Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Every once in a while

I manage to take a really good photo.

On the bypass toll road from Bath to Bitton (and the B&B)
More travel blogging ahead, now that I'm home and have time to cull through photos and memories of the vacation.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Things That Are Different in England

Or at least at this hotel...

Hair Dryers! The hotel where we are staying for the convention graciously provides hair dryers in the rooms. This particular device must have been purchased at a discount from a shrink-wrap company, because it has only one heat setting: melt your face. You have a selection off an speeds, however.

The other feature is that you must hold down the ON button with a death grip for the fan to function at all. I'm sure this is an ernegy-saving feature, but now both of my hands are cramped into claws, giving me a demented crone (or Skexxis) appearance.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Into the West

We drove out of London on Sunday. The GPS was feeling particularly sadistic that morning, and it took us 2 hours to get out of the city and onto the M4 motorway.

We didn't even get the tank filled. Petrol is expensive here.

But apparently, some people can afford to drive in style.

The Little Normead Farm

The farmhouse B&B was incredibly beautiful. We had a little time to ourselves among the grounds when it wasn't raining. There were many large lavender plants that made the whole yard smell of lavender and the honeybees were busy collecting pollen. The farm had ducks and chickens and cats. Our hostess, Susan, was an excellent cook and provided us with enormous breakfasts every morning.

The only downsides to the place were the lack of surfaces to put things on and the tiny, highly uncomfortable bed, which we dubbed "the torture bed"... That, and the fact that we couldn't just stay there all day on the farm (it was literally a "bed and breakfast") had us leaving a day early. I had initially planned to chill out there on the last day, but there was no way to do that comfortably.

But we did have the most dramatic skies I have ever seen.

Friday and the Theatre

I rested as much as possible on Thursday and Friday, keeping my foot up. The rest of the family went sight-seeing and shopping. Friday night, we went to the West End again, to see Shakespeare In Love at the Noel Coward Theatre. The adaptation of the film was quite good (IMO), and I particularly enjoyed the inter-scene and in-scene music.

Museum Report, Part 2: The Tate

I know a lot of things change over the course of 30 years, an entire generation grows up and starts on a generation to replace them. And I also know that you can't repeat an experience the same way it was the first time. However, the ecstatic experience I had when viewing the Pre-Raphaelite gallery at the Tate in 1984 was nearly equaled to the disappointment I felt at my latest visit to the Tate last Tuesday.

We left the British Museum and walked through the West End area, passing by many theatres  and wandering in Covent Garden shops, and had lunch at a nice pub, with Kate guiding us along.

The Warhammer store in Covent Garden.

She led us to Trafalgar Square, where the 4th corner is a changing installation. It's currently displaying a gigantic blue cock (a rooster. Get your mind out of the gutter.). Trafalgar is also where a lot of the street performers are that used to be someplace else (I forget now). It reminded me a bit of Times Square in NYC. 

Rich, the Big Blue Cock, and I, Trafalgar Square

A Scary guy Floating in the air at Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Fountain. I quite like this statue.

We ended up hiking down to the Queen's Palace and then taking a taxi to the Tate, because we were just too tired to walk the remaining distance (and the museum was going to be closing in an hour or so).

Buckingham Palace

We get there, only to find that there no longer exists a gallery of Pre-Raphaelite paintings; there is now a room called "the 1840's" and you can't go in, besides. It's roped off.

Please Mind The Ropes. No admittance to this gallery.

To add insult to injury, there is this... shambles... installed in the center of the museum. Piles of wood, that looks like someone is demolishing their kitchen, some large black plastic garbage bags hanging from the ceiling, cardboard wrapped in a tube, held together with different colors of duct tape. The only thing I could think that makes it artistic was the scale of it. None of us "got" it, and really, why wasn't it in the Tate Modern? The only good thing about this visit was that we didn't have to pay to get in.

I'm sorry, but I Just Don't Get It.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


We spent a day and a half in Bath. Sunday afternoon was fun, but most shops are closed, and the queue for the Roman baths was too long to attempt. We wandered a bit, and visited the few shops open on a Sunday, and lamented the fact that the shops close at 5 and dinner isn't served till 6 - what's a person supposed to do for that hour?

A Brief Summary

Well we are back in London, for Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, and the pretext for this entire journey, after 3 days in the West Country, where there was no real opportunity for blogging properly. We've settled into the Ramada Docklands, which is not quite as posh as the website makes it appear... At least our room isn't as posh. The convention isn't scheduled to start until tomorrow, but it looks absolutely incredible.

There have been a lot of breathtakingly beautiful things happening over the past 5 days, as well as some extraordinarily frustrating things happening. I will be posting about them.