Awe in Westminster Abby

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I intended to write this entry last night, but the events of yesterday in London changed what I want to say. First, Sandy and I offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected in yesterday’s terrorist attack and to the entire city where we have been treated so wonderfully, during the Paralympics 5 years ago and again this month.

On our last full day we took one of the wonderful black taxi’s (all of them are accessible!) to Westminster Abby. In Roger Miller’s catchy words, “Westminster Abby, the Tower of Big Ben, the rosy red cheeks of the little children.” We explored the area in front of the Abby and around Parliament. About 15 minutes before opening we went over to the entrance and joined the queue that was just forming. A delightful gentleman showed us where to wait and said they would take us in through the accessible doors as soon as the Abby was open.

Photography is not allowed in the Abby, and I fully agree with that position. The Abby cannot be photographed. There is such a cornucopia of sensory input that just one cannot do it justice. I could not believe I was sitting in the very place that William was crowned in 1066 and every monarch since. Where Royals married and others were buried.

The nave is long and splendid with stone arches. I could hear the sounds in the arches far above and gauge the height. As we entered the transepts, the sound changed. It became more open, huge. The stone floor gently rocked my titanium chair, and there are plaques and crypts.

After touring we went to the cafe in the Cloisters. Tea and carrot cake. DSCN1742Then we explored some more, took our leave, and went over to Parliament. This is the exact area where yesterday’s attack occurred. The news and the pictures are surreal and heartbreaking. This is a happy place where people patiently wait their turn to take a selfie in front of Parliament. There were young couples, children, ladies on a girl’s day out, and even Floridians bundled against the cold. This is the meeting place where Commoners and Royalty stand.

Enough with the cold and damp, let’s play with Lego’s and find a pub. So away in another black taxi, and soon we were at the Lego Store in Leicester Square. DSCN1765

Pub time! The greeter/traffic director at the Lego Store said we would find some good pubs if we headed a bit south, so off we were to find a local eatery. In London finding a decent pub is simple. Soon we were enjoying pints of Carling and fish sandwiches. IMG_0490

At dinner time we were thinking maybe something light. The hotel’s restaurant/bar had chicken fajitas on the appetizer menu. In London? OK, why not? Hey Texas, y’all down there need to take notice. Paired with a Foster’s, the chef did this to perfection.

And then it was time to go home. Day 27 of Around the World in 27 Days was only hours away. This has been so much fun for me. The quality time with Sandy, the wonderful time with our family and friends in Taiwan, meeting our new grandson Cameron, sightseeing and sharing tables with Londoners who seemingly never see a stranger. It has been fun having YOU along. Thank you for reading, for Liking, for commenting.

We have picked up some new subscribers, too! As we get things sorted out at home I will be looking you up, checking out your blogs. And thinking about a cruise. I’m always thinking about a cruise.

Images: At the top is a large image, almost Gothic in style, of a gnarled tree in winter in front of the face of the clock in the Queen Elizabeth II Tower. Then George at Tea  in a long, arched room.  A large picture of George wearing a red raincoat in a Lego train car. Finally Sandy ordering in a pub.

Princess Diana’s gowns

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With time in London limited, we had a short list of three things we wanted to see. Diana: Her Fashion Story was one of them. The plan had it that if we got a nice day we’d do Kensington Garden and the gown exhibit. 62 degrees with sun, in London, in March is a nice day! We walked (rolled if you please) from our hIMG_0442otel to Kensington Palace and arrived a bit before the exhibit opened. Once inside, the gentleman who sold us our ticket told us there was no queue for the gown exhibit, but lines would be long soon. He said we could see the exhibit and then do the palace tour.

(Please know that what I am describing is from memory and might not be precisely accurate.) The story begins with a young Lady Diana Spencer who suddenly finds herself about to be wed to the Prince of Wales. This was not something she had ever thought about, and she had no knowledge of royal gowns. She knew the fashion of well dressed young ladies, but this? IMG_0415

At first it was hard for both Diana and her designers to determine a style. What looked good, was befitting a young lady, and was something with which she was comfortable? Sketches we made showing her in prospective designs. She was not hard to please but did want to maintain her sense of self.

As Princess Diana grew more comfortable in her role she sought the counsel of several designers. Several commented that she was easy to work with, and over time began to offer direction in what she wanted. She was the first royalty to wear formal pants, a concept and basic design she did herself.

IMG_0413The gowns changed with Diana. As she became a sophisticated young lady her gowns became more formal. There was, however, something elegantly simple about them. The gowns never overshadowed the lady. Her popularity was immense, and people became fascinated with all aspects of her life.

Kensington Palace is home to both William and Harry. The exhibit is a beautiful tribute to a lovely lady, and more importantly, their mother.

Thanks for continuing our journey with us. By the time Sandy and I added another transoceanic flight and arrived home late in the evening, we were tired beyond words. MS fatigue reared its ugly head, and I’m a bit behind. Your patience and words of encouragement are always appreciated!

Images: Top image shows Princess Diana in a casual pose with her chin resting on folded hands. Then a display with mirrors to show all angles of the beautiful gowns and one emerald green gown. In the text is an image of the statue of Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace with reflections, trees, and a crystal blue sky. The next image is a pencil sketch that features Diana in a red gown with a drawing of the fabric along side. The final image is the famous Harper’s Bazaar cover with Diana in a long, black gown.

London today, China yesterday 

About noon today we were browsing through the China exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. One of the many guides asked if we had been to China. I replied that we’d had lunch there yesterday.

Our hotel is old, as is its wifi (at least the free one). It, the hotel, is comfortable with excellent service. More to come! We are tired but okay. 🇬🇧

Update on March 23…  I’m reminded of the Wendy’s ad, Where’s the Beef? Where is the rest of this blog? All but 2 paragraphs appear to have been lost. I’ll try again soon. Thanks for your patience and understanding. – George

Pop art and 85 Sky

I hope you like the catchy title, though it says little of the topic. We’d best forge on to the Pop Art Cafe. Friday evenings are for relaxing and giving ourselves a little reward. That seems to be a universal thing. With my pockets empty and no camera (and apparently the world didn’t end) we piled into the small Hyundai and visited a section that I’d describe as the Taiwanese version of Soho. With limited accessibility and maximum help from the chef/owner himself, I worked my way through a series of ramps and bumps that he had mapped out ahead when Cliff called to make a reservation.

The Pop Art Cafe’s chef, another George, explained to us that he is a Canadian who came to Taiwan as an adventure, fell in love with a lady and with the nation, and merged his art profession with his culinary passion. The fare is what he described as simply delicious American ranging from burgers to pizza to steaks plus a bit of Indonesian. Excellent!

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Pictures resumed yesterday with a trip to the 85 Sky Tower. Approximately the height of the Empire State Building, all similarities to other skyscrapers end when one views the building. The first 39 stories are two office buildings that then connect and have a single spire rising from there.

We were in time for afternoon high tea, which did not disappoint. Salads, fresh seafood, sushi, ham, pot stickers, and an amazing lemon green tea. Let’s not mention the seafood pizza. “Pizza is not to be made with seafood.” – G Rector, 2017

Have you enjoyed Taiwan? I hope over a couple of weeks I’ve introduced you to wonderful people and an amazing nation! This was Kaohsiung, family style, which is what the world is all about. I’ve popped wheelies over bumps, rattled down old sidewalks, and glided on marble floors. This is my family, and I love them dearly.

Thank you for the wonderful comments and the many Likes. To our new followers, I hope you will join us as we continue around the world in 27 days. My time and my energy (remember old MS fatigue?) have been stretched thin. I promise that once home I will visit your sites, as well.

Picture above is of Cameron standing in front of a drawing of 85 Sky Tower. Below are some pictures taken from the 74th floor observation area. They show the harbor, Love River, and the city. And a photo of my my beautiful daughter-in-law Natalie. 

Night market pinball

Thursday evening Sandy, Cliff, Cameron, and I went to the small night market near home. Having worked all day, Natalie cherished a few moments of quiet. Space in Taiwan isn’t wasted. The seashore area where we had gone has fishing by day, but on Thursday nights there is a local night market.

There are two areas of interest to children, and those are what interested us most. We arrived early, so things weren’t so busy. Cameron got his choice of the tiny pinball machines. He did well and won a helicopter. And had fun.

After pinball we made our way to the other end where a tiny train is set up in front of a temple that appears to be of ancient origin. Along the way were food stands with spicy foods like  fresh fish, chicken, shrimp. Having had dinner we stuck to enjoying the odors.

The train, a tiny set up of cars pulled by an “engine” connected to an electric motor supplied from an industrial battery, is hugely popular with the little ones. For a modest fee you can ride until your parents can stand no more. Then you receive a toy. Awesome.

As we worked our way back to the car we passed stands that resembled an American flea market that had some intriguing goods that we didn’t buy! By then the food stands had lines and the seats full. Willpower, George, willpower.

Thanks for reading. I got a bit behind in writing, so let’s put the night market to bed and move on to Pop Art and 85 Sky.

The top images show Cameron at a long row of tiny pinball machines with child size stools. He is wearing his light jacket, a baseball cap, and has his Snoopy backpack to carry home his loot. A third images shows the tiny train. Below are two roofline images of the old temple and a small shrine that is attached. Both are forms of the pagoda style architecture. 

Time with family

E8074989-3520-4303-8810-CBF1C8F9528F.jpgfa989dee-701f-4d0a-9c3d-08fdfd4b827eThe pace has slowed a bit as we recharge our batteries, as it were. Quality time with family and friends. We met our friends Amanda, Lawrance, and Christina. Cameron and Eden had a ball on the playground. This is in yet another park near downtown Kaohsiung. There is a huge jungle gym, and the picture shows only a portion of it. The park and the playground are fully wheelchair accessible. I rolled so nicely on it, and it was padded to protect the kids if they fall.

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Our son Cliff on the left and Lawrence on the right.

After a couple of hours we all ventured through the city traffic to a restaurant Amanda and Lawrance recommended. Unlike restaurants I’ve encountered here, this is entirely Chinese. Here we are in a beautiful restaurant with light lavender table cloths and chairs, a large multi-page menu that was all Chinese. Lawrence explained that the food is served family style with dishes rotated on a huge Lazy Susan. With nine of us, it was a large, round table. The presentation reminded me a bit of P.F. Chang’s in the U.S.  There were more items, and spices were different, however. It was one of the best meals I’ve had – period. You will be proud of me; I got all my food into my mouth with only one small spot on the tablecloth using chopsticks. (They offered a fork, but that seemed like a mood killer.)

Even when company comes, the routine must go on, so we were off to the hardware store. The store is large but in a downtown location. Parking is above the store, whilst employees park underneath. Inside is a store that easily rivals The Home Depot. I was right at home!

Yesterday Cliff took us over to the coast. The seashore is “fortified” against typhoons. Kaohsiung is at the southern end of the island and is on the leeward side with mountains for protection. (Taipei, the capital, is at the very northern tip and is cooler with more typhoons.) The smell of the sea was as I remembered it from years ago. The shell of the original Kaohsiung Light still stands, but its functionality has been replaced with an automated light.

Last night we went to a night market. That’s next. Thanks for reading. I hope you are enjoying our glimpse of life halfway round the world.

Top picture is a very old lighthouse, blue gray color with colorful fish. Then snapshots of Sandy and Cliff and Sandy and George. Underneath is an overview of the colorful Little Tykes jungle gym. Lower are pictures showing Cliff and Lawrance. Cliff is wearing a Del Sol T-shirt, sunglasses, and an orange hat. There is a winding, stone path through the wooded park. Finally a picture of a downtown intersection with tall buildings and the sea of scooters.

Field of fun

On Saturday we went to soccer practice. Sandy and I had been looking forward to this, and we weren’t disappointed. In fact, we were delighted in what we found. We enjoyed a huge field of fun. Of course our attention was on soccer practice and the little ones. So what is involved? First came stretching. Then warm ups followed by a motor skills drill with jumping over small cones (the ones in the picture). All warmed up and ready, the kids lined up and each practiced taking shots on goal. Surprisingly good! Ready to go, the kids were divided into teams with one team wearing fluorescent orange vests and the other in a shocking yellow green. Let the chaos begin.

In Taiwan with its tight population density, green space is readily available and is used. This park in downtown Kaohsiung covers about 2 city blocks. One section is a traditional park with winding sidewalks, trees, grassy areas, and a pond. The side where we were is a huge, flat, grass lawn. I counted 9 groups using the area for recreation. One young couple was playing Wham-O Trac Ball. There were kites, soccer balls, and frisbees.

How did the wheelchair do? The field is hard packed, and the grass is manicured short. I rolled right across it without help. Amazing.

Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for the Likes and Comments on the earlier entries. We have some new followers following our journey, and you are appreciated, as well. We will be here another week exploring this beautiful island and visiting with our family. London awaits.

Opening picture shows a group of very small children seated with hands up as they begin practice. The second picture is of the ornage and the green teams together in a moment of sportsmanship before beginning play.