Tuesday, May 30, 2023

London: Day 5

Day 5 in the UK.  Aeryn was wearing out and was sick of us and took off to the London Zoo.  I mean, wouldn't you be sick of us too? I was sick of me, and I'm my own best company.

Pooteewheet and I hoped on a train at Waterloo and made our way to Hampton Court.  About as far as you can go with an Oyster Card without having to shift to real train tickets is my understanding.  I was in Hampton Court over thirty years ago. If I remember correctly, parts of it were still sealed off because of the fire.  So I was able to see more of it this time, and even have lunch in their cafeteria.  Something nice about eating British food in a castle dining hall surrounded by others.  Not exactly the early medieval experience, but closer than not.

So much booze.  We talked to a tour guide outside for a while.  She was great.  Told us about the only time they actually felt the need to arm the battlements [during one of the rebellions under Edward I wrote about for my master's thesis, although that tidbit wasn't in any of my books].

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My inlaws used to have a "time out kid" that had no face and was "art" in the corner of the room.  Apparently they were way more into history than I suspected. I don't know this guy's story.  Missed beer time?
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A courtyard garden.  It had several of these statues.  I assume this one is the dragon St. George defeated as that was part of the Tudor iconography.
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Sometimes realism isn't really necessary.  No one would have missed horse buttholes in their paintings if they hadn't been there in the first place.
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One of the stairways dwarfing Jen.  Did she have a crutch yet in any of the other photos?  It's a permanent fixture for the rest of vacation.
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Outside I found my way to the center of the maze.  There's an easy exit, so with no one around I went and found Jen and brought her back in that way.  I got more lost in reverse than I did coming in the proper path.  Regardless, this is a photo of a cheater.
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Me trying to selfie in the maze.
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Wasn't exactly rocket science.  I remembered that from last time.  But it's a pretty maze and you're obviously walking where many historical figures walked.
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We managed to catch a mini-production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I think this was supposed to be both Queen Elizabeth AND Titania.  Doh...I'm out of order again.  We'll some back to the play in a few photos.
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Me just prior to the play looking like I stole the place from Cardinal Wolsey.
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Ouch.  I wasn't sure, but this may be a sculpture of Cleopatra, although that whole nipple biting thing vis a vis her is supposedly false.  Ah...yep.  https://bbookproject.com/2019/12/28/cleopatras-breast/
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Apparently getting bit in the nipple by snakes leads to Snake Baby Cherubs. Who knew.
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You could cook a lot of Scotts in these fireplaces.
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Back to the play.  I was selected to play Oberon, King of the Fairies.
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I joked that this may be my new LinkedIn profile photol
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A selfie by Jen at the front of the castle.  We spent the whole day there.  Pretty much open to close, and we were even in the city longer than that, having some dinner before we hopped the train back Waterloo and Willesden.  We barely made the maze.  Didn't get to the larger restored gardens.  And didn't take a boat tour.  Not to mention, I hear if you're there at the right time you can catch a big name concert at the castle.  That has got to be wild.
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Sunday, May 28, 2023

I am filthy...

Oh nos, some of my posts have been reported.  One of them for simply using the phrase "glory hole". Another for bad language.  Another for a link to a site that someone felt wasn't an ok link despite the fact that nothing about that link is really obvious in the post and there's a warning it's adult oriented.

I cannot fathom who is going back to 2007, reading posts, and reporting them.  That is a level of time wasting that is beyond my understanding.  If you're reading this, are you some GOP "every little bit helps" sort?  Cause you're not helping.


London: Day 4

Day 4 - Draughts.  I don't know why I was at Draughts before the rest of the family....oh, wait.  I think I went to The Eye area to get coffee and a pastry, but the place I wanted to go to was closed.  So instead, I met up at the coffee shop near Draughts where we were going anyway.

I mentioned No Rolls Barred in an earlier post.  This is the place they meet for their podcast.  Not THIS specific place.  This is Waterloo and they meet in another one.  But this one is cooool.  I mean, look at it.  It's literally IN Graffiti Tunnel.

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Here's Graffiti Tunnel Also known as Leake Street.
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Inside is a lot of art.  While I was there someone was doing a sexy women on motorcycles photoshoot [I couldn't quite tell what to make of the photoshoot.  The women involved seemed very into each other per the shoot.  So I couldn't tell if it was a shoot for men.  A shoot for lesbians.  A shoot for the motorcycle.  I just didn't know the audience.  Very attractive suicide-girls style models draped over each other, however. So maybe I was the target audience.

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They were also setting up a pop up music venue and drinking thing in one of the side halls.  It took me a LONG time to find Draughts because the map looked like it was pointing to another block when, in reality, it was "expanding" the view.  I felt sort of like an idiot when I figured it out after walking back and forth. I mean, Draughts is right there on a big sign....I just assumed the real entrance was around the corner where the blow out view seemed to be.
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A bit more art.
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The inside of Draughts.  We were early - e.g. opening - and I think folks were worn out from the bank holiday.  Super nice area.  However, I think the gaming fee should be waived if you buy a beer/food.
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BRAVO.  So many of the breweries I go to lately have free period products.  The safety system is a seriously nice upgrade to the services for women [and men....I don't think you should exclude them.  They meet assholes too...just not as many cause, well, most of the assholes are men].
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A different view of Draughts and all the games.
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We played some usuals.  We didn't want to waste our paid time trying to learn something new.  I mean, we did.  Try to learn something new.  Some gods based flick game.  And we sort of failed and moved on to Carcassone.
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Aeryn checking out Draughts.
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Someone has been playing dirty scrabble.  Probably Adam and Scully.
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Basics.  We played Dominion.  It's been a loooooong time since I played Dominion.  This is a GOOD game. I don't know why I don't play it more often given I own three variations.
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Afterwords, we went next door to play Duckpin Bowling.  Lot of fun.  The pins are on wires - you can't rely on your usual bowling skills.  The waiter was great and we talked US/UK politics.  He gave Aeryn a free pin from the bar.  I looked up the salaries for new hires at this place.  Um.  Fuck.  How does ANYONE live in London without having five roommates in a one bedroom flat?  The "bucket of spit" as home ownership in No Rolls Barred's video regarding The Game of Life in London makes a lot more sense in the light of 15 pounds/hour as a salary.
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This was neat.  The Waterloo bar has everything you need to queue up your podcast.  They were all being used at one point while we were there. I looked up Minneapolis, and it does exist here via Peerspace.  
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On the far side of Graffiti Tunnel.  An opinion about the coronation that amused me.
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Afterwards, we headed up to Piccadilly to check things out.  This gay bar auto tagged me in Facebook when I used their wifi.  Hilarious.  It was the first notification to anyone I knew that I was traveling.
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Said bar was in the Chinatown area.  Which is also a theater area.  We headed there for some ramen [yum].  I don't know what's up with the opium signs, but they are amusing.
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The baked goods in Chinatown were AMAZING. Not these.  These are good wife [red bean paste] pastries. I took a photo because Jen HATES them every since she got "good wife" red bean paste cookies at the cookie store over by Cedar Riverside in Minneapolis.
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This....mmmmm...I wish I had just bought all of these.  I'm pretty sure I could have lived off them for the next ten days.
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This place is a franchise with very amusing donut names.  I'll post a photo later of us eating the David Hasselhoff.  I took a photo for the donut lover in my friend group.
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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

London: Day 3

Ut oh, I better go faster or I'll be blogging about London until 2024.  I blame my kid for bailing on our weekend coffee event.  I tend to get a lot of writing done then.

Day Three - May 8 - we rode The Eye.  I've been on it before, and it's a little too touristy for my taste.  And I think they crank the price up as a way to keep the ridership manageable.  But it's a nice view and, at the time, we hadn't decided to go to the Skyview cafe [and when we did, that was Jen and me, Aeryn was off to elsewhere].

We did find a little cafe in the basement with horrible reviews.  The horrible reviews were about the service.  The baked goods were AMAZING.  And at least when we were there, service was fine.  Seems to be the ovens baking for a lot of the other places right along the Eye Walk.

I bet you're jealous of the beautiful weather.  Jen and Aeryn are in that photo, although Jen is behind Aeryn.  When I went up to take this, it was up some stairs and a guard was guarding to prevent anyone going up, near as I could tell.  But he got engaged with some pretty tourists, and I simply walked right behind him and up to the top.  When I came back down he saw me and followed me down and pulled out the barricade and pointed me out to another cop / security guard. I think he was embarrassed I was such a ninja.

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From the skate park near The Eye.  
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Here....have a photo where I'm not actually at the top of the arc.  That's how lazy I was about photos.  What you won't find here - but that's over on Flickr - is my family looking hot and exhausted.  I think the sheer number of people/tourists generally wore them out.
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I include this photo because last time I was in London [2007] I was doing software training for a group of developers with another trainer from the US, Bruce. I took this photo and sent it back to the rest of our team and joked that Bruce had been standing there only a moment earlier.  One of the other trainers flipped the fuck out.  She was so mad.  I think how mad she was made it even funnier for Bruce.  We  joked about it for the next decade+.
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After my family finished up for the day, I went on a walk.  Hit the Millennium Bridge, the Tate, and several bars, including The Swan next to The Globe Theater [in retrospect I should have gone to the Globe, even if it was to see something I didn't want to see].  While I was drinking at The Swan, there was this guy chatting up his date, and I was live chatting the details to Ming and Kyle.  He was so cheesy and she was eating it up.  I think I truly missed out on my shot at being a player in London.  It did not look difficult.
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The Tate. I hadn't been in it before, only moseyed around the outside.  Beautiful place.
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This view was actually described in Ben Aaronovitch's Whispers Under Ground which I was reading while on vacation.  It was incredibly weird to read as it reference Willesden, all the tube stations I stopped at, Kensal which was near where we stayed, and so much more right in our general hood.  I strongly recommend reading it [it's third in the series, but that one was "most London so far" in my opinion] if you're in London.
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St. Paul's from the bridge.  We didn't go in this time, although I dragged Jen past it later.  I've been in there before, back during college. I described the whisper area to Jen, although I didn't highlight how wonderful the view is from up there.
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From the deck at The Tate.
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A fun display between bars [ha, punny] for my family as they're big Tony's lovers.  We ate at our Vrbo a few times and Tony's served as dessert.
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Walking along the lawyer-y side of the Thames.  NOT pilfered antiquities.  There's a sign on it highlighting that it was the first thing damaged during WWII bombings. Egypt gave one to the US and one to the UK.  Now I've seen them both.
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Sunday, May 21, 2023

London: Day 2

I think this particular day on vacation highlights a characteristic of vacation.  I literally have two photos I took that day, and one is of the map where I highlighted where my wife should meet me.  My wife and kid, on the other hand, probably have several hundred photos of park birds.

Aeryn didn't go with us to Hyde Park.  They managed to score tickets to No Rolls Barred, one of their favorite YouTube channels, to play Blood on the Clocktower with them at Kingswood Arts south of London. I recommend following the link - it's a pretty upscale place to board game [no board in this case, really, more of a social deduction game].  Given it was only our second day in London, I got up early to keep Aeryn company on the tube and train rides down to Dulwich [South London], and then hoofed it back up to Hyde Park to meet Jen.  I wasn't too worried about her because her stop was literally on the Jubilee Line from our Vrbo.
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Jen and I spent a long time just wandering the park.  When I was there a third of a century ago, I hung out with a bunch of Finnish students in the sling chairs who had no idea I could understand about 50% of what they were saying [my college prof, Tuuli, told us we could understand Finnish at a kindergarten level].  We checked out the Diana Fountain, mostly looked at the outside of Kensington Palace, walked around the Diana pool with the sculpture of her with some kids, and checked out Albert's stuff.

As you can see, there were numerous corgis having a party at his statue.  Some of them were wearing little crowns or tiaras for the coronation.  What I will remember most about Hyde Park this time is that all of the park bathrooms were closed.  I had to seriously hoof it to get outside the park and buy a coffee to use a bathroom.  Londoners must have public restroom secrets, because you're putting yourself in danger if you enter a park early season without a dry bladder [and curse those beer joints in the park].
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This is from Aeryn's adventure.  Sully.
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And Adam.  Aeryn met a lot of other NRB folks as well including a fellow bassoon player.  When we were looking for the place after getting off the train, and getting lost on the wrong uphill from where we needed to be, we bumped into a Scottish college prof and her kid headed to the same event.  Aeryn made friends, which is a cool way to start the day in a foreign country.  There were a lot of folks playing and they rotated the cast between multiple games. Pretty cool to be able to make gaming your career. I hope it pays well, because service jobs in London based on what I saw pay for shit, and the rents and living cannot be cheap.
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This is from the previous day, one I missed.  I'm in my Virgin Pulse jacket, with my Thomson Reuters umbrella, and potentially an Alteryx t-shirt under the jacket.  I should have found some underpants with the logo from Third District Nurses and most of my work life would have been represented.
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