12/31/08

London Day 3...



London Day 3

It's rainy when we wake up which of course is no surprise. Like all places where it rains a lot (Vancouver) everyone insists that it doesn't rain all the time. I take it that one's definition all the time changes when the rain is near constant. All the time to me means everyday. All the time to those in England means all day long! We take the bus with our Oyster Cards (passes, we pay every time now) and head out to my cousin Anya's work place. It is the amazing building in the photo above made using innovative environmentally friendly and ecologically sound principles. There are tree trunks that are used as pillars, branches woven together to make a fence, a rain barrel, solar heating and recycled floors. The walls of the building are my favorite, a series of concrete bags stacked together unopened, that over time with the moisture have hardened and cracked their wrapping to become large exposed hardened bricks. Anya is an architect and she works for Sarah Wiggelsworth who is known for just this kind of progressive design and planning. She also works in the cold, as the boiler has broken in the building and her boss who is away won't be around to fix it for a week. But not to worry, as it's not really cold everyone assures her, just as it's not really raining all the time, and that racking cough that everyone has is not really tuberculosis, just a "lurgy" cough.

We leave Anya with sweaters and head for more museums. We see the National museum and bask in the glory of the impressionists and after fortifying with tea and cake head next door to the Portrait gallery and take in a beautiful exhibit of Annie Liebowitz's photographs. There are the usual portraits of famous people, but there are also lovely shots of family both on the way into this world and more hauntingly on the way out. The pictures are honest and revealing, the subjects and the artist herself brave in the way that they have allowed themselves to be exposed. It is a day full of art and I am looking forward to sharing it over a pint with my sister's in laws at pub outside London. On our way to meet Anya and Eric we learn that the boiler in their apartment has broken and that Eric has been waiting all day for it to be fixed. This explains the icy rooms and the lack of hot water and we look into staying at a hotel, but Eric is confident that if he just keeps harassing the landlord every 30 minutes they will eventually show up. Otherwise it's a weekend with no heat. I shudder to think.

We take the train to Broxborn my brother in law Stuarts family meets us and whisks us away to beautiful pub in the next town. Now I have to say that the "pubs" that I have been going to are not like the kinds you see on TV with old bars and dingy lighting and sad characters drowning their sorrows. No, these pubs which are everywhere, are beautiful stone manors with roaring fireplaces fine linens and exquisite food. It is great to see everyone, and although it has been a long time, the conversations are easy and the laughs even easier.

One of the biggest laughs of the evening came when I ordered my first drink, a pint of cider. In England, a half pint is what a proper lady orders, and I pass my host hers. As the guys all take their full pints of beer, and slowly hand me mine they smile devilishly and I can see what they are thinking..."What can I say fella's? I guess I'm just a loose woman!" Or a girl who just really likes her cider.

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