Days 5 and 6 – Covent Gardens, Blue Elephants and the Long Journey Home
Posted Sep 23, 2006
We slept in late as PC had to work quite late the night before. Of course the actual waking up part was rough because the hotel was checking the fire alarm. I remembered they were doing this but PC didn’t. Seeing him bolt out of bed and run nekkid for a robe then almost to the door before I could stop him was worth the rude awakening though.
We got an umbrella from the doorman at the hotel and made our way to Covent Gardens. It was wonderful just meandering around there, snacking at one of the booths and buying a few items. We then headed back to the hotel and had a late lunch there, in one of the restaurants. It was nice because the restaurant overlooked the front door and turnaround so we spent quite a while in there.
Of course PC had to be on a teleconference so we went back to the room late afternoon. After his teleconference we took a brief nap then got ready for dinner. One of the local M$ s had recommended this place out near Chelsea I think, called the Blue Elephant. Very nice Thai food in a wonderful atmosphere.
It was a wonderful dinner and we went back to the hotel while others, who were staying in London for at least another day or two, went out to party. We had to get to sleep because we had to set out at about 6:30 for the airport. We hopped the Gatwick Express from Victoria Station and very quickly made it just in time to wait in queue after queue after queue before getting on the plane.
We of course had the mandatory nasty airline food, then watched a few movies. Unfortunately I seemed to be working quite prodigiously on a migraine, whilst my pain stuff flew happily on below in the luggage hold. This of course wasn’t helped by the mandatory shrieking baby.
Don’t get me wrong. I love kids. But there is something about a baby’s cry that, when you have a whopper of a headache going, can reach you even if you were in a soundproof room, wearing noise cancelling earphones and had your auditory nerves severed. By the time we reached Charlotte all I wanted to do was take a long hot shower (not nearly as good as the wonderful shower at The Savoy) and a couple Goody’s headache powders. I don’t know how long I was in the shower. I sat on the floor of the shower and let the water pummel me until it turned cool and my legs and gone numb from being crumpled up in the shower enclosure.
Anyway. Here I am.. back in the US and planning to rest up for a new week.
Days 3 and 4 – Reading to Rats to Riches
Posted Sep 21, 2006
Let me preface this by saying not only was my Internet dodgy and I couldn't post day 3 but I'm just now recovered enough to not use thoroughly able language when referring to the first hotel I stayed in here in London.
PC left Reading for Portsmouth in the morning and sent a car to take me directly to London around noon. I had an uneventful bfast and crammed everything in my suitcase then hopped in the car to enjoy the stand still traffic into London.
The plan was to stay at the Strand Palace Hotel until Saturday morning, with PC and the other s checking in the following afternoon. I can only assume that it’s called the Strand Palace because the people in marketing thought it would be a bad idea and call it the Strand Ratsnest. Except perhaps that even rats and roaches had more self-respect than to haunt that place.
After a night in complete misery there (seriously, I’ve seen nicer dorm rooms) with no AC, and dodgy internet - not to mention questionable security and nonexistent comfort – I checked out the following morning and wasted a few hours in a Starbucks because it at least had AC and Internet going for it. Then set about finding a nicer, or at least livable place to spend the rest of our trip.
I’m happy to announce we will be spending the next couple nights at The Savoy. Rats and roaches not allowed. Very first thing we did was take a nice relaxing shower to rinse off the mood and the day. And the previous night.
We had dinner at a publike place called The Wellington, down the road. Very good actually. A nice, peaceful area upstairs as we were both tired from the day. BTW PC actually got stuck in a bonafide dorm room in Portsmouth, so we were both pretty much in the same circumstances as far as being fed up and needing rest.
After dinner we came back to the hotel and just to make sure the previous night and earlier part of today were all gone I soaked in the tub for a while. I’m happy to report I’m doing much better now.
Day 2 – Reading – The Bat and the Lighthousegirl
Posted Sep 20, 2006
It was quite a nice day. I woke up and went downstairs for bfast with PC, then he was off to work and I set about becoming more human so as not to scare the locals when I went out.
I remembered the day before we had left the hotel and gone right each time we went out so I decided to go left, just to see what was there. Mostly it was a variety of ethnic shops and places, Polish, Indian, Oriental and a few completely unrecognizable ones. I bought some snacks to keep in the fridgie and a huge bottle of water that I could keep cold in same fridgie. It appears this hotel doesn’t have ice machines and such so the only way to have cold water was to put it in the fridgie. Like the hot bat I am I needed ice cold water.
I found a lovely bakery during my wanderings and ordered a prawn salad baguette, a pastry and a drink then after a few stops inside other shops nearby went back to the hotel with my lunch. There wasn’t any place that was particularly picturesque to sit and eat said lunch unless I headed back toward The Oracle, which was too far a walk just for a pretty view whilst eating a sammich.
After lunch I headed back out to wander around and purchase a few things. Then made it back in time for a little rest (no actual though) and to freshen up for a wonderful evening with Lighthousegirl.
Light arrived some time around 18.30 and we had the traditional exchange then went to the hotel bar to wait to see if PC would make it. He had IMed me earlier that he had to go to some local MS employee’s home but if he could get out of it he’d join us.
We sat in the bar and waited until we were both hungry then decided he was on his own. Light drove us (in a rather circuitous way mind you) to a lovely pub in (Light correct me if I’m wrong) Sonning. I had a pint of something or other while we sat there and chatted, deciding on what to eat and telling each other about different IRL things. It was loads of fun and had we had a few more s handy we’d surely have taken over the pub and it’s surrounds in the name of The Blood!
Sadly the pub had very little traditional fare, and most of the menu was similar to things you would see at Chili’s or any of the other American chain restaurants, plus some more upscale fare. After much debate on what to choose I settled on the pheasant, and Light on the duck. We spent a wonderful evening chatting about a variety of subjects. It was a lovely evening.
After heading back to the hotel Light came upstairs and met PC, who had apparently just gotten in minutes before. She should consider herself fortunate because he was actually wearing trousers (I guess he wasn’t sure how cold it would be), usually I can’t get him to wear anything but shorts unless it’s actually snowing..
I know poor Light had a long drive ahead of her so I crawled in bed and ed for three (PC was still sitting at the desk working) so nobody would be tired this morning.
Day One of the Bats Invasion - Charlotte to London to Reading
Posted Sep 19, 2006
Yes.. this is a day late, why do you ask? PC spent most of the day ( and night) yesterday in the room in meetings via phone and internet. It is already after noon on day two but I'll post that after tonight's quaff-fest with Light - if we're sober.
The trip over the pond -
On the up side, we flew nonstop from Charlotte, NC to London. On the down side is of course the airline food, airline seats, and general airline-ness involved.
We arrived about an hour late, then spent another two hours in the queue awaiting the passport check, which was a non-event once we got there. I'm guessing the UK has no problems with migrations as long as they are properly documented. We then spent another almost two hours in transit thanks to the lovely traffic on the M25. We were originally going to take a train, but M$ suggested to PC it would be no problem to arrange a car and driver.
By the time we got checked in and everything was set at the hotel we decided to make our way out for lunch and after a few y looks from PC (he's a very finicky eater) we ended up eating some of the worst Chinese food I've ever had in my life.
We got back to the hotel and PC immediately got online and on phone for meetings. He decided after the long trip he wasn't up to going to the Reading campus. While he did that I ed, as I'm seldom able to on airplanes. No doubt my snores punctuated his teleconference on a new release quite nicely.
If I hadn't been so whomped I would have gone out to find a nice shop to pick up a few things to keep in the room. Since I didn't we had no idea where to go after he finished his meetings and woke me up.
He told me to 'get ready to go out', meaning please put on some in' makeup and do something with that wild mass of red stuff. Though I did get a haircut before leaving home and they took off WAY more than I would have liked so there was maybe half as much red stuff as there is usually.
I told him "I'm ready, let's go" and he looked at me and very seriously said "We can always get room service" ( and not in a flattering or remotely worthy manner). So needless to say I grumbled my way into the bathroom to slap on a fresh coat of paint then appropriated his power converter for my curling iron to tame the rabid Irish setter sitting on my head.
We found our way to a place called The Oracle, a sort of shopping center on a waterway. Why the desk clerk thought we’d find some traditional English fare there I have no idea. After wandering for a bit we settled on a Portuguese restaurant that serves grilled chicken, chicken sammiches, and chicken wings. All with a choice of heat levels on the piri piri sauce.
Now for those of you who haven’t seen a photo of PC he is African American. I’m of course so white I glow in the dark. So at the counter where we ordered when he asked for the “hot” (the choice was mild, medium, hot and extra-hot) the man asked if he was sure that would be hot enough. When I asked for the same he asked just the opposite and looked at me like he couldn’t wait to see me dash out and jump in the waterway after tasting the chicken. PC just laughed and refrained from telling the man that my hair was so red from spicy food, not dye.
What he didn’t know is I like things a lot spicier than PC does. When we went to his family’s home over the holidays last year and his father warned me off the hotsauce PC said I practically swam in the stuff and he shouldn’t worry. Needless to say PC thought the hot was quite spicy enough thank you, while I wondered if I shouldn’t have gotten the extra-hot and went ahead and slathered on some extra piri piri sauce, plus dipped my chips in the same sauce, lest they diminish the heat from the chicken.
After dinner we walked for a bit more, then stopped for an ice cream, which we ate on the way back to the hotel. This was probably a bad idea as we were both completely stuffed afterward.
PC got back on the phone and internet, and I changed into my jammies. Then he decided to nap for a bit before another meeting, which I took as clear indication it was time for me to hurry up and check my email and check my conversations on hootoo. Not to mention get the logistics straight with Light for our meeting and quaffing tonight.
I woke him up for his meeting, and he kept asking for just another 10 minutes (over an hours worth), pulling me into bed to snuggle and making it very difficult for me to stay awake in order to make sure he woke up. When he finally did get up for his meeting, I took an Ambien to make sure I’d sleep then curled up for the night. I don’t know when he finally made it to bed (one of the nicer qualities of Ambien) but about an hour before our wake up call was to go off he said he hadn’t been able to sleep and been watching TV all night. I told him he should have woken me as I always know how to make him sleep.
Now before you go getting all dirty and stuff what I meant is when I rub his back and shoulders he can fall asleep within minutes though there are other ways to make him sleep (but not when I’m on sleeping meds). I rubbed his back and shoulders, and true to form he was ing within minutes.
Ode to a Diva
Posted Sep 14, 2006
Those of you who know me know how much I adore my (or as she's come to be known - Her Royal Dogness), Goldie. This afternoon, I had to have her put to sleep.
She lived 16 years (almost 17 years), which is a lot for a breed that generally only lives 10-12 years – a golden retriever whose heart was solid gold. In her lifetime she accomplished more than many people even dream to.
She was a therapy dog, who took great joy in making people happy. I took her with me to senior homes, children’s hospitals and the like, where she would sit with people and in her loving, gentle way make them happy as they petted her and talked to her, all the while her kindly eyes looking deep into their own and saying “Yes. I know what you mean.” She did so many people so much good just by being her loving, gentle self. Even in her older years when retired from therapy, when I would take her to PetsMart on an outing, if she saw a person in a wheelchair she would haul me over to them, sit down and lay her head and one paw in their lap. On occasion bringing tears to people’s eyes as they watched.
She once brought home a dog who had been badly abused. I adopted her, and if you know me you’ve probably heard me refer to my coyote . The coyote followed home, no doubt after being told what a wonderful home she’d have. She lived a few more years before dying from kidney failure, from damage inflicted before she followed a friendly home one night and got to find a real family.
I had originally scheduled for a veterinarian to visit tomorrow afternoon and put her to sleep at home, in her favorite place. But she had a hemangioma and it burst today, causing her pain. She had been at her grandparents’ home spending time with them when it happened. I drove over then agreed we couldn’t wait for her appointment.
Even in her last moments she was still her adorable self. When they came outside to give her a sedative in the car she was very gentle with the vet. And when they brought the stretcher out (she was still awake) she showed one last time what a good and wonderful girl she was. When I told her to get into the stretcher she did so without delay (she’s a big dog) and gently put her paw on the vet tech’s hand, as if to reassure him, when he was making sure she was safely in.
I held her through the whole thing. Wrapped her head in my arms, stroking her muzzle and whispering in her ear. They say when you stroke their muzzle a certain way it’s very comforting because it mimics the way their mother gently washed their face.
Now my is gone and I’m trying my best not to be heartbroken. But it’s hard. When I lost my brother, my sister and my dad she was there. When I battled cancer she was there. When they wouldn’t allow me near people because I was radioactive after treatment she slept by my side, with her muzzle against my face so I could sleep. Now she is with my brother, sister and dad. Now she plays forever with her coyote . But my world has suffered a huge loss. As has the world of people who she brought joy to, visiting childrens hospitals, senior centers and hospices.