Friday, 31 December 2010

Low Tide

This morning, the final day of 2010, along Torrey Pines State Beach.

We shared the coast with a bunch of kids jumping for the camera.

A couple getting married on the bluff.

Surfers out of the chilly water and onto the trail.

And a long-beaked bird.

What a way to wrap up one year....and look towards the next.

but first a quick stop at BevMo to admire the tiaras and get ready for tonight's celebration.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Gift Giving – A Male Perspective

Every year we exchange, via the postal service, a Christmas package between California and Massachusetts to keep in touch with dear friends who we don’t see often enough.

On our end, I decide on the purchase.

And I am guessing that on the East Coast end it is my girlfriend making the decision.

Therefore, there is often a feminine undertone to the selection.

This year I sent a gift box of Summer Citrus Scents so they could anticipate warm weather as it looks like they are in for a long winter (Logan airport has been cancelling flights due to blizzard conditions).

She sent a beautiful set of pewter measuring spoons because she knows I love to cook.

Following is the tongue-in-cheek text exchange between our husbands this weekend.

East Coast husband: Thanks for the xmas present of body wash and assorted hand lotions.  Will really come in handy :).

West Coast husband: I just LOVE the measuring spoons! Can't wait to bake today instead of watching football.

East Coast husband: Thought you would like those. Merry Christmas :)

Next year, the guys can do the shopping.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Boxing Day

We celebrated this English holiday over breakfast.


In San Diego.

Which brought up speculation about the origin of the name.

A day to wear boxers?

A day to put Christmas gifts back in the box and return to the store?

A day that has something to do with the Boxer Rebellion?

It shows up on our calendars every December 26th with (Canada) in parentheses - what other countries celebrate boxers and boxed gifts?

Didn’t matter.

We ate our sausage and bacon and eggs and tomato and toast.

We drank our tea.

And because it was a table full of Americans celebrating, there was apple pie for dessert.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Home for the Holidays

In more ways than one.

We are back in San Diego after 7 fun-filled, amazing weeks in the city of London.

And we are spending Christmas at home.

A first.

What bliss.

No packing the car. No traffic on the freeway. No stops for gas. No long ride home after holiday cheer.

We have all morning to relax.....ok, not too much relaxing as we still have to finish up in the kitchen with food preparation, learn how to play Jingle Bells, edit down our London slideshow and iron some pants that are still in the dryer.

But the guests don't arrive till noon.

And we are already at our destination.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Soggy in San Diego

Looks like we brought the rain with us from London.

It has been coming down in buckets for days.

Puddles are getting deeper and deeper.

More is expected tomorrow. Plus thunderstorms.

Rain boots and umbrella aren't enough.

Might need a boat.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


It starts early…learning to count.

Holding up the appropriate fingers, with pride, when asked how old are you?

A few decades pass and there is no desire to discuss that number especially when it takes more than one box of candles for your birthday cake.

We give numbers value.

Good numbers --- locking in the lowest mortgage rate or watching the bathroom scale go down.

And bad numbers ---- total calories in a piece of cheesecake or the amount of taxes to be paid on April 15th.

Some numbers are just facts – dates, times, etc.

On October 29th, 2010, just a week after moving to London, this blog was started.

Yesterday, December 18th, 2010, the stats showed that Observations had reached 1,000 page views and 7 countries.

Is that a YIPPEEEE or not so much?

I have no idea since I am new to this whole world of blogging.

But either way it is fine by me.

Writing about travel, life and predicaments and bringing a camera along to record it all is exactly what I want to be doing.

And to the person(s) in Croatia who found this website. It was a tingly moment to have a reader, from so far away, for whom I had no previous connection.

(Friends and relatives in the other six countries might have received a bit of ‘prompting/pressure’ to click on the link).

So thanks for reading.

Thank you Americans and all you Brits
Kiitos to the Finns
Tak to the Danes
Bedankt to the Dutch
Terima Kasih to the Malaysians and Singaporeans
Hvala to the Croatians

I wish you a lovely holiday season and many great adventures.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Friday, 17 December 2010

Use it or Lose it

This was the sign posted at the optometrist’s reception desk.

Made me laugh.

Seems like a funny way to welcome patients.

Read the fine print.

All about using up flexible spending account monies before the end of the year. Once January 1st rolls around, anything left (for medical, dental, eye care) will be gone.

Which is why I was there in the first place.

Had my teeth cleaned earlier in the day but still had a few hundred dollars left.

After testing peripheral vision, long distance eye chart, blurry vs. clear and used the machine that blows air right onto your eyeball, we studied the scans brought up on his computer.

“You have an exceptionally large cup size for a Caucasian woman,” he said.

Without skipping a beat, I said, “Thank you.”

Then I realized that my mammogram was scheduled for next week and he was actually referring to my optic disk size. Apparently, as a rule, it is much smaller in Caucasian-Americans than all other races.

Not my eye (because I forgot to bring camera)
but basically what we were viewing on his screen.

Who knew.

Wasn’t good news or bad news.

We compared scans from my last visit three years ago and I had a big cup then too.

Don’t think I will be getting the same comment (compliment?) from the breast technician next Wednesday.

But maybe the tech will have something to say about my eyes!

Sunday, 12 December 2010


Spent yesterday on an airplane.

Heathrow to Los Angeles.

Then Los Angeles to San Diego.

Our coats, scarves, gloves, rain/snow boots will be going into storage.

Today it was 80 degrees.

Applied sunscreen.

Stepped into flip flops and headed to the ocean.

Walked along the coast from Torrey Pines State Reserve to Del Mar Beach.

Saw dolphins in the surf.

Stopped for breakfast at Poseidon -- next to palm trees and sand castles.

Good to be home.

Sunsets over the Pacific Ocean are every bit as nice as the view of the Tower Bridge over the Thames River...

Friday, 10 December 2010


I am used to this place and now it is time to leave.

After seven weeks, I….

* don’t think bacon or sausage butty is a weird item on the menu

* realize that bespoke just means custom-made, like a bespoke suit. Has nothing to do with spokes on a wheel

* correctly pronounce Southwark as Suth-ick

* know how to tell time when it is 2200 or 2330

* have a bit of a handle on grams, mls, kms, Celsius and all that other metric stuff

* remember to hit the switch on the wall because just plugging in an appliance doesn’t do anything

* realize that I am the one that talks with an accent

* hear an abundance of words ending in ‘ly’ when I am in earshot of Brits in conversation (i.e. ‘seriously, you wouldn’t believe it’, ‘she was literally 20 years younger than her boyfriend’, ‘lovely, just lovely’, ‘actually I wasn’t involved')

* say cheers for hello or goodbye, so that I fit in

* realize I am the ONLY person in London that doesn’t smoke

* recognize most of the coins. Think that pence is a fun word but quid, not so much

* order a starter and then a main and try to save room for a pudding, if I am going to have afters, unless I am just at the restaurant to have a sharing plate

* have stopped looking for eggs in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, they are never there - always on a regular shelf

* shop for aubergines as they are not called eggplants

* will miss produce shopping at Elsey & Bent LTD but at least I have a reusable bag (which I can take to Von’s when I get home)

* say sorry because nobody says excuse me

* know that people use the loo instead of the bathroom

* realize that Zed is just how you say the letter ‘Z’ out loud

* keep walking up five flights of stairs (or take the lift) even though our flat is 40 B because ground is street level and then you go up to 1, and so forth and so on

* know that Night Nurse is what you buy at Boots (pharmacy chain all over London) when you need relief from a cold or flu.

* pay attention to signs or I would constantly be looking for traffic in the wrong direction.

* just found out that my underground ticket works on the overground, not to be confused with a train

* mind the gap when I get off the lift, the train and the underground

* found out that High Street in the UK is the equivalent of Main Street in the USA

* am familiar with all the weather choices that the BBC offers to describe what is coming up – sunny, sunny interval, white cloud, grey cloud, mist, light snow shower, sleet snow shower, freezing fog, etc.

* know that if I lived here any longer I would need a much prettier umbrella, like one of these:

* know to take advantage of Free Admission at the fabulous museums and galleries this city has to offer!

This entire adventure has been brilliant, simply brilliant, and I have enjoyed every minute!

London Eye

It is referred to as a flight instead of a ride.

Along the Thames River, near the London Aquarium, is this very tall wheel.

A view during the day.

A view of the pods (32 altogether) 
that carry up to 25 people in each one.

We hopped on last night….the ride/flight doesn’t actually stop for passengers.

The pod doors open automatically when the pod is at the bottom of the wheel along a platform and a queue-full of people scurry to enter before the doors automatically close.

It takes a full 30 minutes for the pod to make the entire loop and in that time it doesn’t actually feel like you are moving.

But then why would it, as a tortoise would be able to pass you at that speed.

But as you climb,

the view gets better and better…

nothing like an aerial view of London all lit up at night!

Seems like we are looking down at the moon.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Victoria and Albert Museum

Loved this place, one of my favorites!

Walked inside and saw this magnificent glass sculpture and instantly recognized the artist (toured his exhibit at the Salk Institute in San Diego this past year).

Chewy, no that doesn’t sound right.

What was his name?

Ahhh, this is gonna keep me up tonight.

Asked a museum employee. “Dale Chihuly.”

Oh, yeah, that’s it.

The V&A museum has a bit of everything, from ancient Egyptian artifacts to elaborate tapestries.

I was most intrigued with the every day items.

Beauty in the ordinary.

There were rooms and rooms of ceramics. Tea pots, cups, saucers and other pieces of china, organized by time period and style…

this set represents art deco.

While this take on ceramics has a more artistic bent!

A display of iron work – from simple candle holders…

to heavy gates and railings.

An amusing collection of tin cans,

like the Toby Jug…

and the Coronation Coach!

Harry Potter

Haven’t read any of the books.

Haven’t seen any of the movies.

But if I was so inclined, I think this would be the perfect theatre to do so…

Hyde Park

We entered this massive park through Marble Arch.

It turns out this is also near Speaker’s Corner.

For over 150 years, on any given Sunday morning, anyone who has an opinion to air and anyone who will listen, gathers here.

Since it was Saturday, we were too early for the speeches but we did see the preparation.

Not sure what to make of this sculpture…

Then we passed real horses.

And a swan.

The ducks enjoyed the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

At least in the quieter waters.

On one corner of the park, Winter Wonderland has been set up for the holidays.

Rides for the kiddies

and runs for the athletes or exhibitionists!