Lucius at Ram’s Head Live

Last night I went to see Lucius at Ram’s Head Live. They’ve made some changes there since the last time I was there a few months ago to see Garbage. First of all they put in metal detectors at the entrance. The show last night was far from sold out, so it didn’t take that long to get in but I can see it taking forever if there’s a lot of people. They also took out the square bar that used to have seats around it and now there’s just a bar against the wall with a whole lot more standing room where the old bar used to be.

Speaking of it being a far from sold out show. This is why we can’t have nice things Baltimore. I know there’s issues with clearances from DC and Philly venues, but also what band wants to come to Baltimore and play for a venue that’s not even close to full. Ram’s Head Live can make it a little less obvious by only opening the lower floor and not opening up the upper levels, but still. They obviously know how many of the tickets they’ve sold at a venue and I’m sure take that into account for future tours.

I was surprised about how many older people there were in the audience. I wasn’t expecting it, but I guess in retrospect it makes sense. Lucius especially on their newest album has a very 80s synth pop vibe, which would probably correspond to the preferred musical stylings of people in their 50s. I’m not quite that old yet, but I hung in the back in what I deemed the old people section. It was a standing room only show so you could go wherever you could find space, but there seemed to be a little spot in the back where all the olds were congregating. I just stood there because there was an area that was a few steps taller than the regular floor which gave me a better chance of seeing even if someone tall stood in front of me.

The opening band was the Cactus Blossoms, a pair of brothers who play really old timey country music. On the face of it they seem a very odd match for Lucius. And I suspect anyone who didn’t know who the Cactus Blossoms were before this show were taken aback when they started playing last night. I however have seen both the Cactus Blossoms and Lucius play at the Newport Folk Festival so they totally fit together in my mind.

I’ve seen Lucius in concert a couple of times before. The first time I saw them they were opening for The Head and the Heart. I then saw them at Newport, and even though Lucius themselves weren’t playing Jess and Holly have popped in at Newport since then and sang in sets with other bands for fun. It’s their love of music and collaboration that makes me love them. Based on the show itself and everything I’ve ever said that I love about concerts  you would not think that Lucius would do a whole lot for me live. They pretty much have no stage banter at all, but of course the one thing they said to the audience involved talking about what a magical experience this past year has been getting to play with so many other amazing musicians.

Their shows are really like performance art pieces. Jess and Holly always dress alike as do the three guys. (Although they had a fourth last night. Not sure who he was and everything I can find online still refers to Lucius as a five piece band.) Jess and Holly mostly do everything in tandem and it’s all quite planned which is generally the opposite of what I like in a show. For them it somehow works though. They played a good mix of stuff from their two albums, though I was quite surprised that they never played “Born Again Teen”, which is the single off of their newest album. It takes some guts to not play a song that probably anyone who found you as a band recently is expecting to hear. It didn’t bother me, but I can’t think of any other concert I’ve ever been to where a band didn’t play their newest single.

At one point during the show Jess and Holly went off stage to change their costumes and the guys stayed around to play some instrumental music. When Jess and Holly started singing again they weren’t on stage and I kept looking waiting for them to come in from the wings, but then they popped up from the crowd where they wandered around for the rest of the song. That was fun. They also had some energetic drum banging moments that got the crowd riled and some quieter moments where they sat on the edge of the stage and sang. Their shows may not be my normal cup of tea, but I love their music and enjoy the performance art experience they put on.

Fall TV Diary (Returning Shows Edition)

In writing up this post I’m realizing I’m watching a lot of shows at this point out of habit rather than true love of them. That pretty much goes for almost all of the super hero shows, which at this point I’ve grown weary of. There’s too many of them, and I’m not sure that I really care about any of their stories anymore.


Masters of Sex

I don’t know all that much about the true story of Masters and Johnson, so I’m not sure how closely or not this show is adhering to their lives at this point. My guess is only to the broadest strokes at this point. I think this show has a character problem though. Last season they took Bill to a place that made him just a miserable character. They’ve tried to redeem him this season, but now seem to be doing the same thing to Virginia. They’ve both always been difficult people in their own way, but when characters become sort of one note terrible it’s no fun for anyone. Hopefully they’ll manage to right the ship soon as I gather there’s still a lot more story to tell about them.


Big Bang Theory

I find it kind of impressive how much I still enjoy the Big Bang Theory this far into it’s run. Most sit-coms by this point have run out of stories and have turned their characters into caricatures of their former selves. I think in some respects the Big Bang Theory has done the opposite. The characters in this show were mostly caricatures from the outset, so I think they’ve actually developed them into more human seeming characters over the years instead of the other way around. They’ve been around awhile now, but the addition of Amy and Bernadette to round out the female side of the cast was also much needed and has helped keep life in the show.


Supergirl was one of my favorite new shows from last season. Now that it’s moved to the CW and has a smaller budget and is losing Calista Flockhart as a full time cast member I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it. They also seem to have decided to drop the love triangle piece of the show that was present last season, and I won’t deny that that part of the show was part of the attraction for me. I’m going to keep watching and see how it goes, but I suspect I’m not going to love it as much as I once did.

Jane the Virgin

Now entering its third season Jane the Virgin seems to be very much what it always was. I imagine eventually this show will drag on longer than it should, but for now I’m still finding it a fun little diversion in my week.


The Flash

The Flash sort of lost my interest after its first season, but I’m still watching it though only at sort of half attention. I can’t keep straight all the time lines and worlds anymore and I don’t know that I care to.

Brooklyn 9-9

I’m still very much enjoying Brooklyn 9-9. It’s just a good, solid sit-com at this point. It knows who it’s characters are and so far is still keeping them true to themselves and not over relying on the quirks that make you love them.

Scream Queens

I really liked the first season Scream Queens at the outset, although I was not as enamored with it by it’s end. I had assumed that it would be like Ryan Murphy’s other show American Horror Story and just be an anthology series featuring most of the same actors, but with a completely new story. It turns out I was wrong and season 2 is a continuation of the characters in season 1 though in a new setting. They’ve now moved from a university into a hospital. It’s now even more ridiculous than it was before, and I’m not sure why I’m still watching it at this point. I don’t find it particularly good. I think it would have been much better served by resetting the table completely.



I used to love Arrow in its first few seasons, but it has lost its lustre for me. I think part of the problem is that it held on to the flashbacks way too long. Once we were caught up to the present it didn’t make any sense for them to be such a large part of the show anymore and it seemed like the writers were forced to start retconning things very quickly in order to keep them going. They don’t seem to be as much of a presence yet this season, and I believe they’re planning on dropping them completely next season but at this point I’m not sure I care that much about any of the stories anymore.

Modern Family

Modern Family is definitely something I’ve long been watching out of habit rather than out of real enjoyment. I don’t really have much else to say about it.


Empire burned bright in its first season. It was still decent in its second season, but aside from the music itself and of course Cookie I’m not sure this show is doing much for me anymore. The need to keep being more outrageous with the storylines means that things don’t even make sense anymore.


I love Younger. Even though the premise of people believing that Sutton Foster is 26 instead of 40 is pretty ridiculous, they treat the characters as real. No one is the bad guy. Everyone has their issues that they’re dealing with, but I can like everyone and actually feel torn about which guy is better for Eliza, her hot boss or her hot 20-something boyfriend.


Rectify’s final season doesn’t actually start until after this posts, but I can hardly wait for it. This show is definitely not for everyone. It’s an extremely slow moving character piece that may or may not actually ever reveal to us whether Daniel killed the girl he was imprisoned for killing. I won’t even be disappointed if we don’t find out because in some ways it seems besides the point. I think it’s good that the show is ending on its own terms and going out on a high note, but I will still miss it when it’s gone.


Legends of Tomorrow

I didn’t care much for Legends of Tomorrow last season even though I wanted to because they pulled together some of my favorite characters from other CW superhero shows and put them together here. Part of the problem as that there were just way too many characters and they could never fully devote enough time to any of them. Also I didn’t care for the hawk people storyline that was the basis of the first season. Now that they are hopefully gone forever and the cast is a little tighter perhaps this show will be better in its second season.


Mom hasn’t started yet for this season either, but I’ll be watching it when it does. It’s a pretty stereotypical old sit-com in most respects, but I enjoy it. I always like Alison Janney, and there is some real heart and addressing of real issues behind the sit-com ridiculousness.


The Vampire Diaries

During its first few seasons The Vampire Diaries was one of my favorite shows, but it has long outstayed its welcome. It really made no sense for it to continue on after Nina Dobrev left. At this point I’m certainly going to watch through the end, but I’m going to be happy when this one is over at the end of the season.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I adored Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in its first season, and the one episode of season 2 that’s aired so far was just as good. The ratings for this show are pretty lousy, so I’m not sure how long I’ll get to keep it, but I’m going to cherish every wonderful episode of this show as long as they keep on giving them to me.

Fall TV Diary 2016 (New Shows Edition)

I feel like I’m a little farther behind in posting my fall TV reviews than I have been in the past, but with our trip to London and then just a crazy busy schedule since we’ve been back, I’d gotten behind in watching tv and then also didn’t really have time to write about it either. But at long last for the two of you who care, here’s what I think about the new shows I’ve been trying out this fall.



This new show on HBO stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church as a couple that is getting divorced. We’ve watched the first two episodes so far, but I’m not sure I’m going to stick with it. So far the characters seem sort of ridiculous and unrealistic, and I’m not sure especially with everything going on in the real world if I’m in the mood to watch people be horrible to each other every week.


I gather this show is based on a web series created by Issa Rae, which I never watched. So far I’ve only seen the pilot episode of the HBO series. I gather it’s supposed to be about relationships, but I don’t have a real good handle on the show yet having only seen one episode. It seems like it could be promising and critics who have seen more than I have seem to enjoy it so I’m going to keep watching for awhile.


I really have no idea what I think about Westworld at this point. I was busy doing other stuff while I was watching the pilot and thus realized I wasn’t paying close enough attention to know what was really going on. The second time we had just gotten back to London and I was still still dealing with jet leg and fell asleep shortly into the episode. I haven’t seen anything beyond those two yet. I’m not sure this show is really my thing, but our TV schedule is so oddly light this fall, that I’ll probably keep watching with my husband as long as he’s interested in it.



I wasn’t initially planning on watching this show, but I saw a couple of good reviews of it before the new tv season started and figured I would give it a shot. I’m glad I did because I’ve enjoyed it so far. Abigail Spencer stars as a historian who is recruited to join a team of people with a time machine who are being sent back in time to stop someone else who has stolen the only other existing time machine. He appears to be trying to change history by messing up historical events and they are trying to keep him from screwing up the world. So far they’ve dealt with the Hindenburg crash and Lincoln’s assassination. Even though the historic events are still happening with their intervention they are changing history in small ways, which so far has mostly been played out with differences in Abigail Spencer’s character’s life. Her mom is no longer dying, her sister never existed, and she has a fiance she doesn’t know.


All the reviews I saw of this show indicated that it was terrible, but I decided I wanted to give it a try because I like Hayley Atwell and am still sad that Agent Carter was canceled. This show was terrible as all the reviews warned me and I won’t be watching anymore. Hopefully it will see a quick cancelation and Hayley Atwell can get involved in something more worthy of her.


No Tomorrow

No Tomorrow is a sort of romantic comedy in which a woman finds herself falling for a guy who thinks the world is going to be struck by a meteor and end within a year. He has a sort of bucket list of crazy things he’s working through before the end of the world. At first she gets caught up in the excitement, but now is starting to wonder if he’s just really crazy. I enjoy it whenever I’m watching it, but for some reason I’m not super attached to it. I kept forgetting it was even a show until I would see it on our DVR, and I gather that the ratings for it are terrible and I don’t find myself worried that it might be canceled. I guess I’ll just enjoy it for however long it’s on when I remember to watch it.

This is Us

Everyone has been saying This is Us is the new Parenthood or at least that it will fill the Parenthood shaped hole in your heart. I definitely don’t have the same love for it that I have for Parenthood though. I get the comparison since it’s a sprawling family story with the extra added twist that one of the four family stories is actually the story of the parents of the people in present day back when they were kids. I don’t seem to have developed the love for this show that a lot of other people have at this point, but I’m hoping I’ll get more invested in the characters. I definitely plan to keep watching because I’m starved for this kind of character driven family story that is rare on tv these days.



One would not think that a show about a teenager with cerebral palsy and his family would be good fodder for a sit-com, but this show starring Minnie Driver as a mom fighting for the rights of her child and dragging the rest of the family along with her is excellent. It’s smart and funny and I’ve really been enjoying it so far.


Atlanta is the excellent show from the mind of Donald Glover, who also stars in it as a sort of lazy main character Earn who has somewhat stumbled into managing is friend’s fledging rap career after one of his songs takes off in Atlanta. Earn also has a daughter who he obviously loves and tries to take care of in a sort of inept way while being in a somewhat on and off relationship with her mother. The show is pretty much whatever it wants to be. The episodes change focus and styling from episode to episode with some being more typical tv episodes and others being rather high concept pieces. It’s extremely clever humor and often very visual. You have to pay close attention to what’s happening on the screen if you really want to get the jokes.

Queen Sugar

Moreso than This is Us, Queen Sugar has been a Parenthood replacement for me. In case you’ve never heard of this show and are wondering what it is, it’s actually on the OWN Network and was something produced by Oprah. It’s based on a book by the same name, though having read it I can tell you it’s only very loosely based on the book. Three siblings are brought back together in Louisiana after the death of their father. The brother has recently been paroled and has returned home to get his son back and set up a life for himself. The eldest sister returns to her childhood home with her teenage son in the midst of a sex scandel surrounding her famous basketball playing husband, and the other sister has been in the town for the long haul and does not look kindly on her siblings returning and trying to take charge. They decide to try and save their father’s sugar cane farm, but none of them really know what they’re going and they are fighting against some long odds.


Based on the film by the same name, which I never saw Peyton List plays a woman who has somehow discovered that she can talk to her father who was killed 20 years prior via a ham radio. She warns him of his death in order to stop it, but in doing so she changes the present such that her mother is now dead and her whole life is different. She can remember both pasts and is now trying to work with her father in the past to change things so that everything turns out okay for everyone. It’s an ok show so far. I’m not sure I think they can pull this story off in any meaningful way for multiple seasons, but it’s decent for now.


The Good Place

The Good Place stars Kristen Bell as a woman who was a horrible person on earth, but who accidentally gets sent to “The Good Place” instead of the “Bad Place”. Ted Danson stars as the architect of their neighborhood in the Good Place who thinks that it’s his fault that everything is going awry even though it appears that it’s Kristen Bell’s presence that is causing the issues. I gather that it’s designed to only be 13 episodes per season instead of the typical 22, so it’s already halfway through it’s run for this season. I’m not head over the heals in love with it, but I love Kristen Bell and Ted Danson as well as the other stuff from the creators of the show, so I’m giving it plenty of time to develop into something I love.


Pitch is about the first female pitcher in major league baseball. So far I think it’s trying to make too much of a statement as well as giving it’s characters some annoying back stories, but I’m hoping it will eventually settle into something a bit more realistic and less moral of the week type stories. I haven’t seen the ratings for it, but I gather based on one of my podcasts that they’re not great, so I’m not sure it will get the chance. We’ll see.



DC Day

Awhile back my husband, knowing that I like the band The Head and the Heart, pointed out to me that they were going to be playing at D.A.R. Constitution Hall in DC. I had already seen, but decided not to go because I didn’t feel like going all the way to DC and was hoping they would swing back through Baltimore later in their tour as they had in their previous tours. He pointed out to me that he was going to be in DC for a conference that day, so if I decided to get tickets I could come down and meet him and we could go. So I went ahead and bought tickets. Of course two weeks after I bought tickets, they announced a show in Baltimore in December. Looks like I’ll just have to see them twice. Poor me.

Anyway, shortly after buying tickets to the concert my former boss passed away and I saw that the memorial service was going to be in Olney, Maryland the same day as the concert. After looking up where the heck Olney was and realizing it was in DC suburbs, I decided it didn’t make sense to go back home in between. Instead it made more sense for me to drive into DC and spend the afternoon there. So I made plans to do just that.

The memorial service was lovely. They had ten people speak and share stories and remembrances. It was a very fitting tribute to man who was loved by many, and tried to live life to the fullest despite his long battle with MS. He will be missed.

After the memorial service I headed to my friends Alison and Dave’s house. They just bought a house in DC and happily they were free so we could hang out yesterday afternoon. I got to check out their new digs, and spend some time with them. Now that Alison sadly no longer lives in Baltimore I obviously don’t get to see her as often. They still come up this way a lot, but I know once they settle into their DC life more and more I know that drive will seem even less appealing. Alison and I thought about going to a museum briefly, but I had no slept well and was really tired so we decided just to hang out their house until dinner.

One of the problems with D.A.R. is that there is nothing else immediately around it in terms of commercial things like stores and restaurants. Within a mile or so there’s a handful of places, but you still don’t have a very big selection if you want to grab drinks or dinner before a show. I made us reservations at Founding Farmers, which I had heard good things about and is insanely popular based on the number of people waiting to get in there. Perhaps at one point it was amazing and is now just resting on it’s popularity, or maybe it’s just one of those places that has a reputation for whatever reason that it doesn’t really live up to. After waiting almost an hour after our reservation time for our table (normally that would have made me leave a place, but in this case there wasn’t really anywhere else to go), the food was just middling. I’m not sure why everyone was fighting to get in there. At least everything came out fast since we were pressed for time by the time we got to sit. The carrot cake was tasty too.

Because dinner took so long we did miss the first bit of the opening band, Declan McKenna. I didn’t know them going in, and after seeing what I saw of their set I wasn’t really sad that I missed part of it. They weren’t completely terrible like whoever the opening act was the first time I saw The Head and the Heart in concert, but their music didn’t do a whole lot for me.

Last night was the fourth time I’ve seen The Head and the Heart in concert. Once at the Newport Folk Festival and then once on each of the tours they’ve done for their three albums. They always put on an excellent show. Last night was no exception. They obviously played a good chunk of music from their new album, which I really like. They still tend to play a lot from their first album as well, which the crowd eats up. At this point especially for those songs but for some of their more recent material as well, it was really just one big sing-a-long with the crowd. That doesn’t work with every band, but it totally does with them and I was happy to be able to sit there and sing with everyone. I’m already looking forward to seeing them again in December.

Happy 8th Anniversary to My Husband

Eight years ago today my husband and I got married after dating for four years. He’s a great husband, and I’m happy every day that we’re together. I love the life that we’ve built together, and I look forward to many more years sharing it with each other. Love you my dear. Happy anniversary!


Maryland Fleet Week

Starting in 2012 Baltimore started a big celebration featuring a lot of ships in our harbors and performances by the Blue Angels. Back then it was for the anniversary of the War of 1812. Two years later they did it again in 2014 for the end of the War of 1812. Now they’ve decided it was such a great success as part of the War of 1812 anniversary that they’re going to keep doing it every 2 years but branded as Maryland Fleet Week.

We went to it back in 2012 and 2014 and enjoyed it so we decided we go again this year. Happily we had a beautiful weather this weekend, so it as a great day to be outdoors. Since I go to church in Federal Hill, which is the neighborhood just south of the Inner Harbor where the ships were, my husband who normally doesn’t go accompanied me to church so that we could just stay parked there and walk over the festivities.

We started by grabbing lunch in the little beer garden they had set up. It actually had a nice selection of food by local restaurants and some local food trucks. We wound up splitting a pizza cooked in a mobile brick wood fired oven, which I thought was interesting. Usually at these things when live bands play I hate the music and it’s too loud, but for the time we were there it was the perfect volume and it was a bluegrass band, so I was happy.

There were not nearly as many ships this time as there had been in the past. The one docked in the Inner Harbor had a line a mile long when we walked by so we by-passed it completely. We had thought about walking over to the one in Fells Point, but had seen on the news that it got called away to do whatever it actually is in service for so had to leave early. We wound up walking over to Pier 5 where the USS Carson City was docked. It’s a fairly new Navy ship that looks sort of like a giant aluminum catamaran. It took longer than I thought to go through the ship, but it mostly worked out since we had a lot of time before the Blue Angels. We had to go through security first and then had to wait in a long line to get on the ship. They actually did guided tours and by the time we finally got off I was ready to be done. Our tour guide was chatty and several people in our group kept asking questions. We got by-passed by two other groups in areas where multiple groups could gather and got told to hurry up and move along in at least three places where only one group could be at a time. I was definitely getting a little anxious by the time we got off.

Because we were on the ship we missed most of the flying by whatever fighter jets were flying early in the afternoon, but I did see some crazy dives that were making me nauseous just watching them. Our main goal of the outing was to see the Blue Angels. We sat on the side of Federal Hill to watch them in a nice shady area on the grass. It turns out there was a tree in our way for some of it, but for the most part we had a pretty good view. It was amazing to watch as always. I honestly have no idea how they do that. There were definitely a few points where I almost wanted to cover my eyes because I was afraid they were going to run into each other. Obviously they didn’t or you would have heard about it all over the news. As always it was an amazing sight to see (and hear).

London Trip Part 4

On Saturday morning we headed down to Greenwich. I had been before, but my husband had not and this was the one thing he said he wanted to do on our trip. In the ongoing theme of this trip that my memory is terrible, not only did I not really remember anything about Greenwich, what I did remember was apparently completely wrong. I have a vivid memory of standing on the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory in a grassy area. There is no indication of the line in a grassy area. It’s on a brick patio that seemed not at all familiar to me. I didn’t remember anything from the Royal Observatory museum either. I guess it’s good because it made it more interesting.

As you’ve probably gathered by now the Prime Meridian was founded at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and is the genesis of Greenwich Mean Time, which helped standardize time and navigation. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich was previously the home and workplace of the Royal Astronomer, but it has since moved elsewhere. Now it is just a museum.

Royal Observatory
Standing on the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory
View of London from the Royal Observatory. I was all about the views of London this trip.

In addition to the Royal Observatory Greenwich has an old Naval College and the British Maritime Museum. We walked around the grounds of both but didn’t go inside either. It’s also a cute little town with a small little market that we wandered through. In looking for off the beaten path things to do in London I stumbled on Goddard’s Pie and Mash shop, which has been in business in Greenwich since 1890. We went there for lunch and it was quite tasty. It almost made up for the terrible fish and chips I ate the day before.

Steak and Ale pie and mash

We also discovered a footpath built under the Thames between Greenwich and Island Gardens that was built for dockworkers to get to work replacing an old ferry. We walked back and forth because I was curious and thought it would be fun to say that I had walked both over and under the Thames during our trip.

View of the British Maritime Museum from across the Thames in Island Gardens

After lunch we headed back into London. At that point we had exhausted all the things we had specifically put on our itinerary for the trip. We eventually settled on the Museum of London, which I had very much enjoyed the last time I was there and that my husband had never been to. It’s free now aside from their special exhibit, which was not the case last time I was there. I still think it’s a neat little museum, but I also understood my husband’s point that if you know the basics of British history you’re not really going to learn anything.

Without any set plans for the evening I decided we should check out what was available from the TKTS booth and see another show. We settled on something called Murder Ballad, which had like the show we saw on Friday, had previously been off-Broadway. It only had middling reviews, but since it was only 90 minutes and we had to get up at 5 am to catch our flight we decided to go with it. Even though the theatre is in the West End, it’s not one of the grand theatres. It’s in a place called the Arts Theatre, a small 350 venue whose entrance and box office is actually in the middle of the Madd Hatter’s Cafe. The show itself is a musical about a love triangle that ends in a murder as the title would suggest. It was as the reviews indicated a sort of middling show, but I’m not sorry we went.

Prior to the show we tried to get dinner at a well-reviewed Indian restaurant nearby. One of the things on my list was to eat Indian food when we were in London. It didn’t work out as the restaurant literally had a line down the block and we didn’t have time to wait in it. We wound up eating at Wagamama’s instead. I tend to try and avoid chains when traveling, but since Wagamama’s is a London-based chain I enjoyed eating at when I lived there and their only existing location in the US is in Boston nowhere near me I don’t feel too bad. I don’t know whatever happened to the DC location that was supposed to open. Either it never did or it closed really quickly. It appears a New York location should be opening soon based on their website.

Sadly that concluded our too-short, but wonderful trip to London. We had to head out early on Sunday morning. Even though we left on time we got into Toronto 30 minutes late. Our connection was always going to be tight and with that 30 minutes gone Air Canada preemptively rebooked us on a flight back to Baltimore that left 4 hours later than our original flight. I was really not happy thinking I was going to have spend 4 extra hours in the airport. Luckily though we had no checked bags and were able to get through both Candian and US customs and the security checkpoint we had to go through fairly quickly. We basically ran to our original gate in hopes that we could get rebooked onto our original flight. I was slightly worried our seats might have been given to standby passengers, but happily everything worked out and we got home as originally planned.

It was  great trip that reminded me of all the reasons I adore London. It made me wish that I could get there more often.

London Trip Part 3

In addition to going to the theatre, the one thing I said I wanted to go on this trip was to go to the Tate Modern museum, which was still in the process of being built the last time I was in London. So that’s what we planned to do on Friday morning. Funnily enough our hotel was pretty much right next door to the Tate Britain but we never went this trip. I spent lots of time there for the art history course I took while studying in London though, so I didn’t feel like I missed out this time.

The Tate Modern Museum
View of St. Paul’s from the other side of the Thames in front of the Tate Modern Museum

The Tate Modern was built in the old Bankside Power Station. The museum is split in two parts with one side being the old Switch House and one being the Boiler House. There is an incredible view of the city from the top of the Switch House. The museum is free aside from special exhibitions. There were three going on while we were there, but we opted not to pay to go in any of them. I had never heard of two of the artists and we had seen a lot of Georgia O’Keefe in New Mexico and didn’t feel like paying £20 to see more.

Selfie with the view from the top of the Tate Modern Museum

We wound up spending a lot more time in the museum than I anticipated. We pretty much covered the whole thing while were there. We did the galleries in the Switch House and then decided to go out and grab lunch before doing the other half of the museum. We went to a pub that we passed on the way to the museum where I sadly had the single worst fish and chips I’ve ever eaten. I’m still mad about it. I was counting on some delicious fish and chips while were there. After lunch we headed back and did the other half of the museum.

This fish and chips may look delicious, but don’t let it fool you. It was terrible.

I admit I’m someone who doesn’t always “get” modern art. There were definitely some of the things that have come to symbolize modern art like singular colored shapes or what appears essentially be a blank canvas because it’s painted white. That really was not the majority of the collection though and wasn’t the stuff I don’t get. I have decided what really does nothing for me is the sort of performance art videos that play on a loop. Those are definitely not for me.

There were a number of things I really enjoyed though. They had some great collections about the intersection of art and culture and art and social issues that I loved. They also have several Picassos and I enjoyed seeing the series of Rothko paintings that inspired the play Red.

After we left the Tate Modern we walked across the Thames on the Millennium Bridge, which obviously was also not there yet when I was last in London in 1998. Then we headed over to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus because I wanted to hit up some of the cheesy tourist shops. I collect Christmas ornaments as souvenirs and was sure I’d be able to find one there. I was not wrong. We then wound up walking over to Covent Garden as well to kill some time before heading to dinner and the theatre.

View of the Tower Bridge while walking across the Millennium Bridge

It took me a long time to figure out what show I wanted to see while we were in London. Too much of the stuff in the West End right now is stuff I’ve already seen on Broadway or that I didn’t care about, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and No Man’s Land starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, the two shows I wanted to see were sold out. I thought we might just see what was available at the TKTS booth after we got there, but a few days before we left I managed to pick something based purely on the venue, which wasn’t even in the West End.

I was looking through a list of off the beaten path things to do in London and stumbled across Wilton’s Music Hall, which bills itself as the oldest grand music hall in the world. I decided to see what was playing there during our trip, and conveniently it turned out to be a theatre production of Floyd Collins: The Musical. I looked up the reviews and they were all raves, so I was sold.

The show is based on a true story of a Kentucky man who liked to explore caves and got stuck in a cave. The rescue mission became a huge nationwide story in 1925 before a cave collapse ultimately doomed Collins to death a few weeks after he first got stuck. I enjoyed it and was happy with my choice. The production itself was great, though there were some parts of a couple of the songs that I thought went on too long. I’m sure most people in the audience were British and thus didn’t think about the accents, but as an American I was kind of amused by some of the very British sounding Kentucky accents. I appreciated the experience of going to an off-West End production in a historic space that’s not just some ornate theatre that you would be hard pressed to distinguish from any other ornate theatre.


London Trip Part 2

We took a red eye flight on Wednesday night through Toronto and arrived in London early on Thursday morning. After making the trek from Heathrow to our hotel and dropping off our stuff we set out in the city. As I mentioned in my previous post I studied abroad in London, so I wanted to go back and check out my old neighborhood. I lived in Camden, which is in north London and is home to the Camden Lock Market and Stables Market, two adjoining markets with tons of people selling things, food stalls, and all kinds of interesting stuff in a labyrinthine setting. I kind of forgot how cool it is until we went again.

Camden Lock
Camden Lock Market
Regent’s Canal

Speaking of forgetting, my memory is apparently terrible. To even walk by my old house I had to use Google maps to semi-recreate through muscle memory my walk from the Chalk Farm Tube station in order to figure out what the street name was. Pretty much the tale of the entire trip was me not remembering things or vaguely remembering things. Apparently I shouldn’t wait another 18 years to go back again.

After we grabbed food and walked around in Camden market we walked along the canal and then up to Primrose Hill. You can get a really good view of the city from up there. It’s amazing how much has been built up since I was last there. The city is being taken over by glass skyscrapers everywhere with lots more coming if the number of cranes you can see are any indication.

View of London from Primrose Hill
Terrible selfie on Primrose Hill

From Primrose Hill we walked over to my old house so I could see it and take a picture. It hadn’t changed any, but the house across the street where Noel Gallagher from Oasis used to live when I was there is now owned by someone else. That means the white gate walls are no longer covered in Sharpied graffiti notes from his fans and there’s no longer an almost constant contingent of people standing out front hoping to talk to him and get his autograph. I never had any interaction with him and based on stories from the time he doesn’t sound like a stellar human being, but I also appreciated that if he was home and a fans waited outside long enough he pretty much always came down and signed something for them.

The street where I used to live in London
My old Tube stop 
The house I lived in in London. My room was the window on the middle left.
The house across the street from where I lived where Noel Gallagher from Oasis lived back in 1998.

I can’t remember the name of the pub that we used to go to at the end of street, and my memory of it’s location seems off from what is there now, but I’m guessing the giant brewery/beer hall that now sits on the corner at the end of the street was built on top of that pub. Certainly what’s there now was not there 18 years ago. My memory isn’t that bad.

Although I’ve already forgotten why we wound up at Westminster Abbey after we left Camden. I had suggested going a little farther north to Hampstead Heath and going to the Kenwood House, but my husband feeling the jet lag didn’t want to get farther away from our hotel. Once we were back around Westminster we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do. My husband had never been to Westminster Abbey, so I suggested that. However, I’ve been to Westminster Abbey at least four times and he decided he didn’t care enough about it to pay £20 to go in.

In effort to find some store he thought he had seen saw coming out of the Tube station we happened upon the ticket line for visiting Parliament, which is not actually near the entrance at all. Thinking about it I thought that as many times as I’d been to London I couldn’t remember actually ever doing a tour in Parliament though I had obviously seen the outside many times. I was indeed correct on that as I knew I had definitely never done it before once we got inside. It was an interesting tour and I’m glad I finally did it.

The Elizabeth Tower with Big Ben inside and the stupidly overpriced London Eye in the background, which I will never pay to go on
St. Stephen’s Hall inside of Parliament. One of the few rooms you are allowed to take photos in.
The only other place inside of Parliament where photos are allowed

At that point we were running on fumes so we headed back to our hotel to figure out dinner. We found a well-rated Sichuan restaurant called Ma La Sichaun, a few blocks from us and went there. It was quite tasty and the food came out insanely fast. It took us forever to get the check after that so we still didn’t get out of there very quickly. After that we were pretty much toast after the red eye flight and going all day.

Of course we went to bed and then I woke up 3 hours later at what would have been 7 pm at home. My body was like that was a nice nap, but why are you trying to sleep at 7? I got up and read for a few hours and was then able to fall back asleep. All in all, I wasn’t nearly as miserable with jet leg as I anticipated. I was really happy about that. Stay tuned for more posts on the rest of my trip.

London Trip Part 1

My husband has a history of giving me trips as gifts, but then relying on me to do all the planning. I finally told him that I was not thrilled with those gifts because basically he was gifting me with the chance to plan our annual vacation. So in December 2014 my Christmas gift was a trip to London including a show on the West End with the addition that he would do all the planning. Then began the wait for this trip to actually happen. As almost two years went by I was beginning to think it never would.

I can thank the Brits for their Brexit vote for it finally happening. Right after they voted to leave the EU a lot of airlines had fire sales to London. I told my husband if he was ever going to plan this trip now’s the time. He took my advice and found us some really good fares on Air Canada. As he likes to point out the base fares were only $142, of course with all the taxes and fees they came out to around $500. Since that’s on average what we pay to visit my family in Arizona, I say it was a pretty good deal.

Of course after he bought the plane tickets I started to worry that we were going to have to sleep on the street as weeks kept passing without him booking us anywhere to stay. He eventually also got us a really good deal on a hotel room. The nightly rate was almost half of what we paid per night for my birthday weekend in Philly. We stayed at the Doubletree-Westminster. It turned out to be a good place to stay. The room was decent and the location was pretty good. It does seem on the face to be a little bit remote because it’s located in the middle of what I was calling the Burberry compound. There are bunch of huge Burberry office buildings sort of surrounding it, so especially on nights and weekends there doesn’t seem to be much going on right there. Plus they were building a giant apartment building right next door and the construction from that seemed to make it even more cut off.

Also the closest Tube stop is Pimlico on the Victoria line, which wasn’t super convenient for anything we were planning on doing. Luckily we figured out the first day that by walking just a few blocks further we could easily access the Westminster tube stop, which was a lot better and the station we used for all but our first trip on the Tube. I would definitely stay there again should I find myself in London in the future.

Hopefully I will be back because I love London. I’ve been a number of times, but this is the first time I’ve been back since I studied abroad there 18 years ago. Going back reminded me of how much I loved it, and I really didn’t want to leave. I tolerate New York City because there are many things there I love to do so I appreciate getting to visit frequently, but I would never want to live there. I would move to London in a heartbeat. We also had the perfect all weather while we were there, which made the trip even more lovely. Stay tuned to future posts this week to find out about what we actually did on our trip.