Wednesday, May 27, 2009

England: Part II

I will never, ever, EVER get tired of looking at buildings like this and it is something that you just don't see in America. As great as this country is, really, really old buildings are just something it does not possess. I cannot help but to immediately wonder what life was like when it was built and who, over the centuries, has been there and seen it. I am simply fascinated by the history of it all and I am constantly elbowing Dan asking questions like, "When do you think this was built?" and, "How old is that? What about that? And this???" (sorry baby). Luckily for me, shortly before I snapped this photo I found a sign that gave some information about these buildings.

This actually happens to be part of 3 Mills Studios which is London's largest film and television studio and, as of a week ago, where my darling Dan was working on a film. I had come by to meet Dan for lunch by the canal and could not take my eyes off these beauties. The picture directly above is actually the largest tidal mill in England and the structures date back to the 11th century. I think they are looking pretty darn good for their age, don't you? Over the centuries these buildings have housed flour grinding operations, gunpowder manufacturing, distilling alcohol and even survived the bombing of London in WWII. I could go on, but I will stop as not too bore you all too much with the historical stuff as I know I find it more interesting than most, however, I will say again that I literally cannot get enough of this stuff and I feel so fortunate to get to experience it all. 

The next day I had the pleasure of being shown around some new parts of London by the lovely Holly Klein who I met while working on Coraline. She too is an American who is dating an Englishman and she is one of the most creative and interesting people I have met in a long time. She took me to Regent's Park which was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The park is located in Northern London and is surrounded by some of the most amazing homes I have ever seen. Again I was obsessing over buildings. I am telling you - I can't stop. 

Located next to where we were walking in the park was part of the enclosure of the London Zoo. Dan had told me before that the London Zoo was definitely not one of the best and as we strolled by, seeing as much as we could from the pathway, I too found this to be true. I think this picture sums it up perfectly. Yes - those are sheep. And yes, they are laying on concrete. And yes, that is about all. It was actually really sad and never in my life have I seen sheep in such a weird, concrete-jungle (wait a second...oh god - flashbacks of living in L.A...go to your happy place...) We also saw camels, an ostrich and a weird mountain thing that was supposed to be something, but we weren't quite sure. 

After walking through Regent's Park, Holly and I walked along the canal en route to Camden Town. London has canals running throughout the city and they seem to be quite a nice way to get around. The little boats you see are actually little boat houses and while they seemed run-down and actually quite inhabitable, there was something I loved about the fact that people live in them. I am becoming increasingly aware that the less I understand a person's life, the more interested I become (i.e. Amish, polygamists, people who study bugs for a living...okay, maybe not the last one - but you get the gist.) 

Once we made it to Camden Town we were drawn to this little Moroccan place by the really kickin' outdoor seating and decided to have a cappuccino (which was really tasty.) I took this picture from our seat. See the hookah pipes on the tables? We didn't partake in the hookah love, but I think the pipes are actually really beautiful. For those who don't know, Camden Town is like this bohemian little part of London full of outdoor markets, street vendors and young kids who either a) had just smoked pot or, b) were about to go smoke pot. For some reason, the picture above is the only one I took in Camden Town which is a shame because the little markets provided all sorts of color and culture and I surely could have gotten some interesting pictures. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! Oh well - next time. 

The rest of the day was spent walking back to Holly's place followed by a really nice meal with Holly, her man and Dan at a great place called The Angelic. It was yummy and so great to spend time with good company. Thanks again Holly for showing me around - I really loved it and I am still dreaming of that wool shop. Perfection. 

Next up from my trip - wedding time! Yay for weddings. Yay for weddings in really old buildings. Yay for weddings in really old buildings with horses and sheep and goats running around. Yay - stop -  I'm too tired and I am beginning to annoy myself. 

Over and out. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Google Fun

Sometimes when I am bored I entertain myself by Googling things. It ranges from events in history (once stayed up until 3am Googling Pompeii)  to exploring different cultures, Googling people (sometimes even myself...doesn't everyone?) etc, etc. This evening I found myself once again on another random Google binge. I simply went to Google images and searched the word "cute." The picture above was one of the first images that popped up. I hope you find it as enjoyable as I do. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Country Girl at Heart

For reasons quite unknown to me, I am increasingly interested/fascinated/drawn to country life. Not that I have ever even come close to experiencing it, nor do I think I would do very well with it seeing as I HATE bugs of all sorts and struggle with lack of convenience - but that does not stop me from fantasizing about spending my days amongst wheat fields, sheep and endless horizons. These thoughts pop into my head almost daily as they have for years and I think they have manifested themselves into my love of country music. That's right. Country music. I said it.

Members of my family, and the occasional friend (okay - let's be real - LOTS of my friends) have made fun of me for years for loving the sweet southern drawls and meticulous fiddle playing of many of my favorite country stars, but I don't let it bother me. I like what I like and that is the end of the story. As Popeye the Sailor man so eloquently sang, "I yam what I yam and I yam what I yam that I yam." Nicely put, Popeye!

Now, in my professional opinion...hehe...nothing pairs more perfectly with country music than sunshine. There is just something absolutely perfect about listening to country music while sitting in the hot sun and drinking a beer. Or a margarita. Or a mojito. Whatever. I was reminded of this on my drive to work today and it really pumped me up for the deliciously lovely Memorial Day weekend we are all about to experience here in the NW.

As soon as I left my house I could tell it would be a nice day. You know those mornings when you walk outside and that crisp edge that usually hits you in the face just isn't there and you know that if it is already that nice out at 7:45am, then it is going to be pretty super-duper as the day goes on? Well - this morning was like that. As soon as I got in my car I went to my favorite country station and turned it up. The only time I can get away with that is when I am alone in my car as it usually sparks complaints from most passengers (unless I am with my Stott cousins/uncle - they totally get it).! The traffic was light, the sun was shining and I felt so excited for summer and being in the water and BBQ's up at my Dad's cabin and being warm once again and, and, and - well - just EVERYTHING that summer brings us. Ahhh yes - country music - it just has that affect on me!

In the offshoot chance that I have inspired any of you to check out some country music, here is a list of some of my absolute favorite summer-time country songs:
  • Something Like That - Tim McGraw
  • Wide Open Spaces - The Dixie Chicks
  • Born to Fly - Sarah Evans
  • No One Else on Earth - Wynonna Judd
  • Prayin' For Daylight - Rascall Flats
  • The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia - Reba McEntire
  • Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
  • Strawberry Wine - Deana Carter (this one takes me straight back to high school)
  • Forever and Ever Amen - Randy Travis
  • Red Neck Woman - Gretchen Wilson
  • Bye Bye - Jo Dee Messina
  • I Like It, I Love It - Tim McGraw
  • The Devil Went Down To Georgia - The Charlie Daniels Band
  • Girl's Night Out - The Judds
  • Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash
  • Boondocks - Little Big Town
  • Save a Horse - Big n' Rich
  • Famous In a Small Town - Miranda Lambert
  • Fishin' In the Dark - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Leave the Pieces - The Wreckers
  • Red Neck Yacht Club - Craig Morgan
  • All Summer Long - Kid Rock
  • Whose Bed Have Your Boot Been Under - Shania Twain
  • Sin Wagon - Dixie Chicks
I could really go on and on - but the list above are just some of my favorites and are all perfect for a backyard BBQ or a pool party or whatever. Unless you hate country music - then ignore everything I just wrote. However, whatever you are doing this Memorial Day weekend, I hope that you have a great time and that you take a moment to thank all the men and women who have served this country. Have a good one!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

England: Part I

Well, the jet lag has worn off and my bags are unpacked...finally...and so I now have time to show you all some pictures from my trip.

My 8 days there were spent in London and Essex, which is a county in Eastern England. Seeing as England will be a permanent fixture in my life, I had quite a different feeling on this trip. There was not this urgent rush to see as much as I could but rather a more relaxed chance to explore and see new things as they came to me. It is quite exciting being in new places because at every turn you might see something you have never seen before and I absolutely love that about travel in general, but especially in a country where everything has the potential of being something new. It is exhilarating and I think the more you experience that feeling, the more you crave it.

My first night in London (after sleeping for about 3 hours) was spent having an English BBQ. Now, I was quite curious to see how the English throw a BBQ, as we Americans take our BBQ's quite seriously, and low and behold, they did it the English way - and it was scrumptious!!! The picture above shows the bangers being put in the grill and let me tell you, the English know how to make some good sausage. Serve 'em up in a bun with some mustard - delicious!

Shortly after stuffing our faces with various forms of pork and cow (lovely, I know), I heard a jolly little tune drifting through the air, though I did not recognize the song.

"What is that?" I asked.

Before I could even guess, Dan and his friends all shouted, "It's the ice cream man!" Like children they all took off outside shouting, "I want a 99, I want a 99."

'What is a 99?" I asked Dan.

"Oh, you'll see Jocie," he said with a grin.

As you can see in the picture above, that is me with Dan's friends holding two 99's (no, they weren't both for me) and apparently they are a childhood English institution. They looked like normal vanilla ice cream, but it was much different than normal ice cream. It was as if ice cream and marshmallow puff had been blended together. Yummy? Yes. Eat it every day? Oh my God no. All in all it was a blast and I was beyond happy to be with my Dan and his friends at a BBQ in the middle of London. Perfection.

The next day Dan and I headed to the London home of his brother, sister-in-law and their ADORABLE little ones who melt my heart and make me want lots of babies every time they say anything with their adorable little English accents. I cannot help but have visions of my little English children, wearing their Wellies (rainboots) and jumpers (sweaters) and calling me "Mummy." It is almost too cute for me to bare. Okay. I will turn my estrogen-infused brain cells down a bit now to get through the rest of this post without sending Danny-boy running for the hills. Sorry my love, but you know what you signed up for :)

We had a really great day playing with the kids. I would put up more pictures of them, but I feel as though it is wrong to start posting pictures of other people's children on the internet without their approval, so you will have to stick with the pictures above which shows Dan's brother helping his son's friend along on the scooter and Dan side by side with his niece as we all went on a little walk. Trust me though, these kids are too cute for words and I am so happy that we got to spend a day with them.

As you all know, Dan and I met working on the film Coraline and we were both very fortunate to be able to attend the London premiere of the film. It was with both perfect timing and some help from an old boss of mine that I was able to attend this with Dan and I am forever grateful for the chance. The screening was at the May Fair Hotel, one of the most posh hotels in London, as they say over there, and it was a proper little party. Before the movie began all who worked on the film were asked to stand up while everyone clapped, which I think made all of us, who gave our lives away for the film, feel quite appreciated for a moment or two. The after party was a chance for everyone to mingle and I got to see all of my lovely English co-workers/friends who I have quite missed. It sounds funny, but I almost felt at home again surrounded by them all. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres were in constant rotation on perfect silver trays and there was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and closure in the air. But, most of all, (sappy've been warned) I was thrilled to get to see the film with Dan. It was a symbol of where it all began for us and will forever hold a special place in my heart. much lovliness in three short days. There was much more to my trip, including an out of this world wedding, but I am going to post that in the upcoming England: Part II. I could write about it now, but I am tired, have a recorded Oprah episode to watch and need to tend to the apple crisp I currently have baking in the oven. Oh life is exciting.

Later y'all!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just Touched Down in London-Town

As I write this I am looking out a window at a brick row-house that shares a wall the house I am staying in. The brick is a mix-mash of shades of reds, greys and taupes. On top of the house is a chimney that has three little individual smokestacks sticking out of it. Even with the limited view of this house that I currently have, it is so delightfully English and makes me feel so lucky to be able to experience the real life London and not just the touristy bits.

While this time apart that Dan and I are reluctantly dealing with and accepting has been and is going to be hard, I cannot help but think, as I sit here in this London pad, that it is the most worthwhile and fulfilling thing that I have ever, ever embarked upon. My world has opened up and transformed itself more in the last two years than I ever could have imagined. I have been given the gift of Dan in my life and that is worth all of the waiting and lawyer visits and long plane rides and Immigration fees and that intense longing you feel when you are away from the one you love. It is all worth it. Every single second of it.

So, for now I am going to focus on the fact that I am sitting here in London, listening to chirping birds and anxiously waiting for my man to come home for lunch. Seeing him, if even for 10 seconds, is the best part of my day. This time next year, this will all be a distant memory. Now is the time to focus on the now. My time in London with my love. It is the most precious thing I could ask for and I never want to take it for granted.

Sorry for the cheesy/randomness/whatever of this post. My mind is kind of all over the place and this was my attempt to refocus on what is important. I hope you can all find some time today to focus on what is really important in your life - whatever that may be.
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