This blog is posted when we travel overseas taking a break from our Fulltime RV Life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Posts are now on www.because-we-can.net

 

Since we are now back from our European vacation, posts will once again be on the website we have used during our nine years of fulltiming.

Click on this link, www.because-we-can.net, to be taken there. Or if you prefer, type www.because-we-can.net into your browser. Click on the Daily Journal for the latest post. Older posts are found under achieves.

Remember: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don’t be afraid to love, laugh and retire early.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Leaving on a Jet Plane

 

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My bags are packed, I'm ready to go, even if you're so slow. I hate it when you make me wait, but the dawn is breaking this London morn, the tube is running, and being late is your norm.

Already I'm ticked off at you, so don't try to kiss me and say sorry, just get your bag packed so we can go. Cause the plane is leaving, and don't you know, I'll be on it, even if alone I go.

So many times you've dawdled around, so many times I've waited for you, but today that doesn't mean a thing. Every place we go I wait for you, but starting today that’s not the song I’ll sing.

So, kiss me and smile for me, but I'm walking out this door and you'll follow now, if on our plane you want to go.

I'm leaving on a jet plane, I hate to say goodbye, but you've dawdled a time too many, Oh, Bob, I'll not be late so I must go. So Bob, I must go. Leaving on a jet plane….

(Not my best effort, but still, better to try and miss than not try at all, especially when it so true. Like I always tell Linda, “After all, you did agree to the for better or worse part.” And this one is so bad I don’t even have to apologize the late John Denver.)

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As you can see, I did make it out the door and to Heathrow with my darling(?) spouse. The Piccadilly line train we took was absolutely packed, but fortunately not when we got on, so we had seats. It was about 50 minutes to Heathrow, then we breezed through security and found a café in our terminal where we enjoyed  a leisurely last breakfast.

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Just to prove that even though I may “dawdle”, I do know how to get to the plane on time. A former life spent catching planes has not been forgotten.  Heathrow is an amazing place, with travelers and planes from many strange and distant lands. Then there corporate planes such as the one seen out our plane’s window. That red maple leaf company has to be the world’s largest daypack manufacture as you see daypacks with their maple leaf logo proudly displayed everywhere in Europe.

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The flight time was over 10 hours, time I put to good use by writing the previous day’s blog post. The problem was, writing the blog brought back memories of “The Play That Went Wrong”, and Linda kept looking over at me wondering what I was laughing about, so I told her. That got us both talking about it and laughing together. Three young men who got their start doing improv comedy upstairs in a pub after working all day, write and act in a play that is a hit in a West End theater. One of those, if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door, stories.

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From seven miles above Greenland we could see icebergs calving off glaciers.

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There is more to this than meets the eye. First off, when Linda tried to blow up her cushion she had more than a little difficulty. Then when she did finally get it inflated , she couldn’t figure out how to use it. Later we both got up the use the restroom and when I returned I somehow got her end of the seatbelt. When she sat down she tried to pick up the pillow, but because it was trapped under her seatbelt which was now fastened to the other end of my seatbelt, it wouldn’t budge.

We finally determined what the problem was and got the seatbelts ends to the right person. Shortly afterwards she tried to pick up her daypack which was on the floor under the seat in front of us. The problem was it too was stuck. The real problem was that somehow or other in returning to my seat I had stuck my right foot, she being on my left, through one of the arm straps of her daypack and she was yanking my foot in a direction feet and legs don’t normally go. Ah, the joys of long distance plane flights.

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Don’t think for a second I was mocking Linda when I said she could figure out how to use this pillow. There were directions right on it and after looking at them, twisting the pillow this way and that without success, I handed it back to her, saying “Good luck.” Smart woman that she is, it wasn’t long before she was giving me that, “I’m smarter than you” look, and justifiably so. Smart Bob for marrying such a smart girl.

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Home, but where the heck did I put the key?

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Wanted to save this one until the end. I take my shoes off on the plane. That’s not the problem. Putting them back on isn’t either as I can just slip my feet into them. But tying the laces, oh man, talk about contorting.  Those three months just seemed to fly by, but the wonderful memories will stay with us for years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading about our travels as much as I enjoyed writing about them. But both pale in comparison the to the joy Linda and I experienced in actually doing those things and the many, more there was no time to write about.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don’t be afraid to love, laugh and retire early. And most of all, don’t be afraid to live your dreams.

The next post will be back on the regular Because We Can website, www.because-we-can.net, though it may be a day or two in coming.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last Day in London

 

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Towels, dirty towels going to the laundry, and this is just for the seventh floor of our hotel. But all these things are about to come to an end and it will be back cooking for Linda again. Still, far better to have traveled in Europe these last three months than to have stayed in the US. We may only get to take a vacation every other year, but do we ever enjoy them when we do.

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Sunday morning, not many people out and about which was okay, as it allowed us to enjoy our last full English breakfast in a quiet café off on a side street – our kind of place. I have amazed myself because as the days have passed I have gotten to accept the fried egg, though this is just a temporary thing until we return to the states. Then I will be back to my morning egg white omelet. Only from now one it will not only have salsa, there will also be beans on the side.

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We have really learned our way around the nearby Underground stations,but  there there is always a new station. Today it was the one we had been trying to avoid, Or I should say the transfer we had been trying to avoid. There may be more walking involved somewhere else in the world, but we haven’t seen it. The transfer from the Central line at Bank where you walk underground to take the District/Circle line at Monument is one of those that you don’t think will ever end. Plus one of the deep escalators, not the one pictured, was out of service so we had to walk all the way down.

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Linda has been dutifully taking photos of the “Mind the Gap” signs on the underground and I have been just as dutifully ignoring them in my posts. She has been sweet and hasn’t torn into me for not posting any of them, but a man can only push his luck so far. For those unfamiliar, Mind the Gap refers to the gap between the train and the platform. Have to love the words the British use to describe things.

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Our destination was the Tower of London where. to honor the nearly 1,000,000 British military personnel who lost their lives in WW I, a ceramic red poppy was placed for each and ever one of them in the Tower of London moat. It was 100 years ago WW I began, and while the United States later and reluctantly entered the war, England, France and Germany’s armies tried to destroy each other across no man’s land for most of the war. Just as the opposing armies were gridlocked in four years of trench warfare,the spectators who came to view the poppies were also gridlocked due to the unbelievable number of them who were there.

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The Poppies fill the moat of the Tower and above the moat, every square inch of space was filled by people wanting to get a look at it. The Queen had visited the field of poppies this week and it seemed as if everyone in London wanted to visit it today. It took a while, but eventually we were able to make our way to the fence.

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I’ve said it many times during our trip, but in this case it really is one of those times when photos simply cannot substitute for being there.

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It wasn’t something to just glance at and go, and we ended up working our way around to the Tower Bridge side of the moat where we found there were far fewer people.

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It is one thing to see the mass of poppies that fill the moat, but it’s another thing to realize each poppy represents a person.

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One of the many skylines in London.

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A ship everyone heard about when they took world history in high school. Sir Francis Drake’s ship, The Golden Hind.

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The theater everyone heard about when they were in school, The Globe Theater where Shakespeare's plays were performed.

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We walked along the south bank of the Thames where we could see people searching for something.

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I wonder what they are looking for? What could this person be collecting? One thing I know for sure, most likely what ever it is I will end up carrying it in my luggage.

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That is the, can I have this one please please, look. Luckily for me she put it back down.

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Thames riverbank selfie.

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The afternoon’s play, The Play That Goes Wrong. Actually it should be called The Play That Goes, Unbelievable, Gut Splitting, Belly Laughingly, Uproariously Funny, Wrong. Never ever have we laughed so hard for so long as we did watching this play. In fact, everyone in the theater were laughing just as hard.

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What the real London play goers do before play starts, especially the ones that have seats near the front of the stalls, They pop into the stalls bar, have a gin and tonic while they talk to other real playgoers doing the same thing. Linda made two observations. One the gin and tonics they serve at the bars in the theaters are much better than the ones in the pubs. And second, there are a lot of people in London who drink gin and tonic. Though when the girl at the bar first asked Linda if she wanted to order a gin and tonic for the interval, Linda didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. We learned soon enough that the interval is what we refer to as intermission. And a good laugh was had by all.

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Fourth row back, and once again just left of stage center. If you’re going to watch a play, watch it from a good seat is our motto. and the fact the tickets are a half to two thirds off makes it even better. And I confess to bursting out laughing several times as I have written about The Play That Goes wrong, it was that funny.

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Sorry, just had to post one more photo of The Play That Goes Wrong. How true, how very true. We’ve seen likely two hundred plus plays over the years, some good, more than a few not so good, and a couple that were downright terrible. But never have we seen anything to compare to just how funny this play was. It made our decision to see 7 plays in 3 1/2 days look like we actually knew what we were doing, at least in this case. The most unbelievable part is that before we came to London on Thursday we had never even heard of it, possibly because it has been playing for less than a month.

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Our last supper in London, fish and chips and mushy peas. Food doesn’t get better than this. This was at a fish and chips place off Leicester Square. We figured that if they only sold fish and chips, they must be good, and we weren’t wrong about that. The only thing wrong with the meal was that they didn’t serve ale. But that just gives us an excuse to come back to London at the end of our next trip to Europe.

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We ended the night by seeing The Commitments, which unfortunately had the difficult time of following what was the best play we have ever seen. It was okay, and I don’t know what we would have seen instead of it, it’s just that the acting was dry, the singing ability of the show’s star left a lot to be desired and the sound volume seemed to try and overcome the two previous failings. As Linda said, she doesn’t know anything about sound mixing, but even so, she could have done a better job than the sound person for this play. Not every thing every day is perfect, but the great things more than make up for the less than great things.

I wrote this post on the plane returning to the States as I was simply to tired to write on Sunday evening, and besides we had to be up very early in the morning to take the underground to Heathrow to catch a plane. I plan to write a summary of the trip on the regular website in the near future, though tomorrow’s post will still be here as it is actually the last day of our trip. And what an awesome three months it has been.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jersey Boys–London Day 3


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Nothing to it. Linda topping off her Oyster card. We wanted to add enough to get us around the next two days, then out to Heathrow on Monday morning and still have enough to take at least the first trip the next time we are in London. That meant finding a machine that took notes. Another reason why the next time we come to Europe we will have a chip and pin card, it will make things like this much easier as all machines take cards.
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I can’t tell you why we really like some cities, London and Berlin for example and dislike others such as Paris. Maybe it just feeling more comfortable, or maybe it is the fact those are the countries where our genes come from. Whatever it is, we are having a great time in London and really don’t want our time here to end even though we are on the go from early morning to late at night. Could it be that as we get older we get better?.
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Full English breakfast again this morning, but it where we ate that was most interesting.
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Books, more books than many libraries have pages. All we did was look at the different public displays at the British Library, but we spent almost three hours looking. Tell me you wouldn’t spend time looking at the original words for “A Hard Days Night” that John Lennon wrote on the back of a birthday card his son, Julian, had received. Or maybe the drawings in Fleming’s notebook when he first noticed penicillin mold inhibited the growth of bacteria. Or maybe the famous upside down airmail stamp. Not everyone is into things like this, but Linda and I definitely are.
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A major trade union march was held in central London this afternoon. The police were out at all the intersections and the street cleaners were sweeping up the mess left behind.
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Our matinee play today. Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
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Linda’s spouse getting her a gin and tonic at one of the bars in the theater as she waited for the doors to open.
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How the experienced theater goer waits for the doors to the seating area to open.
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The wind blowing throw the walkways in the Underground does this to a girls hair as you can see on Miss Never a Hair Out of Place.
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Another, no photos allowed performance. Linda managed to take this one as we were leaving the theater. Don't ask me how we got them, because it was once again just luck, but we had seats in the third row just left of center. It really doesn’t get much better than that. And the performance was totally beyond awesome. How do we get so lucky?
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Linda is just like me. She gets a good laugh from the way the British label things. This was the sign on the women’s restroom stall when it was occupied. Is that engaged, as in the lock is engaged, or is that engaged, as in engaged in doing your business?
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Linda’s dinner, meat pie in a pub in the theater district.
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The evening performance of 39 Steps we attended was at a theater located right on Piccadilly Circus.
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Center seats, third row back. With seats like this happening at every play I am beginning to think it has more to do with knowledge and experience than luck. Not really, but ever once in a while we need to believe in ourselves.
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The theater was built in 1874 and still reflects those times. The stage opening was the narrowest of any of the theaters we have attended, and as a great touch, the footlights are mounted at the front of the stage. We had a wonderful time with some great laughs, and what more could a theater goer want. Two and a half days, five awesome performances, and we are looking forward to two more plays tomorrow. Bob and Linda, Living Life Large in London.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Definitely Different Plays – London Day Two

 

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A flurry of activity greeted the day once the Sunday plays available for purchase at the TKTS booth were posted on their website. We were trying to decide which six plays to see. Since we could only find one that had a matinee today that spot was easy. Also, as far as Linda was concerned, when we saw Michael Flatley and Lord of the Dance last night, she had seen what she really wanted to see.

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Our list completed, we zoomed off to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. As the photo shows, we were quite literally zooming there.

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The line was long. The line moved slowly. Linda had her list out in her hand ready for the person in the box office. Our list included musicals, comedy and drama, but it didn’t included any of the gigantic blockbuster shows like Les Misérables or War Horse. We just really aren’t into those kinds of spectacular productions. With time to see only six shows we had to leave out a few we would have liked to have seen, but better to see some and miss some than not see any.

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Lunch was at a Mexican restaurant. Good margaritas, good but not great, but they still hit the spot as it has been too long since we have had any. We joked the British were getting close to a good margarita, just as they were getting close to using the right shape for margarita glasses, but both still needed a little work

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The remains of a roasted tomatillo salsa. I know absolutely and positively that Linda is going to try and come up with a recipe for it when we get back to Texas next week.

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Served on a hot plate, rum sauce around outside, a nut filled chocolate brownie in the center topped with a scoop of seriously good vanilla ice cream. We have eaten dozens of desserts over the past three months, but this was far and away the best dessert of the entire trip. We told our waitress that and she commented that everyone who has it raves about how good it is. Our luck continues.

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Right next door was a Jamie Oliver  restaurant. Interestingly enough, our Mexican restaurant was busier than it was. Celebrity chef’s name on a restaurant where he doesn’t cook, some people eat there, some don’t.

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This is not the play we saw this afternoon, but it is the theater where the play we saw was performed, sitting in great seats in the 5th row just left of center. The National Youth Theater has been around for nearly sixty years and has seen such greats as Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley get their start in acting before live audiences and develop their talent in West End theaters. Today’s play revolved around the execution of a young soldier in WW I, telling his life story in a series of flashbacks. I’ll take two words off the photo for STOMP, which we will not be seeing, to describe the play and the acting. Brilliant. Terrific. It was outside the norm, but that’s what we enjoy. Besides, our theater attending habits just leave two more seats for those that want to see the blockbuster hits.

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In the evening we went to see Urinetown, The Musical. Some things are difficult to explain but Urinetown wasn’t one of them since Urinetown is impossible to explain.

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Actually the problem is that it has a little of everything. Evil corporate types, corrupt politicians, zombies, an innocent young woman, a girl in leg braces. You get the idea. It has singing and dancing. It has blood galore.

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It also has money raining down of the audience, a large pile of which literally fell right into my lap. It was filled with thunderous applause from the audience after many of the numbers. For one number in the middle of an act, don’t ask me to describe it, the applause lasted for well over a minute. How best to sum it up? Signs saying “Free the Peeple”. Dancing pink rabbits. To quote Linda, “You wanted to see it, and I’m so glad we went.” Good Bob. (Weird is Good)

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Coming out of the theater it was sidewalk to sidewalk people. Getting to the Piccadilly Circus underground station it was fight your way through the crowds. At 10:30 at night the Piccadilly line trains were jam packed. But as they say, despite the crowds, a good time was had by all.

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The long escalators that serve the deep Piccadilly line.  On one of our trips this morning only one of the up escalators was working with the other out of service. A lady, probably around 60, and her 30 something daughter started walking up the out of service one. When she was about half way up a gentleman on a down escalator remarked, “By now you’ve probably realized you made the wrong decision in walking.” Everyone on the escalators started laughing, including the lady. Have to love the humor of the British.