Monday, January 31, 2011

Prince Charles Cinema

 It's not that movies here are so expensive, but after the pound to dollar exchange, it comes out to about $17 to see a "new release" movie that has been out in the states for at least 3 weeks. Eric and I found this gem a few weekends ago while walking around Leicester Square.

The movies are a pretty good deal if you are willing to pay the £10/year membership fee. The theatre shows new movies upstairs for £10, which is a regular movie price anywhere, but only £6 for members. They also show older movies downstairs at £6.50/£4 for members. We think it's a pretty good deal.

On Friday night, with our new membership cards, we went to see The Social Network for £4. The seats were really nice, and it was really clean. The theatre was pretty small, but we really liked it.

Tonight we are seeing the double bill of Rain Man and Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Oh yeah we are.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Outside St. Paul's Cathedral

On this lovely rainy Thursday, I took a walk to St. Paul's Cathedral. I had absolutely no idea how huge it was! I was just walking along, following my directions and BAM - there is is.
A view of the back of the Cathedral from the East.
Closer view
A really awesome side door. I love the detail.


West entrance.

The cathedral was originally built back in the 7th century, but was burned down and pillaged a few times until 1666 when a huge fire went through London. Christopher Wren rebuilt it beginning in 1675, and finally completed it in 1703 making it the great St. John's Cathedral as we know it today.

This is a lesser known fact, but somewhere around St. Paul's, there is a wormhole. I'll tell you how I know. As I was walking around the enormous building, I tried to keep track of the direction I was going because I wanted to head down to the Thames (South) after I was done seeing the cathedral. I head South and pass this weird bronze, blocky statue of a person; this is next to a map that I check to make sure I am going the right way.

So I am traveling South when after about 15 minutes of walking, I hit the street that Eric works on (which is definitely North). So, I walk down there for a minute and turn left again and, after a minute, pass by the same weird statue. Long story short, I obviously went through a wormhole that switched me North; did way more walking that I was expecting to do today; went to Borough Market, got a meat pie and some Burnt Sugar snacks; and took the Tube home.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Columbia Road Flower Market

I've been a bit unwell (sick means you're throwing up), this week and there's not much to blog about unless you care about what's on TV in London. If you do care - Friends, Scrubs, Gilmore Girls, Life Unexpected, Smallville, Friends, Fresh Prince of Bel Aire, Come Dine with Me, Tool Academy, and Friends (maybe you will get a post about this later).

On Sundays in Shoreditch, there is a flower market called The Columbia Road Flower Market. Though Columbia Road would be a lovely place to visit even when the market is not on. The Market smells absolutely wonderful, as you could imagine. But what is really great about the place is the vendors. As you walk down the crowded street, there are vendors yelling what sounds like, "Free for Tenner," meaning 3 bunches of flowers for £10. They will pretty much yell what they can to get you to come look at their flowers.

The best deals come right before 2pm though. Since the market closes at 2, the vendors are trying to get rid of as much product as they can, so that is when to get the prime prices. In my opinion, the best part about shopping at the markets here is the price haggling.

Eric got this potted lily for me for only £5 when I was unwell - they've just bloomed.

They're lovely. I have the best husband.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Portobello Road

This weekend, Eric and I took the tube to the Notting Hill Garden station and went to Portobello Market. Now, there is a song from a Disney movie about Portobello Road; however, I didn’t know that the place actually existed until I got here. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to go.

Eric is so good at taking pictures.
The place was packed. There were so many different food vendors, antique shops, music stands, anything and everything a chap can unload. We didn’t want to spend too much, but I got these beautiful earrings and a great ring.
Originally £10 each, I haggled them down to £17.

At the end of the road was The Sonic Manipulator. We did not get any pictures, but we did get some video which will be posted sometime tomorrow (slow internet connection) is posted below. The video speaks for itself, but this was the best street performer I have ever seen. I put a pound in his money pot and he sang in his space voice, “Nice boots.” I laughed and went to go get the video camera. The funniest part was that a little boy was dressed in an astronaut outfit and was absolutely amazed by The Sonic Manipulator.

We ate some German bratwurst for lunch, and had some cupcakes for dessert from Hummingbird Bakery. Not the best cupcakes I have ever had, but decent. Next time I am going to try one of the fantastic looking waffles with nutella and strawberries. Eric says we are going back soon because he saw this paella just as we were leaving.

Friday, January 21, 2011

This is Why I Walk

Today I met a friend and we went to the house Benjamin Franklin stayed in while he lived in London. It was really neat. I think the tour made more sense to an American, since it talked a lot about American history, but there was tons of information about his correspondence with his family and political comrades back in the States. Interestingly enough, towards the end of Benjamin Franklin's time there, the house became an Anatomy School, and when they began the restoration of the house in 1996, about 1200 bones were found under the house. So that's a bit creepy.

 After the house tour, I went to the Square in front of the National Portrait Gallery. It was a beautiful sunny day, so it was nice to soak up my daily intake of Vitamin D. 

This is a monument put up by Parliament to commemorate those who have fought in wars for England. 
Lovely fountain in the square.     

The reason I am so glad that I walked home from this (besides the exercise), is because I found this random fruit and vegetable stand just south of the Holborn tube station. I got 1+ pounds of cherries (it was more than shown in the picture, but ate some before the picture was taken) for £3, the avocados were £1 for four, and the asparagus for another £1. It was so tasty and so inexpensive. I loved it. 
How yummy do these look?
Recipe time. For those of you who don't like asparagus, try snapping off the ends, boiling them in water for 3-5 minutes, making sure they are still mostly firm, or stick them under the broiler for a few minutes. Then, take some mayo - preferably made with olive oil, and add some lemon juice, dill, and pepper to use for dipping. Muy Delicioso.

Unexpected Bagpipes

I went to Borough Market again yesterday, just to see what it was like when it wasn't Saturday morning. It was not as crazy; however, there weren't as many vendors there either. Still really great stuff though. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera because it's huge and heavy.

So, right as I was walking in to the market, I hear bagpipes. "Huh, that's neat," I thought. But then the bagpipes start to get louder and as I am standing behind a huge pole, one bagpipe player, two bagpipe players, a snare drummer, and another bagpipe player walk around the pole (and me) and continue walking through the market.

Then later when I went to a different part of the market, the same group was still playing, but this time, there were 6 Scottish dancers doing a jig! Whoa! It was pretty awesome, but I asked around and that's not a usual occurrence - lucky me. I watched it for about five minutes then went to find lunch.

Last night Eric asked me what my favorite food is (he's thinking of going vegetarian for February and wants me to join him...psh, no); after thinking about it, I decided it was a tie between pasta and burgers. That being said, after the bagpipe players I went to find lunch. I found The Fresh Pasta Company. They were having a Thursday lunch special were they made you 8 or 9 Butternut Squash and Sage Ravioli sauteed in herb butter and topped with fresh grated Parmesan and a bison (?) bolognese sauce. Yeah, amazing, and all for only £3.

After all that fun, I took Eric's guitar to his office for an open mic night with the Lantern Society that was going on later. I was going to take the bus because I didn't want to lug his heavy guitar a mile up the street. I found the bus number I needed to take and went outside to catch the bus. I could have sworn that the bus stop was closer; but the bus passed me up and I ran to try to catch it at the next stop but barely missed it again, and so then I finally caught it at the third stop (which was about 1/2 way there anyway). I'll get this public transport thing down eventually.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

London Weather

Today, I just walked around enjoying the sunshine on my face. I found a German bakery called Berlin Delicious that looked delicious, but I couldn't quite understand what they were saying (I'll have to go back with Eric, he speaks German) and I wish my sandwich were toasted. It was a delightful day, nevertheless.
These pictures are proof that today was a sunny day in London.

Blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies.
Sunset from my window.

Now, more about this weather: I don't necessarily think that people lied to me when they told me how "cold" it is in London, that I "need to wear layers and layers of clothes to keep warm." Perhaps they just don't understand what cold means. Perhaps they have never lived in Ohio or Idaho or Colorado, like me. Perhaps they've never had their nose hairs freeze when they stepped outside. Perhaps it's like when I lived in Miami and when it got down to 60°F the natives thought it was cold enough to wear scarves, gloves, hats, and leather jackets. Perhaps I shouldn't have packed 3 really warm coats.

London is not cold. Unless you consider Colorado in April to be cold.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Natural History Museum and Leicester Square

For this weekend's adventure, Eric and I wanted to go to the Natural History Museum. Like most of the museums in London, it was free (awesome), unless we wanted to see any of the temporary exhibits there, which we did want to. The special exhibit was Wildlife Photography, which would have been amazing to see, but since it was £9 each to get in, we just looked at the photos in a coffee table book that was for sale in the adjacent gift shop.

The museum explores all aspects of natural history including the ecosystem, birds, insects, and DINOSAURS! For those of you who don't know, I am a huge fan of dinosaurs. I don't know why, but I love them. I have dinosaur books and stuffed animals - they are adorable when they're tiny, furry, and don't have real teeth. Anyway, this was an awesome museum that I would recommend going to, but maybe not on a weekend - it was a bit busy.

West entrance.
Harpy Eagle from the bird room.
This guy looks more friendly, probably because he doesn't have teeth.

This one is not so friendly.

Pilosaur. His swimming fingers are longer than my arm.

After the museum Eric and I were going to go to the movies but then after doing the math, it would have cost about $15.75 each to see a movie, and that was a bit much. We ended up going to Leicester (pronounced more like "Lester") Square and found a cheaper theater, but with nothing we wanted to see, but made a note to go back on Jan 31 for a double feature of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Rain Man. (Seeing Ferris on the big screen will be a major milestone for Eric). Luckily it was right in the middle of Chinatown, London.
Eric eating a pork bun. He was really truly happy. He said China Town smelled like his Dad, we laughed.

Ok, I found this place near the tube station called Patisserie Valerie, let me just say that it was amazing. You could sit down and eat there, but they also had these amazing cakes and pastries and ice cream. I got a piece of this Black Forest Cake, and if I didn't get sick Saturday night, it would have been gone before Sunday.
Well, today is another rainy Monday, so I will probably go do some laundry. Don't use the ultra-hot driers in London for more than 5 minutes, your clothes will shrink.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Angry Face Waxing...I mean Threading

This post is for any previous roommates I've had, including my sister. 

WARNING: Do not ever get your eyebrows threaded.  Per my last post, I was in need of an eyebrow and Mr. Musty waxing. Just down the street from me, there is a salon called 3Thirty and they wax for not too pricey (by London standards).

Back home in Colorado, there is a threading kiosk in the mall and I always see people getting their eyebrows done. It never looked too painful, people actually looked sort of peaceful - complete deception! It's just like getting tweezed except they pull out 3 hairs at a time. Not cool.

Needless to say, when it was Mr. Musty's turn, I opted in for waxing. For those of you who miss it (or just don't know what it is) here is the freshly waxed angry face.

Angry Face
Pirate Angry Face, but nice eyebrows, huh?

Winter Walk in Hyde Park

All day yesterday I was thinking about how long this week had seemed; of course I was also convinced that it was Wednesday all day. While looking for a nice "Thursday" activity, (which would have actually been Friday) I found that Hyde park offered a Winter Walk on the 14th, (which I thought was actually Thursday, still with me?) so I booked it. This wouldn't have been a problem except that I had a desperately needed face waxing appointment scheduled for Friday. After all was said and done, I ended up being able to do both! (Waxing post is next). 

The Walk was lovely, and would have been much more lovely, and included better pictures had it not been raining and windy cold.

This is the place the group met called the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, right on the Serpentine Pond. I got some pastries and a smoothie there, not gunna lie, super delicious. Check out the Weeping Willow that looks like it's going to eat the restaurant.
This is the dam that was built to create the pond. Those rectangles on the ground are periodically taken out and all the crap (footballs, umbrellas, handbags) are cleaned out.
I am actually very proud of this picture because I took it with one hand while walking. I guess a lot of people paddle boat out here during the summer. But you are only allowed to swim in there if you are a member of the Serpentine Swim Club. Unless, of course, you're participating in the triathlon in the summer Olympics of 2012.
This area is a memorial/bird sanctuary built with low hedges, lots of vines in trees and bird feeders to help protect the natural wildlife in Hyde Park. Luckily we saw a wonderful green parakeet eating a snack.
And for my favorite, this lovely sign was posted all over the pond. I wonder how often this incidence had to occur until they found it necessary to put up at least 10 of these signs. (Editor's note: After posting this, I learned that bathing is just recreational swimming, as in "Bathing Suit." Duh.)
I am positive I will have many more opportunities to visit Hyde Park, hopefully opportunities that don't include rain and cold.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Geffrye Museum

I wasn't feeling too chipper today, so I went online and found a museum that was very close. I went to the Geffrye Museum which shows the changes in interior design since the early 17th century.

The front of the museum.

1630 Hall

1745 Parlour

1830 Drawing Room

1870 Drawing Room Desk

 1900 Living Room
 1990 Kitchen/Bedroom

Garden Reading Room
 Garden Reading Room Window

There will be more historical information to come, but for now, I must go eat dinner. Check back later.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

British Museum Part 1

My trip today took me a block away from where I was yesterday, but I still had to walk all the way there, again. After an hour of walking to the British Museum, three hours walking around (and not even seeing everything there is to see), then another hour walking home, I'm beat. Luckily pictures are worth 1,000 words and I took a lot. 

Outside the British Museum

 A giant foot, originally part of a bigger (much bigger) statue.

 Aztec mask made from a human skull and turquoise.

African tree sculpture.
Close up. This whole sculpture was made of recycled guns. In an effort to lower crime, there was (and perhaps still is) a program were people in Africa can turn in their guns in exchange for useful tools.

 This was a piece of a bigger mosaic that was found buried in a field in Dorset - thought to be the earliest known image of Christ.

Front of the Lycian Temple dated around the 4th century BC. 

 From a building in Assyria around 870 BC.

Forgot where this was from but they found him buried like this with his possessions.

17 foot tall totem pole.

The whole day was free, so I'm sure Eric and I will go back sometime.