London April 2018 – Day 3

I’m having a lot of fun with British cookery books for vegans. It is s bit like the Great British bake off finals here, as with sometimes 8 people in the house, there are vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, carnivores and pastavores to accommodate. Arthur, a friend from Wales who is staying, and I are running the kitchen and cooking huge feasts. I love going to Waitrose the supermarket because there is so much variety and so many vegan options. Found a fabulous plain coconut yogurt with no sugar that I wish I could have shipped back to Nevada. Also discovered that I love Whetabix now and that, with berries and spinach, goes on my coconut yogurt. Jacket potatoes (baked potatoes for my Yank friends) with salad and sauted mixed vegetables is a great meal. Overnight oatmeal with almond milk (all the way from an orchard about 50 miles from my house in Nevada) with apples, cinnamon and pecans is my main breakfast. Not as hard as I thought to pass up my favorite British biscuits (cookies) and the lovely fresh breads. Last night I made a stir fry and fried rice to use up all the miscellaneous veg left in the fridge and counted 17 vegetables in the mix. Turned out pretty great.

Tonight trying out some Thai recipes with a coconut lime soup.

I think I must be hungry as I have said nothing about shopping at Mark’s & Spencer’s, Boots the chemist (pharmacy) and the thrift shops along high Street. (Where I found a fantastic blue sweater and gray trousers!)

Tonight my godson has rehearsals for the plays (multiple!) that he is producing. Tomorrow we all go to fill the seats and see his genuis in the evening. During the day I will do my traditional wander around London tourist sites while my friend is in her pottery class.

Friday is my birthday (55!!)

and a play in the West End is my idea of the perfect birthday present. Cannot wait!

Beautiful weather do we are meeting up here in a few minutes and then going out to find a sunny spot for lunch before the afternoon drizzle.

London March 2018 – Day 2

Woke this morning to a delicious drizzle and my friend’s wonderful garden. Sat in the window seat and watched the early morning rowers on the Thames.

Breakfast is fun and crazy with 7 people in the house. Once the boys were off to school, we sat in the library and talked for hours while we did needlework. I’m learning to knit as it doesn’t seem to bother my

Then off to the Red Lion in Barnes for a gastropub lunch. Wonderful food and company, then back for more dedicated hanging out and a walk round Wandsworth Park.

London March 2018 Trip – Day 1

And she’s off!

Long traveling days! Drove to Modesto and stayed with lovely friends and got to catch up. So much going on – must force them to come and visit. May resort in kidnapping their awesome dog – that will bring them!

Drive to San Francisco was mostly uneventful. Some traffic so got to my off airline hotel parking spot (buy ahead on my spot to save $280!!) To snag THE LAST space. Scary!! Technically I was too late to process through and get the 8:30 shuttle but the travel gods did not let me down and s I ran back around with my one (tiny) bag, I was able to step onto the shuttle as the door was closing!

Super early at the airport so when I discovered WOW doesn’t participate in TSA pre-check I didn’t panic. Made friends with a woman taking WOW to Reykjavick with me but going on to Paris. We had lunch together at a great Mediterranean restaurant where I was able to find a vegan and sugar /flour free meal. Gotta love SFO!

WOW airlines, despite the bright purple/fuschia color scheme was great. Lots of leg room in the middle. I sprang for the upgraded $5 window seat and slept for 9 out of 10 hours.

Keflavic airport was nice even at 4 am. Had a fabulous coffee in Iceland, shopped for souvenirs and still had plenty of time to get my 6:30 flight to London. Was so prepared for delays, but landed smack on time – both flights. I don’t even care if the return flight is late!! +Probably just jinxed myself!)

London Gatwick was a very long wait for customs and a bus to the train station. No trains on Sunday – who knew? Due to work on the lines. The lucky bit was I got the front seat on the double decker. (No luggage to speak of so I could go upstairs!)

Crowded but easy, fast and cheap connection from Redhill to Clapham Junction and then made it onto the next train to Putney leaving just three minutes after I got there. Walked down the High Street, enjoying the sights and sounds of being back in one of my favorite cities in the world.

Then the best part – my friend opening to door, huge hugs and then talking nonstop over cups of tea with her and the boys and her neice.

Later walked back to the shops with one strapping boy to carry the bags. Loaded up on Bright Line foods for the week! Made some veggie side dishes to go with dinner. And discovered a sugar free coconut yogurt that is to die for! Wish I could find this in Nevada.

Started to fade before dinner but made it to 8:30 before I crashed. Meant to call Free and Jacob but fell asleep waiting for my phone to charge and reboot. Sorry my love!!

I feel as if I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday talking to anyone who would listen about my amazing husband and son.

I am so blessed. My heart is filled with such gratitude for having them in my life. I miss them already! A week is a long time but I can probably manage to make it through – there’s bound to be something to distract me in London!

Travel Thoughts

The past month has been a whirlwind. When planning, it seemed as if a week was a long time in each major city, but in reality, the time has always raced by as we tried to see as much as possible, while taking time to relax and get a feel for each city and country.
We have eaten out a lot more than planned, but have tried to shop and cook breakfast whenever we had a kitchen. Sometimes we are organized enough to make sandwiches for a picnic lunch, but more often we look for a cafe or snack bar to sit and eat and rest our feet. Some times we are lucky to find wifi and can get messages and upload a few pictures. We keep planning to find an internet café and upload all the pictures, but so far, this mythical day off has never arrived.

We still have chores and everyday things that we have to do. Right now we are lucky to have a washing machine so we have clean clothes drying on the rack by the window. We shop for sunscreen and toothpaste and soap when we run out unless we are lucky to find it in our hotel or b&b or airbnb rental. Jacob needs a haircut soon and I am trying to decide if I keep pushing my hair back or have my bangs trimmed.
Each morning we tidy up and make the beds and wash our breakfast dishes. We turn off the lights, unplug the appliances and shut off the air conditioner before we go out.

Everyday stuff.

Jacob and I have had some arguments – mainly over how much research I thought he should do and how much he thought he should do. I need to let that go and accept that I have a need/desire for more details than he does. It is silly to have the same argument once a week. (At this point it happens when he gets impatient with me for stopping to look something up in a guidebook.) Those who know me are laughing because I have always been the one to wander through a city, site, museum or whatever and just absorb it, then maybe read about it later. Of course, I missed a lot doing that and I don’t want Jacob to miss the good bits! (Or me!)
We miss home which to us means Fred and our friends and our dogs. Jacob manages to find a dog every day or so for his “fix”, but he still misses Brin.
Fred and I text most mornings and some evenings when I can stay awake. It reminds me of the emails we sent when we were first dating. He writes great messages. Very detailed with lots of emotions and gestures and body language coming across. I have always loved that.
We have been lucky health wise and except for some blisters and chaffing very healthy. Our feet and legs ache at the end of the day and the beds are (for the most part) like sleeping on stone.

Sometimes our lodging is great, mostly it is okay as we don’t spend much time there. Only once has it been terrible but it was only two nights and has made us appreciate the okay places more.

We find we. are not very picky about our food, so we are generally focused on how inexpensively we can go from hungry to not hungry. We have very low expectations because Fred is such a great cook that we almost never have food that is better than his. This means when we do have something great, we are pleasantly surprised.
Budget wise we are close to plan. Some cities seem to be more expensive than others. We are not skimping on sites or museums or other attractions, but do walk more and eat on the cheap, plus have booked cheapest travel and lodging available as long as it looked safe.
With the halfway point coming up, we are getting a routine for packing up and moving on, then arrival and moving in each time.
We don’t get much news unless someone is worried about us (Fred) when a tragedy like Nice occurs. We try to stay aware and safe, but life is good living, not hiding in fear. There have been a few stressful moments. But tthere have been more truly magical moments: showing Big Ben to my son. Sneaking him a sip of Guinness while listening to Irish music in a Dublin pub. Seeing the Acropolis bathed in afternoon sunlight. Walking the streets of Oia above the caldera. Floating in the teal waters of Crete. The Colosseum rearing up against a deep blue sky. The glory of a baroque church. The first taste of real gelato.

Life is good.

Not Near Nice, France

It is hard to describe how it felt to learn of the tragedy when we arrived in Rome yesterday. Glad to be safe. Wondering if we should go home. Heartbroken for the families and friends left devastated. We are staying near the Vatican for a week, then off to Florence.

Our prayers are with Nice.

Lightening our load

We thought our backpacks were as light as possible, but now that we are in the Mediterranean, we realize we don’t need about ten pounds of jackets, sweaters and misc stuff that seemed essential in London ( where we already left about ten pounds!).
Shipped a box back to London to wait for our arrival at end of August. Best $50 we could have spent!
(It beats the donkey luggage service!)

Long Night

Saw wind turbines in the sea as we came into view of England. Nice glimpse of the cliffs along the coast but then cloud cover all the way into Gatwick.
Jacob and I were the only ones excited that it was rainy and cool!
Westjet from Vancouver was long but awesome crew and plane. Only problem was the lights in our section were stuck on all night. Even with a sleep mask it was hard to sleep. So our first day in London will be a long one in many ways as the Solstice is right around the corner.