Posts filed under ‘United Kingdom’

Watch Out Hawaii

Before my brother returns to Hawaii on March 5th, Sean and I are arming him with a digital camera.  It may not be my most solid move.  I’ve had run-ins with my brother as a camera person before. 

Jay’s Polaroid
When I was in early high school, someone (I think Grandma Turnock) gave my brother a polaroid camera.  Suddenly, I was not safe.  Jay could take a picture at any time.  For example, I could be ambushed when I was exiting the restroom.


Jay captures Vicky leaving restroom

One evening, I was trying to watch TV and my pesky little brother kept bothering me.  Finally, I got fed up and without giving him the pleasure of eye contact, I flicked him off.  Instantly I heard the distinctive sounds of a Polaroid processing.  My brother has taken a picture of my obscene gesture. 

 
Jay captures Vicky flicking him off

I tried my best to confiscate the picture, but my spry little brother escaped and showed our father.  It all happened so fast.  One moment I was flicking Jay off.  The next moment Dad was yelling at me.  Blast that Polaroid and its fast development time.

Jay the European Photographer
When I went to London for work in 2001, Jay was also there for a training session.  We spent a couple nights visiting.   I felt bad for Jay because he had no camera.  Here he was exploring Europe with no means to capture his memories.  One night as we headed to a bar, I let Jay take my camera.  Almost immediately, I remember turning around to see my brother sticking my camera under the skirt of one of his classmates and the flash going off.  Jay’s classmate was understandably upset.

“Oh, don’t worry,” I told her, “That shot will never come out.”

When I got home and developed all my film, however, I made a couple of discoveries:

  1. That shot did, in fact, come out.
  2. That girl was wearing thong underwear.

Even though I don’t remember her name and I recall her annoying me by insisting on “Yeehawing” loudly as we walked through London, I find myself with too much respect for her to share that photo (sorry Clint).

Despite all those past photos, I feel sorry for my brother– he’s already finished his first five month rotation on the cruise ship with not a single picture of Hawaii to share.  So, Sean and I are shipping him a camera this week. 

At least this time I can rest easy– I’ll be no where near his new camera.   😉

February 22, 2007 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

7/7 Attacks

This morning I woke up and was reminded that it has been a year since the London terror attacks.  What was I reminded by?  The Mike and Mike in the Morning show, of course.  Anyway, it seemed fitting to revisit my journal.  Here is an excerpt of the July 9, 2005 entry.  It was written as I rode in the passenger seat of Larry’s jaguar en route from Washington, PA to Blacksburg.

With the exception of DC and Roanoke, I think the city I’ve been at the most is London.  I believe London even beats out Charlotte.

(If you don’t count trips to the airport that statement stands correct).

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in London 4 times, that I’ve grown quite an attachment to that city.  Actually I suspect the city itself and the circumstances of my visits led to my affection.  The magnitude of my connection to the city was prevalent this week.

Wednesday morning Sean and I awoke to a sports talk show I’ve becoming especially fond of.  It’s called Mike and Mike in the Morning.  I don’t really care that much for sports — but Mike and Mike has become such a constant in our morning routine – it’s close to my heart.

<Tangent>
It is amazing how much I enjoy that Mike and Mike show.   I remember when Sean first started watching it, I would complain.  “It’s just like Groundhog Day!  Every day it is the same old thing– Oh look, they’re talking about Barry Bonds AGAIN.”  But now, I like the show so much if I wake up earlier than Sean I turn it on.  And a true testament– when I travel, I put it on in the mornings (assuming my hotel cable gets the appropriate channel). Watching it makes tends to make me feel closer to home– to my husband and my dogs which I inevitably miss.
</Tangent>

That morning Mike and Mike were talking about something that normally would be of great interest to me anyway– the 2012 Olympics.  That morning was the final annoncement of which city won as the host.  London and Paris were the two finalists.  They aired the annoncement live– it was London that won!

My heart was so joyous for the city.  I wanted London to win.  When I visited last January there were signs everywhere that read, “Support the Bid”.  London really wanted this event.  Jason [Pitt] and I discussed it.

“I really hope London gets the Olympics,” he said.  “It did Sydney so much good — reinnovating run down parts of the city.  London really needs this.”

And then to watch the jubilation in the city over the annoncement– it was amazing.  New York was also in the running but even from the get-go a lot of people were complaining.  They didn’t really want the Olympics.  I’m sure there were dissenters– but I got the impression London really wanted the Olympics and were happy with the news.

Flash forward a day.  I woke up much earlier than usual– well before my alarm.  Sean was already sitting up watching the TV.  It wasn’t on Mike & Mike — our usual morning show.  The first things I registered looking at the TV — one of London’s trademark double decker buses ripped apart; bright red letters; London; Terror.

It didn’t take long before I realized the extent of the damage wasn’t just one bus.  Three trains in the tube were hit as well.

My heart ached instantly.  The magnitude of my outrage and sadness surprises me.  New York– those attacks were closer to home and on a grander scale.  Heck even my “home city” of D.C. was hit.  One of the planes was downed in Washington, PA – a town I’ve done business in.  In fact– I was there this week.

Madrid had an attack very similiar to the one we saw in London, but bigger.  There were more bombs, more injuries and more fatalities.

You may want to double check that before you quote me.  I seriously doubt I was fact-checking on I-79.

Maybe I’ve blocked out the past a bit — I don’t know.  Right now, it feels like my heart sank more for London than the other cities.

Actually I know now that’s not true.  Recently I went over my September 2001 entries and there was a lot of emotion I had not recalled when authoring the above passage.

I don’t think it’s from silly projected paranoia.  A.k.a. “Oh my gawd, I rode that double decker bus– that could have been me!” or “I was just in King’s Cross station just a few months ago!!!”  It wasn’t that.

Double Decker Bus

Rather – I think it’s because I’m familiar with the places and the sites on the TV.  I’m fond of these sites.  Maybe I’m sad because I know it’ll be harder for people, perhaps myself even, to relax and enjoy those sites as much as I have in the past.  Maybe that is what dampens my mood– the prospect that the city will never be the same.

Umm… I didn’t say this in the journal– but of course, I was sad for the people who were killed, were injured or who lost love ones as well.

But who am I kidding?  London, of all cities has weathered so much — including devastating bombings during WWII.  The city will persevere. 

As I write this I wonder if I should worry about Jason Pitt.  I don’t want to be silly– just because I know someone who lives in London doesn’t mean he is in jeopardy.  It is sort of kin to someone assuming I know a Virginia Tech student they know.  Virginia Tech is such a large school– odds are I don’t know them.

Same with this.  The population of London is so large and the casualties were (relatively) small.  Really– what are the odds that the one person I know was a casualty????

But then– I can’t help but wonder about his well being.  He lives right next to Kings Cross and I haven’t received a reply to my email.

Well– we’ll give it a few more days.

Ha!  That ending of that passage amuses me.  “Could my friend be dead?  Oh well, moving on!”  🙂  But it turned out, Jason Pitt was fine.  So there really was little need for me to even speculate.

Oh well, moving on. 

Although my memory continues to prove to be shakey, I think I will always remember how happy I was for the city one day and then just how sad I was for the same city the very next day.

July 7, 2006 at 9:42 am 1 comment

Travel Journal: Newark, Notthinghamshire

Excerpts from my personal journals from a trip to Newark, Notthinghamshire in the United Kingdom.  This trip took place January of 2005.

January 22, 2005
U.S. Airways
Flight 4173

My fourth trip to Europe has begun.  Right now I’m flying from Roanoke, VA to Charlotte, NC.

That in itself is a victory.  We had snow yesterday & today & most flights in and out of Roanoke were cancelled.

I believe I flew in winter before– I remember Dad and I were at Buffalo, NY.  So we might have had winter weather when we flew– but I don’t remember it.

This is the first time I can recall flying in a snowstorm.  It was a weird feeling as we taxied down the runway and it was completely white.

Don’t worry, the meaningful runways were plowed and salted.  Actually I felt sorry for the snow plows.  They were constantly plowing a couple of runways.  All afternoon they plowed to make sure incremental accumulation was scurried away.  They were doing all that work for just three (from what I can tell) planes– two arrivals and one departure.

But I suppose I should not complain– it’s my safety being assured by their efforts.

When I traveled to Europe for work in 2001– I recall being surprised when I found myself missing Sean.  I didn’t expect to.

3-4 years makes a difference.  This time around I got a little melancoly – I had a lump in my throat and a couple of tears threatened to take over my eyes, just thinking about leaving Sean.

I have a scapegoat!  In a recent entry I discussed the phrase “cell” phone.  This might be a case there a mobile phone is a cell, a prison.

It’s that damn text messaging.  I’ve grown so accustomed to it.  My cell phone won’t work overseas – so I will not be able to make daily calls to Sean and even worse, I can’t text message!

I’ve had a handful of business trips in 2004 and Sean had at least one.  Each of those times, we were able to use text messaging to keep in touch.

Knowing I won’t have text ability on this trip leaves me feeling a little naked, a little alone.

Well, it’s not fully the cell phone’s fault (just like it’s not a gun’s fault someone got shot).

I remember I had that same feeling twice in 2001:

  1. When I left the internet cafe the first day

  2. When I finished up all my stationary.

This related to ANOTHER journal entry from a while back.  I proposed technology makes us lonely.  Even though it increased the ease and opportunities of communication it also significantly altered our expectations.  We expect things to be instant and immediately readable.  It’s caused us to have patience for little else.

These latest trips I’ve been taking — it feels like they aren’t real — they feel like a dream.  Why?  Because I have no anxiety.  It still doesn’t feel like a trip if I don’t have a horrid ado in my head for weeks beforehand.

Ah well, you know what?  I’d rather have the worry-free trips! 🙂

Man, after takeoff– Roanoke covered with snow was just so beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.

I do not think God could look down at our snowy land and doubt his creation.  It is just so gorgeous.

Driving to the airport had its good views too.  I passed a mountain that contained bare trees – so you could see the snow covered ground and the contrasting dark bark.  But there were large patches of evergreens.  The evergreens’ boughs caught a lot of the snow- so those sections would appear more dense and white than the others.  It was just lovely.

Well we are 50 miles from Charlotte, I best be going.

23 Jan 2005
London King’s Cross
Rail Station
17:48

Today I spent most of the day with Jason Pitt.  We ate lunch at a Turkish restaurant and then we went geocaching at Greenwich Park.

Get this– one of the caches was right on 00 00.000 E – it was right on the Greenwich Mean Line!

Vicky at Greenwich Park

Jason Pitt was crucial to both finds.  The first one, I was ready to climb up a very thick bush to go after a piece of trash!  The second one, the GPS misled me.  I was searching the wrong bench, rubbish bin and leafy bush.  It was Jason who contradicted the GPS saying, “Well that spot is so much better.”  We took a look and sure enough there it was.

Most things in Europe are smaller than they are in the wasteful U.S.  Geocaches follow suit.  Both containers [we found] were too small for me to put our travel bug (a plastic hamburger) in.  So I will take it back to the U.S. with me.

It is not as cold here as I expected.  No snow – a tiny remnant in a field that we flew over is the only I’ve seen.  It’s all perspective though – Jason thought it was very cold.  Though there were some people who didn’t think it was even chilly.  Jason and I were passed by three runners in shorts.  I also saw some people playing tennis in short sleeves AND shorts.  It’s definitely not that warm!

Jason & I disagreed about a couple of other things.  As we drove through the city Jason would comment how ugly a certain section was – but I thought it was still pretty.

Jason Pitt, Chauffer 

We also disagreed on trains.  I commented on how much I love the trains here.

“Here?” Jason asked, “the British trains?!  You mean the European trains.”

I corrected him- I was talking about the British trains.

He told me to wait until I got a really old train that was late & such.

Well– he may have gotten his wish.  I was trying to make a 17:30 train.  I bought my ticket but could not find the train, so I asked someone.  It turns out some of the track is being engineered so they didn’t have the 17:30 departure anymore.  Instead I have to take a 19:00 – not only that but because of construction I have to get off at one station and take a bus to the next station, then recatch the train and continue on to Newark.  What fun!

I had a mini-geocache mishap.  Jason and I were trying to find one near the deer enclosure.  We got really close according to the GPS, but when we consulted a map, we saw we were exactly on the wrong corner of the park.  It turned out I never changed the coordinates from WEST to EAST.  Hehe- bad habit.  One thing that’s cool is this is one of the very few places in the world where that mistake would not be caught [sooner]!  If E & W were confused in the States, you’d know something was off when you looked at the distance.  But when you are around 00 00.000 – the distance looks reasonable.  The difference between 37.808 E and 37.808 W is a lot different than 00.413 E and 00.413 W.

They have rhododendrums here!  And one of them was blooming – in January!  I also saw what looked like early daffodils poking through the soil and I think I saw some chrysanthia blooming too.  There were a number of other pink, white and purple flowers blooming which I can’t identify.

Jason stopped at a bathroom in the park.  It was quite an ornate building.  The weather vane on top of the steeple had a little tiny brass sail ship on it.  I took a picture- it reminded me of [Becky and Vic].  Vic got a big sailship model for Christmas.  He said, “I’m going to put it on such and such shelf.”  To which Becky replied, “You most certainly will not!”

Bathroom

I’m surprised I’m still up and going.  I don’t think I got much sleep on the plane last night.  It’s hard to say– I had no access to a clock so I couldn’t tell how long I was snoozing.  It’s funny – I felt like I couldn’t tell if I had got enough sleep unless I had a watch.  Really it shouldn’t matter about time one bit.  We should let our bodies tell us if we got enough sleep, not our watches.

Turkish food is quite good– Very much like Greek food.  Jason and I got a mixture plate – where  they bring all sorts of dishes to [sample].  Some of the Greek-like items were stuffed grape leaves, falafel and hummus.  They also had a delicious potato salad, great “broad” beans and a pretty good chicken dish.  One more dish I didn’t adore or hate was some kind of chopped parsley.

Well hopefully I’m able to board my train shortly – I’m going to run to the TOILET (that’s what the sign says!) now.

(more…)

March 15, 2006 at 10:50 pm 6 comments


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