D-Squared T-Squared – Week 43

 

 

 

This past weekend’s creative endeavor was pasta, in honor of World Pasta Day.

 

Mister and I decided to make a pumpkin-ricotta stuffing for ravioli and we got to rolling. And stuffing. And eventually – eating.

 

Here’s the straight dope: it was okay. The pasta could have been thinner. The ravioli could have been smaller. (The giant pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter we used was a bit too big.) Even the brown butter-sage-balsamico sauce could have been, well, something.

 

 

In the end, everything simply was what it was and that was that. It was a lot of effort for a so-so dinner. And the experience might have caused some to stick to store-bought. But we’re not giving up. We think we can make better pasta and we’ll keep at it. I mean, it’s food. And food can be marvelous, delicious art, right? Right.

Punkin Time

 

 

As I’m about to dust off this recipe and make a batch for Halloween, I thought I’d remind you to do the same. Dorie Greenspan’s Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good is something I look forward to all year. And now I don’t have to wait much longer. Dorie Greenspan – how do I love thee? Let me count the calories…

World Pasta Day

 

 

Something or other is probably denoted on each day of the year as X Day or Y Day. To be perfectly honest, I don’t usually give a hoot about any of that. But today’s designation is something I can really sink my teeth into: World Pasta Day.

 

I think this began almost 2 decades ago, probably to encourage more global consumption of pasta. But I have to ask – do we really need to push pasta? Aren’t we all consuming more than our share? No? Just me?

 

I have lived most of my adult life thinking pasta was brought from Asia to Italy by Marco Polo, back in the 13th century. But I’ve recently read that pasta in Italy dates to Etruscan times, way before young Polo’s adventures. Believe it or not, this information has kind of thrown me for a loop. I mean, what else do I “know” that’s wrong?

 

My neurosis aside, I do love pasta and think that today I’ll get out the old pasta machine and make a fresh batch. Maybe I can enlist Mister’s help. Maybe we’ll even toast Marco Polo and the Etruscans. Yep. I’ll drink – and eat – to that.

Old

 

 

 

Recently I helped prepare dinner for women and children living in a transitional home in Los Angeles. These women come from every imaginable background, every imaginable circumstance. A particular group of volunteers – a group I’ve fallen in with – provide home-cooked food for this home once a month and it is greatly appreciated.

 

I had taken the food I’d prepared in a foil tray. In case there were leftovers, I wanted to be able to leave the food there without worrying about my dish. As the foil tray wasn’t the most sturdy, it was placed on one of my old cookie sheets – for support. I’ve had that cookie sheet over 25 years. It isn’t the prettiest kitchen goo-gaw, I admit. But it has supported far more than charitable goods through the years. It has held sweets and savories alike, and though it’s old and – I’ll just say it – ugly, it shows up when called upon.

 

Anyhoo – at the evening’s end, one of the volunteers turned to me and said, “You don’t want that cookie sheet back, do you?” I suppose she thought it was too pitiful to be of any future use. I think I must’ve looked at her like she’d sprouted an arm out of her neck. I said, “I absolutely do want that cookie sheet.” I picked it up and held it close, lest anyone think it was up for grabs. I was holding it close in the car, as we made our way back to our original meeting point. I kept it on the seat beside me as I drove home. Once there, I washed it and put it away – right next to the newer cookie sheets, where it waits until needed again.

 

I desperately wish I had some of Granny Vera’s old cooking gear. How I would love to think of her each time a particular skillet or chipped china cup might be pulled from a cabinet. But I have nothing from Granny’s kitchen. Aside from a few photos, I have nothing of Granny.

 

So my old gear will have to do. Lucky for me, it does quite well.

Eater

 

 

It’s no secret that I love food. More than mere sustenance, food is one of the greatest pleasures of life. Or rather, it can be. And dang it! It should be! But I digress… As a food lover, I constantly search for the best fill-in-the-blank around. Whether Thai street food, alligator sausage or a good ol’ cheeseburger – I want it to be delicious, y’all. It feels awful to spend time and money on bad food.

 

I know there are a plethora of websites out there, rating restaurants and dishes and providing info at the snap of one’s fingers. But I rarely use these, as I don’t always trust the reviews as being honest. There are far too many stories about fake reviews for me to deem some of these sites reliable.

 

Instead, I turn to Eater. And I love it. Not only am I signed up for Eater Los Angeles and Eater National posts, I also check Eater when I’m traveling. Most major US cities have a dedicated Eater section. And when Mister and I were in London recently, Eater London’s Heatmap was a godsend.

 

I tell you this for no reason other than to share information. If you eat out – ever – I encourage you to go to Eater, find your location and sign up for regular updates. Honestly, I’ve learned about so many new restaurants I can’t keep count. And some of the posts are just plain fun. For instance, last week there was a post about the best places for Mac and Cheese in Los Angeles. Mac and Cheese! That one broke me, as you can see from the above photo.

 

Again, I encourage you to try Eater for yourself. I rely on it more than I probably should. But you know what? I don’t care! I love it! Woo-hoo!

London – Heaven and Earth – A Wrap-Up

 

 

“Some moments that I’ve had,

Some moments of pleasure…”

Kate Bush

Moments of Pleasure“ from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

I’ve been writing about London all week now. And today’s post shall serve as a wrap-up. But first, our final day in London…

 

 

Just because we’d managed to eat breakfast the day before, we saw no reason to break from the path of deprivation on our final day. So we got up and readied for a trip to Highgate Cemetery. This was another of those places we’d likely never have gone on our own. But thanks to the dude who blogs at The Endless British Pub Crawl, we had traveled to London with this recommendation on our to-tourist list. And boy were we glad we had.

 

 

As one needs a reservation to tour Highgate Cemetery West, and as all reservations (at that time) were booked until October, Mister and I only toured Highgate Cemetery East.

 

 

It is truly beautiful, and I felt so at ease. (Honestly – if they offered a camping / sleepover sort of deal for the living, I’d sign up.) If all we’d done was simply walk through with no knowledge of anyone buried there, we would have enjoyed the morning. But we were given a handy-dandy guide upon entrance, so we were well aware of some of Highgate East’s residents. For instance, I fairly dorked out over Douglas Adams’ gravesite.

 

 

George Eliot is buried here also. For those who don’t know, George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans. She wrote Middlemarch and Silas Marner, among other works. Some think she’s buried in Westminster Abbey, but the plaque there is merely a memorial stone in “Poets’ Corner.”

 

 

I was also moved by Malcolm McLaren’s grave. His hands stirred the punk movement soup to a great degree (New York Dolls, Sex Pistols), and he also played a big role in ’80′s music (Adam Ant, Bow Wow Wow).

 

 

There were beautiful graves of folks I’ve never heard of, too…

 

 

And then there’s Karl Marx. I don’t know why this one surprised me, but it did. Hey – socialists gotta be buried, too.

 

 

After a few hours in the peaceful cemetery, we decided to head back into London proper. We definitely needed lunch and we had a destination in mind: Newman Arms.

 

 

We’d had this one on our to-eat-at list and were so grateful we fit it in. We each had pie and it was sublime. I would definitely go back to this joint.

 

 

After lunch, we figured we could get one more item ticked off our list: Westminster Abbey.

 

 

We have no photos of the interior, as photography is prohibited. But trust me when I tell you it is an amazing experience, simply to enter this structure. The history! Construction of the present church began in 1245, for cry-eye. And some mighty historical folks are interred here, friends: Elizabeth I, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Henry VII, Charles Dickens, George Frederic Handel, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Alfred-Lord Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Queen of Scots – big breath – and about a jillion others.  Coronations have taken place here since the 11th century and include Henry I (my distant relative), Henry VIII and the reigning Queen Elizabeth II. And if you caught any of that there Royal wedding in 2011, you got an eyeful of The Abbey.

 

 

Anyhoo, we walked around and saw as much as we could, then headed back to the hotel to pack up before the next morning’s flight. Once that task was handled, we went out for dinner (yep – 2 meals that day).

 

 

 

We were mostly quiet during dinner. I think we were processing the adventure of London. As vacations go, we’d done quite a lot. It was the first trip in ages where Mister wasn’t working or stressed about work. That made a huge difference in the experience – for both of us. Yes – I fell ill, but it could have been worse. The London Croup wasn’t a cakewalk but it wasn’t debilitating, either. Could we have done more while in London? Sure. (We certainly could have eaten more than one meal per most days, but I’m trying to forget that.) The truth is we had checked off a lot on our to-tourist list, and if we’d managed to slot in a few more activities, I’m afraid certain experiences would have suffered. Besides, now we have the beginnings of a new To-Tourist List – for the next time.

 

 

The next morning, we woke early, dressed and checked out of the hotel. We took the Tube one last time, then boarded Heathrow Express. Within minutes we were at the airport, bags checked and ready. We found ourselves one final Bacon Butty and we proceeded to the designated gate.

 

When I think about it, it would have been far easier if this trip never happened. Let’s face it – it was a big commitment. Time, money, energy – all those things were required in spades. Preserving those precious commodities would have been so much simpler. But that’s not what we chose. No, we opted to check an item off a Bucket List. To be perfectly honest here, I didn’t know I had a Bucket List until I made that middle-of-the-night Kate Bush-concert-ticket purchase. And once I realized the magnitude of what that meant, I was a bit thrown. Bucket Lists are for old folks, right? I mean, am I of the age where I need to start ticking things off lists, as I may not get another chance?

 

The short answer is yes. I am of an age. And thinking about this could attract a rain cloud above my head so fast as to make me dizzy. But as I’ve contemplated my Bucket List and what it means to own that, I’ve realized I’ve always had a Bucket List. I just never called it that. When I was 16 and wanted to skydive – that was a Bucket List item (checked off). When I was 20-something and wanted to experience Italy in all its wonder – that was a Bucket List item (checked off). I could go on and on with items both large and small. Some are checked off, others not. The younger me would simply think ticking off Bucket List entries is cool. Present me – the of an age me – is a bit more grateful. A bit more emotional about the gravity of life’s passing. I suppose that’s why Mister and I chose to take this big trip to London. We knew we may not get another opportunity for such an adventure.

 

 

This trip was amazing and there were multiple moments of pleasure. We got to see Kate Bush. Kate friggin’ Bush! We got to eat at one of the best restaurants in the world. We got to spend 4 1/2 hours touring all things Harry Potter. We walked in and out of history. We had exactly 1 argument (and only 1). For the first time, we felt like we understood The Underground. (We must have appeared confident, as we were constantly being stopped by other tourists with their direction requests.) In short, we loved London. And we loved each other. And while I will take many, many memories from this trip along life’s journey, I hope the memory topping that list is standing side-by-side with Mister, singing the final notes of “Cloudbusting” while Kate Bush directed us from the stage, just before she herself sang “The sun’s coming out. Your son’s coming out.”

 

 

London – The Weekend

 

 

“When I was a child, running in the night

Afraid of what might be.

Hiding in the dark, hiding in the street

And of what was following me…”

Kate Bush

Hounds of Love” from Hounds of Love

1985

 

 

When I woke Saturday morning, I was still floating from the joy of the previous day’s Harry Potter adventure. I was also still dragging from the London Croup. Mister had kept quiet so I could sleep in a bit, and I greatly appreciated that. But I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I was willing to try and muster up the energy to tick a few items off our to-tourist list, so I bucked up and put my big-girl pants on.

 

 

 

As it was post-breakfast and I knew I couldn’t handle one more day of skipping meals, I practically begged Mister to go out with me for a nice Indian lunch. The way I saw it, some hot, spicy curry might help the symptoms of my evolving London Croup. It was worth a shot, right? So we made our way to the Covent Garden area to Dishoom. When we walked in to find nearly half of the customers resembling folks of Indian descent, we knew we were in the right spot. After feasting on a lunch of amazing food, we were incredibly happy with our restaurant choice. If you’re ever in that area, I highly recommend Dishoom.

 

 

 

After lunch we walked and talked, taking our time. There was no place we had to be, so we simply roamed. At some point we decided to refer to our list of things we wanted to do in London.

 

 

Our next agenda item was The Courtald Gallery, located in Somerset House (which has a fairly interesting history in and of itself). This is one of those places we would never have known about, had my art teacher not recommended a visit.

 

 

It’s not as vast a gallery as The National Museum, but it’s still impressive. Now that I think about it, maybe the fact that it’s more manageable in scale is part of its attraction. We saw the whole joint and it was pretty danged cool.

 

 

From there, we walked in the direction of our hotel.

 

 

As we neared the hotel, Mister’s curiosity could wait no longer. You see, each day we would pass a pub called Bag O’ Nails and each day Mister wanted to go in. I wasn’t completely against the idea, I just thought it would probably be a little too touristy, as it was across the street from the Tube. (I do realize we ourselves were tourists.) As we were still fairly full from lunch and would not be ordering food, I said okay. So the Bag O’ Nails it was. Mister ordered a pint and I ordered tea – London Croup and all.

 

By the way, have I mentioned that I had my last drinks after the Harry Potter experience? I tried, thinking a bit of alcohol might serve a medicinal role. That didn’t hold true, however, and I was therefore off the drink. Sad. Sad, I tell you.

 

Back to the Bag O’ Nails. Mister had his pint and I had my tea and by then we’d both had quite enough. It wasn’t a terrible place, but it wasn’t grand, either. It was, however, checked off. And that meant a short walk to the hotel and sleep.

 

 

When Sunday morning arrived, I was more rested. I was also more ill. I mean really, London Croup! What the hell? Anyhoo, against all odds, Mister and I woke during breakfast hours. And we actually had breakfast! Can you imagine?

 

 

We ate and then walked around a bit before heading back to the hotel, via Buckingham Palace. Food had helped, but I was beat. I encouraged Mister to head out on his own, so as not to waste the day, but he’s not that kind of guy. He stayed in with me and we did a bunch of nothing. For reals. Just - nothing. We read a bit. We watched telly. We chilled. And it was awesome. By early evening, I was more rested, but also tired. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s how I felt. And I couldn’t have appreciated Mister’s willingness to let me off the hook any more than I did. Honestly, that day in felt like it saved my life.

 

 

At some point we thought to go out for dinner. It was one day before the official start of Autumn, but London seemed to have already crossed over. The air was crisp and the temperature dropped. We walked around the corner to our “local” – The Phoenix – for one last meal. As it was Sunday, we ordered The Roast (for 2) and dug in. For those of you keeping score, that meant we ate 2 meals that day. A record!

 

 

After dinner, it was still fairly early, so we opted to walk a new-to-us route back to the hotel.  There were some interesting sights along the way.

 

 

Back in our room, we made plans for the next day, knowing it was to be our last in London.

 

 

With full bellies, we settled in…

 

 

To be continued…

London – Big Night

 

 

“Take the stone out of the mango.

You put it in your mouth and pull a plum out.”

Kate Bush

“Eat the Music” from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

The morning after the Kate Bush show found us happy. Happy and famished. This one meal per day business was for the birds, I tell you. We pulled on some clothes and headed around the corner to The Phoenix, our temporary local, for breakfast lunch. Neither of us wanted to overdo it, as we knew we had a Big Night before us. And by Big Night I mean a spectacular dinner reservation. Once sustenance had been obtained, we got in a bit more tourist-ing.

 

 

After making our way to the Trafalgar Square area, we stopped in St. Martin-in-the-Fields church. Years ago on a London trip without Mister, I had gone there almost daily for the lunchtime concerts. I wanted him to see how beautiful it is. Musicians were assembled and rehearsing a bit of Vivaldi. It was lovely.

 

 

There’s just something about this church that’s relaxing and calming. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones finding respite within its walls.

 

 

We then moved over to the National Portrait Gallery. As the name implies, this museum is filled with portraits – the largest collection in the world. Some are traditional, some are contemporary. It was a gorgeous outing, but I have no pictures as photography was not allowed. Still, I’m glad we went. There were some amazing works and I learned a lot.

 

 

At some point we realized we needed to get back to the hotel to ready ourselves for dinner. Dinner! We had made the reservation 3 months prior. That’s right – 3 months. Is it a hot ticket? Yes. Worth it? Dear Lord, yes. Anyhoo, we made ourselves presentable and traveled the short distance to Hyde Park and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Here’s the gist: Chef Heston Blumenthal has unearthed a bevy of old and sometimes ancient recipes. He has updated them to suit today’s palates and ingredients and serves these dishes in his beautiful restaurant. It ain’t cheap, y’all. But for a special occasion, I highly recommend it.

 

 

We had talked it over beforehand and decided to really be present at dinner, and to focus on the meal (and each other). So we have only a couple of photos of food from the entire night…

 

 

This dish is called Meat Fruit and the menu describes it thusly: Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread. The original recipe dates from between the 13th and 15th centuries (!) and is super-fabulous. I first learned of this amazing starter a few months back when I read a beautiful step-by-step, with photos. The tutorial didn’t make me want to prepare this dish, but it did make me want to eat it. And eat it we did. With gusto.

 

 

By the end of dinner, I was so pleasantly plump that I wished for a wheel barrow to take me to the hotel. Since none appeared, Mister and I took the Tube back and were ready for beddie in no time.

 

It had been another privileged day, and it wasn’t lost on us. Just before nodding off, we remembered what the next day held…

 

To be continued…

London – Kate Bush

 

 

“And I can hear my mother sayin’

‘Every old sock meets an old shoe.’

Isn’t that a great sayin’?”

Kate Bush

Moments of Pleasure” from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

We woke to a new day and an anniversary. We knew we had the Kate Bush concert that night and were fairly bursting at the seams. But that wasn’t until the evening. Until then, there was time to tick an item or two off our tourist list.

 

 

As we’d slept in, we’d missed the appropriate time for breakfast. Instead, we set our minds to thinking about lunch. With that goal filed away, the two of us readied for the day and headed out. Our destination? Selfridges.

 

 

Mister and I have been watching the PBS-Masterpiece Theatre show “Mr. Selfridge” and we are hooked. It is now one of our “stories” and we’re not ashamed. While I knew of the store, it just wasn’t a place I’d ever wanted to visit during previous trips to London. But this time was different. Knowing a bit of the history of the place endeared it to us. What can I say? We wanted to see the house that Harry built. All in all, it’s a modern-day department store. It’s fabulous, of course, but it is a department store. The things we wanted to see were the clock outside and the ground floor. Some of it is original, but not much.

 

 

As we’d missed breakfast – again – lunch was in order. And since it was our actual anniversary, we decided to have ourselves a pretty sweet spread. And so we did.

 

 

After walking around the store and seeing most of what it had to offer, we headed out.

 

 

Now, our concert tickets held assigned seats. So there was no need to get there and wait for hours on end. But for some reason, I was keen to do just that. Mister’s cooler head prevailed, however, and we got there about 30 minutes before the doors were due to open. And yes, there was quite a queue. Everyone was so excited! People were smiling and appeared to be in great moods. Of course they were! We were all about to see Kate friggin’ Bush! And here’s something I noticed: the majority of the queue seemed to be male. Hmm. Anyhoo, a few minutes before the designated time, the doors were opened and the ticket-holders began filing inside. Hole-y doughnuts! It was happening!

 

 

The first stop for me and most everyone else was the merch stand. I had come on a mission not only for myself, but also for my friend Betro. She had requested a program and – get this – a piece of confetti. (For the record, I had no idea what she was talking about when she asked for confetti, as I had successfully avoided reading about the concerts before going. All I knew was that Betro had said, “Trust me – you want a piece of confetti.”) So Mister and I pressed toward the merch stand and did our best to be patient. With the exception of feeling a bit crushed by the enthusiastic throng, the process was pretty smooth. Again, you have to think about how excited we all were. This merch business wasn’t going to bring us down. Kate friggin’ Bush! When I was finally standing before the chick behind the counter, I was ready. I got programs for both Betro and us, t-shirts for Mister and for me and, because I couldn’t resist, I got myself a souvenir mug. I absolutely love it.

 

Once the merch had been acquired, Mister and I moved over to the bar for a cider. There was so much time before the show was scheduled to start and we were pretty amped. Frankly, the combination was hard to manage. I mean, unbridled excitement and patience are not BFFs. But sometimes you gotta buck up and settle down. And that’s what we did. We found our awesome seats and chilled. We watched the crowd and enjoyed everyone’s enthusiasm. The Eventim Apollo was fairly grand, too. A recent renovation has left the old gal gleaming.

 

 

As showtime approached, Mister and I noticed a group of folks being led in to stand against a nearby wall. We figured these were the fans we’d seen waiting outside, in a non-ticket-holder queue. Apparently there are a limited number of SRO (Standing Room Only) seats given out each night of the run. Those lucky few who made it inside were beaming from ear to ear, I tell you. And I doubt they ever tired of standing, either. Would you?

 

Anyhoo, after what seemed like an eternity… Wait. I guess when I think about it, I’d been waiting for this concert since I was 15. Not quite an eternity, granted, but quite a while. But I digress. So the house lights dimmed and we privileged few inside the theatre gasped in unison. It was time!

 

 

At this point, I’m going to tell you some of what I witnessed. I have no photos of the show, as Ms. Bush wanted her audience to focus solely on the stage and not on cameras or phones. (No worries on this front, however, as the show was being filmed. I’m thinking there’s a Live DVD in my future…) If you’re going to a show soon (there are a few more nights) and want to be surprised, stop reading now! Otherwise…

 

Though the stage lights hadn’t yet come up, we could see musicians taking their places and readying to play the first notes. With a bang, they did just that. The crowd roared! From house right the vocalists entered, in time with the music. And there she was! I could hardly believe it, but it was true. She moved in time with the music, taking her place at the center of the stage. The backing vocalists took their places, house left. Then Kate Bush opened her mouth and we heard that voice. It was as beautiful as ever. It was as strong as ever. It was, quite simply, as ever. “Lily” was the opening number and it was a bold – and for me, unexpected – choice. The song finished and we all jumped to our feet. After an appropriate applause break, we heard the 6 words all Kate Bush fans know and love: “It’s in the trees! It’s coming!” Yes, “Hounds of Love” was next.

 

I think that was the first time I cried during the show. I wasn’t blubbering or anything. I just felt happy tears easing down my cheeks. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

 

After another standing ovation, “Joanni” began. And though I have heard this song many times before, it was more beautiful than I remembered. Just as I was coming out of that song’s spell, “Top of The City” began. And if anyone in attendance questioned Kate Bush’s ability to hit those high notes, her performance of this song crushed all doubt. Chicken skin, I tell you! Chicken skin! I was in awe!

 

Then the drums started. Those drums, friends. “Running Up That Hill” swept over the crowd. And we loved it. “King of the Mountain” came next and it, too, was beautiful. Unbeknownst to most of us, that song signaled the end to anything resembling a traditional rock show. For next we were shown a darkened stage and a large screen. A short video followed, setting up the piece of theatre that was to be the remainder of the first half of the concert. And what a remainder it was! Basically, we were all treated to “The Ninth Wave” – side 2 of The Hounds of Love record (“And Dream of Sheep”; “Under Ice”; “Waking the Witch”; “Watching You Without Me”; “Jig of Life”; “Hello Earth”; “The Morning Fog”).

 

To say a spectacular Musical ensued would be such an understatement, friends. The sets were astounding. The songs were familiar and fabulous. I was so the smitten kitten! As were we all, y’all. The production of “The Ninth Wave” left me wanting for nothing. When the entire band and all the singers walked to the front of the stage for an acoustic version of “The Morning Fog” to close out the first half of the show, those happy tears made another appearance. At the song’s close, all the performers left the stage and a beautiful red curtain descended to hide the stage. Because I knew nothing of what the second half of the show might hold, I failed to see the significance of the feather on the curtain.

 

 

After the intermission, the second disc from Aerial – “A Sky of Honey” – was performed in its entirety. Again, another brilliant musical production was witnessed. And loved. At its close, Kate Bush took the stage alone. Sitting at the piano, she performed “Among Angels” from 50 Words For Snow. It was quiet, yet strong. And if the show had ended there, I would have left the theatre happy. But the show didn’t end there. Instead, all the performers rejoined Ms. Bush onstage and with no hesitation, they launched into “Cloudbusting.” I honestly thought the roof would fly right off the building. When the song was nearly finished, Kate Bush encouraged the audience to sing along. And did we ever! Even Mister was crooning, and that guy never joins in a sing-along. Kate Bush kept encouraging us and we kept going. Those joyful tears were flowing in full force. And I seriously doubt my eyes were the only ones expressing themselves. Finally, the song ended. Kate Bush profusely thanked her fans, then exited the stage. The house lights came up and it was over.

 

Mister and I made our way to the Underground and back to our hotel. Our excitement for the show had overshadowed the fact that we’d had only one meal all day. At the hotel, it was too late for proper food, so we snarfed bar snacks like crazed monkeys. We also talked about the concert and how we’d never seen anything like it, and likely never will again. We also realized how fortunate we were to have witnessed that show. It was amazing and we were there! I couldn’t get over it. I still haven’t.

 

To be continued…

London – Museum Day

 

 

“One more step to the top of the city, where just a couple of pigeons are livin’

up on the angel’s shoulders.”

Kate Bush

“Top of the City” from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

We arrived early evening on a Monday and sorted out everything belonging to that. Heathrow Express from the airport into town. The Tube to the area nearest our hotel. The hotel itself and unpacking. I was hesitant to admit it, but everything up until then had been so, well, easy. There were no incidents, no problems. Airport parking at LAX was easy. Checking in and boarding the plane was easy. The all-night flight itself was easy. Heathrow Express was beyond easy. We liked our room. Easy! After a light snack, we tucked in and tried to sleep.

 

 

Mister and I had arrived in London armed with a list of things we wanted to do. Some of the items were from our own brain holes, some were suggestions culled from various friends. With those plans in mind, the first day found us on foot, looking for The London Eye. This particular to-do had never been done by either of us during previous visits. But first, food. We had seen Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover – London” and knew what a taxi stand looked like. And by taxi stand, I mean a place for drivers to grab a bite. We spotted the green clapboard and headed over for a Bacon Butty. One each, please.

 

 

Once food was checked off the list, we continued across the Thames toward The London Eye. It was overcast and good weather for walking. Full bellies helped, too. But once we got to The Eye, we looked at each other and realized neither of us really wanted to get on the danged thang. It wasn’t cheap, but that wasn’t the deterrent. It would take quite a while to go all the way around, but that wasn’t it, either. I don’t know what to tell you. It just wasn’t our thing. Content that neither of us was depriving the other of a ride, we walked away.

 

 

Back along the Thames, Mister and I strolled and took our time. It was still pretty early, but the riverfront was coming alive. Street performers were getting their costumes readied. Mothers pushing prams began crowding the walkway. Restaurants and shops began opening their doors. We walked past the National Theatre, where a lovely statue of Laurence Olivier resides. And we also saw some street artists in the act of creating.

 

 

Just when we were starting to feel closed in by the growing crowd, we spotted The Tate Modern. I had been before but Mister’s Tate cherry was intact. We headed inside and succumbed to the amazing collection. I love The Tate Modern. There’s something about all that contemporary art being housed in one location that triggers a particular appreciation in me. It seemed to work for Mister, too. When we wound our way to the Mark Rothko room, I pulled Mister aside and said, “Look. The last time I was here, I had a religious experience. I’m going to leave you alone while you go in. See you in a bit.” And with that, he turned and entered.

 

 

Those Rothko works – The Seagram Murals – really get to me. I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it. But there’s just something about them, something that grabs my soul and doesn’t let go. The first time I saw them I cried. This time I was just quiet. No tears. The awe was still there though, and I marveled at how Rothko was able to paint such seemingly simple works – works more complicated than I can comprehend.

 

 

After a while we needed a break. So we headed up to the top of The Tate for drinks. The view was lovely and the drinks were pretty nifty, too. After all that museum-ing, it was good to sit. We talked about what we’d seen and what we wanted to do with the rest of our dwindling day. Once the drinks were downed, we made our way out and back across the Thames. Our intention was to walk through St. Paul’s Cathedral and get an eyeful of that. When we got there, however, we were too late. So we pointed ourselves toward our hotel and got to stepping. Once there, we realized we hadn’t eaten since the morning’s Bacon Butties, so we changed clothes, headed back downstairs and asked the doorman for a good local. That guy did us right, I tell you, and we walked the short distance to The Phoenix. The joint was hopping, and after a short time we understood why. Not only was it charming, it was also friendly with good food and drink. And being right around the corner was none too shabby, either.

 

 

Anyhoo, we drank and ate to our hearts’ content and then we walked back to the hotel. Though we were jet-lagging, we were wiped out from our fantastic day of being tourists. We got ready for bed and as we were falling asleep, we remembered our concert tickets. The show was the very next night…

 

To be continued…