Category Archives: Cheap home decor

Part of back garden in a kind of a drawer dollhouse miniatures 1:12

Part of back garden in a kind of a drawer dollhouse miniatures 1:12

Onderdeel van achtertuin in een soort ladebak poppenhuizen miniaturen 1:12
I made this in a kind of a drawer found at a cheap home decor store. The ornamental sides made me think of garden walls. The wire wicker is by Alice Lacey and most of the plants and the garden work bench are by Else Keuker. For the fakehouse I used foamboard covered with stonepaper and for the roof wallpapaper from a samplebook. The door and the window are from plastic and the wall coverings are from a cheap wooden placemat. Grass comes from the modellbuilding. The wooden boards in front of the house are also made of foamboard and such a placemat. I made the pillows and the tablecloth.

Posted by Karin Riper († 24 April 2015) on 2014-12-06 09:12:47

Tagged: , Karin Riper , dollhouse , miniatures , 1:12 , miniature backyard , backyard , miniature garden , garden , Alice Lacey , Else Keuker , handmade , diy , do it yourself , display , setting , scene , I made it myself , Made by me

Cheap Blue and White Porcelain Vase

Cheap Blue and White Porcelain Vase

1.Item name:cheap blue and white porcelain vase
2.Place of origin:Jingdezhen,China
3.Material:porcelain,ceramic
4.Function:room/home decor accessories,creative vase decor gifts for birthday,christmas,wedding or centerpiece,cool crafts collection for dad,mom,girl,lady,women or vase lovers/enthusiast
5.Features:hand painted flower on the vase with high collection value
6.Size:height 30cm,width 19cm,dial 10cm
7.Color:blue and white
8.Foam and shockproof box packing
9.Delivery time:4-10 days by EMS,not available by DHL,Fedex or China Post because of big packing size and heavy weight
10.Welcome wholesales order, please send us email for mass production inquiry
www.ufingo.com/cheap-blue-and-white-porcelain-vase-p-955….

Posted by Ufingo on 2013-01-02 01:00:07

Tagged: , Cheap , Blue , White , Porcelain , Vase

Valencia 2014 (5) 091 – La Lonja The Silk Exchange Interior

Valencia 2014 (5) 091 - La Lonja The Silk Exchange Interior

We decided to go for a city break rather than sun in Tenerife again this September. Other than a few days in the North East we haven’t been away since last March and wanted a change and hopefully some sun. The problem is getting flights from the north of England to the places we want to go to. We chose Valencia as we could fly from East Midlands – which was still a pain to get to as it involved the most notorious stretch of the M1 at five in the morning. In the end we had a fairly good journey, the new Ryanair business class pre-booked scheme worked quite well and bang on time as usual. It was dull when we landed with storms forecast all week, the sky was bright grey – the kiss of death to the photography I had in mind. I was full of cold and wishing I was at work. It did rain but it was overnight on our first night and didn’t affect us. There has been a drought for eleven months apparently and it rained on our first day there! The forecast storms didn’t materialise in Valencia but they got it elsewhere.

You May notice discrepancies in the spelling of some Spanish words or names, this is because Valencian is used on signs, in some guide books and maps. There are two languages in common use with distinct differences. There may also be genuine mistakes – it has been known!

Over the course of a Monday to Sunday week we covered 75 miles on foot and saw most of the best of Valencia – The City of Bell Towers. The Old City covers a pretty large area in a very confusing layout. There was a lot of referring to maps – even compass readings! – a first in a city for us. The problem with photography in Valencia is that most of the famous and attractive building are closely built around, some have poor quality housing built on to them. Most photographs have to be taken from an extreme angle looking up. There are no high points as it is pan flat, there are a small number of buildings where you can pay to go up on to the roof for a better view and we went up them – more than once!

The modern buildings of The City of Arts and Sciences – ( Ciutat de Las Arts I de les Ciencies ) are what the city has more recently become famous for, with tourists arriving by the coachload all day until late at night. They must be photographed millions of times a month. We went during the day and stayed till dark one evening, I gave it my best shot but a first time visit is always a compromise between ambition and realism, time dictates that we have to move on to the next destination. I travelled with a full size tripod – another first – I forgot to take it with me to TCoAaS! so It was time to wind up the ISO, again! Needless to say I never used the tripod.

On a day when rain was forecast but it stayed fine, albeit a bit dull, we went to the Bioparc north west of the city, a zoo by another name. There are many claims made for this place, were you can appear to walk alongside some very large animals, including, elephants, lions, giraffe, rhino, gorillas and many types of monkey to name a few. It is laid out in different geographical regions and there is very little between you and the animals, in some cases there is nothing, you enter the enclosure through a double door arrangement and the monkeys are around you. It gets rave reviews and we stayed for most of the day. The animals it has to be said gave the appearance of extreme boredom and frustration and I felt quite sorry for them.

The course of The River Turia was altered after a major flood in the 50’s. The new river runs west of the city flanked by a motorway. The old river, which is massive, deep and very wide between ancient walls, I can’t imagine how it flooded, has been turned into a park that is five miles long. There is an athletics track, football pitches, cycle paths, restaurants, numerous kids parks, ponds, fountains, loads of bridges, historic and modern. At the western end closest to the sea sits The City of Arts and Sciences – in the river bed. Where it meets the sea there is Valencia’s urban Formula One racetrack finishing in the massive marina built for The Americas Cup. The race track is in use as roadways complete with fully removable street furniture, kerbs, bollards, lights, islands and crossings, everything is just sat on the surface ready to be moved.

We found the beach almost by accident, we were desperate for food after putting in a lot of miles and the afternoon was ticking by. What a beach, 100’s of metres wide and stretching as far as the eye could see with a massive promenade. The hard thing was choosing, out of the dozens of restaurants, all next door to each other, all serving traditional Paella – rabbit and chicken – as well as seafood, we don’t eat seafood and it constituted 90% of the menu in most places. Every restaurant does a fixed price dish of the day, with a few choices, three courses and a drink. Some times this was our only meal besides making the most of the continental breakfast at the hotel. We had a fair few bar stops with the local wine being cheap and pleasant it would have been a shame not to, there would have been a one woman riot – or strike!

On our final day, a Sunday, we were out of bed and down for breakfast at 7.45 as usual, the place was deserted barring a waiter. We walked out of the door at 8.30 – in to the middle of a mass road race with many thousands of runners, one of a series that take place in Valencia – apparently! We struggled to find out the distance, possibly 10km. The finish was just around the corner so off we went with the camera gear, taking photos of random runners and groups. There was a TV crew filming it and some local celebrity (I think) commentating. Next we came across some sort of wandering religious and musical event. Some sort of ritual was played out over the course of Sunday morning in various locations, it involved catholic priests and religious buildings and another film crew. The Catholic tourists and locals were filling the (many) churches for Sunday mass. Amongst all of this we had seen men walking around in Arab style dress – the ones in black looked like the ones from ISIS currently beheading people – all carrying guns. A bit disconcerting. We assumed that there had been some sort of battle enactment. We were wrong, it hadn’t happened yet. A while later, about 11.30 we could hear banging, fireworks? No it was our friends with the guns. We were caught up in total mayhem, around 60 men randomly firing muskets with some sort of blank rounds, the noise, smoke and flames from the muzzles were incredible. We were about to climb the Torres de Serranos which is where, unbeknown to us, the grand, and deafening, finale was going to be. We could feel the blast in our faces on top of the tower. Yet again there was a film camera in attendance. I couldn’t get close ups but I got a good overview and shot my first video with the 5D, my first in 5 years of owning a DLSR with the capability. I usually use my phone ( I used my phone as well). Later in the day there was a bullfight taking place, the ring was almost next to our hotel, in the end we had other things to do and gave it a miss, it was certainly a busy Sunday in the city centre, whether it’s the norm or not I don’t know.

There is a tram system in Valencia but it goes from the port area into the newer part of the city on the north side, it wouldn’t be feasible to serve the historic old city really. A quick internet search told me that there are 55,000 university students in the city, a pretty big number. I think a lot of the campus is on the north side and served by the tram although there is a massive fleet of buses as well. There is a massive, very impressive market building , with 100’s of stalls that would make a photo project on its own, beautiful on the inside and out but very difficult to get decent photos of the exterior other than detail shots owing to the closeness of other buildings and the sheer size of it. Across town, another market has been beautifully renovated and is full of bars and restaurants and a bit of a destination in its own right.

A downside was the all too typical shafting by the taxi drivers who use every trick in the book to side step the official tariffs and rob you. The taxi from the airport had a “broken” meter and on the way home we were driven 22 km instead of the nine that is the actual distance. Some of them seem to view tourists as cash cows to be robbed at all costs. I emailed the Marriot hotel as they ordered the taxi, needless to say no answer from Marriot – they’ve had their money. We didn’t get the rip off treatment in the bars etc. that we experienced in Rome, prices are very fair on most things, certainly considering the city location.

All in all we had a good trip and can highly recommend Valencia.

Posted by Mark Schofield @ JB Schofield on 2014-10-25 11:26:44

Tagged: , VALENCIA , SPAIN , Spanish tourism , CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES , CIUTAT DE LES ARTES I DE LES CIENCIES , L’AGORA , PALACIO DE LAS ARTES , GOLDEN DAM BRIDGE , L’HEMISFERIC , MUSEO DE LAS CIENCIES , MUSEUM , SCIENCE , OPERA , HOUSE , LA LONJA , INTERIOR , DECOR , MARBLE , PILLARS , THE SILK EXCHANGE , GOTHIC , PRISON , CHAPEL , VAULTED , CEILING , LONJA DE LA SEDA

Quebec-home-sale-6

Quebec-home-sale-6

Quebec home – most unique ever

Posted by ComFree.com on 2011-07-08 13:46:18

Tagged: , freaky home , home decor , unique home , beautiful home , home design , cheap home , quebec home , comfree.com , canada home , canadian homes

Red Dragon Village in Tehama

Red Dragon Village in Tehama

March 2007

The Red Dragon Village was the first place I accidentally landed in after flying too far during the flying lesson at Orientation Island, and then I had no idea how to get back, so I never finished all the lessons there. The Red Dragon Village in Tehama was one of the early builds of SL, going back to 2003, and beautifully designed by its owner and creator, Snakekiss Noir.

Besides her own home on the hill above the village, there is a store where she sells furniture, rugs, ceramics, screens, and art prints…many of the items created by her. The village centers around a traditional outdoor marketplace with the voices and sounds of an actual market.

To each side of the market are small buildings which those who don’t own land in SL can rent at a very low cost. The land around the village, including a large park is nicely landscaped. From your rental you can hear the sounds of birds and insects, and the occasional ring of Japanese chimes. The stream plays very traditional Japanese music.

Snakekiss has information cards at various points around the village which are quite helpful to someone new to SL. Here is what she wrote in a notecard about the Red Dragon Village:

"Red Dragon Village was my pilot project for a Japanese new starter living community. I have spent nearly 3 years since 2003 making Tehama into a mostly Japanese-themed garden sim with a peaceful and much liked tranquil atmosphere and natural scenery, with profusion of trees, plants, bushes, flowers and plants by SL’s top plant makers. We have forests, waterfalls, bridges and lakes and a variety of garden and land types and are proudly a SL Parks & Rec Service Member and chosen SL Parks Garden."

"Tehama is a peaceful, pleasant sim. We have no large high builds apart from the Tower and a splendid old castle, and no clubs, malls, huge signs, noisy or visually disturbing builds and a sense of tranquil integration where the whole sim almost looks like one large lovely garden."

"The only sounds you will hear are birds, insects, water and the occasional eastern or pleasant style radio stream on my lands. This is the home of Neo Japan Gardens, Neo Japan Store and Red Dragon Market and a haven for all those into the Japanese, Chinese, or eastern influenced life. You can buy most eastern items here, and also find many quiet places to sit, think and plan your SL projects."

"Red Dragon Village has been extended twice and now offers 10 small, but stylish Neo Japanese town house units which are designed to make a close and welcoming community situated in a well landscaped sim. They are ideal for artists, those interested in Japanese living, or anyone wanting a peaceful sim to live in that won’t ever end up with a nightclub or shopping Mall next door, well not on my land anyway. Many people have started their SL homes here in these VERY cheap rental houses, and then moved on to land, or to larger rentals or with friends."

"You can create furniture here, and art, and add plants and pots and tubs, and decor items to personalize your home. You can stay as long as you want until you are ready to move home and maybe get a land plot, or larger house, or rental. Each house comes with some essential starter possessions from Neo Japan Store, a free modifiable futon bed, seats ..and other items if requested. "
,

Because I knew nothing about the rest of SL at this point, at first I just used this village as my home base to explore out from. The rental houses were very popular, so it was very hard to find one free, but I kept my eye open, and finally found one in mid-March 2007.

Update: After renting a house in Red Dragon Village for almost a year, sometime around Feb 2008, Snakekiss Noir sent notice to all the renters that she was forced to sell the land this village sits on, due to rising costs, and other problems, so the village completely disappeared from SL by the first of March 2008.

She still retained another build of hers..the snowy Japanese village of Silk Waters mountain, located in Orelle, and parts of the Verbier, and Ayas sims, and being the very thoughtful, kind, and generous landlord that she is, she did help find, or create rentals for those loyal long-time residents of Red Dragon Village who were losing their homes, and were interested in moving to Silk Water’s Mountain.

Posted by Hitomi Mokusei on 2007-05-06 07:01:40

Tagged: , second life , sl , virtual world , red dragon village , tehama , snakekiss noir , evening , full moon

IMG_2075

IMG_2075

9.4.09
The flight arrived on time; and the twelve hours while on board passed quickly and without incident. To be sure, the quality of the Cathay Pacific service was exemplary once again.

Heathrow reminds me of Newark International. The décor comes straight out of the sterile 80’s and is less an eyesore than an insipid background to the rhythm of human activity, such hustle and bustle, at the fore. There certainly are faces from all races present, creating a rich mosaic of humanity which is refreshing if not completely revitalizing after swimming for so long in a sea of Chinese faces in Hong Kong.

Internet access is sealed in England, it seems. Nothing is free; everything is egregiously monetized from the wireless hotspots down to the desktop terminals. I guess Hong Kong has spoiled me with its abundant, free access to the information superhighway.

11.4.09
Despite staying in a room with five other backpackers, I have been sleeping well. The mattress and pillow are firm; my earplugs keep the noise out; and the sleeping quarters are as dark as a cave when the lights are out, and only as bright as, perhaps, a dreary rainy day when on. All in all, St. Paul’s is a excellent place to stay for the gregarious, adventurous, and penurious city explorer – couchsurfing may be a tenable alternative; I’ll test for next time.

Yesterday Connie and I gorged ourselves at the borough market where there were all sorts of delectable, savory victuals. There was definitely a European flavor to the food fair: simmering sausages were to be found everywhere; and much as the meat was plentiful, and genuine, so were the dairy delicacies, in the form of myriad rounds of cheese, stacked high behind checkered tabletops. Of course, we washed these tasty morsels down with copious amounts of alcohol that flowed from cups as though amber waterfalls. For the first time I tried mulled wine, which tasted like warm, rancid fruit punch – the ideal tonic for a drizzling London day, I suppose. We later killed the afternoon at the pub, shooting the breeze while imbibing several diminutive half-pints in the process. Getting smashed at four in the afternoon doesn’t seem like such a bad thing anymore, especially when you are having fun in the company of friends; I can more appreciate why the English do it so much!

Earlier in the day, we visited the Tate Modern. Its turbine room lived up to its prominent billing what with a giant spider, complete with bulbous egg sac, anchoring the retrospective exhibit. The permanent galleries, too, were a delight upon which to feast one’s eyes. Picasso, Warhol and Pollock ruled the chambers of the upper floors with the products of their lithe wrists; and I ended up becoming a huge fan of cubism, while developing a disdain for abstract art and its vacuous images, which, I feel, are devoid of both motivation and emotion.

My first trip yesterday morning was to Emirates Stadium, home of the Arsenal Gunners. It towers imperiously over the surrounding neighborhood; yet for all its majesty, the place sure was quiet! Business did pick up later, however, once the armory shop opened, and dozens of fans descended on it like bees to a hive. I, too, swooped in on a gift-buying mission, and wound up purchasing a book for Godfrey, a scarf for a student, and a jersey – on sale, of course – for good measure.

I’m sitting in the Westminster Abbey Museum now, resting my weary legs and burdened back. So far, I’ve been verily impressed with what I’ve seen, such a confluence of splendor and history before me that it would require days to absorb it all, when regretfully I can spare only a few hours. My favorite part of the abbey is the poets corner where no less a literary luminary than Samuel Johnson rests in peace – his bust confirms his homely presence, which was so vividly captured in his biography.

For lunch I had a steak and ale pie, served with mash, taken alongside a Guinness, extra cold – 2 degrees centigrade colder, the bartender explained. It went down well, like all the other delicious meals I’ve had in England; and no doubt by now I have grown accustomed to inebriation at half past two. Besides, Liverpool were playing inspired football against Blackburn; and my lunch was complete.

Having had my fill of football, I decided to skip my ticket scalping endeavor at Stamford Bridge and instead wandered over to the British Museum to inspect their extensive collections. Along the way, my eye caught a theater, its doors wide open and admitting customers. With much rapidity, I subsequently checked the show times, saw that a performance was set to begin, and at last rushed to the box office to purchase a discounted ticket – if you call a 40 pound ticket a deal, that is. That’s how I grabbed a seat to watch Hairspray in the West End.

The show was worth forty pounds. The music was addictive; and the stage design and effects were not so much kitschy as delightfully stimulating – the pulsating background lights were at once scintillating and penetrating. The actors as well were vivacious, oozing charisma while they danced and delivered lines dripping in humor. Hairspray is a quality production and most definitely recommended.

12.4.09
At breakfast I sat across from a man who asked me to which country Hong Kong had been returned – China or Japan. That was pretty funny. Then he started spitting on my food as he spoke, completely oblivious to my breakfast becoming the receptacle in which the fruit of his inner churl was being placed. I guess I understand the convention nowadays of covering one’s mouth whilst speaking and masticating at the same time!

We actually conversed on London life in general, and I praised London for its racial integration, the act of which is a prodigious leap of faith for any society, trying to be inclusive, accepting all sorts of people. It wasn’t as though the Brits were trying in vain to be all things to all men, using Spanish with the visitors from Spain, German with the Germans and, even, Hindi with the Indians, regardless of whether or not Hindi was their native language; not even considering the absurd idea of encouraging the international adoption of their language; thereby completely keeping English in English hands and allowing its proud polyglots to "practice" their languages. Indeed, the attempt of the Londoners to avail themselves of the rich mosaic of ethnic knowledge, and to seek a common understanding with a ubiquitous English accent is an exemplar, and the bedrock for any world city.

I celebrated Jesus’ resurrection at the St. Andrew’s Street Church in Cambridge. The parishioners of this Baptist church were warm and affable, and I met several of them, including one visiting (Halliday) linguistics scholar from Zhongshan university in Guangzhou, who in fact had visited my tiny City University of Hong Kong in 2003. The service itself was more traditional and the believers fewer in number than the "progressive" services at any of the charismatic, evangelical churches in HK; yet that’s what makes this part of the body of Christ unique; besides, the message was as brief as a powerpoint slide, and informative no less; the power word which spoke into my life being a question from John 21:22 – what is that to you?

Big trees; exquisite lawns; and old, pointy colleges; that’s Cambridge in a nutshell. Sitting here, sipping on a half-pint of Woodforde’s Wherry, I’ve had a leisurely, if not languorous, day so far; my sole duty consisting of walking around while absorbing the verdant environment as though a sponge, camera in tow.

I am back at the sublime beer, savoring a pint of Sharp’s DoomBar before my fish and chips arrive; the drinking age is 18, but anyone whose visage even hints of youthful brilliance is likely to get carded these days, the bartender told me. The youth drinking culture here is almost as twisted as the university drinking culture in America.

My stay in Cambridge, relaxing and desultory as it may be, is about to end after this late lunch. I an not sure if there is anything left to see, save for the American graveyard which rests an impossible two miles away. I have had a wonderful time in this town; and am thankful for the access into its living history – the residents here must demonstrate remarkable patience and tolerance what with so many tourists ambling on the streets, peering – and photographing – into every nook and cranny.

13.4.09
There are no rubbish bins, yet I’ve seen on the streets many mixed race couples in which the men tend to be white – the women also belonging to a light colored ethnicity, usually some sort of Asian; as well saw some black dudes and Indian dudes with white chicks.

People here hold doors, even at the entrance to the toilet. Sometimes it appears as though they are going out on a limb, just waiting for the one who will take the responsibility for the door from them, at which point I rush out to relieve them of such a fortuitous burden.

I visited the British Museum this morning. The two hours I spent there did neither myself nor the exhibits any justice because there really is too much to survey, enough captivating stuff to last an entire day, I think. The bottomless well of artifacts from antiquity, drawing from sources as diverse as Korea, and Mesopotamia, is a credit to the British empire, without whose looting most of this amazing booty would be unavailable for our purview; better, I think, for these priceless treasures to be open to all in the grandest supermarket of history than away from human eyes, and worst yet, in the hands of unscrupulous collectors or in the rubbish bin, possibly.

Irene and I took in the ballet Giselle at The Royal Opera House in the afternoon. The building is a plush marvel, and a testament to this city’s love for the arts. The ballet itself was satisfying, the first half being superior to the second, in which the nimble dancers demonstrated their phenomenal dexterity in, of all places, a graveyard covered in a cloak of smoke and darkness. I admit, their dance of the dead, in such a gloomy necropolis, did strike me as, strange.

Two amicable ladies from Kent convinced me to visit their hometown tomorrow, where, they told me, the authentic, "working" Leeds Castle and the mighty interesting home of Charles Darwin await.

I’m nursing a pint of Green King Ruddles and wondering about the profusion of British ales and lagers; the British have done a great deed for the world by creating an interminable line of low-alcohol session beers that can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner; and their disservice is this: besides this inexhaustible supply of cheap beer ensnaring my inner alcoholic, I feel myself putting on my freshman fifteen, almost ten years after the fact; I am going to have to run a bit harder back in Hong Kong if I want to burn all this malty fuel off.

Irene suggested I stop by the National Art Gallery since we were in the area; and it was an hour well spent. The gallery currently presents a special exhibit on Picasso, the non-ticketed section of which features several seductive renderings, including David spying on Bathsheba – repeated in clever variants – and parodies of other masters’ works. Furthermore, the main gallery houses two fabulous portraits by Joshua Reynolds, who happens to be favorite of mine, he in life being a close friend of Samuel Johnson – I passed by Boswells, where its namesake first met Johnson, on my way to the opera house.

14.4.09
I prayed last night, and went through my list, lifting everyone on it up to the Lord. That felt good; that God is alive now, and ever present in my life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters.

Doubtless, then, I have felt quite wistful, as though a specter in the land of the living, being in a place where religious fervor, it seems, is a thing of the past, a trifling for many, to be hidden away in the opaque corners of centuries-old cathedrals that are more expensive tourist destinations than liberating homes of worship these days. Indeed, I have yet to see anyone pray, outside of the Easter service which I attended in Cambridge – for such an ecstatic moment in verily a grand church, would you believe that it was only attended by at most three dozen spirited ones. The people of England, and Europe in general, have, it is my hope, only locked away the Word, relegating it to the quiet vault of their hearts. May it be taken out in the sudden pause before mealtimes and in the still crisp mornings and cool, silent nights. There is still hope for a revival in this place, for faith to rise like that splendid sun every morning. God would love to rescue them, to deliver them in this day, it is certain.

I wonder what Londoners think, if anything at all, about their police state which, like a vine in the shadows, has taken root in all corners of daily life, from the terrorist notifications in the underground, which implore Londoners to report all things suspicious, to the pair of dogs which eagerly stroll through Euston. What makes this all the more incredible is the fact that even the United States, the indomitable nemesis of the fledgling, rebel order, doesn’t dare bombard its citizens with such fear mongering these days, especially with Obama in office; maybe we’ve grown wise in these past few years to the dubious returns of surrendering civil liberties to the state, of having our bags checked everywhere – London Eye; Hairspray; and The Royal Opera House check bags in London while the museums do not; somehow, that doesn’t add up for me.

I’m in a majestic bookshop on New Street in Birmingham, and certainly to confirm my suspicions, there are just as many books on the death of Christianity in Britain as there are books which attempt to murder Christianity everywhere. I did find, however, a nice biography on John Wesley by Roy Hattersley and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I may pick up the former.

Lunch with Sally was pleasant and mirthful. We dined at a French restaurant nearby New Street – yes, Birmingham is a cultural capitol! Sally and I both tried their omelette, while her boyfriend had the fish, without chips. Conversation was light, the levity was there and so was our reminiscing about those fleeting moments during our first year in Hong Kong; it is amazing how friendships can resume so suddenly with a smile. On their recommendation, I am on my way to Warwick Castle – they also suggested that I visit Cadbury World, but they cannot take on additional visitors at the moment, the tourist office staff informed me, much to my disappointment!

Visiting Warwick Castle really made for a great day out. The castle, parts of which were established by William the Conquerer in 1068, is as much a kitschy tourist trap as a meticulous preservation of history, at times a sillier version of Ocean Park while at others a dignified dedication to a most glorious, inexorably English past. The castle caters to all visitors; and not surprisingly, that which delighted all audiences was a giant trebuchet siege engine, which for the five p.m. performance hurled a fireball high and far into the air – fantastic! Taliban beware!

15.4.09
I’m leaving on a jet plane this evening; don’t know when I’ll be back in England again. I’ll miss this quirky, yet endearing place; and that I shall miss Irene and Tom who so generously welcomed me into their home, fed me, and suffered my use of their toilet and shower goes without saying. I’m grateful for God’s many blessings on this trip.

On the itinerary today is a trip to John Wesley’s home, followed by a visit to the Imperial War Museum. Already this morning I picked up a tube of Oilatum, a week late perhaps, which Teri recommended I use to treat this obstinate, dermal weakness of mine – I’m happy to report that my skin has stopped crying.

John Wesley’s home is alive and well. Services are still held in the chapel everyday; and its crypt, so far from being a cellar for the dead, is a bright, spacious museum in which all things Wesley are on display – I never realized how much of an iconic figure he became in England; at the height of this idol frenzy, ironic in itself, he must have been as popular as the Beatles were at their apex. The house itself is a multi-story edifice with narrow, precipitous staircases and spacious rooms decorated in an 18th century fashion.

I found Samuel Johnson’s house within a maze of red brick hidden alongside Fleet Street. To be in the home of the man who wrote the English dictionary, and whose indefatigable love for obscure words became the inspiration for my own lexical obsession, this, by far, is the climax of my visit to England! The best certainly has been saved for last.

There are a multitude of portraits hanging around the house like ornaments on a tree. Every likeness has its own story, meticulously retold on the crib sheets in each room. Celebrities abound, including David Garrick and Sir Joshua Reynolds, who painted several of the finer images in the house. I have developed a particular affinity for Oliver Goldsmith, of whom Boswell writes, "His person was short, his countenance coarse and vulgar, his deportment that of a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. It appears as though I, too, could use a more flattering description of myself!

I regretfully couldn’t stop to try the curry in England; I guess the CityU canteen’s take on the dish will have to do. I did, however, have the opportune task of flirting with the cute Cathay Pacific counter staff who checked me in. She was gorgeous in red, light powder on her cheeks, with real diamond earrings, she said; and her small, delicate face, commanded by a posh British accent rendered her positively irresistible, electrifying. Not only did she grant me an aisle seat but she had the gumption to return my fawning with zest; she must be a pro at this by now.

I saw her again as she was pulling double-duty, collecting tickets prior to boarding. She remembered my quest for curry; and in the fog of infatuation, where nary a man has been made, I fumbled my words like the sloppy kid who has had too much punch. I am just an amateur, alas, an "Oliver Goldsmith" with the ladies – I got no game – booyah!

Some final, consequential bits: because of the chavs, Burberry no longer sells those fashionable baseball caps; because of the IRA, rubbish bins are no longer a commodity on the streets of London, and as a result, the streets and the Underground of the city are a soiled mess; and because of other terrorists from distant, more arid lands, going through a Western airport has taken on the tedium of perfunctory procedure that doesn’t make me feel any safer from my invisible enemies.

At last, I saw so many Indians working at Heathrow that I could have easily mistaken the place for Mumbai. Their presence surprised me because their portion of the general population surely must be less than their portion of Heathrow staff, indicating some mysterious hiring bias. Regardless, they do a superb job with cursory airport checks, and in general are absurdly funny and witty when not tactless.

That’s all for England!

Posted by Wootang01 on 2009-04-17 11:57:35

Tagged: , london , england , britain , vacation , holiday , travel , tour

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IMG_2243

9.4.09
The flight arrived on time; and the twelve hours while on board passed quickly and without incident. To be sure, the quality of the Cathay Pacific service was exemplary once again.

Heathrow reminds me of Newark International. The décor comes straight out of the sterile 80’s and is less an eyesore than an insipid background to the rhythm of human activity, such hustle and bustle, at the fore. There certainly are faces from all races present, creating a rich mosaic of humanity which is refreshing if not completely revitalizing after swimming for so long in a sea of Chinese faces in Hong Kong.

Internet access is sealed in England, it seems. Nothing is free; everything is egregiously monetized from the wireless hotspots down to the desktop terminals. I guess Hong Kong has spoiled me with its abundant, free access to the information superhighway.

11.4.09
Despite staying in a room with five other backpackers, I have been sleeping well. The mattress and pillow are firm; my earplugs keep the noise out; and the sleeping quarters are as dark as a cave when the lights are out, and only as bright as, perhaps, a dreary rainy day when on. All in all, St. Paul’s is a excellent place to stay for the gregarious, adventurous, and penurious city explorer – couchsurfing may be a tenable alternative; I’ll test for next time.

Yesterday Connie and I gorged ourselves at the borough market where there were all sorts of delectable, savory victuals. There was definitely a European flavor to the food fair: simmering sausages were to be found everywhere; and much as the meat was plentiful, and genuine, so were the dairy delicacies, in the form of myriad rounds of cheese, stacked high behind checkered tabletops. Of course, we washed these tasty morsels down with copious amounts of alcohol that flowed from cups as though amber waterfalls. For the first time I tried mulled wine, which tasted like warm, rancid fruit punch – the ideal tonic for a drizzling London day, I suppose. We later killed the afternoon at the pub, shooting the breeze while imbibing several diminutive half-pints in the process. Getting smashed at four in the afternoon doesn’t seem like such a bad thing anymore, especially when you are having fun in the company of friends; I can more appreciate why the English do it so much!

Earlier in the day, we visited the Tate Modern. Its turbine room lived up to its prominent billing what with a giant spider, complete with bulbous egg sac, anchoring the retrospective exhibit. The permanent galleries, too, were a delight upon which to feast one’s eyes. Picasso, Warhol and Pollock ruled the chambers of the upper floors with the products of their lithe wrists; and I ended up becoming a huge fan of cubism, while developing a disdain for abstract art and its vacuous images, which, I feel, are devoid of both motivation and emotion.

My first trip yesterday morning was to Emirates Stadium, home of the Arsenal Gunners. It towers imperiously over the surrounding neighborhood; yet for all its majesty, the place sure was quiet! Business did pick up later, however, once the armory shop opened, and dozens of fans descended on it like bees to a hive. I, too, swooped in on a gift-buying mission, and wound up purchasing a book for Godfrey, a scarf for a student, and a jersey – on sale, of course – for good measure.

I’m sitting in the Westminster Abbey Museum now, resting my weary legs and burdened back. So far, I’ve been verily impressed with what I’ve seen, such a confluence of splendor and history before me that it would require days to absorb it all, when regretfully I can spare only a few hours. My favorite part of the abbey is the poets corner where no less a literary luminary than Samuel Johnson rests in peace – his bust confirms his homely presence, which was so vividly captured in his biography.

For lunch I had a steak and ale pie, served with mash, taken alongside a Guinness, extra cold – 2 degrees centigrade colder, the bartender explained. It went down well, like all the other delicious meals I’ve had in England; and no doubt by now I have grown accustomed to inebriation at half past two. Besides, Liverpool were playing inspired football against Blackburn; and my lunch was complete.

Having had my fill of football, I decided to skip my ticket scalping endeavor at Stamford Bridge and instead wandered over to the British Museum to inspect their extensive collections. Along the way, my eye caught a theater, its doors wide open and admitting customers. With much rapidity, I subsequently checked the show times, saw that a performance was set to begin, and at last rushed to the box office to purchase a discounted ticket – if you call a 40 pound ticket a deal, that is. That’s how I grabbed a seat to watch Hairspray in the West End.

The show was worth forty pounds. The music was addictive; and the stage design and effects were not so much kitschy as delightfully stimulating – the pulsating background lights were at once scintillating and penetrating. The actors as well were vivacious, oozing charisma while they danced and delivered lines dripping in humor. Hairspray is a quality production and most definitely recommended.

12.4.09
At breakfast I sat across from a man who asked me to which country Hong Kong had been returned – China or Japan. That was pretty funny. Then he started spitting on my food as he spoke, completely oblivious to my breakfast becoming the receptacle in which the fruit of his inner churl was being placed. I guess I understand the convention nowadays of covering one’s mouth whilst speaking and masticating at the same time!

We actually conversed on London life in general, and I praised London for its racial integration, the act of which is a prodigious leap of faith for any society, trying to be inclusive, accepting all sorts of people. It wasn’t as though the Brits were trying in vain to be all things to all men, using Spanish with the visitors from Spain, German with the Germans and, even, Hindi with the Indians, regardless of whether or not Hindi was their native language; not even considering the absurd idea of encouraging the international adoption of their language; thereby completely keeping English in English hands and allowing its proud polyglots to "practice" their languages. Indeed, the attempt of the Londoners to avail themselves of the rich mosaic of ethnic knowledge, and to seek a common understanding with a ubiquitous English accent is an exemplar, and the bedrock for any world city.

I celebrated Jesus’ resurrection at the St. Andrew’s Street Church in Cambridge. The parishioners of this Baptist church were warm and affable, and I met several of them, including one visiting (Halliday) linguistics scholar from Zhongshan university in Guangzhou, who in fact had visited my tiny City University of Hong Kong in 2003. The service itself was more traditional and the believers fewer in number than the "progressive" services at any of the charismatic, evangelical churches in HK; yet that’s what makes this part of the body of Christ unique; besides, the message was as brief as a powerpoint slide, and informative no less; the power word which spoke into my life being a question from John 21:22 – what is that to you?

Big trees; exquisite lawns; and old, pointy colleges; that’s Cambridge in a nutshell. Sitting here, sipping on a half-pint of Woodforde’s Wherry, I’ve had a leisurely, if not languorous, day so far; my sole duty consisting of walking around while absorbing the verdant environment as though a sponge, camera in tow.

I am back at the sublime beer, savoring a pint of Sharp’s DoomBar before my fish and chips arrive; the drinking age is 18, but anyone whose visage even hints of youthful brilliance is likely to get carded these days, the bartender told me. The youth drinking culture here is almost as twisted as the university drinking culture in America.

My stay in Cambridge, relaxing and desultory as it may be, is about to end after this late lunch. I an not sure if there is anything left to see, save for the American graveyard which rests an impossible two miles away. I have had a wonderful time in this town; and am thankful for the access into its living history – the residents here must demonstrate remarkable patience and tolerance what with so many tourists ambling on the streets, peering – and photographing – into every nook and cranny.

13.4.09
There are no rubbish bins, yet I’ve seen on the streets many mixed race couples in which the men tend to be white – the women also belonging to a light colored ethnicity, usually some sort of Asian; as well saw some black dudes and Indian dudes with white chicks.

People here hold doors, even at the entrance to the toilet. Sometimes it appears as though they are going out on a limb, just waiting for the one who will take the responsibility for the door from them, at which point I rush out to relieve them of such a fortuitous burden.

I visited the British Museum this morning. The two hours I spent there did neither myself nor the exhibits any justice because there really is too much to survey, enough captivating stuff to last an entire day, I think. The bottomless well of artifacts from antiquity, drawing from sources as diverse as Korea, and Mesopotamia, is a credit to the British empire, without whose looting most of this amazing booty would be unavailable for our purview; better, I think, for these priceless treasures to be open to all in the grandest supermarket of history than away from human eyes, and worst yet, in the hands of unscrupulous collectors or in the rubbish bin, possibly.

Irene and I took in the ballet Giselle at The Royal Opera House in the afternoon. The building is a plush marvel, and a testament to this city’s love for the arts. The ballet itself was satisfying, the first half being superior to the second, in which the nimble dancers demonstrated their phenomenal dexterity in, of all places, a graveyard covered in a cloak of smoke and darkness. I admit, their dance of the dead, in such a gloomy necropolis, did strike me as, strange.

Two amicable ladies from Kent convinced me to visit their hometown tomorrow, where, they told me, the authentic, "working" Leeds Castle and the mighty interesting home of Charles Darwin await.

I’m nursing a pint of Green King Ruddles and wondering about the profusion of British ales and lagers; the British have done a great deed for the world by creating an interminable line of low-alcohol session beers that can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner; and their disservice is this: besides this inexhaustible supply of cheap beer ensnaring my inner alcoholic, I feel myself putting on my freshman fifteen, almost ten years after the fact; I am going to have to run a bit harder back in Hong Kong if I want to burn all this malty fuel off.

Irene suggested I stop by the National Art Gallery since we were in the area; and it was an hour well spent. The gallery currently presents a special exhibit on Picasso, the non-ticketed section of which features several seductive renderings, including David spying on Bathsheba – repeated in clever variants – and parodies of other masters’ works. Furthermore, the main gallery houses two fabulous portraits by Joshua Reynolds, who happens to be favorite of mine, he in life being a close friend of Samuel Johnson – I passed by Boswells, where its namesake first met Johnson, on my way to the opera house.

14.4.09
I prayed last night, and went through my list, lifting everyone on it up to the Lord. That felt good; that God is alive now, and ever present in my life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters.

Doubtless, then, I have felt quite wistful, as though a specter in the land of the living, being in a place where religious fervor, it seems, is a thing of the past, a trifling for many, to be hidden away in the opaque corners of centuries-old cathedrals that are more expensive tourist destinations than liberating homes of worship these days. Indeed, I have yet to see anyone pray, outside of the Easter service which I attended in Cambridge – for such an ecstatic moment in verily a grand church, would you believe that it was only attended by at most three dozen spirited ones. The people of England, and Europe in general, have, it is my hope, only locked away the Word, relegating it to the quiet vault of their hearts. May it be taken out in the sudden pause before mealtimes and in the still crisp mornings and cool, silent nights. There is still hope for a revival in this place, for faith to rise like that splendid sun every morning. God would love to rescue them, to deliver them in this day, it is certain.

I wonder what Londoners think, if anything at all, about their police state which, like a vine in the shadows, has taken root in all corners of daily life, from the terrorist notifications in the underground, which implore Londoners to report all things suspicious, to the pair of dogs which eagerly stroll through Euston. What makes this all the more incredible is the fact that even the United States, the indomitable nemesis of the fledgling, rebel order, doesn’t dare bombard its citizens with such fear mongering these days, especially with Obama in office; maybe we’ve grown wise in these past few years to the dubious returns of surrendering civil liberties to the state, of having our bags checked everywhere – London Eye; Hairspray; and The Royal Opera House check bags in London while the museums do not; somehow, that doesn’t add up for me.

I’m in a majestic bookshop on New Street in Birmingham, and certainly to confirm my suspicions, there are just as many books on the death of Christianity in Britain as there are books which attempt to murder Christianity everywhere. I did find, however, a nice biography on John Wesley by Roy Hattersley and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I may pick up the former.

Lunch with Sally was pleasant and mirthful. We dined at a French restaurant nearby New Street – yes, Birmingham is a cultural capitol! Sally and I both tried their omelette, while her boyfriend had the fish, without chips. Conversation was light, the levity was there and so was our reminiscing about those fleeting moments during our first year in Hong Kong; it is amazing how friendships can resume so suddenly with a smile. On their recommendation, I am on my way to Warwick Castle – they also suggested that I visit Cadbury World, but they cannot take on additional visitors at the moment, the tourist office staff informed me, much to my disappointment!

Visiting Warwick Castle really made for a great day out. The castle, parts of which were established by William the Conquerer in 1068, is as much a kitschy tourist trap as a meticulous preservation of history, at times a sillier version of Ocean Park while at others a dignified dedication to a most glorious, inexorably English past. The castle caters to all visitors; and not surprisingly, that which delighted all audiences was a giant trebuchet siege engine, which for the five p.m. performance hurled a fireball high and far into the air – fantastic! Taliban beware!

15.4.09
I’m leaving on a jet plane this evening; don’t know when I’ll be back in England again. I’ll miss this quirky, yet endearing place; and that I shall miss Irene and Tom who so generously welcomed me into their home, fed me, and suffered my use of their toilet and shower goes without saying. I’m grateful for God’s many blessings on this trip.

On the itinerary today is a trip to John Wesley’s home, followed by a visit to the Imperial War Museum. Already this morning I picked up a tube of Oilatum, a week late perhaps, which Teri recommended I use to treat this obstinate, dermal weakness of mine – I’m happy to report that my skin has stopped crying.

John Wesley’s home is alive and well. Services are still held in the chapel everyday; and its crypt, so far from being a cellar for the dead, is a bright, spacious museum in which all things Wesley are on display – I never realized how much of an iconic figure he became in England; at the height of this idol frenzy, ironic in itself, he must have been as popular as the Beatles were at their apex. The house itself is a multi-story edifice with narrow, precipitous staircases and spacious rooms decorated in an 18th century fashion.

I found Samuel Johnson’s house within a maze of red brick hidden alongside Fleet Street. To be in the home of the man who wrote the English dictionary, and whose indefatigable love for obscure words became the inspiration for my own lexical obsession, this, by far, is the climax of my visit to England! The best certainly has been saved for last.

There are a multitude of portraits hanging around the house like ornaments on a tree. Every likeness has its own story, meticulously retold on the crib sheets in each room. Celebrities abound, including David Garrick and Sir Joshua Reynolds, who painted several of the finer images in the house. I have developed a particular affinity for Oliver Goldsmith, of whom Boswell writes, "His person was short, his countenance coarse and vulgar, his deportment that of a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. It appears as though I, too, could use a more flattering description of myself!

I regretfully couldn’t stop to try the curry in England; I guess the CityU canteen’s take on the dish will have to do. I did, however, have the opportune task of flirting with the cute Cathay Pacific counter staff who checked me in. She was gorgeous in red, light powder on her cheeks, with real diamond earrings, she said; and her small, delicate face, commanded by a posh British accent rendered her positively irresistible, electrifying. Not only did she grant me an aisle seat but she had the gumption to return my fawning with zest; she must be a pro at this by now.

I saw her again as she was pulling double-duty, collecting tickets prior to boarding. She remembered my quest for curry; and in the fog of infatuation, where nary a man has been made, I fumbled my words like the sloppy kid who has had too much punch. I am just an amateur, alas, an "Oliver Goldsmith" with the ladies – I got no game – booyah!

Some final, consequential bits: because of the chavs, Burberry no longer sells those fashionable baseball caps; because of the IRA, rubbish bins are no longer a commodity on the streets of London, and as a result, the streets and the Underground of the city are a soiled mess; and because of other terrorists from distant, more arid lands, going through a Western airport has taken on the tedium of perfunctory procedure that doesn’t make me feel any safer from my invisible enemies.

At last, I saw so many Indians working at Heathrow that I could have easily mistaken the place for Mumbai. Their presence surprised me because their portion of the general population surely must be less than their portion of Heathrow staff, indicating some mysterious hiring bias. Regardless, they do a superb job with cursory airport checks, and in general are absurdly funny and witty when not tactless.

That’s all for England!

Posted by Wootang01 on 2009-04-17 12:18:56

Tagged: , london , england , britain , vacation , holiday , travel , tour

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