salixbabylon: (Default)
1) Did I say that my stupid love of ferries was vindicated when we made the 1pm ferry to Vancouver Island at 12:55? Yeah, not so much on the trip back - we were here at 12:25 for the 1pm and MISSED IT. Grr.

2) It's not a big deal, because I am still feeling totally zen from two days at the Sooke Harbour House. We mostly did a whole lot of nothing, which is, of course, my most favoritest thing to do. We took a nice brisk (cold!) walk out to the end of Wiffen Spit (not whiff-n-spit). A local preschool had decorated a tree midway out with homemade ornaments and stuff, and the path out had "hidden" laminated pictures of the 12 Days of Christmas items. Fun!

3) The people at the B&B were so nice, and everything was just *nice*. Not like crystal and silver elegance like the Empress, but cozy and delightful. The room had a bottle of champagne to welcome us, and port, chocolates, and cookies every night. Breakfast was delivered to the room, standard protocol, and every room has an outdoor tub or jacuzzi, indoor steam shower, and fireplace. It's cozy, homey luxury as opposed to stiff elegance. We had a tour of the gardens in the morning, and then just relaxed and steamed/saunaed/bathed the rest of the day. (Oh, and there are infrared saunas on each floor.)

The bath… I have to talk about the bath. It’s a sunken tub, outside, big enough for two cozy people or one to spread out. It’s a regular tub so you can use the LUSH bubble bars which made an actual literal FOOT OF BUBBLES! Like, elbow to fingertip, and higher at the edges. It was in a patio enclosed on three sides, with the other side open to the garden and, beyond, the beach. So you’re laying there in hot water, steam rising up through the bubbles, the sound of waves in just off the patio… Utter bliss. Best bath of my life, hands down.

I want one of those tubs at my house. I wonder how hard that would be to get set up…

4) The food... *swoon* Foodie heaven. The first night I made the mistake of drinking far too much - two whole glasses = twice my usual! I had the local greens salad which had a lovely interesting dressing and crispy bits that turned out to be fried porphyra seaweed. G had a tomato fennel blue cheese soup that he enjoyed (blech - tomatoes).

Firsts were a fillet of sole for me, crispy and delicate melt-in-your mouth, and some kind of yummy mushrooms (chanterelles?), and sauces. G had duck confit lasagna, which he said was only lasagna in the loosest sense, but delicious - and pastaless?

Seconds were unfortunately overshadowed by the fact that I wasn't tipsy, flushed, or giddy - I was fucking *drunk*. I had a fish I can't remember other than that it was good and that it was tuna, and G had a pork tenderloin with a barley risotto. We both had the chocolate square for dessert, which I *do* remember (I know, I know - priorities!). It was a layer of chocolate sponge cake, dark chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache, with blackberry puree. Most of the time mousse is either too sickening sweet or avant garde/film noire/swanky-pants bittersweet chocolate that isn't sweet at all and just bitter. This was the perfect balance.

Last night I managed to stay sober by limiting myself to one glass of wine, a rose' pinot noir that was very drinkable, which is what I like in wine.

First course was the salad for G, and a soup that I think was parsnip, spinach, and apple but tasted mostly like split pea that was fantastic.

Seconds we both got the ballotine of chicken, duck liver, and fennel. I was not terribly impressed with the texture or flavor, but it benefited a lot from the berry sauce nearby. The real standout was the shredded savoy cabbage with bacon that was fantastic. Like, I hate cabbage, and I would order this all by itself. It was that good.

Note: I really need a cookbook that covers these sorts of delicious sides and sauces. Most of the how-to-cook-vegetables cookbooks I have are vegetarian. I am totally okay with frying things in lard, I just want it to taste good! Maybe there's a chapter in Julia Child...

We also got the same main course - wild pheasant, with more yummy sauces and some cranberry-type relish. We finished with a hazelnut mousse square for me, with some fruit, and a creme brulee with quince poached, pureed, and syrup for G. A bit lighter dessert, but equally good.

5) What? I like food. And my jeans aren't any tighter than they were two days ago, so it's fine. ;) My travel-diet concept is to eat breakfast with protein, healthy snacks for lunch, some walking, and an indulgent dinner that doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed. It works for me, and usually my scale says I weight less when I get home, so win-win.

6) 10 days is too long for an unfocused vacation, I think. Ready to go home, but still have two more days. Decided to spend them in Seattle, hopefully hook up with a friend and maybe check out a museum or something... Pics coming soon!
salixbabylon: (Default)
1) I definitely have a stupid love of ferries. I don't know why, I just do.

2) No more fried food/diners/pubs, ever. Blerg.

3) Today was the day of shopping and over indulgence. Bought all kinds of yummy bath things at Lush, to use in the hotels. Walked past a MAC store and bought all the things I've been meaning to buy, since we don't have one in my silly little hometown. They resulted in the kind of final bills that make you suck in a breath of surprise, but at least I know the makeup will probably last me 2 years or more, so over time it's not all that bad.

4) TEA! I ♥ tea. In fact, I ♥ ♥ ♥ tea! :) Last time we were here for out honeymoon, we didn't have tea at the Empress hotel, so this time it was the primary reason for coming. Extravagant, indulgent, gorgeous, lovely yummy food and sandwiches and tea and stained glass and holiday lights... Definitely worth it for a once a decade affair. They even gave us 2 boxes of loose leaf tea, and when they packaged up our uneaten desserts for later, they gave us a fresh full set of everything. :)

5) We're staying at a Best Western (but a shockingly non-midwestern generic one) and there is a Beyonce' outside the door! (those of you who read the Bloggess will know what I mean, and everyone else should go find out.) So we knew it was the right hotel for us.

(The bird actually goes with the little cafe, which made a fabulous fried-egg sandwich, which is a not-so-secret indulgence of mine.)

6) Also, there are five comic book/gaming shops within a half-block. Husband is in hog heaven.

(Which is good because we had a massive blow-out relationship-wise, but... we're working on it, and I don't want to ruin the vacation or even my mood at the moment by babbling about it here.)

7) Oh, and the hotel gave us a room on a higher floor, which I asked for to cut down on the street noise. Right across from the elevator, which made a really loud - even to my ignoring/selectively deaf husband - grinding noise every single time anyone on any floor used the damn thing. We asked if they could move us to a quieter room and they upgraded us to a suite free of charge. FTW!

8) Tomorrow we go to Sooke, a swanky B&B with amazing locally grown/harvested food - http://www.sookeharbourhouse.com/ (It was a gift from the in-lawns, I didn't suddenly win the lottery or anything.) I recall the dinner we had there 11 years ago as being pretty much the best in my life. Eleven years later, the http://www.domainofkillien.com/ may have them beat, but I'm interested in seeing how the battle plays out.

9) Adding up today's receipts, our day of super extravagance actually didn't break $200. I guess I'm just kind of cheap, historically. ;)
salixbabylon: (Default)
1) It's cold up here. Like, knee socks and hat and scarf and gloves are NOT OPTIONAL. WTF, man? I'm from California, this is weird.

2) I saw a pond in a Chinese garden today that was ICE. Thin ice, but still. Never have I seen such a thing.

3) Yummy dim sum. However, I think Chinatowns are all kind of the same no matter what city they are in. Which makes sense, as they are a bit of home-away-from-home for the immigrants. The gate was pretty, although I forgot to take a picture. Need to get better at that.

4) One hat I brought was trashed (20 years oldish, lots of wear and washing), the other hat was too big and kept falling down to my nose, so I bought a hat today. Dithering between two, husband pushed for the furry one. Later he confessed it made him want to quote COmmunity - "I have the weirdest boner right now" - not quite, but a confusing twitch down below. After 18 years together, I'll take any twitch that comes by. Furry hat FTW!

5) Next December vacation, we are going somewhere WARM. Jamaica, maybe, with [livejournal.com profile] ladykatiewench. :)

5) We saw beluga whales! And a narwhal model (only one of two n-mammals), and an anaconda, and a sloth, and frogs, and electric eels, and marmosets, and huge butterflies, and giant sea tutrles, and and and. I ♥ aquariums. We forgot to get postcards or gifts though, so we have to go back tomrorow. (There was also an info person at the electric eels who sounded exactly like [livejournal.com profile] bitofaspaz when she gets excited.)

6) Tomorrow = ferry ride to Victoria. I have a stupid love for ferry rides.

7) People/men in Canada are so polite, I can't tell if they're flirting with me or not. Either way, it's lovely.

8) OMG smoked salmon! so much yum! :)
salixbabylon: (Default)
It seems I was a little negative in my last post. SOrry about that. PMS + no sleep + my dad 24/7 makes me a little grouchy. There *are* good things about the midwest though:

1) my hair apparently LOVES humidity. it curls so happily, not a frizz in sight. :)

2) everything is so green and lush that it seems practically tropical compared to the West in the summertime. there are so many gorgeous wildflowers, and they are all over everywhere.

3) lightning bugs!

4) june bugs! (we have these at home too, but they are a lot less shy here.)

5) people are genuinely friendly. while it's different, being called "sugar" and "honey" just by the waitresses and grocery store clerks, people seem to genuinely mean it, and they strike up a conversation about nothing at the drop of a hat. we are in a pretty rural area, so i can't tell if this is a country v. city-folk thing or a midwest/southern thing.

6) OMG lightning storms! like, that last for HOURS! it was like strobe lights last night, watching the forks down to the ground and the whole-cloud-turned-white changes. very very cool.

7) every time i'm on a road in the middle of nowhere for a few hours, with my dad dozing in the passenger seat, i feel like i should be in an impala. i wonder if you can rent classic cars for road trips... anyone wanna do this again some time? i'll even let you play classic rock. when you're driving. *g*
salixbabylon: (Default)
i hate twitter, but i do seem to think in bullet points...

(and i'm not being pretentious on purpose - I find this keyboard difficult to make capitals, so i skip them except when needed. unless i forget.)

1) it's hot. and humid. i hate humid. like, a lot.

2) I ate in Winchester today. Sadly, Winchesters don't taste good. :(

3) Waffle Houses! I'm totally eating in one soon.

4) grits = ok with sugar. biscuits and gravy = revolting.

5) mammoth caves were awesome. best part? being out of the humidity.

6) Drove through a lightening storm today. Scared the bejesus out of me. Really. I have no more bejesus.

7) there is kudzu all over. at first i was sad that it had made it's way to far north, and then my dad told me they brought it in on purpose, to help with erosion from the strip mining. mankind sucks sometimes. we're so thoughtlessly stupid.

8) The sky is so weirdly pale here. And is always hazy, either from the humidity or the impending rain, or just the "smoking" in the mountains. It's interesting to see the different plants and trees and so on - totally different grasses and wildflowers and, well, kudzu *is* pretty. It smells weird though. And the carpet always feels damp in the hotel rooms.

9) I'd kill for fresh fruit.
salixbabylon: (personal all things british)
OK, so the Boeing 747-400 - who gets to sit in the upper cabin and why? Is that where they hide the famous people?

Sorry I haven't updated in a while; we were mostly without internet after the 26th.

We had a really nice, relaxing, mellow Christmas with [livejournal.com profile] dissonant_dream and her family. Good food, dogs, way too much wine, and a long walk in the cold, squishing through the mud in borrowed Wellies. Who knew the holiday could be to enjoyable with the simple subtraction of both of our families and all sense of obligation to follow tradition? Some lovely Lush pressies and books made the day complete.

We left on Boxing Day to see our friend in Cheshire, which was so fucking cold! She took us on a walk to see Lewis Carroll's birthplace. These days that's mostly just a few plaques, a brickwork floor-plan, and a well with the Door-Mouse on the iron grate. Still, it provided some nice symmetry with the book I picked up at the Library.

We then had the world's longest train ride back to London. Basically, we're just crushingly exhausted. Three weeks was great, but I could have done with a few more jammie days and less time on trains.

Things I will miss:

1. Unbelievably cheap delicious cheese and crumpets
2. Efficient public transit - tube and trains
3. Wearing my coat and scarf and hat and gloves
4. Tea, everywhere, properly hot and with milk
5. Radiators = fun
6. Gorgeous architecture all over
7. #1 and #2 pound coins
8. People-watching on the tube
9. Free museums
10. The skeleton key to the flat being an actual useful *key*
11. McVitte's oat flapjacks
12. Walking everywhere
13. All the British accents - and Scottish, Irish, and Welsh too

Things I will NOT miss:

1. Lack of paper seat covers in public toilets
2. Hot and cold water taps being separate
3. Not having sweet, sweet internet 24/7
4. Sewing my coat buttons on once a week
5. Not having my dog, kitchen, clean laundry, and cheap fresh fruit and veggies
6. Not seeing grass or trees without serious effort
7. That weird nagging feeling that I'm not where I belong/ time and space dislocation.
8. Scary condiments - HP sauce and Branston pickle

Pictures coming soon...

*waves*

Dec. 29th, 2008 07:12 pm
salixbabylon: (Default)
Back in CA. House is cold. Bed is nice. I'm so tired I think I might puke.

Or I'm getting sick again. Can't tell.

Will update for reals tomorrow.

Good to be back.

Day 14

Dec. 22nd, 2008 04:31 pm
salixbabylon: (personal all things british)
Had to take [livejournal.com profile] sarka to the train station this morning and got a little weepy after. I am so so *so* glad we finally got together, after six years of knowing each other on LJ. I wish the world were smaller so I could see my loved ones more often.

We went to the British Library on Sunday and had a wonderful time looking at all the old manuscripts, the Magna Carta, sheet music scribbled on by famous composers, the Gutenberg bible, etc, etc, etc. All those things that make writers and bibliophiles weak in the knees. It was wonderful. I splurged and bought a copy of a nice reprint of the handwritten first version of "Alice's Adventures Underground" (bringing my number of "Alice in Wonderland" copies to a total of five) and was also talked into "Beadle the Bard."

Then, in the HP spirit of things, we went and took pictures at King's Cross Platform 9 3/4. Silly geeky fun at it's best. :)

Husband and I hit Harrods this morning, which was overwhelming and mind boggling. #500 for a rabbit-fur coat for a 6-month old? #200 for a doggie sweater with the "Juicy" logo? #950 for six ounces of caviar? #3000 for a pen? (We decided for that much money - and no, that's not a typo, that's three THOUSAND pounds - the pen really ought to write the best-selling novel for you.) We kept our purchases to the food markets - 3 tins of tea for ourselves and some gifts for family.

I am still sick with a cold and tired and drained. I think I'm going to take it easy the rest of today and tomorrow, until we get on the train in the evening to see go up and spend Christmas with [livejournal.com profile] dissonant_dream.

OH - we finally saw "Merlin" last night and nearly died of squee. Those aren't homosexual undercurrents so much as TOTALLY UNDENIABLE TSUNAMIS! I am smitten. Smoot.

*smooch*

Day 12ish

Dec. 20th, 2008 06:41 pm
salixbabylon: (personal all things british)
Still here, still doing well.

Husband and I hit the National Gallery and took in "Art with a capital A" until we thought our feet might fall off. We saw some gorgeous paintings, some of which were new to me and some of which I'd seen in books and posters. The Van Goghs and Monets were lovely and I was awed by the Botticellis and Rubens'. Husband and I had a lot of fun looking at the portraits and making inappropriate comments like "Bet they got a lot of tail" at a painting of very smug looking young men, circa 1600-something. - Van Dyke

The next day we went to the Natural History Museum, which was amazing. We started with dinosaurs and ended with man's evolution. In addition to all that cool life science, the building itself was beautiful, with cool little designs of snakes and lions and flowers and monkeys in the archways. It was fantastic, although by the end of seven hours, we simply gave up and promised we'd come back again someday rather than keep trying to see everything. Oh, and there ws ice skating outside! Neat!

The next day we hooked up with [livejournal.com profile] sarka and lured her into our tiny flat. Mostly we've just wandered and hung out, although yesterday we invaded the Bourough Markets and bought a lot of cheese and beer and weird foods to try, like pork-belly sandwiches and crumbly fudge and turkish delight that doesn't taste foul. I also developed a cold and have been a bit drained of energy, so we're taking it easy.

It hasn't rained on us yet. I have, however, had to re-sew buttons on my coat *twice*. Clearly they were meant to be more decorative than functional. Feh.

Also, I've read Laurie King's "Justice Hall" and Connie Willis' "To Say Nothing of the Dog" and have loved both. I forgot how much I'd missed reading books.

Lastly, my J2 fic? Outlined, but not really coming along very quickly otherwise. I hope to make more progress this week; I'm maybe 1/5th done. I have faith though, since I'm feeling better today and a healthy Salix is a horny Salix is a slashy-writing Salix. ;)

More later!

Day 9ish

Dec. 16th, 2008 10:20 am
salixbabylon: (personal all things british)
Whoo! I can't believe we've been here for a week already. It's been cold but only rainy one morning and we managed to sleep/putter around and miss most of it. I am still getting a kick out of wearing my coat and scarf and hat and gloves.

We went to visit with [livejournal.com profile] dissonant_dream and [livejournal.com profile] soar38 for the weekend and had a fabulous time. We saw Charlecote House and Warwick Castle and the Birmingham German Christmas Market and a gorgeous old house C lives in and had delicious food and Supernatural fangirly squeeing and Top Gear and wacky British Christmas rock favorites and Yorkshire pudding and fish & chips in newspaper.

As always, I'm loving everything. Mostly though, it was delightful to be granted the gift of nearly four whole days with dear friends. Thank you both for making the time to hang out with us. :)

I think we're going to the National Gallery today for some art. Indian food for dinner. Maybe some grocery shopping.

I am inordinately in love with grocery shopping and the challenge of figuring out not only where the items I want are located, but what they're *called*. I want to move here for a year someday, for reals.

I'll try to upload some pictures tomorrow!
salixbabylon: (Default)
*waves*

I'm here. We've had some technical difficulties, and a lot of jetlag, but we're doing well. We had a looooong walk in the cold evening with [livejournal.com profile] londinensa last night, which was fun. All of the lights along the river were lovely.

We're using free wifi at the law library - which is of course totally subtle and yet also seems at least 200 years old. As always, the architecture just blows me away. Nothing is even vaguely this old in California.

And I'm aso having fun wearing my hat. And scarf. And gloves. My coat even buttons over my boobs now - it didn't when I bought it. I somehow lost 7 lbs in the last month, without exercising and with lots of bad-mood eating. I win!

I think I'm ready to move here. The swoony accents are pretty much the final straw. :)
salixbabylon: (Default)
The blow-by-blow account for those who are interested.

Let me know if it's way too long and I'll cut it in half and make a part 2 - I didn't have any problems loading the pictures, but will fix it if more than 2 people do.

text and 29 photos )
salixbabylon: (Default)
clean panties are a good thing

as is living in a time and place in which I first did laundry by hand at age 31

very glad to have settled that British cocks are measured in inches, not centimeters

Ewan makes me swoony in a way that Orlando and Viggo don't much anymore. This makes me sad to realize I am so fickle.

we hired my friend's son to work on the retaining walls while we were gone. he did and did a great job, but left a window open and now there is a thick layer of gritty sand over every surface in the front half of the house, and i killed myself cleaning the 2 days before we left so i could come home to a clean house. I'd be furious but he's topless again and his pants are falling off his ass again and I'm so burning in hell for this, aren't i?

i had something i wnated to say when i started this post but i can't remember what it is

god i've missed the internet
salixbabylon: (Default)
OMG I'm so bloody exhausted I can barely move. I don't want to go home, but I am sure looking forward to a few days of rest. ;)

Tuesday - saw Ewan. Drooled. Squeaked quietly (I think quietly - you'll have to ask [livejournal.com profile] soar38). He did not jump off stage and steal me away. He did dance and sing and um well *breathe* in a sexy way. :D I almost died and yet still live to tell the tale.

Wednesday - Train to Stratford-upon-Avon, met up with [livejournal.com profile] niennas_dreams, wandered around the town, birth place, and burial place of Will himself. Had a nice dinner and then slept in the Most Pink Chintz Room Ever. *barfing noises*

Thursday-Saturday - Train to Crewe. Met up with my friend Heather. Did a lot of driving around for the next few days, doing exciting things like going to a Salt Museum, an Ice Cream Farm, saw lots of cows and sheep, wandered around Chester, listened to her amusing comments about "those bloody ponce Southerns" and tried not to giggle. Watched Dr. Who. |Got rained on. Went hiking. Visited a Wizard's well. Relaxed some.

Sunday - Drove to Glastonbury (yay!). Walked up the Tor, to the Well, had requisite mystical experience, bought trinkets. Train back to London.

Today - errands and leftover stuff.
Tomorrow - tour of the Tower of London
Wednesday - fly back home *sob*

I'm sad to go, but ready to have my bed/dog/clean clothes/familiar food (VEGETABLES!!!!FRUIT!!!! dear god how I miss them)/and life. Perhaps my actual RL isn't so bad. I'm certainly going to do my best to make it better. I'm tired of living a life of quiet (ok, whiney) misery - I deserve better (and so does everyone else) and I'm bloody well going to make it happen.

Might not have been a restful vacation, but it certainly has worked to change my perspective.

And someone, PLEASE, hit me if I just slide mack into complacency, yeah? :)

Am caught up skimming all of your LJ posts, but anything of substance I have emailed the link to myself and will read/reply when I get home. *smooch* Love you all, have missed some of you like crazy. :)
salixbabylon: (Default)
Since I last posted, we went to the Victoria & Albert, Harrods, Camden markets, and thoroughly conquered the Underground and are no longer scared of it. Saturday we met up with [livejournal.com profile] soar38 and wandered around Regents Park and soaked up some sun.

Everyone says it's unusually hot -- I didn't bring any warm-weather clothes and am just baking! I also brought StupidNewShoes and my feet simply hate me. Might buy something more comfortable if I can bear it -- with the exchange rate it's an expensive option.

Yesterday we took a minibus tour to Avebury, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and Salisbury Cathedral -- with a side of sheet, pub lunch, crop circles, and a chalk horse in the hillside. I's so beautiful, although not quite the mystical experience I'd hoped for at Stonehenge -- I was simply too tired and there were too many people and we only had 30 minutes total.

The only major whine is that while the cold itself only laster 3 days, I've only been sleeping well for about 2-3 hours a night, waking up around 2am or so. I'm an 8-hours-or-very-cranky times, so a *week* of way less was taking a severe toll. Last night I broke down and took a sleeping pill - should have done that earlier, although I'll need another one tonight. My face *hurts* and my eyes burn and the circles under my eyes are scary.

On the plus side, I'm feeling better today, and hopefully will get another good rest tonight, so I'll have plenty of energy for Ewan the theater tomorrow night. [livejournal.com profile] soar38 will be joining us for dinner at the Ivy, and then we're ditching my husband so we can squeal in private.

Next day we go to Stratford to see [livejournal.com profile] niennas_dreams, and then 3 more days in the Cheshire area with a friend -- and probably no internet again until we come back on Sunday! *sob*

People are lovely, the food is great, the weather nice (if hot), and all is going well. We've decided to slow things down and *enjoy* rather than rush about seeing things. I can't believe the first week is over already!

we made it!

Sep. 1st, 2005 06:42 pm
salixbabylon: (Default)
Yay! I'm in London! Just a quick update tonight since we're on limited time and I wasn't organized enough to write up a post of LJ before we got to the internet cafe (Satrbucks - yuck!). The flight was ok and yet also hellish, the cab ride from Heathrow was 70 pounds, and the flat is the tiniest place I've ever stayed outside of a camping trip. But we're here and people have those lovely accents and there is tea EVERYWHERE and yay! We went to the British Museum yesterday, which was great. We walked - things aren't as far as I'd thought they would be.

The downsides are the blisters from new shoes, the fact that we both have head-colds, and that neither of us are adjusting well to the time change.

On the other hand, I woke up at 5 AM and wrote the kinky ficlet I owe [livejournal.com profile] mercyisme from start to finish.

Today was a dead-day, as our bodies demanded rest in order to get over the cold. Fruit is abundant, but I could use some veggies. I guess we'll go to the market (Sainbury's - ? Something like that) *again* - I think we've gone 4 times in 2 days.

Tomorrow we're going to the Tate and making some concrete plans for day-trips and theater. Although today was a bit of a waste, it also feels like a *vacation* rather than a whirlwind 100 miles a minute tour, and that's definitely a good thing.

Will be updating every few days, probably, but also probably not having time to answer emails of any length.

Anyone interested in betaing a kinky Eric/Orlando/Karl threesome? ;)

*smooch* Miss you all!

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