Saturday, July 31, 2010


from wikipedia

An Oxford shoe is a style of leather shoe with enclosed lacing;
in other words,  dressy shoes in the US.

Heh!??!  JPE is more of a Merrell man or an ECCO kind of guy! Nevertheless, I don't see him getting a pair of "oxfords" any time soon...
BUT, we did see some "gray-haired" professor-type guys (riding rather rickety bikes) around OXFORD on our day-trip Saturday!!
Oxford ~ Keble College
OXFORD is located about an hour (by train) NW of London... Purchased a map from the TI  (tourist information) Center... the 11am tour was sold out, so we got our tickets for the 13:00 (1:00pm) tour - which was led by Danielle (a Belgian, with a thick accent, whose husband is a professor).
What we learned:
  • the University of Oxford is comprised of 38 Colleges
  • the teaching staff & students studying for a degree of the university are affliliated w/one college
  • in general, students attend "tutorials" with professors from their college BUT lectures, examinations & labs are run by the University of Oxford. 
A bit confusing, huh?

Danielle took us through Keble College (a beautiful, Gothic design, known by architects for their college chapel)...
  • each college has a chapel (chapel played a significant part of an Oxford education in the past, but is no longer required!)
Keble College, Oxford ~ Chapel

William Butterfield, (Keble's architect) refused to include any paintings inside the church, so a separate room was added for displaying a painting that was left by a patron of the college.

Keble Chapel is accented with mosaic tiled pictures & stained glass, not found in all college chapels.
  • The colleges have interlinked courtyards, with several having beautiful garden-like courtyards or statues in the center of the quad. 
Keble College had a very ordinary courtyard ~ It appears they may have spent their money on the chapel!
  • A professor has an office at their college & holds their tutorials on-site.
  • Students live on-site (too expensive, otherwise), study (each college has a library), socialize, (some colleges have bars) & dine together. 
Keble College, Oxford ~ Dining Hall
Keble College, Oxford ~ Dining Hall windows
Keble College, Oxford ~ Library
Pretty impressive huh??? an this is just one of the colleges in the Oxford University system. Several colleges were holding "Graduation" which is hosted by the University of Oxford - and happens here....
Bodleian Library

Friday, July 30, 2010


Royal Court of Justice - Strand St

Took a London Walk called 
"Legal & Illegal London"
check it out at:

Tour Guide (Angela) shared:
(the "Big Wigs")
preside over court

belong to one of four "legal societies"
(Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn 
or Gray's Inn)

deal with more complex legal (high profile or expensive) court cases 

don't have to belong to a "legal society"
deal with divorce, simple criminal cases etc

Each legal society has its own courtyard for their barristers
(including dining facilities, legal library, & offices)

the courtyards are "drop-dead" beautiful, quiet & difficult to find!?!

Angela took us to see...
Temple Church
Inner Temple & Middle Temple 
barristers & their families
are invited to attend the Temple Church
(sound familiar? remember reading about the 
Knights Templar in the Da Vinci Code?)

With all this "legal-speak" 
my eyes were starting to glaze...
but as we rounded the corner ~
the tour redeemed itself...

Judges & barristers purchase 
their wigs & robes 
from this shoppe...

you know the term

this is what the 
"Big Wigs" (judges) 
wear in court

(high legal attorneys) 
wear this

(in high school, any hairdo 
that was curled & off your shoulders 
was called an "UP-DO")

I'm just ITCHING to wear this!
(actually, thinking about wearing
ANY wig
on a humid or foggy day in London 
makes me itch)

 All this "legal mumbo-jumbo" 
is making me tired...

this cute pub sign
reminds me...

...if you need legal assistance,
make sure you pick a 
to win your case!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


WEEKWORD from London
I'm participating in 
stop by Hennie's blog
to check out the other bloggers
B - R - A - I - D

Does this qualify as BRAID?
Architectural BRAID
I think the "vertical" designs
in this church steeple look like BRAID!

Consumable BRAID
OR... when I was buying tea in
Covent Gardens
LOOK what I found...
a "tea" BRAID
I forgot to ask how to brew this tea !?#!

Window BRAID
 BUT... my favorite BRAID
was this
eye-catching, pastel window display...


check back again
for more posts from



Shakespeare's Globe Theater
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages."
 ~ William Shakespeare

Took the tube: Mansion House
& walked across the Millennium Bridge to

Shakespeare's Globe Theater

Top-view of Shakespeare's Globe Theater
M - U - S - E - U - M
miniature display of the original theater
timeline of Shakespeare's life & Elizabethan theater
costume, music & special effects displays

explanation of the rebuilding of the Globe Theater

T - O - U - R
explanation of theater vocabulary
what's a "groundling"?

explanation of seating areas
lower, middle, upper class
first three rows were in the sunshine

difference between new Globe & old Globe
NEW: lights for evening performance
OLD: males played ALL roles (even Cleopatra)

stage-hands setting up for Anne Boleyn
LOVED the tour & museum so much we
$$  purchased  $$
for August 7th matinee
performance of

view of stage from middle class section
I think we might qualify for 
M-I-D-D-L-E   C-L-A-S-S?

stage-hand in GROUNDLING seating


we'll experience

GROUNDLING = lower than lowest class
we will be front & center

Our "GROUNDLING" mates...
Shakespeare Globe pigeons

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


National Gallery tilework
OOPS! Was just putting my camera back into my bag when the museum guide whispered, (loudly enough for 8 people to hear) "NO PHOTOS!"... I noticed the posted sign, but thought it meant no pictures in the galleries?? Guess I was wrong!!

The National Gallery is massive! consider checking the website before visiting; you'll save yourself some time trying to locate your favorite artwork.

Highlights of our Gallery visit:

"Fakes, Mistakes & Discoveries" ~ paintings that Gallery curators, scientists and conservators have examined and their startling secrets about the "real" history of the paintings. JPE loves Renaissance art - follow this link to find out what we learned about Boticelli (one of his favorite artists)

"Acts of Mercy" Exhibit (by Frederick Cayley Robinson) ~ I thought this was a DUTCH painter but it turns out he's a Brit... this exhibit opened last week.

"Acts of Mercy" Exhibit

This painting was one of a group of four which illustrated the medical profession... in each of the paintings, the artist had included the flower print (located on the dress of the woman, standing to the left of the lamp) pattern to unify the different scenes.

This is another British museum that is F-R-E-E 

Looking down Whitehall

Upon leaving, you can't help but notice the AMAZING view from the front steps of the National Gallery! Looking down Whitehall ~ the street famous for offices of dignitaries, politicians AND the royal residence (10 Downing Street runs perpendicular to Whitehall) ~ in the distance you can see Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.... Of course, we noticed the rain clouds (dark, ominous clouds means RAIN to Californians), but the breezes were refreshing after yesterday's humidity.

Biker Dude
TRAFALGAR SQUARE was a HOTBED of ACTIVITY! the bikers were protesting! the Trafalgar roundabout is a major artery for traffic & we watched as motorcyclists clogged the normal flow of traffic... 

Apparently, they were protesting a "PARKING TAX" that was being imposed on mopeds & motorcycles. 

Police were getting pretty frantic watching the traffic piling up! the motorcycles were moving with the "flow" of traffic - there were just so many of them that it prevented the buses, taxis and cars from entering the roundabout.

Clogging the Trafalgar roundabout

We didn't stay around to find out what action the police took... BUT walking up the street, we counted 11 red, double-decker buses at a standstill & the people were getting off and running to catch the nearest tube home!!!

Tomorrow morning, we'll pick up a copy of the newspaper! which is F-R-E-E!! you can pick up a copy outside the tube station...

Did you notice I mentioned F-R-E-E more than once in this posting???

SOMETHING ELSE that is F-R-E-E....


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The Tea House ~ Covent Gardens, London
This morning, JPE took the Piccadilly line to get tickets for the theater production, WAR HORSE...  he took off without an umbrella, but arrived home "dry as a bone" missing the 20 minute "pelting rainstorm" during his tube ride back to our flat. Lucky guy!

JPE's friend met us for tea at 15:30 (3:30pm) - Antony was in London for a business appointment (lives in Brighton - a 60 minute train ride south of London). It was a real treat to meet with a local for tea! Discussed the differences between US & British medical system, schools, holidays, taxes, employment, living conditions... and his suggestions for sights to see in London. We're finding tea time is a great "excuse" to stop & chat... read a book... or just relax. I can see why Brits think Americans are too busy!

We discovered the Bramah Museum of Tea & Coffee is closed for refurbishing, so we paid a visit to The Tea House in Covent Garden... this tiny, two-story tea shoppe is packed floor to ceiling with "anything" related to tea (books, teapots, tea cups, tea cozies-to keep your tea warm, tea filters/strainers) ~ the owner even creates & packages her tea... after smelling about a dozen tea blends, we made a purchase of the "Strawberry Green Tea" ~ which smells yummy! 

tea flower
I was intrigued by the adorable tea flowers ~ the back of the package reads "Revelation Flower Tea is a hand-made ball of Jasmine scented white tea leaves that open & expand in water ~ revealing an intense pink amaranth flower." I'll try to get a good pic of the tea flower at "tasting time" tomorrow...

Our theater performance started at 7pm so we walked three blocks to the New London Theater - the evening had turned muggy & the air was heavy, so we were thrilled to feel the air conditioned theater!

... it's difficult to describe WAR HORSE, but it's the story of a young boy & his love for a horse that is taken away to serve in the First World War.

Click on the production trailer here: 
The truly amazing part - you would forget the horses were NOT REAL, but actors moving the skeleton of the horse puppet, and creating ALL the noises a horse makes...  watching three actors coordinate the movement of the horses rear & front legs with the head movement took incredible coordination & grace - similar to a choreographed dance!!!  

Words can't describe this performance!!! I know you'll love the trailer!


Italian Renaissance plate detail ~ V&A Museum
If you've visited my blog, you may have seen several of my WEEKWORD postings.

Stretch your imagination! Meet new bloggers! Have visitors to your blog! Best of all - it's FREE!!

This week's word = BRAID
If you have a "creative" idea for the word BRAID... visit my friend's blog to let her know you'd like to participate. She'll post a link from her site to yours. Then post "your interpretation" to YOUR blog no later than Friday at midnight... 

Don't forget to email her....

I'm off to look for my interpretation of "BRAID".... from London (yippee!)

Monday, July 26, 2010


Big Ben Skyline

OWWW! my tootsie's are screaming... give me a rest!

Met Hilary for a London Walks tour of Westminster Abbey. More information about their walks  Of course, we could have stood in a queue (line) for 45 minutes before getting in... but having a Blue Badge (strict requirements - like of like a teaching credential) & highly educated Historian was our choice for an Abbey visit. Photos inside the Abbey (as well as most other churches, cathedrals, places of worship) is forbidden... I did purchase a couple of postcards to remind me of the gorgeous "lace work" vaulted ceiling in the Lady Chapel.

window detail of Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is famous as a burial site for famous Brits (such as Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I & Mary I), poets (Geoffrey Chaucer), historians, politicians & musicians. Many of these famous people are memorialized here, but buried elsewhere... and some were buried here against their wishes! Hilary described the 6 month set-up (& 3 month take-down) logistics for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953 & showed us the coronation chair (which is currently having the gild/gold work restored). This coronation was televised ~ but reminded us, TVs at that time were small (computer laptop screen size) black & whites. Although Hilary didn't mention it, Westminster Abbey was the site for Princess Diana's Memorial.... It rained while we were on our inside tour, so we lunched in the Abbey corridor before leaving...

Gargoyle at the Abbey
Here's an "addition" to my gargoyle "collection"... I'm amazed that so much effort goes into carving "rain spouts" - I wonder who gets this job? an apprentice? a highly skilled craftsman?

Outlining the brass rubbing
Our next stop - St Martin-in-the-Fields (a 20 minute walk) located just off Trafalgar Square. In the crypt of this Gothic church, there are clean bathrooms (sometimes difficult to locate), a cafe (more about that later), a gift store, and brass-rubbing center.

Rubbings ranges from 6.50 - 19.50 lbs ~ or $10-30.

Brass Rubbing
After selecting several Celtic designs (easier to transport home; cheaper to frame), we found a seat next to two Brits (a grandmother & her 7 year old granddaughter)... first you rub the outline of your design... then you lay your bronze rubbing stick (other colors - blood red, blue, silver) on its side & rub away. I LOVED this activity... and would consider going back to do a larger block print!

This church is famous for their concerts - but also reasonably priced food at the church cafe... the concerts, rubbings & cafe support the church!

In addition to picking up a concert schedule, we decided to try a "spot" of afternoon tea.... Oh my gosh - I don't really know how "clotted cream" is made, but it's exquisite on scones & a dollop of jam... we're definitely paying another visit to the St-Martin's Crypt Cafe ~ for a lunch & concert (& another "spot" of tea).

Headed to the theater district to find the location of the "cheap" (oxymoron?) theater seats... there are several productions we are considering... Mama Mia, Jersey Boys, Billy Elliott, The Mousetrap (an Agatha Christie thriller) and War Horse (a puppet-driven production)... best tickets purchased the day of the event!! Next up - Waterstone's Book Store (Piccadilly Circus area).

Piccadilly dudes
Piccadilly Square swarmed with activity - mostly people watching, gawking, and picture taking. One of London's touristy spots, it was named for the picadils (fancy ruffled shirts) made in the neighborhood long ago. I think the fancy ruffled shirts left in the 60's... I shot this pic of two "Piccadilly dudes" from across the street. Grainy pic - but I wasn't willing to pay $3 to snap this pair...  standing in the middle island, waiting for the light to change - I snapped a quick one before heading into the bookstore for some quiet browsing.

Scones + clotted cream + jelly
A 10 hour day - didn't eat dinner until 20:15 (8:15pm)... Fell asleep dreaming of this....

Sunday, July 25, 2010


St Paul's Cathedral
Grabbed the Circle Line (tube: Sloane Sq to Mansion House). Attended the Sunday Service  (11am) at St. Paul's. Double feature today: listened to Mozart's Mass in C minor performed by the City of London Sinfonia and Cathedral Consort & a sermon. Coincidentally, the sermon was given by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, Katharine Schori. Great way to experience this breath-taking structure. It has the second largest dome in the world, second only to St. Peter's in Rome. A visit to the church + the "recommended tour" costs  $24. (pretty hefty price), which can be avoided if you attend a service! You can gawk at the structure of the church during the sermon!! (posted by JPE)

After lunch, we strolled to the Victoria & Albert Museum, a brief 5 minute stroll from our flat! Great way to spend an afternoon! Another bonus: it's F-R-E-E! so we plan to drop in whenever we have a couple of unstructured hours (do I sound like a teacher?) 

We spent our time in the Medieval & Renaissance Gallery... in addition to the information kiosks, there are several "hands-on" exhibits to keep the youngsters entertained. JPE tried on this piece of armor -  calling it the "Medieval" version of brass knuckles. Looks ominous, huh??

We'll let you know what other artifacts grab our attention on our next visit to the V&A...  If you want to take your own tour of this museum, check our their website 

Click on the "Things to Do" section on the left hand side of the website. "The World Beach  Project" looks intriguing! Check it out! we're planning to do this when we get home!!! 

Tomorrow we are taking a London Walks tour of Westminster Abbey...

Saturday, July 24, 2010


NottingHill & Portobello Market ~ ALL pics taken 7/24/10

JPE & I walked the length of the Portobello Market (5-6 blocks) in NottingHill today!!

No sign of Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts coming out of the

If you went to the Portobello Market
what would you BUY?

A beaded purse?
 A "dust-collector" for your bookcase?
some sausage for your dinner?
antique silverware?
a souvenir t-shirt?
a stem of "perfect" tomatoes
or some billiard balls?

these "luscious" pears...

a souvenir magnet of a

(oh!! some postcards, antique buttons, &
cherries, grapes & bananas)

We ATE...
German bratwurst w/grilled onions
(NO fish n' chips yet!?)


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