Monday, June 30, 2008

Yea, really

I was asked just the other day via email what the price of gas is in London.

Short answer: a lot.
Longer answer: about 10 USD per gallon for diesel and somewhere between 9 and 10 USD per gallon for unleaded.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

it's part art and part science

I have now finally gotten around to using that cute teapot and loose tea I purchased months ago, having decided this morning to brew up a batch of Earl Gray tea. Wanting to go all British, and in proper British vernacular, I "fancied a spot of tea" this AM.

It is with some embarassement that (1) I had to read the side of the box in which the loose tea was packaged to read the instructions on exactly how to brew the tea, how much tea to use, how long to steep it, etc. and (2) I now understand that there must be more to the process than was noted on the side of the box.

I suppose all Brits know how to make a "spot of tea" using something OTHER than teabags hence, the directions on the tea container should be quite brief and more than adequate. After all, how many people (besides foreigners) need help making a pot of tea?

I confess it must be part art and part science because simply following the directions is not enough. Never fear, as I will take a crack at again tomorrow.

And before you Brits laugh at this Texan, do you know how to make Rotel cheese dip? Yea...there are a couple of techniques that are not listed on the side of the Velveeta cheese box and the can of Rotel tomatoes that make the all the difference in the world between marginal versus fabulous cheese dip.

Right...I didn't think you knew those secrets so stifle the giggles on the loose tea fiasco.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

One more thing

We have been introduced to a Texas Style B-B-Q restaurant chain in London called Bodean's.
And satisfies the craving.

Starting to emerge from the black hole

It is T-3 days before THE project at work concludes. Bluntly put, Hachie Gal is starting to emerge from the black hole of the last 18 months, coming out of the cocoon of work, entering the real world again....metaphorically speaking.

Thankfully, there were the snippets of work-life balance along the way to remind me that one day I would rejoin the human race and do all the things the "regular people" go for runs, squander a weekend doing nothing but what you want to, when you want to do it, join the girls for a movie and dinner, finish that unpacking and settling into the London house, and of course, enjoy more time with the Budman.

If it had not been for these snippets, well...we just would not want to go there. In no apparent order, some of the UK outings that have saved me along the way.

A Saturday night at Wembley enjoying the cheesy but greatly entertaining Dancing on Ice. In case you can't tell, I am in the first photo, and Torville and Dean in the second one. (wink-wink). The Budman and I were in the nosebleed section of Wembley Stadium but we didn't care.

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BTW - When does the national tour of Dancing with the Stars begin?????

Weekend opening of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull brought the Budman, Hachie Gal, Cyn, and the Paulster to Leicester Square for the film. A quick poll...yes, along with Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, France, The Netherlands, Germany, and now the UK...all these countries have assigned seating in the theatre. Come on US, get with the program. This is a concept I can get behind!

I was so ready to get out and see a screen other than the one on my PC, I did not even balk at the 19 GBP price PER ticket. If you have to do the math, you do not want to even know how much it costs.

A little rain in London town...

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And yes, the girls did hit the weekend opening of Sex and the City, stopping off at a pub afterwards.

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Finally, a tour of the Dream Factory, a member of the studio audience, and a couple of shows later...a visit to the UK version (where the show indeed all started) of Deal or No Deal. My shows air on September 24th. First show, I am sitting right behind the set wall - bummer. Second show, second row...right behind the contestant and, I am gonna be on TV! Set the recorder now. photos....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photos from Royal Ascot

A day at the Royal Ascot.

First, our delightful travelling companions, Cynthia and Paul, now to be forever dubbed on the blog as Cyn and the Paulster.

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Budman and Hachie Gal on the train to Ascot. "Do you like my party hat?"

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Stylin' Texas gals go British!

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Arrival at Ascot and the racetrack.

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The Queen and her royal entourage arrive by coach. Yes, Liz and Phil are in these coaches, microscopic as they are.

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The Paulster and Budman select a horse - "hmmm, looks like a pretty good choice..."

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...sadly it was not a good choice...none of them were!

Mardi and Simon at Ascot. Looks like the Aussie had a winner.

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More shots of the Budman and Hachie Gal.

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Mardi, Simon, and the Oyster guy .

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Relaxing after Ascot.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Royal Ascot

For the next few days, please allow me a few momentary diversion to recount my inaugural visit to Ascot...Royal Ascot, if you will.

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There is alot to recount, and in no apparent order, here were the highlights:

* Ascot is the racetrack where a series of horseraces are run on a grass track...for those of you who may not know and have never seen My Fair Lady (and yes, I was on my best behavior unlike Eliza Doolittle, and did not scream at the top of my lungs, "Move your bloomin' axxx").

* It is called Royal Ascot because it is during this week that the Queen, Prince Phillip, and her royal entourage come every day to the races. We arrived just in time to see the royals parade around the track in their open carriages. Pretty fun actually!

* As a sidenote, Liz's own horse was entered in the first race and WON!

* Hats are a must at forthcoming, but if you want a mental image in advance...think Audrey Hepburn's black hat in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany's...only mine was in gray.

* While on the subject of hats...people spend a fortune...100 GBP is only a starter (USD 200)...the prices only go up from there.

* Took the train to and apparently everyone else. After waiting on the platform in a station in west London with 2-3 trains stopping with no availability, standing or seated, we hit pay dirt. Decided to take the train back into Waterloo Station into central London and came back out via the same route - we even had seats on this train.

* Let's just say, I was NOT impressed by the majority of ladies apparel. Not sure what I expected but it was mostly cheap and tacky if I do say so myself.

* There are two main sporting events at Royal Ascot: horse racing and people watching. Both equally fun.

* We did place a couple of bets, but no winners. No worries, the event was a winner in and of itself. Although now that I think about it, when the Budman bought his train tickets, someone before him had left 12 pounds in the case machine so I guess we did have a winner after all.

* In fact "rain, rain, go away...come again another day" held true. Great news since nobody wants to be dressed to the nines in a linen day dress and coat, hat, and heels...and go all soggy from a rainstorm.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Strictly Gershwin...well not quite

The Budman and I are starting to emerge from our "all work and no play" black hole. There is light at the end of the tunnel...dawn is breaking...victory is in our grasp...ok, you get the point...we are finally able to enjoy the perks of living in London as opposed to just working and sleeping here.

As part of the moths emerging from the cocoons, we are slowly but surely starting to enjoy some of the attractions, events, and sights of London. And that includes all the fabulous shows. I'll fill you in on some of those excursions later but for now, our first ever trek to the Royal Albert Hall was to see the English National Ballet dance to the music of the Gershwins.

Pluses of this event:

(1) historical venue - does it get better than the R.A.H.?
(2) the music of Ira and George - a personal fav of mine - a mixture of Broadway, Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris and A Rhapsody in Blue
(3) an easy jaunt into the center of London via the District Line - no replacement works this weekend
(4) beautiful dancing (and costumes, I might add)
(5) and of course, the obligatory people watching

On a scale of 5, a solid 4.5, with a slightly flat first number which was more than made up for by the finale...The full dance company's rendition of a Rhapsody in Blue. Outstanding.

The title was aptly named because it was only the music of Gershwin performed, hence the name Strictly Gershwin. The music was outstanding for the most part and was pretty much strictly gershwin...except...for the lady sitting next to the Budman.

Why do people think they can sing the lyrics of these songs with the performers? The Budman had a serenade all night by the lady to his left (and it was not me, BTW) who decided to accompany the singers and orchestra.

What makes people think this is OK? Are they simply unconscious they are singing, let alone how loudly they are doing it? When is it ever OK to turn a concert into a sing-a-long? Better yet, can you ask someone sitting next to you to put the kabosh on the singing, shut it down, turn it off, and just sit politely like our mommas taught us to do and just listen to the music?

As for me, I only heard it ever so faintly, and in the rare odd moments. My personal method of dealing with amateur singers is usually not to say anything at all, but rather impart the sideway glance with the uplifted left eyebrow.

Works every time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrity sightings

Well, I can now say I have had my first official celebrity sighting in London. Actually, I had one a few months ago but in my opinion, CNN joursnalists do not really count unless it is a big anme. So, sorry...Todd Benjamin does not count.

While shopping on Sunday, I saw John Hannah getting cash out of an ATM machine. "Who is is John Hannah?" you ask? Think Four Weddings and a Funeral or The Mummy and you have seen him. If not, google him and check out his photo.

He was just a regular guy, doing regular stuff, and nobody was bugging him for an autograph. He lives in the Richmond area of London so maybe everybody just gives him his space.

Now, supposedly Colin Firth lives in my neighborhood of Chiswick. I am still waiting to catch a glimpse.