Friday, August 31, 2007

No, not Punch & Judy...

My initial curiosity was piqued at a local bookstore where they had a section called "Richard & Judy's Picks". When I enquired, I learned that these were the book recommendations of daytime TV talk show hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan (similar to Oprah's Book Club). Anyway, Richard & Judy have one of the most popular shows in the UK and they've been on TV together since 1988. I recently found the show while TV surfing (one of my important daily activities) and wasn't too impressed until I later learned that these two are married.. to each other!! Not only are they married but, at a distance, she looks as if she could be his... much older colleague! At first I was shocked and then fascinated... now I'm just obsessed. Check them out!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Does matter matter?

Three days and three thousand dollars later, I've pretty much unpacked all the things I shipped from America. Did I really need to have them here? Could I not have just started all over? This whole process of packing and unpacking made me think a lot about possessions in general, and our attachment to them. I've observed that we often define ourselves by and through our possessions (and Madison Avenue only capitalizes on this fact). My move to England helped me to let go of this notion (somewhat). For example, I remember once thinking I needed a larger CD collection to show I was a music lover. Well I realized during the move that those CDs were just taking up valuable space and had to go! The conclusion I've come to is this: While having beautiful things is great and should be enjoyed, they could be lost or taken away at any time; so know that there is always more or nothing at all and you are still the same.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Canal du Midi

While visiting my friend last week, we got a chance to walk along some of the Canal du Midi. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean port of S├Ęte and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Toulouse is a most enchanting place (when planning your next trip to France, try coming here instead of Paris) with incredible gardens and sumptuous architecture. Music lovers especially will rejoice.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I don't feel bad about my neck yet, but I do feel bad about my belly roll

So I just got back from a visit with my friend Debbie (and her daughter Sarah) in Toulouse, and though we did have an excellent time, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the "foreignness" in my life (you know how you feel when traveling - 'vive la difference' - but then you have the comfort of knowing you are going back home, to the familiar?). Well my familiar is still pretty foreign! Anyway, I decided to take it easy and yesterday I went to the library and picked up a few books, including Nora Ephron's, I Feel Bad about My Neck. I'm not sure why I chose it; I guess I thought I would find it comforting, her being old and American like me, and today I began reading it. Notice how it's taken me two days to get into this: One day to retrieve the book from the library and one to commence reading. Things seem to take a lot longer for me to do over here and it's the tiny things that make me feel productive, for instance like getting the post or say, going to the library. Well, anyway back to this book, I'm enjoying it immensely. Even though she may have a personal trainer and have her hair done by a famous stylist, I could relate to at least something in every chapter (so far). One of the things I loved was her description of her favorite purse, a plastic, taxi-yellow bag with the Metrocard logo on it. While I never owned one, I have seen it and it made me feel nostalgic about NYC. What I really appreciated was her carefree, lighthanded depiction of the City with none of those glamorous, hip, New-York-is-the-greatest-city-in-the-world references. I HATE when I hear New Yorkers say this; it's meaningless - like my mother calling me beautiful (highly welcome but also heavily biased). It only really counts when someone else says New York is the greatest city in the world. Okay, getting to the title of this entry, and in the spirit of Nora Ephron's open disclosure, I haven't really stressed over the neck business yet but I have noticed shadows of portent (is that how you use the word? I need an editor!). What I do feel bad about are these cuddly rolls around my belly which never existed before but have recently developed over the last couple of years. Heretofore, I had always prided myself on having the coveted "flat stomach" and not only just when lying down. It seems this formerly firm, supple area which had always held itself in place, has irrevocably given way to something more like a Chinese shar-pei. But I'm okay with it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Holiday Weekend

I'm off to Toulouse, France to visit my friend Debbie for a few days. In the meantime, in response to Fred's comment, here's a map of the canals of England, Scotland and Wales (click on image for the full view) and a website with info on barging. Happy Motoring!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bagel & Locks

Jack and I went on a short walk along the Leeds to Liverpool Canal on Saturday and I got a briefing on the operation of the locks. These engineering marvels allow barges to move up and downhill along the canal. The locks isolate the barges and then raise and lower the water levels thus allowing the barges to move forward on their journey. However, like the movement of the barges themselves, the timing of all this effort is at a snail's pace. Very cool nonetheless, and a nice change from the breakneck speed we normally operate under.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wigan Warriors - The Yankees of NW England

On Friday, Andrew, his son James and I went to a home game of the Wigan Warriors, the most famous rugby league team in the UK. Please note that there are two types of rugby play, Union and League. Union is considered more posh and technically oriented while League is about getting down to brass tacks. JJB Stadium is where the home matches are held and it's a short 25 minute walk from our flat. The stadium is big enough to be exciting but small enough to see everything up close. And the game is great fun to watch (love the skimpy uniforms)! Interestingly though, I got to see a whole new side of Andrew. Let's just say he's one notch up (or is it down?) from a face painter!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Gone Walking

Jack, Andrew's dad, has introduced me to the world of UK Public Footpaths! There are 140,000 miles of protected public paths which criss-cross England and Wales. Paths are clearly marked and provide access to walkers regardless if the land is publicly or privately owned. See the photos of a canal footpath, access gate and common footpath sign. I'm hoofed... I mean hooked!

What's around?

Here are photos of some locales nearby: the first is a view of the pond at Mesnes park; the second is a view at the top of Town Centre, the main shopping area. Both are just steps from our flat!

Mesnes Park also has an ice cream parlor on premises that sells the most delicious ice cream - when you come to visit we'll go to Frederick's and you'll see!!