The House Guests Have Landed

The first set of guests have arrived.  This is fun!  I can’t wait to do it again soon.  There are some really beautiful people scheduled to stay with us this summer.  Don’t you want to get on the list?

Today, I can say that Westminster Abbey is beyond my expectations because I finally went inside.  Officially known as The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, it is as creepy and awe-inspiring as you might imagine.  The architecture begs to be called unmatched, though the sound of a choir within the walls is worth a trip inside all on its own…  It’s not the burials of “great” men and women that I found so special, but rather the capacity of man to believe, to create, and to hold dear those traditions that we deem meaningful.

westminster abbey

Worth it.

The Canals

My friends have been telling me about nice walks along “the canal”, but I nodded my head and smiled with no concept of this activity. Recently, Drew and I actually walked along a short stretch of canal in the Islington area. It’s really such a strange new thing to me…

canal blue boat

canal 2

canal 3

The canals were built in the 18th century to transport goods (and then people) more cheaply and faster than by land. Now you can find walkers, bikers, and people lounging on the edge of the canals. Canal boats are still in use, though for different purposes these days!

Some of the coolest looking buildings in Islington can be found on a canal walk. It would be pretty cool to live in one of the reclaimed warehouse flats with a balcony overlooking the water. I wonder what Midnight would think of that…

Fire and Stone

There is something so irresistible about pizza when it’s baked in a real stone oven. I don’t know why. Fire and Stone, in Covent Garden, is a great alternative to the mainstream pizza chains littering London. The atmosphere is urban loft, but we found the staff to be quite friendly. (The restaurant feels almost like a warehouse after being in some of the tight spaces London has to offer.)

You can probably create thousands of combinations mixing the toppings and sauces, but you might be amused by one of the geographically inspired items on the menu. I think the novelty of the oven and the pizza names may have been a little more special than the pizza actually was, but it was still quite good.

spinach pizza

margerhita pizza

It’s a nice place to eat a pizza and enjoy company just off the busy streets of Covent Garden.

31/32 Maiden Lane
Covent Garden
London
WC2E 7JS
phone: 0844 371 2550

Lowlander

As you leave Holborn on your way to Covent Garden, a little off the main way, there is a great place to meet and eat called Lowlander Grand Cafe.  It’s a casual place to enjoy lunch and friends with an open door feel.

lowlander beer

I recommend trying something completely new.  However, do not be fooled by the menu-the chili sauce that comes with the (really great) chips is not spicy.  It’s good — I just don’t want you to have your taste buds ready to be set on fire or anything like that.

Dress casually and bring some friends to share a starter or a beer stick!

36 Drury Lane
Covent Garden
London
Westminster
WC2B
phone: 020 7398 8622

The Porterhouse Pub

Unfortunately, Porterhouse Pub is no secret.  The good news is that you can still squeeze in.  It’s located very near the Piazza in Covent Garden and is quite a lovely place to wander with friends. The atmosphere is great, even if a bit on the loud side. They feature live music, including traditional Irish music one day a week. Boasting loads of specialty beers and lagers, a beer drinker is sure to find something new that they always wanted to try, but never knew existed.

porterhouse pub

The Covent Garden menu looks pretty nice as pubs go and there is a nice sized (as outdoor pub spaces go) covered outdoor space as well. Stop in for an old or soon to be favorite!  The interior is very worth the short bar queue, especially on a Sunday afternoon or Bank Holiday.

The Porterhouse Covent Garden 
21-22 Maiden Lane
Covent Garden 
London WC2 E7NA 
tel: (+44) 207 379 7917
fax: (+44) 207 379 7991

Dirty Stop-out

slang. A name to call someone who stays out too late. (Using this term implies that you think the person in question may have been up to something naughty while being out too late.)

Happy Mother’s Day!

Yesterday we wandered around the grounds of St. Paul’s, enjoying the gardens and small green spaces between there and home while the sun warmed the city. We are looking forward to having visitors soon who will explore the cathedral with us.

cathedral

cathedral 2

Between our flat and the church there are wonderful spaces that would be lovely spots for a lunch or evening picnic. Drew was kind enough to get some shots that our Moms (and others) might enjoy on this Mother’s Day posting!

pond

pink flower

purple flower

Back in the states, our beautiful cousin Chelsea graduated R.N. school; Congratulations Chelsea! We’ll have a celebration with you, Danielle, and Ashlee when we are next in for a visit (unless you all decide to meet up here – you know, in all of that free time you girls will have now, haha!). Gosh, where did all of the years go?!

Sober

Some Fridays are not for pubs or clubs or staying out late.  Some sunny, summer Friday evenings are good for a lazy wander to a neighborhood restaurant where you can wear your trainers – where you can be joined by friends (who happened to be passing by) for some family dinner style conversation to wrap up the week.

This week, for me at least, has been full to the brim with sentimental reflection.  So much is happening – always happening – but we alternate between being aware and unaware as we are able to process the information.  I have spent a few days feeling electrically charged, goose-bumped and hair-raised.  It’s a feeling I recognize.  It’s familiar and common, but I’ve always had some outlet for it.  You are so far away that these episodes are puzzling to me now; I must now channel this energy into something new.  But into what exactly?

I am full.  There is a dance – and at least a thousand words – searching for the path of least resistance out of this body.  I am teased by the thick grey London sky.  There will not be thunder.  No lightning will come.  But something big and overwhelming spills over inside me.

I miss the storms.  I miss the open space of the empty stage in an empty school auditorium where I used to dance until I was soaking wet and couldn’t breathe.  Just for me.   I miss the love that surrounded me, the love that tethered me in place, and the love that was unending in my heart when I was with Them.

For moments on end I am sure that the whole of creation feels what I am feeling.  The turning of the Earth and the sun through the clouds are all a part of me.  I feel as if I could close my eyes and send a shock wave of tickle, laughter, and longing through every living heart – my own secret super power.  And then it passes and I am just me again, until the next wave.

As I left work this Friday evening, I paused for a moment to study a Lawn Bowling tournament taking place in the green space within Finsbury Square.  Weird.  And cool.

 lawn bowling

lawn bowling 2

Thursday night I met up with a great group of ladies for a fundraiser.  Emily, Leona, Lauren, Trisha, and I all enjoyed A Taste of Turin at the Fiat Showroom off Oxford Street, to benefit the Maple Leaf Trust.  Thanks to Emily, for alerting us to the event; we did have fun.  Trisha won the first raffle prize!  We also met a shockingly intoxicated party goer whose pick-up line was, “I thought this was the Canadian wives club – where I could find a wife, I mean.”  Really?!

I’ve tried to figure out which little Italian Restaurant we stumbled into for dinner, but I am just not sure.  Maybe Leona and Emily can help me out with that one.  It was yummy and I think you deserve a review!

Today is a very special day.  My big sister celebrates a birthday today; she is as old as me now, I think.  (I had a french lesson this week and I think it’s important to note that in some  other languages you are not x years old, you have x years.  In other words, you are never old.  You just have more years this birthday than you had last year.  Nice, huh?)  So, Happy Birthday, my sister!

Hummus Bros.

There has been one good thing to come out of our short, nasty stint with Barclay’s bank; across the street from a branch I have visited several times there is a restaurant that caught my eye.  Hummus Bros. is a laid back little joint where you are seated family style for the pleasure of simple food made really well.  The hummus is one flavor suits all, but you choose your topping.  Your topping then becomes a mix-in, depending on your hummus eating style, of course!  Special toppings are featured regularly so that you never tire of trying new combinations.

mushrooms and guac

 guacamole

fork commandments

Although hummus really is the featured food, there are some interesting side dishes like smoky barbeque aubergines and complementary drinks that might satisfy a non-hummus eater, though one trip to Hummus Bros. might cure that disorder…

Drew tried the mushroom topping and mine was guacamole.  Thumbs up for both!

Long Time, No See

When I have left you so long without writing, it is hard to know where to begin.

I guess you should know that I have made a beautiful new friend.  Elsa is French, she makes a mean quiche, she’s agreed not to push me down on the playground (we work together and she promised to be honest when I screw things up), and she likes some of the same geeky things Drew and I like.

On Friday evening I took more cold medicine than a person should before Drew and I wandered after work to Charing Cross to meet Elsa and her lovely group of merry-makers.  We invited Kerry and Emily to join us; it was a no-brainer deciding that these new friends would enjoy meeting each other.  (The Haha Bar and Grill is a great place to meet, drink, and eat by the way.)

On Saturday P!NK shared her heart with us in a stunning show at the O2.  
P!NK
You can catch my full review in the Hot or Not section, but I’ll say that it was F-F-T. (That’s fan-freaking-tastic for you non-cursers; the rest of you can sort yourselves out, I’m sure.)  What was not so F-F-T was the replacement bus that was running due to tube refurbishment.  We were squished in like hot little sardines.  I was almost stung by a bee.  I met a very nice little boy on the bus, but he was standing on my foot when his bladder finally failed.  That was right before a lady fainted.  Fun times.  The queue for a taxi after the concert was 45 minutes long and complete with a drunk bum wandering around with a neon orange toy gun talking about shooting “cabbies and coppers”.  Good times.  Worth it.  SO worth it.  Ah, P!NK, I love that girl…

Sunday was almost wasted because we old folks slept so late.  The always fabulous Kerry and Emily invited us to join their Sunday afternoon pub stroll so we met them at The Lowlander between Holborn and Covent Garden for a snack.
lowlander beer
Then we all followed Emily to Covent Garden for a drink at the lovely Porterhouse Pub.
porterhouse pub
Post Porterhouse we had pizza at Fire and Stone.  (I know, I know: “dang, Gina!”  That’s jus’ how they roll in London.)
pizza fire and stone
We walked toward home together until we parted beside the dramatically lit St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Did I mention that we live in London?  St. Paul’s is in our neighborhood, no less.

On Monday we had dinner with Elsa and some of her lovely friends and housemates.  She is a fantastic chef and quite a lot of fun.  That must be why she has such a great group of friends around her…  After dinner we saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Drew and I were proud to teach them about that weird thing that we do – waiting to see if there is an additional scene at the end of the credits…  I am so glad it paid off or we might have looked a bit foolish in front of our new friends.

Tonight I am thinking of my cat.  (And you, of course.  I mean, I write all of this for you!)  He might soon be joining us in London.  There are signs that he may miss us just much as we miss him, so we’ve decided to double down our efforts to bring our little boy overseas.  If you know someone who might be interested in fostering him for about seven months, please let us know.  My mom has another alpha male at her house and they just don’t get along.

That is all for now  – sleep well, my lovelies.  My sick husband must be snuggled.

P!NK, The Funhouse Tour

For some reason, I love her like my very own flesh and blood, though most of you know that I love fast and fiercely. My poor heart knows not a stranger. There’s also that thing I have about people in pain… Well, P!NK doesn’t need my shoulder to cry on, but it’s here. Though we’ve been welcomed into her grandly staged and mesmerizing therapy session, she would still be singing, raging, dancing, jumping, falling, cursing, and lighting fires without an audience. She’s completely honest. That’s not a character on stage – she is absolutely someone you could know; she’s someone who reminds you of your own responsibility to face the fire and give thanks when pain gives way to wholeness.

The Funhouse tour is as wildly exciting as it is pensive or painful. I am just as grateful for the acoustic set as I am for the acrobatics, though I could not help but hold my breath until she was safely back on the ground. I love that she doesn’t need me, but that she shares this journey with me anyway.

Star struck? No, not really. Inspired. Overflowing. Impressed. Grateful.

Get tickets. Seriously, right now. Put the ice cream down.

(AM, if your stage manager quits and you need me to join you on the road, let me know. I’ve got a couple more years before we settle down and have kids, it could be fun…)