Sumer is A’Goin Out

Yes, that title would be my really terrible bastardization of The Cuckoo Song.  I apologize to any cringing medieval scholars out there.

I’ve been so busy working on Secret Book I completely didn’t notice there was a three-day weekend coming up (Labor Day in the U.S.).  Holy catfish, it’s almost September already!

My vacation is getting closer and closer.  I hope that 1) the time I’m away doesn’t pass as quickly as the last month has, and 2) that if the stupid volcano Bardarbunga (I always read that as Cowabunga) decides to blow its top, it waits until I’m already in the U.K.  I wouldn’t mind getting stuck there, but if I can’t go, everyone in Iceland will hear me scream.

Stop it.  Stop it now.

Stop it.  Stop it now.

 Image:  independent.co.uk

By the way, I have donated to the ALS Association, even though no one has nominated me for the Ice Bucket Challenge (officially).  Speaking of which, composer and one of my chat friends Bernhard P. Eder made this HILARIOUS video, in which he takes the Challenge.  I had to post this because it made me laugh at work.

Check out some of Bernhard’s music here!

This holiday weekend, my plans look something like this:

  •  Skate
  • Remove some things from inside the house to the newly cleaned garage so they can be donated or thrown away
  • Clean the shit out of the house
  • Start trying on outfits (this could be really sad because I haven’t lost as much weight as I wanted to)
  • Shop for jeans (this, too, could end in tears)
  • WRITE
  • Read.  I’m trying to get through Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, which is rockin’ good, and Writing 21st Century Fiction, by Donald Maass
  • Watch the two Netflix DVDs that have been on my coffee table forever

Everyone out there, be careful whilst you bid summer a fond adieu.  I’ll be back this weekend with a vocabulary post, I promise.

Book Review! The Watchers: Book One, Knight of Light

I’ve been given a book to review!

For an upcoming blog tour, I am reviewing The Watchers: Book One, Knight of Light, by Deirdre Eden.  It is the debut novel of a fantasy series set in medieval England.

Ms. Eden is a writer and speaker who runs Eden Literary, a company that provides services to writers such as editing, critiquing, promotion, book trailers, and others.  I feel honored that I was chosen for a Powerful Woman Writer Award by her blog, A Storybook World.  You can see it at the bottom of my page and find the link to the site in my blogroll.

Eden’s Amazon biography says:

My goal in writing is to saturate my books with intrigue, mystery, romance, and plot twists that will keep my readers in suspense. I want to see fingerprints on the front and back covers where readers have gripped the novel with white knuckles! 

Aside from writing, I enjoy jousting in arenas, planning invasions, horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, and going on adventures.

She’s well qualified to write the action scenes in this book.  And looks the part as well.  This picture is super cool.

Deirdre Eden knight Zion PHotography Studio

Photo:  Zion’s Studio Photography at Amazon.com

In The Watchers: Book One, we meet fiery haired orphan Auriella, who has discovered a strange new power within her.  Charged with witchcraft, soon she is on the run, pursued by wolves and the dreaded Shadow Legion.  They are the nemeses of the mysterious and legendary Lady of Neviah, whose identity soon becomes apparent.

Auriella and a fellow captive, a chirpy pixie named Cassi, are rescued from the clutches of an evil hag by Ruburt the dwarf.  The three friends travel through a dangerous world, until they reach the patronage of Lady Hannah, who adopts Auriella.

Enchanted by her new life and a burgeoning first love affair, Auriella begins to turn away from her destiny.  But she cannot escape it for long, and soon, her comfort and safety is threatened, along with everything and everyone she has grown to love.

Through heartbreak and loss and with newfound skills and experience, Auriella must face her enemy and fight for her chance to become not only a legend but a knighted protector of the kingdom.

Though I’m not a reader of high fantasy, I enjoyed this book.  Tiny pixie Cassi in particular was an amusing character.  She and Ruburt the dwarf provide comic relief, and they stick loyally by Auriella through thick and thin, as real friends do.

Eden is a Mormon writer, and the theological research she draws on in her writing supports the story beautifully without being intrusive.  Not being Mormon myself, I don’t know a lot of it, but the whole Watchers thing (see the Books of Enoch) doesn’t come across as preachy or even particularly religious.

I would have liked the author to take me through some of the transitions a bit more slowly–some of them seemed rushed.  But I’ve just read The Lord of the Rings again and recently finished Stephen King’s 11/22/63, so the slow tempo of both those books (especially Tolkien’s) may be coloring my perception.

This story would be fine for younger readers who can handle chapter books.  It’s fast-paced and the language isn’t too hard for them.  Young adults and even grown-ups who like a quick read and a good adventure will enjoy it too.  While reading, I found myself wishing I had a nerdy bookworm kid with whom to share it.  This blog post will appear on my Facebook page, and I’ll make sure my parent friends see it.

It looks as though Eden has at least six books planned in the series.  I’m anxious to see what happens next, and how Auriella’s adventures play out.  I think it would make a neat animated film (or a series of them).

Find The Watchers: Book One, Knight of Light on Amazon. Watch this cool book trailer here:

Exciting, yes?

Thanks to Laura Watkins and Theresa Sneed, Book Manager and Blog Tour Assistant of Eden Literary for providing a review copy to me.  Now go read!

RIP Robin Williams

No matter how we try to imagine it, we can’t know what is truly going on inside other people.  Actor and comedian Robin Williams battled many demons—among them addiction and depression.  This morning, he lost his fight.  My heart goes out to his family and friends as they mourn the loss of their loved one.

Rest in peace, dear man.  We’ll miss you dreadfully.

Happy Feet Two - European Premiere - Inside Arrivals

Image Credit: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

In the Thick of It

I learned the hard way when writing the fanfiction that eventually became Rose’s Hostage that if you ignore a persistent muse, it won’t do any good.  It won’t go away, and eventually you’ll have to give it its due.

The Secret Book is taking over.

I’m calling it that because I can’t tell you what it’s about yet.  I can only say this:  it’s not like anything I’ve written before, and it’s HARRRRD.

If writing were easy, they’d call it this. 

If writing were easy, they’d call it this.

Image:  comicvine.com

The characters are more complex, the story is a little strange, and it’s going to require a ton of research, since part of it is set in the film industry, about which I know almost nothing.  But when I think about it, I get excited, and that hasn’t happened for a while.  Even finishing up Tunerville, which I do really like, didn’t have the same push behind it.

I’m still working on the RH sequel.   And I’m still planning my holiday, which has morphed me into THAT person.  I can’t shut up about it.  I’m like that annoying coworker who can only talk about her wedding.

Next time you see this on here, it will be a picture by ME.  :D

Next time you see this on here, it will be a picture by ME.  :D

Image:  Lucaks / “LochNess2″. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

 My train tickets are purchased, my B&B is booked, I have a ticket to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, one to Riverdance, and I’m set.  Now all I have to do is wait.  I’m not very good at waiting.

I’m so excited to go to the U.K.  If England were a man, I’d say he was a bit boozy, a bit silly, and never boring.  As for looks?  Oh, he’s so handsome.  I never tire of gazing at him.  Every place I see is a new angle, and I can never look at him enough.  I’m sure I’ll love his brothers Wales and Scotland just as well.

I feel as though I’m traveling to meet a lover.  Who knows?  Maybe I am, and I don’t know it yet.  The world is a magical place, and anything can happen.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get some work done.  I’ll get that next vocabulary post up.  It’s been bugging me that I didn’t get that to you earlier.

Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you soon.

Beginning and Advice from a Master

I’ve begun revising some old work that will fit into the Rose’s Hostage sequel.  It’s painful to see how labored and idiotic it was.  The actual scenes themselves aren’t bad, and what I already did will save me a ton of research.  It’s the writing itself that makes me cringe.

Right now, I’m mostly changing names and tweaking references.  I’ll go back and excise all the purple prose when I fit it in.

I’m also starting to think about the other novel–in fact, I think more about it than I do about this one, sometimes.  I like to make playlists for writing sessions that are specific to each work.  With this one, I went to my dusty record collection and found an old orchestral thing I used to use as background music when I played restaurant as a child.  It’s perfect.  AND IT WAS ON AMAZON.

God, I love the internet. 

God, I love the internet.

 Image:  amazon.com

Man, my parents had so many crazy old records.  We grew up listening to stuff from the 1950s and 1960s, everything from “La Bamba” to Mancini.  I credit them for sparking my obsession with soundtrack music.  When you’re sitting there coloring listening to Bernstein’s The Ten Commandments and Morricone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, how can you not love it?

Speaking of the ‘rents, they celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on Saturday, July 19 (which was also Benedict Cumberbatch’s birthday.  Happy birthday!).

Congratulations, Mom and Dad!  I’d post an awesome picture, but I want to stay alive a little longer.

While I go attempt to organize myself for the evening, I’d like you to take a look at this Business Insider article.  It distills some great advice from Stephen King from his memoir/advice tome, On Writing.  Every author should have this book on his/her shelf.

You can buy it here.

Too Many Feels about Writing

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this exchange:

Encouragement

When people say things like this, I feel great.  For a while.  The monumental effort involved in this endeavor, especially when contemplating the vast desert expanse before reaching publication, is enough to crush even the most positive mindset.  It’s fragile, and the slightest jar can be enough to shatter it.

Writing (or any creative profession, really) carries a lot of feelings with it.  Some people have great difficulty dealing with them.  If you’re inclined toward addiction, you might cope by self-medicating.  I don’t do that, but I’m quite sure the stress will cut years off my life.

In no particular order, here are some of the feelings writing has been poking me with lately.

Impatience

Publishing takes a long time.  I’m not the most patient person on earth, and I’ll never be any more so than I am right now.  I find myself saying, Enough already, Universe.  Let’s get going.  It would probably help if I had something in my personal life, but alas, the Big U has implied that the books will come first.  This vague revelation leads to hurt, because I’ve waited long enough, thank you.

Panic

Did I cross all my I’s and dot all my T’s?  Is that query letter as good as it can be?  Answer:

It can always be better, but the time to realize that is not after you’ve hit Send.

Elation

This strikes at odd moments and may be unrelated to writing, since I’m going on vacation soon.  I booked my train tickets this weekend.  For two days, I walked around with a heightened sense of anticipation that sent energy surging through my body, almost like an adrenaline rush but without the shakiness and rapid heartbeat.  Elation makes me hyper-aware of things—if I listen to music, I hear every note, every chord.  The sky looks bluer, the future brighter, and at those moments, anything seems possible.

Stress

Elation also leaped up after Brian posted that tweet (seriously, a horror Grand Master said he likes my book!), but then I stared, unseeing, at the screen and it all turned to pressure and stress.  What to say next?  How to say it?  Why can’t I put what is in my head down on the page?  I know what’s going to happen.  Why am I so goddamn tired?

Jealousy

Creative people do get jealous of each other.  Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha made me so jealous I could hardly see straight.  It helped that I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  The best way to deal with professional jealousy is to examine the work and observe successful elements you can translate to your own work, to make it better.

I have little to say about personal jealousy, except that if it leads to obsession, you better get rid of it fast because you won’t be able to concentrate long enough to write a coherent sentence.

 It mostly comes at night…mostly. 

It mostly comes at night…mostly.

 Image:  ign.com

Despair

I’ll never be good enough; I’ll never be published, and no agent / publisher / reader will ever give a shit about me.  Here’s where the dearth of personal involvement cuts deepest.  It hurts when no one you’re not related to is there to say “Hey, I love you no matter what, and I think you’re brilliant.”  The evil little voice inside my head says that since no other person wants me, clearly no agent ever will either.

Hope

This is the cruelest one of all.  It makes you delusional.  You feel that possibilities are endless.  Writing by its very nature forces you to imagine them, and this hones your ability to hope.  It becomes a tool that can turn on you in an instant and cut deeper than a surgeon’s scalpel into the most tender and vulnerable part of your psyche.  Reality is hope’s most dangerous predator.

Oh hello….didn’t see you there.  0_0

Oh hello….didn’t see you there.  0_0

 Image:  Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And then there’s this.  Although I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t feel the same, you never can tell.  Dreams up close can be rather frightening.

————

Feelings aren’t always rational, and neither are the thoughts that go with them.  They aren’t good or bad, either; they just are.  What you do with them is what matters.

Writers can use healthy mental exercises to curb thoughts like “I’m not good enough.”  If they are actively practicing their craft, they will get better at it.  I guarantee you Brian would not have said he liked a manuscript of mine two books ago.  The fact that he’s saying it now lets me know that I’ve grown as a writer.  By doing what?  Wishing?  No, by writing.

You know that thing the Universe has apparently sent to someone else (grr)?  Well, wishing might help here, and praying might also, but so will preparing myself to receive the opportunity if the Universe should reconsider.  And that’s what I have to do for writing too.

When it’s your turn to cycle through these emotions, don’t try to push them away.  Let them come.  Clamping a lid down on feelings only ensures their eventual explosive release.  And don’t let them talk you into giving up.  The only book that is never published is the one never written.

How to Drive Yourself Insane

Hope everyone in the US had a safe and fun Fourth of July.  Mine was safe, though dull.  As I had nothing to do, I sat on the couch all day sipping tea and pretending I was British and didn’t care.  I didn’t even get in the shower until three in the afternoon.  It was kind of nice, actually.

Except I have been going INSANE.

I’ve gone through all my materials for the Rose’s Hostage sequel–working title An Unsettling Calm (meh)–and the really diabolical plot I wanted to use is falling by the wayside.  I had abandoned the original plot as too sensational, but I reread the beginning and it was GOOD.

I’m going back to it.  It’s like returning to an old lover, one you didn’t date long but who thrilled you for a while anyway, and who still makes your pulse race when you think of him.

Reunions are sweet.  Unless he stole your purse last time. 

Reunions are sweet.  Unless he stole your purse the last time.

 Image:  nuttakit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ll save the diabolical thing for Book Three of the Detective Pierce Chronicles.  I couldn’t tie the villain in with the subplot, no matter how I tried, but Original Plot and I still have some connecting we can do.

The mini-NaNoWriMo may not be a thing, since I wanted to start it on the first of the month and I didn’t get to it (my fault entirely—I’ve been taken up with stupid mental crap).  But I decided I would attempt to write two things at once.  Horrors!

The other book I can’t tell you about at all right now.  But I will be sporadically working on it, with the bulk of the effort going toward Pierce Book Two.  I should be able to get a lot done in the next two-and-a-half months.

Here are some bona fide ways to drive yourself insane and guarantee that you can’t get a project started.

Ambitiously plan to write two books at once when you usually only do one

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Put research ahead of the actual writing

This is a bad one.  I’m guilty of this.  I can get so caught up in research that I actually do nothing toward whatever I’m working on.  Example:  I have yet to complete one single dollhouse or room box, but I now have an extensive knowledge of Victorian household gadgetry.

Watch too much TV

Or Netflix.  My shows aren’t on right now (The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Doctor Who), but that doesn’t stop me from consuming every British comedy series my little red online friend has to offer (Little Britain!).  It’s so tempting to schlep home tired from my day job, do a workout, and then go straight to the My List page.  Bad writer.  Bad.

I laughed so hard at this show I almost coughed up a lung. 

I laughed so hard at this show I almost coughed up a lung.

Image:  mirror.co.uk

Read too much crap on the internet

Oh, Buzzfeed.  You are such a frenemy.  I love your quizzes, your silly GIF posts, your hacks, and how your UK edition constantly shoves more cool London stuff that I will not possibly have time to do right in my face.

I know there are apps or plugins that block you from the internet so that you can work, but I’m afraid if I try one that I’ll tear a hole in my computer trying to get past it.

Plan a vacation

My UK holiday is almost completely set up, except for train tickets to Cardiff (too early to book yet) and a possible quick jaunt up to Loch Ness in the beautiful West Highlands of Scotland via sleeper train (a bucket list item).  Once that is squared away, I can just STOP PLANNING AND GET TO WORK ALREADY.

Or, I could just trust the thetrainline.com email reminders and STOP PLANNING AND GET TO WORK ALREADY.

You did promise me, you know.

You did promise me, you know.

Image:  imageevent.com       

 Yes, sir, I know.

Think way too much about things that in real life will probably not happen but are not impossible because the world is a magical place and the Universe really needs to reconsider and fork it over anyway

The less said about that, the better.

———–

In the coming weeks, I will blog to you as I write, so you can vicariously experience the madness that is me trying to do more than one thing at a time.  In the words of the immortal Bette Davis:

 

Querying and Outlining and Ed Sheeran, Oh My!

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted, so I thought I’d come in and give you a short update.  I’ve started outlining the Rose’s Hostage sequel, while waiting for an expert to answer a few questions.  I’m also reading something related to catching the villain (can’t tell you yet).  And I got a very good idea about some research I can do while in London.

The Universe gave me the finger on that special request (dammit), unless it’s got something planned later down the road.

Dream crusher!

Dream crusher!

Image:  arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Still, maybe the Universe isn’t saying no; maybe it’s saying not right now.  But because of that nice little chunk of bad news, I didn’t sleep much last night, and still I worked all day and did two sets of stair climbs.  So you can imagine that today hasn’t been a great day.  Here’s hoping I sleep tonight and don’t dream about it.

In addition to all that, I’ve been making notes and tapping out a few things here and there on a much more ambitious work, which the special request sort of would have helped (dammit again).  It’s something I’ve been sitting on for a while, but it requires specialized knowledge I don’t have.

Plus, I can’t decide on a period for it and that would make a difference.  It’s fighting to get out, so we’ll see if I can settle it down and work on two things at once.

Possibly; or maybe, I’ll just lose my mind. 

Possibly.  Or maybe, I’ll just lose my mind.

Image:  Wikipedia.com

I’ll catch you up more later.  Meanwhile, please enjoy this video of Ed Sheeran’s catchy new single, titled “SING.” The album x comes out June 23.  I love this guy.  Yeah, I know the video is a little weird; just roll with it.

 

London Links!

A friend at work and I went to lunch yesterday, and we were talking about my upcoming trip to London and Cardiff and her planned trip to London next year.  I told her I’d send her some links.  Of course, my enormous email turned into a blog post.

Doesn’t everything?

Doesn’t everything?

Image:  yingyo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Instead of just sending them to her, I thought I would draw on my previous trip (though it was very long ago) and recent research and post it here in case anyone reading wants to go.  Seriously, off the top of my head, I know five people besides me who are going either this year or next.

So this may be my longest post ever, but here is my compilation of travel tips for first-timers in London.  If I got anything wrong, please correct me in the comments.

General stuff

First off, a few useful facts:

  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (aka UK or Britain) consists of England, Scotland (for the moment), Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • London is the capital of England.
  • Edinburgh is pronounced ED-in-burr-uh.
  • Say Gloucester as GLAW-ster.
  • Say Leicester Square as LESS-ter.
  • Say Grosvenor Street as GROVE-ner.
  • Say Thames as Tems.  
  • Striped pedestrian crossings are called zebra crossings.  Pronounce zebra to rhyme with Debra.
  • ATMs are called cashpoints.  Rick Steves has more info on how to use them here.

Temperatures are in Celsius.  Weights and measures are metric (except for miles, I think).  You may see 24-hour time (00:00–24:00) in train stations, though if you ask someone the time, they’ll tell you it’s four p.m., not 1600 hours.

Some public bathrooms are pay toilets (mostly in tube stations).  You have to pay to get into the stall.  Save your change!  I have no idea how much they cost now.  Keep a pocket pack of tissue in your bag in case you get caught without any.  Self-cleaning toilet booths are pay also.

It’s okay to ask for the toilet in London; alternately, the loo, WC, lavatory, bog, ladies’, or gents’.

Airport

If you’re going through Heathrow, you can take the Underground (commonly referred to as the tube) to central London.  It’s cheaper than the Heathrow Express.  Find travel information here on the airport’s website (Transport & Directions).

Power adapters

Voltage is higher than in the US.  You’ll need UK adapters; ones for Europe in general won’t work.  Amazon has them.  I’d take one with you so you have it right away in case you need to charge your phone, etc.  For more info, check here.

UK power outlets are bigger than ours.  Many of them have switches.  If you plug something into the outlet with your adapter and it doesn’t work, try flipping the switch.

uk outlet

Image: amazon.co.uk

If you forget anything, you can buy it at a drugstore (chemist).  I won’t even bother to pack toiletries, just put travel sizes in my carry-on in case my luggage is delayed.  I’ll buy shampoo, etc. there and then ditch it when I leave.

Language

Accents aren’t that hard, especially if you watch a lot of BBCA, but not everyone in England sounds like they just stepped out of Downton Abbey.  The only person I had trouble with was a cabdriver with the thickest accent I’ve ever heard in my life—he was damn near incomprehensible.  He was nice; he laughed pretty good-naturedly when I admitted I couldn’t understand him.

If someone is talking too fast and you can’t quite keep up, all you have to say is “I’m sorry, I’m not used to your accent.  Could you please repeat that more slowly?”

Brits have different terms than we do for things.  Look at this link for a list of words that might trip you up.

In Wales (Cymru), everyone speaks English, though signs are in both English and Welsh.  Click the link to hear someone say the word Wales in Welsh—it’s nothing like it looks!  I’m planning to practice a bit of pronunciation, so I won’t end up in the sea if I ask where something is.

Good to know.

Good to know.

Image:  bbc.co.uk

Getting around

The London Underground

Last time I was there, the Underground had little yellow paper tickets you put through the barrier (yes I’m old—shut yer gob).  It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it, but now people have Oyster cards.

You use an Oyster card on the London Underground (tube) and the bus.  This link helped me understand the Oyster card / Travelcard thing.  If you’re staying more than a few days, it’s cheaper to get an Oyster card at Heathrow when you get there.  You can top it up at the tube stations.  You can also load the Travelcard onto the Oyster card, apparently, but NOT if it is a Visitor Oyster card.

No, it doesn’t have a picture of seafood on it.

No, it doesn’t have a picture of seafood on it.

 Image:  Frank Murmann / Wikimedia Commons

Here is the Transport for London website for more information.

UPDATE:  According to this Buzzfeed article, TfL is moving to contactless debit/credit card usage on the transport system.  You should still be able to get/use Oyster for a while, anyway.  Keep an eye on the TfL website.

London is a massive city and people are in a hurry.  The main things to remember on the tube are (1) have your Oyster card or ticket ready at the barrier (so you don’t create a traffic jam), and (2) keep right on escalators, stairs, etc.

The tube has been in use (though obviously updated) for over 100 years (1863), so there are stations without lifts (elevators), and THERE IS NO AIR CONDITIONING.  Delays are common.  Twice when I was there before, they closed the line for something.  Once was a train problem and once was a suicide on the track, and I had to find another train or a cab.

Try to plan ahead when you take the tube and avoid peak times (rush hour):  6:00—10:00 am and 4:00—7:00 pm.  This is a good post about etiquette on the tube.

And this post!  :)

London A-Z

Image:  amazon.com

Buy one of these!! You should be able to get it at the airport or at any newsstand (newsagent).  British people don’t say Z—they say Zed (rhymes with bed).  So ask for a London A-Zed.

I hung onto mine for years, and I finally threw it away because it was so outdated (and I didn’t think I’d ever go back, waah).  London is very walkable, but you’ll need good shoes and make sure they are rainproof.  Because it will rain.

 London Cabs

1200px-A_TX4_Taxi_at_Heathrow_Airport_Terminal_5

Image:  Unisouth / Wikipedia.com / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Drivers of the iconic black taxis have to pass an insanely difficult test called The Knowledge before they can drive the cabs.  They know where stuff is and will not jack you around on the fare.  Find out how to take a London cab here.

DO NOT TAKE UNLICENCED MINICABS.  In my research, I’ve been warned that women especially have been assaulted by drivers.  In any case, they don’t have The Knowledge.  Legit minicabs must be booked in advance.  Some people are upset that they are taking business away from the black cabs; how you feel about that is up to you.

WARNING:  remember that people drive on the LEFT in England.  If you value your life, look right when you cross the street, and ONLY cross at the zebras!

1024px-Wavy_lines_before_pedestrian_crossing

Read the road. Tells you what to do.

Image:  Benjamin D. Esham / Wikipedia.com /

Etiquette

English people are reserved, though they are usually quite nice when you do speak with them.  They LOVE it when people are very polite.  Their sense of humor ranges from extremely sarcastic to gross / borderline offensive to incredibly silly.  You’ll always find a few rude jerks anywhere you go, but overall, they are really lovely people.

Keep your volume low.  The British don’t bellow like we Americans do.  On the tube, please refrain from chatting up everyone you see.  If someone is reading or wearing headphones, leave them alone!

They don’t smile at everybody they see either (this is a knee-jerk reaction where I live).  Just act like you’re in New York and you’ll be fine.  This link is for kids, but it’s awesome and if anyone is confused about anything, it explains it very well.

Food and stuff to do

I’ve skipped the obvious tourist stops, which I’m sure you’ve already googled.  The only thing I did last time that I might do again is Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.  The original is in London and it was totally worth it for the Chamber of Horrors alone.  Don’t be put off by the insane website.

I found a terrific Trip Advisor thread for those of us without a trust fund.  I googled links or names of places I found interesting to see if they were still open.  You can sort it by newest or oldest posts first.

Though it’s a bit old, this is a good post also (scroll down to #8, by caffn8me):    This person gave a lot of good advice, including stuff to avoid.

For tea and fancies, visit Fortnum and Mason.

Harrods has a dress code.  I’ve heard people have been turned away for wearing too-casual clothing, including celebrities.  For Harrods FAQs, visit this link.

I highly recommend you see Hampton Court Palace.  It’s Henry VIII’s house (Tudors!)  Seriously, this place is AMAZING.

My mother said I HAVE to go to this place.  The bakery here has been going since Tudor times (wonder if Henry VIII had any of their little treats?)

Or perhaps he had too many of them.

Or perhaps he had too many of them.

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

I hope that gets you started, or at least dreaming of the ultimate British holiday.  If you spot any mistakes, or if you have any recommendations about fun things to see and / or do, please share in the comments.

See you soon!

See you soon!

Image:  bbc.co.uk

 

Related links:

Transport for London

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

National Rail website

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

Here’s a cool blog about London with lots of info.

http://londontopia.net/

Visit Britain!

http://www.visitbritain.com/en/US/

Find out what to wear around the world, based on the weather!  http://www.clothesforecast.com/index.php

London events you can attend for free!

http://www.freelondonevents.co.uk/index.php

If you decide to nip on over to Cardiff, it’s only 2-1/2 hours by train.

http://www.visitcardiff.com/

The Sad and the Glad Today

Sad news today:  we lost Maya Angelou, poet, writer, and activist.  She was a strong voice for change and equality.  She will be greatly missed.  Rest in peace, beautiful lady.

 

Angelou reciting her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning", at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, January 1993

Angelou reciting her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning”, at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, January 1993

Image:  Office of the White House PD-USGOV-POTUS / Wikipedia

 Today is my birthday!  No one hit my car!  Of course, I still have to go to the rink later, so let’s hope it stays that way.

 

Birthday mall haul!

Birthday mall haul!

Photo:  Elizabeth West

I went to the mall and got a REALLY REALLY EXPENSIVE pair of walking shoes for my holiday.  The scarves were on sale at Charming Charlie’s, so I got two for less than the price of one.  I don’t typically wear scarves, but I’d like to start.  Now I need to practice tying them so I don’t look like a complete fashion fail.

My favorite food truck gave me a delicious pie for my birthday.  :D

My friends have all wished me a happy birthday.

Back to work tomorrow, but today has been a good day.  Think I’ll mail another query.  Hope your day is splendid as well!