Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is it a sign I am too old?

One of the things that has always been on my bucket list is to attend an Olympics...somewhere...summer or winter....does not matter.  Now, for the first time in my life, the Summer 2012 Olympic Games are being held in London, right in my own backyard.

I should be thrilled cross that milestone off the list?  All I can think of, however, is the onslaught of tourists, the tube congestion, and the exploding population over those 4-6 weeks period.  Is this a sign I am getting stodgy and set in my ways?  Shouldn't I be thrilled to partake in the spirit and camaraderie of the Olympics?

As the email notifications hit this week that it is time to state your preferences for tickets, I am vacillating on whether to even submit an entry because I don't the hassle factor x 10...I know, that is just plain sad.

Normally, I am a "glass half full" kinda of gal....

1000 post mark

Not sure I even considered that I would ever hit the 1000 posts on the Travels of a Texas Glas blog milestone...but I did.

Thanks for following.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sic 'Em Bears

Those Baylor ladies are on a roll - next game is Tuesday evening, 8 pm CDT in Dallas against Texas A&M.  Can this NCAA number 2 ranked ladies basketball team reign victorious?  Hope so but the bigger question is whether I can find the game broadcast in London, which will be at approximately 2 AM London time...I am on the case, though.

Sailor Bear

Monday, March 28, 2011

March against cuts?

About 250,000 UK citizens decided to march in London last Saturday in protest against the cuts proposed by the UK government.  Organized by the TUC, a UK union,the event entitled "March for the Alternative" was billed as a family event whereby people could peacefully state their objections to a whole range of nationwide cuts that are only now starting to be felt across the country. 


The main point of view by protesters, as they peacefully marched through Westminster, past the Houses of Parliament and along Embankment, was intended to show ministers that many people no longer believe that budget cuts to education, jobs, pensions, health care, social programs, etc.are the cure for the UK's economic ills.

Now while I am all for the "power of the people" to demonstrate and raise their collective voices, there are inevitably the small minority of ruffians, hooligans, pick the term, that have to take the opportunity to create havoc for the sake of creating havoc.  Which is precisely what happened around Trafalgar Square for most of Saturday afternoon and evening.  Businesses were damaged, windows destroyed, fires lit, bottles thrown against police and general passers-by caught  in the wrong place at the wrong time....for no real apparent reason, except that "they could".


Nope...I was happy to pass and stay put west London.  Thank you very much.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thought I'd missed it

Not that the world would come to an end, but for some reason I woke up with a start this morning thinking I had missed that "fabulous" event known as Eurovision.Whew....the dates are actually May 10-14th as opposed to last weekend (which I thought had been the case).  Who'd ever suspected this Texas gal would be an annual follower?

Sure, I'll be a homer this year and root for my host country, the UK.  Pretty safe bet, as they could finish no worse than they did last year....dead last out of 43 countries.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Earth Hour Blackout 2011

Not heard of it?  Listen up!

From London to Sydney, New York and Singapore, people across the world will be joining together on March 26th to switch off their lights for one hour. The initiative, which began in 2007 in Sydney and is sponsored by WWF, encourages homes, businesses and landmarks in more than 130 participating countries to switch off their lights at 8.30pm on Saturday.

It’s a reminder to us all that we only have one planet Earth and it’s an urgent message that we want to reduce the impact our energy system has on that planet. So, for all my friends and family members living around the globe, let me encourage you to pull out some candles on Saturday and switch off your lights, have a candlelight dinner party, or just eat out under the stars ....

For more information and to register as a participant in the event,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Red Nose Day

First...Happy Red Nose Day to you all!

What the heck, you say? Red Nose Day is a celebrated day in the UK, usually every other year, on which the Comic Relief organisation encourages the public to engage in fundraising for charity. Comic Relief is a charity, founded in the United Kingdom in 1988 by the comedy scriptwriters Richard Curtis and Alexander Mendis in response to famine in Ehtiopia.

Local and national fundraising occurs the weeks leading up to the highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is in a biennial telethon. For you yanks, think Jerry Lewis' MDA Telethon and you get kinda close to the concept.

The charity states that its aim is to "bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people, which we believe requires investing in work that addresses people's immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. 

One of the fundamental principles behind working at Comic Relief is the "Golden Pound Principle" where every single donated pound (£) is spent on charitable projects. All operating costs, such as staff salaries, are covered by corporate sponsors (BBC, Sainsbury's and British Telecom) are covered by corporate sponsors, or interest earned on money waiting to be distributed. In 2009, £80 Million pounds was raised.

The most prominent symbol of Comic Relief is a plastic/foam "red nose", which is given in various supermakrets and charity shops such as Oxfam in exchange for a donation to the charity and to make others laugh. People are encouraged to wear the noses on Red Nose Day to help raise awareness of the charity.

So, there you have it...and my friend Cyn led the pack on her fundraising through her bake sale activities...stylish red nose and t-shirt!


Bob's Big 80th

Yea, I am just a tad bit behind the posting of Q1 photos, but a quick review of January would not be  complete without a whirlwind 3 1/2 day trip back to Dallas for Bob's 80th B-day celebration.  A lovely weekend filled with family, friends, good memories and TWO great meals!


A special thanks to Amy for the Friday night Pappas celebratory event.


Bob, here's to another 80!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day!

Almost is in fact St. Patrick's Day today. I would not have remembered the holiday had it not been for a St. Patrick's Day greeting card sent to me from the US.  It is just not the celebrated event in London that it is in the US.

Still,  from my favorite leprechaun and me to you and yours:

Grubbs London HY 031909 107

An Old Irish Blessing

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

January trip: Oslo

The first entrant in the 2011 trip-of-the-month club was Oslo, Norway. In a word: cold and snowy but a beautiful country, and one I am keen to revisit in the summer.

When asked by the Norwegian Immigration official, "What brings you to Norway?", I answered, "the snow". And that is the truth...I missed all the hullabalou with the London Christmas snow and felt left out. He just grinned and chuckled, most assuredly thinking, "crazy American!"

Our main sites for this trip included the:

* Nobel Peace Prize Center (fascinating),
* Oslo harbor known as Oslo harbor, Aker Brygge,
* Oslo Radhus (Oslo City Hall) where the Nobel Peace Prize is given out each year
* Olso Domkirke
* National Gallery
* Akershus Fortress, although it was not open for touring in January
* City walk that included Parliament and the Royal Palace

A photo retrospective for your viewing pleasure, but sadly, the recent photo debacle meant that about half of my photos from Oslo were lost. Now there is another reason to go back!

Winter scenes on a train.

View of Oslo from hotel.



Oslo harbor, Aker Brygge.







Nobel Peace Prize Center.


Oslo City Hall.





Oslo Domkirke.









Walking around in snowy Oslo.





Norwegian Parliament.


Now, those Norwegians know how a little something about moving snow and ice.

Addendum to trip of the month

Upon further reflection, I am not sure I can say that 2010 was actual such a travel-free year, as reflected by the following trips:

* The Cotswolds, UK
* Marrakesh Morocco
* Bath, UK
* Windsor, UK
* Mallorca Spain
* Cairo Egypt
* Dover, UK
* Bahrain

Kenya can't really count in the list because I was only there for less than 24 hours on business, but I love those AA points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Still, there is room for improvement (smile and a wink!)

Trip of the month club

Some people participate in the "fruit-of-the-month" or "book-of-the month" taking that concept and applying it to one of my favorite past-times, the Budman and I have adopted the "trip-of-the-month" club for 2011.

Before I provide you with the trip-of-the-month club parameters, I realize someone reading this blog post will probably think I was referring to another one of my favorite activities, marathoning. Just to be clear, I in fact did run a marathon once a month for a period of 5 months, known as the Texas Challenge, but I realize I just don't have the "once a month marathon" in my gene make-up.

Given the downturn in 2010 travel, the Budman and I decided to make amends for that trend in 2011 by:

* taking at least one trip a month in a 12 month calendar year
* home trips to DFW/Waxahachie don't count
* bonus: trips where the AA or BA flight status can be maintained jump to the head of the queue for consideration

I am happy to report..."so far, so good". In January, the winter wonderland of Oslo Norway beckoned us and in February, the gastronomy capital of France, Lyon, easily put 5 pounds on us in one weekend. Coming up in March, sunny Lisbon, which is perfect because I am ready for spring weather and sunshine and London is only partially complying to date.

Photos to follow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

major photo meltdown

It was going to envitably happen...mainly b/c the Home Office PA (a.k.a. Hachie Gal)is the only one who downloads photos from the camera and does the back-up. Events in 2010 meant that the normal photo back-up precautions were not always adhered to. For the record, the Home Office PA is more than happy to get fired, get her pink slip, be made redundant. I no longer really want that job, but looks like I'm stuck with it for a bit.

Back to the subject of today's post. Long story short, there was accidental deletion of many of the 2010 travel, London, and family/friends photos from May through November of last year. Through the miracle of hard drive back-up and Flickr however, I was able to restore 90% of these photos. It just irks me that things like Wimbledon, Cyn and Paulster's Wedding, and all of the London summer events were lost.

Hey - somebody needs to can that Home Office PA. Oh right, already mentioned that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Movie Fest

Think Inwood Theatre and you are not far off. Riverside Studios is a live theatre and cinema venue, with a little live art and a restaurant thrown in for good measure. Of specific interest to me are the art house films, foreign films, and second run showings of quality films (often independent) shown in a quirky warehouse feel of a studio right next to the Thames and about 10 minutes by tube from my house.

Check them out if interested:

Given that Sunday was technically "a rest day" from running, I could think of no better way to stay off the legs than hit a movie...a triple feature at that. Cyn and I decided to take in the Swedish films known as the Millennium Trilogy (a.k.a. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Of course in Swedish subtitles, but for some reason, I had thought the films had been made in English. Sorry, Cyn!

As we stumbled bleary-eyed and "rear-end weary" from the theatre after our 10 hour Swedish Film Festival, I happy to report that for me is was a good investment in time and money. Daniel Craig indeed has his work cut out for him as Hollywood remakes theses films; please, Hollywood don't screw them up.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring has sprung

It is still a bit cold here and there, with rain showers and cold-ish weather continuing to remind us that Winter-Man is not quite willing to relinquish his seasonal control, but the signs are there that Spring is just around the corner in London.

As much as the actual arrival of Spring, it is the anticipation of her impending visitation that stirs my excitement.  (Notice how I assume that Winter is a man and Sring is a woman - maybe it is the re-birth of life aspect that causes me to think this). 

Sure, the other signs of Spring are there:  the ever lengthening days and longer hours of daylight, or the increasing frequency of warmer days, such as the one I experienced yesterday on my long run.  Bright sunshine and 58 degrees greeted me as my foot trek began, and I quickly questioned my choice of running apparel as the susnshine beat down and the temperative rose.  Still, it was a bea-u-ti-ful day!

For me though, nothing says spring in London that the arrival of the daffodils!  In late February, those green shoots commence their sprouting, and I know that it is only a matter of time before those cheery little yellow buds raise their heads if to be flocking home to the mothership that is the sun.  Give or take fours weeks later, all of London is awash in a sea of yellow.  The cherry blossoms trees begin to shower us with a sea of white and pink flurries, Spring's version of snowfall.  Crocus blooms remind us that good things can still come in little purple and yellow packages.  Still...can there be a cheerier flower than the daffodil?  See what I mean....

Grubbs London HY 032109 015

FYI - this photo of the Budman and I is in St. James Park, one of several parks showcasing all things daffodil.  In fact, the entire area around Buckhingham Palace, the Mall, Green Park, and St. James Park pays tribute to the glory of our yellow friend in a magnficient way.  Who do we ahve to thank for this stunning display?

Besides the gardeners London's Royal Parks, apparently it is Liz and Phil (a.k.a Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip) that requested thousands of the daffodil bulbs prior to their marriage along the marriage processional route that the carriage would follow.  To this day, Londoners enjoy this singular floral display each Spring courtesy of this event.  

Carrying that royal theme one bit further, it has been speculated that Kate Middleton's marriage bouguet may incorporate the Welsh national flower (daffodil) into her bouquet or train. Time will tell.

Either way, the glories of this cheery flower tell us all that "Spring has indeed sprung!"

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Royal Wedding Watch: thinking of holding a royal street party?

Well,, I wasn't. Had I been, though, this would have sucked all the energy and enthusiasm for the idea right out of me....

First of all, what in the heck is a "royal street party"? Well, a long-standing British tradition apparently. When Prince William and Kate Middleton wed on April 29th, the UK will celebrate with a special one-off bank holiday. Code word for "national holiday".

As with many royal events in the past, UK citizens will choose to celebrate this wedding by planning a street party on the road in which they live, turning this event into a day of celebration for their neighborhood. Think of it as a "block party" for the royal wedding. Sounds basic enough...well, in UK fashion, nothing is ever simple.

In order for any UK citizen to hold such a royal street party, they must apply to their local council (a.k.a. city hall in US speak) for approval. As part of the submission, the party-thrower must let the council know:

* the type of party that is being planned
* the length of the party
* the location of the party

Why? So the council can make arrangements for any necessary road closures or other measures. And because it is a "special occasion", according to most councils, there is unlikely to be a charge to hold a street party, although the costs will be dependent on the application and the size of the party. Most "small" events will not incur a cost, but the Highways Department will decide once it reviews the application. Oh geez, Big Government at its most bureaucratic! Getting into the party planning act and looking for another way to generate a little revenue.

If the party-thrower is planning a party on a larger scale (whatever that is defined as), with live music and alcohol, he/she must apply for an alcohol or entertainment license. Way to be a joy kill, UK Councils!

Back to my original thought...nope, not planning a royal street more reason that the trip to Provence is looking good!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Happy Women's Day

Until I lived in the UK, I had never heard of this day of observance, even though Germany and Taiwan, both places I have lived, supposedly celebrate the day.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was limited linguistically in these countries and simply had no idea the day of celebration was occurring.

In many countries around the world, today is celebrated as "Happy Women's Day".  What's the history of this day of observance, you ask?

International Women's Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day is marked on March 8th of every year and is a major day of global celebration of women. In different regions of the world,  the focus of the celebrations range from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements.

Originating as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the cultures of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc countries. In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and simply became an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and St Valentine's Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

So, Happy Women's Day to all the amazing women I know...for their achievements, for their dedication to the world they are a part of, and for the difference they make in the lives of so many people.

Monday, March 07, 2011

it's spelled "quaver"

Answer to preceding post:  An eighth note (in the US and Canada) or a quaver (other English-speaking countries) is a musical note played for one eighth the duration of a whole note, hence the name.

Thanks, Scott!

You learn something new every day...well almost

I am happy to report that in 2011 I have been able to rejoin the Chiswick Chorale, since participation in the choir during 2010 was downright impossible given the family events of last year.  There is something that is good for the soul about going to the choir rehearsal every Tuesday night for two hours and doing something that is totally unrelated to work or personal responsibilities.  It is quite reassuring to join 150 other like-minded souls for a chorale rehearsal where we sing some of history's most beautifuol music.

For our spring concert, we are performing Mozart's Requim, a piece I have never had the pleasure of performing.  For that matter, anything by Mozart is always uplifting and inspirational.

I like to think of myself as a fairly astute amateur singer, but I must confess to being bumfuzzled when last week two musical terms were trotted out in rehearsal for the first time I could ever remember.  Frankly, I had never heard these terms before.  Maybe it is a UK choir thing, but as I looked around at my fellow singers, there were nods of acknowledgement as if to say, "OK, got it!".  As for me, it was like speaking a foreign language.

Thank heavens for Google and Wikipedia, as I quickly looked up the terms during a break in rehearsal, or tried to anyway.  No way was I going to admit to my fellow singers that I did not know these terms...

By now, your curiosity is getting the better of you, so here are the terms...and please no additional remarks if those reading this post actually knew the musical vocabulary:

*  dotted crotchet
*  quevo (sp???)

And the answers:

A dotted crotchet or dotted quarter note is a crotchet/quarter note that has been lengthened by half; that is, it has the length of three quavers/eighth notes. In x/4 time signatures, the dotted quarter note is worth 1½ beats and is normally followed by an eighth note.  In 6/8 time, the dotted quarter note is thought of as one "big beat"; often perceived as one beat rather than the natural 3 beats.

As for the second term, I cannot find it, partly because I am not sure of the spelling, and partly because none of the online musical terminology dictionaries have anything remotely similar to the spelling...of any sort. It sounds like "cuevo", "cueva", "queva", although cueva is spanish for cave.  So, I am out of luck on this word.

Can anyone solve the mystery?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Running successes - celebrate the small stuff

I am about 10 weeks away from the Edinburgh Marathon and am happy report that my longest run to date (15.47 miles) was completed in fine form today.  The gods were smiling on all counts, as the sun was shining, the wind was to a minimum, and the eating regimen seems to be paying off in terms of longevity in the runs, little leg fatigue, and good levels of energy all the way round.  So far, I am exuding energy and feeling strong on all my runs.  The 9 pounds I've shed aren't too shabby either.

So, as the big day approaches for Number 14 (the total number of marathons completed to date), I've turned my attention to some highly desirable autumn half marathons, that are both popular with runners and afford destination running:  Windsor 1/2 in September, Royal Parks 1/2 in London and Cardiff, Wales 1/2 in October.  Lucky me, I am confirmed in all three races, even pulling the highly coveted ballot place in Royal Parks this past Friday.

I am downright giddy.