Early Mornings and a bit of Grace.

The last few weeks I've been waking up with the sunrise just bouncing with energy.  In England with spring that comes at a lovely hour of 4.30 a.m.  Well, yesterday and today I've put this new found early morning energy into use and gone to my favorite yoga class in the entire world at 10 yesterday and a 7 am spin class today.  There's just something about exhausted muscles that give me a sense of satisfaction that I'm somehow making progress.

Today I also treated myself to a trip into the city.  I went today to avoid the inevitable maintenance works on the tube that seem to happen every bank holiday (this weekend being one of them).  I popped into the Victoria and Albert Museum to the 'Grace Kelly:  Style Icon' Exhibition.  They had a great collection of her dresses as Princess and Actress, some of her handbags and other accessories and the highlight for me was seeing the real Oscar she won for 'Country Girl'.  Cool stuff.  Felt oddly more girly afterwards and not sure if I should have been worried as I was one of the younger visitors attending amongst a lively group of baby booming and pensioner women clutching their handbags and reminiscing about the good old times. 

I like vintage and I like old movies and Grace Kelly fits both of these beautifully. I don't think people dress like this anymore which is a shame.  I mean the most talked about style icon of the moment seems to be Lady Gaga and I think although her style is innovative, its not classy.  Even if it puts me in with the pensioners I like ladies like Audrey H. and Grace....I mean who honestly looks this cool now days?

photo from here

photo from here

picture from here

Of course I hit the gift shops before I left which is a 'Christine' must whenever I see a bit of culture in the city.  I found this which when I save my pennies, I'll be getting.  I love old posters and there's something about this poster I kind of like:

For the rest of the weekend, its relaxation and hanging around Greenwich to avoid travel.  James is gone this week, so I may just pop in a girly movie (or two).  Sounds like bliss.

Hope you have a bit of bliss for your weekend.  See you next week.


Photo Class Wrap Up

I'm in my last week of a 4 week online photography class. Although I didn't have a DSLR I feel like I still got a lot out of it. I think I understand finally the relationship between aperture and shutter speed. Relative exposures and the subtleties of lighting will take some getting used to, but it will just take a bit of practice.

I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to now take  Susannah's (a blogger I follow) 'unravelling' e-course. Her pictures on her blog are dreamy and the course is an effort to re-connect with yourself through writing and photography.  Sounds exactly what I need.

Enjoy the pictures I've taken for my class:

Playing around with Light

Patterns and Textures

Daily Life



Jamie Olivers 'Food Revolution'

The past few years I've been quite interested in food politics.  I've read a lot of books on the matter.  Books by Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, blogs by Marion Nestle and movies like Food Inc have permanently changed the way I eat.  In my quest for overcoming my life-long food addiction I've tried to embrace food and learn more about the beast you could say.  I'm very aware of where my food comes from, whats on my plate and I love the connection that brings.  James and I eat mostly a vegetarian diet.  Recently I decided to try to push that after reading Alicia Silverstones 'Kind Diet' to about 80% vegan.  I'm not 100% fantastic with food ....I still am trying to overcome sugar addiction but one step at a time.

Anyway, the U.K. has been pushing healthy eating for the past few years.  Kick ass Chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have all done television shows on meat, school lunches and changing the way we eat for the better.

So, I was quite thrilled to hear that Jamie Oliver was taking his school lunch campaign he did here (in Greenwich actually) to the US. Its been interesting to hear that the same problems he had (budgets, resistance to change) he had in the US too.  I also know that they recently did a study on the school that Jamie worked with here and they not only had improved behavior, less illness but test scores improved. To me this sounds like something worthwhile to keep pushing despite the initial heartache.  What I would have given to have had the knowledge about food growing up that I do now.  Maybe my life would have been completely different if I hadnt have struggled with obesity my entire life?

I wonder if the food industry is too big to tackle in the US sometimes though.  Corporate interests seem to be pushed ahead of the well being of the population sometimes.   Its hard to say but, I do know that Jamie Oliver has made a huge impression (winning the TED prize helped) across the pond.  Whether his efforts are successful though long term depends on us, not Jamie.  You have to be the change you wish to see and in this case change happens one plate at a time. 

***US People.....Food Revolution is on Friday nights on ABC.  Be sure to sign Jamie's online petition here.  He needs 1 million signatures asap.


Sun, royalty and a quiet city

Do you remember Mary Poppins and the east end characters with thick cockney accents dressed in funny costumes? Well they are real. They're called Pearly Kings and Queens and they've been a part of London culture since forever. Every 3rd weekend of the month they are in Covent Garden collecting money for charity and in October they have a harvest festival. It was a delight seeing them and my face beamed after I put a few 'coppers' in their tin and the chap in a very strong cockney accent said, "Thank you Darling...you're an angel tart". Any other country in the world I would think that he was hitting on me, but England it means nothing other than a kind hello.

Speaking of Kings and Queens, we had a lovely picnic in the Queens front yard round lunchtime. St James' park is in front of Buckingham Palace and its lovely. We rented a few deck chairs and had a snooze in the spring sun. It was GLORIOUS.

Today has been wonderful too. We walked through to Blackheath to the farmers market to do our weekly shop. They were having a plant sale. The market was busy and we had a lovely chat to our homeless friend Danny. Everyone seemed happy because of the weather. Its been sunny for the last few days, chilly but sunny and it makes all the difference in the world.

Another thing that has made this weekend weirdly wonderful is the quiet.  There has been no planes at all going in and out of the UK for the last few days due to the Iceland volcanic eruption.  I know that it has caused lots of chaos, but frankly its made London extra relaxing.  You can hear the birds better and its been amazing.  Who would have ever thought this urban jungle would sound so much like a real jungle with all the wildlife!


Flickr Faves (Thursday edition)

1. Spring ....Oh My ♥, 2. loving, 3. just peachy, 4. Untitled, 5. bloom, 6. grape hyacinths, 7. face*, 8. ., 9. bloom, 10. well, it is, 11. again, I say, 12. New Polaroids...Hmmm, 13. well, it does, 14. Untitled, 15. Untitled, 16. stars left behind I, 17. DSCN3010, 18. birds, 19. Untitled, 20. five!, 21. Grannys Barn, 22. gosselin croissant, 23. ., 24. into a dream, 25. .


The Pale Blue Dot

I was feeling sorry for myself today.  I then saw this and it put my worries into perspective. Found this incredibly inspiring:


Happy Spring

Spring is my favorite time of year in London.  The sun finally breaks through after a very long winter and the city just blossoms.


2 Ducks go to the Circus

I swear George and Mildred have been sending their friends down from heaven to say hello. Just right outside our flat near the stream, two ducks have been frequenting there the last few weeks. Then on a walk this week up through Blackheath, the circus was pitched on the heath and these two ducks just walked by:

It was one of the weirdest things seeing ducks not next to water and right next to the circus gates. It was like they couldnt wait to get their tickets or maybe they were part of the show?


Ugly Betty in London

technorati claim: E286FPZTCQ3A

Of course I just hear about this now--nearly a week after the fact.  Apparently this last weekend Ugly Betty was here filming in London town.  Oh how I would have loved to catch a glimpse of them filming.  Instead here's some pictures from the daily mail:

I first wrote about the show back in 2007. I have never missed an episode since.  I honestly dont understand why its been cancelled.  It seems as if shows that have little substance (like never ending reality shows or these stupid crime dramas.. hello?) are favored over shows like Betty.  Its fun, its got a great message for girls and frankly besides Lost and Oprah its a show that I just refuse to miss.

I've been dying to find out when the final series will be showing in the UK (yes we havent even started it yet--ugh).  I've been hearing drips of story line through the internet (like she gets her braces off and Justin finally comes out!!), but I still be crying like a baby when I finally get to watch each and every episode of the last season.  Some have their love of 'Sex and the City'...for me its 'Ugly Betty'.

In the mean time, US watchers dont tell me what happens in the finale.  Hopefully the DVD will come out soon and maybe I'll just order it off the US amazon and watch it early.  The suspense is killing me.

P.S. Have a Happy Friday. I'm off to enjoy the spring sunshine this weekend.


Notes from a small Island: A review

available from amazon.co.uk

I picked up this book to try to understand better this country I've lived in the last 10 years.  Bill Bryson is a very funny man and as a fellow US expat I figured who better to explain England.  I finished the book in about 3 weeks.

He travelled around some of the strangest towns in the book...not just the touristy spots like London, Oxford, etc. In a weird way hitting the small unknown places is the best way to truly find out about a country.  Its always why I prefer to walk instead of taking cabs or trains everywhere when I travel.  You're more likely to see things that you would miss otherwise.

The book reflected England- pretty quiet mixed in with a few bits of excitement.  I'm not surprised because there's not much to do besides sit in pubs, go to Marks and Spencers or hit the walking trails outside of the big cities which is what he did.  But it suits people so why change?

The really funny parts were Brysons efforts in understanding some of the accents (oh my Glasgow... that was funny), his description of tea biscuits and how strange it is that the English name their subway stops like something out of Jane Austen novels (Its true...very true) and their towns...well I dont know how they come up with the names for towns like they do ( like cockfosters, are you serious?).  The names of English towns, well thats an entirely different post.

I did get a better understanding about the concept of British politeness and non-complaining and the idea of never showing your emotions.  I appreciate how cool it is to have so much history in such a small place and how beautiful this little island really is with all its hedgerows, tea drinkers, red postal boxes and cloudy rainy days.

I was appreciative to Bryson for also showing me that I could embrace this country (I know, 10 years...whats my problem.) without giving up my identity with my own people.  Its one of the hardest parts of being an expat, figuring out where you belong.

So thanks Bill for another great read.......now if you could just write books on relationship advice...???

(Just Kidding)


Easter Weekend

pictures via here and here

We're just ending our 4 day weekend here in the UK.  I started the weekend friday off with a trip to Debbie Allens broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  It was an all black cast with James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad.  This was the first play I saw with James when I moved to London in 2001.  It was originally with Brendan Fraser.  Frankly this was a much more enjoyable version.  I dont remember laughing so much the first time or being so touched by performances.  James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad ARE brilliant stage actors.  You would not have recognized them if I didn't know them otherwise.  Adrian Lester, a British actor played Brick and I thought he was fantastic.  James didnt join me for the play.  It touches on heavy subject matter:  alcoholism, homosexuality, dysfunctional families all in a long 3 hours.  I didn't mind because I rather enjoyed having a much needed date night with myself. 

Saturday I went to Kensington Palace to see an exhibition called Enchanted Palace.  They decorated the inside with rooms dedicated to 7 different princesses that had once lived there.  Lots of fashion (including a gorgeous commissioned dress by Vivienne Westwood), art, live actors, etc, trinkets helped you figure out the names of the 7 women (including Princess Diana).  It was quite enjoyable and it was my first time inside Kensington Palace.  The gardens were of course divine, especially after the earlier rain.  I later met up with James at Whole Foods Kensington for a vitamin shop and lunch.

Easter Sunday and today I didn't feel much like trapsing through the April showers so I stayed home, watched movies, worked on painting the small bedroom (more on that to come), slept, ate way too much chocolate and hot cross buns and cooked my very first trout grougere for Easter supper.  Took me bloody ages.  Involved making a pastry (like a healthy yorkshire pudding) to go on the outside edges and then making a roux with the trout and watercress and gruyere cheese.  Julia Child would have been so proud.  James liked it and we served it with lovely baby potatoes and purple sprouted broccoli.

Tomorrow its back to trying to get myself back into a schedule and pressing forward again on things.  I've got an online photography class starting soon and music exams moderation again (which thank god is a chance to earn a bit of money) later this month.  I'm glad there's a few things to look forward to including maybe some sunny British weather?


Easter Muppets

This is slightly creepy, but oddly amusing.

We're starting a 4 day weekend here in the UK. Going to give myself a blogging break. See you next week. Happy Easter!