Friday, July 25, 2014


ONE DOWN AND FIVE TO GO is how the Monty Pythons refer to themselves after the of death of the sixth python, Graham Chapman.  

The last Monty Python show ever was at the 02 Arena on July 20, 2014, which was also broadcast live on the telly worldwide..  Although the reviews were mixed and probably correct, by and large the crowd loved it. Crude, Rude, Intelligently cheesy and exceedingly fun, but that is what Monty Python is all about, funny.  The show(s) was really a retrospective of their body of work. Whereas years ago I might have rolled on the floor in gales of laughter, this time around many of my ruckus laughs were replaced with the soft glow of a smile, and reminders of past. For me, it was a delightful smash, and why? 

 Monty Python is an institution; our everyman’s adolescence. And I was there for the last night.  I felt the verve of the crowd, and their love for these five left over funny men for whom straight-laced sanity has no place.  They are funny, they are gross and they are 'the nasty little boy behind the barn’ in all of us.  

The show, Monty Python Live (Almost), was originally suppose to be just one show, but it sold out in 43.5 seconds.  So they added four more shows and those were sold in three hours.  Finally they settled on doing 10 shows and the last night was July 20th.  

The O2 arena where they did the shows holds Approximately 16000.  The tickets in England originally started at 32.50 pounds and went up to 106.75.  By the time my friend Mark, in Nottingham, bought my ticket the cheapest ticket was 45 pounds, and cost 485 pounds for premium seating which included the added opportunity of meeting the five remaining Monty Pythons after the show.  I saw an ad in the states for what were called Premium platinum seats for the show starting at 195 pounds and going up to 2500 pounds.  The exchange rate is about $1.75 for one English pound. So you can do the math.

I have heard it cost 4.5 million (pounds/dollars?) to mount the show. My seat, from which I had a great view of the stage and even the faces of the five silly men cost $200 (97t pounds). The man who sat next to me from Florida, USA, bought his ticket in the US and paid $1000 for his seat (He flew in and out of London just for the show).

 Was it worth it - corny, outrageous, and maybe a wee wearisome if you’ve watched much of it often before  - but seeing it all again live…  ABSOLUTELY YES!

But don’t fret if you weren’t there, or you missed the live TV showing on July 20th, there will be a dvd.   Just:
                                             "Always look at the bright side of life."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



Finally made it.  Norwegian Air is a lovely airline with one exception. The cabin is freezing.  I ask for a blanket and was told, “ This is a budget airline, and if you’d like to buy a blanket, once we get underway you can buy one on the screen for six dollars.”  

‘How barbaric,’ I thought.  I waited for the Duty Free or blanket sales to open but nether ever did.  Even with a little sleeping pill, I shivered for at least six hours of the flight.  Arctic air flow certainly impedes one’s sleep. At least Inuits have igloos and bear skins.  Me nada.   

When in London, I like to stay in University Rooms -  You can book these on the internet, and they offer every room choice from a B&B room selection  with the bath down the hall, to ensuite rooms, some of which include breakfast.  Depending which location you choose, you may even have the use of their university gym and pool. Most also offer in room Wifi.  These rooms are less expensive than a regular hotel and conveniently located throughout central London.  But book early or or choices will thin.  I prefer to stay in South Kensington, but because I booked late, I am staying in perfectly adequate ‘digs’ within the University of London, next to the British Museum, around the corner from the Russell Square tube station.  Everyone is exceedingly helpful and the Breakfast (although some mornings not too delectable) has every choice one would wish for even Oatmeal on occasion.  Keep in mind these are student dorm rooms, not the Ritz.

My dear friends, Mark and Sarah were waiting my arrival and had glorious plans for the evening, but as I was falling asleep over my pub dinner, (I was alert enough to have a 

Pimms and lemonade

Pub Interior
Pimms and lemonade - delicious -see recipe below.), they went off on other adventures, and left me to regenerate so I would be fresh in the morning for our Sunday Birthday celebrations and adventures.  

On Sunday, the weather was glorious, and we walked from Russell Square to the far end of Kensington Gardens and the Palace to have lunch at the Orangery.  If you don’t know London this is quite distance.  So upon our arrival, we able to not only enjoy a great lunch but also a  scrumptious desert without guilt; Raspberry “Eton” Mess - meringue and whipped cream mixed together with raspberries.   

The Orangery
Mark and Sarah

After we attended a travel photography show with entrants from all over the world.  There is even a 14 and under category.  The contest is put on by if you are interested in finding out more, or entering some of your own work.  

2014 Photograpic winner

A show runner up  

After the photography show, Mark and Sarah headed home to Nottingham, while I headed of to another event.  More about that in the next post.  

My other planned event was with an friend Carol.  We meant at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to see a concert by Madhup Mudgal ‘one of the leading Indian classical singers of he is generation.  He is also a scholar in gharanas, Indian musical tradition and has received one of the highest civilian awards in 2006 from the Government of India, the Padma Shri.  

Carol and the bike she rode a half an hour to get to the concert 

Indian singer, Madhup Mudgal

During the first few days, I went to Covent Garden to the Apple store to have my Skype fixed.  There Acer kindly sent me Emma who was brilliant and helpful.  Then it was off shopping  at Harrods for three bears, Eliot, for my new grandson and Frankie and Gilbert bears for two little new borns in Leh, Ladakh, and some other adventures. 
Bears: Eliot, Frankie and Gilbert ready for their own adventures

Pimms and Lemonade recipe

Two shots of Pimms
slices of:
big chunk  of mint crushed 
then fill the rest of the glass with lemonade 

Friday, July 18, 2014


Yes!  I know.  I said I was leaving in June, but we have a lovely new baby, little Max. Delightfully, he and his mother visited until mid June.  It has taken me a month to switch gears from baby play to a travel mode. After all, when one decides to go on a journey for more that a few weeks, preparations and packing become astounding.  Closing up a house, persuading responsible friends to cover the mail, any mishaps that might arise, and packing for three climates can be daunting.  

My good friends, Jim and Bonnie, have stepped in as caretakers of my house, collect and sort the mail, and give the car an occasional run to keep the hybrid battery tuned.  As I write,  all the bushes and hedges are being trimmed in preparation for hurricane season, just in case.  

    Don't mess with us!  Jim & Bonnie
Even though I have hard-fast rules about packing (see my very first entry: February 14, 2011), packing for this trip is a real challenge.  As usual I am traveling with my 23 inch high EAGLE CREEK suitcase (I purchased it in 2002, and only had to send it in to their free lifetime repair service once - the luggage fobs needed replacing),  and a ONE POLAR  computer backpack, I bought in Pokara, Nepal, in 2010, a quality piece for only $35.00 US.   The elimination process of necessary clothes is particularly hard because during this trip, I am attending some dressier affairs than usual. Also, I will be traversing three climate zones.  The one saving grace is that in most of the warm climate countries, it is unacceptable for a woman to go bare legged, so my plethora of long pants - three - will be suitable for most of my travel destinations.  

No matter what my packing rules, shoes are always a problem not only for me, but I think for most women travelers.  Am I going trekking?  I don’t know.  Ladakh and Nepal are screaming ‘take the plunge again.’  So in my undecided state, that means I should take my trekking shoes, knowing I must wear them on every plane, train bus, and car ride during my travels because they are too cumbersome to carry,.  Not a big sacrifice but…  Then there is the need for comfortable walking shoes, something dressy enough for London theatre and sturdy enough for the often rutty, dusty  potholed  streets of Kathmandu, the Paharganj neighborhood of Delhi, and mountain walks in Old Manali and Leh.  I also want shoes that are leather with no laces or ties, as I must remove my shoes at most temples.  Such a puzzlement.  During my last trip, I lost one of my wonderful leather Merrells while boarding a train in Chakki Bank, India.  Therefore, if I can’t replace my Merrells, I think I shall  have to resort to my old Sperry Top-siders and be done with it.  

Tosh on these preparation and packing problems.  I know you, my reader friends, are really more interested in where I am going?  Ever though I do return to many of my old haunts, seeing dear friends during most of my trips, I always have some new experiences in both old and new venues.  This trip has lots of new adventures.  Although I have been to Amsterdam a number of times, this year I am going to spend about  two weeks in the Netherlands.  Last year was the first time during a visit to England that I did not spend some time in London, so I will rectify that as well.  Below is my the basic itinerary.

> Friday: July 18th, fly to London 
> Friday: July 25th, fly to Amsterdam
                                          An 8 day cruise on canals through small Dutch villages.
                                          A stay in Rotterdam 
                                          A night in Amsterdam
> Flight to Delhi India, continuing to Leh, Ladakh                              
                                          A visit to Old Manali
                                         A stay in McLeod Ganj

Near the end of September I will go to Delhi.  Then I would like to visit Gujarat and also go to a Ayurvedic health spa in Kerala.  If any readers have health spa suggestions, please let me know.
> Kathmandu, Nepal
> No stedfast plans after Nepal.  I will have a month and a half before I must be home in December.  It’s fun to have the freedom of no plan. Who knows what mischief I will get into - what surprise adventures I will have.  You’ll just have to wait and see.  Also maybe you have some wonderful suggestions?  Let me know.  
Next stop London and to quote Jenny the Dog in Higglety Pigglety Pop.  “What I need is experience(s).” 
And my retort is, “and I shall have them.”