Flower of the Day: English Bouquet

Back in Oxford! What a feeling. She arrived from East London and realized she hadn’t bothered to make a note of Lucy’s house number (She did know the street) because she thought she’d recognize the house at first sight. She ended up walking back and forth, back and forth, for half an hour. Conveniently, her Android told her “There is no wi-fi connection.” This is why she pays Verizon $239/month for the International Plan. So she can be stuck with luggage on a street in Oxford, with no wi-fi connection. Her laptop was completely out of battery, so no help there.

Tugging her luggage behind her, she started asking the neighbors: “Do you know Lucy?” She figured, Oxford is a small town, this is a small street. Everyone must know Lucy. Guess what: NO ONE KNEW LUCY.

Finally, she heard her name being called, and there was Lucy! Lucy had seen self pass in front of her house, trundling luggage. Probably wondered why self didn’t stop, since the front door was wide open.

Anyhoo, she’s arrived! Same room and everything! There was even the sweetest little arrangement of wildflowers on her writing desk!

Posting a picture for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Flower of the Day (FOTD): Walking from Hackney Street to Bethnal Green, East London

Self undertook this walk last Sunday. It was a gorgeous day, lots of people were out and about, maybe because of the Columbia St. Flower Market? She had every intention of scoping out this world-famous Flower Market in East London, but was distracted by all the wee little boutiques and alleys and coffee shops along the way. So dear blog readers will have to settle for these:

Posting for Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day.

Six-Word Saturday: Hackney City Farm, Goldsmiths Row, London

For the past week, self has been exploring East London. Well, maybe ‘exploring’ isn’t the right word: she’s been mostly reading and writing and sending stuff out and trying to get home sooner so she can vote in the California primary — it may seem funny to cut a trip short just to vote in a primary, but she takes nothing for granted these days.

Here are the positions up for vote: California U.S. Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Member of State Board of Equalization, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, U.S. Representative in Congress, State Senator, State Assembly Member, as well as other local candidates. She is, of course, voting Democrat all the way down the ballot. And if there’s one thing she’s proud about, it’s about raising a son who’ll vote Democrat all the way down the ballot, too!

These past six years have been exhausting: she’s cut off ties with friends she’s known for decades, because all of a sudden they’re calling Hillary “ugly” and say women should not be wearing pantsuits. Think it’s ridiculous? So does self.

Anyhoo, while knocking about East London (which is as far from tourist-y as you can get in London), she stumbled onto a working farm. You can smell the manure from a long way off, it is a little disconcerting, but at least all self had to do was follow her nose.

What a place, though! It sells cheese, grains, veggies — the usual stuff sold by an organic farm. And the minders look exactly like the people in California. In fact, they may even look slightly more hippie-ish than organic farmers do back home. East London hippies — self never knew such a type existed!

Posting this for Travel with Intent’s Six-Word Saturday Challenge.

Six Word Saturday: Contemporary Ceramics, Great Russell Street, London

This is self’s post for Debbie Smyth’s Six Word Saturday challenge.

Self started going to London regularly in 2015. She visited every year and stayed at The Penn Club on Bedford Place, in Bloomsbury. The Penn Club became her home away from home, a place where she formed fast friendships. In 2020, the pandemic killed it. Most of its patrons were elderly. She hopes they didn’t get covid, but she suspects many of them did. After a hundred years in Bloomsbury, The Penn Club closed its doors, permanently.

Now, self is back in London. She couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else but in Bloomsbury. Another of her favorites, a French restaurant on Hanway Place, had closed. She spent days walking up and down Great Russell Street, dropping by the British Museum, seeing their special exhibits (Right now the special exhibit’s about Stonehenge), dropping by the London Review Bookshop.

An architectural firm used to be next door to the bookshop, but the large windows through which self had peeked many and many a time to watch people industriously working at giant drafting boards were boarded up. She was so relieved to see the Contemporary Ceramics gallery on Great Russell Street was still there! She wandered in. Several other people were there — most young. Wonder of wonders, they were buying!

Self wanted to buy a piece, too. But she is traveling, and her bag is already quite heavy. In fact, the airline slapped a HEAVY BAG sticker on it, when she checked in at Belfast on her flight to Heathrow. But if people are buying fine ceramics, the gallery will make it.

The ceramic artist whose works are on exhibit is Ruth King. Her works stay up until May 21. Here’s a quote from the flyer the gallery gave out:

  • Ruth’s sculptural forms and vessels are fashioned from soft sheets of clay cut and assembled to wrap and define a space. The surface is then enriched by the passage of salt vapours in the firing reacting to each twist and turn of the form adding colour, texture and articulation.

Quentin Meets His Animal

Self has been moving at glacial pace through The Magician King. Honestly she thought she’d be done with this book by LAST WEEK. But the weather in Belfast today was too nice, so self spent a lot of time walking around.

This is such a cool city. Not to mention, her hotel is a landmark. A sign out front says it is “the most bombed hotel in Europe.” What, you mean during World War II? self asked someone. No, came the answer. During the Troubles. But, remarkably, despite the bombings, IT NEVER SHUT DOWN

(Self asked a waitress in the Piano Lounge about how the hotel was affected by lockdown. It shut down completely, for the first time since its founding)

Back to The Magician King!

In a previous section, Eliot told Quentin that he had sent along an “animal” for Quentin’s journey to Outer Island.

On p. 61, readers finally learn WHAT THAT ANIMAL IS.

Self actually laughed out loud in that part.

This is a momentous journey for Quentin, as Outer Island is full of Fenwicks who, we are given to understand, are very shady people. Not only that, Julia is along for the ride (Does the Quentin/Julia ship have legs? To go by what transpires on the ship, unfortunately, no)

Quentin and Julia in The Magician King

It is SUCH a beautiful day in Belfast. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Seems a crime not to be out there on the street.

Self is cooling her heels for a bit. Walked for three hours this morning. Aimless walking. Stopped for carrot cake at Waterstone’s. Picked up more books. Tried to read a bit more of The Magician King. Came to a part with Quentin and Julia.

Is this a legitimate ship? Or is this just Lev Grossman being coy? Since she’s come so late to the party, she’s sure there are spoilers galore on goodreads. But she’s avoided them, so far.

The wind had caught her black hair and was whipping it wildly around her face. She looked outrageously beautiful. It might have been a trick of the light, but her skin had a silvery, unearthly quality, as if it would shock him if he touched it. If they were ever going to fall in love with each other, it was going to happen on this ship.

The Magician King, p. 53

Julia’s eyes turned completely black more than a few pages ago. That means: no pupils. Or: all pupils. Must be quite a sight. The change happened when she was casting an ‘attack’ spell. The others were in a state of complete confusion and dismay (something BIG happened) and Julia was the only one who had the presence of mind to start using her magic to go on the attack. What else is magic for? Of course you have to go on the attack!

Stay tuned.

Skywatch Friday: Gorgeous Weather Today in Belfast!

Weather today in Belfast is brilliantly gorgeous. There’s not a cloud in the sky. Amazing.

Self walked around, returned to her hotel just to dump her books (she ordered five books while she was in River Mill) and dashed out again. The best way to get one’s sea legs in an unfamiliar city is to walk, walk without a plan. She’s already seen a number of things. And signed up for an all-day Game of Thrones tour (Don’t @ self. Even though she is over her Gendrya obsession, come on: the Dark Hedges? the Giant Causeway? This might be her only chance!)

Posting this for Skywatch Friday.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: The Magician King, p. 6

My lovelies! Finished reading The Janus Stone, Book 2 of the Ruth Galloway series, last night. It was kickass! Self plans to buy Book 3 and Book 4 when she gets to Belfast.

In the meantime, she’s started a new book, The Magician King. It’s Book Two of the Magicians Trilogy. The SyFy adaptation is pretty good.

Sentence of the Day:

Eliot was not shit at horseback riding.

The Magician King, p. 6

Six Word Saturday: Walking with Anna on Rossglass Beach

We took off right after dinner, in a hurry to arrive at our destination before the sun went down. As soon as we parked, we began walking. We could see the outlines of the Mountains of Mourne in the distance. The sand was powdery and fine. The only other people on the beach were a group of teenagers daring each other to get into the freezing water.

I was wearing the wrong shoes: cloth sneakers. My feet quickly got wet, after the tide began coming in. Anna said she was going to visit friends who had a cottage on an island on the other side of the Mountains of Mourne. Wow! If I could find an Airbnb there, I’d go in a heartbeat.

Thank you to Debbie Smyth for hosting #SixWordSaturday on her blog, Travel with Intent.

Stay tuned.

Cee’s Flower of the Day: Narcissus

Self’s garden really got a boost in the pandemic. She had nothing much to do except garden, for over a year. Last fall, she bought a bag of daffodils and narcissus (about three dozen) and scattered all over her front yard. Her method: she’d grab a handful of bulbs and FLING! Then she’d dig holes where they landed, lol.

This flower just came up. All the others are your standard yellow, but this one, WOW! This is her Flower of the Day (FOTD).

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