Monday, 23 June 2008

tate a téte

Once again I say goodbye to to Maidstone Auntie -- it gets no easier -- and head to London Bridge station. I am at London Buddy's by 1:30 and we head out in the glorious sunshine for the Tate Britain. Our bus gets caught in traffic and after 3 lights and no forward progress we hop off, walk down Shaftesbury Ave., through Covent Garden, across Trafalgar Square to the Mall where huge Union Jacks are waving in honour of what I suddenly realize is the 40th anniversary of our family leaving London for Canada, then beside the Serpentine, behind Westminster Abbey where my Mum used to work, along the river to the Tate, eat lunch, look at art and Art, buy presents for Dad (birthday), cross the river, walk by the Houses of P, the Eye and all that, cross back on the Jubilee Bridges (that wobble as the train passes), back up the the Strand, up Charing Cross Road (bookstores!) to Oxford Street where we catch a bus (before we can get tickets out of the machine -- a free ride finally) back to Islington and dinner at the local Strada. A beautiful sparkly last day in London. Thanks London Buddy.

I did not take any pics -- wish I had now but it seemed a bit obvious at the time. How many 10000000000000s of pictures of the Thames does the universe need? But that does not help my blog at all. One of the things I bought my Dad was the mini Tate-to-Tate set and now I can re-enact our walk whenever I want.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

train luck?

We got up at 4:30 this morning in order to get to the airport at 5. Good thing we were there early because it was BUSY! Got to Heathrow by 8ish and my colleague and I parted ways. She went to meet her partner and go to Oxford and I returned to Paddington, then Victoria to catch a train back to Maidstone. Somehow I got on the wrong train. I think I might have mixed up the 10:24 to Canterbury East with the with the 10:42 to Canterbury West. Or vice versa. Or not that at all. I blame the early rising. I started to notice I was in an unfamiliar landscape but there was noone on the train to ask. I leaned out the door at Rochester and called to the signal person. He was most helpful. He told me to go to Gillenbury and then get a train back to Strood and then get the train to Maidstone. Okay then. When I disembarked, a young woman came up to me and said, "You are Canadian, right?" Wow! She gave me some more good train advice and told me that after 10 years in England she still misses Calgary and the wide, open spaces.

Strood was quite desolate and windy on a Sunday mid-morning and there was something squeaking rhythmically ... I started to feel that Lee Van Cleef might saunter up any minute. Lee Van Cleef in the wilds of Kent.

Everything worked out fine and I was back on Belmont Close only an hourish later than originally planned.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

another 'work' day

Another day at the conference and 2 more workshops and a plenary. Learned a lot from the very best people ... literacy people. I made this airplane and other vehicles in a workshop that described transportation barriers for learners going to programs and workers attending conferences.

Then we took a train from Galway to Dublin with a fine woman from Aberdeen. We stayed at an airport hotel as our flight to London is to leave at 6:40 a.m. The hotel is quite weird. It has a huge lobby that serves as a pub -- a very crowded, vast and noisy pub. We had a snack of smoked salmon and brown bread that we washed down with pints of you-know-what. A lovely last night in Ireland.

Our room looks out over a field where several horse families are frolicking but every time I try to tale a photo they have frolicked to a far corner. Magic airport horses.

Friday, 20 June 2008

work day

Today was a full conference day. I went to 2 workshops and a panel discussion -- more about that at the literacies cafe. Then 2 other Canadians and I walked downtown along the river, wandered about a bit and then, after meeting up with another conference-goer and her husband, walked away from downtown to the Ardilaun Hotel and our special dinner.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

galway wander

My colleague arrived in Galway today and we had a few hours until we had to check in for the conference so we wandered about the downtown streets and lanes.

First we found out where Fat Freddy is now. My sister and I first encountered Fat Freddy and his comrade Freddy in Minehead in the late 80s. It is good to see that he finally made something of himself.

Then we saw this guy sitting on the car. We were not sure how close we could get. Quite close as it turns out.

We strolled around the river and the canal, checked out the the cathedral and soaked up some sun before heading up to the university.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


When I was in this part of the world in the 80s we ran out of time and did not make it over to the Aran Islands. A big reason for coming early to Galway is to make that trip now. I woke up to a very rainy, blustery day and had second thoughts. Pretty much the only thing for a tourist to do over there is be outside and I just wasn't sure. I decided to go on the afternoon ferry to Inis Mor and take my chances. I am so glad that I did. The days on this trip have been like a string of beads -- each one beautiful, unique and surprising. And this was one of the best days EVER. It rained all the way to Rossavael -- a one hour coach trip. It rained most of the ferry ride. I was freezing by the time we arrived and the first thing I saw was a sign that said 'Aran island Sweater' -- I almost bought 3! But it did not rain on the island and for the ferry home, the sun actually blazed out and I burned my nose. There are 4 ways to get around the island: walk, mini-coach, horse and cart or bike. I did not want to be in a car. I did not want to be toured around even if it was in a cart. I wanted to be free to wander at will. I am not sure why I did not stop and rent a bike. I think it was just that I did not feel like a business transaction right then. I was pretty glad that I chose walking along the high road. It turned out to be the best thing. If I had a bike I think I would have ended up walking most of the way up anyway and pushing the damn thing. I'll bike the coast road next time.

I wish that my blog had smell-o-vision and that you could feel the wind and be in the quiet. But these pics will have to do. I am sure they will show you why I was just so happy all day long.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

surprises in galway

I took a train to Galway and got in at about 7 p.m. I checked into the Forster Court hotel and then went for a wander around town. The Forster Court is a lovely hotel. I chose it because it was the highest rated hotel on TripAdvisor that I could afford. Well -- I can't REALLY afford it but as it is the only accommodation I will have to pay for, I decided to splurge a bit. I do not know how people travel around these parts if they do not have nice friends and family who offer them free lodgings -- even the student hostel down the road is about 35 Euros a night ($60 CAD). I had a fantastic room with a balcony and a view. I asked about wireless and was told that I coud have wireless if I moved to a room that had no balcony and was less noisy. I chose the noise and the balcony and did my emailing and blogging in the stairwell. I bet that surprises you -- you predicted I would choose wireless over anything else. It surprised me too.

TV cupboard?


What is in here?


I was pretty tired so I picked up a couple of cans of beer and returned for a lounge around the room and some tv watching. I got a Lisbon Treaty update and then watched saw a documentary by Welsh comedian Rob Brydon called 'My Identity Crisis' about being a Welsh comedian. Apparently it is very difficult to be a Welsh comedian because if you make jokes about Wales, especially about the language, your Welsh friends get upset with you. He goes to Wales to figure out what Welsh people will laugh about and what will offend them. Best line: In a conversation with a friend about Welsh, the friend comments, "The problem with Welsh is that it never really caught on."

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