Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A year in review

Well this is the time I usually go over my travel  year complete with photos however my photos from 2014 are on my computer at home, on the original memory card, on a flash drive in my bank safety deposit box and on an external hard drive.  (Paranoid much Laurie?)  Not with me here in London... so here's my year WITHOUT photos. Okay one I borrowed from my Facebook page... 

While 2014 wasn't the epic year it was the previous year it was a good started in late January when I got to walk another state capital in Jackson, Mississippi and stay at a lovely hotel.  Not particularly expensive but a charming old southern hotel.  I then moved over to Biloxi on the Gulf Coast (I have been there before and enjoyed it)  just in time for a winter storm to come through.  I did manage to get in one walk and that was it - otherwise it was walking around the deserted streets slipping and sliding on some ice.  Roads and bridges were impassable which made traveling impossible until I was able to get a private shuttle to join a friend in New Orleans.  I got there a day late but we made up for it and had a great time.  We stayed in a great shotgun house in the 7th Ward through airbnb.  It was a great local experience and while it wouldn't be for everyone it certainly was for us.  This was my third time to New Orleans and it wiggled its way into my heart even is my favourite American city.  Maybe because it doesn't feel like America?  It feels like its own country somehow!  When people tell me they are going to Vegas I always say "go to New Orleans instead"  It's a party town (oh yeah) but with loads of history and just so much more to it..not to mention the most awesome food.  I thought maybe three times in New Orleans would be enough....nope!  We also did the half marathon down there which was fun even though the route left a bit to be desired.  

From there I flew up to New York City for the annual Fest for Beatles fans (always to known to me as Beatlefest) to celebrate 50 years since the Beatles invasion of North America.  Happily it was the exact (to the day) date since the first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show so a few of us crazies happily posted under the Ed Sullivan sign.  

Me pretending to be screaming like I certainly would have done back in the day.

When I first arrived in New York I stayed in East Harlem in an airbnb place which was interesting....however the weather conspired against me once again and there was snow and muck everywhere which did not make for a good walking experience.  And it was damn cold.  Cold you say?  When you are from Saskatchewan?  Yes but I was wearing the jacket above (which by the way is the jacket I am wearing over here as well...I have an updated version (2011) of the same jacket I bought in 2001 in Vancouver....Taiga....Canadian made and boy do they last....plug plug) and layered.  Due to being in the south I didn't want to bring a winter jacket...although in retrospect that would have helped....I then moved into midtown to the Ramada (got a great deal through a travel agent friend)  where my friend Pat joined me and we attended the fest.  After the fest I did do some more exploring...New York you're okay (it grows on me a bit each time...I hated it my first trip in the late 70's) but don't even think you can be compared to London....and don't get me going on their subway system.  Paul and the Beatles has always brought me to New York...either for a Beatlefest or an actual live concert.  I've never gone to New York just to go to New York.  Seeing New York during the Christmas season is on the bucket list so if you're reading this Mr. McCartney how about a concert in New York in December?  

Then it was home...for three months... in May I took three trips in a row - each weekend I would take off somewhere....the first one was to Vancouver, British Columbia to meet up with my friend Julie from Australia.  We had a great time together and managed to see all the highlights.  We visited Gastown, took a day trip over to Bowen Island, drooled over the goodies at Granville Island market, walked around the Seawall in Stanley Park, went up Grouse Mountain by tram and went on my first chair lift since I was a kid..., marveled at the Capilano suspension was a great weekend.  The next weekend was an overnight trip to Saskatoon to do the half marathon there.  Then the next weekend three of us drove to Banff for our semi-annual CVF walking convention.  We did some absolutely breathtaking walks in the area and saw walking friends from all over Canada  - the weather gods smiled upon us and the weather was marvellous.  A fantastic weekend. 

In early July I took off for Buffalo, New York to see my friend Pat and off we went with our friend Vicky to see Mr. McCartney in Albany.  Pat had phoned and said the words "Paul and state capital"and that worked for me. :)  The concert was amazing as it always is and after my friends drove back the morning after the concert I headed out to do the Albany capital walk.  Later that day I headed off to Hartford to do another capital walk.  I had the chance to see Paul again in Pittsburgh but opted to do the capital walk instead....yes I guess my priorities are changing... from there I started to head home but due to flight delays I was stalled in Chicago (lets make a short story of this one)  I convinced them to let me take an evening flight (though they didn't go for making it another day later so I could see Paul play Chicago as well) so I was able to explore downtown Chicago again (I've been there a few times but I do love Chicago)  and get a paid for hotel.  Worked for me!

Other than a day trip I stayed at home until I flew over to Iceland on the 10th of was a very long five months....I am not used to staying at home that long but its all been worth it.  (I injured my back around the time of the Albany trip and was going to physio for months so it was a good thing I wasn't traveling...) I am now on my dream trip which will last until into June.  

So while my year didn't have the highs of visiting Cambodia, Singapore, Scotland and seeing my hero in my own home town like 2013 did it was certainly a great year.  And 2015 is going to be even better..I can feel it!!!  


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A frosty morning walk on One Tree Hill recreation ground in Alperton North London

My petsit here in Alperton, North London is just around the corner from a huge park called One Tree Hill.  I'll let you in on a secret - there's more than one tree. :)  Its official name is One Tree Hill Recreation Ground and the view from  the hill on a clear day is stunning.  You can see Wembley Stadium on one side and the Shard in the far distance on another.  Sadly the locals don't seem to appreciate it and it is full of beer bottles and cans as well as food.  Need I add Emma the dog loves visiting this place?  It is a struggle to keep her away from all the food and let's face it she usually leaves the park with something in her tummy that I hadn't planned on her having.

This morning around 10 a.m. when I walked Emma there was still frost on the grass and it was particularly stunning. Especially so as the local council had just finished cleaning it up.  I wonder how long it will stay clean - I am sure when I walk Emma tomorrow morning the beer bottles will be back... Luckily I had decided to take my small camera with me so here are some photos from our walk.  


Monday, December 29, 2014

The Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir

Alperton, where I am staying in London has a very large East Indian population.  To my surprise just a five minute walk from where I am staying (on my way to the tube station) is a beautiful Hindu temple.  This temple was opened in May of 2010 and is one of two Hindu temples in London.  It took fourteen years to complete and covers 2.4 acres of land.

We were lucky enough to be able to tour the temple and a very kind gentleman told us the history of it. No photography allowed inside but we were given a beautiful guide book to remember it  by.

Intricate forms of carving and moulds from various types of stones are inside and out.  The floor is made from marble imported from India.  The temple was built using ancient techniques based in Hindu scriptures.  Many of the component pieces were hand carved in India and flown over to the UK.

Each morning and evening there are prayers at the temple in line with the Hindu tradition - it also welcomes those of other faiths for repose.

While not a religious person AT ALL I did appreciate the architecture and gracefulness of this structure.  I also admired the dedication of those who worked towards making this dream become such a beautiful reality.  Having visited India I have seen many beautiful temples but as this one was so shiny and new it was really a unique experience for me.

Some basics about Hinduism...there are many "gods"in Hinduism but Hindus believe in one Supreme Entity who created the universe.  He created many devatas which are highly advanced spiritual beings which perpetuate the workings of the entire universe.  Why do Hindus worship the cow?  The cow is considering the embodiment of mother earth as she gives more than she takes - eg: she eats grass and gives milk.  The butter that is obtained from this milk is an essential element of all rituals. Hindus believe in reincarnation - through this process humans have experiences, learn lessons and evolve spiritually. 

So I hope you enjoy the following photographs - I wish I could post pictures of the inside as it was truly stunning.

I hope you agree that it is absolutely stunning and this is nothing compared to the inside. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from London

Christmas in London is special...London knows how to do it right.  Maybe I'm biased...but of all the places I've visited during the Christmas season London stands out.  Yes I loved the Christmas Markets in Germany and the lit up Champs Elysees in Paris but London does it for me each and every time.  Mulled wine (okay Europe has that too..), mince pies, Christmas pudding, roasted chestnuts being sold on the street...

So here's a taste of what you can expect if you ever come to London during the Christmas season...I still have to hit Harrod's window display (I hear there are little favourites!) and there is so much more.  In betweeen stalking Paddington...  Happy Holidays from Restless Prairie Girl!  

Cafe in the Crypt St Martins in the Fields church, Trafalgar Square 

St Pauls Cathedral
Carnaby Street 

John Lewis Department store,Oxford St. 

One of the ""models"from a penguin display in John Lewis window - if you haven't seen their Xmas ad you must look it up on You Tube - just too adorable!! 
New Bond Street 

New Bond St. 

South Molton Street 
Trafalgar Square with the famous Norwegian Xmas tree 
Tree at St Pancras rail station 

Livery bldg in the city.
Food booths at Covent Garden - note big Reindeer on left. 

Santa & reindeer made entirely from lego at Covent Garden - you can even sit with Santa and have your photo taken! 
Front of Selfridges department store
Regent St, London

Regent St. London 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Food glorious Food at Borough Market

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my food...I love it a little TOO it's no surprise that one of my favourite "newer"finds in London is Borough Market beside London Bridge.  Borough Market marked it's 1,000th birthday in September..yes, really!!!  Of course it wasn't as it is now but there has been a market on that site for a thousand started off as a street market and evolved from there. For me a visit there every trip is a must and of course this time around there will be SEVERAL trips...I can actually buy food to take home and cook/heat up.  Yippee!!

Another photos essay follows on my trip last week to the festive version of Borough Market. Enjoy!!! (and I'm sure there will be more posts of this market..)

All kinds of mushrooms...

Love the cheese here!  
Haven't tried roast yet...on the list...and Bridget Jones fans...the bldg next to it is where she lived...and the fight with Colin Firth and Hugh Grant was supposedly there as well....:)  

On the menu for January!  

Hungry yet?  Lots more trips to Borough Market in the future... 

Traveling by Goat to the Western Lake District of England

That title got your attention, didn't it?  Okay, I didn't actually travel on the back of a goat...I mean the poor goat would be dea...