Posted in England, Travel

Old Blighty (Part Two)

Popping by to share more photos.

Piccadilly Circus, London. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer neon.

My dad grew up in western Pennsylvania. An avid reader, he pored over Washington Irving’s Sketchbook and dreamed he would one day go to England. He finally did as a 20-year old GI in the Air Force. The year was 1951, and Britain was trying to recover from WWII. Rationing was still on. In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. My dad was in London and saw the coronation parade. (Great collection of photos here.)

Years later, my dad got a job working for DODDS and our family moved to England. He spent 11 more years there. In 1977, we saw the Queen’s Silver Jubilee parade.

This trip was almost certainly his last trip to Old Blighty. The best part is that we were able to see some of our very good friends. We left London and headed for Norwich.

Meet Alex (in the brown skirt). Alex and her husband Phillip (recently deceased) have been friends since the mid 1970’s. Sadly, the other photo I have of Alex doesn’t look like Alex, so I shan’t post it.

We spent time with Alex wandering around Norwich’s market.

Mushy peas, anyone?

I’m told “Wincy” is brushed flannel.

Apparently a popular export item.

We visited the USAAF 2nd Air Division Memorial Library (of the 8th Air Force) at the Norwich Forum. During WWII, the east of England was dotted with airfields, many built to accommodate American aircraft. The library “…is a unique “living memorial” to nearly 7000 American airmen who were killed while stationed in East Anglia during World War Two.”

The librarian heard my American patter and invited me to sign the guest book. Other signers had been stationed at those airfields. I just (humbly) put “Former resident, RAF Lakenheath.”

FFTK* Jimmy Stewart was a USAAF colonel and pilot during WWII stationed in East Anglia. According to IMDB, one of his sergeants was Walter Matthau.

An all-too-brief afternoon in Norwich ends with a train ride to York via Peterborough. More on all that to follow.

*Fun Fact to Know

Posted in England, Travel

Old Blighty (Part One)

I’m back, and I’ve ever so much to say! First of all, London felt like slipping my hand into an old, comfortable leather glove. I mean it felt familiar despite my long absence from it. I did live in London for a couple of summers a long time ago. Apart from a year living in Cambridge, the rest of the time I lived in England (six years total back in *gasp* the 1970’s), was out in the boonies in the countryside. See sample image below (taken from the train somewhere between Thetford and Ely:

I’ll no doubt slip into British English whilst writing during the next few days. The Brit way of speaking is different to ours, and it expedites one’s journey when one converses as the locals do. I realise I risk sounding like an insufferable snob. Do bear with me.

Oxford Street, London. I’m a big fan of Marks and Spencer (or Marks and Sparks as it is sometimes known). It’s a nostalgia thing. When I was a kid at RAF Lakenheath, it was a big treat to go to the Marks and Spencer in Bury St. Edmunds.

The Marks and Spencer’s (aerial view here) in Oxford Street, known as Pantheon Store.

One doesn’t plan one’s travel photos, but I’ve ended up with a sequence of mannequins:

Man resting with mannequins in Marks and Spencer.

Employees with mannequin, Liberty of London (with apologies; it’s a bit dark).

Fox’s in Covent Garden, purveyor of theatre make-up and wigs.

I was traveling with my 77 year-old father, who is not well and had some difficulty moving around. We took it slow and rode the bus a lot (avoiding the stairs involved with riding the Tube).

London is a heaving mass of urbanity, a very fast moving place. We walked like a floating stick stuck in the fast moving river, waters of people moving round us post haste.

Regent Street. Not a particularly good example of what I just said.

A Prius on Regent Street. Price to register a Prius (per year): 15 pounds. No nasty congestion charge either. Price to register an SUV type vehicle (per year): approx. 950 pounds.

A few more snaps of London:

Bobbies and their gear.

Narrow misses a daily event on Oxford Street.

The interior of Liberty of London. I love to pop in just to see the architecture.

Rugs in Liberty.

Bacon, egg and sausage butty. A veritable salt-lick but reasonably priced at Tyburn of Wetherspoon.

I went to the Tate Modern and headed first for the 7th floor cafe. Talk about a room with a view…

That’s the Millenium Bridge in the foreground.

One can always tell when the Olympics are in the offing—the presence of construction cranes dotting the skyline.

More Old Blighty tomorrow. I’m knackered. So nice to see you again.

Posted in Let's Get Visual, Travel

Oh Yeah, I’m Gone

This blog is officially CHIUSO PER FERIE until 14 May 2008.

But I’m going to England, not Italy. That’s Norwich castle above. I’ll be spending an afternoon in Norwich (pronounced Nor-itch).

I’ll also be in York for three days. York is so old they don’t even bother to distinguish themselves from the new one. This is York Minster, the second largest Gothic cathedral in Europe (after Cologne Cathedral).

But it’s not all imposing Norman castles and Gothic Cathedrals across the pond. Britain is also the land of the Bacon Butty (photo courtesy of London Daily Photo):

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,–
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

William Shakespeare, King Richard II, Act 2, Scene 1

Posted in Around Town, Issues

Welcome YWCA Pasadena Blog

A quick post to welcome Pasadena’s newest blog:

What’s the Difference?

Black or brown? Yellow or white? Male or female? “What’s the Difference?” will explore the assumptions we make based on race and gender and other attributes that make us different from one another. Will we learn that we’re not so different after all?

An interesting topic of discussion. We all make assumptions about each other. At the same time, we’re all unique individuals. So yes, we will learn that we’re different from each other. But those differences do not have to be divisive. The Scout likes to call it “Unity in Diversity.”

The whole thing starts early, though. When a baby is born, where does everybody look first?

Posted in Around Town

Cleveland’s Big Sunday

I wasn’t there, but I hear that Cleveland Elementary School in Pasadena received some spit and polish yesterday thanks to community volunteers. The event was organized in part by Big Sunday. Their mission:

Big Sunday mobilizes and empowers volunteers to build community through community service. This mission is driven by the belief that everyone has some way to help someone else.

Go by and check out the new tile mural created by students on the south side.

Cleveland Elementary
524 Palisade Street
Pasadena, CA 91103

One of these days, they’ll we’ll rename it Jackie Robinson Elementary.