Sunday, 30 August 2009

Difficult Decision & Tough Week!

Things have not turned out the way I had anticipated, not during this weekend and not before that either, so I'm generally feeling rather confused right now.
I have had to make a very difficult decision today, and I'm looking at a very rough week ahead of me. I still hope to be able to update my blog and be active online, but I can't guarantee anything, and I probably won't be in a great mood all the time.

I don't feel like I'm able to let you know what is going on, partly because it is very private and partly because I'm so confused I wouldn't know where to start. I'm hoping that this week will constitute a transition into something better, I think it will and I will certainly work hard to change the things that really are NOT working out right now.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I'm back - sort of! - even though things aren't that great at the moment!
I hope you all are well!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

*Taking A Break!*

I know I haven't written here in quite a while, and this entry will only be an announcement that I probably won't either, at least not in a while.
For some reason, things are really NOT working out right now, and I find myself in more and more trouble everyday... Therefore I'll be taking a break on pretty much every online activity I'm involved in, in an attempt to sort out my IRL stuff. Not sure that I'll succeed, but ... points for effort?! :)

The critical period will be the rest of this week, and, more importantly, the entire next week, when a lot of stuff is supposed to happen and I'm not sure if they will turn out good, okay or downright disastrous ...
I'm hoping to return here in about 10 days time and try to make things work from where I am then ... but for now, I hope you are all doing well! *thinking of you*

Take care!

Friday, 21 August 2009

No Weird Photo ...

... but a beautiful one, right? :)

Anyway, this week has been pretty intense, and the fact that I haven't felt so great has made it feel even more insane! I hardly even know where to start!

Well, first of all, my exam has been postponed, so now I'm taking it on September 2nd instead. If you feel up to it, send a good-luck-thought my way, will you? This will be the last Reading Course I take in Hebrew, as you only can take four (and this is my fourth). Would be nice to get a good grade on the last one ...
Then there's construction work going on outside (as seen in the last two entries!). They are going to swap our windows, and they have to do outside construction work first. We haven't been told anything about when they are coming to our apartments, or how long it will take, and that does have me worried. I'm not home THAT much these days, and having Zorro ... well, it's not easy, is it! They said we would get a notice 1½ weeks before, and I really hope that's true, because at least that will give me time to try and arrange something.

As if that's not enough, the company who owns the buildings are planning a MASSIVE renovation of every bathroom, tearing it all out and doing them over, including ALL the plumming (to the kitchen as well). I went to the first information meeting the other day, and whoa ... it's a HUGE deal! They don't know a lot yet, they hope to get starting in January next year, but no one knows when they will come here ... also, I can't live here with Zorro, and there are no evacuation apartments available, they go to people with health issues. Which I can understand, I really do, although I can't help feeling it puts me on the spot. I really don't have any place to go here, with Zorro, so they are basically forcing me out of my apartment, which means having to leave Uni and all and live in the summerhouse for about a month!
But, like I said, we still don't know much, so I guess I'll just have to take it easy and see what happens!

I've been at Uni a couple of days this week, and I have to say I have mixed feelings. It's hard coming back after summer break, because it feels like I live one life during the summer, where I am one person, and when I'm here, during the semesters at Uni, I am a completely different person. And trying to find one after having been the other for over two months is difficult!
On the other hand, I REALLY like it here. Not only where I live, my apartment, but I really like being at Uni, at "my" Department! I've already met several friends - and a few teachers - and I really feel like I belong there. People know me, I know them, the social interaction works out so well, it's almost scary! But I am VERY grateful!
On the third hand (is that even an expression??), I find it difficult to be disciplined enough to cope with my studies! I do want to get a good result on this exam, but I don't have all the time in the world, and I find it really hard concentrating for a longer time ... which is quite frustrating!!

What else has been going on?
Well, the last thing we did in the summerhouse this summer was tear out the bathroom as we were having it redone. Well, my Dad and his family are there now, and apparently it seems to be working now. They have put in the toilet, basin and shower, fixed the plumbing and it seems to be working fine! *phew*

Also heard that the husband of one of my close friends are in hospital, which makes me worried. I heard he wasn't feeling well, but I didn't think he'd go to hospital. I really hope he'll get well soon!

Things ARE intense, I'm also trying to be up-to-date online (though I'm still lacking in some areas, I know), checking out forums, being active on Facebook, updating blogs etc.
And - apart from studying - I'm also doing a complete clean-up in my apartment, going through every closet (I have five), almost all the book shelves (six of them at least) etc, so I'm feeling quite busy at the moment!

Wow, I'm not sure this entry made any sense whatsoever ... *lol* Anyway, the idea was to say I'm really busy and I have a lot of stuff going on. I'm not so disturbed by that, though there are a few things I'd really like to see work out - first and foremost my studies (there's also a major confusing regarding this semester, but I'll have to save that for another entry!), but also this whole deal about changing the windows. I hope it works out smoothly ...

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A New Solution!

Here's the new way of dealing with the wheelbarrow - photo taken this morning! :)
(I thought the other way was funnier though!!)

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Weirdness! :)

A few days too late (sorry) but I found this outside my balcony the other day!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Now What?

Well, now I've completed all the entries from this summer ... I think! :) Should you feel anything is missing, feel free to let me know! (There will probably be a "photo entry" some time in the future, when I get my energy together enough to start working on my summer photos.)

So where am I now?! Well, I've been home for about a week - a pretty strange week at that! Things are rather confusing at the moment, and I think that trying to explain why and how will only make them more confusing. I'm trying to do a million things at once, both on practical and emotional levels, and that is rather difficult to handle. I'm hoping I will be able to get more and more organized and also be able to finish some projects I've started - so things won't be quite so confusing ...

At the moment I am - among other things - trying to reorganize my bedroom, thereby also rearranging 5 different bookshelves, 4 closets and my storeroom in the basement. I have TONS of things to sell, so should you be interested and/or know somebody else who is - PLEEEEASE let me know! Stuff for sale include James Bond, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen, Lord of the Rings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer ... and probably a lot more! :)

Oh, by the way ...
I know there aren't that many comments on this blog, but this time I have a question for my blog readers. If I take the time to make one or two proper photo entries (might also be with older photos, as I'm trying to organize ALL my digital photos from 2004 and forward!), would you like comments for each photo? I know I haven't done that so much, mainly because it takes a lot longer to make the entries that way ... (see for instance the last entry on my sisters, where I've added all photos together at the end of the post).
But if you think the entry will be more exciting and interesting to read if I add some comment or little story to the pictures, I'll definitely take the time to do that.
Please let me know what you think - leave a comment here, or email me ... Thanks in advance!

Well, at this point I'd better get back to my confusing life, trying to juggle reorganizing, cleaning, cooking, studying and working out a number of other things - all at the same time! :)

Take care!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Be Careful As You Go ...

... 'Cause Little People Grow!

This entry is of course dedicated to my younger sisters, M and I!

It's been great seeing them this summer, although sometimes I notice I'm not quite used to living in a family with two small children! :) There's definitely a lot you don't necessarily think about involved when you have children around you!
Anyhow, they are both great kids and wonderful to be around!

M had an accident about 10 days before I arrived in the summerhouse. She was at the store with her younger sister and our Dad, and Dad accidently tripped her as she was running, she took a really bad fall and broke her arm!!
She had a great big cast on - from her shoulder down to the fingers! - and her arm in a sling most of the summer. I felt really bad for her, it must have been very tough. Then again, we had a hard time keeping her from running around and playing like she's used to!! Apparently, the fracture was in a really awkward place, so it took a long time to heal, and we were all afraid she'd take another fall and make it even worse.
But she managed to keep on her feet, and was able to remove the cast entirely in late July. Naturally she had to be careful at first, but now things are back to normal for her again - a great relief to everyone, I think! :)

M turned five this summer, we celebrated her birthday together - she's really growing up fast!! I'm not absolutely sure, but I think it's possible to let Swedish children start school at the age of 6 now - and just the thought of her starting school in a year ... hard to believe!!!!!

I is absolutely adorable now!! She's 2½ and the most charming girl!! Her speech has developed a lot lately, and apparently she blew the doctor away on her 2½-year-old-check-up! *lol* The doctor wanted her to say a sentence that was 4 words or longer ... and I replied with something like (my own, loose translation):
"I have an owie on my foot, because I got a wound there when we were on vacation in Riga and I walked with my sneakers without my socks on for a long time." Four words, huh?! :)

She's really cuddly, she loves to crawl up next to you, or rather, sit in your lap and just hug and kiss and hug. M has never been like that, she enjoys playing, you have to take an active part in her games and show that your interested (which sometimes puts demands on me that I'm not quite up to!!), but I likes a good cuddle more than playing games!

West Coast Trip!

As usual, me and my Mum went on our annual West Coast trip this summer as well.
We really enjoy Fjällbacka, so that's where we've been going for the past few years - the fact that Camilla Läckberg (well-known Swedish crime-author) is from Fjällbacka and all her books are set there! :)

This year we got started a bit late, so we didn't arrive until after lunch. We quickly learned to not plan like that again, as the first major problem was finding a parking spot. There are tons of people there during the summer, and we've found parking close to the water but still easily accessible from the main road - but this year it seemed impossible to get a spot. Also, it feels like you're constantly making the wrong decision; if you decide to stand still and hope for a car nearby to eventually leave, lots of cars in the other end of the parking lot leave. But if you start cruising around, you never find the time to get a spot before somebody else gets it.
We DID find a spot eventually, but it took quite a while.

At this point we were both very hungry, so we immediately headed for lunch. We've found a great restaurant before, we decent prices - but this year it was quite a disappointment. Granted, we were late, but they hardly had any dishes left!!! I felt rather strongly about that, because for a place that depend so much on tourism, they really should make sure they have enough food in the restaurants!!

Anyway, we still enjoyed our time in Fjällbacka, the Swedish West Coast is really, really beautiful and it's wonderful just to walk around, looking at everything, not having any distinct plans!

As usual, we ended the visit in the wonderful Fish Shop! *lol* I went to get the car, while my Mum got lots and lots of yummy fish and seafood - and then we headed home for a fantastic meal! :D

Despite a few things not being really great, I truly enjoyed the day, and I think my Mum did too! :)

Photos - enjoy! :)

Saturday, 15 August 2009

London Photos!

At long last, here's a selection of London photos! I had a hard time choosing, I took nearly 200 photos, but I think these ones represent our trip in a fairly good way!

Enjoy! :)

Flying with Ryanair! :)

Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre, and Les Misérables at Queens Theatre!

Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square!

One of the Horse Guards outside Whitehall.

London Eye, seen from Whitehall.

Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben.

Our Hotel!

St. Paul's Cathedral.

Pictures from The Tower of London and Tower Bridge!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Phantom of the Opera - June 2009

(Apologies for the lack of pictures, I haven't been able to make any scans from the actual programme yet ...)

I finally got to see Phantom of the Opera in London in June this year, and that was truly a fantastic experience! I have seen it twice before, in Stockholm in 1994, and I was very impressed then – and of course I’ve seen the movie a number of times … but there’s something special about seeing it in London!

We got really great seats, in the third row, and that makes a lot of difference! You come so close to the stage, and you can actually see the actors’ facial expressions, which gives the show even more life! I love the fact that the show is so interactive, what you first think of is the chandelier of course, but there are other things as well – and that becomes even clearer when you’re so close to the stage! Annika had a bit of bad luck, she wanted to see Gareth Snook as Monsieur André, but he was replaced by understudy Craig Nicholls. On the other hand, we did get to see Simon Bailey (who we had seen as Enjolras in Les Misérables in 2006) as Raoul, and that was some consolation to Annika! :)

The show was really fantastic, and I have to say that I enjoyed all the major actors’ performances! That’s not so common, and I truly enjoyed it! I enjoyed both Craig Nicholls as André and Barry James as Firmin (Barry James has also played Monsieur Thénardier in Les Misérables), they did a good job and added some much needed comedy to the show.

Simon Bailey did Raoul, and I have to say he did a marvelous job of it!! I enjoyed him as Enjolras three years ago, but I have to say I liked him even more as Raoul, I felt that was a part that suited him even better!

Christine was also played by an actress we saw in Les Misérables in 2006, namely Gina Beck (who played Cosette). I wasn’t that impressed with her in Les Miz, but I always have a hard time with the character of Cosette, so I’m never sure if it’s the character or the actress I’m not so happy with. Well, seeing Gina Beck in Phantom helped with realizing it’s the character in Les Miz I have difficulties with, because she was absolutely outstanding as Christine in Phantom!! I doubt whether anyone could have done it better, I was very very impressed with her. On a few occasion I found her voice to be a little too sharp, but on the whole, she was fantastic – and she and Simon Bailey played really well together!

The Phantom was played by Ramin Karimloo, a true celebrity in the musical world, but someone I had never seen before. He was supposed to play Anatolj in the Chess concert I saw in Oslo in 2006, but was replaced by David Shannon. I really enjoyed his performance, though at some points I found him a bit uneven. That meant that some parts of his performance were really great and others didn’t feel quite so good. On the whole though, a very good Phantom!

I’m very happy to have seen Phantom of the Opera in London – I liked it a lot when I saw the Stockholm production and it is a fantastic musical. And that makes it very special to have seen it in West End, and with such a talented cast!! However, I think I might be growing up a little, as I don’t think I’d pay that much money to see it again! There’s one thing with Les Misérables, that is a musical I can never ever see enough of, it has got something very, very special, but at least it seems I might be able to move on from other musicals now! :)

I Have Found My Jean Valjean!

(Apologies for the lack of pictures, I haven't been able to make any scans from the actual programme yet ...)

Les Misérables - June 27, 2009

We went to see Les Misérables on June 27, and to be honest I was a bit nervous, because I entered Queens Theatre with a terrible migraine and nausea! However, after hearing the wonderful intro, I was completely into the musical, and even though the migraine was worse after the show, at least it didn’t bother me during the show – and that’s the main thing!

I have to say this was one of the best – perhaps THE best – Les Misérables show I have ever seen!!! First and foremost, I have finally found my Jean Valjean!!! Ever since I got into Les Miz some ten years ago I have tried finding a really great Valjean, but never succeeded. I have seen a few perform live and I have a number of recordings (quite a few actually!!), but no one has caught my eye completely – except David Shannon!! At first I hardly dared to believe it, and toward the end I was at the edge of my seat, wondering if he’d last the distance or if he’d make some unforgivable mistake toward the end. And he didn’t!! According to me, he was perfect in every respect! He handled all the songs in a wonderful way, he didn’t go over-the-top, which I find difficult to handle, and he just WAS Jean Valjean!! I really, really, really, really want to see him to the part again!!

Javert was played by Earl Carpenter, Annika had seen him last year and was quite impressed, so I was very curious! And I have to say I have mixed feelings for him, similar to the way I felt for Hans Peter Jansens in 2006. Carpenter was good most of the time, but sometimes I felt he was a little too soft. To me, Javert is almost ruthless and keeps standing strong, even when he decides to take his own life, and at times Carpenter felt a bit meek. But his voice was really pleasant and overall, he did a good job!

Rebecca Seale, who played Fantine, was also rather uneven. She portrayed the frail, careful Fantine in a very good way, and “Fantine’s Death” was wonderful and very emotional – but the more forward and driven Fantine didn’t quite work out.

The Thénardiers was funny as usual, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Martin Ball as Monsieur Thénardier, because they had apparently found a guy that wasn’t only extremely funny, but was also a terrific actor and singer! I think he was fairly new (if memory serves, he started out at the cast change earlier in June), and he messed up the lyrics in “Master of the House” a little … Like last time, it felt like “The Wedding” was funnier than “Master of the House”, and in my head, I can’t help feeling it should be the other way around!

The kids did a great job, I’m always sooo impressed at these very young girls and boys handling the stage in such a fantastic way! Young Cosette was beautiful and did a very good “Castle on a Cloud”, but you could tell she was quite new, she was a little stiff and probably rather nervous. Gavroche, played by George Sargeant, was really good – it’s not an easy part, but he could really pull it off. Apart from a few minor mistakes, he truly embodied Gavroche!

Cosette was played by Katie Hall, who I’m sure is very talented! I really liked her voice, but unfortunately I’m having great difficulties in figuring out the character, I have never ever understood Cosette, and that does affect my general opinion as well.

David Thaxton played Enjolras – he was Bamatabois in 2006 (and totally creepy!!) as well as understudy for Enjolras, and I think he was a fairly good Enjolras! He’s not the best I’ve seen but I don’t have anything against him. On the positive side, he really had the voice potential that Enjolras demands. I have seen actors in the part who are out voiced by the powerful music, but David Thaxton had a very very powerful and forceful voice which was great! Unfortunately he didn’t quite have the charisma that I feel Enjolras has to have – in order to get the other students to follow him, he needs something special, and I didn’t feel like Thaxton had that!

Grantaire was played by Jeff Nicholson (who also did the part in 2006), and I really like him. I have had difficulties in grasping that part as well before, but Jeff Nicholson really gives the character life!

Nancy Sullivan played Eponine, and it was a change to see a blond Eponine! She was however, amazing and one of the stars of the show! She did such an amazing job of the character that I can’t help but commenting on one thing. She did use very proper English, and considering the dialect of the Thénardiers and her character as a street kid, I would have liked her to go a little bit more cockney … the contrast ended up feeling a little bit strange. But overall, she was fantastic!!

I have to say it was a really nice audience, I think there were lots of people who hadn’t seen the show before and that was really cool! Lots of laughs and also some shouts at times! :) I also have to mention a funny thing during the curtain call – Earl Carpenter must have had his own little “fan club” of friends there, for when he entered the stage, there were some booing from mid-stalls!! It was apparently in good spirit, and it was quite funny to see the expression on Carpenter’s face!!

Despite feeling pretty terrible, I really enjoyed the show, and I think what I’m mostly carrying with me from it is the fact that I Have Found My Jean Valjean!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

LONDON June 2009

First of all - an apology for the lack of pictures ... I'm trying to organize a double set of digital photos on my computer (from me and my Dad's family) going back to Christmas 2004, so I'm in a picture-mess at the moment ... I will make a London Pictures entry as well someday when I've sorted this out! :)
For now, you'll have to enjoy the written entry about mine and Annikas London trip! :)

London 26-29 June 2009

I finally managed to get back to London again, after three years – again with Annika as a travel partner! I really wish I could have made this entry when I had just gotten back, as all the memories are fresh, but since I’ve been out of internet all summer … Anyway, I’m keeping a regular diary, so hopefully I’ll be able to give a pretty detailed travel description anyway!

June 26 – Friday

I was meeting Annika at Gothenburg City Airport at 8.30 a.m. and had a pretty intense morning before I got on the road. Lots of little things didn’t work out quite as planned, but eventually they sorted themselves out, and we met without major hitches. To avoid lots of extra costs, we had decided to share one bag that we checked in, so we had to do a little reorganizing at the Airport Carpark! Again to reduce costs we had decided on “online check in”, and neither one of us had no idea how that worked, but we managed to solve it without any problems! (Though it took the City Airport check in as well as the Stanstead Airport check in for me to “get it”, but I think I’ve figured out the benefits of it now! Better late than never?!)
We were really early, as we had been unsure of the check in, so we had quite a long wait at the airport, even though our flight was on time. I know there are lots of security checks now, which I think is really good, but I was still surprised at the tiny little City Airport (they have like 4 check in desks and 3 gates!), we had to show our boarding card five times (!) and there was even a passport check – they usually only check your passport on arrival!
We got good seats on the plane, despite barding rather late, and the flight was pretty eventless. We did buy Stanstead Express tickets, but I’m beginning to think I should look at other ways of getting those … They started selling them really late, and they wanted payment in Euros!! Since neither Sweden nor England uses Euros, you’re hardly likely to be carrying any with you, and the steward selling the tickets had no clue as to the exchange rate! For my next London trip, I’ll definitely check out other options! It’s one thing if they are a lot cheaper on board the plane, but somehow I doubt that! I think it’s possible to purchase the tickets online, I’m guessing that’s the best solution!

Before long we hS through Stanstead Airport and boarded the Stanstead Express – me with my usual after-flight-headache, but still really really excited about being in England once again! Upon arriving promptly at Liverpool Street Station, we bought Bus Passes and had lunch at McDonald’s before finding a bus.
This is probably going to sound silly, but I just love that first bus ride from Liverpool Street. I know I’m a slave under habit and keep doing the same things over and over – but if I’m happy with it, what’s the harm? It’s bus 23 to somewhere around Piccadilly Circus or Regent Street (or Oxford Street), where there’s a bus change to get to Bayswater. And that first bus ride, it’s just fantastic! You know you have the entire trip ahead of you, all the possibilities in the world, and you get a good tour of London as well. I have completely fallen in love with London, and it’s great to see all the familiar sites again – first the financial district, where the streets are crowded and the bus stops every 100 meters or so. Then the Royal Courts of Justice, a really impressive set of buildings! You pass through Aldwych before arriving at Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column. After that you reach Piccadilly Circus with the famous Eros statue and then turn up on to the fascinating Regent Street! We got off at Regent Street and waited for bus 94 to get to Bayswater Road. I had a fairly good idea on where our hotel was, even though we had apparently ended up in an area between Bayswater and Paddington, that none of our maps really covered!

At this point of our trip, the “Bus Problem” started. I know that public transport in London is huge and not 100% reliable, but during this trip, it was almost ridiculous!
Anyway, we waited for bus 94, and waited, and waited … and waited! We saw a few 94s in the opposite direction, but not a single one appeared at our Bus Stop. I knew that buses 15 and 23 went near Paddington, and our hotel was actually between Bayswater and Paddington, but I have always managed to get lost around Paddington – I get really confused there – so I was reluctant to take any of those buses! However, when we had waited probably about 40 minutes or so, enough was enough!! We had a musical planned that evening and we simply had to get to our hotel! We jumped on a bus 23 with me feeling quite nervous. I wasn’t even sure where we should get off, but figured it would be okay if we got off at Paddington station. As soon as we had decided on that, the bus announced that it was going on diversion due to some construction work! Thanks a lot!! Don’t ask me how, but we did manage to get off at the “right” bus stop (even though we didn’t know that at the time) and then started the uncertain walk to our hotel! Even though it did take a while to reach the hotel, in retrospect, we actually didn’t get lost! *yay us!* We didn’t take the very best way, but it wasn’t a long detour either …

We had a twin room booked at Paddington Court Rooms, but had been instructed to check in at the sister hotel across the street, Paddington Court Hotel and Suites, as our hotel did not have a reception disk. The check in presented no problems, but we did end up getting a room at the Hotel & Suites instead of Rooms … I didn’t protest, as the bill was the same, but we did end up getting a double room instead of a twin. I guess that’s not the end of the world, though I guess if we’d thought about it straight away, we could have complained and probably gotten another room!
The hotel was the nicest one I’ve lived in during my four trips to London, without a doubt! The room was small, but I know what you have to pay to get large rooms in London, and I really don’t think it’s worth it! It was really nice and fresh and clean, and the bathroom was fantastic!! That is … it was fantastic once we figured out how to turn the lights on in there! *lol* It was really a simple construction, and quite smart, though it wasn’t easy to figure out – Annika actually had to call reception since we didn’t get it. Just as you entered the room, there was a box on the wall, and when you stuck your key card in the box, the lights to the bathroom turned on!! Really smart – no risk leaving the bathroom lights on when you leave the room – but not easy to figure out on your own! :)

Time flew by really quickly, and we really only had time to unpack and catch our breath, before it was time to get ready for “Phantom of the Opera” at Her Majesty’s Theatre! I wanted to go down to Bayswater Road and take the 94 bus, because I figured that would be much quicker than a walk to Paddington Station, especially since those buses where on diversion and I was really unsure of where the bus stops were. Annika however was really unsure and argued that if the 94 buses didn’t arrive once we’d gotten down to Bayswater Road it might just jeopardize ‘Phantom’. I figured it wasn’t worth the risk, so we walked to Paddington and found a bus without any problems. We walked from Piccadilly Circues and stopped for a sandwich on the way to Her Majesty’s Theatre!

We got fantastic seats on the third row of Stalls (Row D), and it was just amazing to see Phantom in London!!! (for further details, see separate entry on Phantom of the Opera!)

After the show we did some shopping for breakfast the next day, before catching a bus from Piccadilly. Things went smoothly until we got to Marble Arch, where the whole traffic came to a complete stop! It was impossible to see what was going on, but we were standing there for quite a while. I’m the kind of person, who really wants to know what’s happening, but it was completely dark outside and the traffic was at a standstill so you couldn’t see anything. Yet another “Bus Problem” … After a long wait, the bus had to take some kind of detour – as I said, it was practically impossible to see anything, but I think we went down to Hyde Park Corner and turned around there … but I’m not sure! Eventually we ended up back on Edgeware Road and from there things went okay!
We were both really tired, and practically collapsed when we got to the hotel – it had certainly been an intense first day!

June 27 – Saturday

I didn’t sleep well at all the first night, I have to admit that I’m not used to – or that great at – sharing a double bed for a start. I also woke up several times with a headache, which was quite annoying. When I woke up “for real” the headache had developed into a true migraine – at the worst possible moment of course! I felt really dreadful, and not at all ready to face an intense Day 2 in London, and I also felt guilty toward Annika, I didn’t want to ruin anything for her. When she woke up, it turned out she had a migraine too and was feeling quite sick! I guess I didn’t have to feel guilty but it still felt pretty rotten that both of us were so out-of-it when we were in LONDON! I usually have a very hard time trying to get rid of my migraines, but at this point I felt I had no choice, I simply had to do anything and everything in my power to get back on track as quickly as possible! I managed to get up and take a shower. After that I drank all the coffee we had in the room and a number of my own headache pills (I don’t think I should get into exactly how many …). The headache wasn’t all gone, but at least I felt good enough to be able to deal with the day – but unfortunately Annika didn’t! She managed to get back to sleep for a while, and could get up after that – and I ran downstairs and got her a coke, which I think helped a little.

We were both able to leave the hotel at about 11, and while I know we were really really sick, I can’t help but feel it was a waste of London hours! I know there wasn’t anything we could do, but I still can’t shake that feeling … I love London oh-so-much, and I want to be able to make the most of every single hour I’m there!

We went straight to Queens Theatre and got our Les Misérables tickets for the matinee show, and then we headed down toward Trafalgar Square. We had bought some “food” (or whatever we figured we could eat, I had a sandwich and Annika who’d been sick earlier had some crackers, and popcorn … the popcorn weren’t that great though …), so we had some kind of lunch next to Lord Nelson!

After that we took a walk along Whitehall down to Parliament Square! I know I’m just repeating myself, but I really love the atmosphere and the feel of London, especially around these parts. It was however, quite hot, and my migraine was quickly coming back! We did some photographing around Parliament Square, but there lots of people and none of us were 100%, so we never went over to St. Margaret’s Church and Westminster Abbey, though I really wish I had had the energy to do so. We realized we had to take a bus back, due to the heat, and I also really felt I needed something to drink or my migraine would spin completely out of control. We walked to the nearest bus stop and waited. And waited. And waited. Again with the “Bus Problem” … It turned out the police had closed the entire street, all the way up to Trafalgar Square, for a demonstration from Sri Lanka!! At this point, I felt I was really close to fainting, and I honestly didn’t know what to do! Luckily I had found a bench so I could sit down, but all I could do was look at my own feet, as soon as I moved my head I saw black spots in front of my eyes! Not funny!! I really can’t say how long we had to wait, to me it felt like we sat there for hours, but of course I know we didn’t! I guess it wasn’t more than maybe half an hour, even though I felt we’d never get on a bus!
Since the buses were so late, we had to stand up, and that was also a trying experience, as I had struggled against fainting just sitting down! Eventually we did get to Regent Street and rushed into a McDonald’s, and I got a life-saving large Coke! Unfortunately when we were in line, some young kids came in and one little brat decided to throw his opened juice bottle toward the line – meaning both me and Annika got quite wet from orange juice!
Anyway, due to all of this we were almost running late for Les Misérables so we hurried up to Queens while I tried to drink my Coke.

And what can I say!?! Well, one thing is for sure – I’m soooo happy that we had Les Miz planned for this day, because I was feeling really rotten before it started and had it been any other musical, I think it would have been completely ruined for me. As it were, I didn’t have to pay that much attention to the plot or the characters or the songs, as I know it all by heart, and instead concentrate on the bits that really interest me. That also meant I could relax a little bit during the parts I’m not so into, so it was really lucky we decided on Les Miz that day! (for a detailed review on the show, see separate entry!)

I did however, feel completely out-of-it after the show, and we took a bus straight back to the hotel! My migraine had come back and I’m pretty sure I had a fever when we were on the bus. When we got to Paddington it started raining, and by the time we’d gotten off, it was almost a hail storm!!! The temperature dropped radically, and we rushed into the nearest store – we had to do some shopping anyway. We got in there completely soaked, and the store had full air conditioning! I don’t know if I’ve ever been so cold in my entire life, I ended up standing in a corner of the store just shaking! After a while the rain eased off a bit and we managed to get to our hotel, even though we were totally soaked once we got there. We had thought about taking a rest at the hotel for a while, and then head out to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but I was really ill when we got back and jumped into bed straight away! Again feeling kind of guilty toward Annika, but I was really out-of-it and I feel asleep already at 9-9.30, I just couldn’t help myself!

June 28 – Sunday

I didn’t sleep very well the night to Sunday either, but at about 4 a.m. we opened the window and that really helped. I guess the ventilation in the room wasn’t good at all (practically nonexistent) and we didn’t want the air condition to run during the night – and I’m guessing that’s what caused both our migraines and headaches … I did wake up with a headache anyway but at least I felt better than the day before – though Annika didn’t feel great.

We left the hotel at about 10, and took a bus to The Tower. We got seats on the top floor so we ended up taking quite a few pictures during the bus ride. I guess you always wish for even better photos, a better camera and a better objective, but I still like my series of pictures from that bus ride! I had been to The Tower once before, but I enjoy it a lot and didn’t mind going back at all – and Annika hadn’t been there before. Though it’s rather pricy (even though I got a Student ticket which was cheaper), it’s very much worth it. Since it was Sunday we weren’t exactly alone there (!), and I think I would have liked it even more had there not been quite so many people there. I really wanted to take one of the guided Yeoman tours, but there were so many people, I don’t think we would have heard anything even if we had decided to take a tour. But I really wish I would have studied a bit more first, I have a strong feeling you’d get so much more out of the visit if you knew more of England’s history!! We walked around for a while and when we took a break outside the White Tower, we ended up in the middle of a … live theatre-thingy … It seemed really cool, a couple of actors gathered several groups of visitors, and acted out sort of a play! We weren’t involved, but one group gathered just where we were sitting, around an actor portraying the Archbishop of Canterbury! He was really great, and it sounded so much fun – I wish we could have taken an active part. Annika had unfortunately some problems with her foot, and since the exercise did seem to involve lots of walking and running around, we decided to take it easy and walk around in our own pace instead.
Naturally we went in to see the Crown Jewels, and even though there are a lot of video displays and not that much time with the actual Crown Jewels, it’s quite an experience to have actually seen them!

When we decided we’d seen enough of The Tower we took a bus back, but again with the “Bus Problem”. We were on a regular bus, and just behind us was a Routemaster heading for Trafalgar Square. For some reason we stopped in the middle of an intersection, and all of a sudden, the co-driver from the Routemaster came running up to our bus driver, who put the bus in reverse … I didn’t get it at all, but it took quite a while before we got started again, and the bus was completely crowded! When we reached Trafalgar Square, the bus went on some really insane diversion! Instead of heading for Piccadilly Circus and on to Regent Street and Oxford Circus, the bus went straight up to Tottenham Court Road and from there to Oxford Circus. When we got off, we had lunch at McDonald’s before going to Hamley’s! That is such an amazing store, and I could easily spend half a day there! I found some cute rabbits for my sisters, that didn’t cost a fortune (!) so I bought them before we took a bus up to Oxford Street (I guess we could have walked, but there was rain coming and we were really tired).
We went into the Disney Store – but didn’t buy anything – and to HMV … and that was bloody dangerous!! At first I didn’t find anything that I REALLY wanted, and I felt quite pleased with that, since my economy isn’t that great at the moment! Then all of a sudden, I kept tripping over sooo much stuff I wanted!! They had the soundtrack to practically all the James Bond films – even the really early ones – 2 for £5!! I also found a lovely box with 6 old musical movies, for £15 that I really wanted! And when we reached the DVD section I nearly fainted! I found the first two seasons of The Flying Doctors and the first 64 episodes of Prisoner: Cell Block H!!!!! *GASP* I knew Prisoner had been released on DVD but it’s still cool to actually see it in a store, and I had no idea they’d released The Flying Doctors!!! It was impossible to not buy anything, but I practically endured torture when trying to decide on WHAT to buy! :) I ended up buying the second season of The Flying Doctors, and the Prisoner Box with episodes 33-64 … even though it ended up being quite expensive! *feeling happy and guilty at the same time* We also bought a few souvenirs and presents, and I actually got a really nice compliment from the guy at the till … he thought I came from England or America, and when I told him I was from Sweden, he complimented me on my English! :)

We were pretty tired at this point, having been on our feet constantly since 10 in the morning, so we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a while. After a few hours we took a walk to Queensway, but we wanted to spend some time in Hyde Park as well, and time was getting on, so we went there pretty quickly – but it was still getting darker by the minute! I wrote a few postcards on a bench, when suddenly a police car pulled up and told us the park was closing and that we had to make our way out. It felt sad we didn’t get to see more of the park, but I guess you can’t have everything, right?

June 29 – Monday

We slept with the window open all night, and that did make a difference, I woke up at about 7 a.m. and felt better than ever!! A bit ironic since it was our last day! The plane left at about 2.30, and since it’s a long ride to Stanstead and we were a bit unsure of the check in procedure, we had decided not to plan anything else, but instead be able to take it easy all the way to the airport.
We checked out at about 9, and there were no problems there, and took a bus to Liverpool Street. It was nice not having to change buses, since we had our bags with us this time. We were lucky at Liverpool Street, as there was a train leaving for Stanstead about 10 minutes after we got there! The train trip was okay and when we got to the airport, we had lunch at Burger King. Annika was kind and bought me lunch, as we had decided I would drive her home, when we got to Gothenburg. We ate in peace, and when we were done, we went over to the Ryanair check in desks. Again not so easy to figure out how it worked with online check in, but after a while we had it figured out and there were no problems with checking in the bag. Next stop was the security check, and that worked pretty smoothly too, though I was quite surprised. On earlier trips I have had a certain handbag with me, and all the time it has been pulled aside in the security check! Last time, in 2006, I had another bag, and that went through without problems! This time I had the “suspicious” bag, but I had it packed in a larger backpack … and it went through! Very weird!

We did some shopping at WH Smith and then had to wait a while for our gate to be announced – but once that happened things moved along quickly, and we were only about 10 minutes late!
The flight went well, and it was lovely coming into Gothenburg where we saw the entire Swedish West Coast with the sun about to set out to sea – very beautiful!!
Going through City Airport went quickly and there were no problems in collecting the car, so before long we were on our way to Annika’s hometown! I dropped her off before heading up to the summerhouse, where Zorro was very happy to see me!!

Before this London trip I was very nervous about how I would cope! I hadn’t been in London in three years, and even though I generally feel a lot better now, I still felt uncertain! And I’m thrilled to announce that I did cope better than I could have dreamed of!! Despite being ill and coping with those sorts of problems, I think I handled the trip in a really good way … and now I’m very much hoping to be able to go by myself there fairly soon! Money is definitely a problem that I’m not sure how to solve, but I really really want to take a trip to London on my own – to once and for all prove to myself that I really can cope!! I did go to London alone in 2004, when I had been there both with my Mum and Dad (on separate occasions of course!), but I didn’t handle that trip very well at all – so I would like to go now and really prove to myself that I can do it!! *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

My Fair Lady Pictures!

Ooops .... forgot to post my scanned pictures from My Fair Lady in my previous post! Sorry about that! But better late than never, so here they are!