Tillie

Another finished object! Photo taken with my phone’s secondary camera, so I could see myself while I was taking the self-portrait! As you can see the quality’s not quite so good as the main camera. And it’s the only chance I get to use it – I don’t think my network supports video calling.

27042008037

Vitamin D

Yesterday the sun shone on London town. It was by far the warmest day we’ve had all year. Dan is down from Warrington for the weekend, so I decided to take him to Greenwich. I hadn’t been there either so we both got to play tourist. It was so lovely being out in the sun and warmth!

PICT9127

PICT9130

Dan went a little bit pink, but my spf 15 moisturiser did the trick. And the Vitamin D is all good.

Panorama 1

We walked up to the observatory and saw the Greenwich Meridian. Then we had a wander through the park and markets, back to the Thames where we caught a boat to Tower Bridge.

Dan is an engineer so was very interested in the inner workings of the bridge mechanism. The bridge used to be raised and lowered through a steam driven hydraulic motor, but now electricity does the trick and the old engine room is open to the public. We also saw them raising and lowering the bridge twice for a ship to go through.

025

Then last night we went to see Fat Freddy’s Drop at the Hammersmith Apollo (which my parents still call the Hammersmith Odeon). There were Kiwis as far as the eye could see! We bumped into our friends the Greens (who you may recall from the Waitangi Day Pub Crawl) – my friend Claire was there, and her boyfriend Greg who just happens to work with Dan – it was a real Christchurch/London moment. Not to mention the ever-lovely Kat and Lizzie.

The show was sold out and apparently the scalpers were doing a roaring trade. Inside, the place was packed with seating upstairs and standing down. I estimated there were about 5000 people there, and Wikipedia confirms that is how many people the venue holds in that configuration (a point which I must remember to smugly point out to Dan). Some definite Kiwi pride happening!

031

029

028

Thanks for visiting, Dan!

More busy times lie ahead… stay tuned for more trips away and more visitors!

book meme

(this is really to remind myself of what I still have to read!)

What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

Here’s the twist: add (*) beside the ones you liked and would (or did) read again or recommend. Even if you read ’em for school in the first place.

Continue reading

Spanish Harlem Orchestra

The last time I saw these guys was nearly a year ago in New York. Tonight I saw them again at the Jazz Cafe in Camden. They were just as good as I remembered them!

These photos were all taken with my phone, which is handy when I don’t feel like carrying my camera. I’m quite impressed by the quality.

25042008029

25042008027

25042008023

25042008028

Challenge time!

My workplace is encouraging us to take part in a walking initiative run by www.walkingworks.co.uk.  I now have a free pedometer and a chart on which I have to report the number of steps I take every day for the next four weeks!  I’ve wanted a pedometer for a while because I’m really interested to know how many steps I do.  Some days my only walking consists of walking to and from the tube station.  Other days I have dancing or I’m walking all over London.  Stay tuned for my results…

A couple of days ago it was Walk to Work Day.  I didn’t do it but I did look up on www.walkit.com exactly how long it would take me to walk to work.  The result – about three hours!  Three times as long as it takes on the tube.  No thanks!

The Walking Works site also has a link to a brilliant site that I haven’t heard of before, Hassleme: “Tell us what to hassle you about, and we’ll nag you via email at semi-unpredictable intervals.”  I am seeing all kinds of applications for this.  Mind you, my life is already ruled by Outlook tasks, my time recording software and my smartphone (yeah, and a computer that fits in your pocket seemed like such a good idea ten years ago…).  The built-in GPS should come in handy for the walking though!

Tyne Cot

053

056

049

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918 )
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

054

Best muffins ever

Last week I had some leftover raspberries and some belgian white chocolate, so I made some muffins! I wish I could tell you the recipe but I never use a recipe any more. I beat an egg, add some oil (NEVER canola, its strong and quite horrible flavour is no good for baking or quite frankly anything else. My favourites are sunflower or grapeseed, and both are quite good for you. Then I add a bit of milk, some sugar if I’m making sweet muffins, and finally enough flour to make it a nice battery consistency. Now here is the key to making successful muffins: do not overmix! You should mix it just enough to dampen the flour. Don’t leave it sitting around on the bench either, get it straight in the oven.

If you’re making fruit muffins, now is when you add your fruit. Savoury, add your vegetables, herbs and at least a cup of cheese. Bake them in the oven at about 200 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. Don’t open the door while they’re cooking or they will sink! When they look done, press the tops – if they spring back they are cooked.

Eat! Muffins taste best fresh from the oven.

004

Bruges

A few weeks ago I filled in an online form to book myself a trip to the Isle of Wight for the weekend. And then I never heard back from the company! Until the week of the trip itself, when I had already decided I couldn’t be bothered going anywhere and I was going to mope around at home instead. Then they left a message on my phone saying there wasn’t any Isle of Wight trip any more, but would I like to go to Bruges for £60?

Without giving it a second thought I called them back and said yes! It turned out to be a good decision – I haven’t been outside the city limits since January 8, and that is too much London for anyone, even a city girl like me.

Saturday morning saw me boarding a coach near Victoria Station at 6:45 am. I was ever so proud of myself! A couple of hours to Dover and then we were on the ferry to Calais. After Calais it was time to introduce ourselves on the coach microphone – funnily it turned out almost everyone was there on their second choice! There was one other lone traveller, Patricia from Perth, so we spent a lot of time together over the weekend.

The weekend was pretty relaxed – Patricia and I did a canal boat tour and then hit the shops. There was Belgian chocolate galore, and I picked up a couple of pairs of shoes – with my narrow feet, I always have more luck on the Continent. Underwear shopping on the other hand was a disaster as the pretty styles only came up to a B cup! I did buy some lovely pyjamas though, as if I need more! There was also a Tintin shop:

046

In the evening the group went out for dinner and then to a bar where they have 400 Belgian beers. I tried Zot, which is the only beer made in Bruges. It was very very tasty!

038

Bruges was very pretty and very very old. It wasn’t destroyed during the war so many of the buildings are 400 or 500 years old – incredible. There’s even a bridge dating from the 14th century, I think.

041

044

047

There are more photos up on Flickr and I will post more about my trip later this week!

Little luxuries

It’s hard to compare the lifestyle I have here in London to what I had in Christchurch. It’s just too different. I can’t say “I have a better lifestyle here” because there are some things that are not better – I live in a tiny flat with no living space, a grotty kitchen, and no garden. However my tiny flat is right in the centre of London. London! And that has a lot of lifestyle benefits.

While I try to live fairly frugally, my income permits a few little luxuries now and then – some fantastic cheese or olives from the Borough Market, perhaps, a bottle of fantastic wine now and then, and as you will know from some of my pictures I have lately been in the habit of keeping fresh flowers in my room. These I tend to buy reduced to clear at my local Waitrose, and they usually last several days after I buy them.

And I get to take photos of them!

004

008