Monday, January 22, 2018


A couple of years ago, when Lumiere London was held, I missed it. It's only a few days long, so like many ephemeral manifestations of light, you've got to get out and see it quickly before it fades away.

So this year I made a concerted effort to get into town yesterday -- even though it was raining, and conditions weren't optimal for watching light sculpture.

First I went to an afternoon showing of "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which was an excellent if disturbing movie. By the time I emerged from the theater it was dark, and time to go looking for the lights.

I found "Flamingo Flyway" by Lantern Company with Jo Pocock -- a trio of illuminated flamingoes flapping gracefully through the streets of Chinatown.

Then there was "Nightlife," a garden of fantastic nocturnal beasts and flowers in Leicester Square, by the same group of artists.

From there I passed Trafalgar Square, where I briefly enjoyed the pulsing light and sound of "Child Hood" by Collectif Coin, described as "a cloud made up of a large number of luminous balloons." I wish I'd gotten closer, but I was on the way to see my main goal...

...Patrice Warrener's shifting, colorful illuminations of the facade of Westminster Abbey.

Known as "The Light of the Spirit (Chapter 2)," the work "paints" the abbey's doorway with incredibly focused, almost psychedelic light.

Pretty amazing, right? That's all just beige sandstone in the normal light of day.

Finally I went to Berkeley Square, in Mayfair, to see "Was That a Dream?" -- a shiny nightingale by C├ędric Le Borgne perched in the trees there. (You know how much I like that song, which was playing from a nearby speaker to remind us of the work's inspiration.)

It was a challenge visiting all these works in the rain, but I managed! My only complaint about Lumiere is that it's so short -- only four nights. I wish the sculptures and artworks could stick around longer.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Return of the Goldfinches

Dave and I were surprised to see at least four European goldfinches on our feeder yesterday morning. I wouldn't have thought it was the time of year to see them -- goldfinches supposedly migrate as far south as Spain during the winter -- but there they were, chowing down on our thistle seed.

As you can probably tell from those pictures, it was pretty rainy yesterday. The forecast initially said it would rain only in the morning, so -- being stupidly trusting -- I took Olga for a walk in the afternoon. We got to Fortune Green and had enough time to play fetch with the Kong five or six times, and then went to the cemetery, where we got caught in a drizzly rain of steadily increasing intensity. Pretty soon Olga was huddled under a tree, looking at me imploringly -- and when the dog throws in the towel, I know it's time to go home.

Last night Dave and I went to see "All the Money in the World," which we liked. Christopher Plummer is so terrific as John Paul Getty that it's hard to imagine Kevin Spacey ever had the part. Afterwards we went to dinner in St. John's Wood -- we had a gift card to a restaurant there from one of Dave's students, but by the time we arrived the restaurant was closing. So we went somewhere else. We'll have to save the gift card for another day!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Deposit from a Distance

My mom mailed Dave a check for Christmas, which was very nice of her. But we were left wondering what to do with the check. We could take it to our British bank and deposit it, but then it gets converted to pounds and we lose money on the conversion -- and I think there might be some kind of fee, too. So I had resolved to set it aside and take it back to Florida when I visit in February, and deposit it there in our American bank account.

Then I got to reading online and learned that you can deposit a check electronically. All you have to do is take a picture of it, front and back, with your phone, and submit it to the bank via an app. So I did that, and voila! The check has cleared. No fees, no conversion, nothing.

It's mind-blowing to me, but I'm glad it works!

In other news, there's a committee at work putting on a "global festival," in which we all celebrate our diverse backgrounds and that sort of thing. They asked employees to recommend books that tell "our stories," so I recommended "Cross Creek," by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It's long been one of my favorite Florida books, and although it was published a quarter of a century before I was born, I still recognize the state where I grew up in its pages. I had to include a little cautionary note about it being a "product of its time," because Rawlings' descriptions of her black neighbors make some people angry these days. Hopefully one or two people will read it. (I thought afterwards that I probably should have chosen "The Yearling" instead, given that it is a young adult book and is somewhat under-read these days -- but oh well.)

My recommendation and the others will be depicted on a poster or book display or some such. I'm honestly not sure yet.

I hope Marge, in The Great Beyond, appreciates the publicity!

My tooth is feeling better, and my antibiotics run out today. But I'm still not feeling quite right -- kind of achy around the lower face. I guess it takes a while for the remnants of the infection to clear. As long as I'm cured enough to get this root canal done in ten days -- that's the important thing!

(Photo: Shopfronts in West Drayton, London, a couple of weeks ago.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Wandering Christmas Tree

Yesterday, as I was leaving the house with Olga to go for our morning walk, I found that the night's windstorm had left a gift on our doorstep: someone else's old Christmas tree.

My guess is they put it out with their trash, and the wind blew it to the front of our house.

This was a mild annoyance, but it was mitigated by the fact that the tree was still decorated!

This is one for the "I just don't understand people" files. Who throws away a decorated Christmas tree? (And I'm sure it was thrown away and not just someone's patio decoration -- I never saw it during the Christmas season, and some of the neighbors had put their rubbish out.)

It's the second one I've seen this year -- I passed one the other day lying on the curb, still loaded with strands of lights. In that case I wasn't in a position to unstring the lights and salvage them, but I did take the ornaments off the wayward tree in front of our house. Now Dave and I have more ornaments for next year!

Then I picked up the bare tree -- it was fairly small, just a few feet high -- and carried it to Fortune Green to be recycled. (Top photo)

I just want to shake whoever threw it out and ask them what they're thinking. They're too lazy to store their ornaments? They just can't be bothered with the fact that the planet is groaning beneath the weight of all the useless crap that factories churn out every hour on the hour, so they want to add to the waste by buying more ornaments next year for no reason whatsoever?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

More Wind and Another Orchid

We've had another wild and windy night, with the strange thumps and shudders of falling objects and architectural stresses sounding amid the gusts. I got up at 2:30 a.m. and moved the newly repotted plants from the top of the patio mantel just in case it came crashing down again -- but so far it hasn't. We've got to find a way to attach that thing to the fence, even if we just use an eye hook and some wire. I can't get up and wander around on the patio clutching my bathrobe every time we have a windy night.

Despite that, I had a fairly good night's sleep -- better than the previous two nights, when I slept very lightly due to nocturnal dental pain. I bummed some more Aleve from my boss yesterday and one of those got me through. Plus I think my antibiotics are working. Progress!

Even more exciting: We are reportedly due for the delivery of a new oven on Saturday morning. Woo hoo! I'm sure Dave will be ready to bake or roast something, though we've lately been going pretty much vegetarian because Dave has found that suits his digestive system better. (As a lapsed vegetarian myself, I'm always happy to eat veg.) We probably won't be putting any roast beast in the oven right away.

Another of our orchids has bloomed. We only have one plant (of 7) that has never produced flowers -- one that I rescued from the curb after someone threw it away. I think it was traumatized and just hasn't yet become strong enough. Hopefully it's only a matter of time. I'll be eager to see what color it is!

Finally, I have to say a quick RIP for Dolores O'Riordan, the lead singer for the Cranberries. I was a fan of the Cranberries in the '90s -- I had at at least four of their albums, and I still listen to them on my iTunes. Like almost everyone, I especially love their aching song "Linger." When it became popular I was in the midst of a lingering, painful romantic situation myself, and although the circumstances were different from those depicted in the song I always identified with the lyrics: "You know I'm such a fool for you have to let it linger?"

(Top photo: Fungus on Hampstead Heath.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fox and Ducks

This mural in Shoreditch, by street artist Fanakapan, is called "Follow the Leader." I love the skillful way he rendered the glass fox and the gullible ducks. I have other shots showing the mural without people, but I prefer this one, with all the street activity. I'm not sure why there are two P's in "Trump," unless Fanakapan was trying to avoid a lawsuit over use of the name. Surely the fact that it's backwards is a message, though.

I'm still plugging away, popping my antibiotics and painkillers on regular 6- and 4-hour rotations. I keep thinking it's about time I turn the corner on this tooth problem, but it hasn't happened yet. At least I'm able to go to work and keep up my daily routines. Dave and I talked about how lucky I am to live now, when antibiotic therapy is an option. Imagine having this condition 200 years ago! I suppose it would not only be incredibly painful, but perhaps ultimately fatal.

In other news, I've been getting very peculiar e-mails from, of all places, trying to draw me back to the site with new potential matches. I haven't been active on Match for at least 11 years, if not longer, and why they've started contacting me now I'm not sure. But I can't unsubscribe from the e-mails without signing in to the site, which annoys me to death. I have no idea what my login is, and frankly, I don't want to sign in to at all. I have found my match, thank you very much! (And doesn't it seem a bit cynical on their part to assume I'm still single, 11 years later?!) They recently tried to hook me up with someone called "newbountyhunter," which, just based on the name itself, seems an unlikely match for me.

Dave and I finished "The Sopranos" on Monday night. I have to say the critics are right -- it was excellent television. And as I've said before, I am generally not a fan of mafia-related productions. I'm sorry to see it  come to an end. I can understand the furor over the ending, which at first seems ambiguous -- but I tend to agree with this guy that the more one ponders it, the less ambiguous it becomes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Drug-Induced Rambling

Yesterday afternoon, just as my tooth/face/neck pain was hitting truly unpleasant levels, I had my appointment with the dentist. The upshot is, I have an infection in my jaw below the root of my back molar. The dentist thinks it originated in the tooth, and the first order of business is to clear it up with antibiotics. I am now on erythromycin.

Healing that infection should ease the pain over the next few days, but it won't solve the problem -- the dentist said the infection, given time, would simply come back. Whatever's going on in the tooth would essentially recontaminate my jaw. So I have a root canal scheduled for Jan. 30 and Feb. 13 (apparently it takes two visits?), and the tooth will be crowned. No more gold inlay.

(Maybe I can make an earring out of it?)

I'm a bit curious about how the crown is going to work, since, as I recall, the dentist who created the inlay 10 years ago seemed to think too much of the tooth had been removed by earlier drilling to make a crown practical. But clearly something has to be done, and I'm willing to take the risk. If worse comes to worst, they can just pull the whole thing.

Meanwhile, I am on pain meds. Yesterday, aspirin stopped working. So my boss gave me an Aleve, and that little blue pill was freaking wonderful. When I went to the drugstore, I asked for my very own bottle of Aleve -- but the pharmacist informed me I can't buy that painkiller over the counter in the UK. Instead he recommended Nurofen with codeine (!) which apparently I can (and did) buy over the counter.

It's all very mysterious. Bottom line: Hopefully I am on the mend and this root canal odyssey won't be too much of a nightmare. I've never had a root canal, so this will be a whole new experience for me.

In other news: Why, you are probably wondering, have I posted this picture of an aluminum can?

Because, look closely at that can. It bears a very old logo for Diet Pepsi -- one that I haven't seen in decades. And it also has a pull tab, not a pop-top.

That can, which I spotted along the LOOP while I was walking in a West London park on Saturday, has got to be about 35 years old, if not more. I don't know about you, but I find that impressive. I didn't pick it up, but I did send a picture of it to my brother, who used to collect soda cans when he was a kid. (I blogged about his collection here.) "How long has it been since you've seen one of these bad boys?" I asked him. (Can a diet soda be a "bad boy," or is it inherently goody-goody? Anyway...)

"Ha! That's pretty crazy. Old can!" he replied, and sent a picture of the same type of can in his collection, which is now housed on special shelves in his garage.

As a former beer can collector myself, not to mention a trash geek, I found it all pretty interesting and blogworthy. Plus I'm high on codeine, so you'll have to excuse me.

(Top photo: A winter dawn in West Hampstead.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cooped-Up Dog

Olga and I took a couple of long walks yesterday. She was brimming with energy after being cooped up inside all day Saturday -- in fact she was a little annoying, staring at us imploringly -- so it was good to get her outside where she could blow off steam.

In the morning she took me up into Cricklewood again -- this is her new thing, for some reason. I think there's often a lot of edible trash lying around on busy Cricklewood Broadway, like discarded french fries and chicken bones and that kind of thing. Even though I do my best to prevent her from eating it, her foraging skills have told her that's the place to walk. That's my theory, anyway. And she did manage a few french fries on the sly.

We came back and rested a bit, and then in the afternoon went on our usual West Heath walk. On the far side of Hampstead Heath Extension, Olga posed for some quick photos in the tidy neighborhood of Hampstead Garden Suburb, with the towering modern spire of St. Jude's Church in the background (top).

The snowdrops are back on the West Heath. It seems early; the ones in our garden haven't raised their snowy heads yet. I think I photograph this clump every year.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Uxbridge to Moor Park

I tackled two more segments of the LOOP yesterday, walking about ten miles from Uxbridge to Moor Park in Northwest London. (I did this partly to take my mind off my dentistry -- as I told a friend, "Hopefully achy legs and back will distract from achy tooth!")

Above is Uxbridge Lock, near the beginning of my walk along the Grand Union Canal. The locks allow for changes in elevation along the canal's route.

In Uxbridge, before I started, I came across this incredibly groovy utility box. If only they all looked like this, rather than just olive drab!

The first half of the walk followed the canal. The map called it the "bluest" section of the LOOP, because of all the water -- but there was nothing particularly blue about it yesterday. I enjoyed looking at all the boats, as usual, with names like Firefly, Tiger and Hedgehog, and this apparently nameless craft with a Snoopy theme.

Next to one boat, someone had set out what looked like a tea party for weathered stuffed animals.

And as a Florida boy, I had to appreciate this house, with its big fake gator sitting on the canal bank. (There's a disembodied mannequin arm lying next to the gator's mouth --  someone has a sense of humor.)

Just before I left the canal, I passed these colorful flats near Harefield.

And then my route turned eastward and I found myself walking across farmland and through a conifer forest.

These two passed me along the way -- which surprised me a bit, because I walk pretty fast and usually I'm the one passing other people! Clearly they are seasoned trekkers. I loved their matching headgear.

I found this old U.S. Air Force truck in a horse pasture. The USAF used to have a base somewhere near Ruislip in West London, I believe, as well as other bases around England -- so who knows where it came from. It looked pretty old.

Here are the conifers in Bishop's Wood, near Moor Park. The pathway on this section of the walk was a nightmare -- very churned up and muddy. It bore the telltale imprint of horseshoes, but it seemed like it would have been treacherous going for a horse.

I stopped at a pub called Ye Olde Greene Manne for a hamburger and a pint of London Pride, before ending amid the well-groomed suburbia of Moor Park. And the walk did distract me from my tooth!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Orchid Report

For years, I told people that I was no good with orchids -- on the rare occasion when I got one (and I can think of only once), it died or would never bloom again. I'm going to have to revise that assessment, though.

Our little home orchid collection is going gangbusters at the moment. This is at least the second batch of flowers from all of these plants. The two above live on a windowsill in the living room, and the two below live in the bathroom, where they seem to appreciate the humidity.

I think the secret to orchids -- and you may already know this -- is to not allow them to stand in water. They don't like having wet feet. Instead, they need excellent drainage and a good, fresh rinsing every now and then. I always picture them living on a rocky cliff or tree branch in a Himalayan forest, which I think (?) is their natural habitat, and getting rinsed by rain which quickly drains away.

Not that I am any kind of expert.

This (above) is our oldest orchid, the one I got from my coworker when she retired a couple of years ago. It's still looking good, and it's on -- I believe -- its third batch of flowers.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dentally Challenged

In what is an all-time first for me, I seem to be developing a toothache.

My tricky back molar, the one with the almost 10-year-old gold inlay that has given me fits on and off for the entire decade that I've had it, is causing problems again. As I've written before, the tooth has gradually become extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Drinking cold water feels like sticking a live wire in my cheek. I tried Sensodyne toothpaste at the suggestion of the dentist, but that didn't seem to do much.

At my last dental checkup, just a few weeks ago, I asked the dentist about this tooth and he X-rayed it and said it looked fine. But the pain is getting worse, and now the entire side of my face and neck feels a bit swollen and strange. I don't see any visible swelling, but I know something's not right. Fortunately I can still eat and drink, as long as I protect the tooth from temperature extremes.

So I've made another dental appointment for Monday -- the earliest I could get in. I'm also using this opportunity to change dentists to one in my neighborhood (rather than our old neighborhood of Notting Hill). I asked some coworkers who live nearby which dentist they attend and got a recommendation.

I'm just not sure what the future holds for this tooth. Here's the back story, for those of you who are dentophiles (if that's a word). About 22 years ago, when I lived in Florida, I had a cavity filled, and the dentist drilled out a very large area of the tooth -- almost half of it, I think. He put in a conventional filling, but after a little more than a decade, the filling seemed to be degrading. A subsequent dentist (in New York, now) suggested replacing the filling, which he said was really too large to be stable. He said a crown might be an option, but he was afraid so much of the tooth was already gone that there might not be enough left to anchor a crown. So he went with the gold inlay.

In the years since, that inlay has popped out twice, forcing me to make emergency trips to the dentist to have it re-installed. And the tooth has never felt quite right.

So -- a root canal? A crown? Either would be a first for me. We'll see what this new guy suggests!

(Photo: Shoreditch, East London.)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The 'Hood, 1894

A few days ago, someone donated some odds and ends to the library where I work. The papers included reproductions of old survey maps from 1894 depicting various parts of North London, including the areas around West Hampstead. I got a kick out of looking at these maps and since they show areas I often mention in this blog, I thought you might like them too.

Above you'll see what the region around Fortune Green and Hampstead Cemetery, where I often walk Olga, looked like 124 years ago. To the left of Fortune Green are the so-called "Greek streets," named after heroes like Agamemnon and Ajax. North of the cemetery, it's all just farmland.

This is what the same area looks like today. As you can see, west of the "Greek streets" and surrounding the former reservoir, more neighborhoods were built -- including Gondar Gardens, where I also frequently walk with Olga. And north of the cemetery there are now athletic fields and more neighborhoods.

That reservoir, incidentally, is still open space, but it's the subject of occasional development schemes. The most current, I believe, is a plan to turn it into an upmarket retirement community. Unfortunately the property is fenced off and inaccessible, so I don't walk Olga there.

Even more pertinent, at least to me, is this area -- which is where Dave and I now live. You can see West End Lane, which is West Hampstead's main street, running north-south about a third of the way from the left side of the map. To the left (west) of West End Lane are lots of houses on streets like Pandora and Sumatra roads (where, yes, I also walk Olga). You can also see, at the upper right, a short segment of Finchley Road.

In between West End Lane and Finchley Road, and to the west of the Hampstead Cricket Ground, there was just open land with three large houses -- Canterbury House, Treherne House and West End Hall.

This is what that same area looks like today. The neighborhoods west of West End Lane haven't changed much, but between West End Lane and the cricket ground, a whole "new" neighborhood has been built. That's where Dave and I live. (I hasten to add that it's not really new -- it's probably 100 years old at this point!) Those three large houses are gone entirely.

It's also interesting to see how much has been built just north of the railroad tracks, such as the relatively modern housing estate between Lymington Road and Dresden Close where, yes, I walk Olga.

It's even more surprising to look at the whole map, because lots of the land beyond what I've shown here was empty in 1894. Nowadays it's just houses and houses and houses -- West Hampstead runs into Cricklewood which runs into Willesden Green and Dollis Hill. In the late Victorian and Edwardian years, London's growth mushroomed and much of the city's housing stock was built. We're all still living in it today!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lost in Space

Dave and I have been going through a momentary obsession with the '60s TV show "Lost in Space." It turned up on one of our TV channels not too long ago, so we began recording it to watch in the evenings. It is a hoot.

Sometimes it's pleasantly campy, with a reasonably complex plot. And sometimes it's "perfectly dreadful, my dear," as Dr. Zachary Smith might have said in his affected theatrical accent. Seriously, some episodes are painful to watch -- like when the Robinsons encounter a traveling space circus on their planet. Really?!

The cast makes it bearable, with TV veterans like June Lockhart (who's 92 years old now!) and the always believable Billy Mumy as Will. And "special guest star" (even though he was in every episode) Jonathan Harris, clearly having the time of his life camping it up as Dr. Smith.

The closest thing I can liken it to is "Gilligan's Island," which also paired talented actors with perilously underwritten, juvenile scripts. I suppose both shows really were meant mainly for children. It reinforces the brilliance of "Star Trek," which came out just a year or two later at a whole different level of maturity.

Speaking of space aliens, this woman sat across from me on the overground train on Sunday as I took Olga to Wormwood Scrubs. What planet is that jacket from? Actually, I confess that deep down, I kind of love it -- it's either very cheap or very expensive, and given her overall look I'm guessing it's the latter.

We have marginal progress on our oven situation! A repairman visited yesterday morning and ascertained that the faulty part is, indeed, the on/off switch. He also determined that the ground wire and another wire in the plug were reversed -- he was surprised the oven ran at all and couldn't understand how that had happened. I told him it's been like that as long as we've lived here, because we haven't touched it! So he repaired the plug and will try to order a new switch. If it's not available, it looks like we get a new oven.

(Top photo: Cars on the Blackfriars Bridge, from a water-streaked bus window on a rainy evening.)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Interviewing, Again

Yesterday I finished my annual presentations to the eighth grade about how to conduct an interview. I've been doing this each of the last several years, drawing on my experience as a journalist, to prepare them for a class reporting and writing project. It's funny, because I always feel like a fraud when I present myself as an expert.

I never felt like interviewing was my strong suit as a reporter. I much preferred writing. In fact, my dream job was to be a magazine "rewrite man," in which the reporters fed me the information and I put it all together in article form. That way, I wouldn't have to interview people at all, and I could just write for a living!

Sadly, the "rewrite man," at least as I envisioned the job, was more or less an extinct position by the time I was working as a journalist. I did work as a desk editor, a job in which rewriting was a major component. I remember late one night a reporter handed in a front-page story that was absolutely unreadable -- something about a local football coach. My coworkers and I all looked at it, and they considered it a lost cause -- they began devising a Plan B for the front page. But I got on the phone with the reporter and together we began rewriting the story, and turned it around in time for deadline. It was one of my favorite career moments. (Made all the more remarkable by the fact that I know nothing about football!)

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of negatives that go with being an editor, like working nights and weekends, and helping to write headlines and cutlines, and managing freelancers and making assignments and coordinating projects. It's not just wordplay.

As an interviewer, I probably had a tendency to let people off too easily. I'm not confrontational by nature. Some people, and many reporters, actually thrive on conflict -- they enjoy making their sources squirm, particularly when there's a sense that the source did something wrong or inappropriate. It's the "afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted" mentality. Remember Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes"?

I once heard second-hand that one of my coworkers, on the phone with a stonewalling secretary, snarled, "Don't make me come down there and rip your head off and drink your blood." I just couldn't talk to people that way!

I didn't like afflicting anybody. I certainly did my share of it, but deep down I just wanted us all to get along.

Fortunately, in talking to the eighth-graders, the subject of hostile sources isn't really germane. They're talking to friendly people about happy subjects, so it's more just a matter of teaching them to ask open-ended questions and make eye contact and that sort of thing. The basics. Which I suppose I can handle!

(Photo: Shoreditch, East London.)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Olga and the Crows

Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful day -- chilly and windy but with plentiful sunshine. I had planned to meet up with fellow blogger Linda Sue for a walk with Olga, just sticking to our neighborhood. But Linda Sue quite sensibly decided she had other things to do before she goes back to the states in a few days, so Olga and I went to Wormwood Scrubs instead.

We took the train to Willesden Junction, as usual, and on the walk from there to the Scrubs we decided to make a little detour along the Grand Union Canal.

This is the same canal that I walked on Saturday, as part of the LOOP -- but that section was much farther west. Olga and I used to walk here all the time when we lived in Notting Hill. It was probably a blast from the past for her.

You can see how amazing the day was. Once we arrived at the wide, flat playing fields of the Scrubs, Olga had a great time doing all her usual dog things -- mainly chasing squirrels in the surrounding woods and copses.

She found a huge flock of crows, which seemed to intrigue her, but she was wary of chasing them as she would pigeons:

The building to the left and in the background in the video, by the way, is the still-active Wormwood Scrubs prison.

And that was that. The dog got her walk and I got mine. A successful weekend all around!

By the way, this weekend seemed like peak time for everyone in London to take down their Christmas trees. When I walked Olga on Saturday evening to Fortune Green, the pile of trees to be recycled was huge. And it grew by five trees while we were standing there:

And so another holiday season comes to an end!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

West Drayton to Uxbridge

I walked a fairly short section of the LOOP yesterday, from West Drayton to Uxbridge. Four or five miles, I'm guessing. I could have gone farther, physically, but for strategic reasons involving public transportation I didn't want to go beyond Uxbridge until I could start fresh there on another day.

Much of the path followed the Grand Union Canal (above) and the River Colne.

As I recall, these bricks were beneath the bridge pictured in the top photo. There are a lot of markers bearing dates along these canals and waterways -- commemorating, I suppose, what were considered marvels of engineering when they were constructed.

This is the confluence of the Grand Union Canal (right) and the Slough Arm (left), a branch of the canal that heads westward. I took the photo while standing on a bridge over the main canal before following the path along the Slough Arm.

With my penchant for finding mysterious rubbish, it's not surprising that I came across this rather odd device -- or parts of a device, it looks like. It seemed like some kind of compass, and when I looked closely at the white disc I saw that it includes Arabic numerals and a picture of a minaret. So I'm guessing it's supposed to help Muslims know which direction to face in order to pray to Mecca.

Anybody need to rent a cherry-picker? I know where you can get one -- or 70. (And there were more I couldn't get in the photo!)

This ferocious beast was lounging atop one of the narrow boats along the canal. I'm always intrigued with the plants and objets that adorn the boats of canal navigators. Some of them look like floating thrift stores or botanical gardens.

And finally I got to Uxbridge, a probably once-quaint town that has been virtually swallowed up by large, boxy glass-and-concrete office buildings and shopping centers. The curved facade of the art deco tube station is pretty cool, though, and there were a few interesting-looking pubs and an old church.

It's interesting to note that London's tube system ends at its east and west points in towns that begin with U -- Upminster in the east, where I began this LOOP walk way back in August, and Uxbridge in the west. I'm always getting the two confused!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Non-Newsy Day

Not much news today. I did stop at Homebase last night to pick up a new flower pot, and this morning -- once it gets light outside -- I'll try to rescue a few of those plants that the storm sent crashing to the ground. (See yesterday's post.)

Otherwise, seriously, I have nothing. You don't want to hear about the kid I banned from checking out any more computer chargers (because he never returns them even close to on time and lost at least one), and you don't want to hear about me having to e-mail numerous parents about their kids' overdue books. Such is my life as a librarian!

Still no progress on the oven repairs. I called our flat's managing agent Wednesday, and he said he had my e-mail and someone would contact me in a day or two. Thursday passed with no word, so I called and e-mailed yesterday and heard nothing back. For the weekend, at least, we're not baking or broiling anything!

(Photo: Brick Lane, East London.)