The Horse Whisperer

If you see the Royal Guard on horseback.

Beware.

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This is how the horse looked around everyone else, a bit wary…the ears back are an obvious give away.  Don’t blame Greg, the horse was like this with everyone.

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This is how the horse looked around me, cuddly.  That “Beware” sign obviously didn’t apply to me.  Perhaps he felt comfortable around my red coat?

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My only regret is not feeding him an apple or a carrot.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I thought this car was really cute so I snapped a photo.  I did think it was a little strange there were penguins driving.  And I thought it was odd that penguins were even in a tourist sales shop in London.  Do they have them in England?  Are they a mascot for something?  But, that is not what is wrong with this picture.  I didn’t see it in the store.  I saw it later when I looked at the picture on my laptop. If you need a hint it’s inside the car, visible through the windshield and it looks like it might be sitting in the back seat…

Why Is There a Creepy Bald Guy In This Car?

Piccadilly Circus Dressed Up For Christmas

From the moment I saw the Tube station sign, I started singing a certain song in my head because the lyrics really applied.  Especially since three days prior I had no idea I’d be in London.  By the time I got above ground, I nearly burst out singing.  Had I started, I might have even given into a twirl or two (think Sound of Music in the hills).  Instead I belted it out in my head and softly hummed because listening to the city noises is part of the fun.  Especially with the London sirens I’ve heard so many times in the Bourne and other UK filmed movies.

Tube Station

Woke up in London yesterday
Found myself in the city near Piccadilly
Don’t really know how I got here
Got some pictures on my phone…

Bright Lights Big City

Oh, this has gotta be the good life.
This has gotta be the good life.
This could really be the good life.

I say, “Oh, I got this feeling that you can’t fight”
Like this city is on fire tonight.
This could really be the good life, a good good life.

I guess I channel One Republic more than that band from the UK that also starts with a One…

London

If you arrive in London in December and it’s sunny, don’t worry that you haven’t slept for nearly two days.  Get outside.  Because surely the weather won’t last.

Take a taxi, they are roomy, charming and come with wonderfully accented drivers.  In fact, if I would have had pounds of pounds (£) I could have happily ridden in the back and talked to the driver for hours.

Taxi

When you see your first phone booth, don’t be embarrassed, take as many pictures as possible.  In fact, try to take more than I did, I dare you.  After all, who knows how long these essential but unessential phone booths will be around.  I think they are essential looking even if they are no longer used.  In fact, couldn’t they just disconnect all the phones but keep the booths there?  Or perhaps put in cell phone charging stations?  I must write the Queen with this suggestion…

If you know anything about London I don’t have to tell you to go to Harrods.  It’s the number two tourist destination in London.  It was my third stop.  1) Hotel 2) Restaurant for classic British Fare 3) Harrods.

Harrods is this big

The clothes are high end.  I found a beautiful knit hat for 240£ (388USD).  Later I found one I liked just as much from the GAP for 6£ (10USD).  I’m guessing that might be the reason the clothes areas were free of people.  I left the expensive clothes and followed the trails of people like a worker ant and quickly found the packed, full to the gills, can barely lift your arms crowded food halls.

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So this is where everyone has been hiding.  And it’s no wonder because everything was beautiful!  They had every brand of chocolate, tea, pastry, confection, meat, sushi, fish, breads, veggies, condiments and gifts from all the lands formerly under the British Empire.  And the shop keepers wore cute hats!

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If you’re wondering why some of my previous photos were blurry it’s because I kept getting knocked and squeezed by the hoards of people.  They do not say excuse me or pardon me because that is what you say when you pass gas in London.  So they just knock you about and blur your pictures and head on their merry way.

I have been accused of saying too often “I almost bought this for you but…”  Apparently it’s quite maddening.  But, I almost bought this for my close friends and family but I never went back.  It was a cute flag tin full of Scottish (the best) shortbread.  Are you getting mad yet?

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I spent at least an hour exploring the marvelous food halls.  I highly recommend skipping my above mentioned stop 2 and interacting a bit more with the products there.  I was too full to eat anything.

Every year Harrods does elaborately themed Christmas windows.  They are spectacularly over the top!  This year was Disney Princess themed.  I wish I would have taken the time to get better and more photos of these but if you’d like to see someone else’s video click here.

Harrods Christmas Windows

Notice Cinderella’s missing slipper and the elaborate marble staircase.

Snow White was my favorite, the hill with flowers and the little dwarf beds were amazing.  And her dress and hood perfected the window scene.

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And last but not least.  Here is the building I picked (it changed daily) for my flat in London.  Adjacent to Harrods.  Whoever would need to cook when you can eat like a Queen next door?  And while I’m imagining things, I might as well take the corner tower as my place.  Would you come visit? I promise I’ll buy you a tin of Scottish shortbread…

Building Next Door

And we can eat our shortbread and look at this view of the sunset…if you’re fortunate enough to come to London, like I did, when it isn’t raining.

Sunset at Harrods

Singapore’s Chinese Garden

If you have a free afternoon I suggest strolling through the Chinese Garden.

Expect to see a lot of dragons.  In fact, someday I might have a red door with a guardian stone dragon.  They scare away evil spirits, bring you fortune AND they are a symbol of potent and auspicious powers.

If you arrive, at the West entrance you will enjoy a walk across a white bridge that has a lovely view of the lake and the twin pagodas.  I watched a few boat races from the bridge.

I went to a photography class once and she told me the best way to improve your photographs was to practice.  She suggested taking 50 photos every day.

Today I fulfilled my 50 photo requirement.  In fact, it’s safe to say I will take at least 50 photos every day until I leave Asia…  Yesterday’s practice session was HOW to get mediocre photos when the sky is WHITE.  It’s so much easier to get the look I want when the sky is blue…

In this next photo you can see a giant lantern in front of the building.  Once a year (except for last year) the Chinese Garden puts up lanterns to celebrate the mid-autumn festival.

My favorite lantern this year? Twin dragons floating in one of the lakes surrounded by lots of floating lotus flowers and leaves.  Here they are before the lights came on…

If you come to the Chinese Garden you should climb the 7 story pagoda (visible above my head).  Look closely, that is a dragon shaped tree behind me.  I don’t think I’ll ever have one of those in my yard but it is obviously appropriate for this location.

I love Asian architecture, especially pagodas.

One last look before I head to the top.

The whole walk up I was wondering why the pagoda is only 7 stories.  8 is the lucky Chinese number.  Why not build one more?

Here’s the view from the top.  There was a lovely breeze so I stayed up here for a long time.

The white bridge in this photo leads into the Japanese Garden.

I liked the windows of the pagoda too.  Here’s the view from the 7th floor looking out.

And the first floor looking out.

These golden dragon lanterns lined the walk up to the pagoda from the East Gate.

I watched the sunset by the lake next to the twin pagodas.

Then I met my friends and we walked around and enjoyed the lanterns.  There were many lanterns, but these are favorite friends so I was talking more than I was taking photos at this point…

I finally got my blue sky for a few moments at twilight…

One last shot of the auspicious floating and glowing dragons!

What a great evening.

Almost Too Pretty To Eat

Have you ever seen a dessert that was interesting enough to photograph from all 4 sides?

It looks like your own private ice sculpture.

It’s so pretty you almost don’t want to eat it.

Except you can’t help yourself.

By the way, that’s mango and strawberry puree drizzled down the sides with fresh mango and strawberries nestled on the plate.

If you’ve been to the North Shore on Oahu and had their delicious shave ice with ice cream on the bottom and loved it…this makes that taste like trash. I’m just sayin’ it’s that good.

Are you in Singapore? Go find this in Chinatown.  Right now.

Mei Heong Yuen Dessert (味香园) 67 Temple St Chinatown, Singapore 088389 6221 1156

While you are there, try the pomelo and mango sago too. You may be full but you will not be sorry.

I Scream You Scream

I scream, you scream we all scream for ice cream.

If you move to Singapore and you like Haagen-Dazs, Ben and Jerry’s, Dryers or Tillamook you will be tested…

…when you see the price. How much do you really want it?

However, if you are feeling homesick, I strongly recommend buying some ice cream. It’s still significantly cheaper than a plane ticket.

Just be sure to savor every bite. (Did you notice the Dryers container is about 1/2 the size of what you see in the States)?

Tillamook is totally worth the cost. It’s actually FROM Oregon (my home state) and I don’t buy it often but it is absolutely cost effective for my resulting happiness.

I still scream for ice cream. Would you?

However, be careful when you return to the U.S. after living in Singapore. When I was there last December every time I went down the frozen food section I was tempted to fill my entire cart full of ice cream because it seemed so cheap! $3 for Ben and Jerry’s and $4 for Tillamook? What a deal! I need to buy it all! And while I managed to avoid filling my cart, I could not resist buying ice cream every time I went into a grocery store, even if I just bought some the day before.