Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Quiet of London Parks

Yesterday morning, I had planned on going out to the Yorkshire countryside, but I woke up to a dozen different text messages and emails telling me that Ike Skelton had passed away.  I spent the morning watching online videos of Ike's old speeches and reading former colleagues' Facebook tributes to him.  By the time I left my flat, it was too late in the day for a trip out to the countryside to be worthwhile.  But London is loud, and I needed some quiet.
So I trudged deep into Kensington Gardens, past the Palace, past the Serpentine lake, past the formal gardens.  I watched birds flit around the tall grass and dogs stalk squirrels amongst the fallen tree limbs.

I walked over to Holland Park, made my way down paths lined with red and yellow leaves, and wandered past bench after bench inscribed with tributes to deceased loved ones.
Then I found my way to Battersea Park and got lost over and over again in its towering trees and overgrown bushes.  Eventually, I popped out of the park, practically on top of the Thames.  As I stared at the swift current of the river, racing eastward, out to the North Sea; I wondered, did Ike know how deeply we admired him, how profoundly he shaped our lives?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ike Skelton

"In 1956 a political career began, and it's been wonderful, wonderful years.  From the time I was prosecuting attorney, practicing law, state Senator and now Member of Congress for 34 years.  I might also say that for my entire life, I have had a love affair with the state of Missouri.  That love affair continues."
-- Ike Skelton, (December 20, 1931 - October 28, 2013)

Monday, October 21, 2013


"I supplied Filofaxes to the Mafia - yeah, I was involved in very organized crime." - Milton Jones

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Magical Energy

A year ago, I read an announcement that in fall 2013 Vanessa Redgrave would be performing as Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at The Old Vic, one of the most well-regarded theaters in London.  I don't know how you cram so many wonderful things into one sentence.  Thus, well before I decided to move to London for six months, I already knew I wanted to at least visit London to see this performance.

A few nights ago I went to The Old Vic and watched the play.  It did, indeed, get bad reviews.  Maybe those reviews are correct.  But none of them account for one thing: every time Vanessa Redgrave came onto the stage, I caught my breath.  And surely I wasn't the only one who had this reaction.  It was a strange and wonderful thing to watch what can only be called greatness unfold in front of me.  Redgrave was truly something to behold.

There is nothing like the magical energy of the theater -- the sense that no matter how familiar you are with Shakespeare's words, that this is the first time you are experiencing them.  I know of no other medium that creates that, and Redgrave amped up that magical energy every time she spoke.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Charlotte Street Hotel Afternoon Tea

I have been spending quite a bit of time in a London neighborhood called Fitzrovia.  The area is in central London and has an artsy, energetic feel to it.  Cool restaurants like Salt Yard and Bubble Dogs are on every corner, and little art galleries fill up the blocks.  One of the main arteries in Fitzrovia is Charlotte Street, and on it, is none other than the Charlotte Street Hotel.  Yesterday I decided to pop in for some afternoon tea.
First of all, I fell completely and totally in love with their dishes.  The botanic designs reminded me of the Portmeirion dishes I inherited from my parents.  I adore both sets of dishes!
I loved the pot in which the tea was served -- definitely a fresh way to do it.  Most places have either silver or china, but I love the Charlotte Street Hotel's fun alternative.  The tea leaves are quite pretty as well!
Now let's address the scones and clotted cream.  Where do I begin?  I googled the ingredients for clotted cream, and all the recipes claim that it consists only of heavy whipping cream and milk.  But I'm pretty sure all of those recipes overlooked some addictive substance that must be added in the preparation of clotted cream, because good Lord, I can't stop eating it -- it's so darn good!
The additional pastries were fantastic.   My favorite was the white and red layered cake.  The cake was a dense sponge cake, with fondant like icing on top.  It was absolutely divine.
And a tea wouldn't be complete without finger sandwiches!  As always, my favorite was the cucumber sandwich.  I swear, I could live off of those.  I had such a great time having tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel.  I'm already planning on hosting my own when I get back to Kansas City!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


"The first thing to do, my love, is to arrange to be born in Paris.  After that, everything follows quite naturally."  -- Diana Vreeland