After spending a day and a half in Blackpool, we drove onto nearby Liverpool to visit MaccaMecca as I like to call it! [Macca is Paul McCartney's nickname here in England.] We visited the rebuilt Cavern Club and this is a portion of the wall outside. It is covered with the names of all the groups and musicians who have played here over the years. Many, many, many famous (and sometimes unexpected) names cover the wall. Of course, in the central place of honor are the four lads who really made this locale famous. Notice that Stu and Pete are also listed under Ringo and George. They are both former members of the early incarnations of the Beatles. Sadly Stu (Sutcliffe) died very young before they made it really big and Pete (Best) was replaced as drummer by Ringo in 1962.
I have wanted to go to a palm reader for a long time. It just seems like it'd be so much fun. Well, it was! I paid my money and sat in a tiny closed off room inside the miniature house. She didn't ask me any information like birthday or anything.. she just started looking at my palm and reading my face (apparently!) She said the next 3 years will be an upturn of luck and things will go well, including a change in jobs and a move.. hmmmmmm.... we'll see!
Stuart and I went for lunch at the pub here (The Albert) and saw this guy having a drink inside. He explained a little about why he was in red to me, but I didn't go up to the guy. After Stuart went back to work, I went back to the pub to take some photos (it's got some gorgeous Victorian era windows) and the Chelsea Pensioner as they're known was standing in the doorway (having a smoke!) Chelsea Pensioners are former soldiers in the British Army who are retired and live at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea full time. They wear the distinctive red coats (which have a name that I've forgotten!) everywhere. I politely asked if I could take his picture. He seemed more than pleased and was happy to stand and chat with me a few minutes, telling me some stories of when he was in the military and stationed in Palestine! He told me how he was injured by a bomb explosion and lost some hearing and took two years to recover and learn to walk again. Pretty impressive!
This is a shot near where Charles Dickens lived with his wife and family for a few years in London. It's an absolutely beautiful area of town! I've decided that [when I get that 6 figure paying job] I will live here some day! It's still rather near the British Museum and busier sections of town, but it retains a calm, away-from-it-all feel. It's at the very least a nice place to spend an afternoon strolling about.
I took a day trip out to Bath today (about 1 1/2 hours outside of London) and had a wander around. I went to the Roman baths first in the morning, then after having a picnic lunch in front of the Abbey, I headed inside. I was just in time for their 1:10 Summer event series. On Mondays, it's a reading from the Bible which lasts about 30 minutes. He read from the book of Acts (chap. 8-10) which was interesting. There wasn't any preaching or praying or anything like that. Just a simple Bible reading, which with the backdrop of the beautiful Abbey was a relaxing few moments of the day.
Another beautiful day (thank goodness!!) so we walked down to the giganto Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer. Love them! Got some shorts for my beach trip to Spain next week at M&S. Sadly, the big shops all close at 5:00 on Sundays (I know! Crazy! lol), so by the time we got here after doing some shopping at the other shops across the street, it was already 4:30. I definitely think a trip back here is in order. If anything, I want to go inside the gigantic Sainsbury's!
We went for a little walk around Tooting since the weather was so nice today. Came across the market in town. I love outdoor markets! I think this is one major thing we are missing in Atlanta. There may be some obscure ones downtown on Saturdays during the summer or something, but a full-time fresh market where you can get local foods would be so welcome.
I went over to the Farringdon area today to visit the St. John Order museum and this church, St. Bartholomew the Great. It dates to Norman times (talking 1050 here!) and this is the view from a side street. It turns out, this church was used in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral! I can't believe I never thought to look up some of those sites (seeing as that is one of my favorite movies that I've seen a bajillion times!!) This was where (as the man inside put it) where Duckface slapped Hugh Grant. I think that's the 3rd wedding? I will definitely have to go back and watch the film again when I get home! I will look up where some of the other sites from the movie are and go find them, too, I guess!
And, uh, not sure why the picture is crooked. The church must be on a hill or something. ;)
This is the packed bus I had to take today due to the strike. It would have been a 15 or 20 minute ride on the tube, but there was a 15 minute wait for the bus, then an hour ride from Victoria to Bank. Oy. I'm just thankful I was one of the first people on and had a seat the whole time. There were long lines at every bus stop and a lot more street traffic in general. It will be nice when things return to normal!
The tube workers are on strike for 48 hours. They started Tuesday evening at 7:00 and are going until 6:58 pm on Thursday. Most lines are completely closed with a few operating between a couple of random stations. I was lucky because the Northern line (where I connect) was running pretty much normally. I was able to take it 2 stops to then catch a regular train into town. I walked the rest of the day (not even attempting to get a bus with the crowds waiting for each one). Traffic in general was busier than normal. Luckily, London's not quite as bad as it would have been if this were Paris. It's certainly been a fun experience!
I spent the afternoon at Hampton Court Palace and there was a reenactment of Henry VIII's and Kateryn Parr's wedding day going on. It was very exciting and well done on their part! The actors wandered around doing various events as if they really were living there. We all just happened to be there, too. It was a lot of fun and really made the visit even more memorable. The actor who played Henry VIII was very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in talking to all the tourists asking for photos with him.
*FYI, if you want to see more about my visit to the Palace, check out my London travel blog here. I will have a post up shortly with more photos.
I decided to walk down to Hyde Park and possibly go to Kensington Palace today after lunch. Being in Soho, it's seemingly, not that far of a walk. However, Oxford Street is a constant log jam of people going every which way. It is quite frustrating!
On Sunday, it finally became a bit sunny and stopped raining. We took a nice walk around the city and ended up here at the Canal area. I think this was my favorite area of Birmingham. I could see strolling around here on a nice summer evening, then stopping at one of the many bars/restaurants for dinner on the open patio.
On Saturday, we went to Birmingham to visit some of Stuart's friends. It was pouring rain the whole day, but we still went and saw a few of the sights. Here is the statue of the bathing woman in Victoria Square. The locals call her the Floozy in the Jacuzzi. I have fully embraced that, since saying the word floozy is just so much fun!
This tea cafe, Sacred, was recommended to me by someone I met on the street in London. What a great place!! I had a wonderful pot of Japanese green tea and my very first scone with cream and jam. Holy cow. I don't think I'll ever be the same!
How very posh! Nothing like a bit of afternoon croquet and a spot of tea.... I came across this scene while I was over in Greenwich this afternoon. I saw the Prime Meridian there (pretty cool) and there is a large park at the base of the observatory, oddly enough called Greenwich Park. I'm definitely going to return there some sunny weekend afternoon for a picnic and sun time! Also, I got to ride the DLR train which was nice. It's above ground and takes you right by the docks and stuff. I enjoyed the change of pace this afternoon.
Hidden behind the main drag of Regent Street is Savile Row. If you are Beatles fan, then you know what this place is significant for! If you look up, waaaaay up, to the roof, you might recognize the view. This is where they played their last ever live performance together on January 30, 1969! The building was their Apple offices for a while (until they moved to Abbey Road) which is why they chose to play here. It was cool to be able to stand on the stairs there (yes, I'm one of those fans...) I can't believe I was so close to here all these visits and didn't even think to come see it. The street is very quiet now, but I can only imagine how amazing it was for the shop and office workers to suddenly hear live Beatles music coming from outside! I also passed by the police station from where officers were sent down to stop the noise back in 1969.
We had more gorgeous weather today and pretty much everyone was out in the sun to take advantage! I was on my way to the National Gallery and the lure of these chairs was strong. I decided it was more fun to just go ahead and have a little relaxing nap in St. James's Park instead of rushing on to the museum. It was lovely! Of course, at one point, this man comes up to me in my chair asking for money. I told him I was sleeping and to go away. Um, it turned out he's the chair fee collecting man! Oops! I'm sure he's heard it all the time anyway. He didn't seem phased.
So, it's my first day in London with absolutely no plans. I passed by Westminster and figured I may as well go ahead in and visit it finally. It's quite expensive (£15!!) which is why I've never done it before. However, I'd already decided I'd go at some point on this trip. It was very well organized- we got free listening guides at the door which were narrated by Jeremy Irons. That was funny! The map was clearly marked with each location's number which corresponded to the commentary on the audio guide. It was very interesting. I have to say, my favorite part was Poet's Corner where all the writers are buried or memorialized. I'm glad I went in finally. I wish it had been a tad less expensive, but I suppose it was worth it in the end.
This is the plane I rode from Chicago to Shannon (Ireland) to Dublin. We had a stopover in Shannon to let about one third of the passengers off. Unfortunately, two others decided to leave as well. The flight attendants were repeatedly doing head counts and discovered them missing. For security reasons (since their luggage was still on the plane), they had to be located and brought back. Luckily they were! Sitting inside the plane for an hour waiting to take off again was stressful.
I love the plane, though. Notice the little clover painted onto the side of the plane. :) I felt like one of the Beatles deplaning like this. Fun!
So here are the bags, all packed and ready to go! They aren't completely full, leaving me some souvenir room and to help with the weight. It ended up being a problem going from Dublin to London on BMI because they have a 20kg limit (combined) and I had 25kg. That woman wanted to charge me 11 euros per kilo over! I was able to get everything through without charge, but certainly not without quite an attitude on her part. Geesh.
Oh, and I just have to show you how super cool the inside of the bags looks:
Tonight, my family and I went out for Mexican at a local restaurant since I'll be leaving tomorrow for two months! I knew I'd probably have a Mexican food craving pretty soon, so I figured it would be smart to go ahead and have some before I left. When we came outside after dinner, the weather was so nice and cool with a bit of a breeze, we all went for a walk around the forum (sort of an outdoor mall which is very pedestrian friendly). We came across this hidden little alley and I thought it'd make a cute photo! My dad is peeking out from behind the obelisk (he was hoping to hide and not be in the photo!) and my sister and mom are in the front. It was a nice evening out and a fun diversion from all the frantic trip preparation and packing!
So here's where I will be spending next school year. Quite sad and drab compared to my old room. :( I might have to work on that when I set up class for next year!! Oh, and all those boxes in the photo? They belong to the teacher who was there before me. She left them for the custodian to move for her (I did all my own moving, since they have enough to do!) My stuff is all safely inside the closets.
Oh, and remember my fabulous "wall o' windows"? Here's my new tiny window view. It looks out to the dumpster behind the cafeteria. :(
So, I'm 98% packed and moved to the new room/trailer. I'm going to miss my butterfly bushes in the fall and the general beautiful window view with sunshine coming in to the room in the morning! I've been assured that I am really going to prefer being in the trailer. We shall see....
More hot tea. And I'm almost out of kleenex. I'm so over being sick. I would be happy at this point to stop the constant sneezing. And the coughing. I really hope I am better by Friday! I leave Saturday morning and can't be feeling like this on a plane.
Today is Memorial Day where we all remember and honor the soldiers who fought for the country and lost their lives. The traditional thing to do in most towns is to set up roadside crosses with the names of local soldiers and the war they served in, along with American flags. I'm not an overly patriotic person, but I do think that this is a wonderful and striking tradition. They've been up since Friday and I knew I had to make sure I photographed it for the blog today.
I went to get my hair cut/colored today (looks fabu!) and stopped by the house afterwards. Mom had made my favorite macaroni and cheese for lunch! I wasn't expecting lunch but it was quite welcome. Mmmmmm.
On the way home, I got stopped by a cop (speeding! Oooops!) and I totally forgot to get a picture!! I keep envisioning a picture of the lights in my rear view mirror (after we're stopped of course! Not that I'd be evading police to take a photo!) Oh well.. next time?? Oh, and he let me off with a warning! PHEW!!! I fessed up that I knew I was speeding and going about 50-55. I honestly thought it was a 45 zone. Apparently that stretch of road is 35. Eeps. Now I know!
Today was the last day of school for the year! Wooooo! We have a yearly tradition where all the teachers follow the students out to the buses and wave as they drive away. The kids wave back from inside the bus (shouting bye to their teachers out the bus windows as they wait!) and the bus drivers all honk the horns as they drive away! It might seem a little corny, but I think it's really nice! I mean, yeah, I'm also thinking "byyyyyyyyye! woohoo!" but it's sweet. If I were a student I'd be touched!
So I had to do exactly what I always say is lame- go to Starbucks and buy my morning coffee! But I was desperate... I was out of coffee. And after yesterday's half strength watery mess, I couldn't go without! I was planning on going to Publix after to pick up something for lunch. However, I noticed (while waiting in the long line!) that there were pre-made egg salad sandwiches and fruit and cheese plates. So, I grabbed one of each and after paying WAY too much for items I could prepare at home for a fraction of the price, I was on my way... Oh well. I don't do it but maybe once per year, so I don't feel too hypocritical. I now have coffee at home (and creamer and fruit and cheese!) so I'm all set for tomorrow, to drive by and wag my finger at all the poor suckers wasting gas waiting in an 8 car long line in the drive through for coffee they could have made at home in less time! [I went inside to get my order today, I should point out!]
Oh, and a funny coincidence. One of my neighbors was in line in front of me, but we've never met. I heard his accent and had to ask (of course). Turns out he's the Austrian guy Beth and Ian have told me about. When I asked if he's Andreas he gave me a funny look and said "yes". I told him how I knew his name and said it wasn't because he's become famous or anything! He seemed freaked out. Oh well...
Ok, just more proof how awesome my new camera's macro setting is!! I got this bracelet last week at H&M and am saving it for my trip! I love the design on it. Funnily enough, I noticed it on a co-worker at school yesterday! She's pretty stylish, so I felt justified in my purchase.
Oh, and did you notice you can see me taking this photo in the reflection on the bracelet?
I should have taken a photo when it was full, but the thought hit me too late! I met Dodge- the tutoree- at Frontera today instead of Starbucks. It was purely a social meeting with margaritas and no lesson! Mmmmm... turned out the timing was perfect. It was just one of those days where a margarita can make it all go away! We got the top shelf version on ice with salt. They are handmade and you could definitely taste the grand marnier and orange juice. Yummo!
Now that Spring is here and the days are getting longer, this is the light I see coming through my window at 6:15 in the morning. I love this curtain since it diffuses the light just right. Not a bad way to wake up (though I'd rather not have to get up and get ready for work!!)
Ok, so despite my recent procrastination regarding my blog, I am uber-prepared when it comes to packing! I've been setting stuff out as I think of it for a few weeks now. I just hope it all fits when it comes to actually packing them next week!
Here's my latest creation. I realized after I took this that I've already shown you my pizza but this one is so beautiful! I pre-cooked the store-bought dough a little before adding toppings. I hate soggy crust! Unfortunately, the edges where there were no toppings got burnt. Oh well, the rest of it was delicious!!
Today was the 8th grade's turn to have Olympics. So, during the time I'd normally have them in class, I had to go to the gym to watch them instead. It was fun. Here, they're playing a game called Pin Guard. They are in teams of like 15 to start and they have to guard the golden pin from being hit by the other team. Both teams are throwing rubber balls at each other dodge ball style. Any player that gets hit by a ball is out. Obviously the objective is to hit the pin first and/or get rid of as many of their players as possible since then the pin would be left open to be hit!
I tried to get up to run this morning. I set the alarm for 5:15 and pressed sleep several times. I took this photo when I was actually awake enough to think to go get my camera and take a photo for the blog! It's hockey's fault- keeping me up too late at night!
This is a panoramic shot of the 7th grade students all decked out in their Olympics shirts! We do field days each year by grade level. Each grade is divided into countries who then also compete against each other. This year the teams are (from left to right) Greece in blue, Sweden in yellow, Japan in red and Brazil in green.
At one point during the basketball games, Greece started cheering for Japan because they were in 3rd place and the students thought they could use it! How sportsmanlike, right?? :)
Here are just a few of the new things I've bought recently at H&M and Kohls (giftcard!) for the trip. I laid out a few outfits to see how things went together. I'm very excited about how cute some of them look!
It's been such lovely weather that I've been able to turn off the air conditioning and open up the windows and balcony door. It looked a little darker, but my camera really came through and captured the remaining light of the evening!
It's awesome!! The lens was maybe a centimeter away from the keyboard when I took this with brand new camera!! Woo! It's a Canon Powershot SX110IS. Basically it's an upgrade in features and megapixels from my other Canon, but smaller with a bigger screen! There are a couple things I miss- mainly the moveable screen so I can flip it around for self portraits. But, I think the fact that it's a 9 megapixel vs. 5 mega pixel camera will make up for that!
I took this self portrait with my new cell phone using a mirror in my classroom to compose the shot! This is one of the (reasonably priced!) spoils I got last night at Shecky's. It's solid silver of course. It's hard to see in this photo because of the poor color quality, but I think it's really pretty! It will definitely be in my luggage to wear in England this summer.
Spent the evening with my sister Mandy and friend Cathy at Shecky's- a sort of Girls' Night Out shopping event. On top of all the great vendors (the women you see behind them are checking out some stuff!), there are bags with free samples and free drinks all night! Needless to say, they are actually holding each other up in this photo. Oh, and I swear I can see something poking out of Cathy's bag there... ;)
Well, since I went to the doctor in March for my sinus infections, he's had me on a lonnnnnnng course of Cipro and daily Allegra. The thing is, the pharmacy keeps doing partial refills and I have to keep returning, so I've ended up with all these medicine bottles all over my apartment (I just threw 3 away!) I'd recycle the buggers, but they have all my personal information firmly affixed to the sides so I just throw them away. I'm gonna be glad when I'm done with the Cipro especially!
This is an idea I got from another website. Thought it would be fun to attempt to capture my daily life during my last year (?? at least for a while??) here in America. Objective is to take some kind of photo of some aspect of my life every day and upload it here. I will try not to have any repeats!