Friday, October 27, 2006

I Must Have Done Something Good.

Guess what show I got a ticket for?

No, not "The Sound of Music," although that is playing and I'd like to see it.

No! Freakin' "Spamalot"! Blah! It only opened on the 2nd of October.

I know I'm going to need a sherpa to help me to my seat, but I don't care.

Last night, we saw "Bent," which was the anti-"Producers." Hard-hitting drama about Nazi persecution of homosexuals. It was very good, but not my style. Alan Cumming starred. Yeah, I've seen Alan Cumming's bare ass. Great. It was also the first time I'd seen full male frontal in a play. Well, he had boots on, I guess.

I have to go. I have been doing a lot of running around London, but I can't go on at length now. I'm home on Sunday, and glad of it. It's been a long trip, and I'm having fun, but I'm feeling the early mild throes of homesickness.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sitting In An English Garden, Waiting For The Sun.

It's forecast to rain all the rest of this week. That's cool, I guess. It is October in England. I expected this, but didn't hope for it.

On Thursday, I lay low around the Munden's house in Bexleyheath, did two loads of laundry, and went for a nice walk. That night, Alan, Liz, their daughter Ruth (who is only a little bit younger than me), and I went into London to go to the theatre! We saw "The Producers," which was so freaking amazing, I could easily go see it again before I go home next Sunday. I saw the original movie and the new one, but nothing compares to the live stage show. I you ever get a chance, leap at it.

Next Thursday, we're going in to see "Bent," a play which I don't know much about, but it was named one of the best plays ever, the tickets were cheap, and Alan Cumming is in it, so we'll give it a go. I'm going to try to see another show before that time, too.

On Friday, I went to the V&A Museum, finally. I was not totally in love with it, actually. There were some really great things, but it really did feel like a bit of a jumble. Rooms spilled into other rooms that were seemingly unrelated, objects were crammed into rooms, and it was all quite overwhelming. There was a Da Vinci special exhibit on, but it was £5, and I hadn't seen the regular exhibits, so I passed. I might go back.

Then I walked around Knightsbridge, which is where Harrod's is located. I didn't go in this time, and didn't really couldn't see any shops that I could afford to set foot in anyway. What did I expect? It was Knightsbridge. Posh, I say!

Yesterday, Saturday, I first went to the Leicester Square Half-Price ticket booth to see if they had any tickets for matinees, but they didn't, so I took the tube up to the Notting Hill Gate station for, you guessed it: Portobello Rd. Market! It goes on and on and on, and I saw some lovely things. I bought myself a little bauble and a sub-par ciabatta bread for lunch, and jst as I decided that I was ready to leave, the heavens opened and violently chucked rain down on all the poor shoppers. Happily, I had a handy-dandy device called an umbrella, which kept my northern hemisphere dry, but from the knees down, I was soaked.

I sought refuge in the tube. I went to Marble Arch because I remembered there was a movie theatre there (it's where I saw Star Wars II in 2002) , and if it was going to rain, a matinee would be a good way to pass the afternoon. By the time I got there, the heavy rain had mostly abated, and there was nothing playing that I wanted to see for another 90 minutes, so I crossed the road over to the Marble Arch, which is at the far end of Hyde Park.

I walked from Marble Arch to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, which was really lovely, I must say. I saw the Australian War memorial, and then continued to walk through the Park to come up behind Buckingham Palace. I came across a very beautiful Canadian War memorial which is directly to the left of the Palace, and behind Canada Gate. By then, it started to chuck down rain again, but a great, full-arched rainbow came out over the Queen Victoria memorial when it was all over.

I then walked around to the Victoria Station and caught a train back to Bexleyheath. I usually go to Charing Cross, but I was really tired by then, and didn't want to walk anymore.

Today, Sunday, Alan, Liz and I went to Greenwich. We drove by the National Maritime Musuem, which I went to last time I was here and greatly enjoyed. We also went by the huge stretch of lawn in Blackheath where it is illegal to turn the turf because it was used as a mass grave for London during the black plague and people are unsure (read: afraid) of what might happen if it were disturbed.

In the end, we went to the Greenwich Market, which is lovely. It was covered, which was a marcy because it's raining heavily again today. The market is mostly crafts and products instead of food (which is my favourite market), but I bought a purse from a Moroccan man, and we saw the "antiques" wing of things, which more resembled a garage sale than an antiquities market.

Tomorrow, I don't know what I'm going to do. Of course, I'm going into London, but once I get there, I don't know what I'll do. I still have a list of musuems/galleries I'd like to see, and I really haven't done much shopping yet. Shopping is tiring, though. Looking at art is vivifying.

That's right. I said vivifying.

It'll have to be more galleries if the ruddy rain doesn't stop. Goo goo gajoob.

Un histoire francais.

I had a fantastic time with Anna and Nico and Basil (meow) in Toulouse. They have a great little apartment. Nico made it his personal mission for me to eat well, and I'm not the type to turn down geat food. I tried cassoulet, a white bean and, well, lard casserole, which was heavy but satisfying and delicious. We had some cannoule, a baked thing which was very good. Of course, in Jackie's memory, Anna and I got a chausson au(x?) pomme each. Anna also made a great tomato and chevre salad one day, too. We had a tuna and tomato pasta one night, and Nico made a pie, which was apparently normal for France, but we would call it more like a flan. Tres deliciouse.

Don't even dare writing me about my French spelling.

Speaking of French (hon, hon, hon), I didn't fare too bad, in the end. I could make myself understood if I needed to, and people were kind to me. I listened intently to a story that an upstairs neighbour told, and found I kinda followed the plot. Lianes = vines. Vierge = virgin. TGV = aggravating train.

I bought a couple of BDs, bandes desinees. This is a huge cultural element of France that I'd previously not known of at all. I'd say the closest we know is graphic novels or manga. BDs are large-format hardcover books (for the most part) which are very varied in subject matter. Most PEIslanders who went to school with me would know "Asterix et Obelix," but beyond that and "Tin Tin," I didn't know anything about them. They can be funny, or adventurous, or science fiction, or pornographic, for children (but most of the ones I saw were for adults), and there are many styles of illustrations.

Nico was a fan of the BDs. To say the least.

Anna, I'm pleased to report home, is doing well. She has picked up on the tricks to living in France much quicker than she lets on, and she was a fanastic guide. Although communications with her Uni is increasingly irritating for her, I know she's going to be just fine in Toulouse with Nico. Nico was a proud countryman, and was enthustiastic about teaching me about the quirks of Toulouse, France, and Europe.

Oh, and Jackie e-yelled at me because I didn't mention that Carcassonne was the location where they shot the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Kevin Costner stood in the same place I did. Squeee!!!

(Jackie also e-yelled at me when I mentioned that my first day back fom France I planned to stay at the Munden's house in Kent and do laundry. She said I shouldn't be wasting possible time in London with frivolities like washing my knickers. Since then, I'd gone into London every day. Then she e-yelled at me when I wasn't updating my blog enough! Le sigh.)

Monday, October 16, 2006


I arrived in Toulouse very late on Saturday night. I got to Gatwick two hours early for my flight and I only got my boarding pass when my flight was scheduled to take off. I was in a long and snakey line for two hours, and the flight was only 1 hour late.

Anna and Nico were kind enough to come pick me up, and I go to see their great French apartment before we all slept. The next day (yesterday) we got on a train and went to Carcassonne, a city about an hour away by rail. There's an old castle there and we toured around, taking in the Middle Agedness of it all. I was very used to seeing old UK castles, so an old French castle was cool.

Today, Anna and I are going to go for a walk and then she, Nico and I might go to a museum or something.

Oh, and I don't think my French is as good as I thought it was -- and I didn't even think it was all that good!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Day Two.

Today I got an earlier train (9:45) and went up to the Wallace Collection. I was there for quite some time -- until 3:30pm. I prefer galleries to museums, but this is like a combination of the two. Tons of clocks and medals and war bits (helmets, pistols, and swords), along with tons of Dutch masters and British painters from the Royal Academy. I liked it.

Maybe next week, the V&A.

Tomorrow, France.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Where To Start?

I'm now in England. I spent Wednesday recharging my batteries from my stupidly timed flight across the ocean. Wednesday night, Alan drove me to Bluewater, the huge mall where I used to work. I looked at a jacket that cost £185, and then decided I should pace myself and put off any shopping until after I get back fom France.

Today I went into London and beelined for the National Portrait Gallery. I spent four hours and I have to go back to finish exploring. Then I got a sandwich from Boots and sat on the embankment to eat it. It was a lovely day - warm, not too warm, and no wind. Then I walked up to the Parliament buildings and took in the sights around there (Ministry of Defence, Westminster Abbey, more statues than all of Canada).

Tomorrow its going to be another trip into the city, and I think this time I'll go to the V&A Museum. I've never been there.

Saturday, it's off to France to see Anna and Nico. Yeah, just like that.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pillar #2.

I have an announcement. I have devised the second pillar of the Church of Catherine.

You might remember that Pillar #1 involves donating blood. "If you are able to give blood (physically and emotionally), you must do so as often as you can, to the best of your ability."

Pillar #2: A member of the Church of Catherine shall refrain from consuming gum in blister packs. That's overpackaged crap, and only there to protect the candy coating on the gum. Who cares? As kids, did we turn down Chicklets when their colourful candy coating was less than pristine? NO!

Blister packs for gum are bullshit, and I invite everyone to revolt.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Almost Done!

One more full day of work (casual day - thank jebus), one more weekend, and one more drive to Halifax...

I'm in at the Art Gallery now. I spent the morning doing inventory of a whole bunch of native Canadian objects that were donated to the Centre. I've been sketching baskets, clay bowls, and soapstone scultures all day so far.

This afternoon I'm going up to UPEI to pick up some material for a short project I've been researching.

I also have to type up a couple of condition reports. That's when we go over a piece of art inch by inch and make notes on its condition. That way, if it was damaged when we got in, we have a record, and if it's damaged while we have it, we'll know. This means the first reports have to be really detailed so the Gallery isn't liable for any damage that might have happened in transit.

Those condition reports were a real drag when we got a whole whack of abstracts. I wasn't sure if that scratch was supposed to be there or not. Oh, well, make a note. Did he mean for there to be a glob of red here, or is it an accretion (Gallery term for a glob of something not supposed to be there)? Make a note of it. Blah blah blah.

It's too bad I won't be back in time to see the Harrises come down. I'd love to handle them and see what Robert Harris had written on the back of the paintings. I'll miss that collection.

This evening I'm going to go over some John Milton with Kelly, one of the ushers from the Centre. I have to bone up a little, in the meantime, though.

I'll try to post again before I go in the big bird, but if not, I'll post from London.