Archive | March, 2013

The colors, Duke, the colors!

31 Mar

Last night I was looking through all my edited photos of my friend’s visit to London and Paris when I came upon this picture:

paris sunset

“The colors, Duke, the colors!” popped into my head.

What?… Who’s Duke?!

I had absolutely no idea where that phrase came from. So I decided to Google it. Google autocomplete helped me, so I knew this was an actual phrase from something and I wasn’t just losing it. My search took me to Youtube, specifically this commercial:

In other words, I was looking at a beautiful photo of a Paris sunset, and the first thing that came to mind was a 1990s Popsicle commercial. Why?! It has probably been a good 15 years since I have seen that commercial or heard that phrase. I vaguely remember my brother and I quoting it throughout our childhood, but I texted him and he had no recollection of it. It makes me wonder what other treasures my brain is hiding from me, waiting for the right moment to pop up.


London through caffeinated tourist eyes

26 Mar

Showing a friend around London is a bit like watching your favorite movie with a friend for the first time — you constantly have one eye on them — “Will they like this part?” — but are also surprised on what they pick up that you’ve never noticed (like London’s weird postal boxes and the palm trees on your street). It’s almost like seeing it again for the first time. Last week I played tourist in my own city, walking more than I’ve ever walked before, and often in the soul-crushing rain. Oh, the rain. “Soul-crushing” isn’t a strong enough word for it. On Sunday (17 March) when my friend arrived it rained non-stop, but I was prepared for it. I wore my rain boots to Heathrow and never took them off. But then Monday the forecast said it might not rain, so I chanced it. In fact, I basically asked for it because I brought my sunglasses and wore ballet flats. I think you can guess how that went — by 4 o’clock I was standing in the bathroom at Fortnum and Mason with paper towels in my shoes, hating everyone and everything.

Then we got tea. Beautiful, fancy, delicious overpriced tea.

fortnum and mason afternoon tea

And gluten-free scones. I don’t eat a lot of scones — especially gluten-free ones — but these were the best scones I have ever had. (And the jam! And the clotted cream!)

fortnum and mason gluten free scones
I drank an entire beautiful, fancy pot. I’m used to a cuppa or two, but this had to equate to at least five cups. The caffeine hit me hard, in the best way possible. Instead of hating everyone and everything, EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL. Even the rain! And the tourists in the rain! And Big Ben! And the buses! And let’s sit in the front of the double decker bus and go into the deep south of London for gluten-free fish and chips! Because rain is fish and chips weather, and we probably needed greasy food to soak up some of the tea.

I took many a photo during our escapades, which I’m only now starting to sort through. I’ll post more photos over the next week or two (including a post about why you should and should not attempt to see all of Paris in 11 hours), but until then, I’ll leave you with this, which I have not edited or manipulated in any way:

paris at night

You can say Paris is dirty, crowded and overrun with tourists, but you can’t say it’s not beautiful.

A corgi while you wait

16 Mar

In about 12 hours I’ll be headed to Heathrow terminal 4 to pick up one of my best friends — her first time in London, my first time hosting someone who’s not related to me. I’ve got a lot in the pipeline planned for her — a day trip to Paris, a West End show, a live taping of an afternoon talk show — but unfortunately there will not be time for blogging. So until I resume posting in a week (ish…), enjoy this corgi on a swing:

corgi swing

What do windows and corgis have in common?

11 Mar

I did not get the best night’s sleep last night because my window kept farting. Yes, you read that correctly: my bedroom window is flatulent. That’s the only way I can think to describe it.

I first heard the noise a few weeks ago. It was during the day while our upstairs neighbors are renovating (“Noisy gits!”) and I attributed it to whatever they’re doing that requires constant drilling and pounding (which really puts a damper on my “Walking Dead” watching… and my work). I didn’t think twice about it. But then I started hearing it in the evening and on weekends. Our building is very strict on when you’re allowed to drill — I know this because we had an appointment to have Sky satellite TV installed on a weekend, and the engineer came all the way out then had to reschedule because the porter told him he couldn’t drill on a weekend. (Side note: I like that they call cable guys “engineers” here. What do we call them in the US? “Technician?” “Cable guy?” Here the porter also referred to him as the “Sky chap,” but “chap” is another one of those words you can’t say unless you have an English accent, like “cheers.”)

Anyway, so since it couldn’t be drilling on a weekend, the only other logical explanation is window fart. It became a joke between Stephen and me. We’d hear it every so often, I would exclaim “Window fart!” a la Peter Griffin’s “mustache fart,” and move on. It was more comical than a nuisance. Until last night, when the window must have had a bean burrito for dinner. The noise was constant, every few minutes. Every time I would get to sleep, I would be quickly awoken by my window expelling gas.

You probably think I’m joking about all this. Obviously a window cannot fart. But we have poorly designed double pane windows which open like sliding doors. Where the two meet there is a gap of a few millimeters, which doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough for a significant draft to come through and make the bedroom a good 10 degrees colder than the rest of the flat. In an attempt to fix this engineering error, I ran a piece of tape the length of the gap. It seemed to help a bit. But at 7 a.m. I wondered if this was what was causing the noise — it was incredibly windy outside and perhaps some air was trapped in the tape and being forcefully expelled. So I tore the tape down and went back to bed. An hour or two later I woke up to even louder window farts and a cold bedroom. It was not my morning. I tried to hit snooze, but I couldn’t do it. I had to know what was causing the ruckus. So I got a stool and waited for the window to pass gas again. It sounded like it was coming from the top. It was then I realized that Stephen had done some taping of his own at the top of the window. (Seriously, who designed these windows?!) I removed a small strip of it covering the gap. Then I waited. And waited. Then I made breakfast and went on with my day. As far as I know removing that bit of tape was the solution to my problem — my Beano, if you will — but I will know for sure tonight.

And since this post lacks photos, enjoy this corgi fart gif (in keeping with the theme):

corgi fart gif


Dancing ponies and photographing fountains

6 Mar

When I was in college I went through a Fleetwood Mac phase where I basically listened to “Everywhere” on repeat. (Yes, I know I was musically born 20 years too late.) So when I saw this commercial come on while I was watching “The Walking Dead,” I didn’t fast forward the DVR. I rewound it, again and again. Because as much as Three sucks as a phone company, this is one of the best adverts ever created:

Just had to get that out of the way. Now on to the post.

Yesterday was one of those rare days in London when the sky was blue and the sun was out. I hear most of the US got pummeled with snow, but we had 60 degrees and sun. So I went for a walk — a really long walk. For the first time ever I decided to buy theatre tickets in advance, instead of the day of. Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is starring in “Quartermaine’s Terms” and they don’t offer day seats, so I was forced to go to the box office and pay full price for a nosebleed balcony seat for this weekend. I could have taken the tube or the bus to the theatre box office, but I decided to walk the three miles since it was so nice out. I walked through Regent’s Park and Avenue Gardens. I remember the first time I walked through Avenue Gardens I couldn’t believe it was just a short stroll from my flat — it felt like a scene from a Jane Austen novel movie. It’s even more beautiful when the flowers are in bloom.

avenue gardens

And it’s even more serene when you’re the only person there.

avenue gardens 2

I was having issues photographing this fountain since the sun was so bright — I never thought I’d say that about London!

avenue gardens fountain

avenue gardens statue

And then I found a fountain that wasn’t directly in the sun and took my classic shallow depth of field shots.

avenue gardens fountain 2

avenue gardens fountain 3

avenue gardens fountain 4

avenue gardens fountain 5

I think this is supposed to be the English flag, except it should be white instead of purple.

england flowers

As I left Regent’s Park and headed down Marylebone Road, I ran into this statue of JFK. It’s always puzzled me, so I finally decided to Google it.

jfk london

According to

“This statue was paid for by Sunday Telegraph readers to commemorate the great American President. The statue cost £50,000 to build and no one person was allowed to donate more than a pound. John F. Kennedy was one of the greatest allies of the United Kingdom and one of the most famous presidents of all time because of his age and youthful exuberance in the White House. When he was assassinated the people of Britain were just as shocked as those in America as this statue is testimony.”

*Now we know!*

After I got my Mr. Bean ticket as well as tickets to “Once” for when my friend visits in two weeks (!!), I did some shopping on Oxford Street, then decided to catch the bus home because I had walked four miles and my metaphorical dogs were barking. After waiting a good 10 minutes, the bus pulled up and a hoard of people boarded. As each of us got ready to swipe our Oyster cards, the driver waved his hand for us to just get on. Apparently the Oyster card reader was broken, which meant free bus ride! The kicker was some lady got on and didn’t have an Oyster card, so the driver made her pay cash. If she had just woven her wallet like the rest of us, she could have ridden for free, but instead we all had to wait while she fished out £2.40 in coins. Tourists…