Friday, July 17, 2015

Tolkien, Birmingham, and London!

Here I am in London Kings Cross station, staring at the place where the old Harry Potter 9 3/4 platform used to be. Now there is an organized place inside the station where you stand in an organized queue right near the Harry Potter store. I know I'm a purist about these things, but I wish it was at the real place :) but it's fiction after all.

I am remiss in posting about Birmingham, so here goes. Jackie and Eric planned wonderful days out with great food! He rain didn't cooperate on Tuesday, and we had a lovely lazy morning waiting for it to clear a bit. After lunch, we went out to Worcester, which is somewhere new for all of us. We enjoyed the river walk that took us on a long meander past the plentiful swans (a swan sanctuary apparently), pretty riverside houses, a great bridge, and a lock with riverboats. Despite the on and off spitting rain, the camera going in and out of the bag (love the durable iPhone camera), I loved the meander.

We then climbed up the steps to the Worcester Cathedral. I love the architecture of church's and cathedrals, and this one didn't disappoint. The ceilings are gorgeous, and there are lots of fabulous little details to photograph. Quite surprisingly, there are two tombs, King John and Prince Arthur. If Prince Arthur hadn't died, Henry VIII might have never been king and Elizabeth never born. History is a fascinating game of luck, I think. What's the line from GoT? "You Live or You Die." After a nice walk through the town center, we ambled back home, passing a group of gypsies in their traditional carts, their horses grazing every which direction.

We had a delicious dinner of veggie tagine. The strange warm feeling in my calf was still persisting, so to be on the safe side, I went to the dr Wednesday morning, and everything looked fine. I was told t take some ibuprofen as it was probably just a muscle or nerve issue in the leg. I wouldn't be surprised if the Dubrovnik heat and all the walking had strained it a bit.

So, after the dr Wednesday, we went off on a Tolkien tour of places in Birmingham. First stop, Moseley Bog. Tolkien spent four years in a house nearby, and he explored these woods. The bog was the inspiration for Tom Bombadil's Old Forest in LoTR. We found a lovely little place for the gourmet picnic Jackie made, surrounded by flowers, trees, and birds. Seemed an appropriate idyllic hobbit lunch!

Next stop: Sarehole Mill. This mill has been a working mill for a long time. In Tolkien's childhood, it was a flour mill, and one of the men was a bulky grumpy man that served as a model for Farmer Maggot (?), where the hobbits like to steal veggies. The tour guide was fantastic and told us all about the history, explaining how it evolved as a mill, what it would have looked like a hundred years ago to Tolkien, and how it operates now.

Last stop: the two towers. In Edgebaston, there are two towers that may have inspired the LotR towers. One is a Waterworks tower built in a Victorian style and the other is an old gothic tower thought to be a hunting lodge in the 18th century when it was built. You can only get near them and need to imagine what it might have looked like to Tolkien. Jackie and I both agree that Tolkien signposts are needed to really engage the Tolkien visitor. I could do that!

We meandered back home to another awesome meal (veggie curry),and Jackie showed me her art room, where she is busy creating some amazing textile pieces. There are so many of us trying to Crete alongside our day jobs. We all watched the new "Night at the Museum" film, a fun way to end a day that started a bit stressful.

Thursday morning, Jackie and I meandered to a craft center near her, the her. What an awesome place. Thank goodness I don't have much room in my bag. I would have bought so many things. I have two weeks to go, and space is still limited. We had tea/coffee in the little tea shop, watching the ducks and their chicks swim in the two ponds. I really can't wait to come back here again someday with a bigger bag.

Then, it was off to London to meet Candice. I arrived early and left my luggage at Kings Cross before heading to Piccadilly Circus to take a photo for mom. Then, a photographic adventure in one of my favorite places: Trafalgar Square. The lions, fountain, National Gallery, St Martin in the Fields, Big Ben in the distance. I love his place.

Then, Candice and I met in the front of the National Portrait Gallery in a flurry of excitement. It's been too long since seeing all these friends. We sat for a little chat and then went into the Audrey Hepburn photography exhibit. These photos showed a great variety of her life, and many came from her two sons. They showed both black and white and color photos, but pink was the dominant color. I couldn't resist the exhibition catalogue, as I'm working on some poems about women in film. It was a small exhibit but quite wonderful.

Candice and I then enjoyed a great dinner at Woodlands Indian restaurant nearby. There's nothing better than catching up over a good meal. We then meandered back to her gorgeous flat in Herne Hill and a cup of much welcomed rooibos.

Now I await Jayne and little Charlie in Welwyn Garden City for the next adventure. New baby #2, new house, a visit to Hatfield House. Two weeks done, two more to go!

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