Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Catching People Unaware (in England)

All gratitude to Cee Neuner, for a prompt that allowed self to share these pictures, taken during her latest trip. She’d never have thought of posting them otherwise.

Traveling in winter is hard, self didn’t know just how hard until she was in the middle of the trip.

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Blackfriar Train Station, London, November 2018

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The Millenium Bridge, London, November 2018

DSCN0092 Oxford Street Market, November 2018

Books for 2019 (After the 2018 Cambridge Literary Festival)

During the 2018 Cambridge Literary Festival, writers spoke and gave readings and fired up self’s imagination. Though the list below is heavy on British authors, their books are no doubt available here (in the U.S.)

  • Flights and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk
  • Holding and A Keeper, by Graham Norton
  • Building and Dwelling, by Richard Sennett
  • In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin, by Lindsey Hilsum
  • The Stopping Places, by Damian LeBas
  • What a Carve Up! and The Rotters Club, by Jonathan Coe
  • Hello World: How To Be Human in the Age of the Machine, by Hannah Fry
  • The Merchant of Syria, by Diana Darke
  • Seven Types of Atheism, by John Gray
  • The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak
  • We That Are Young, by Preti Taneja
  • Let Us Sing Anyway, by Leone Ross
  • Take Nothing With You, by Patrick Gale
  • On This Day in History, by Dan Snow
  • All Along the Barley, by Melissa Harrison
  • The Light in the Dark, by Horatio Clare
  • The Essex Serpent and Melmoth, by Sarah Perry
  • Ghost Wall, by Sarah Moss

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close-Up or Macro

Self loves posting for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. It gives her a chance to post photographs from her archives that might otherwise be overlooked. Such as the close-up of her bedside lamp at The Penn Club, where she stays whenever she is in London:

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Room # 1, The Penn Club: Bedford Place, London

Or this tea-set:

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London Review Cakeshop: Bury St., London

Or this amusing pair of socks:

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Gift Shop, Ashmolean: Oxford, England

Thank you, Cee Neuner, for the prompt!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Post On Self’s Last Sunday in London

Self is madly reading all the issues of The Guardian she bought in the last week. She thinks she’s making great progress: she’s now on Friday’s Guardian (30 November).

Her attention was caught by a list of The 20 Most Influential Films.

Rather than simply copy out the entire list, self will tell you that the # 1 Most Influential Film of All Time is The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The Second Most Influential Film of All Time is Star Wars (1977).

Third is Psycho (1960).

Fourth is King Kong (1933).

Fifth is 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Citizen Kane (1941) is just # 7.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is # 10.

Casablanca (1942) is # 11.

The Godfather (1972) is # 13.

Jaws (1975) — what a surprise! — is #14.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) is # 18.

Gone With the Wind (1939) which self was never into, is # 19.

Stay tuned.

Last Sunday in London

Self is in her room, reading a copy of The Guardian.

The trial of the “man who drove his car into a crowd of activists who  had been protesting against a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead and several injured,” has begun in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This morning, self returned to the Royal Academy of Art for a repeat viewing of the Oceania Exhibit.

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Royal Academy of Art: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She liked it even more, the second time around. She stayed watching the video for nearly an hour.

The little handout that accompanies the exhibit starts with:

Two-hundred and fifty years ago, in August 1768, four months before George III founded the Royal Academy of Arts, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook left Plymouth in command of the HMS Endeavour.

She remembers reading a book by Tony Horwitz: Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and, well, that book must have made quite an impression because it fixed Captain Cook’s voyage forever in her memory and now, 15 years later, here she is, in London, having seen the Oceania exhibit twice!

As she left the Royal Academy (still in a daze of cultural overload), she happened to notice that there was a store across the street called FORTNUM & MASON. And the display windows were so Christmas-y! She decided to check it out:

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Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

Self entered through a revolving door and promptly found herself in the middle of a mob scene the like of which she has never experienced in London. What she means: people were grabbing blue boxes of chocolates off shelves directly in front of her, and pushing them into shopping carts. Yes, dear blog readers. English people were pushing shopping carts around a store, the contents consisting entirely of chocolate. There were boxes of dark chocolate, boxes of milk chocolate, boxes of assorted chocolate, boxes of chocolate with nuts, boxes of chocolate with creamy centers — you name it.

Self decided then and there that she would not leave the store without sampling some of this delightful chocolate. A shopgirl told her to take a number. She was # 19. She then asked the shopgirl what were the most popular chocolate purchases, and the girl replied, without any hesitation: TRUFFLES. Caramel Salt.

OMGGGGGGG

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Chocolate Counter, Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She wanted to buy a box of chocolates for son and daughter-in-law, but didn’t know what kind they liked: milk chocolate or not? And this is when self bitterly regretted that her Verizon phone does not work. Has not worked for two months. In fact, Verizon just e-mailed self that she would not be able to avail of their international services. Thank you, Verizon, FOR TELLING SELF WHAT SHE ALREADY KNOWS.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Reading Svetlana Alexievich, After Returning from the British Library

Self saw the exhibit Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms at the British Library this morning. Despite the fact that she got there practically at opening, the exhibit was very crowded. And she is short. And all the people between her and the display cases seemed very tall. Nevertheless, she is glad she went. On one wall is a quote, dating from the late 11th century. Which is to say, after the Norman Conquest. She forgot to note the identity of the writer, but guesses it must have been a monk:

Nothing has gone well for a long time now. There has been harrying and hunger, burning and bloodshed.

She returned to her rooms and resumed reading Svetlana Alexievich’s oral history of Russian women soldiers: The Unwomanly Face of War. From the essay that begins the book (A Human Being Is Greater Than War):

‘Women’s’ war has its own colors, its own smells, its own lighting, and its own range of feelings. Its own words . . . And it is not only they (people) who suffer, but the earth, the birds, the trees.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Adventure: The Durham Cathedral

Today, self:

  • Nearly got hit by a red car in front of Hotel Indigo
  • Had a chocolate cookie with a marshmallow garnish in the Cathedral’s Undercroft Cafe
  • Saw the Durham Cathedral in LEGOs (It’s near the Gift Shop)
  • Saw a Pieta made of wood — amazing
  • Saw Hugh Easton’s RAF Memorial Window in the Durham Cathedral
  • Saw the Marks & Spencer Window at the Cathedral, which is in fact right next to the RAF Memorial Window, but did not cause her to say “Wowie”
  • Saw the relics of St. Cuthbert, including: his “pectoral cross” which was surprisingly small and delicate, a thing of amazing beauty (to imagine a 10th century man having a thing like that on his person, in the northern wilds, is pretty mind-blowing. It was gold and originally held a small ruby. And at the time St. Cuthbert was carrying that around, England was wild, and it was cold and dark, and there was no cathedral. Self is pretty sure he kept that cross well hidden) and the comb the monks used to brush St. Cuthbert’s hair and beard
  • Learned the name of the River which encircles Durham: the River Wear
  • Saw the grave of The Venerable Bede
  • Saw the Hellmouth (Sanctuary Ring) at Durham Cathedral: Anyone who grabbed onto that ring was guaranteed sanctuary for 37 days. Don’t ask self why 37.
  • Wondered why the Ladies’ Chapel, all the way at the back of the cathedral (almost a mile away from the pulpit, lol, wonder if they could even hear anything) was so cold. Much colder than any other part of the church (the parts with the men). Was it because proper ladies were expected to cover up in layers of material ???!!!

No pictures allowed inside the Cathedral.

Self did take a picture of her cookie.

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The Undercroft Café, Durham Cathedral: Thursday, 29 November 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: COLD (Traveling While)

It seems apt, the theme of this week’s Fun Foto Challenge from Cee Neuner: COLD.

Self is in northern England. In Durham. It took self three hours by train from London, via Peterborough.

Her train pulled into Durham just after dark. She saw a large cathedral. She realized this must be her stop.

Since she hasn’t begun exploration of Durham yet (it’s a very bleak morning), the pictures she’s posting are from her previous stop, Cambridge.

Cambridge felt arctic.

This was Bridge Street when self left St. John’s Chapel after the Advent Choral Service:

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Bridge Street, Cambridge: Sunday, 25 November 2018

And note the bundled up tour guide. Self was on a Cambridge Highlights Walking Tour. We stopped in front of the most fabulous clock.

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Corpus Clock, Cambridge: Friday, 23 November 2018

And, finally, Blackfriars Station in London. The previous night, self stayed in a hotel on Fleet Street so she could attend the Journalists’ Service at St. Bride’s.

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Blackfriars Train Station, London: Thanksgiving, 22 November 2018

Thanks as usual to Cee Neuner for the fabulous prompt.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Poetry Tuesday: Kayo Chingonyi in The New Statesman

Guy’s and St Thomas’ (an excerpt from the poem published in The New Statesman, 23-29 November 2018 issue)

When I’m here in a particular
character of mind
any woman of a certain height —
hair plaited neat
to meet the working day —
becomes my mother
in that year of early mornings
she worked at GDRU
close to this stretch of the river
close to Hay’s Galleria;
the aquarium that is still here
though she is not
to walk with me as we scrutinise
tropical fish
laughing in the uncomplicated
manner that comes
of understanding. And after,
a bankside stroll

Kayo Chingonyi’s latest book, Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus, 2017), won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Walk: Suggested by Missing, Presumed

A typical boy’s walk in Cambridge:

“. . . along Mill Lane to the news agent where he can buy pick-and-mix; to sit on the swings in Sumatra Road; to Fortune Green where friends from his school congregate in the park and scale the wire fence into the play centre. He is about to turn twelve, is well over five foot, and now walks to school alone.”

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