Self-Portrait, 1969 )

It was another glorious spring day in the DC area, with everything in bloom from the trees to the tulips and high fluffy clouds that turned an amazing pink at sunset. I had lunch with the lovely [ profile] beeej, whom I have not seen since I left town, with whom I discussed such matters as the Highlander gathering in Australia in two weeks, last night's Smallville and what our husbands would say when faced with a room of drooling slash fans. [ profile] perkypaduan, hope you are feeling better -- we missed you!

Thursday afternoon always means carpools, as one son has a violin lesson while the other stays late at school for math club, so I wrote articles in between running around and trying to catch up on post-trip phone calls that I still hadn't managed to make. I must admit that I really enjoy writing about Desperate Housewives; it's a very guilty pleasure, but today I got to write up bits of the infamous Vanity Fair article and the other day I got to write up an interview with the show's creator in which he described recreating his coming-out experience with his mom on the show.

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Ahahahaha. Tonight I watched the fifth episode of The Barchester Chronicles (in which Alan Rickman and Geraldine McEwan SO deserve each other and I SO want to watch her make him have nasty filthy sex with her but she's playing an uptight bitch even though he's playing a sleaze). Then we watched the special on Peterborough Cathedral, which was fascinating -- apparently it had been an abbey, but Henry VIII spared it, in part because Catherine of Aragon is buried there and in part because the abbot had a friend at court. It has a spectacular painted ceiling and in other ways reminded me of York Minster and Durham Cathedral, so it made me nostalgic and now I want to go there next trip. Oh, and I was reading about Anthony Trollope, who wrote Barchester Towers, and apparently the reason there are all the mean jokes about how Rickman's character, Obadiah Slope, changed his family name from Slop to Slope is that Trollop(e) did the same thing.

The Nationals won their first home game. I would be more excited about this if my UPN affiliate was not pre-empting the only shows I ever want to watch on that stupid network in favor of baseball. Now I am bowing to my allergies and going to bed, so that tomorrow perhaps I will have the energy to clean up all the stuff I didn't bother with today, as obviously I had to take a walk and watch the glorious sunset.

Silbury Hill, the largest manmade prehistoric mound in Europe, just south of Avebury. Long believed to be a burial ground, no skeletal remains or significant ancient artifacts have ever been discovered in this 4600 year old enigma. Note for [ profile] ldybastet: this is in the heart of Wiltshire, so Malfoy Manor could be right nearby, though we didn't see it -- we suspect that our Muggle blood foiled our efforts.
From 'Gitanjali' )

Though it was cooler today than Monday, it is still very much spring here; my allergies are being reasonably cooperative but again I keep wondering whether inability to stay awake is supposed to be an allergy symptom or whether I somehow still have jetlag. My kids have a terrible case of spring fever and getting my younger one to do homework tonight involved a full-out war; then, at bedtime, he had a complete crying meltdown because another boy in the neighborhood had broken one of those stones with secret compartments that people hide their keys in, which belonged to yet another neighbor who has since moved away, but my son apparently found it wasteful that the stone was broken and was brokenhearted about it. Earlier I had lunch with [ profile] vertigo66 though I forgot to bring her souvenirs and I didn't have photos with me so could only bore her to a moderate degree blabbing about England. *g*

I had intended to watch Veronica Mars in the evening (which UPN has renewed! Yay!) but our local UPN station carries the Nationals baseball games now, and the show was preempted. I am worried that the Enterprise finale will be preempted as well, as the episode a week from Friday will be, and I will have to scramble to find and review it. Being thus deprived of Veronica Mars, we watched the third and fourth episodes of Barchester Towers, which I had received before we left town but didn't get around to opening let alone watching. We had watched the first two parts over the weekend and loved them, even though Alan Rickman -- the reason I sought out this BBC miniseries -- does not appear until part three. He plays a wonderfully sleazy selfish character in ministerial robes who is great fun to watch and even more fun to listen to (what a preacher that man could have been), but the entire cast is superb -- Donald Pleasence as a minor theologian who's far too honest for his own good, Geraldine McEwan as the most overbearing, completely wicked "good" woman in the history of television, Nigel Hawthorne as the archdeacon you first want to throttle and then end up rooting for. I am enjoying this enormously.

Once again I can barely keep my eyes open -- will catch up on comments tomorrow.

A hovercraft ferry leaves the beach at Southsea near the Clarence Pier amusement park. A few yards away, a memorial marks the spot where Nelson embarked for the last time.
I got the first batch (!) of England trip photos uploaded, and a report full of links to official sites etc. The report is here. If you want just the photos, they start here and you can click through the links on the bottom through the whole set. Or here are direct URLs:

London / Greenwich / The Thames / The Rollright Stones and Birmingham / Lake District / Rievaulx Abbey / Castle Howard / York / Whitby / Scarborough and Goathland / Fountains Abbey / Hartlepool / Durham / Carlisle and Gretna Green / Hadrian's Wall / Barningham / Sherwood Forest and Avebury / Stonehenge / Portsmouth Historic Dockyard / Portsmouth and Southsea / Portchester

Some of these may (nay, will) show up in this journal at some point. We were not allowed to take photos inside Westminster Abbey, Her Majesty's Theatre, the Maritime Museum, the galleries at the Birmingham Museum, Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, Castle Howard or Durham Cathedral, and we were not allowed to use flash in the Nelson Gallery at the Royal Naval Museum nor the Mary Rose Museum, so there are some gaps and some slightly blurry images.
Ambassadors to the Dead )

Soccer went longer than we expected so we decided to put off seeing the cherry blossoms until Sunday (when hopefully the crowds will be smaller as well, as the Cherry Blossom Festival parade was Saturday). My son's team won their first soccer game of the year, so they ended the afternoon on a happy note, after which we drove to Seneca Creek State Park which is near the school where they were playing and hiked in the surprisingly damp and muddy woods. It has been gorgeous here, 70s and sunny, but I hear that the DC area got a lot of rain while we were in England and the creek gave evidence of that.

Otherwise, I transcribed an Enterprise trailer, updated my Louise Fletcher web page as the publicist for her movie Aurora Borealis had sent me some information and links to photos, resized a great many photos and worked on the web pages about our trip. Watched the first episode of The Barchester Chronicles while folding laundry this evening; no Alan Rickman yet, but the series is quite engrossing, particularly since I am nostalgic for all things in England at the moment. And the Nationals won again, so it must be considered a successful day. I didn't see the wedding at all but I hear Camilla wore a terrible hat; if so, will someone post a photo to [ profile] fanfic_hats, pretty please? *g*

Today's poem seemed to call for a graveyard, so here is the one at the priory church in front of the keep of Portchester Castle.
From 'The White Witch'' )

I wanted a poem with a vampire in it to go with today's photo from England, but after searching for the perfect one, I realized that what I really needed to do was to print an excerpt from the book that made the steps and gravestone in this photo famous. And so, I give you Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. )

The steep steps to the pier below St. Mary's Church and Whitby Abbey.

Today I worked on my trip report and photos, did some work, did some chores, was thwarted in plans to see first [ profile] perkypaduan, then [ profile] gblvr, learned that my children had discovered Runescape at a friend's house and spent half the afternoon trying to wrest first one and then the other away from the computer, took a walk in the glorious weather, tried to see the partial solar eclipse that was largely obscured by clouds, had dinner with my parents and attempted to work up some enthusiasm for the Washington Nationals whom I now fear will preempt the final episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, as our UPN station is carrying their games. In other words, nothing of great import occurred!

[ profile] fridayfiver: Telephones )
[ profile] thefridayfive: Bookworms )
[ profile] fannish5: Spoilers )

I think we may try to see the cherry blossoms late tomorrow afternoon, as we have a very small window on Sunday between Hebrew school and soccer. Our neighborhood was gloriously in bloom today, with lots of yellow on the bushes and pink and white on the trees; I need to get downtown and see the city in its spring glory.
Opus From Space )

Hey, I made it up till midnight! But my kids have no school tomorrow, so the knowledge that I can sleep slightly later may have something to do with that. I had to get up early (not a problem as part of my brain is still on Greenwich time) as it was [ profile] apaulled's early day in the office for teleconferencing with Asia, but that meant he could take time off for lunch so we very belatedly went out for his birthday lunch (Indian food, natch) and stopped in Best Buy to get Finding Neverland, which we attempted to watch with our kids tonight though they were distracted by the Return of the King Top Trumps game we found in the game store in Whitby -- Toys R Us in the US had carried The Two Towers game, and we had the Fellowship game via a friend in England, but that was the first any of us had seen of the ROTK version (I bought a deck of Harry Potter playing cards there too which I'd never seen here). I also went back to Barnes and Noble to get a couple of people the making of M&C book (still on the bargain rack, yay!) and spent an hour and a half trying on spring clothes in Kohl's before deciding I didn't really like anything and leaving without spending any money. I also wrote three articles on the theory that with the kids home tomorrow I won't get as much done. And I put away laundry and wrote some thank-you notes. So I am fairly exhausted and STILL haven't read anything on anyone else's web pages, but am getting there!

K/S fans need to go ASAP to and download Liz Shatner's interview with her father, not so much to hear Bill talk about how great he and Invasion Iowa are, but for the new ad for Shatner and Nimoy's Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime DVD at the beginning and end of the hour-long interview. "They share more than just being of the same generation," intones the narrator, promising that their relationship will "boldly go where neither man has gone before!" Shatner says that while filming Star Trek, he was in the midst of a divorce, and he "took affection from wherever I could find it, not every week from one of those beautiful girls that were on our show." He also talks about how his life and Nimoy's have fallen into patterns in terms of their marriages, their careers, their emotional states, and how it would all have been worthwhile if for no other reason than that Leonard became his best friend (Nimoy is giggling while he says this). Nimoy, meanwhile, talks about his bond with Shatner and says this interview reveals aspects of himself to which he's never been privy before. Meanwhile the narrator keeps talking about how intimate the discussion is (the two are in Nimoy's house), and how passionate these two men are about their work and each other. I'm sure these quotes are completely out of context but oh, the slashiness! reprinted an editorial about John Paul II and the Jews that I appreciated. I was having weird feelings about seeing flags at half-mast for the Pope -- I have a great appreciation for his character, his accomplishments and his importance to people, but I can't recall another time when US flags were lowered everywhere like this for a non-American leader other than those who died in assassinations or terrorist incidents. It feels to me like a blurring of church and state, but I'm not really sure what etiquette governs when the flags are lowered; I remember there was a huge outcry in England after Princess Diana died because at first one of the royal residences did not lower its flags and later bowed to public pressure to do so, and I'm sure the US did not lower flags for her or any of a great many foreign administrative and religious figures. I don't mean to disrespect the Pope or those in mourning for him, but if the flags go to half-mast this week, might they go to half-mast for the death of some widely-followed Fundamentalist leader in the US, where a far more directly political message might be suggested by such a decision?

Anyway, I must sleep since I have to entertain the kids at least part of the day tomorrow, so I won't see the funeral until the evening news in all likelihood. We're trying to figure out if there's any time we can get downtown this weekend to see the cherry blossoms that does not interfere with Hebrew school or soccer games and practice, and it does not look hopeful...

Hogsmeade Station )
Delta )

Once again I can barely keep my eyes open and it's not even 11 p.m. yet -- my body is still somewhat in Greenwich time. Still swimming in clothing, souvenirs and power converters, am very proud of having managed to get three articles written today when my eyes were refusing to focus, and had to take a walk before dinner despite all the things I have to do because it went over 80 degrees and the scent of springtime outside was irresistible. Also had to run out to Target for some necessities, wandered into Barnes and Noble next door and discovered that B&N has the hardcover edition of The Making of 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World' on the bargain rack for less than $6 (still going for nearly $30 on the web site unfortunately so you'd have to find it in your local store). The web site and store both have Clint Willis' High Seas, which contains excerpts from both O'Brian and one of the Hornblower novels, for $3.98, here. So that's my PSA for the day.

Meanwhile I have an urgent question for transplanted Brits: is there anywhere in the US where one can obtain Kendal Mint Cakes? We had them in Yorkshire and now I am dying for one and the only place that carries them on Yahoo! Shopping is out of stock and I can't find anyone in Britain who will ship just a few rather than by the caseload (and I can't find whatever retailers in the US buy those caseloads and sell them!) We brought enough Cadbury back with us that I am not craving the high-butterfat variety of chocolate yet, and I know I can get that from British Traditionals on the web.

Loved this week's episode of The West Wing (was that the season finale?) but my eyes were crossing from being tired and the funky camera work was not helping any -- the Blair Witch Democratic National Convention! I was happy with the outcome but, having missed the last two weeks without even reading summaries, the VP nomination came completely out of left field for me -- was that foreshadowed or was it a total bombshell for everyone? I was utterly lost on the storyline with the astronauts because I missed the first six minutes getting older son's reading project in order, so need to be filled in on that, too, when I am more awake.

Still haven't dared try to make a crack in my friends list. Come tell me your news of the past couple of weeks!

The Nereid Monument, a tomb from Xanthos in southwest Turkey, now in the British Museum.
Singer )

By the time we left for Heathrow on Monday afternoon, the weather had cleared up and we found ourselves looking out the windows at spring flowers and the fewer sheep in the fields of Surrey than those of Yorkshire. I had hoped to meet [ profile] elanor_isolda in the airport but we ran late at the rental car return (warning to anyone going to England: beware National Car Rental, no matter how good their rates, we have ugly stories from both picking up and returning vehicles), and I never managed to find her.

The flight home was quite smooth however. I watched National Treasure and Being Julia, two excellent films for leaving England, as one has to do with the American Founding Fathers and has a British bad guy (Sean Bean, no less!) while the other is set in London and is about shenanigans on and off the English stage earlier this century and has Jeremy Irons. We had forgotten all the CDs to which we intended to listen while we were in England and had been stuck with freebies from the Daily Express, and I found it ironic that United Airlines was playing Loreena McKennitt, one of the main CDs I missed, as we took off. Once again it was cloudy as we passed over Ireland, but we had a clear view of the glaciers in northeastern Canada and a lovely sunset landing at the airport outside DC after seeing the monuments just before landing.

So I'm back, very tired as my body has not yet adjusted to the shift in time nor the extra several hours in my day yesterday, but the laundries are done and I actually managed to get two articles posted in addition to answering a boatload of comments and monkeying with a handful of photos. Shall finish answering comments in the morning as I can no longer see straight. I still haven't looked at my friends' list beyond a couple of people's journals to see if they were silent just because I was gone or because of some crisis. Hope everyone is well!

The Rollright Stones, near Chipping Norton.
...friends-locked because I don't want photos of my children on LiveJournal, so please don't try to link to these. Shall post more photos of the locales pictured when I get around to cropping, sorting, etc.!

Yes, We Actually Went to England )


Apr. 4th, 2005 11:23 pm
Today we got up early so that we could go to Portchester and its castle, with the best-preserved Roman wall in northern Europe and a huge intact keep with paintings on the walls from when the upstairs was used as a theatre. Richard II had rooms added on, Henry V used it as a base of operations and Elizabeth I made the last official royal visit there. There are numerous ghost stories associated with the place, which has perfect atmosphere for it, with the floors missing from several levels of the castle despite its high walls and the amalgamation of architecture. From the roof of the keep one can see Victory docked in Portsmouth and a lovely view of the surrounding water, even on a misty morning like this one. We were all intrigued by the 17th and 18th century graffiti carved into the upper walls of the spiral staircase. The wall completely surrounds the castle and the little church with its graveyard, and flowers bloom in the cracks between the stones.

I'm too tired to type any more -- more details tomorrow!

One of my sons found a bird's nest in a dark corner of the ground floor of the keep. The mother bird fled temporarily when she saw us so we got to see her eggs.
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