Nappies, Dreams and Goldfish
In no particular order, here are some weird, odd or interesting encounters:
Bland, boiled British food is no more. Thirsting for margaritas, we ventured into a Mexican restaurant in Greenwich, told them we were from Texas and ordered margaritas and nachos. And they were good! The wait staff must have told the chef, who came out and chatted. Turned out he was Turkish. Cafe Sol:
You can get good Indian food virtually everywhere, including St. Andrews, where we ate in a charming little place called Maisha. (The royal baby was born the day we were in St. Andrews, a sweet coincidence since that is where Will and Kate met.)
We couldn’t resist a restaurant called “The Priest Hole” in Ambleside. (The story goes there was a secret passage connected to a nearby church for the priest to go in and out unnoticed.)
I could only get this shot from outside because they chased me out when I tried to take one inside the store (near Covent Garden and Seven Dials in London).
Lion sculpture within the walls of the Tower of London:
A business in London that seems to be a funeral home until you look closely and find it’s a bar:
Classical head sculpture made of soap in the rest rooms at the Holburne Museum in Bath.
Bicycle parking at the Cambridge railroad station:
I love English letterboxes, or pillar boxes (what we call mailboxes in the U.S.). Most have Queen Elizabeth’s insignia, “E R II,” and for a while I wondered if they updated them with each new monarch. But then I began to see them with “George VI,” “Edward VII,” and the prize, at Penrith train station (which sadly I forgot to shoot), “V R.”
Library quirks: My BlackBerry (since replaced) quit connecting to WiFi, so we used public libraries to check email. Edinburgh issued a full membership (after inspecting our passports) to use their computers. Inverness gave temporary passes, but after wandering around looking for a public toilet, I finally asked, and was told to go to the nearby bus station, which required paying 20p. What an annoyance public pay toilets were, until I made sure I always had change in my pocket. I suppose it reduces vandalism, and it’s not the amount of money. It’s worse than annoying if you don’t have change.
On the subject of toilets, the loos in the train are pretty sophisticated. In one, after pushing the button to close the door, one hears a female voice: “Please do not flush litter, nappies, sanitary towels, gum, hopes, dreams or goldfish down the toilet.”
While we’re on the subject of fish, I loved these decorations on the Britannia, along with a decorative silver ship and a monkey.
A bakery in Edinburgh had fun with the cake.
Speaking of elephants (weren’t we?) Kings Cross Station had a whimsical display of decorated elephants, much like Chicago’s cows and Austin’s guitars.
The one sign I would like to bring home (Gary wanted to buy me a t-shirt but I have too many t-shirts):
International cities like London and Edinburgh naturally attract extremes from fashionistas to freaks. Despite–or maybe because of–the warm weather in London, the tubes and parks and streets were full of eye-popping looks on young women, like cutoff jeans (Daisy Dukes) so short the pockets hung out the bottom, often with tights, and thighs a wise woman would not display. Same goes with the very short, pouffy skirts, a style that flatters nobody’s hips. And the shoes! Young women in obvious pain teetering through train stations on platforms and skyscraper heels, and me in my one pair (other than flip-flops) of go-everywhere Israeli shoes that never failed me, from theater in London and Bath to climbing a Lake District mountain.
Young men were much more attractive with their vests, pointy Italian shoes and sculpted, high-cut work-of-art hair. Also notable were gray-haired women emulating young punks with pink and purple tipped tresses. And hand-rolled cigarettes! I watched a woman roll one on the Tube, almost expecting her to light it right there.
Freaks abound, and I use the word deliberately: they would define themselves that way. This was the very best, on a wet Edinburgh evening.