Friday, 27 August 2010

Vero (4)

Un saludo al pueblo chileno …

… y un abrazo solidario a los 33 mineros y sus familias.  El mundo espera ansioso con ustedes.


A warm greeting to all Chileans and especially to the 33 miners and their families.  The world waits anxiously with you.


To Vero, her stay probably became a blur of outings and facts to remember – but it didn’t matter.  She was achieving what she had set out to do - her English had grown in confidence and expression, parallel with her knowledge of the country, its people and its customs.

There were visits to Jane Austen’s homes in both the West Country and in Hampshire, the 18th century village of Laycock preserved free of modern influences, where her novels have been filmed.  There were also visits to Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, the Harbour Festival in Bristol and to Poundbury, the Prince of Wales’ model village in Devon.

On 9th July, Independence Day in Argentina, we celebrated by attending a performance by Circomedia, a troupe of actor-acrobats, in a most entertaining performance at the Bristol Theatre Royal.

And how could she not see a Shakespeare play… we spent a memorable day at Stratford-upon-Avon getting lost in the one-way system, unable to find the cunningly concealed car parks, but managing to see Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where William Shakespeare’s wife had grown up …

…. And later a matinee performance of Julius Caesar, with noble Romans left and right making speeches and falling on their swords, and lashings of fake blood.  I too was grateful for the surtitles above the stage to remind me of the beautiful and complex English of the play I had studied at school for O’level with the headmistress – my mother – as the teacher of literature; and to bring back memories of my father declaiming Casius’ long monologues by heart at the dinner table with arms waving like windmills, as he remembered his performance at St Albans College, Buenos Aires, in the 1930’s. 

But as we walked out of the theatre with the afternoon throng I felt different about it – now the play was to me merely a story of politics and of men killing each other, with women standing by helplessly.

On Vero’s final evening we went to a Spanish tapas bar in central Bristol with friends.  I had specially booked the table nearest the small stage where a flamenco dancer was to perform – I had intended it to be a final celebration of her part-Spanish heritage.  Unfortunately the dancer was ill, and the delectable food served by the establishment did not compensate for the gruesome trio who entertained us instead with a relentless diet of deafening percussive rhythms.

The end of the holiday


Photo Finish -
From Lonicera's non-digital archive

Last of the Bristol images

Imperial past (George VII)

The Council House

(guess which bridge again...)

This one of bicycles on the Bristol Downs is for my work colleague Nick, who is on a sponsored bike ride to London this coming Sunday - so this is to wish him lots of luck!


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Vero (3) - Retail Therapy

Romford Market

Go to Part 4

The following day we didn’t go far, and had a very enjoyable day at Romford market. 

(Zanna, your entrepreneurial skills have spread far and wide...)

Here was a person let loose in a sweet shop who didn’t know what to look at first… so we covered every single stall just in case.  A canny and picky buyer, she fingered every fabric and held every dress and skirt against herself to see if she liked it.

I was entertained for a while watching children suspended inside balloons which tumbled about in water, while they kept dry.  The first one shows how they start it up with the child inside.  You couldn’t tempt me I’m afraid… but it was fun to watch.

The next day we drove Vero to Norwich, where she was to spend the following week at the University of East Anglia, on a summer school course for literary translators. 

There were some pretty views along the way.

She got to meet a lot of interesting people, and for the first time heard the accents of Spanish speakers from different parts of the world, as well as of many other nationalities.  They worked hard and had a good laugh together, surely the perfect recipe for a first class learning experience.  Her English was much more confident when we met her at the railway station on her return.

Next time - Stratford-upon-Avon


Photo Finish
From Lonicera's non-digital archive

Yet more Bristol...

St Peter's in Broadmead, the downtown shopping centre -
a bombed out shell

Sunday afternoon on the Downs

A detail from the fountain at the Victoria Rooms

The mandatory shot of the Clifton Suspension Bridge -
a different angle to the previous ones

Fosters Almshouse, originally built in the 15th century but
this rebuild is from the 19th century.  Recently sold off
and now used as private apartments.

Another iconic Bristol landmark - the SS Great Britain, first Screw Steamship of its type, and like the Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  It was launched in 1843 as a passenger ship between Bristol and New York, and later used to transport immigrants to Australia.  From the 1880's she was retired to the Falkland Islands as a warehouse quarantine ship and coal hulk.  In 1970 she was returned to Bristol for restoration.  Expert carpenters have rebuilt the cramped sleeping quarters of the passengers, and it has been so carefully re-created that it makes you wince to imagine 64 days at sea with so little room.


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Vero (2) – London

"Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?"
"I've been to London to visit the Queen."
"Pussycat, Pussycat, what did you there?"
"I frightened a little mouse under her chair!"
(16th century nursery rhyme)
My sister and brother–in-law put us up for a few days in Romford, so that Vero could see London.  I was grateful that she came with us on the first day – I’ve lived far away from big cities and public transport for too long, and the number of underground/subway changes needed to get from one point to another had my head in a spin… as did the urgent need to chain myself to her in case I lost sight of her.  Vero on the other hand hadn’t a care in the world – she knew there were two people looking after her (well, one was leading and the other one was pretending she was quite confident, teeth clenched to stop them from chattering… what a wuss).

And the crowds…it was full tourist season, and the queues to get into the Madame Tussauds waxworks were three hours long - four people wide and snaked round the four sides of the square – at £25 a throw, I reckon the owners are laughing all the way to the bank.  Needless to say we didn’t go there.

London is now totally multicultural, you would be hard pushed to find the ‘true Londoner’ of old that you see in war films.  Forget asking the way – not only would most people be unable to help you, but they wouldn’t understand what you were saying anyway.  Thank goodness the same old buildings are still standing.

We took one of these to go round the main sights:

But here’s another type – London Duck Tours -  

...these buses chug their way round London crammed with tourists – apparently they’re World War II landing craft which have been turned into sightseeing buses.  Yes they really are amphibious, and I didn’t believe it for a second till I saw this –

... same bus minutes later... >>>>>>>>>
…All part of the delicious eccentricity that is Britain.

We watched the changing of the guard at Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, and queued for ages so that Vero could be photographed first standing next to a mounted sentry...

...and later one on foot.

She looks a little uncertain here due to the combination of self-consciousness because of the number of people on the sidelines impatiently waiting to be photographed, and her awareness of the look of terribly pained yet patient resignation on the face of the lad as he stood to attention.  My sister’s breezy “Bet you wish you had a pound for every time you get your picture taken” was met with stony indifference.  (And I’ll bet they get far worse taunts to have to ignore…).  So that was another photographic box ticked for Vero.

Me, I became instantly besotted with the magnificent horses, and fascinated by the puzzling moves they’re trained to carry out during the changeover.

Another box ticked (the red phone box – oh do keep up)

After lunch at an old pub called The Duke of Clarence…

… Next was Trafalgar Square 
(can you tell my feet were killing me?!)

(Canadian friends - spot the flag!
It's Canada House, the Canadian High Commission)

Nelson’s Victory in a bottle…

The Houses of Parliament and a gust of wind…

Westminster Bridge

A ride on the London Eye…


Up and away.... (Charing Cross station)

A boat along the Thames…

...After which we headed home to Romford to collapse in an exhausted heap.

Next time – Romford market and Norwich.


Photo finish:
From Lonicera's non-digital archive

More of Bristol

Shopping at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway

The woods near Blaise Castle

View over Totterdown

Another view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge -
this time at night. 

Evening in Bristol docks.


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