sea_thoughts: (London - sunlitdays)
I'll post about the rest of my Cheltenham Literary Festival later. I went to London this weekend to see the poppies at the Tower of London or Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red as it's officially called. While I am happy I was able to see them in person, the actual experience of seeing them was deeply unpleasant. They don't really have a system in place to let everyone see them so you're basically shoving your way to the front and crushed on all sides. This is even more unpleasant if you're under 5'7" or 170cm, like me. I was glad when we left (still haven't managed to eat at The Kitchen @ Tower, next time). I discovered that my father has never actually visited the Tower of London (despite the fact he studied in London in the 1970s) and I promised to take him next time we're there.

We then went to the Constable exhibition at the V&A. It was great to see his big works right there with all the details I usually miss: The Hay wain, Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Ground, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, as well as many of his studies and full scale sketches, including his watercolour of Stonehenge. The exhibit was really good in that they'd managed to gather paintings from the Old Masters (primarily Dutch) who had influenced and inspired Constable so you could see from where he drew his influence. In some cases, he'd just copied the painting and had to add something to make sure they knew it was a copy and not the original!

Dad and I wanted to eat at our favourite South Kensington Italian, Pierino, but it was full when we stopped by, even though it was half past two in the afternoon. I spotted another restaurant around the corner and we were able to get a table there. This restaurant is called Daquise: Daquise happens to be one of the oldest Polish restaurants in the UK, dating back to 1947, and unbeknownst to us was a key location in the Profumo affair of the 1960s! Dad had tomato soup to start and venison meatballs for main, while I had bigos (hunter's stew) to start and veal schnitzel to follow (topped with a fried egg), but the bigos was so filling that I had to leave some of the mashed potato and carrots behind. A little expensive but very, very nice food.

After that, we went back to Waterloo to catch the train home and I bought a couple of things from Lush. We drove through the rain that had been lashing the west of the country on our way back home and I decided that I was too tired and it was too wet to go and do some more standing, even for fireworks.

And then I had my heart broken by Doctor Who. All in all, a great weekend.
sea_thoughts: (London - sunlitdays)
Better update before March is over! It's hard to update when I feel like I'm wasting my time in this place and like everyone is achieving things when I am too scared to even write a word sometimes.

The big excitement is that my old team leader's secondment has ended unexpectedly and she is now coming back to my department. However, my current team leader wasn't even allowed to tell us this herself: the head of our call centre (who is also the one who agreed to our training over the busiest period) went ahead and sent out an email announcing it to EVERYONE. Even the head of our department wasn't told about this and had to scramble and send out ANOTHER email explaining what was going on. Needless to say, my current team leader was severely unimpressed by this mess. After having one team leader leave without explanation and then being split into other teams, then having her announced as the team leader with no warning, the last thing she wanted was for us to find out this way. I told her to her face that I feel she's been badly treated and none of the team blames her for what happened. Not only did she have no control over leaving the job, she had no control over telling us. And so now, she's leaving the company completely and it's her last day tomorrow.

The good news is that my LBT (Legs, Bums and Tumms) class is starting to have an effect on my legs and my bum. Still waiting to see an effect on the tummy but I only go to one class a week at the moment. I'm thinking of going to the gym where the class leader works to see if I can make a bigger improvement. My mum has been staying with me so the flat is clean and I can talk to someone after work about how frustrating it is.

Dad and I went to London yesterday to see the Turner and the Sea exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (aka the place where Jane and Thor confront Malekith in The Dark World). It was a beautiful sunny day, the exhibition was stunning and we had a great home-cooked lunch at the Green Pea on Trafalgar Road. Then we slogged up the hill to the Royal Observatory so Dad could look at the clocks. I was more interested in the beautiful Dolphin Sundial in the Titanic Memorial Garden. The tips of the two dolphins' tails form the line of the hour. It is extremely accurate.

Currently reading: The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands
sea_thoughts: (DWTardis - famira)
Work continues to be stressful and badly organised when it comes to training but I don't want to talk about that.

Last weekend, I went to Bath with my family for my mum's birthday (which was on the 12th). It was Mum's last working Saturday, so she was very happy. I drove to Bath via the M5, battling strong winds that made the car rock and drift. I was glad when I hit the A46, which is an older road, once used by coaches, and therefore has much more shelter. It's a nicer drive as well, with lots of twists and turns and curves. Grace and I drove down the road a couple of years ago and stopped at the Tollgate Teahouse for tea and crumpets. It was getting late, so we didn't go onto Bath, but it was a lovely afternoon.

Mum, Dad and I were staying at Bailbrook Lodge, which I'd found on TripAdvisor. (Ever since I found the King Charles Boutique Hotel in Prague via TripAdvisor, I seem to have become the delegated family member for holiday research. I just realised that I still haven't posted about Prague! Gah! Must do that this week.) Bailbrook is made up of two houses that were knocked into one. Dad had booked the Garden Suite, which was in the cellar but had a four poster bed with television, iPod dock and plenty of seating. I had a twin bedroom next to it but the ensuite was in the corner of my room so Dad and Mum had to walk through there to go to the loo. And since it was in the cupboard, it was quite small. I'd still recommend the place as it's warm (warm enough for Mum to be happy, which is rare in the UK) and very comfortable. (I had been intending to stay at The Kennard Hotel, but that insists on a minimum of two nights. Since Mum no longer has to work Saturdays, maybe we can do that next year.)

Since I got there about two hours before Mum and Dad were due to arrive, I decided to go into Bath to get a couple of things and drop off my bottle tops at Lush. I'd always known that Bath is an expensive place to live but this was brought home when my bus ticket into town (less than three miles away) cost £4.20. To put this in perspective, I can buy a bus ticket for the whole of Gloucester for £3.50 and a bus ticket that covers both Gloucester AND Cheltenham for £5. So £4.20 for a single return to a place that isn't even that far away is steep. Fortunately I had enough change but it was the first in a series of small annoyances (ridiculous amount of traffic lights, the one way system, how far away Lush is from the bus stop) that culminated in finding out that Lush no longer recycles bottle tops. I gave them the one black pot I'd washed anyway and hurried back to the bus stop, limping a little because my trainers aren't exactly right for my feet. I've always been rather flat-footed (I easily get cramp if I bend my feet for too long) so I need to get some trainers that stop my ankles over-pronating.

I managed to get back to the Lodge in time, however, as the bus was waiting at the stop for me when I eventually made my way back down (thank goodness). Mum and Dad arrived on time (I'd already changed) and Helen and her fiancé picked us up without too much trouble (they went to Bailbrook House but that is only next door so not a disaster). We went to Same Same But Different for dinner, Mum's favourite place in Bath. Helen and Dave had never been there and were very impressed. It's one of the few places I know in the UK outside London that is a café in the day and is open into the evening as a bistro. It's small but cosy and the food is delicious. I had Cornish Sole Goujons with Apple, Fennel and Aioli, followed by Butterbean Cassoulet with Slow Cooked Pork Collar. This was the meal I'd had with Mum when we visited Bath for her birthday outing a couple of years ago (we stayed in the Kennard that time) but I'd been ill at the time, so I was unable to fully enjoy it. Finally, I had passionfruit crème brulée, which was a bit sweet but very creamy. Then Mum, Dad and I were dropped back at the Lodge and went to bed.

Sunday, we drove to Helen's flat and then went for lunch at the Victoria, which had won an award for Sunday lunch. Sadly, I wasn't that impressed, as my roast potatoes were pretty leaden and Dad wasn't happy as his lamb was mostly gristle. I don't think we'll be going back there soon.

I did post the list of books I'd read in 2013 and movies I've seen but not sure if anyone saw it. Should I repost?

Prague post coming soon!
sea_thoughts: (Autumn - sunlitdays)
Thanks for the well wishes. :) I managed to go back to work last Friday and was well enough to attend the Radio Times interview with Steven Moffat on Sunday. Moff was on good form, very funny and sarcastic. He didn't say much about the upcoming 50th anniversary special or the new Sherlock episodes (of course) but he did refute the silly idea that they filmed in America to get American viewers. He said that in his view Americans were much smarter than that: if they wanted to see America, all they had to do was go outside or switch on their televisions, they wanted to watch Doctor Who because it was quintessentially British, and that the biggest reason for shooting in America was that it was a different, bigger backdrop for the Doctor. Here's some trivia: they originally intended to shoot the whole two-parter in Florida, because that's where NASA is located. However, when they arrived, it looked so much like Cardiff that he and Caroline decided "we have to find something that's SO American, nobody can possibly doubt that they're in America!" and that is why Monument Valley happened. XD He also rubbished the claims that Peter Capaldi was "too old" to be popular with kids as the Doctor, stating that ALL adults are the same age to children, that is, ancient. He spoke of how he was a teacher at 24 and his pupils thought he was as old as the dinosaurs!

Oxford )
sea_thoughts: (Crazy - technographics)
I am still uploading the house tour photos from my phone. >:( Basically, Photobucket doesn't let me upload from the mobile, so I have to email the photos to myself and THEN upload them to Photobucket. As you can imagine, this takes a while and I can only do so much before I get frustrated and give up. But I haven't forgotten about them and I will eventually post them all!

Prague this weekend! So excited!
sea_thoughts: (Summer - eowyngiulia)
I'm sorry that it's been over a month since I posted in this thing. July was actually a busy month. I got my new car (well, second hand, it used to be my mum's) and spent a week getting used to it and driving around. I had the whole week off so I was able to do this without worrying about work. Unfortunately I managed to rear-end someone on the second day of driving it. Fortunately, it was only a small bump and the man I hit was a gentleman. I drove my friend R to see Stonehenge (so she could say she'd seen it) and then we went to Avebury, a first for both of us. Avebury is a lovely little village and the stones are amazing. Because we went during the heatwave, they provided shade and they were cool to the touch and it felt like leaning against them was okay, it felt like they were old friends. (Well, they are old!)

I drove all the way to Canterbury, which was nerve-wracking because it involved at least three M roads (major motorways) but we made it there in one piece, even if we were almost two hours later than planned due to horrible traffic. The owner of the B&B was gobsmacked that I'd managed to get a reservation at The Sportsman, huffing that he'd never managed to book a table for himself or for any of his guests.

"Are you someone special? Is she someone special?" he demanded.

Maybe I am? :)

I drove R to The Sportsman with an unplanned but pretty detour to Whitstable on the way (Seasalter is not well sign-posted). I gorged myself on bread and rock oysters (not at the same time) so I didn't have enough room for my main, which I still regret, because it was roast chicken with lemon truffle sauce and potatoes and it was utterly delicious. I did have enough room for my dessert though (jasmine tea junket) because priorities. I showed R around Canterbury, around the cathedral, and we saw The World's End, which is hilarious and highly recommended. (We also saw Pacific Rim and if you have not seen that, get thee to a cinema.)

I miss Canterbury so much. I had a pain in my chest on my last morning that refused to go away. Only the anxiety of driving all the way back on my own was able to vanquish it. I miss Canterbury and I want to go back there, not just for a visit but forever.
sea_thoughts: (Spring - luna_ann)
I went to see Iron Man 3 on Saturday May 4th with my friend R, who is studying in London for her PhD. I took her to Ed's Easy Diner because she was missing root beer and she complimented the chilli con carne. Unfortunately, we missed the Thor 2 trailer because of severe delays on the Central Line. The ushers kept telling us we hadn't missed the film, but that wasn't why we were rushing! At least we saw the Man of Steel trailer. I enjoyed the movie a lot (I always like it when Tony is stripped of his trappings and shows just how smart and resourceful he is). I was pleased with the increased focus on Rhodey, wish there had been more Pepper, loved every scene that Ben Kingsley was in, and was disappointed that Maya and Pepper did not team up to be snarky badasses on the run. Ending credits scene was perfect, well done, Marvel.

Sunday May 5th and Bank Holiday Monday were spent with my sister at her flat in Bristol. The weather was beautiful and we had a barbecue on the hill outside her house on Sunday afternoon. I was able to meet her cat properly for the first time and we finally watched Rise of the Guardians together. (This also turned out to be the last time as they had to put the cat to sleep at the beginning of June. ;_; ). On Monday morning, we went to Rocotillos for only the second time since I've been living in Gloucester (six years) and I had a butterscotch milkshake with the Breakfast Club meal (bacon, fried egg, sausage and toast all for £3.95).

Tuesday, I went to the Guildhall with Lorna and saw Cloud Atlas. Some of the storylines were interesting, some were not, and the digital make up they used to make the Caucasian actors look Asian was discomforting and smacked of latent racism to me. I would recommend it for rental.

Wednesday, I went to see Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty with Mum and Helen at the Bristol Hippodrome. It was funny and beautiful and tragic, but we had to leave before the end because I had to catch the last train back to Gloucester. I can't wait to pass my test so I can drive myself about.

Part Two coming soon!
sea_thoughts: (DWCarmen - wg15graphics)
Had one of the best Bank Holiday weekends in recent memory a couple of weeks ago. Had the Thursday and the Friday off because I went to see Michael McIntyre on the Thursday evening with my sister in Cardiff. I've never been to Cardiff before (never been to WALES before) so I was very excited to finally see the Severn Bridge and the Severn Estuary (which was beautiful even under the glowering clouds). The sat-nav managed to take us into Cardiff but didn't direct us to the entrance of the NCP car park, so we had to drive around in a huge circle. We really only found the entrance thanks to my sister's driving skills and experience, because it was TUCKED AWAY behind some houses. I wonder how anyone parks there considering it's such a major car park. Due to traffic, we only had time to eat a Burger King meal before running off to the arena (and it started raining) but the show made it all worth it. McIntyre is just as funny live as on screen (possibly funnier). There were points during the show where I couldn't breathe because I was laughing so hard. Stayed at my sister's for the night, then went down to see my parents for the weekend and did basically nothing, which was very nice. :)

Have seen The Dark Knight Rises (oh my God, I want to see it again); The Avengers (saw it four times, I regret nothing); The Bourne Legacy (mainly for Jeremy Renner, let's be honest); and The Amazing Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield IS Peter Parker, Emma Stone was adorable, can't wait for more).


Currently planning my birthday weekend in Paris with [livejournal.com profile] vifetoile and my sister. Definitely going to see the Musée d'Orsay this time, and the Eiffel Tower, and lots of other things! There will be photos because my sister is bringing her boyfriend's camera, and they will be GOOD ones this time!
sea_thoughts: (Fly Away - iconomicon)
Et voilà, voici la description de mon séjour à Paris! Samedi 19 mars à Mardi 22 mars.

Here be pictures )
sea_thoughts: (Fly Away - iconomicon)
Just wanted to pop in and say hello, because I'm currently in Paris, so I cannot update or respond to stories/posts etc. as much as I would like to, but back home tomorrow to update you then. ;)
sea_thoughts: (Fly Away - iconomicon)
I keep thinking I should post about what I've been doing and then that self-pitying voice which should just SHUT UP keeps saying "What's the point, nobody reads it" but I am going to ignore that voice and post, except WHERE DO I START?

I just spent a week in the USA, specifically New Jersey. I spent it with [livejournal.com profile] alizep who educated me in the ways of New Jersey, which is apparently considered by everyone to be a "strange" state. The condition of the highways is terrible but everyone was very friendly to me. I have been to the Wawa aka The Wa; I have eaten a hoagie; I have been to a Stewarts and sat in the car while they brought dinner (this does not exist in the UK) and I have finally drunk root beer (which was nice, kinda like dandelion and burdock with added fizz). I walked along a boardwalk and took photographs of funny T-shirts. I have finally eaten sushi and tasted the famous honey miso dip, which is now my favourite dip of all time.

NYC )

My birthday was spent in Baltimore. Camera had run out of battery but that didn't matter too much. We strolled around the Inner Harbor area, had lunch at Phillips, where I tasted clam chowder for the first time (for the record: I loved it). Three course lunch for $29.99! We couldn't finish our cheesecake, so we took it with us. We tried to visit the art museum but it was shut! On a Monday! Unimpressed. Also saw the Edgar Allen Poe exhibition at the library (Poe died in Baltimore when he was meant to be in Philadelphia) and tried to find his grave but it was hidden, typical of Poe! It wasn't exactly in a nice neighbourhood so we decided to cut our losses and go home. We almost got caught in a thunderstorm and then the sun tried to blind us, so obviously Baltimore is more dangerous than people think (it's not just the guns and drugs, it's the very weather itself!).

Plus wrote more Exiles.

Edit

Gels, I bought all three of the Emily books! I'm so happy, you cannot find them over here, you have to order the American copies! I only ever read "Emily of New Moon" over 10 years ago, and it's great to actually find out what happens to all of them when they grow up!
sea_thoughts: (HPRupert3 - ajcher)
Walking home today after work, I spotted two boys riding a bike. One of them was peddling and the other was standing on the spokes of the back wheels and holding onto his brother's shoulders, with a Sainsbury's plastic bag (which was orange, of course) on one arm. They were both golden redheads, and the one peddling was wide and muscular, with curly hair, while the one standing up was lankier, with longish wispy hair. Oh my God, Charlie and Bill! I thought, because it was such a Weasley thing to do! Reckless and yet breathtaking. (They weren't going fast, though, the peddler was taking it easy because of his passenger.) I could just imagine Charlie and Bill cycling down to the village shop on an old bike their Dad brought back from the MoM, then enchanting the pedals on the sly so that Charlie didn't actually have to do any work!

I went to Glastonbury for Easter. God, I love that place. This is the second time I've been there but the first time I could actually wander about at my own pace (first time I was with my family and therefore I didn't have as much choice about what we did). I visited the Chalice Well Garden, even in the rain that place is filled with serenity. The Glastonbury thorn was almost but not quite in bud. I sat by the well, listening to the rain, and then sat in the Angel's Seat (a bench that has an angel's face carved out of the stone and is sheltered by a bower of honeysuckle) and listened to the birds talking around me. (For [livejournal.com profile] gipsy_dreamer, there was a male blackbird, a female blackbird, and something which I thought was a greenfinch, but which, looking at illustrations, might actually have been a siskin! And of course, a resident robin, which was very curious about me and came extremely close, peeping at me as I whistled. <3) I wanted to climb the Tor again, but decided against that as it was rather wet and slippery. I had dinner in Cafe Galatea, which is a vegetarian cafe that's open until 11pm! In the UK! Almost unheard of. I will be going back again soon. Somehow. Although I might just be visiting this time, instead of staying, because the bus went through Wells on the way there and Wells is RIDICULOUSLY pretty. I need to investigate this city, stat.

Trying to get my life in order. Trying to finish unfinished projects. Success to be determined. Watch this space.
sea_thoughts: (DWDonna Searching - 04nbod)
Phew, that was close. My laptop was refusing to start again today and I thought Oh God, here we go again... Another week without the damn thing, losing more money as PC World attempt to repair it. But no, after repairing it with the Operating System CD, it managed to start up properly, yay!

Trrying to finish three writing projects at once... maybe a bit too much, methinks. But who said I did things the easy way? Actually, that's a theme of my life, doing things the hard way because doing things the easy way feels like a cop out. Am beginning to think that maybe I'm my own worst enemy and starting out at the shallow end is not cheating or being cowardly.

Bought books on Japan and Prague today. Figure that if I'm going to visit at least one of them this lifetime, I ought to start researching them.

Archangels )

Reviews )

Now I should go and make myself some dinner.

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