to the Food Halls for some groceries… pies and pasties, prosciutto and olive galette.

I can’t tell you everything I ended up buying, but about half of it was left in my hotel mini-fridge. Shame.

England match. Montenegro 2 – England 2. Yeah, that also happened. Wayne Rooney was a bit of a disgrace, to be sure, but the Three Lions should have pulled that one out, anyway. No matter, my room did not get the necessary SkySports channel, so I just followed the game online while I settled in with my delicious galette and a night of quality British telly.

The end. Good night.

Two-minute review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

After a good two-ish months of waiting for this movie to show up stateside, my dad and I finally went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

As a British spy-thriller/historical drama, I surely wasn’t expecting an endless stream of car chases and explosions and other such nonsense, but it wasn’t the snoozefest the critics made it out to be, either. It was…somewhere in between.

This is definitely one of those films where the trailer is more dramatic, more engaging, more… better, than the film itself. Gary Oldman, as a newly retired intelligence agent is once again flawless and aptly restrained, while his character is brought back into the fold to smoke out a mole in organization. What organization? You know, I’m really not sure. It’s only ever referred to as “the circus.”

A lot of sordid transactions take place and general shiftyness abounds. People who are really innocent sure go out of their way to make themselves look damn guilty, and people who are damn guilty seem to fade into the background for much of the film’s duration. But, after everything, when all is revealed, the element of surprise is still left in tact. It just takes a really long time to get the audience there.

Word of warning: There are a couple of disturbing and intense moments that will jar you out of lethargy. So be ready.

I will say, the film does a good job of keeping clear of the predictable American spy/mystery/thriller device where a great deal of attention is placed on one, maybe two characters to throw focus off the actual guilty party. The characters in Tinker Tailor are woven together organically, keeping the focus where it is necessary to move the story along. Not to serve a formula; “must contain X number of twists before we can reveal ‘whodunnit’.”

If you’re in the mood for an understated, but well-produced mystery, I’d say put a kettle on and enjoy! Yes, that was a recommendation to wait for the DVD.

Deletah!

New Deletah tracks posted! Hop over to the Music page for some ear candeh!

Well that was distracting…

So, Happy New Year and all of that… I was hoping to finish my posts on my October trip to Old Blighty, but I’ll get to that later…

About a month ago my mom called wanting to know the Royal Family’s last name. A bit of panic washed over me as I could not for the life of me come up with an answer. I was at first inclined simply to say “Why, it’s Windsor, of course!” However, I’m pretty sure this is wrong.

Our phone conversation on the matter lasted all of 90 seconds, but the black hole of research I fell into immediately following the call lasted well over an hour. And I was at work, mind you.

What I’d like to share with you now is the email I sent my mother after I managed to claw my way out of the murky, muddy pit…

~    ~    ~

To: My mum’s email address

Subject: Well that was distracting…

I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t answer your questions outright… so I did some research… =)

I don’t think Windsor has anything to do with anyone’s LAST NAME. It’s just the HOUSE the bloodline comes from.

The House of Windsor began in 1917 by George V by royal proclamation. He changed it from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha because of the anti-German sentiment in the UK during WWI. Also, probably because that was a dumb name.

Now, how to explain this without jumping around…you’re not just talking about the royal line of succession, you’re talking about what it looked like before any of these people got married or were crowned! Oy.

Before Queen Elizabeth II was coronated, she was Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh (yes, both a princess AND a duchess). She gained the duchess part when she married.

  • Elizabeth and Philip were granted Duke/Duchess of Edinburgh upon their marriage, by Elizabeth’s father, George VI. (Oh, and Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip are second cousins, once removed.)
  • Phillip’s full name before marriage was Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, but he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and adopted the British surname.

Prince William recently gained the duke part, as did his wife gain the duchess. The King/Queen grants them their duke/duchess “locale.” I think William specifically requested Cambridge because he didn’t want Canterbury…it was bad luck or something. Anyway, I believe that Prince William, while still a prince, of course, will never again be referred to as a Prince of Wales. (If his father abdicates, or dies, Wills will become King William [roman numeral] of England…and the realm.)

Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay m. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall…NOW, Camilla isn’t “known” as the Duchess of Rothesay because DIANA was more commonly referred to as the Duchess of Rothesay (even though she was also Duchess of Cornwall).

  • The other thing is, Camilla isn’t a princess even though her husband is a prince… neither is Kate Middleton…she’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and will be until her husband is crowned king, then she will become the Queen Consort.
  • Prince Philip is a prince to his wife’s queen only because he was ALREADY a prince before he married. Kate was a commoner…I don’t think she’ll ever TECHNICALLY become princess OR queen.

Coronation and marriage seem to do strange things to the naming scheme… hard to figure out and I think they’re still making it up as they go along.

Prince William, the newly named Duke of Cambridge was Prince William of Wales until he married. Harry will remain Prince Harry of Wales until he’s married and is given Duke of London or Bristol or Manchester United, or whatever. Both are still princes, no matter what, but what they’re formally referred to is different now.

NOW, if the current queen should die AND Prince Charles doesn’t abdicate, Prince William’s title may change again because he will officially become NEXT IN LINE for the throne. But I really don’t know because the “of Wales” part in Charles’ title doesn’t seem as random when you look at the line of succession… his grandfather was HRH Prince George of Wales before he was crowned King, and his great-grandfather, Edward VII was HRH Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales before HE was crowned king upon his mother, Queen Victoria’s death.

  • But, AHA! QueenVictoria was HRH Princess Alexandrina Victoria of KENT before she was crowned queen. WTF!? Now I know why there are so many royal historians!

So, Charles will become [King] Charles (insert roman numeral here), and Wills MIGHT become Prince of [BRITISH PLACE], Duke of Cambridge. Or he might go back to HRH Prince William of Wales. Get it? No? Well, me either.

I think on Prince William’s birth certificate, it would have only said: HRH (His Royal Highness) William Arthur Phillip Louis.

Now, one of the only things that makes sense based on all of the above, Prince Harry is unmarried, so he’s not the Duke of anything yet… is HRH Prince Harry of Wales, taken from his father still. When he marries, he’ll be given a Duke of SOME PLACE WITHIN THE REALM name.

So…what did we learn? Nothing, really. It seems one of the perks of being a royal is that you can do whatever you damn well please. =) 

I love you!

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We’re gonna call this “Day One”

Errright, so now I’m going to take you back, day by day, through my trip to the UK (and Paris, but we’ll get to that/why it’s more of a sidenote).

Day One – October 6, 2011 – Base2Stay, Kensington

View from my hotel window. I know, right?

Just thought I’d start you off with that little glimpse of heaven… for t’was not sunshine and roses for a few minutes at the start.

Why, you ask? Because genius that I am, decided to use my spidey sense to navigate from the Underground station to my hotel with the world’s largest backpack on my back.

I should’ve gotten off at Earl’s Court, but instead went one stop too far to Gloucester Road. So, I was immediately heading in the wrong direction. I think I did a couple of circles around the block at one point.

But, I sucked it up and got out my map and pretty much hoped I remembered correctly where my hotel was because I didn’t write down the damn address (genius, remember) nor did I have a super-detailed map on which a little “X” marked the spot.

Eventually I found it. The staff were super-friendly – more on that around day three – and my room was perfect. Even when I zapped the shit out of my hairdryer/diffuser, it was perfect. For more on that little adventure, Imma refer you back to my October 6 post…

Ceremonial Testimonial

So I realize I should be posting a play-by-play recap of my recent trip to Olde Blighty, but at the moment, there are more pressing matters at hand. NEW FLORENCE!

D’you wanna know what perfection sounds like? It looks, well the visual, or the look of the sound, or, if your ears were eyes, they would see this, which then they could hear… oh, just… here:

Now I failed, like, every math class since the 5th grade, but I think this is the formula:
2 x 10² parts Evanescence x 2 parts U2 + 1⅞ part Ann Wilson + 1 part Adele + 1 part Gregorian Chant + 6 glitter flecks of Lady Gaga + 1/2 shameless Spice Girl = √15
Oh, now I think I’ve let that run away from me…

The essentials:

Shake It Out

All This and Heaven Too
Spectrum
No Light, No Light
Breaking Down

The skip-if-you-want-to-save-money-on-iTunes:
Uh, the What the Water Gave Me demo that’s included on the deluxe edition. I guess.