Friday, April 29, 2011

A Magical Time

These last few days in Washington, D.C. with Phoebe have been a magical time. Inspiration abounds. Ideas swirl. Art is created. I finally became part of her Make-Believe world, donning the mask of a sheep. Here are just a few of the images captured and collaborated on during our time in the nation's capital.

Back to the Future

 Portal to the Subconscious

 Among the Hidden

 Sometimes you need a plan B

The following images are from Phoebe's Flickr photostream:

Hello, operator

Road Trip

And this and that is what it was

And to top it all off, we had a drink in our hotel lounge and who should be there but Daniel Dae Kim! (You know, Jin from LOST). Funny thing is, we were just talking about him and the rest of the LOST cast the day before! The lounge was only lit by candles and he was having a dinner business meeting so we didn't bug him. But we did stare for a while. :)

We now move on to our next adventure, with Missy joining us in the morning. What new adventures will be discovered? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Baltimore to Annapolis Trail

Greetings! I am off on another adventure! Enjoying the Springtime beauty of the East Coast. Yesterday was a most glorious day. The kind of day you want if you are our walking a trail with your camera in tow. Bright blue skies, a golden sun pushing her rays through marshmallow clouds. Dappled light falling lightly across your path. Wildflowers showing off their colors. After trekking the Cumbria Way mostly in rain, this day was one I had been dreaming about and it was a perfect day to explore part of the Baltimore to Annapolis trail.

Smelling the Wisteria
(Pic by Missy)

The air was scented with the sweet perfume of Wisteria. It grew wild everywhere, draping the trees with purple blooms. I plucked some and pressed them into my travel journal. A reminder of this beautiful day.

Kingly Fence

Through the Pink


Puddle Impressions

Nature's Art

The challenge for me this time is to shoot without my beloved 18-135mm. It had stopped working during the Cumbria Way and with no time to order a new one, I arrived to Maryland with just a couple of prime lenses. My challenge over the next couple of weeks will be shooting with the 50mm and my wide angle, the 10-20mm. So far, I haven't missed the zoom but I have a feeling I will today when I arrive into DC. I will miss it when I shoot street photography. Hopefully, the 50mm will satisfy me. We shall see...stay tuned!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Art is Love

It wasn't just memories and photographs I brought back with me from the UK. I brought back a respiratory infection. A cold, the flu...who knows what it is exactly. All I know is that I feel just awful. This whole week I've been achy, lethargic and fighting a killer cough that is keeping me from getting anything done. I finally broke down and began my herbal remedies but included a few childhood favorites (Vicks Vapor Rub anyone?). I had my first full night of sleep, without cough, last night. It was much needed as I prepare for another trip next week!

Needless to say, I've not had the energy to process pics from the trip, clean my house or cook any food. I've tried but I just want to lay down as soon as I get up. I've been sleeping, catching up on recorded shows and drinking lots of tea. Oh, and I did some art. About the only thing I have felt like doing whilst parked on the couch. And while I worked on it, I forgot for a moment how awful I felt. I was lost in the feel of art. I purchased an extra large art journal and finally did the cover:

Art is Love

As you can see, it's not a very sharp photo. I don't even have the strength right now to hold a camera without the shakes. But, at least I managed to do something while feeling like crap and something that made me feel better. Not only is art love, but it's very healing too. 
Stay healthy,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scenes of Ulverston

The ancient parish of Ulverston was first mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086 and is the start of The Cumbrian Way (or Cumbria Way if you prefer). We arrived in Ulverston via the bus from Oxenholme (by way of Preston from London) as the trains were disabled for repair. After checking into our B&B, The Virginia House, we headed out to climb Hoad Hill upon which sits a replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse, a monument to Sir John Barrow, 1st Baronet who was born nearby. It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine. Too bad it wouldn't last through the trek!

 Flower Seller

English Parsnips

Ulverston's Market Charter was granted by Edward I in 1280. This was for a market every Thursday. Modern Ulverston keeps it's market town appearance and now markets are held every Thursday and Saturday. We came in on a Thursday so were able to buy fresh local fruit to pack in our lunch for the next day's trek.

My next car: a Blue Mini Cooper. ;)

Laurel & Hardy

Ulverston is the birthplace of Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy fame. This sculpture was erected in 2009 by comedian Ken Dodd and is in front of Coronation Hall in the town center. The Laurel & Hardy museum is also located in Ulverston.

 Ulverston Parish Church. There has been a place of worship on this site since 1111AD.

Church Points

Leafy Lane

 Lighthouse Monument on Hoad Hill

One of two dogs we encountered on the way up Hoad Hill. 

The joy of running free!

Ulverston Farms 

 Sheepside ;)

Ray contemplates over Ulverston.

Laura atop Hoad Hill. (pic by Gina)

 Gina looking fetching in her lovely hat.

The girls with a view. Taken with my camera by Ray.

Ray with a view

Our B&B, The Virginia House, is a Georgian Town House built in 1740 and originally owned by a sea captain who had ties to the American State of Virginia, hence the name.

The Breakfast Room

Our cheerful bedroom

Upon entering the room, I spotted a mirror and of course had to grab a selfie!

We had our evening meal at the old Rose & Crown pub. I ordered a glass of wine and the guy behind the bar said "small or large?" I said small but as he walked away, I leaned over the counter and shouted "Wait! How small is it"? The whole place burst into laughter and he said "Don't you know you should never ask a man that question?". I was as red as my wine! Of course we kept the theme going when Gina ordered a large pint of beer and I said "She likes 'em large". :) Ray ordered a Scotch. Seems we were all sticking to our standard drink we had every night during The West Highland Way! For dinner I had a delicious serving of Carrot & Coriander Soup (my favorite!) along with Goat Cheese Bruschetta. Gina had Fish & Chips and Ray had Gammon which looked like a heart attack on a plate. All the portion sizes were very American: Huge!

 Rose & Crown

Fish & Chips (pic by Gina)

We weren't too disappointed about the amount of food however as the next day would start our trek of The Cumbria Way with a very long eighteen miles to the village of Coniston. And, yes, it began with rain but at least for this night, we were dry, stuffed and happy! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taking Tea at The Winter Garden

Hello my friends!
I have returned from my three week holiday to Great Britain! I will be leaving on another adventure soon, but should be able to blog regularly as I'll be travelling within the USA. It was more strange this time to be so disconnected from the world. Of all the social media, my blog and my readers were always on my mind. Especially when Gina and I took our Afternoon Tea at the Landmark's Winter Garden in London since it was voted on by you, my dear readers!  I've now had tea at The Savoy, the Ritz, Brown's, the Dorchester and The Landmark. The standard was set by The Savoy which had excellent atmosphere, service, tea and food.
So, how did the Winter Garden at the Landmark stack up against my other tea-taking experiences?

The Atmosphere at the Winter Garden was excellent. In fact, I would rank it second, just behind The Savoy and ahead of The Ritz. The Winter Garden is spacious and there are plenty of people watching opportunities, something that I like to have when enjoying a leisurely tea.

The Winter Garden at The Landmark Hotel

Starting out with a Champagne Toast

The most important part of the whole affair is of course, the tea. There were many to choose from. Gina chose the Winter Garden Blend, a mixture of Indian and China black teas. I chose Organic Rose Grey, a blend of Earl Grey with organic pink rose petals. Unfortunately, our first cup of tea was poured when our champagne was brought to the table so by the time we were done sipping the bubbly beverage, the tea was lukewarm. And, unlike the Savoy and most of the other places I've taken tea, they did not provide a metal pot of piping hot water to add to your teapot. I gulped that first cup down as to pour myself a fresh, steaming cup and sip it properly!

Rose Champagne & Organic Rose Grey Tea

Sweet Additives

Despite that unfortunate start, the Organic Rose Grey tea was by far, the best, most delightfully flavored tea I have ever had. I loved it so much I asked the server if the tea was available for purchase. She brought a manager over who went off to find some that I could just have. At Brown's Hotel, they had given us little sample packs of the teas we had chosen as parting gifts so I was expecting something similar. Instead, what I got to my complete surprise was a large purple tin filled with the tea! And, at no charge, tin and all! She even felt bad that she didn't have the proper tin for the Organic Rose Grey. All that made up somewhat for the lack of actual service and the sub-par food. 

Organic Rose Grey Tea

Although our server was a lovely girl from the Ukraine, the service was the worst experienced at an afternoon tea service, ranking below The Dorchester. She was very slow and inattentive to the needs of the diners. It was a hard task to try to get her attention as she spent most of the time somewhere other than the dining room. The food did not score well with either of us; the sandwiches although tasty, were not as flavorful as those we had at Brown's. And the desserts were lovely to look at but fell way short of what desserts should be: Scrumptiously Sinful.

A selection of desserts

As for the Scones, well, horrible is not too strong a word to describe the small, hard baked goods they placed in front of us. The scones at the Winter Garden reminded me of the ones my mother and I had at The Ritz. I can't imagine anyone preferring one of these scones to the big, homemade fluffy delights you find in tea rooms throughout Britain. I only had one, and that says quite a lot about the state of scones at The Winter Garden. We slathered on much jam and clotted cream so that the tasteless scone would hardly matter.

Scone Leftovers

So, my dear readers...if any of you decide to take in tea at The Winter Garden, I would suggest choosing the specialty Chocolate Afternoon Tea menu over the one we chose. Perhaps, the desserts would at least tantalize the palate. Despite the disappointment, I still thoroughly enjoyed the process of taking tea as I always do. And we did find plenty of other places to have tea and scones that made up for our experience at The Winter Garden. I'll be including those locations in upcoming blog posts so stay tuned! Oh, and by the's good to be home. ;)