<![CDATA[London Loves - Blog]]>Tue, 15 Dec 2015 04:52:16 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[Tabled]]>Fri, 04 Dec 2015 04:41:58 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/tabledFor your consideration:

past tense: tabled; past participle: tabled
  1. US
    postpone consideration of.
    "I'd like the issue to be tabled for the next few months"
    synonyms: postpone, delay, defer, sideline, put on the back burner
    "the council tabled the rezoning issue until April"
  2. British
    present formally for discussion or consideration at a meeting.
    "an MP tabled an amendment to the bill"

THEY ARE EXACT OPPOSITES. Two countries divided by a common language, right? I got confused at work recently when someone used it in the American sense, and I understood the British one (wait, why are we moving on now...?). I never thought I'd have reverse translation issues. Some words still pop out strangely, like quinine. That one's just more fun to say the British way. But you'll never get me to say aluminium!

That would just sound affected.

<![CDATA[Things I've Learned in London, Part III]]>Sun, 18 Oct 2015 20:20:09 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/things-ive-learned-in-london-part-iii         ...I'm back! And going to catch up on all those updates I promised, starting with a listicle because it's easier. Which brings us to our first point:

It's easy to get lazy about leaving your postcode, but do it; you won't regret it. Go beyond the local pub every now and then, because there are plenty of other neat places just around the corner.

London has lots of student/youth discounts, so always ask or check. These should be a thing everywhere. I'm looking at you, America.

Europe is cheaper than London. (Everything is cheaper than London.)

Booking tickets and planning trips can take a lot of time, but it's worth it. You'll know what's there to see and do - and how to do it cost-effectively - so you won't return and realize you've missed out on something wonderful.

If you're a tourist visiting London, go to the countryside. I say this hoping to reduce crowding, but it's also quality advice. Hop on any train and see how much there is in England (or Scotland, or Wales) that you won't have to squeeze or queue for.

If you like exploring, gardens, beauty, and history, Open Garden Squares is the best £10 you'll spend in this city.

Tipping is nice, but not expected. I wish America would learn this/pay a proper wage; I've been very confused since I got back.

London is having a bit of a thirties-forties moment. Which is slightly odd, considering they never had the need for speakeasies (no Prohibition), and considering the general trauma of the period. Eh, history gets recycled all the time.

"Quite" does not mean quite what you think it means.

Knowing how and when to make a good cup of tea - using fine bone china, of course - are vital life skills.

It takes about 9 months to settle in and really feel at home somewhere. If only one could stay...


<![CDATA[Leaving]]>Tue, 11 Aug 2015 04:07:57 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/leaving
        Sometimes we have to leave places and people we love. Sometimes our visas (and funds...) run out. And sometimes, for a brief moment, we recognize how incredibly fortunate we are for having had so many bright and wonderful experiences packed into one short and powerful year. I won't ooze on here (cheese, you know), but I did want to acknowledge how happy this year has been on the whole, as opposed to simply the sadness of leaving.

        And now that that's done, I can fill you in on all the adventures of my last month abroad!* I'll have a last few things to say about London, along with a few postcards from Italy - Rome, Florence, Siena and the Tuscan countryside. I've been back home in PA for a little over a week now, have finally figured out why the money feels too light and everyone's accent sounds like mine, and will start (part-time) work soon. So that's where I'm at in this wonderful transition phase called life. I hope you're savoring your own, along with the remaining days of the summer.


*For now...

<![CDATA[Scotland's For Me!]]>Sat, 18 Jul 2015 15:00:53 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/scotlands-for-me        ...As Belle and Sebastian would say. (And if you like that, try this song.)
        So, I'm officially a master now - graduation was last week, and it was great to see everyone together before the unfortunate scattering around the globe of great and talented friends. Thank goodness for technology and the seven thousand platforms humans have invented for staying in touch. That's the one thing I do like about modern technology - I may dislike a lot of cultural aspects that it has introduced [insert privacy issues rant], but there's something cheering and hopeful about the fact that so many of our efforts have gone into trying to bring people closer to us. (I'm mostly referring to free platforms like Whatsapp, Skype, and Snapchat, but yes, even dating (and "dating") apps count.)
        My family came to see the graduation ceremony, and then do some hiking/touring in Scotland. We spent a few days in Edinburgh before driving around the Highlands and basing ourselves in Glencoe, a beautiful spot with plenty of good hikes and within driving distance from a lot of famous sites. The latter category is including, but not limited to: a bunch of castles where people were attacked, raided or slaughtered, such as Stirling, Doune, and Urquart; some feats of engineering like the Falkirk Wheel, Glenfinnan Viaduct, and canal locks (not to be confused with the actual lochs); a battlefield or two, and some ancient standing stones. To be honest I preferred just tramping around the misty green glens. Because it's high season, the castles were especially crowded. They were interesting, but why cram yourself in to another gift shop when there's enough open space around to lose complete track of civilization?
PictureInteresting contrast: cheery garden and "Massacre Monument: 900m"
        Edinburgh is a fun city to visit though, and it was nice to explore a bit more than the one afternoon I'd spent previously. I found some good coffee shops, and was glad to linger in the comfortable flat my family had rented. We did some of the galleries and had a breezy (return) trip up Arthur's Seat before happily crossing paths with a friend from the States for dinner. I only saw the train station of Glasgow as I returned south, but it too seemed a friendly city, and one to get back to.

     I was intrigued by the personal memorials I found in different places in Scotland - there were flowers and a note by one of the Glencoe trailheads, and near Loch Lomond a fake-flower bouquet had been planted in a little copse, with a card dedicated to a lost grandfather. Tokens for recent losses make sense the world over, but there were also fresh tributes at the monument to a 400-year-old massacre. (I came upon a group taking a few wedding photos there, too, though that might have been entirely unrelated.) It seems like the memory of death and massacre - and there were certainly plenty of those through Scottish history - runs strong in the region.

      I'm savoring my last few days with friends in London, and will have some things to say about Hampshire (and Jane Austen!) soon.


<![CDATA[Cats and Croatia]]>Mon, 13 Jul 2015 20:59:21 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/cats-and-croatia        There are a lot of cats in Croatia. Just out and about.
        I had a beautiful vacation - and knee-recuperation from the St. Cuthbert's hike - with some friends for our last celebratory trip before graduation. It was a wonderful week of sea and sun, swimming in the calm, clear water, and only walking the few steps down to the sea (or to the tiny store in town). We toured Dubrovnik briefly - with its intriguing, tourist-filled Old Town, now catering to the Game of Thrones crowd - but after getting to our destination we didn't leave the island once. It was so nice to wake early, read, lie in the sun, swim, eat, nap, drink, talk, sleep, and do it all over again.

        I highly recommend someplace like Mljet, which has only two ferries a day, for a good, solid getaway. You can soak up beautiful scenery and store up the energy of a slow pace, which is the only antidote to modern life (see, you're even multitasking!). I won't go on and on about its wonders, because I'm afraid of rubbing it in...or of missing it, and the wonderful company, too much already. If you can get away, definitely do. But you can also make your own mini-Mljet: a long, meandering conversation with good friends and wine, music that makes you get up and dance, a pause to savor the sedate pleasures of a cup of tea. It doesn't have to look like this, although that certainly helps with the appreciation bit.
        My life has and will become even more peripatetic in these last few weeks - graduation recap, Scotland, and Italy posts will follow shortly. Because damned if I'm not going to squeeze every last ounce of living out of this strange, rare orange while I still can!

<![CDATA[Signs You're Slowly Converting, Part II]]>Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:40:21 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/signs-youre-slowly-converting-part-iiSee here for Part I.
You have suddenly developed a desire for more bunting in your life.

You find yourself looking at buying tea cosies entirely unironically. (Take that, London hipsters!)

Your body is now at least 30% tea. You know how to make it, and take it, properly. (And you probably just had a chuckle at that double entendre.)

You have an opinion on the whole 'milk-first-or-after' business.

You find you are now fluent in self-deprecatory humour.

Ancient and/or architecturally magnificent churches seem only natural to have in any town or village.

You realize how integral walks, gardens, and green space are to existence. Rain optional.

Your rage at people who cut queues is matched only by the repression of any outward sign of it.

Your new dream is to
live in a converted village building (bonus points if it's a vicarage), and have a garden, chickens, dogs, fresh eggs every morning, homemade bread, jam and marmalade, and a backyard BBQ.

      This list - especially the last item - crystallized after I visited a friend in the Gloucestershire countryside a few weekends ago. Not only was it a lovely trip, but local culture (and individual conversion) become much more apparent outside of the mishmash of London. As I savor my remaining time in England, I'm glad for opportunities to understand the regional cultures and contrasts a bit better. Then again, I'm posting this from an island in Croatia right now...who says I can't enjoy the proximity of Europe and the shires of the UK?

<![CDATA[My CV for Position of Wife]]>Sat, 27 Jun 2015 11:43:32 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/my-cv-for-position-of-wifeAccomplishments:
BA in History and Art History; MA in History of Art
Sings, dances, plays "a little"
Speaks three languages, understands two more; none of them well.
Great with small children, but we can discuss that.
Able to engage in small talk on a number of subjects, including, but not limited to: iconography of Northern Renaissance art, third-wave coffee culture, Shakespearean comedies, English, American, and French poetry, European travel, contemporary politics, basic oenophila.
Household management skills, including cleaning, cooking, laundry, and oversight.

Intelligent, culturally conversant, well-read
Empathetic, observant
Willing to quash the latter trait and overlook minor infidelities, in exchange for suitable compensation or reciprocal arrangement
Enjoys cricket; limited knowledge of polo, riding, or horseflesh. Willing to posh up as necessary.

Communication, organizational and interpersonal skills
Discretion (the better part of valor)
Literary references
Refusal to express emotions

Occasional insomnia
Strong opinions about oppressive race/class/gender/sexuality structures
Unfortunate moral compass (see previous item)
Refusal to express emotions

Only that you should support me in the manner to which I deserve to be accustomed.
Salary: can be flexible, but both country and town houses are required.

Your position: Spouse

Demonstrated financial security and pension scheme
UK/EU citizenship
Tolerable conversationalist
Good personal hygiene

Sense of humour

Thank you for your interest. Applications will close when a suitable number have been received.  ]]>
<![CDATA[Limping Towards Lindisfarne: St. Cuthbert's Way]]>Thu, 25 Jun 2015 10:51:45 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/limping-towards-lindisfarne-st-cuthberts-way
        St. Cuthbert's Way, a hike - a pilgrimage - of 100 km/60ish miles, begins and ends with an abbey. The impressive ruins of Melrose Abbey are just around the corner from the trailhead, but we didn't linger there, as we were eager to set off on our trek. The walk ends at the abbey of Lindisfarne, the Holy Isle, on the edge of northeastern England. Over five days we walked from Scotland to England, over fields and farms, stiles and cowgates; through pastures and towns; along stone walls and winding country lanes; past innumerable, incredible views; and around as much of the sheepshit as possible.*
        I couldn't remember the whole quote while I was on the trail, but coming back I found this part of A Midsummer Night's Dream a fairly accurate summation of the trip (We also happened to be there during the summer solstice; the light lasted so long there was no need for lanterns or torches):

"How now, spirit! whither wander you?"

Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through brier,
Over park, over pale,
Through flood, through fire,
I do wander everywhere."
        Through flood was right on the fourth day, when we ran into some pelting rain in the morning. We dried out a bit in St. Cuthbert's Cave and continued on our way to Fenwick for a thankfully clear evening. Other than that we were mostly lucky with the daytime weather, though it rained several nights and warm, dry socks became my new standard of luxury.
        Some of the hills offered pretty good climbs - the views atop Wideopen Hill, the highest point, made it entirely worth it, as did the views from the Eildons. It was fun to to look back at the latter for the first half of the trip and see how far we'd come across the landscape. Other highlights: crossing the border into England, the delight of hot tea, cooking at the end of the day, and wild camping in the woods (happily legal in Scotland). And of course the wonderful company - three of us for the first few days, then four and a dog on the last two.

        The last leg (literally on our last legs, as we'd had some knee injuries) took us across tidal flats, squishing through the sand to Lindisfarne. We had lunch on the lovely isle, where the sun had come out to help us celebrate. Some prosecco helped too. We wandered around the abbey, rested and journeyed to Berwick to catch the train back to London in an exhausted heap.

       We received warm welcomes in all the towns we went through in Scotland and Northumbria, learning a lot about Northern pronunciation along the way - like 'Berrick' (Berwick), 'Fennick' (Fenwick), and Kirk Yetholm (...there's really no way to render that one phonetically). It was also fun to cross paths with a bunch of friendly travellers along the trail; everyone wants to know a bit about where you're going, or where you're coming from. It's also nice that on a trip like this there is no future or past in the larger sense - only the immediate present of the next turn in the road, the next step, the next destination.


*So not much.
<![CDATA[Number One, London]]>Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:31:06 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/number-one-londonPicturePhoto: Mary Ann Sullivan
        As soon as I found out the former address of Apsley House I had to fight the urge to shout it out loud. "NUMBER ONE LONDON!!" has the makings of an excellent chant. Then I had a little internal rage about all the class privilege that goes into having an address like that. Then I got to the art collection and I decided I could deal with it (sort of...), because it was one of the best small collections I've visited in this city.

        Apsley House sits at the southeast corner of Hyde Park, the grandeur of its façade looking a bit lost today amid the bustling motorways that surround and race past it. The house is the former residence of the Duke of Wellington, but that alone wasn't enough enticement for me, not being a particular war buff - and not among the many great houses to choose from here. No, what sets this property apart is the art collection. The French looted the paintings from Spain during the Napoleonic wars of the early nineteenth century. After they were recovered Wellington offered to return the lot, but was told by a grateful King Ferdinand, 'no, you keep it. You've earned it.' (Which I...guess is cool.) Strange provenance aside, I'm entirely grateful for the convenient access to Velasquez's gorgeously rendered Water Seller, several Canova sculptures, a Caravaggio, Titian (or circle)'s Danae,  and a number of quality Dutch Golden Age works by Nicholas Maes, Jan Steen, and co. The setting is part of the attraction - it's really neat to see the works surrounded by period decor, despite some difficulties of viewing. The way they're hung (period style) precludes getting close to some works, and there were some frustrating issues with lighting glare which obscured parts of the canvases. But despite the few limitations of the space, the collection was wonderful and informative.

        The building had its upsides, too, and one of the cooler moments was seeing the windows of the main dining room closed and converted into mirrors at the end of the day. Their design is a technical, aesthetic, and practical stroke of brilliance, opening up and reflecting the long space. (The practical part comes in with the fact that the windows face full west; most inconvenient for summer evenings.) They were supposedly inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, proving once again the interconnectedness and love-hate nature of Anglo-French relations. The gigantic Canova sculpture of a nude Napoleon kind of hints at that too.

       Though not an overlarge house, the rooms (and their decor) retain a sense of a stately grandeur, and a sense of power and prestige. The shadows of history, and the shadow of Wellington, still seem to pervade the building - just like in the illustration below, where the shadow of Wellington's statue falls over the house from his monumental arch across the way. There's no escaping history sometimes, but there are always ways of rewriting it.

Apsley House in 1853 (Caroline Clifton-Mogg, The Neoclassical Source Book, London: Cassell, 1991, p. 98)
         It's amazing and alarming how much I still want to do and see here in the time I have left - but for now, I'm off to Scotland for a few days, to hike my way to the Holy Isle! I'll let you know how I survive that on my return.

<![CDATA[Open Garden Squares Weekend]]>Sun, 14 Jun 2015 10:45:18 GMThttp://loveannie.weebly.com/blog/open-garden-squares-weekend             After weeks of this and this:                                  
Promise that's not wine in the bottle.
The agonized thinker in the garden.
        comes celebration! And what better way to celebrate than wandering around some of London's most beautiful hidden and secret gardens, where peace comes dropping slow. Yes, I celebrated more exuberantly too, but this weekend's wander was the perfect antidote to the deadline stress and academic guilt (you should always be writing) of the last few months, a way to revel in the feeling of being free and soak up the sunshine.
        Open Garden Squares Weekend happens annually in June, when many of the city's locked, off-limits garden squares open their gates to the clamoring hordes. Public as well as private gardens participate, and a number of them host fetes, food and music. It was hands-down the best £10 I've spent in London, not only because it allowed me to go places I'd never normally be able to see, but also provided a beautiful new way of discovering the city. Your £10 buys you an entrance ticket and a thorough guidebook with hundreds of gardens, handily sorted with maps, so you can plan your weekend. There are way too many to see all of them, so I narrowed my search by 'secret gardens' (ones normally closed to the public) and vicinity to other places. The best part for me was being able to enjoy the time and spaces, so I wouldn't recommend trying to cram them all in unless you're a really keen gardener. It actually is possible to get garden fatigue. (Ho hum, another gorgeous rose.)
        I stuck with about three or so spots each day, having a general plan for each area but also adjusting spontaneously. Because of that Saturday turned into a Hampstead day out as well - I found some wonderful little bookshops on the way to and from different sites, and finally made it into the Keats House museum as well. The house and its openly accessible garden area have wonderful sense of peace and separateness about them; time feels suspended there. Though Keats is long gone, the poetic spirit seems to linger. There was even a poet in the garden at Fenton House; some of the spots had them stationed doing readings or collecting impressions. (Poetry, gardens, books, beauty - what more could I ask for?) The Hill Garden and Pergola, tucked away behind the Heath, was also unbelievably lovely. Though that one is normally open to the public, I likely never would have made it there without the impetus of the weekend.
        Sunday I was in Kensington and Belgravia, as I was curious to see some of the famous squares that defined the fashionable addresses for most of the nineteenth century. There are certainly lots of blue plaques on houses here - you can take your pick of the houses of important authors and politicians. (Though today the former would never be able to afford it!) The squares were a bit more confined, formal, and city-like after the oases of Hampstead, but that's to be expected in the more urban centre. The fetes and families were really cute, and it was interesting to see different people's reasons for visiting - there were avid gardeners identifying the plants and mulling over their own, amateur photographers, older couples and retirees out for a stroll, and families trying to wrangle their small children or letting them run free.
           Belgravia was an interesting meditation on class and access; the beautiful but cold and identical exteriors spoke to me far less than the rambling beauty of Hampstead. I should note that Hampstead is a pricey place to live too - the clue's probably in the private gardens. As nice as it was to see everything, it also made me grateful for the extensive and non-exclusive public parks in London. As a visitor you can enjoy the spaces for the weekend, but then have to go back to having your face pressed up against the glass - if you choose to leave it there, that is.

        It was neat to be a tourist in a way that also felt very local/national - Open Garden Squares isn't on most international tourists' radar (or even most Londoners'). If you're around, I highly recommend it for a novel way to see the city, and to enjoy the bits of nature that are beautifully preserved and cultivated between the cracks in the urban pavement.

Your foreign correspondent (in reflection)