I was basically a zombie wandering the streets of Charleston the days between Christmas and New Year's. The charms of Charleston - the food, the night life, and the views - were lost to me. The best meals mean nothing if you can only eat soup. The fanciest cocktails mean nothing if your stomach is already sour. The prettiest buildings look dull if you're tired and aching and running a fever. Even so, I've got a few photos from the trip up on the blog!
Anyone who knows me knows I have a not-so-secret obsession with tiny houses. And no, I don't mean "small, quaint cottage in the rolling English countryside" kinda tiny but I mean tiny houses! Like 200 square foot kinda tiny. Think tiny like "just enough room for McCrae, Ryder and me to pack together like sardines with my running/backpacking/hiking/soccer/climbing/yoga/biking/photography equipment and barely be able to turn around" kinda tiny. Possibly even unreasonably tiny. I have my reasons for my love of tiny houses, and I even explored one form of tiny house living in Charleston!
Trafalgar Square. What a hodgepodge of people. In the summer afternoon it was busy: all noise and people. I could have loitered at the square all day just people-watching, but everything else around Trafalgar Square is so exciting too - The National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields, The National Portrait Gallery, and all the captivating details of Charing Cross and the Westminster area.
We rushed early to St. Paul's in London one morning so we could explore the cathedral and climb the dome before the large crowds hit. Even so, I had no patience with the early bird tourists giggling with glee at the whispering gallery or shrieking in panic at the tight spiral staircase to the top of the dome, so I wrote poem stanzas on the climb to distract myself from any irritation.
Stone and marble may be durable, but even these hard surfaces cannot survive what we human beings as a species can survive: time and the touch of millions of hands and lips, touching, revering, eroding, forgetting. Funeral slabs are worn completely smooth, memorials are cracked and decaying, and some are even defaced in damnatio memoriae. We build, but still it is only temporary. Eventually hands and feet rub and erase, and we are only left to puzzle over fragments and faulty stories.
The London Eye is incredibly touristy in all the worst ways: shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, crying babies, a line out the door to restrooms, heat, overpriced bottles of Coke, and carnival attractions like street magicians and a carousel and exhibits like "Shrek's Big Adventure!" and "The London Dungeon (it's a SCREAM!)" and a very cramped aquarium.
It's here - it's finally here! After such a long wait once again there is the weekend clash of titans, the relentless progression down a field, the glory in the lit up scoreboard. Football season is well underway and with it comes all the rabidity of fans fixated on screens over bowls of chicken wings.
Last year I posted a playlist for Labor Day road trips. This year I'm not going on a road trip over Labor Day weekend: instead, I'm focusing on all things that are "home." So if you're planning on a weekend home, or if you're going on a road trip and need a playlist for coming home on Monday, or if you're heading off to wherever "home" is for you, or even if you're just homesick, I've got some songs for you.
On the morning we left Brighton, before the fog rolled in and swallowed the golden sunlight, there were children at a basketball camp on the concrete court and some teenagers were setting up soccer - no, football - goals by the sand volleyball court. On the rocky shore some young adults laughed and shouted, shaking brown glass bottles at each other and at the horizon.
The castle loomed large in the train window even from a distance. Sitting on a hill nestled by its quaint town it was an imposing place. A castle! A real life royalty-and-feudalism sort of castle with a bloody medieval history and a deep well under a rusty grate and a garderobe and coats of arms and rough-hewn stone and at least nine Van Dycks, all portraits of the castle’s noble family members. A castle with its own medieval chapel and an armory room with a Medici table and Queen Victoria’s coronation homage chair and a Casali and at least three Gainsboroughs and an execution order signed by Queen Elizabeth I for Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk.
I hardly slept on the plane ride to England. RDU to London non-stop and I was kept awake by anticipation like a young child on the night before Christmas. It was my fourth time to Europe so you’d think I’d know the drill - get some sleep or be a miserable zombie - but no, I’m batting 0.250 for getting some shut-eye on transatlantic flights now...I probably should know better than to take my vacation cues from two hundred (and three!) year old novels. Still, Brighton had a historical reputation as a place of pleasure and convalescence, and I hoped the seaside town would be a fine place for me to convalesce from my horrible jet lag.
This was supposed to be a blog post about Charleston with beautiful pictures of historic homes and the fort and harbor, but Mother Nature had other plans so we headed to higher ground. Higher ground turned out to be Asheville. Asheville without our backpacking gear? What could we possibly do?? Uhm, duh. Beer and Biltmore.
“Excuse me, I don’t mean to alarm you, but I just wanted to let you know something very big was swimming near you just over there.”
We were about thigh-high in the surf of Oak Island beach off the North Carolina coast when this woman approached my two bikini-clad friends and me. The woman’s adolescent daughter was body-surfing the small waves in the shallows. The woman was calm, pleasant and non-alarmist, which I appreciated. We thanked her and moved to the shallows where sea and sand swirled around our ankles.