Poetry About the Bloomsbury Hotel, London

They give poetry books to each guest, which is how self happened upon this poem by Jo Shapcott:

New commission

It’s a hot night. We walk our wheelies from the tube.
The brick walls seep warmth. On the way we smell shop-
flowers through the traffic, hear church bells, loiter
in the odd sweet spot until we’re here, looking up
at a paradox of double steps. Still curbside, we sense
that if there’s a muse of stairways, she lives here,
inside these buildings made of red brick and rain.
Through the doors and we’re inhabiting a chandelier
or library or a chapel or a cave, and our minds flash and glow
with noises, words and tastes until our hearts have softened
inside our bodies and when we leave, the street is silk under
the lamps.

Matthew Hopkins, Witch-Hunter

In the 1640s, a self-designated witch-finder named Matthew Hopkins “toured the counties of Norfolk, Essex, Hants, and Sussex, in quest of witches.”

In one year he brought no fewer than sixty to the stake.

Method of detection: “swimming”

  • The right thumb of the suspected person was tied to the toe of the left foot, and vice versa. She was then wrapped in a blanket and placed on her back in a pond. If she floated — which we are told was generally the case when placed carefully upon the water — she was guilty, and was burned forthwith; if she sank, she was innocent.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

Only the preposition “she” is used, throughout this section. Self can only assume this means: No male witches, ever.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

BATH: Magnificent Order

And self does mean magnificent.

The Royal Crescent in Bath takes her breath away. Even after seeing it for the third or fourth time.

The shape is an ellipsis cut in half. Who thought of this curved shape? So perfect. It’s almost mystical.

The architect (whose name self immediately forgot) was inspired, according to the guide on the walking tour, by the Roman Coliseum (which is itself elliptical. Really? Self never knew!)

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Royal Crescent

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Royal Crescent No. 1 (Royal Crescent Museum): Self is so happy that this woman came out of the entrance just as self was getting ready to take this shot.

Self had been on the Grand Parade, many times. But she never looked over the bridge to the river below. She finally did, yesterday, and — GAH! Rapids! Who would have thought?

Only after looking at the river for several moments did she realize that the gulls were walking on the edge of the top rapids. Grand illusion! And there are kayaks over there!

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The River Avon from the Grand Parade

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: The Borgias’ Poison of Choice

  • Their method . . .  was to administer arsenic to a boar, and, so soon as the poison began to take effect, hang the animal up by the heels. Convulsions supervened; and a froth, deadly and abundant, ran out from his jaws. It was this froth, collected into a silver vessel, and subsequently transferred to a bottle hermetically sealed, which constituted the liquid poison.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

#amreading: About Ancient Egyptian Incense

  • A recipe for its preparation is contained in the Ebers papyrus, and Ebers says that three different varieties were made up by L. Voigt, a Berlin chemist. That from the formula of Dioscorides was the best. It consisted of resin, wine, Galangal root, juniper berries, root of aromatic rush, asphaltum, mastic, myrrh, Burgundy, grapes, and honey.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

#amreading: About the Frog Who Turns Out to Be Something Else Trope

  • . . .  there is another very ancient Hindu legend, wherein Bheki, the frog, is a beautiful maiden who consents to wed a King on the extraordinary condition that he shall never show her a drop of water. Being faint, on one occasion, she is said to have asked for water, and he thoughtlessly giving her some, she immediately disappeared.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

Still More Evanescent: Paris Day Trip

Today self and her niece Irene went on a one-day tour to Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte and Chateau de Fontainebleau. The guide’s name was Laurence: she was great.

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte came first. OMG, that estate is just fabulous. It’s privately owned. The main buildings are open to the public; no sign of the family that owns the place, but hey, imagine giving birthday parties there! Must be soooo fun!

At some time in its fabulous past, the estate was in the hands of the same family for eight generations. The last heir murdered his wife so he could be with his mistress, was convicted and imprisoned, and committed suicide in his cell, a year later. Payback’s a bitch!

His chef invented the praline.

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A Photo Shoot Was Happening at the 17th Century Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte! Self was so woke!

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Windows, Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

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More Windows at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte: Self took so many pictures there that by the time the tour arrived at Fontainebleau, her camera battery was exhausted. Ugh!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

HERITAGE: “My” Globe, Last Night

  • This week, share a photo that channels a living tradition, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

This is her second post on HERITAGE. She deleted the first one, pictures of the Imperial War Museum. For the first time in forever, that post got 0 likes, go figure.

Self watched (last night) a kickass production of Twelfth Night, directed by Emma Rice, who’s departing the Globe after just two years at the helm. As a tribute to Ms. Rice (who famously told the Guardian two years ago: “Being childlike is underrated. It takes commitment.”) Self thinks this would be an appropriate time to share why she loves the experience of watching a play at the Globe, so much:

It’s so London. And London is a city absolutely buzzing with energy. Especially at night. Every year since her first Globe play (2014’s bloody Titus Andronicus), she watches at least one play at the Globe.

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Last Night: Heading home in a cab after watching “Twelfth Night”

At intermission, she heads straight for the wharf. This is the view:

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The Thames, Seen From Behind the Globe

It is an essential part of her Globe theatre-going experience.

Self still remembers her first sight (up close) of the Millenium Bridge. Her jaw dropped. She had no idea — no idea — that London had become this cool place. That was the moment when self fell in love, really fell in love with the city:

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The Millenium Bridge connects the South Bank to Saint Paul’s.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Reflecting: Seeing “Mayerling” Last Night

The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week is REFLECTING.

Can self just say she arrived sick and barely able to keep upright. But damn — the Royal Opera House!

Seeing it for the first time was — awesome.

Plus, the adjoining bar/restaurant: All that glass! All that light!

Perfect for this week’s Photo Challenge!

Before the start of the ballet, self dashed to the bar to order some hot tea. She wound up sharing a table with an American woman, a ballet aficionado who has season tickets to the New York City Ballet and watches “thirty ballets a year. At least.” Self confided that she wasn’t feeling well and might leave during one of the intermissions.

And the womans said: The pas de deaux in Act III are spectacular. Don’t leave.

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The Bar at the Royal Opera House, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 13

And then, the interior of the Royal Opera House itself:

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Waiting for the beginning of Kenneth Macmillan’s beautiful, stunning ballet, “Mayerling”: Saturday, May 13

More of the Royal Opera House Bar. At intermission, self went up an escalator to the “Bridge” over the bar, from which she got a jaw-dropping view of Covent Garden, at 8 p.m.:

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Center Top, the “Bridge”: A side escalator takes you to it, and from there you can see all of Covent Garden. SPECTACULAR. Especially at sunset.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Danger!: WARNINGS

Self must admit, this past week’s Photo Challenge — DANGER! — has been tricky. She’s decided to keep her interpretations straightforward and focus on signage or warning symbols.

  • Detail of a nautical map in the Time Traveller’s Bookshop, Skibbereen, West Cork: This is one of the most intricate maps self has ever seen. But of course, it had to be. Lives depended on the correct soundings.
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Detail of Nautical Map Showing, Self Thinks, West Cork

  • A Sketch by Bernadette Burns, Artist from Sherkin Island, off Skibbereen, West Cork: It’s a study for a work-in-progress.
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Bernadette said she did this “for fun”!

  • London City Airport attached this to self’s suitcase, when she was on the way to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in March. Self’s suitcases are always heavy: they’re filled with books. One Irish cabbie dubbed self “a book addict.”
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London City Airport attached this warning label to one of her suitcases, last March.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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