Halloween: London Style

1, 2 - The Addams Family comes to London
3- Skeletons in Greenwich
4- Anyone for Beef?
5- Gingerbread Skeletons
6- Hot Mulled Blood Sold Here
7- James and the Jack-O-Lantern with English teeth

Happy Halloween everyone!

This holiday is s---loooowly starting to get more and more popular in this country.  I'm seeing trick-or-treaters, shops decorated, people buying pumpkins for carving and generally trying to get into the spirit.  I miss the US enthusiasm for the day although I wish there were more healthier options for kids for treats.  James and I had a party for two last night---healthy nachos (organic corn chips, reduced fat organic cheese, salsa, green salad, pinto beans) and some healthy soft drinks (root beer without the HFCS--sparkling water, sweetened w/apple juice from Whole Foods) and watched The Ghost and Mr Chicken and The Changeling.  Great Fun.  Today we shall see if anyone shows up, but we are armed with healthy dark chocolate should trick-or-treaters come!

I'd love to hear how you celebrate the holiday.  Do you watch scary movies, have a party or go round your neighborhoods in search of sugary loot?  Do tell.

Hope you all have had a great weekend.



Second time's a charm

I've been offered a free spot in the April 2011 London Marathon. Free spots are non charity spots which mean that you don't HAVE to raise money to enter (although I probably will try to raise a bit). Usually its a lottery where the free spots get randomly picked and if you don't get a free spot within 5 years in a row applying, you automatically get a spot. Well, I got to my 5 year marker thus the place. If you've read my blog for a while you know I tried to do this in 2008 and had to withdraw cause of health issues. Well I'm in a MUCH better place now than I was then.  I do have doubts and think I'm slightly crazy cause this will be uber hard.  However, I think the universe is trying to tell me I'm supposed to do this cause its come round again for the second time.  Although I know it will be hard with the intensive training, my gosh this will sure be life changing for me.  I know I really need to do this.  I'll keep you posted on the training!


Lazy Sunday


8 to 8

I'm currently doing Susannah Conway's Unravelling 2 online class (see sidebar) and this week we've been exploring the idea of mindfulness.  Our photo assignment was to take a picture on the hour from 8 am to 8pm documenting the day.  Looking back its interesting to see where my day currently resides and where I want it to be in future.  Its very hard to find balance and structure sometimes when you're in long-term unemployment.  Looking at the pictures I'm not as bad as I thought although there's always room for a little improvement (I do eat lunch by the way, it just wasn't on the hour that I had it).  Its also apparent that life is made up of a lot of the little moments isn't it?

*P.S.  Wouldn't it be fascinating to do this for a whole year?  Makes you wonder.  Kind of an expansion of the 365 photo challenge eh?

Hope you've had a great weekend.





Morning Yoga in the City

Pictures taken after yoga

I was up at 5 a.m., out the door by 6:30 so I could try to get to a 7:30 yoga class this morning in the city. Had to run practically the entire length of Regent Street to get there in time cause of transport problems which happens all the time in London. The class was smaller than most which was nice. It was a different format than I was used to with my regular vinyasa flow class but change is good.  By the end of the class the teacher was calling me by my first name and getting me to do things that I usually secretly try to avoid during yoga class: headstands, handstands, etc. I hate them because they freak me out because they are completely out of my comfort zone.  Changing your center of balance/grounding from your feet to your hands can be disconcerting.  Of course never raise your hand when the teacher asks if you haven't done many handstands. She brought me up for extra help with a few others. She showed us a different version of a handstand that worked the core muscles.  Funny I was able to do the alteration without any problems which surprised me. Later on we explored headstands and she came over and I told her I wasn't ready for what she was showing me. She said if I could do the handstand alteration from earlier, I could do this alteration physically.  She said it was about trusting yourself first in your head and heart and then the physical would be there.

I've been thinking about what she said all day and how much this translates to everything else.  Fix the inner self and your external life gets better (albeit sometimes not on your time scale).  It can be hard though especially when you've had the spirit whipped out of you...but always coming back to nourishing spirit first seems to get me back on track. 

I love how yoga teaches you life lessons like this all before 8 in the morning.


Monday Inspiration

Update 19/10/2010:  Check out the 1010Project and Painted People.  Very cool. 


My trip inside the House of Parliament

Yesterday I met James at the Red Lion Pub near the bottom of Whitehall (the street leading to Big Ben).  We turned round the corner and went through security.  My bag was searched and I got my picture taken.  Walking round the corner we then found our way to Portcullis House.  Its a modern building where a lot of civil servants work.  Its full of a beautiful light coming in from the massive glass ceiling.  It was nice to see so many school children there getting a tour round the place.  Nothing like breeding future civil servants eh?

James and I headed down an escalator to a long tunnel.  Beautiful Gothic brickwork lined the passageway and we passed the mark of the crown:  A statue of a Lion and on the opposite side, a unicorn followed later on by some very impressive doors leading to Big Ben.  Many people were carrying piles of papers in their hands, rushing past in a hurry.  I then saw to the right of me through the terrace.  I recognized the trees and all the tourists standing taking pictures outside the iron gates waiting for Ben to chime. 

James grabbed my hand and I looked over at him with a huge smile on his face.  I knew he was glad I was there and he was in his element.  This was a dream job for him 25 years in the making.  We walked onto the cobblestones and passed through a barrier guarded by a policeman carrying rather an impressive gun.  Inside the ceilings were all very Gothic-looking carved wood, at the end a stained glass window.  It looked more like a cathedral than a place where English Law was created.  Just this room had so much history:  Nelson Mandela giving a speech just after his release from prison, Guy Faulkes being found guilty for trying to blow up parliament.  James said I could take pictures but I didn't.  The incredible amount of police officers meandering in every corner made me very nervous to sneak snapshots.  We walked up a stairwell past the gift shop offering stuffed animals, pencils, cuff-links and other items brandishing the official symbol of the House.  I kept looking around at the ceilings, chandeliers and the beautiful walls.  I could see the effect the Anglican church had on the creation of this magnificent building.  I wonder how many hours artisans and builders put in to create it or maybe even died in the process.

We reached the middle.  On one side was the House of Commons, the other the House of Lords.  James said neither members of the House could cross over and go into each others respective houses.  The flooring was full of rose tiles which is the symbol of England.  I couldn't go in to either house because they were in session.  I saw men wearing black tuxedos with a very large gold fixture on the top of their trousers.  Apparently they were door keepers.  We then passed by endless security (so this is where all the live policeman in the city are??) and walked into a library.  Felt very nervous because we were told that we couldn't go beyond an archway.  Saw official looking people with old keys locking paperwork up in wood lockers.  When we neared the archway, several security people started rushing over reminding us we couldn't go past.  Gosh they were awfully nervous for a little ole library.  What fun it would be to look through the cupboards in there would be. 

We then passed down a walkway.  Lots of art and interesting rooms to see from afar.  Someone rushed quickly out a door on my right and I heard laughing.  I saw several people drinking over the lunch hour in a private bar.  Apparently it was for Members only (MP's--equivalent to a US Senator).  I wonder if the US Congress has a private bar and Senators spend their lunch hours sipping specially made wine (with their own label) whilst telling the public how the government is broke and how jobs will be lost and cutbacks due?  Private Bars don't seem to say I understand the difficulty you're going through right now with finding work.  I also saw what looked like old time smoking rooms.  The room was labeled meeting rooms, probably just for members I presume as well.  I wonder how many secret discussions and deals have been made over a cigar and whisky throughout the years. 

We made our way down a hallway lined with old drawings of London and Parliament.  We headed down the stairs into the canteen.  House wine on offer for purchase, House brand water....too bad the food looked pretty rank and disgusting.  We grabbed our purchases we had made at the gift shop a few minutes before and some water and went and sat on the terrace.  It was an incredible view.  You could see the London eye and a great view of the Thames.  We sat and ate our English shortbread biscuits and watched the unusually  large seagulls eye our food.  On the way out we were stopped by security saying we weren't allowed there because it wasn't recess (this word gives me images of MP's playing in sandboxes and running round pulling girls' hair).  The lady really laid into us.  Gosh I don't know why these people are so nervous as it was an honest mistake.  It got to me a lot when it probably shouldn't have because I didn't think it was doing any harm sitting on the terrace.  They had let a group of nuns go through, why not us?  It seems as if the MP's get an awful lot of private this, private that in the House plus new blackberry's and laptops each year which sounds to me so economical and un-extravagant.   Its a wonder they even have any contact at all with us common folk based on the hierarchy I observed just in the few minutes inside with members of their own staff.  Sometimes private rooms are needed but the disconnect if its in excess...well I can see why so many MP's abused their expenses (which apparently is still going on).  Life is just too good in the House to not take advantage of it.

We slowly made our way out trying to recuperate after a rather ridiculous telling off for sitting a few minutes on the terrace (yes, sitting on the terrace will spill state secrets eh?).  It was nice to see inside something that so few people see.  I was surprised by the excess of security forces within the estate and the weird rules of where you can and can't go.  I don't know how anyone working there could keep it straight and someone really should slip a cup of chamomile tea to those security guards once in a while.  I think how nice it would be if the public had the amount of security and police that the MP's had, how many crimes would be not committed and how many potential lives would be saved.  I guess a country has to have its priorities though. 

We walked back to the train station and made our way home.  It may be nice to see the ole place again if the MP's are in recess.  Going inside both Houses would be pretty interesting considering the history and plus it would give me another chance to buy some of those shortbread biscuits down the gift shop and maybe a mug made out of a politician's head.  A girl's gotta savour those once in a lifetime memorable experiences.


Pirates in Greenwich: Bonus scene

I honestly didn't think I would get another shot of the Pirates set before they left and since my last post on the subject but I took this Thursday of last week.  Loads of other people were taking pictures in between filming and I figured why not.  Its not the best picture because its so far away but you still get the gist of everything.   

Last Wednesday after an interview I went to Greenwich to walk around and do some errands.  I went to watch filming cause I was bored stiff sitting at home and decided to walk near the far end just to be different.  Well next thing I know two blacked out silver Mercedes Benz were behind me and I had to get out of the way.  You couldn't see anything, but I did see the outline of people in the cars wearing some pretty big hats.

Well later in the same week I heard reports of Johnny Depp visiting a school nearby in person to answer a young girls letter (HOW SWEET!).  They reported two blacked out cars showed up at the end of the school day on Wednesday.  What do you bet that it was Johnny and co. on their way to the school?  I don't know but I'm pretty certain it was.  Very cool to be so close although I am sure I have seen other glimpses of him these last few weeks in filming.  The security has said its a stunt double when people have asked....but I don't know...I've seen the same scenes show up on news reports on the Internet.   I think the chances of it being Johnny were high at least for some of it and security were just fudging the truth. 

I'm actually kind of sad that they are packing up and leaving now and are done filming.  I know I've mentioned otherwise in earlier posts but it has been quite fascinating watching them film and wondering if/if it wasn't Johnny I saw whenever a character dressed as Captain Jack strolled by.  Its brought a bit of excitement to a pretty dull town and this gal's life for a little while at least.

P.S.  Like I've mentioned in other 'Pirate' posts, please give credit back to this site for any photos used.


Hello Autumn

Pictures from Borough Market, Greenwich Park and Greenwich Village

**Just a quick note:  Recently I tried a different commenting system 'Intense Debate'.  Well, its lost half of your lovely comments you've sent me and for that I sincerely apologize.  If you do not see your comments published this is what's happened.  Please know I did read every single one of them.  I've removed the widget and so hopefully this wont happen again.  I love hearing from all of you!


Revisiting Venice

I've been seeing this technique round blog land pop up....scanning film negatives and playing round with them in Photoshop.  The grain comes naturally.    After lots of playing round with it in the scanner preferences, iphoto and PS Elements.....viola.    An interesting way to revisit your old holiday shots eh?

P.S.  Looking at these make me want to get back to Venice!!

P.P.S.  I'm doing a great job today of avoiding work I need to do can you tell?


Gray Inspiration

Top picture:  Brian Ferry
Next 3:  From me to You
Bottom picture:  Mine

I don't know,  I think it depends on your point of view, but some days pictures can look black and white and other times shades of gray.   I think today I'll take gray to match the rainy, cold London skies just outside my window.

Have a nice weekend.