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Archive for April, 2011

After my post about bluebonnets and daffodils, I was pointed to this Guardian article on bluebells in Southwest Britain. Seems like the UK has it’s own spring time sea of blue. In the past few weeks I have started to notice blue flowers in small and large patches of green around town. For an excursion, a friend recommend I check out Abbey Wood.

A walk through the ancient south east London woods did not disappoint.

Bluebells at Abbey Wood

Bluebells in Abbey Woods

As we wandered through the woods, we eventually came up on Lesnes Abbey. The abbey, now in ruins, was founded by Richard de Luci in 1178 as penance for his involvement in the murder of Thomas Becket. In 1524, Lesnes was closed by Henry VIII along with scores of other monasteries in England and Wales. The ruins make an interesting backdrop for picnics and the like. The proximity of the woods and abbey to London makes it an easy place to visit.

Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey

After our outing, we stopped by the Old Mill, a converted 18th century mill with a large beer garden. The locals were on good form and so was the owner, so we ended our day in Southwest London with a few real ales. I am embarrassed to admit that  real ale tastes like flat warm beer to me. Perhaps I need to spend more time at the pub to develop a true appreciation.

Authentic Real Ale at the Old Mill

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People love Sacred. Time Out recommends it, my coworker recommends it, random stranger on the street recommends it, so I decide to try it.

Sacred plays on it’s name as a place of worship. The barista is set up on a pulpit and the congregation spills out onto the street at it’s Soho location near Carnaby Street. This makes it a very nice place to hang out on a sunny day soaking up the rays or people watching, on your lunch break, or in-between shopping.

A customer approaches the pulpit.

Sacred offers plenty of sandwiches and pastries. It’s run by New Zealanders who sell things like  jelly lolly cake. My experiences at Sacred and the Roastery are causing me to wonder what exactly is the deal with antipodeans and London coffee shops. Two coffee shops in a row- is this a chance thing or are NZ natives really into their coffee hangouts? I think I’m going to have to make a trip to New Zealand to get to the bottom of this. Either that or call up a friend and ask. The former option seems more dramatic and fun.

Scrambled eggs with wholewheat toast.

I had scrambled eggs with feta and spring onion on wholewheat toast and an Americano. This set me back between £8 and £9. Quite a bit for what is basically an egg sandwich and regular coffee. It took about 20 minutes to get my eggs and coffee, even though there weren’t many in the congregation that morning. In their defense, it was early morning so there were probably a lot of unseen to go orders and I think one of the baristas was training. Also, the coffee was very good.

Empty early morning.

Coffee!

Sacred on Urbanspoon

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I keep swearing that I’m not obsessed with Kate Middleton and the Royal Wedding but I’m starting to think that may not be true. As a foreigner, I find the pomp and circumstance and the entire concept of a monarchy utterly fascinating. But most of all, it’s downright impossible to ignore all the preparations going on around London for the big event. Here’s some photographic evidence of the massive effort to make it the perfect day for Kate and Will.

Flags hung over Regency Street near Piccadilly Circus.

It must be weird to have your face showing in every other window all over town.

Suspiciously nice looking flowers suddenly appear at Buckingham Palace. Accompanied by flags and supervisors.

Walking route through Green Park disrupted by massive tent structure.

Still a week and 4 days to go. I’ll do my best to post on something else during the next few weeks, but I can’t make too many promises!

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Yesterday's lunch break on Primrose Hill

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The other day while walking through the park and looking like total hell, I was thinking about how it was a good thing that I wasn’t famous. There was very little chance that someone was going to run up to me, snap my photo and then draw funny pictures around my image describing how I had let myself go all because I didn’t bother to put on makeup or heat damage my hair that day.

This thought was very fortuitous. The very next day I was walking through London a bit more groomed when I was nearly knocked over by a large man running down the street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that he was holding a professional camera. I turned to see what was going on and realized there was a whole crew of men with cameras in their hands.

Waiting for the shot

Standing at the foot of The Wolseley the men were poised and ready for action. Papparazi, I realized. I’ve crossed paths with a few celebrities in the past, but hadn’t given much thought to how many there must be in London. I decided to pause for a moment to find out who it was.

When the door opened, the men started yelling “Kate! Kate!” and I immediately got excited that I was only a few steps from Kate Middleton. A minute later, a woman exited yelling at the papparazi to go away. She retreated into the restaurant and re-emerged with Kate Moss.

Oh, THAT Kate.

I texted Mariah back in the U.S. figuring this would be the exact type of thing she got a kick out of.

“So how did she look?” she asked.

“Gorgeous, of course. Flowing hair, large sunglasses, designer clothes. Actually with all of that in the way I didn’t see her at all.”

So that’s the trick.

That evening I told Husband about my celebrity run-in.

“Why didn’t you get a photo? You probably could have sold it” Husband asked.

I thought back on that day I looked like hell walking through the park. “I don’t know. I guess I wanted to respect her privacy. What if she was having a bad hair day?”

“Celebrities don’t get to have a bad hair day” he answered.

Exactly.

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