Friday, February 24, 2017

Above Ground on the London Underground-Day 62: From the Tate to the Tate



Westminster Reflections by Sarah Fosse  

SarahFosse.com

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We've just finished following the Central Line, took a detour to the Tate Britain. Next we'll hop on the District Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 62.



Before we leave the Tate Britain, where we visited the Hockney exhibit last week, make sure you spend some time with the Turners. The museum is known for its large collection and for me, having seen Timothy Spall in the film Mr. Turner, I really would love to see some original pieces up close.




 Tate Boat via Sea Fever Blog

Next, we’re going for a boat ride. I’ve always wanted to go for a ride on the Thames, the Tate Boat makes it simple. We catch a boat from the Tate Britain where we’ve enjoyed a morning with Mssrs Hockney and Turner and now we hop aboard the boat for a trip that takes us past iconic London destinations—Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye delivering us to the door of the Tate Modern. £8 each way. That is what I call a deal.

There’s a fair amount of advice suggesting one does the Tate Britain in the morning, the Tate Modern in the afternoon but for me, that's one museum too many for one day. If, like me, you’ve had your fill of paintings, you can still take the boat which will drop you off right near Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.



While pains have been taken to make it look lovely and antique-y, this Globe theatre is the new Globe Theatre, Shakespeare's original having been burned in 1613, rebuilt and then closed again in 1642. This theatre dates to 1997, a riverside reconstruction about 750 sq feet from the Globe’s original location.

Tours of the Globe leave every half hour although your ticket includes a free audio guide—my favorite kind of tour as you get to move at your own pace and hear everything you need to hear without having to keep up with a crowd of people just to hear what the guide is saying. On the other hand, a good guide—in person, with a lively mind and a good personality can make an A experience into an A+.


The Globe is more than a museum, it’s a living breathing tribute to the Bard with an active spate of productions. This month they’re putting on The Taming of the Shrew and in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, beginning in May, both Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night.



Next time, we may take a look next door at the Tate Modern where Elton John—sorry, Sir Elton John—has shared his private collection of modernist photography. Then we’ll cross the Millennium Bridge. I’ve been wanting to do that for ages so I’m happy to save the crossing for next week, when we’ll pick up the path of the District Line. Come along?



The Tate Britain
Milbank, London SW1P 4JU
+44 20 7887 8825

The Tate Modern
Bankside, London SE1 9TG
+44 20 7887 8888

The Globe Theater
21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT
+44 20 7902 1400

Sarah Fosse

Thursday, February 23, 2017

There's No Place Like Home

For six years in the nineties we lived in a little house on a hill on the west side of Los Angeles. We always bragged that while the house might be small, we had a million dollar view. On a clear day we could see the Hollywood sign from our backyard. 

The house was something of a gift. We inherited the place when the current tenants, our good friends Mike and Judy, found a house they wanted to buy and recommended us to the landlord. When they moved out, we moved in. We signed the lease that dropped us within the boundary lines for our school of choice, just days before the deadline to register for a coveted kindergarden spot in the fall.

Our son spent his entire elementary school life in that little old house, going from kindergarden through fifth grade in the same house, going to the same school, with the same friends.

I call it a little house because it was. Just 1050 square feet. Two bedrooms, one matchbox sized bathroom, a kitchen so tiny that there was little more to it than the stove/fridge/sink work triangle, certainly no room for a dishwasher. I was the dishwasher. On the plus side, a modest but airy dining area opened to the living room and lovely maple toned hardwood floors ‘flowed throughout’ as we realtors like to say. There was a wood-burning fireplace and well-placed windows to let the sun shine in. 

In the back, the den opened onto the backyard, a triangle of green. In one corner, in the big tree, my husband built a treehouse/platform affair complete with yellow plastic slide. In the other corner a ramshackle storage room so water-logged the only thing stored in there were mushrooms growing up through the floor. On the far right, the old wooden garage, overgrown with bougainvillea. In between, a low wall demarcated the property line, beyond that there was nothing but that million dollar view. 

In the front of the house, a good sized lawn was fronted by a split-rail fence and a flower bed where Mike had planted roses and Cosmos, pink flowers that grew so tall and abundantly, they threatened to overtake the yard. I pulled those pretty pink Cosmos from the ground one day early in our tenure and regretted it the entire time we lived there. Never, ever get rid of a pretty pink flower that flourishes in spite of your lack of a green thumb.

Those Mar Vista years on the hill were good ones, full of happy days that would become Throwback Thursdays, Flashback Fridays, and Memorable Mondays—if that’s a thing. A couple of kids, a girl and a boy close to our son’s age, lived next door. Shy at first, they soon proved three can be company, good company. Their dad was a writer/director who worked from home when he wasn’t shooting, their mother was a big mucky muck for an international clothing company. Much more than their swanky job titles, they were great people with open hearts and an open door and between our two families, our kids always had our houses to run in and out of. Between us we went through countless plates of spaghetti, umpteen loaves of bread, cases of jars of peanut butter and an unknowable number of glasses of milk while the kids played together, creating imaginary worlds where they ruled and sometimes battled, had fights and made up. 

When he wasn’t hanging out with the neighbor besties, our boyo had his other friends, boys who came over after school to play video games—Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, Mario Cart—and boys who came to battle. It’s amazing the destruction one nine year old boy can wreak with a plastic Darth Vader light saber. Don’t tell them I told you this but at five and six, seven and eight, the boys still sounded like girls, their screams and screeches bringing me rushing into the room to make sure no one was killing anyone more times than I can remember. 

Weekend sleepovers were a regular occurrence. Our only child always had one of the guys over to play, and often to stay. There were birthday sleepovers too, a dozen boys sprawled in sleeping bags on our hard living room floor. A choice of pancakes or Coco Puffs for breakfast as they gathered in waves around our dining room table with their scummy unbrushed teeth and bedhead hair, guzzling down the Tropicana orange juice, wiping their mouths on their pj sleeves, giggling about this one’s snoring and that one’s farting and rehashing the hilarity of the Zoolander dvd we’d rented at Blockbuster for the occasion. 

It was the house where we celebrated Halloween with fake tombstones and a witch nailed to the jacaranda tree in the front yard. The house where we held cub scout meetings, pledging allegiance to the flag, squeezed in next to the tv for the occasion. The house where we welcomed our beagle Charlie into our lives, a puppy who would help me feel safe while my husband was away on location.

It was the house where we had a big birthday party for my mother in the backyard on a sunny July day. Her 70th, it would be one of the last she’d remember. We survived Y2K in that house and the realization that my mother had Alzheimer’s as she slipped further and further away from us. 

It was the house our son would go from age five to ten in, from a little boy on the first day of kindergarden to a culminating fifth grader, delivering one of the commencement speeches.

And then we moved. The word on the street was that the owners’s kids were moving in. Or, we heard, the owners were thinking of selling, taking advantage of a housing market where they could get close to seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for our cottage size house in a highly desirable westside neighborhood. We got out of Dodge, leaving L.A. for the suburbs, less expensive housing and an amazing school district. 

Over a dozen years later, I happened to be back in the neighborhood recently, running errands with my sister.

“Let’s drive by my old house’’ I said. “It’s just a couple of blocks from here.’’

You won’t be surprised to hear that Thomas Wolfe was right, you can’t go home again. 

I thought I was on the wrong block. There was my address but where was our house? I did a double take, a character in a sitcom. Our little single story house had morphed into a rambling two story Mediterranean style home. The garage? It was underneath the house. The jacaranda tree, gone. The flower bed, bull-dozered. 

Our tiny 1050 square foot house had grown into a 3800 square foot house with 3 bedrooms and four bathrooms. Plus a pool. And apparently a tower! According to Zillow our little house on the hill is now worth roughly $2,500,ooo. Two and a half million dollars. 

I wonder how the pancakes are.





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 61: David Hockney at the Tate Britain

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 61.

If it’s Friday, I’m usually taking an imaginary walk in London. Today I have to veer off course. 

Run, don’t walk—or take a train if you must, the Central Line is quite handy—to the Tate Britain where the museum is hosting an exhibit by Los Angeles’s favorite non-American artist David Hockney. We love the acclaimed British artist here in sunny L.A., in part because he loves us back, reflecting our city’s allure with paintings of sparkling pools filled with beautiful boys, the winding roads of the Hollywood Hills, California houses perched on hillsides, filled with light and color.





Hockney, who turns 80 in July, continues to produce fresh new material, exploring genres and formats—video, photography, utilizing the iPad—proving you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. Or the dog can teach himself. 



We are lucky in L.A. to have a few cherished Hockney’s to call our own. The mammoth Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio stretching across one entire wall on the third floor of the Art of America's building at LACMA is one of my favorites. Driving over Laurel Canyon to the Valley, passing Mulholland Drive in my own car, I’ve risked crashing into the hillside more than once as I pick out the landmarks depicted in the Hockney’s art.




The Tate exhibition is a collection of 250 works, some of Hockney's most famous pieces of art along with some of his most recent work and is scheduled to run through May 29th. As my hubs and I try to decide if we can or can not make a trip to England, France & Italy this year, I’m putting this on the list of Reasons to Go Now! along with I'd like to go while I'm still young enough to do it, let alone enjoy it!






Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG


Next week, it’s back to my regular weekly walk, 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dreaming of France: What's on your Must See list?

Promenade des Anglais, Nice by Gabriel Deschamps

Except for Fridays, when I post my virtual walk of London, I usually post memoir here. Today is different. Hoping to make some new memories, memories I’d like to write about, my husband and I are back to thinking seriously about taking a trip abroad this year. London, Paris, the south of France, Rome and Venice are all being talked about. 

I was born in London but haven’t been back since the 80’s. Since I write a post every Friday about London, I’d say it’s time I got back, wouldn’t you agree? My husband, a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, has never been, and is dying to see Baker Street and many of the locations he knows so well from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. So that’s a must.

Paris. Mais oui! To go walking along the Seine together, browsing the kiosks, the used booksellers, the art, to pick out a print to bring home, a souvenir to frame and hang in just the right place. To visit Montmarte, the Moulin Rouge, Notre Dame, the Left Bank, to sit at a cafe sipping coffee or wine, just breathing the air, watching the Parisians walk by. 

The Musee D'Orsay. The Louvre. 

“And don’t forget the Louvre’’ he says. “We don’t want to miss seeing the disappointingly small Mona Lisa, from a half a mile away, peering over the shoulders of a hundred other people.’’ 


Eiffel Tower via wikipedia commons

The Eiffel Tower. Although I don’t know if I’ll be able to get him to go up the Eiffel Tower and you don’t have to tell me it would be a shame for him to miss that view but heights don’t thrill him. We will most certainly see the tower and probably do that hokey touristy thing, using forced perspective to make it look as though we’re holding it in our hands.

Because this is an introductory kind of trip—and we want to get to Italy too—we’re thinking of spending just 4 days in Paris before we train it down to the South of France. I know that’s not nearly enough time to see the City of Lights but unless we come into a windfall (yes, please!) that will have to do. Any ideas as to how to best spend those very few days?

One more question—for now, but I reserve the right to bug you for travel advice in the future—where would you suggest we stay in the South of France to capture that relaxed, beachy vibe the Cote D’azure is famous for? My birthday is May 28th and we’d both like to spend it by the sea. Cannes, Nice, St. Paul de Vence and Monte Carlo are all places I think he needs to at least see, so we’d like a place we can use as a base for half day trips plus relax with a book at the beach—if that’s at all possible. Following in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s footsteps would be as much fun for me, as seeing where Arthur Conan Doyle got his inspiration, will be for my husband.

Some of you have read a few of my stories that trace back to a trip to Bandol when I was a girlish 20. My sister and I stayed at a very inexpensive pension and while we dreamed of returning one day and staying at the Golf Hotel, I’m torn about returning now with my husband. I think I’d rather let my memory stand, rather than tarnishing it with a new reality. I’m saved from making the decision, the hotel is booked.

Any ideas of affordable places where we can get our St. Tropez tans on? What’s on your list of must-see places to go and things to do? 


Link up with Paulita at An Accidental Blog where every week she invites fellow bloggers to share their love of France with her Dreaming of France meme. 


Yes, Paulita, this week I really am Dreaming of France!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 60: Epping Forest

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 60.

Last week, just as I was feeling weary of following the Central line, up popped Leytonstone, and the happy discovery of it being the birthplace of the great Alfred Hitchcock. 
Today I’m once again feeling the neverendingness of the Central Line—THE longest tube line in the London Underground System, the line covers 49 miles—as I  look at the map and trace its pathway going out and out and out into the countryside. Skipping ahead, I find the end of the line: Epping, the last and 46th station. And while Epping feels like it’s forever and away from London, it’s actually just shy of 4 miles northeast of the city. 



The area boasts Epping Forest, London’s largest open space—over 3300 football pitches—which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The forest is home to fallow deer, cattle, grey squirrels, foxes, hares, wood mice, moles, hedgehogs, weasels, bats and more. Not surprisingly Queen Elizabeth I had a hunting lodge not too far from here. 



There are guided walks for all levels, runs and workshops like What to do with a deer: butchery, cooking and hides.

The beautiful countryside is also the setting for a historic country estate. The Copped Hall estate dates back to 1303, home to the king’s huntsman. The royal estate has been passed down over the centuries first to Henry VIII, than the Queen Mary who lived there basically as a prisoner since she was Catholic. Elizabeth gave the estate to Sir Thomas Heneage, a high court official for whom Shakespeare is said to have written A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play was performed—for the first time— in the long gallery in celebration of Heneage’s second marriage.  



It’s a wonderful old mansion and stables set in an expansive park-like garden setting. Honestly, I’ve pushed it today, my walk is over 13 miles! I feel like grabbing a pile of hay and crawling into one of the stalls. Next week we’ll hit Waltham Abbey and Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge before we get back into the city of London. Come along? 


°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

My husband and I have started talking–again—about making a trip to England a reality. He’d like to go to Paris and Italy while we’re across the Atlantic—as would I—which means we’d have just a few, perhaps four or five days at the most, in London.

After all the research I do for this weekly walk, you’d think I’d know exactly where I want to go and what I want to see, but I’m not sure I do. There are so many things and places I’ve learned about that my head is swimming. He has been wanting to visit Baker Street forever and I like the idea of taking a Jack the Ripper tour. High tea, of course. The house where I was born, a boat ride on the Thames. I've seen Westminster Abbey and I think it would bore him but the Tower, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben deserve at least a look. How about you? What must see places would you suggest I add to my list?





The Copped Hall Estate
Copped Hall, Crown Hill, Epping CM16 5HS
+44 7799 473108

Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge
8 Ranger's Rd, London E4 7QH, UK
+44 20 7332 1911

Counting the Fitbit steps



Day 1-59:                                                415,090 steps/182 miles


Day 59: Leytonstone to Epping        .      33,750 steps/13.5 miles
                                                          

Total Imaginary Miles to Date                415,090 steps/182 miles




Days 1 —59

Connect with Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday  

Saturday, February 04, 2017

That Thing We Did: We’re ready for our close-up, Mr. Hanks [Now on SoundCloud & iTunes]


My boy and me on the set of That Thing You Do with Tom Everett Scott, 1995





“What size?” the wardrobe assistant asked, rifling through a garment rack full of pointy white cotton bras and silky slips, a measuring tape hanging from her neck. I was suddenly acutely aware of the line of women behind me, waiting to pick up their own period-perfect brassieres for the filming of Tom Hank’s directorial debut, That Thing You Do. I briefly debated tying that tape tightly around the wardrobe woman’s neck.

“34?” It came out as barely a squeak. Even with the additional plumpness that comes with motherhood, my breasts would never be called knockers.

She gave me a quick glance, and without asking my cup size, handed me something white and institutional looking — they were all white and institutional looking—the kind of serviceable bra I would have worn myself when I was a teenager in the sixties. 

“I don’t want to wear someone else’s bra. Can’t we just wear our own stuff?” a young brunette behind me in line asked. “It’s not like they’re gonna show, right?” 

“It’s a period film” the wardrobe assistant told her as she held up a full slip, trying to assess whether it would fit me or not. “Clothes hang differently when you wear them over the proper undergarments. We need to make sure the silhouettes are true to the 1960’s.” 

If I had eyes in the back of my head I was certain I would see an eye roll.

“Come on this way” another young woman directed me, a green cardigan and a patterned shirtwaist dress swinging from the hanger in her hand. “So you’re Mark’s wife, huh? He talks about you guys all the time. I’m Sarah. Let’s find something for Mr. Cutey Pie and then you guys can try stuff on.” 

“What’s your name, hon?” she knelt down and held a one piece jumper up to my son’s back.

“Russell” he told her, clear as a bell.

“Wussell?” 

“Russell” I corrected her. “With an R.” And I wondered irritably if my husband talked about us all the time, why she couldn’t get our son’s name right. 

“Russell, hon, would you try this on for me please? I just know you’re going to look so handsome in this. Here, Mom, you guys can go in here.” She handed off the hangers, nodded toward the curtained compartment. 

Mom. Right, that was me. My husband’s wife. Our son’s mom. Seeing that son dressed in a one piece jumper consisting of a white shirt with vaguely puffy short sleeves and blue shorts I couldn’t help but ask if she was sure this outfit was meant for a boy.

“Yeah, I know. Crazy, right? That’s how they dressed little boys back then. Hey, wow! That dress looks great on you. A perfect fit. So what do you think? Feel good?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Looking in the three way mirror, I had to admit it wasn’t terrible. While I’d hoped for something younger, more glamorous, I was still fighting the weight gain from carrying Russell, if I was honest, I knew I looked just like the typical early 1960’s housewife I was meant to portray. And Russell, standing there grinning in his little one piece playsuit, looked adorable.

“Hey, hey! You’ve got your daddy’s dimple in your chin, huh? Let me just take couple of polaroids and you guys can change back into your own things.” 

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.” 

When we came out of the dressing room she put our things together, safety-pinning manilla labels and our polaroid pictures to the hangers, and put our ‘costumes’ back on the rack. Later someone else would pack them on the wardrobe truck along with the hundreds of other clothes destined for the backs of ‘extras’ and a teamster would drive them to location. 

“See you next week in Orange,” she said, giving Russell a smiling wave goodbye.

We were ready for our closeup. 


••••••••••••••
That Thing You Do: Making Movie Magic

Part One  We’re Ready for Our CloseUp Mr. Hanks
Part Two  Making Movie Magic
Part Three  High Five: Get Set, Ready to Roll
Part Four  Extras Holding
Part Five  The Opening Credits, Our One Second of Fame  





This #MondayMemoir piece took place when we were living on Grandview Blvd in LA in 1995. For future reference I’ll file it under the On the Street Where I Lived tab at spot # 32. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 59: The birthplace of Alfred Hitchcock ... and David Beckham

The Birds mural by Mateusz Odrobny & Ana Mill   Image credit: The Guardian

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 59

Just when I thought I couldn’t walk another step along the route covered by the Central line, I find out from my pal with the googly eyes that the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock hails from these here parts! Born above his father’s greengrocer’s shop at 517 High Road in Leytonstone, Hitchcock is the area’s most famous son but don’t tell that to David Beckham who grew up in the area too. 



While Hitchcock’s boyhood home was knocked down years ago, in its stead there’s a gas station—sorry— petrol station and a nice blue plaque. 


Nearby on the High Road, a pair of artists covered a building with birds to honor Hitchcock. You can see the building at the top of the page. Odronby even managed to paint a portrait of Hitchcock within the eye of the biggest bird.

David Beckham slept here. 
image credit: London Loves Business

You can still stop by Beckham’s old house at 155 Norman Road. 

The area also features blocks of flats named in the great director’s honor; Marnie Court and Topaz Way, plus there’s an actual Hitchcock Lane. Not much to look at. Disappointing? Here in California up in Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock filmed The Birds, the church and school remain but little else is recognizable. A small cafe calls itself The Birds Cafe, inside there are a couple of photos but the staff has no idea about any of it. Was this cafe used in the movie, you ask, wondering if you’ve missed something. What happened to the Tides restaurant? They don’t know. Or care. They look at you like you might be a little crazy for asking where did Tippi Hedrin take the little motorboat out.

It’s too bad time can’t stand still like it does in the movies; it would make paying homage much easier. At least there’s a plaque! Here in Los Angeles at the home where F. Scott Fitzgerald died, there’s not even that! 


My photo of the Hollywood apartment where F. Scott Fitzgerald died. 
It was the home of his mistress, gossip columnist Sheila Graham. 
There is no plaque.


And there are some lovely mosaics (17 in all) just up ahead on the walls outside the Leytonstone Station, depicting scenes from his life and his films. Four Hitchcock classics I’ve nabbed. I bet you don’t need me to identify the movies for you!


 Image credit: GuidedWalksinLondon.co.UK
image credit: CNN
image credit: theHitchcockZone.com

Done with the Hitchcock home town tour? Not quite. Up ahead on the fringes of Epping forest is the Sir Alfred Hitchcock Hotel. What does it have to do with Hitchcock? Did he stay there, eat there, shoot a film there? None of the above as far as I can see but for some reason they have license to use his name. I wonder how that works in England. Do they need permission from the estate, do they need to pay some sort of licensing fee? 
image credit: AlfredHitchcockHotel.com

That’s got me curious. If you were going to name a hotel—or a pub, a restaurant, whatever, is there a famous person you’d name it after? I’m debating between the Redford Inn and the Gosling Arms.

Instead of heading off to the Snaresbrook Station, instead I’ll check in to the Sir Alfred Hitchcock hotel for the night and mull over my decision. I have a feeling I’ll be sleeping with the light on.


The Sir Alfred Hitchcock Hotel
147 Whipps Cross Rd, London E11 1NP
+44 20 8530 3724

Counting the Fitbit steps



Day 1-58:                                                     404,090 steps/177.15 miles


Day 59: Leytonstone          .                               11000 steps/4.9 miles
                                                          

Total Imaginary Miles to Date                     415,090 steps/182 miles











Friday, January 20, 2017

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 58: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 58.

Huzzah! Following the Central Line we've made it out to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Admittedly it’s a bit out in the boonies but it’s the site of the 2012 Olympics and home to the London Aquatics Center where you can swim in the same pool where Michael Phelps won four gold medals, earning the title of the worlds greatest swimmer.


If you prefer to stay dry—and it’s not the winter season— you can take a boat tour through the park. 


Or take a ride on a Swan Pedalo! You can have your gold medal winning swim lanes, that, my friends, is my speed.

Hate the water? There are guided walking tours available too, taking you to all the key spots from the Olympics besides the pool, the stadium which is now home to the West Ham United Football Club and assorted athletic events and concerts, the velodrome where you can try your speed cycling skills and really so much more. As usual, I’ve included the website info at the bottom of this post. 


The biggest attraction of all may be the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide.

The story goes that when London’s Mayor Boris Johnson casually mentioned to Lakshi Mittal—the owner of the world’s largest steel company—that he wanted to create a landmark to commemorate the 2012 Olympic games Mittal immediately got on board, committing to provide the steel for what was billed as Britain’s tallest public sculpture. 

Based on a contest-winning design by contemporary artist Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, the 376 foot high ArcelorMittal Orbit tower was constructed from “enough steel to build 365 double decker buses’’ with over 35,000 bolts holding it together. Over 60% of the steel came from recycled steel, old washing machines and cars. Which means the remaining steel came from ArcelorMittal, which accounts for the commemorative tower commemorating the company’s name, otherwise shouldn’t it be known as the Olympics 2012 Orbit or something similar? The point is moot, apparently most people just call it the Orbit.

After the Olympics were over, as a way to bring more people out to the park, it was decided to turn the public piece of art into a slide, because isn’t that what you do with art?  

Forgive my snippy tone, I’m writing this on Inaugeration Day 2017 here in the states—an event I am not watching—and after learning yesterday that Trump plans to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and similar organizations, I’m even more suspicious of millionaires and billionaires and the deals they supposedly make for the public good. But I digress!



This is the ArcelorMittal slide. The ride lasts for 40 seconds, 40 seconds that last a lifetime!
WHAT TO EXPECT 
Visitors will descend the world’s highest and, at 178m, the world’s longest tunnel slide, as they travel down the UK’s tallest public artwork, they’ll pass through light and dark sections with London’s dramatic skyscape whizzing by!
In the 40-second trip, visitors will circle around the ArcelorMittal Orbit 12 times as they weave their way through the famous loops and curves of the iconic structure, including a tight corkscrew section names the ‘bettfeder’ – after the German word for ‘bedspring’ – and end with a 50m straight run back down to earth!
Here BBC's Valley Fontaine—I want that name—takes us along on the ride she took before the official opening in 2016. Looks like fun ... if your heart can take it. The ride books out in advance so get your tix ahead of time.






London E20 2ST
+44 800 072 2110



ArcelorMittal Orbit



Counting the Fitbit steps



Day 1-57:                                                        396,590 steps/174.15 miles


Day 58: QE Olympic Park          .                      7500 steps/3 miles
                                                          

Total Imaginary Miles to Date                    404,090 steps/177.15 miles







Today she's shared that the new ambassador to Britain is Woody Johnson, 
the owner of American football team. Sigh. It's a new world folks.

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