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The Den

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    • Day6

      Dummy spit at Greenwich

      September 1 in England ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

      I heard a dog groomer once say the biggest difference between grooming a dog and grooming a cat is this: when a dog gets upset or angry, you can give them a break, a treat, and then their good mood will be restored and you can continue the groom. When a cat is done,

      It. Is. Done.

      and there is nothing in heaven or earth that will return a cat to its good mood: no treat, no break, no distraction, no patting.

      I definitely got into the feline spirit in Greenwich. I might have been sulky around Greenwich Park, but I was insufferable around the Cutty Sark and by the time we were at St Katharine's Docks, I was practically a wraith.

      Still, there's no doubting that Greenwich has been my favourite part of London so far, and I will infuriate my partner when I recount for decades to come what a good time I had, when in reality I had absolutely no energy left to do anything but watch the inside of my eyeballs as if they were a cinema screen.

      Because Greenwich is set up beautifully for tourists, but all the tourists had gone with Bank Holiday and the end of summer, the place felt restored to itself somehow. The Cutty Sark precinct of course felt like a theme park, but a theme park at closing time: nostalgic and depopulating.

      I have been whingeing about how Queen Victoria has absolutely colonised London with her architecture and her propaganda, but Greenwich felt curiously 18th century, something not built for the likes of her. Walking through the observatory's hallways and stairways - all milk white, toast brown - and seeing the iron and brass instruments was properly transporting. The place was quiet, even with a busload of Spanish school kids giddy at the prospect of a good gift shop, which is after all the apex of any tourist experience, as every child knows.

      Mum, Dad, and Stuart were all absolutely energised and reassuring, a pleasure to be around, while I was all vortex and debility. After the observatory - where the greatest observation might have been Dad spotting the editor of The Guardian Australia - I broke off from the group and went to the Kings Arms to draw some architecture in my sketchbook and drink an oversized Lemonade.

      After that, a patrol around the cobblestones to look at Greenwich Market - I nearly bought a wooden watch with a teal face but then I remembered that it was 2022 and I didn't use a watch anymore, besides which I had the gorgeous one that Stuart gave me in 2018 which would not appreciate the infidelity. I didn't really want a watch. I just wanted the dopamine that comes from buying 1 x crapthing please. Yes I would like my crapthing giftwrapped.

      I ordered an espresso in Waterstones Bookshop and a small chocolate bar which had oxidized to the point where it was no longer a food item but some brownish chemical quiddity. I just opened the chocolate bar wide and ate none of it, looking at it, feeling like it expressed my soul.

      A ride on the brilliant DLR and then lunch at St Katharine's Docks in The Dickens Inn (named not after Charles Dickens but his (great?) grandson Cecil ) and the best burger anyone could have imagined did nothing to restore me to myself. You might as well have stuffed a beef burger inside an anatomical skeleton model for all the pleasure it gave me. But I was abstractly aware it was actually incredible.

      Coffee and real edible chocolate at Mum and Dad's place was a very gentle affair. I could tell how much they had pushed themselves to get the very most of out this foreign rendezvous with me and Stu, and I was moved by it. Seeing them really was a once in a lifetime experience, and I know that because it has only happened once in my lifetime. Hugging them goodbye will be a core memory now.

      That evening at home was a blur. The bathtub in our AirBnB doesn't work because the water doesn't heat up. And apart from that, the bath surface is grimy from a week of standing on it in the shower and we don't have cleaning products. Are we supposed to go to Tesco Express and buy bleach, pine-o-clean, sponges, and rubber gloves? The Virgo in me thinks this is a thrilling travel idea, practically the Virgo equivalent of bungee jumping. Cleaning in a foreign city? Where does the line start!?

      A curious thing about the day was that I got to see the true size of London, first by ferry (the "Meteor" clipper) and then by DLR. The tube has a funny way of folding London up like a map ready to put in your satchel, but the ferry unfolds that map. Mum and Dad's place at Tower Bridge was much further away than I could have anticipated - a full half hour ride. I'm glad we didn't try to walk it. The DLR too showed us plenty of poverty and really sad social housing and buildings demolished by neglect - I needed to see this. London was starting to get out of sight, out of mind.

      I was disconsolate by bedtime knowing that we had paid for two tours in a row the next morning, each 1.5 hours. I just wanted to stop.

      The sleep train hit me like the Victoria line to Brixton: fast and impersonal.
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      Traveler

      those haunted eyes. By this stage I'm already a reanimated corpse. But with very minimal animation.

      Traveler

      Jo and Graham are also in this photo.

      Traveler

      St George Wharf Pier, which has a great view of Battersea Power Station. I didn't upload a picture of that view but sheesh do I have to everything?

      Traveler

      A simply inspired post, full of heart with some amazing pics.

       
    • Jun3

      Jubilee High Tea on the Thames

      June 3 in England ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

      Started the day with a wander through the beautiful Covent Garden… Compared to yesterday it was bliss being able to just wander aimlessly along the cobbled streets & soak up the atmosphere.

      Happened upon a cute little French bakery in one of my all time favourite areas, Soho, Cafe Boheme, pulled up a chair & soaked in the atmosphere: Billy Holiday crooning while devouring freshly made coffee (the best I’ve had in London) and flaky baked croissant 🥐

      Continued on to search for the Phoenix garden which is the last of the Covent Garden community gardens. It was featured in one of my favourite Christmas movies, Last Christmas! So peaceful 🪴 nothing but birdsong and filtered sunlight through the trees 🌳…a touching tribute to George Michael on the entrance gate.

      This afternoon Marta and I enjoyed high tea on the Thames in honour of the Queen! It was quite hilarious… You could tell that it was slightly disorganised & the staff were flying by the seat of their pants! It was like being a board a Carry On movie set! The girl that was at the bar all of a sudden became the commentator on the Queen‘s life. Her commentary was rushed and very cockney. Later up at the bar I told her she did a good job and she said (…in an Eliza Doolittle accent: “I ain’t that good on me Roman numerals so I just made up the Queen and King numbers!”
      Too funny!
      I ate and drank way too much! The scones were like rock cakes; I was careful not to drop them into the Thames for fear of killing some of the marine life LOL!

      Added bonus of going under all the London bridges and checking out the big name attractions from a new angle!

      Another great day in bustling London Town! A magnificent 21 degree day! 🇬🇧🧁🥰☀️🥳👑
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      Traveler

      It’s so lovely to see every picture of you grinning like a Cheshire Cat I’m so glad you are having such a great time, you so deserve it. And your pictures and video are just great London is such a amazing place filled with amazing buildings and people you certainly didn’t need a camera. Keep enjoying.

      6/3/22Reply
      Traveler

      Thanks 🙏 I’m glad you’re enjoying following along! I knew I had to share the Royal Extravaganza with a fellow royalist! 😜😜🎉🎉👑👑🥰🥰👍🏻👍🏻🥳🥳🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧

      6/3/22Reply
      Traveler

      As you can now probably tell; I absolutely love ❤️ London!

      6/3/22Reply
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    • Day3

      Head Over Heels

      September 4 in England ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

      This morning, we had breakfast and tea on the balcony. From our fifth floor apartment we can see north to the Queen’s Olympic Park. Site of the 2012 Games, the Park runs several urban blocks, north and south. Most noticeable from our vantage point was a twisting, red, metal structure. It was odd enough that it made me curious, so I did a quick google search. It turned out to be the Arcelomittal Orbit. What the heck is that, you ask? It is the world’s longest tunnel slide, conjoined with a fantastical steel structure, created specifically for the Olympic Games. Well, no challenge like that is going unanswered. I immediately purchased tickets for an afternoon ride, and we were off to the Park in minutes.

      We strolled along a series of waterways to reach the Park. Moored to the piers, several long, slender, houseboats filled the narrow rivers. The walk was quiet, despite the bustling avenues a block or two away. Entering the Park on the south side, we walked past the Arcelomittal and the hill that once hosted the medal podium. To our right was a giant, clam shaped building that houses the aquatic center. The building shimmers a blue hue and made me want to take a swim; unfortunately, we were under time constraints. We hustled to the Olympic Rings for a quick picture, before turning around to make our slide appointment. The walk back along the river included cool shade, under oak trees, with coots lazily swimming upstream.

      We arrived for our slide right on time and took the elevator to the launching deck, about 250 feet up. The views were incredible; the outfit, not so much. We had to put on a silly hat that looked like an old time football “helmet.” The old leather ones that you see in black and white photos. Not sure what the point was then or now, but we complied. Along with the head gear, elbow protection was required and made more sense to me. As we waited in line, Kim started to second guess her choice, but I reassured her. Then came the scream from the woman, who had just slipped into the tube. The young man working the entrance of the tube smiled and said, “She’s loving it!” I’m not sure that it was a scream of joy or if she waited for her friends, but it got me even more excited. Restraining myself, I let Kim go first. She nervously pushed off and it was silent, until it wasn’t. Suddenly a prolonged howl emitted from the slide, which I later confirmed was a spontaneous utterance of enjoyment. I came down next, smiling the entire way. It was 600 feet of pure fun that ended way too soon.

      We left the slide and grabbed a quick bite, simultaneously eating and walking to the ABBA arena. We stood in the short line, with lots of platform shoes, before entering the dance floor. Although we got there with ten minutes to spare, somehow we ended up on the railing of the stage, smack in the middle. What? We just got the best dance spot in the house? Uh, yup. We then met Andy, who flew from Australia for the show. As a matter of fact, he came on Friday night and loved it so much that he was back for the matinee today. Although I had worried that my expectations might be unrealistically high, Andy just put me at ease. In only moments, the show started. I can’t really explain what I saw, but it was incredible. Andy and I had waited 40 years for this, so I smacked him on the butt and danced with him to”Does Your Mother Know.” Kim and I bounced up down but when they let loose “Dancing Queen” the entire place erupted. It was bananas. I turned toward the audience, and none of the ticket holders in the seated area were in their chairs. Jumping, shaking, singing, the whole place was deafening. It was like a huge sing-along with 2,999 of your best friends and everyone knows the words. Wow! By the time we left, I was partially deaf, and we were almost back to the apartment by the time I could hear again. Before we left, I asked Andy if he preferred his seat in the back of the Arena on Friday or center stage on the dance floor today. With a huge grin, he said, “This is the best seat in the house!” Then, he paused and leaned in toward me, as though revealing a secret, “I’m supposed to go to the theatre before I leave on Friday, but I might just skip it and come back here.” It was that good. (I have to admit, I looked but couldn’t get tickets for tonight’s show-sold out).
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      I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much! Sounds like a fun day! Where’s the sweater? [Debbie]

      Traveler

      Awesome. So much fun!!

      That’s a great day! Several more to come I’m sure. [Eileen]

      3 more comments
       
    • Day105

      London!

      July 4 in England ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

      Miles: 8.1 Steps: 20135
      Flights stairs: 17

      Beautiful day in London today!

      We had a great day seeing many tourist sites. Rode the top level of a classic double decker bus and then went to the London Dungeons. It’s a 90 minute haunted house kind of atmosphere walking you through the gruesome history of London - like 15 “scenes” with actors portraying history live with us as participants. It was very entertaining, scary but I actually learned a lot of the history. Unfortunately no pics allowed so only had the one they sold us in the end.

      Then we headed to Kings Cross station to see platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter - or what they set it up to be for the tourists. Cute. On the same vein, then went across town to see the Abbey Road crosswalk. Funny to watch everyone try to get pics on an active street without a street light.

      We walked thru Hyde Park, saw Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria fountain and then strolled thru St James Park. It was very beautiful.

      We eventually hit Admiralty arch, and Trafalgar Square - the direct center of London. Down the street we saw 10 Downing Street, the amazing looking Parliament and of course Big Ben (which was smaller than I imagined). We finished off our day with a ride on the London Eye - takes about 30 minutes to make a full rotation. Each pod holds 25-30 people. Went really high and really cool to see the city from that vantage point.

      Overall, it was a great day seeing the city. London is pretty cool.
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      Traveler

      Glad you’re enjoying London. We have our fast pass tickets for the London Eye on July 16th.,

      7/5/22Reply
      Christie Mitchell

      We didn’t have a fast pass, and the line WAS extremely intimidating… but in reality, it moved VERY fast. When they’re loading 25-30 people at a time, it moves quick

      7/5/22Reply
      Traveler

      Looks fun!

      7/9/22Reply
      Traveler

      We have one here in Boise that they brought over😳Converted it into a mobile coffee shop😜But not that modern or fancy:)

      7/9/22Reply
       
    • Jun19

      Mamma Mia: The Party 🎉🕺🏼🌺☀️🥗

      June 19 in England ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      A balmy 23 glorious degrees as you enter the island 🏝 of Skopelos. Crickets 🦗 chirp & Greek music 🎵 plays as you are strategically and well organised taken to your table under the pergola entwined with vines 🍃and flowers 🌺 Authentic & welcoming… served delicious Mezze 🫒 of olives, dips, breads & tangy Greek salad 🥗. Musicians circle, chat and mingle. And, then…

      The hits begin!

      What an amazing interactive performance it becomes… All of the actors & musicians circle the entire venue and make everybody feel part of the action! 🕺🏼💃🏼🕺🏼💃🏼 The waiters become actors and enthusiastically embrace the surroundings.

      You are reminded how many amazing songs ABBA actually have. It is hit after hit after hit! Even some of the lesser known songs from the back catalogue are used to perfection in the performance. Everybody in the audience/tables feel like they are on the stage and the emotion is palpable. I honestly had a tear (…actually quite a few) in my eye just thinking how lucky I am to be here! 🥰

      By the way: the food is superb. Everything is cooked to perfection & really delicious and fantastic quality. Extremely clever and appropriate menu of Greek delights! Tender lamb and beef with tantalising lemon potatoes & zucchini. Speaking of delights…the boys in the show are beautiful too 😝😍 😝

      Benny and Bjorn are Masters in manipulative marketing! I mean that in a really good way: Even if you were not an ABBA fan (unlikely in this room) you would still be completely and utterly transported away to the island they are representing here. It is absolutely amazing and beautiful. What a truly wonderful experience. This will allow ABBA’s astonishing music 🎼 to continue on for generations to come. The most amazing part of the experience is that you actually feel like you are on an island in Greece (even down to temperature of the room!) and this is all happening around you; literally & naturally. Who can do that?
      Only ABBA! ❤️❤️❤️

      You never have to wait for anything; food, drinks, service: there are enough waiters and waitresses who double as performers to cater for your every need. Yes! I am gushing but I am so glad that I was not disappointed. It is pure magic! 👍🏻🌺

      The next 24 hours will have me an emotional ABBAwreck! 😜

      There are 3 acts which are skilfully and purposefully wrapped around each deliciously prepared course! It’s a whole lotta bang for your buck! Well worth every cent. The ticket 🎟 price is high but we were upgraded as well: to a table right inside the action…no value or price can be associated with such a privileged ‘experience’ 🕺🏼

      Not only do you get this thoughtful & well produced show (slightly resembling the original Mamma Mia) but the entire room becomes a gigantic glitter ball ABBA disco! Everybody goes joyously crazy, as they should!

      I can only imagine what future generations will think of this amazing band and a legacy they have left! The absolute beauty of this is that we have people from all ages and all walks of life enjoying every moment!

      ABBASOLUTELY Brilliant!

      🕺🏼💃🏼💃🏼🕺🏼🥰❤️🎉
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      Looks and sounds amazing [Jules]

      6/19/22Reply
      Traveler

      It is well worth every cent… It was quite expensive but it is basically a three act show, a concert, a disco and a meal all in one!

      6/19/22Reply

      wow Troy it looks great what amazing start to the next step of your ABBA experience the concert to morrow night will be great too xx [us]

      6/19/22Reply
      Traveler

      It was fantastic! They do such a fantastic job… I am really looking forward to the voyage concert tomorrow… x

      6/19/22Reply
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    • Day1

      Londoner Luft schnuppern

      June 2 in England ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      Der Kurzurlaub begann wie immer: Nach dem vierten Dienst in Folge, mit nur vier Stunden Schlaf, aber mit maximaler Energie. Das Tagesziel war eigentlich nur, London auch wirklich zu erreichen. Nach dem ersatzlos annullierten Flug ab Dresden wurde kurzfristig einer ab Berlin gebucht. Dazu ein Flixbus, der aber viel zu spät da gewesen wäre (was mir immerhin gestern schon aufgefallen ist 🤭). Also hieß es dann heute: Ab mit dem Auto nach Berlin, mit der S Bahn zum Flughafen und tadaaaa! London! Ich fasse es nicht.

      Diese erste kleine Reise allein wollte ich unbedingt. Und auch unbedingt allein. Aufregend, bereichernd. In der Realität vermisse ich bereits zwei Stunden nach Ankunft eine Begleitung 🤣

      Heute habe ich einen kleinen Rundgang an der Themse unternommen und die Tower Bridge aus jedem Winkel fotografiert. Vom Thronjubiläum der Queen merke ich bisher nicht allzu viel, aber ich denke da wird sich in den kommenden Tagen vielleicht etwas dran ändern. Nun steht noch eine Tour an, die auf Spurensuche zu Jack the Ripper geht.
      Morgen dann mehr, liebe Grüße 😊
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      Traveler

      Wunderschön, genieße es, noch viele schöne Dinge.

      6/2/22Reply
      Traveler

      viel Spaß wünsche ich dir. Iss n bisschen Fish& Chips :D

      6/2/22Reply
      Jessica Weise

      Ein bisschen :D

      6/2/22Reply
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    • Jun3

      Pretty Woman: Big Musical. BIG. huge!

      June 3 in England ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      So exciting to be able to go out your front door and turn a corner onto London’s Strand to go to a musical 🎶
      The Savoy Theatre 🎭 is basically 5 minutes from my accomodation. In fact, the entire West End is only an extra ten minutes through Covent Garden! It’s a Queen’s paradise (…and, I’m not talking about Lizzie this time! 😜🎟🎼
      Great opportunity to put on the glad rags & treat myself…again!
      And, last minute half price 3rd Row tickets 🎫😜

      The Verdict: initially it was strange to see an all-time favourite and much loved movie break out into song… But, after a few minutes it all seemed perfectly normal… Schmaltzy, humorous and the music really complimented the original storyline. Stand out character was the campy hotel Manager who played about 5 other characters as well! In short, it’s hard to better perfection but they did a good job! 🎉🥰👍🏻
      I give it 4 pretty women out of 5
      💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼

      PS: it is so fantastic not having to wear a mask anywhere! You wouldn’t even know Covid ever existed in the UK, or London at least! Everyone is getting on with life… theatre crowds, public transport, restaurants, gatherings… a few masks 😷 by those who make their own personal choices… exactly how it should be! 🕺🏼🕺🏼🕺🏼
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    • Day1

      Jack the Ripper Tour

      June 2 in England ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      Jack the Ripper - Jeder hat diesen Namen schon einmal gehört! Ich hatte Langeweile, es gab eine Tour - here it is!

      Unser Tourguide Nathan, studierter Schauspieler und Philosoph, nahm uns mit auf eine fesselnde Rundtour durch die Straßen Londons. Wir schauten uns die Ecken an, an denen Jack the Ripper seine Opfer zurück gelassen hat. Der Legende nach sollen es zwischen fünf und zwölf Opfer gewesen sein - alle brutal ermordert. London im 19. Jahrhundert war wohl alles andere als schick. Dreckig, stinkend und arm, voller Prostitution und Elend. Zu dieser Zeit trieb ein Serienmörder sein Unwesen und konnte nie gefasst werden.
      Auf den Spuren der Opfer Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Cathrine Eddowes und Mary Janes Kellys zeigte uns Nathan auch Orte mit Beweismaterialen, z.B. das Goulston-Street-Graffito oder einen anynomen Brief. Wir rätselten gemeinsam, wer der Mörder hätte sein können....wer nach London reist, sollte sich diesen gruseligen Ausflug nicht entgehen lassen!
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    • Jun20

      Sky’s the Limit! 🏙

      June 20 in England ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      After discovering the most delicious little French bakery for breakfast (Brekky plate with soft boiled egg 🥚croissant 🥐 fresh bread 🥖 juice 🧃 & coffee ☕️ £10) we headed to Skygarden in the building known as the ‘Cheese Grater” for obvious reasons! London likes to give nicknames to all their buildings: such as Gherkin or Shard.

      It was beautiful within the gardens. Perfect place to relax & unwind post Mamma Mia & pre-Voyage…Got an ice cold Cider 🍺 and just sat on the comfy sofas.

      We visited the impressive Superbloom moat of colour around the Tower of London. It was absolutely stunning. Planted to commemorate the 70th Jubilee celebrations. It will now be an ever-changing permanent living artwork! 🌺🌸🌼🌻🌷☀️ The flowers chosen were all part of Queen Elizabeth‘s coronation dress 👗

      We wandered along the Thames until we found a riverside pub. Guinness 🍺 and Scampi 🍤 with mushy peas 😋

      Weather heating up again! Big news 📰 is, unfortunately, biggest rail 🚊 strike for rest of week! Thanks a bunch of Superblooms you fu##ing Unions! 😵‍💫💩😤
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      Traveler

      Flowers & weather sound lovely 😍

      6/20/22Reply
      Traveler

      Both were amazing 😻

      6/20/22Reply

      What a perfect day [Jules]

      6/20/22Reply
      Traveler

      Indeed 🌼🌼🌼☀️☀️☀️

      6/20/22Reply
       
    • Day21

      Ankunft in London

      Yesterday in England ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

      Stilecht sind Verena und ich am King‘s Cross Bahnhof in London angekommen und haben uns dann zuerst mit der Tube und dann einem weiteren Zug zu unseren Gastgebern vorgewagt. ☺️
      Die Reise heute war insgesamt wirklich sehr lang, aber das leckere Abendessen mit einem regen Austausch unter Pastor*innen - quasi zähle ich da ja mit zu!!! - war auch echt schön und spannend. ✨
      Jetzt bin ich wirklich müde und hoffe, dass ich bis morgen gut schlafen werde, um den Tag dann auch zu genießen. 🥰
      Euch allen eine längst überfällige, gute Nacht! 😴
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