Tuesday, October 31, 2023

October 31--Little Bits

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.  --Desmond Tutu


    Halloween in Wichita is a crap-shoot. I've lived here for 40 years (no way! yes way!), and we've had lovely warm weather, a flood, ice storms and snow all on assorted Halloweens. Not wanting to have candy hanging around calling our names, my husband and I plan to go out for dinner to celebrate our October birthdays. 
    Little bits of good are easy. I've been getting grandson photos printed at Walgreens (cheap and easy) and sending them to his great-grandparents and great-uncle. They are not smart-phone or computer-savvy, and they like looking at the photos. I am quite fond of hand-written notes sent by snail-mail, so this is a win-win activity for all. 
    Put some "little bits of good" together today,

Creator Greg Cole sells these tiny cookies at
our Kansas Grown Farmers' Market

Monday, October 30, 2023

October 30--A Little Extra

Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.  --J. M. Barrie

    Those are excellent words to live by! My husband is a fine example of this behavior. Each morning he brings me coffee in bed (where I sit and write these blog posts). Yes, I could go get the coffee, but I love his kindness. He cooks us fabulous meals from scratch. He goes the "extra mile" to avoid unnecessary chemicals and processed foods. He is currently in the middle of a huge project--cleaning out our laundry and storage room. He started that while I was in Europe. I'm helping, and I'd say we are about half finished. The room is already much cleaner and more organized with his addition of several shelves. It is a labor of love and kindness. 
    Kindness feels good,

A new shelf, a nicer laundry setup

Sunday, October 29, 2023

October 29--Free the Goodness

You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge.  --Eckhart Tolle

    I look at my grandson, and goodness oozes from his pores. We all start that way. It is our essence. 
    I look at the man who is believed to have done the mass shootings in Maine. Someone early on had to have put considerable effort into ruining that innate goodness. Hate fed upon hate, and expanded until the troubled soul killed as a result. The suspect has been found dead. What was accomplished there, other than horrific fear and sorrow? And another opportunity for legislators to ignore sensible gun control? 
    Stay focused on the goodness,
The Glastonbury Community Fridge-
goodness in action

Saturday, October 28, 2023

October 28--Warm and Sunny

A kind word is like a spring day.  --Russian proverb

    I believe there is significantly more kindness in the world than violence. Alas, violence gets the publicity. What we focus on expands, so let's focus on kindness. Other "spring day" elements are a smile and using the name of the person with whom you are interacting. Tips are nice, too. 
    I saw a neighbor out walking in the dark the other morning (I was walking Barney), and she had on a light vest that changed colors and made her quite visible. I asked her about it later in the day, and she said she bought it on Amazon. She then went to the trouble (kindness!) to find out my cell number from her sister-in-law and text me the link for the item. 
    On the other hand, on my recent UK trip, there was one person whom I could describe as "Negative Nellie on steroids." She was loud and constantly complaining, and after just a few days, no one wanted to be around her. She was a "winter day" rather than a "spring day."
    Kindness is a choice. Be kind. 

IMAGINE, by John Lennon

Friday, October 27, 2023

October 27--Gentle Care

Sometimes self-interested is the most generous thing you can be. 
--Tony Kushner

    We certainly tend to be generous with our resources, especially time, giving to others, but are we as generous with ourselves? One of my long-time MELT/yoga students is recovering from successful hip replacement surgery earlier this week. This is for her a time for massive self-interest--our bodies use an extreme amount of energy to heal such a procedure. It is time for her to be very generous and gentle with herself.
    Do we need major surgery to be kind to ourselves? I hope not! Good self-interest lies in adequate sleep, moderate exercise, healthy eating, time in nature, social connection, and some form of creativity. When an individual's "tank" is full, generosity can then overflow to others--a win-win for all. 
    Happy Friday!


Thursday, October 26, 2023

October 26--Expectations--Not Helpful

What will matter is the good we did, not the good we expected others to do. 
--Elizabeth Lesser

    Hmmmm... my first reaction to this was: I don't expect others to do good. But wait! I expected those in my family of origin to be sane, considerate and loving in healthy ways. That was not often the case. What matters to me now is my recovery from that and the good I have done for others as a result of my experience. 
    I think it is mighty clear these days that expecting others to do the good and right thing is a prescription for frustration. All we can do to keep our sanity is to focus on our own do-good practice. The more good we do, the more good comes 'round to us. 
    Circulate the good stuff,

At a shop in England

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

October 25--Don't Wait

It is no way to live, to wait to love.  --Dave Eggers

    Maybe we could also end this quote after "wait": It is no way to live, to wait. To wait to do whatever--we have no guarantees here. My travel buds and I consider this often. Let's go while we are able. 
    In a few weeks, I'll head east to spend time with my brother. His health is not great, and time with him is very precious. It is a very long drive of 1,000 miles, but I don't want to wait any longer to see him. 
    Do you love someone? Show it today!

England loves at Buckingham Palace

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

October 24--Doing Well, Doing Good

All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.  --Anna Quindlen

    There were many times on my recent trip when I asked for help or directions or suggestions. Every time the person was helpful and gave me proper guidance. Each instance of this was doing good--a simple act, yes, but very important to me. 
    Every act of kindness is doing good. I believe we are wired for goodness, and that is what enables us to do well in the long run.

The English do good by encouraging
tourists not to get run over 😉😉

Monday, October 23, 2023

October 23--Stop the Hurt

You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true and also fierce you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. 
--Winston Churchill

    Isn't a Churchill quote so appropriate given that I've just returned from the United Kingdom?
    I see plenty of "fierce" out there in the world, but I'm not so sure about "generous and true." 
    On the other hand, I saw a LOT of people on my just-completed two-week tour of England and Wales. Between all of us, no doubt we've made thousands of mistakes. As I did plenty of people-watching, I reminded myself that we are all simply moving through life as best we can. We want to be healthy, connected, and loved. The billions of expressions of human life all came from the same Something Bigger. Peaceful coexistence happens all over the world every day. War and violence are hurting and distressing the world. Let us fiercely expand the "generous and true" and stop the hatred. This begins in each one's own heart.

The sea at Land's End, England

Sunday, October 22, 2023

October 22--HOME!

We can only learn to love by loving.  --Iris Murdoch

    After a long day of travel, wherein I was awake for 24 hours straight, I am home. I have slept for a few hours, and I'm very happy to be back. 
    Some random things I noticed on the trip:
  • The new car showrooms in London are multi-story rather than spread out over acres. 
  • I saw the tomb of Queen Elizabeth II in the Chapel at Windsor Castle.
  • I saw a commercial van that had this warning on the back: "No sushi kept in this van overnight."
  • The cleaning folks at Heathrow Airport have their title on the back of their shirts: "Sanitation technician."
  • Tesla cars are extremely popular in the UK.
  • I like their road signs better than ours: "Queues likely" (ours: expect delays); "Give Way" (ours: yield) and so on. The streets in London often have "Look Right -->" and "<-- Look Left" painted on the road at the crosswalks to lessen the wiping out of tourists unaccustomed to drivers moving on the left side of the road.
  • In mating season, the farmers put sacks with different color paint on the bellies of each ram, so that when they mate, they leave a glob of paint on the ewe. If the ewes "visited" by a particular ram don't bear lambs, that ram becomes mutton. 
    Time for a slow and gradual re-entry. 

I'm not sure this is a good business name.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

October 21--Hallelujah, Headed Home!!!

It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.  --Albert Einstein

    WOW, I don't think we could have had a better ending day on our trip. It started very early, with a 6:43am train departure from Liverpool. Our mission was to get to Heathrow and get a cab to our nearby hotel to drop off our luggage and then go do more tourist stuff. Once the first train dropped us at the end of its line, it was a rat race with our luggage on two different Underground trains to get to Heathrow, where we took a cab to our hotel so that we could drop off our luggage. That was around 11:00 am, and they actually had a room ready for us. 
    We turned right around and took a cab back to Heathrow to catch the Underground to Westminster. We made sure we could find the Churchill War Rooms Museum. Miraculously, given the huge morning of covering ground, we had enough time to have a half-pint and light lunch at a nearby pub. We returned to the Museum at our appointed time and enjoyed a lovely tour using the audio guide. This was all underground. The guide indicated that the support staff spent weeks without seeing the sun. They used sunlamps on a regular schedule. 
    We walked across the Thames to the London Eye, hoping to get on well before our ticket time, and we were successful. I do not care for heights, and I stayed on the bench in the middle of the "pod." It was a fabulous sky-high tour of London. I must note that the weather forecast for this day was non-stop rain in London, and the weatherperson was wrong. We did not get a single drop on us after leaving Liverpool, and by the time we got on the Eye, it was sunny. 

From the Eye

You can see one of the Eye "pods"
behind me. The wheel is 443 feet high.

    By this point we were pretty worn, and decided to find another pub and beers. We asked a helpful official-looking gentleman for a pub recommendation, and he said, "It's too early to start drinking." This was around 3:30. We said we had already started and this was continuation. He pointed us to the Red Lion Pub. It was packed, so we got our pints and took them outside. We were going to sit on some steps near where two men were drinking at a table. They asked if we were visiting from America, and when we said yes, they said, "We should be nice Londoners and let you sit here." So they sat on the steps and gave us their chairs, and we had a delightful conversation and much laughter. We learned about their business, travels, cricket, families, home-buying in London, on and on. It was the "triple cream cheese frosting" on a perfect day.

Sam and George

    After our last pint in London, we took the Underground-cab combo back to our hotel, had a light supper and turned in early. 
    Yesterday was the perfect example of "I lead a charmed life especially when traveling." Here's the list:
  • It did not rain, and all-day rain was predicted.
  • We asked for directions several times and each one was spot on.
  • We never got on the wrong train.
  • The hotel had a room ready for us at 11am.
  • We never had to tote our suitcases upstairs in the Underground--we always had elevators handy.
  • We had enough time for a pub lunch and beers before our appointed time at the Churchill Museum.
  • We were able to get on the London Eye well before our ticketed time and it was sunny. 
  • We had the total joy of talking with two wonderful young Londoners over our final pint of beer.
    Today---HOME!!!!  YIPPEE!!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

October 20--BeatleMania

If you are feeling helpless, help someone.  --Aung San Suu Kyi

Help! I need somebody
Help! not just anybody
Help! you know I need someone, help!
--Beatles song

    We spent yesterday in Liverpool, touring the city mostly with the Beatles in mind. Our first adventure was driving down Penny Lane with the whole bus singing the song. Way cool!! Just to prove we were there:

    Then we went to Strawberry Field, which was originally a Salvation Army hospital. It is no longer there. 

    Then we had photo stops at the boyhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. There are plaques announcing such, but we did not go into either one. 
    Finally we ended up at the Beatles Museum. Wouldn't it be kind of weird having a museum about yourself when you are still alive? I'd have to ask Paul or Ringo. We had audio guides to take us through, all the while serenaded by Beatles tunes. It was very cool, well-done and informative. 

One of the museum displays

The Beatles' costumes for Sgt Pepper's 
Lonely Hearts Club Band
    Lanie and I roamed around and found a pub. This should be no surprise. We had a pint and a lovely conversation with the bartendress. Then we found a restaurant where we shared appetizers, fried haloumi and cauliflower mussaman and olives. 
    Here is some of the magnificent "art on the street" that we saw in our roamings:

David Bowie, 
about 15' tall
    Our group met up in the bar at 6:00 to say our goodbyes and use our free drink tickets. 😉 Much love and laughter ensued. Most of the group is heading home today. Others are going to Dublin, and Lanie and I are headed back to London for another day of "thrilling adventures." 
    A photo of my purchases, as promised:

    We're off to take the train back to London. 

October 19--What a Birthday!!!

The enjoyment comes from knowing the receiver understands the spirit of the gift.  --Oprah Winfrey

    What could possibly be wrong with spending my birthday in Wales and England? NOTHING!!!
    It was a terrific birthday. We started out in the town in Wales with the longest name in the world. Don't even ask me to pronounce it. We had a half-hour there, and it was the best shop we've been to, so we could all have spent easily an hour there. I got the one thing I really wanted on this trip--a hoodie with the Welsh dragon on it. (Photo to come). 

That's the town name up on the red banner.

    "Someone" ratted me out, so the whole bus sang "Happy Birthday" to me. 
    Next we went to Caernarfon Castle. We were able to climb up stone spiral staircases to explore the walkway on top of the castle. 

From up high, the Welsh mountains in the background.

    We had a pub lunch and beers in the town, and I had ice cream, because it was my birthday!
    Then we went to Porthmadog and rode a steam engine train up the mountain. The scenery is breathtaking. We saw waterfalls, loads of sheep, and the mountains are covered in slate, a mining industry in the area. 

Engine blowing off steam

    Next Tim, our bus driver, drove us a couple of hours to Liverpool where we checked into the Novotel Hotel (modern and much nicer than the previous night's spot, with THREE elevators). After settling in, our foursome went in search of a pub, because I wanted mac 'n' cheese for my birthday dinner. We scored at the Pumphouse, where we were all treated by one of our bunch because of my birthday. Have I told you it was #68 for me?!?!!? 
    Walking back to our hotel, our route was cut off by police tape due to an accident. A lovely young man guided us around the blockade and back to Hanover Street where our hotel is. 
    The perfect end to the perfect birthday--our host, Greg Tamblyn, did a sing-a-long with a few Beatles tunes, played some of his own songs, and had a couple guys from our bunch do some numbers, too. Great fun! 

Greg in action

    Today is BEATLES!!!!
        Lovin' life, 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

October 18--HBTM!

Kindness is good will. Kindness says, "I want you to be happy." 
--J. H. Randolph Ray

    Happy birthday to me! I'm taking this opportunity to be short & sweet. 
    Yesterday--Black Country Living Museum. A miniature town featuring how things used to be. Not my bag. My favorite was the sign on the 1952 shuttle bus:

I did not spit!
    Then we went to Chester where we went to another cathedral. I passed on that, and as it turned out, there was a Lego model of the church inside. A friend took the photo for me. Oh, well. I went to a pub instead. 

    Then we drove to Wales. Our hotel is a beautiful old building along the coast with a teeny elevator and too many stairs. Our group is tired and cranky. 
    I don't know what today holds. It's my birthday and I simply plan to enjoy it wherever I am led. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

October 17--Another Day, Another Cathedral

Love is always a choice.  --Gary Chapman

    Yesterday started at Gloucester Cathedral. Its big claim to fame is the tomb of King Edward II. I wonder if anyone has ever looked to see if there really are remains in all these tombs. Can they even be opened? The stained glass is outstanding. 

King Edward II lies here

Not your usual stained glass--beautiful!
    Next we stopped at Bourton-on-the-Water for lunch. We enjoyed a meal and a half-pint at a pub. There's a lovely town square with a stream running through it. 
    Then we went to Sudeley Castle. Queen Katherine Parr, last wife of King Henry VIII, is buried there. The gardens there are lovely, but I think they would be spectacular in the summertime. There is a very large area known as "CoExistence," with large animal displays supporting conservation and coexistence with humans. My favorite is the hedgehog...

It is way bigger than life-size!
    Then it was back to the hotel. I decided I wanted alone time and sleep more than dinner, so I showered, read, and hit the sack early. 
    Today we go to Wales!

Monday, October 16, 2023

October 16--Seeing Red

The heart that gives, gathers.  --Lao-Tzu

    After breakfast and a bus ride, yesterday started in Plymouth. This is where in the 1600s the pilgrims sailed the Mayflower to the new world. It's another quaint seaside town. We roamed, sampled fudge, shopped, and ended up at a Greek restaurant serving spaghetti with various sauces. Lanie and I ordered those, then our traveling buds found us and ordered Greek food, so we all shared everything. The walk back to the bus took us past into an ice cream store where we supported the local economy. 

At Plymouth harbor
    On the road again, we drove to Exeter where we visited the Cathedral. It was badly damaged by German bombs in WW2. There was loads of construction and restoration going on. The most shocking thing was a food truck literally in the back of the sanctuary selling coffee and tea. The remaining stained glass was beautiful. There were organ pipes bigger than I've ever seen. The largest is 36 feet tall. 

    We used the restrooms in an adjacent church building. Given my love of the color red, this was an extra fun experience for me 😉😉

    We wandered around the church square and shops, and to no one's surprise, Lanie and I found a pub. We had time for a quick half-pint. There was much activity in the pubs getting ready to watch the English team playing in World Cup rugby.

Another delicious half-pint
    We drove to Cheltenham, where we are staying at a Doubletree Hotel. Picture 25 people, average age well over 60, in a hotel with no lift (elevator) and the only electrical outlets in the rooms are by the desk, none at bedside. This is a problem with the multiple CPAP users on the tour. Suitcases had to be moved on large flights of stairs. Fortunately hotel staff hopped to the rescue. We had a lovely staff person helping us with an extension cord and other things, so we are just fine here. "Lemonade from lemons," as it were. 
    There is another cathedral and castle in our future...

Sunday, October 15, 2023

October 15--WINDY!!

It is higher and nobler to be kind.  --Mark Twain

    No rain yesterday! The wind more than made up for it. Such is life on the seacoast. 
    I started the day walking down toward the sea, but the combination of wind, cold, sea spray, and soggy sand turned me back to the hotel. After breakfast we loaded onto the bus to explore Cornwall. Our ultimate destination was the extreme southwest corner of England, Land's End. 
    Our first stop was St. Ives.We hiked down a very steep path to the area of shops and wandered around. We stopped into a restaurant where Lanie and I "took one for the team" and got half-pints so our foursome could use the restroom. Such sacrifices we make!! The other treat there was strawberry shortbread, which had the extra double bonus of cream cheese frosting on top. We paid to ride the shuttle back up to the top of the hill, where Lanie and I had another half-pint at St. Ives Brewing Company. We sat outside and enjoyed the view. The tide was out, so there is a large area where many boats are just sitting on the sand. 

Lego men in fudge...
"Play with your food..."
    Next we drove to the beach where we saw Mt. St. Michael. It's a former abbey on an island at high tide, but you can walk out there at low tide. Alas, we did not have time to walk out there. I did, however, have time to chat with a man sitting with his 3-yr-old female Golden Retriever named Sunny. It was a healing encounter for me.
    Then we headed to Land's End, where the Celtic Sea and English Channel meet at the very southwest tip of England. We had Cornish Cream Tea. It was tea and scones with jelly and clotted cream--a delicious traditional English treat. 

    After tea and scones, we waddled around the area enjoying the magnificent view. 

    After these adventures, I am assuredly not homesick for Kansas wind! I am pleased to report that there are plentiful wind turbines in Cornwall, as there should be!
    Supper was at the hotel. None of us were that hungry given the afternoon tea and scone.
    Our next couple of days take us to the Cotswolds. Stay tuned!
Seen at a card shop...
There's some truth to that!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

October 14--Lots of Rain

Go out and do for others what somebody did for you. --Randy Pausch

    Friday the 13th was another fine day in England. We left Bath and drove to Glastonbury. This is the new age, crystal-toting, psychic-reading, woowoo capital of the world. I'm into that sort of thing, but even this was a lot for me. The entire town smells like incense. We were there to tour the remains of the Glastonbury Abbey. It claims to be the site of the graves/tomb of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.
    I had a lovely lunch of a broccoli and cheese turnover and chocolate chip shortbread (a new favorite I've discovered here). These were purchased at "Burns The Bread Bakery."
    We left Glastonbury. The English countryside is emerald green and beautiful. On our way to Lanhydrock, the bus driver put on the Beatles Greatest Hits, and at least six of us at the back of the bus had a great time singing along. Lanhydrock is a country estate home that you can tour, to see how the family lived and then the servants as well. Alas, it was raining fairly hard, and the walk to the house was steep, going down. Fortunately, after touring the grounds, there was a golf cart type ride back up to the coach park.
    We then drove to Newquay, where we are staying at the Esplanade Hotel with an awesome view of the sea. The water is very rough and it is windy like Kansas. From our hotel (loads of windows), we can see a castle-style hotel out on the point, with a golf course along the coast between us and that hotel. I plan to squeeze in a walk along the shoreline before we leave here.
    At dinner we saw a man with a t-shirt that says: My wife told me I have only two faults. 1) I don't listen 2) Something else. LOL!!!  
    Today we explore the Cornwall area and enjoy a Cornish Cream Tea. La-di-dah...

Lady Chapel, Gastonbury Abbey


Friday, October 13, 2023

October 13--Grief and Guffawing

Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.  --Albert Camus

    I am giving all to my grief over Dusty. Yesterday morning we set out on a walking tour of Bath, and ended up in short order at a wide open space where several dogs were playing. I have no idea what the guide was telling us. I was watching the dogs and crying. There was one who was excellent at retrieving and returning a ball, just like Dusty did so well. That did me in, especially since I slept so little the night before. 
    We roamed more of Bath and ended up at the Roman Baths, which I toured in a hurry. Old stone and yucky water. How much of that does one need to see? Part of the reason I went through so fast--there was an awesome street musician outside playing the trumpet. We found a little cafe and had very yummy hot chocolate and listened to his tunes. 
    Next Lanie and I roamed around the shops of Bath, and she bought me the coaster below as a birthday gift. There were others that were equally hysterical. We stopped in at The Old Green Tree pub and had a pint and a lovely conversation with the bartender. He gave us the recommendation for an Italian restaurant, Martini. 
    We went back to the hotel, and our foursome played Rummikub in the bar area for about three hours. 
    Then our foursome and our tour host, Greg Tamblyn, went out to eat at the recommended Italian restaurant. The meal and company were excellent. We laughed so much and so hard that our sides hurt. 
    Another great day! I was grateful for the game-playing and camaraderie of supper--both were very helpful in helping me with my grief. 
    Today we head to Glastonbury. 

The Roman Baths

As it should be everywhere!

Thursday, October 12, 2023

October 12--High and Low

While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.  --Chinua Achebe 

    What a day Wednesday was, including the highest high and lowest low. 
    We left London and drove to Salisbury. Our first stop was the Cathedral. It is huge and magnificent, of course. However, when we walked in, the choir was practicing Handel's Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus. It was goose-bumping mystical and magical. Later we discovered that the singers were all young girls. It was amazing. 
    Our foursome wandered into Salisbury, which is an adorable English town. We found a pub (not hard to do) and had lunch. We window-shopped our way back to the bus. 
    Then it was off to visit Stonehenge, the reason I came on this trip. You can't get close to the stones, but that doesn't really matter. They are amazing and impressive, and you'll never convince me that ordinary ancient humans built it. There used to be even more huge stones than those resting there today. It's up on a chilly, windy hilltop, with many ancient burial mounds in the surrounding area. 
    We then drove to Bath to our hotel for the next two nights. We got settled in, I hooked up to wifi and my email, and I got the news. My son and his wife made the difficult decision and put down their Golden Retriever, 13-year-old Dusty. We had kept Dusty for a year while they were in Australia, so he's our dog, too. Tears, tears and more tears. Dusty is catching a Frisbee in dog heaven.
    We had supper at the hotel, then our host Greg Tamblyn played guitar and sang for us. It was a lovely end to the day. 
    Today we tour Bath. 
Salisbury Cathedral

Many tons of stone

Our beloved Dusty

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

October 11--It's All Running Together Already!

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.  --Simone Weil

    I've had lots of paying-attention practice this week, what with our tour guide talking non-stop and an infinite number of places to trip over as we walk many miles each day.
    Yesterday we went to Buckingham Palace, quite the grand place. We did not see the big production of the changing of the guard, but we did see the horseback guard "parade." That's six guards on horseback riding in perfect rhythm down a wide avenue, and they do it every day. 
    Lanie and I managed to lose our group folks (unintentional!), and found a lovely little lunch spot where we could eat outside. We have been blessed with three glorious days of weather in London. We went back to our group meeting spot by Westminster Abbey. We were early for reconvening, so we asked a guard if we could go in to pray, and as my spectacular traveling charmed life would have it, there was a service about to start, and we were admitted. It was lovely. Lanie got to have communion in Westminster Abbey, what an awesome experience. I told her she may be the last living human to see me at a church service. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a time to let gratitude wash through me. 
    Then we walked to the Thames and did a boat tour, ending at the Tower of London. We heard lots of grisly stories about various forms of beheading (one swift blow or repeated hacking---yuck!!!). We saw the Crown Jewels, which were mostly crowns. We were all hoping to see some cool necklaces, bracelets, etc. but clearly this American is fairly clueless about the Crown Jewels. They are not insured, so I am told. A) too valuable and B) not sellable if they were stolen. We did see the world's largest diamond, and it's a doozy. My favorite thing in the Tower exploration is the dragon shown below. His claws are made with pistols. It's a very large, creative sculpture.
    We went back to the hotel on the bus, and trekked to a nearby pub that served Thai food. That is not a typo. It was great. I had a Fuller's ESB, one of my favorite beers at home. Alas, I finally ran into a not-so-cold beer. But I was so thirsty...
    Today, Stonehenge!!!

The dragon in the White Tower

Lanie and I with a very friendly "Beefeater."
They are retired military with a minimum
of 22 years of service. There are 35 of them,
and 4 are women.

The horseback guard "parade"

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

October 10--I'm Not Sure It Can Get Any Better, But I'll Bet It Does

If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.  --Leo Tolstoy

    Monday in London. We had breakfast, then loaded onto the bus, wherein Lanie and I took our usual seats in the rear. We drove to Windsor and toured Windsor Castle. It is simply one jaw-dropping, gold-leaf-filled room after another. We couldn't take photos inside, so I can't offer any. 
    Then we came back to London and toured Westminster Abbey. You, too, along with approximately 3,000 others could be buried there, if you are deemed "important." My hopes are slim. Charles Dickens, I ain't. 
    Then the bus took us to Piccadilly Circus, which IS a circus and a lot like Times Square. You could either get off the bus and explore or go back to the hotel. We got off the bus. We walked and gawked. I asked a street vendor for directions to the nearest pub, and he pointed us up the street. We found O'Neils. We sat and gabbed and drank beer. Our server was a talkative dear, so we asked her for a recommendation for an Indian restaurant. She gave us two suggestions. We decided on Dishoom. While we were considering the way there, another server came up to us and offered to draw us a map on how to trek there. (see below) 
    We finished 1 1/2 pints of beer each, so we were ready for adventure. We took off following the map, and sure enough, we found Dishoom. There was an incredibly long line. The Indian family waiting just ahead of us, plus one of the outdoor diners near us, told us it was worth the wait, and so we waited. The folks in front of us gave us food recommendations. There was a solo man (Kyle) behind us in line who was getting the same suggestions simultaneously from a friend via his phone. We started talking, you know, friendly tourist stuff. It turns out he is from Fort Worth and in London on business. A hostess person came along the line and asked if we would be OK with a lower-height lounge table. We said yes, and asked Kyle if he would like to join us. He said yes, and "It's on me." "Holy cow" is an understatment. So we bypassed the line and were seated. We had Indian gimlets and a FABULOUS meal (butter chicken and daal--a lentil dish--and naan) and super conversation. And Kyle, true to his word, paid for it all and said, "You two are a cheap date." We took photos, hugged even, and parted ways. 
    Lanie and I planned to take the Tube back to our hotel, so we headed back to the Piccadilly Tube station. At the ticket place, we asked for help and learned that you can ride the tube most cheaply by simply using one's credit card at the turn style entering and exiting. He told us where to go and what train to take. We followed directions, returned easily to Hammersmith station, and walked the short distance to our hotel. 
    What are the chances?!?!?!? The Universe went over and above the call of duty into "triple cream cheese frosting" territory for this day and evening. 
    I can hardly wait to see what today brings! Stay tuned!!
Our map

Leta, Lanie, Kyle at Dishoom

Monday, October 9, 2023

October 9--Precious Sleep

Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.  --David Foster Wallace

    I got a wonderful night's sleep to make up for the nearly sleepless trip over here. I think I can get into a fairly consistent routine to write and post here. 
    I forgot the best part of the trans-Atlantic flight on Delta (other than safe arrival in England)--they gave us free alcohol, astounding for an airline, so I enjoyed a cocktail of Woodford Reserve whiskey (a personal favorite) and ginger ale. One of life's simple pleasures.
    I think we are headed to Windsor Castle today. 
    Stay tuned!

The hotel hallway carpet
makes me dizzy!