Across the Pond Part 1: London

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In December 2013, my boyfriend’s brother gave us the opportunity to use his rewards points to book a free flight for a trip to Europe. We planned a 10 day trip to the UK and Ireland. This is our story.

Lisa’s Journal
7/8/14
3:14 pm, 15:14, Eastern Time

Skylor and I are waiting to board flight number one from Richmond, VA, USA to Washington, DC, USA. It’s been delayed by about 45 minutes. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a flight that departed on time – but I refuse to stress. All I’ve been doing since almost day one of planning this trip has been to stress – so it stops today. I’ve tried to cover as many details as possible, but part of the adventure is the unknown. Time to get out of our comfort zones and think on our feet.

Through this process I’ve come to realize how old I’m getting…I’m now one of those people who wants her next vacation to be as little work as possible, LOL. Cruise please. :)

But I am very excited and also very grateful. This is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I didn’t think it would ever happen, but it is! Yay!

Waiting in DC for the plane to LDN

Waiting in DC for the plane to LDN

Skylor’s Journal
7/8/14

  • Flight delayed from Richmond
  • Made great time on flight from RIC to Dulles, but now have a 3 hour lay over in Dulles
  • Exchanged money in Dulles. $800 became 450 Pounds
  • I got 120 Euros
  • Lisa was much more comfortable afterward
  • We were only charged one service fee (Thanks random dude behind the counter in Dulles).
  • Budgeted the money per location and are feeling pretty good. Just hope that the money goes far enough on our travels. Otherwise there may be some lean nights.
  • During the layover, I learned the “joys” of Instagram. Apparently if Facebook and Twitter had a one night stand, the result nine months later would be Instagram.
  • Wow, those are some terrible thunderstorms. I hope we are not delayed. :(
  • Met three people while waiting. One “grown ass woman”, Male singular traveler and a female college student. Male singular traveler was a veteran of overseas travel. Especially at Heathrow.
  • Interesting charger experience at Dulles… 3 out of 4 chargers worked on the charging station. We were polite and told people that one outlet was not charging. While we waited we told so many people about the broken outlet that Lisa made a sign to save time… it did not work. Interesting observation: Most elders and most males didn’t believe either the sign nor our verbal warnings about the outlet. Most had to try the outlet for themselves and see it was non functioning.

human experiment

Lisa’s Journal
7/8/14
6:08 pm, 18:08, Eastern Time

Converted $800 to get $450 pounds. Ugh. I just died a little inside.

Skylor’s Journal
7/9/14

  • Red eye flight. I now understand what the term means. 6 hour 30 minute flight at 10 pm to 10 am. The seats were more comfortable than the California trip. But after a while it didn’t matter and I became uncomfortable. The food was great. Dinner was Chipotle chicken over rice and a corn salad with a garden salad. Dessert was a yummy brownie. Breakfast was a cantaloupe and honey dew with a crescent and jam.
  • Movie and TV selections on the flight were wonderful. I watched Anchorman 2 and three episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine. Attempted, unsuccessfully, to sleep the other three hours.

Lisa’s Journal
7/9/14
? Probably around 8:30 am, London Time

We’re on the plane from DC to London.* Going to be going over Ireland soon. Map says another 1.24 hours before we arrive at LDN. Just as we suspected, sleeping on the plane has been pretty much impossible, so we feel zombie-like. But, I am getting very excited, and I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

Skylor’s Journal
7/10/14

  • Arrived at Heathrow around 10 am. So very tired. Lisa said I was being a grump due to sleep deprivation. Need to do a better job staying positive.
  • Went through customs. Our agent was a firm, but friendly Irishman. He stated that “there’s nothing in Shannon but an airport and a river.”
  • Our first host will not be available until after 2 pm. We killed time (2 hours) waiting in Heathrow because we did not want to drag all our luggage through the streets of London.
  • London Underground = Subway. Many stops. We navigated the underground routes very well. Arrived at our host’s, Tope, within 30 minutes.
  • Observations while on the Underground… the Piccadilly Line was very cosmopolitan. Many Indians, blacks and Asians. The Waterloo line was almost exclusively white.
  • Dropped our stuff off and walked around downtown London. Saw Big Ben and Parliament. Big Ben is bigger than you think. Also very ornate.
  • Apparently you have to pay to use bathrooms in London… 50 pence.
  • Bought Cornettos (strawberry) in St. James Park. Laid down and looked at the clouds.
  • Walked to Buckingham Palace; it’s a cool place.
  • Walked to Trafalgar Square. I don’t know the historical significance of Trafalgar. I should probably look that up.
  • Ate a bite at Look Mum No Hands, a food truck near the London Eye. We split the Ploughmans Platter. It was real British food. Pickled onions, ham, sweet relish, tangy relish, cheese, bread, apples and celery.
  • Today was a rough day. I took Lisa on a death march throughout London. She was a trooper and hung in there even though she wanted to stab me on more than one occasion.
  • Highlight of the day was eating dinner at the Pineapple Pub. The place straight up looked like the Winchester from Shaun of the Dead. Right down to the dim lighting, worn grandma colored furniture and the stagnant air inside…I love this place!
  • Went to bed at 8:30 pm and slept about 12 hours. Wow we were tired.

Lisa’s Journal
7/10/14
Morning

We were so tired last night after sightseeing that I didn’t write again yesterday. After we arrived at Tope’s place (we’re staying in the real London for sure*), we proceeded to walk around London for several miles. So many fancy buildings. After trying the disappointing Ploughman’s Platter, we found more substantial food and drink at The Pineapple Pub and ate pub food and I drank a Guinness. Skylor hates Guinness- he thinks it tastes like a loaf of bread. We also stopped at a food shop for crisps and wafers and such. I also bought a really gross Fanta that Skylor liked – because Skylor likes everything that I don’t like. ;)

IMG_0902London Eye 3IMG_0920London pubI was getting overwhelmed yesterday, which embarrassed me. I want to have the “stiff upper lip” and don’t want to be perceived as an ignorant American. Turns out I hate feeling stupid (duh), which, every time I tried to buy things I felt stupid because money = huh? I think I’m getting the hang of it though. Well- Skylor’s almost ready for Day 2 of exploring London. Here we go!

P.S. We can hear Big Ben from our bed!** :)

*We used AirBnB to book all of our accommodation abroad. It was a great decision, because it gave us the opportunity to stay with “the locals” and meet new people. We had a great experience with all of our locations, and would recommend AirBnB to anyone. Try it out!
**Tope’s place was nice, but noisier than I am used to, because I don’t live in a big city. Ear plugs ensured I had a good night’s sleep though. :)

So I’m Back

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Tomorrow I return to work after a long holiday, or in Amerispeak, vacation. I just traveled through the UK and Ireland for about 10 days. It was lovely, strange, tiring, overwhelming, funny, and eye-opening. I’ve left my companion at his home, to nurture his recovering tummy. I suspect now that we’ve returned to the land of over-processed food that his stomach is having a hard time adjusting. It may be expensive, but I’ll be damned if you UK and Irish folks don’t have some of the best produce, bread, coffee, and tea I’ve ever tasted. Our food really sucks by comparison. I truly get it now. We may be a bit more creative on the cuisine side, though I did have a few delicious restaurant meals there.

I actually didn’t intend to write about my trip today. You’ll get to read all about it every Monday, beginning tomorrow, with my first installment centered on London. Along the rabbit trail I go. I was thinking about returning to work tomorrow, and how hard it will be. I’m not afraid to admit that. I think most people have a hard time getting motivated to work after a long vacation. I have some challenging goals ahead, and I hope my vision for the future will take shape soon. Skylor and I are moving in together in the fall, and I have a happy image of our cohabitation…me, returning from an arduous, but hopefully more fulfilling, day at work, to a lovely home that is uniquely ours, where we will work together to prepare a healthy, delicious meal, and then watch our shows together. I want a bike for my birthday…or Christmas. I want to recommit to being healthier. A long trip of barely fitting the airplane seatbelt around my waist, and awful foot pain from long walks I’m unaccustomed to are some of my recent motivators.

I’m not looking forward to Monday, but I’m holding on to that vision of what I’m working toward.

Animal Metaphors: A Rough Prose Poem

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I talk to animals. As though there is an invisible coil telephone cord between our ears and actual communication is exchanged. As though a nesting bird cares that I care. As if. Cats are people. Dogs are people I like but feel like an outsider to. I don’t associate with ferrets. I envy the ducks of Belle Isle, riding the current with their little boat bodies, gliding between every rock and hard place. My elephant collection is gathering dust in the basement I hate to visit. I used to draw birds in a V shape, usually involving triangle trees and bosom hills, crossing some horizon I have yet to see.

Some Quick Notes: My Summer Plans

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Though I’ve been MIA lately, I’m looking forward to more than one summer trip and doing lots of travel writing. Hopefully I’ll have some downtime to post as I travel to Palo Alto, CA for a wedding in June, and to the UK for 10 days in July.

I’ve really been enjoying Silicon Valley, the new HBO show, so I’m sure I’ll have that in the back of my mind as I see Palo Alto first-hand in just over a month. I’ve traveled to San Francisco before, and I stayed in the dorms at San Jose State University when I was there, and I’m looking forward to visiting again. I adored San Francisco. I haven’t been to New York yet, but I suspect San Francisco is the poetry capital of the U.S. More importantly, I’m meeting the rest of my boyfriend’s family, which is super exciting!

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to visit Scotland, and I finally have the chance this summer. We’ll fly in and spend a few days in London, then we’re commuting to Cardiff, then to Edinburgh, then to Glasgow, with a day trip to Dalrymple, my name-sake town, then we may fly directly to Dublin from Glasgow, or we may take the ferry to Northern Ireland and travel south, but either way, we’ll spend our last two days in Ireland, flying home from Shannon.

For both trips, we’re using AirBnB. Has anyone used this service? We’re new to it, and would love to hear your tips.

I promise lots of juicy new stories, full of metaphors.

I Have TV On the Brain

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I have TV on the brain. I thought it would be a fun spring cleaning exercise to make a list of all the TV shows I watch in the hope that I’ll be inspired to give one up.

In no particular order:

  • Game of Thrones (HBO)
  • Orphan Black (BBC America)
  • Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
  • The Americans (FX)
  • Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
  • Silicon Valley (This is a new show on HBO and I LOVE it!)
  • Once Upon a Time (ABC)
  • Parks & Recreation (NBC)
  • Glee (Fox)
  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Cosmos (Nat Geo)
  • The Walking Dead (AMC)
  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • Brooklyn Nine Nine (Fox)
  • The Following (Fox)
  • New Girl (Fox)
  • Downton Abbey (PBS)
  • Archer (FX)
  • Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)

Other shows I started but am WAY behind on are: Newsroom (HBO), Bates Motel (A&E), and Hannibal (NBC), True Blood (HBO), and more I probably can’t remember.

So, I had to use this website (http://www.tv.com/shows/) to even remember all the shows I watch. Dear God. The only two I’m okay with getting rid of are Glee and The Big Bang Theory.

What shows do you like to watch?

 

 

 

It’s National Poetry Month!

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national-poetry-month

Here are some great ways to celebrate my favorite creative medium this month.

Some of my favorites that I will probably do:

What Poetry Month activities will you be enjoying?