30 September 2009

a virtual choctaw hayride

You know how when you have a sore throat, you should be trying not to strain it? You should be speaking as little as possible and definitely not shrieking at sports teams or calling to someone across the street? Well, I've been doing okay with all that--very conscientious about my current limitations--all aided in part by the fact that I could care less about sports and the only people across the street are construction workers who do enough calling on their own. Until this morning, when all attempts at voice preservation flew right out the window.

It began with breakfast.

I was reaching for the eggs for my morning scramble when I saw the butter. And the bacon. I glanced toward the cupboard and with my x-ray vision, I saw flour. All of the sudden, I KNEW. It was biscuits and gravy time. I immediately turned to the Joy of Cooking for a drop biscuit recipe (I miss you, Pillsbury Flaky Layers), pulled out the gravy fixin's, and a few short minutes later...bliss.

(photo from The Pioneer Woman Cooks Biscuits and Gravy)
(I read this recipe post whenever I need a pick-me-up. It totally works.)

Then...here's where I lost voice control: while in the biscuits and gravy zone, I turned my itunes to Alison Krauss. I know. I KNOW. I may as well have strapped on my overalls right then and there, because I was headed down a slippery slope straight back to my Okie roots. And--as usual--Alison BEGGED me to do a duet with her. She needed my accompaniment and wouldn't take no for an answer. So the next thing you know, I'm pushing away my empty, gravy-covered plate and pulling out my air dulcimer. It was like I too was aiming for my 27th Grammy.

So yeah...now my voice is gone again. And it was so worth it, because heck.*

I may as well just get a pickup for my road trip now and call it a day.

(picture courtesy of my sister, who is selling her 1971 Ford. If it weren't for the mileage, I'd be all OVER this.)

*More of a sidebar than a footnote: Only in Oklahoma do you hear 'because heck' as an excuse for doing something. Occasionally it's accompanied by reasoning: 'Because heck, Harold, the dog was hungry! How was I to know he'd choke on the bone?' But just as often as not, the excuse is left behind and all you get by way of explanation is 'because heck' all by itself. And everybody understands. 'Because heck' can also be substituted with 'well, hell' but that's in less holy circles. We disapprove of such language in our buckle of the Bible Belt and leave that particular variation to our drinking, smoking, hell-bent brethren. Because heck!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to drink some tea and start whittling this bar of soap into a clipper ship. And don't even get me started on the peas that need shelling.

29 September 2009

Brighton, Bert's, Bill's, and The Lost Boys

Yeah, okay, so...I didn't really find any audio books that 'felt right' for my road trip at the library yesterday, but I * did * check out a pasta, pizza, and polenta cookbook (I know, right, like I need to find more ways to gain weight other than sitting at the computer all day?). But come ON. It's pasta, pizza, and polenta! What more could a girl ask for? * nudging the scale out of sight *

Today, however, I am earning the triple-p's because I have so many errands to run that at LEAST a zillion miles will be covered by foot. Maybe more. And then tonight I'm having JAPANESE for dinner, which we all know is about as healthy as you can get, as evidenced by one, the size of the average japenese person, and two, the abundance of raw fish on the menu. * Pretending not to see all the tempura and noodles *

Omigosh, speaking of amazing Japanese places: check out this place I went to on my last trip to Brighton. It was recommended to me by several locals (yes, I am not above stopping people on the street for food recommendations) as 'huge portions for super cheap. And it's GOOD.' I was lucky enough to nab a table on the sidewalk (it was a warm and sunny weekend, how lucky was I??), although eventually, due to the massive, un-ending line out the door, ended up with two strangers sitting with me. And they--in all their dreadlocked glory--were totally cool. They too kept going on about how great the value was. It was like a Brighton-wide pavlovian response: you say 'Pompoko' to ANYONE, and they immediately say the words 'So big! And cheap!' In fact, I dare you to test this. A bowl of noodles says I win. And all reports were true: I got a huge bowl of chicken katsu with a poached egg and so many noodles that I couldn't even get CLOSE to finishing them, all for £5.

I just realized when digging through my Brighton folder to find this picture that I never posted any Brighton pics! (And I have another 500 Cornish ones to go through, but we won't talk about that now.) So here we go! Forgive me in advance for the very food-centric nature of the below. My trip was definitely an exercise to test my stomach's capacity. You will be pleased to know it did very well. * patting it proudly *

Where I had lunch the Friday I arrived...

It's both good and bad that the walk to my b & b required me to go past Bert's Homestore fifteen times a day...although this time I DID manage to abstain from any buying. Mostly by forbidding myself to go in any further than the doorway.

Ahhhh...the Maison Mascara. My home away from home.

And the reason I stay at the Maison every time I go to Brighton. I was in that tub with bubbles up to my ears at least four times a day, not gonna lie. I watched late night t.v. from it, I read from it, I drank coffee from it...I'm lucky I even left my room.

And don't let me forget to mention the newest perk of the Maison: breakfast in bed! You check off a little menu when you arrive telling them what you want and when you want it, and ta-da! A tiny little knock at your door the next morning, and breakfast is served! I barely had to leave the tub.

Plus right down the street from the Maison is Uncle Sam's, the best burgers in England, I kid you not. They're like a cross between In-and-Out and Sonic (please, stop for a moment and salivate with me), and you could easily toss back at least two. I hear. There's no seating--it's just an ordering counter in a tiny pink space the size of a closet--but with the beach at the end of the block, you wouldn't stick around, anyway.

You won't believe it: this was also the weekend of the Brighton Food and Drink Festival! I KNOW! I couldn't have planned it any better...

But of course the ENTIRE weekend wasn't about food...

Shopping in The Lanes.

Shopping on the beach.

Shopping in the North Lanes.

And another lunch (please don't count how many lunches I had in a 3-day time period) at Bill's Produce Store! You will be pleased to note that they still had the peppered steak sandwich on the menu, although it wasn't served on the onion foccaccia, which was a bit disappointing. So then I requested regular focaccia, which they were willing to do, except oops! It's 3:00. All out of focaccia. And every other bread on the menu except for sourdough and granary. Bill, how DARE you make your bread fresh each day and then run out. What kind of operation is this?? I'm kidding, Bill. I love you. But next time put some aside for me or there's going to be weirdness between us.

And miscellaneous photos:

For more Brighton photos, go here. You'll see some fantastic graffiti and the Brighton Pier amusement park by night. Which was scary. I don't know if it was the gusts of wind swaying the dock every five minutes, or the fact that there were only ten of us in the entire park, or just residual scarring from watching The Lost Boys recently, but...yeah. Terrifying. You have to go there.

28 September 2009

The London Design Festival

I was going to go into this whole dynamic story of my trip to one of London's Design Festival hubs last Saturday, but then I got distracted by this funny twitter article and watching Flight of the Conchords on youtube, so all of my visions have dissipated. That's the problem with blogging: you have to* get on the internet to do it.

But the Festival! It was [insert hyperactively gushing adjective here].

I KNOW. PIERRE PAULIN. Words cannot describe the way my heart skipped when I entered the Artifort room. They had a DOZEN of his chairs. Or maybe just five or six. I didn't count, because I was too busy leaping over photographers to jump into this one. And I didn't leave it again until I was lured away by the floor monitor offering me candy, which in hindsight was a total ploy to get me to stop humping the chair.

Veuve Clicquot (motto: 'bringing you unaffordable Champagne, one glass at a time') was the event sponsor and they built an entire lounge area out of...labels? Either way, you felt buzzed just going into it. And no, you couldn't steal those bottles on the floor. They are WATCHING you. And offering you candy and maps to other floors.

I also discovered my new favorite designer: Duffy London, you. complete. me. This canvas was the first thing to catch my eye from the design collection: it's actually backlit and it GLOWS. Yes. I kid you not. A glowing chandelier canvas. I could NOT get enough of it. Because it's AWESOME. And Duffy London doesn't stop there: they've also got these fantastic lampshades, and wallpaper, and mirrors that reminded me of playing with Lite Brite as a child, and and and! * head exploding * It was lovely.

Check out this sweet lounge. You see that bright backlighting? That's not because I suck as a photographer; it's because I took this picture in heaven. This is what I imagine my personal afterlife to look like. Sans the two strangers. Unless they're there to massage me, in which case they can stay.

I lounged around The Rug Company sipping fresh mint tea they were serving. For FREE. Because they're not Veuve Clicquot, they're wonderful. I could still peer at the Veuve crowd over the cushions, though. Like a spy, or a hobbit. I was totally cool.

Prototype THIS, Alexander. I mean...uh...shoot. Nice chair.

I've got to head to the library now. I have a mega-vision of burning kazillions of books-on-cd into my itunes>ipod for the Great American Road Trip. It would be great to go with American classics while on the road--Flannery, Raymond, maybe a little F. Scott or Ernest--but my selection may be limited by the fact that I'm looking in a British library. I'll probably end up with the entire series of James Bond or something.

*I know, I know. 'Technically' I could pre-write my post in Word and then just paste it in--a handy trick back when I was blog-posting during the workday**--but now I just can't be bothered...

**Only during lunchtime, of course. Hire me.

25 September 2009

On travel writing and Padstow, Cornwall

I just signed up for a Lonely Planet account with the views of eventually soliciting road trip companions--although I've received so many warnings of 'You'll be raped!' from well-intentioned friends that now I'm all paranoid-like--but anyway, until I figure out if that's a direction I want to go--soliciting the company of strangers, that is, not rape--I've at least taken the step of joining this huge travel community. And part of the profile set-up process includes a section for blog information. And, you know, I've got one and all, so I typed it in, and then it asked if I want it to be considered by the Lonely Planet team as a possible Blog They Like, and of course I clicked 'yes,' because hey, cool, a Lonely Planet Blog! They may think I'm useful and/or worth pimping out to other travelers! But now, after doing all that, I've come back to my blog and--wait a tick! I don't actually talk much travel! So now I'm all thinking I should do a post on backpacking through Laos and eating steamed dragon balls sold to me by a legless orphan in a busy marketplace, where I also took the opportunity to bathe myself for the first time in two months from the town well using nothing but the dirty rag tied around my neck before recycling the water for drinking purposes, that way when Lonely Planet comes to check me out they'll be all impressed, like, 'HERE'S a real traveler,' and then they'll include me in their blogroll and never look back, at which point I'll be free to resume writing about sitting at the kitchen table all day and they'll never know I'm a total fraud. Or that I'm prone to massive run-ons. It will be the scam of a century. Even hotter than the recent one I heard (thanks to a documentary just aired over here, although after some research, it appears this rumor has been ongoing for a few years now, get WITH it, England) about how America faked Neil Armstrong landing on the moon just to win the Cold War. Though I'm not gonna lie when I say I would probably be just as proud if the latter were true. Because awesome. We could do that.

I should probably post some more Cornwall photos now. Because, you know, I've got a travel blog. It's what I do, Lonely Planet.

These pictures were all taken in Padstow, the foodie mecca of Cornwall thanks to Rick Stein. Apparently he owns about half the town's property, as evidenced by the Stein Bakery, Stein Deli, Stein Patisserie, and the Stein I Can Cook Whatever the Heck I Want and You'll Eat It Because I'm Rick Stein. Word on the street he gets mad when you call Padstow 'Padstein,' but really, can you blame anybody? And also, how cool would it be if a town took on your name because your effect is so huge? Heck, if a town started to call itself Padselby, I'd be SO DOWN WITH THAT. In fact, I'm starting a movement right now: everyone, this is Padselby. Welcome.

24 September 2009

on throat coat, cornwall, and cough syrup

Right now the dishwasher is humming and the kettle is whispering and the soup is gurgling. These sounds are my company today, and they're keeping me warm.

The Cornwall pictures are coming along...I'm about a third of the way through, which feels really nice. But then, everything feels nice today. I don't know if it's because I'm doped up on enough cold medicine to tranquilize a horse, or because I've had so much Throat Coat tea that hallucinatory effects are taking place, or if it's just the general sense of well-being that comes from making soup and cookies from scratch and having them both cooking away at the same time, but either way...everything is so...nice right now. Except for that burning smell...hold on while I leave my stupor to check on those cookies...ahhhh. Done. They look so nice.

For some strange, inexplicable reason, I just took some time out to do a photo shoot with my tea box. Because, you know, I don't have loads of other stuff I could be working on. But it beckoned, and I think it wanted the glory of being the single item that's soothing my throat right now:

But I'm not gonna lie: it tastes like *ss. (Mom, I put that asterisk in there for you. Because really, it tastes like ASS, but I didn't want to offend you. I love you.) I don't what the heck this slippery elm talk is all about, but I can tell you, the flavor doesn't seem far from licking a tree. But man...my throat is coated and feels so much better than it did this morning. It's so nice.

I was going to put a couple of Cornwall pics in here, but my blog seems to have taken a different direction ever since the tea got demanding. In fact, I'm not really sure where I'm at right now.

Ah. Cornwall pics. That's right. Here are just a few of the zillion I'm working through (and by 'working,' I mean, 'zoning'):

Can you imagine how it would feel to live in that tiny little hamlet across from the water? One word comes to mind.

Yeah, I KNOW.

Every night, a sunset to knock your socks off. It didn't matter how foggy and cool the morning was--by noon, the sun was bright and crisp, and by dusk, everything glowed.

This fisherman reminded me of Elton John the second I saw him. I couldn't begin to tell you why. The hair? The glasses? The coveralls? The fact that he had a piano in the back of his boat? Perhaps we'll never know.

Alright, I gotta go. This tea is trying to kill me now. I can't wait to see you tomorrow.

23 September 2009

I missed you.

I'm BACK!! I actually landed in London-town on Sunday afternoon, but the lovely Heather was still here, so of COURSE I was slightly distracted--and infinitely busy pretending not to shop--to get fully online. But she left this morning back to San Francisco, so here I am! And so thrilled. It feels like it's been AGES since I've slouched at this computer drinking eighteen cups of coffee and posting too many photos on my blog and basically being a complete slacker all day long.

Speaking of posting photos to my blog! I had intended to upload some Cornwall pics today, but then I saw that I took over a thousand. Seriously. What was I thinking? Did I REALLY need to shoot the same beach seventy times, each with a slightly different expanse of sand and cliff? Why, when I'm shooting, can I not remember how impossible it is to sit at the computer later and pick out one photo from three dozen nearly-identical versions? These will take some time to go through. In fact, you'll probably see them...never. Kinda like how you saw my Spain photos two years after the fact, and then only about five of them.

Nonetheless...I'm so glad to be back!

15 September 2009

Cornwall: it really IS another country.

‘Can you tell me how to access the wifi?’
‘The what?’
‘The wifi. Wireless internet?’
(merry chortling) ‘Oh, we ain’t got that kind of fancery up here.’

No mobile signal and no internet for five days: I haven’t just entered a coastal village in Cornwall--I’ve entered the Dark Ages.

I initially thought the 'quaint and charming' holiday cottage came with wifi. I don’t know why I thought this. Delusion, maybe, or the fancying notion that it’s almost 2010, doesn’t EVERY accommodation come with wifi? After arriving late Sunday night, however, it quickly became apparent that 'quaint and charming' not only meant no wifi, it meant no phone signal, poor plumbing, no toilet paper or bath towels, and an electrical box that you feed with pound coins to avoid getting plunged into darkness. It's pretty hilarious, actually, though that can only be said because the price to stay there for a week is an absolute steal, and the location--the coastal village of Crackington Haven--is so beautiful it takes your breath away.

A trip 'into town'--not Crackington Haven, which seems to consist of a pub and a post office--but the nearby metropolis of Bude (consisting of a pub, a post office, and a surf shop), has yielded one lone internet cafe, which is where I am posting from right now. I feel drunk with power having a connection at last and am loath to leave it, but with the beach right outside the window and the loads of weight to be gained on the fabulous local seafood, well...sacrifices have to be made.

I really can't wait to tell you about Cornwall, though, when I'm at a computer that doesn't charge by the minute. It's a stunner--not just in terms of the coastline (which strangely resembles a lot of northern California), but in terms of the villages that dot it. They are sweet and cobbled and tiny and full of fishermen and fresh seafood--and oh, the seafood! I can see now why Cornwall is known as the British foodie mecca--it's absolutely overflowing with gorgeous cuisine, all locally and organically sourced and impeccably prepared. It's the land of Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver, and the bar these chefs have raised reveals itself nearly every place you stop, from the fish and chippies to the pasty bakeries and farm shops. You really can't go wrong.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a coastline to hit and a waistline to pad...life is GOOD.

11 September 2009

It's only a WEEKEND. I don't need to PACK.

I think I've frightened off Heather. I don't know if it was from my walking on her heels all day, or staring at her while she slept, or licking her spoon at dinner or WHAT, but either way, she's headed off for the weekend to a 'family reunion' (likely story) and her dad came and picked her up this morning (like that was her dad), and now she is gone...

But I'm healing, pulling it together, and looking forward to her return on Sunday. In the meantime, I'M GOING TO BRIGHTON! I love the Brighton. It has the best eating and walking and shopping and bathtubs-in-bedrooms that a girl could ever ask for. This time, per LeaLea's recommendation, I'm going to seek out The Lollipop Shoppe (how have I missed it before??) and then heading straight to Bill's Produce Store, where I will, at long last, get to try the peppered steak sandwich that I was eyeing last time I was there and which had better still be on the menu or we are going to have WORDS, Bill.

I still haven't packed yet, even though I'm leaving for my train in an hour. I'm shockingly sleepy right now, considering I slept for over eight hours and had a hearty pancake breakfast with Hedder and am now sitting down with my blog and a coffee. These are all GO TIME conditions. But I'm thinking about that lovely, rocking train, and that lovely, bubbly bath awaiting me at the Maison Mascara, and all I want is a little catnap. I don't feel like packing. Packing is lame and I'm horrible at it.

I'm currently going back and forth about whether to bring my laptop with me ('I'll have time to post!' 'You're on vacation! No computers on vacation!' 'But what if I need to google a restaurant??' 'Ask somebody where to go or look in your guidebook!' 'But but but!') Ultimately, it's probably a good thing my computer weighs eighty thousand pounds, because my compulsive need to check email pales only to my compulsive need to not carry heavy crap. Plus, you know, I'd have to pack it, which isn't apparently something I'm into right now.

Alright, I should go...at the very least, Brighton will appreciate it if I'm wearing pants.

See you all soon! Kiss hug.

10 September 2009

Happy Heather Day!

Omg guess who is sleeping in my guest bedroom as I type?? GUESS!

Okay, I'll tell you because I can't stand the tension. IT'S HEATHER!

Seriously, if this doesn't flip your skirt, I don't know what will. When she wakes up, we're going to go hit the town and get some lunch and top up some phone and oyster and WOOO HOOOO all things good and exciting and fun because HEATHER'S HERE!

Seriously, I've got to go poke her. This is too much excitement to bear.

09 September 2009

This has nothing to do with the missing Glasvegas singer.

Today has been a wonderfully productive day and it's only one in the afternoon! This only bodes well for the rest of it, I have to say. So far I have completed a scavenger hunt for a friend's wedding (and I made those mother effing clues RHYME, biyotches, because that's how much I owned it), did some route-markering for the road trip, emailed a handful of relevant people about my move back to SF (anybody got a room to rent? Anybody?), and polished off a load of dirty dishes that were threatening to overrun the kitchen. I know, I know. I'm awesome.

Now I'm heading out to run some errands! I'm checking the prices on some Camden chairs (not for me! I swear! I'm done shopping!), looking for a London design magazine (again, not for me! I swear!), getting my favorite mega-burrito, and returning a book to the library! Man, I amaze myself. I am a TOTAL maniac on the floor today.

And then tomorrow, HEATHER ARRIVES! She's going to be in and out of London and Barcelona for the next two weeks, and will be staying here in the midst of her travels! I cannot WAIT. We are going to party like it's 1999. Except for next week, when I'll be in Cornwall. But after THAT, watch out, London! Here we COME!

08 September 2009

boot sales and bootlegging

The Old Butcher on the Corner: Say, have you been to a boot sale yet?
Me, slightly confused: I've been to shoe sales before, but never specifically 'boot'...are they different here?
OB, chortling merrily: No, no, a BOOT sale! Like a CAR boot!
Me: OH! A trunk!
OB: YES! All these cars drive into a lot and sell things out of their boots! A boot sale! They're great fun!

I have to admit I was intrigued. People selling things out of their trunks? This can only lead to excellent, semi-illegal dealings of black market goods. Of course I couldn't resist. So I did some research, and narrowed it down to two boot sales this past Sunday: one on Holloway Road, a rougher part of town, and one in Battersea, a nicer part of town. I was curious to see if the difference in neighborhood would effect the quality of wares...

Holloway Road...where I have never seen more broken electronics, bootlegged dvd's, and questionable designer sunglasses in my LIFE. It was awesome.

I also overheard the following snippets of conversation:

No, man, I can tell you, that stereo WORKS. I mean, I can't plug it in or anythin' to show you, but it's good, it's good.

Hey! You broke the cork on that jug! No, no, don't try to tell me the cork was already rotted away, it was ALL THERE a minute ago. You have to buy that.

This, this is very old, very valuable, one of a kind. You put this saint in a good spot, you get good luck.

Despite all the trappings, however, I managed to score a 50p copy of the Bill Bryson book I want to take with me on my road trip. This will happily replace the one I'm reading right now that belongs to the library, as they may not appreciate me marking up various pages and then stealing it.

Then we have the Battersea Market. The crowd here was much different than the Holloway crowd, where you worried about getting pick-pocketed or having someone accuse you of stealing a cassette tape. Here, there was slightly more space between the rows of cars (though not between the people), the items for sale didn't look like they had been stolen the night before, and the delicious smell of frying food wafted across the lot.

It was also crazy busy. People were selling used clothes, boxes of dusty bottles, china, wooden elephants, toys, EVERYTHING. Part of me saw a romantic treasure in everything, and part of me was compulsively santizing my hands every eight seconds.

One of the sellers there had some great old wooden toys. 'His neighbor' gave them to him to sell. Everyone's got a story like that--the handbag came from a cousin, the vase from an aunt--because if you aren't selling things that you got for free, or that are yours, you get classified as a 'trader,' with all of the legal implications that come along with the title--including small things, like accountability. Plus, saying a bag came from your cousin sounds much nicer than 'it's a knock-off from the Philipines.' This man's story I believed, though, because his toys were so FUN, and I'll always believe a person when it's in my best interest to do so. Check out this fantastic taxi:

I know. Killer cute, huh? I didn't get him, but I should have.

07 September 2009

A brief detour

I was going to do a blog post this morning when I still high on caffeine, but then I remembered a last minute doctor's appointment and had to hightail it across town.

Then, while I was across town, I decided to do a bit of shopping. (Not to actually 'buy' anything...after all, how frivolous would that be when I'm about to move halfway across the world? I just wanted to take a LOOK, and maybe TOUCH some thing, and it's just so NICE to stroll through beautiful shops with a coffee in hand on a rainy day...I wasn't even going to fall for these Concetta Gallo dessert bowls at 20% off....certainly not.) (Okay, maybe just a COUPLE...but then, what good is two? Maybe just FOUR...)

And now, a few hours, several cups of coffee, and one engorged tote bag later, I'm home at last...

But TOMORROW! Tomorrow we'll be back on track, blogging and doing chores and reading up on the highways of America. Without a DOUBT.

04 September 2009

If Dolores Park and Pac Heights had a love child, this is what it would look like.

Primrose Hill has been on my to-visit list since...well, since I moved here a year ago, really. But it was also one of those places you can be like, 'I'll go next week,' and then next thing you know you're moving away and thinking, 'SON OF A!' So then you sprint over, camera in hand, and then think, 'Oh. I think we've got one of these in San Francisco.'

As far as 'parks on a hill with a view of the city' go, it was remarkably similar to Dolores Park. Except bigger. And with really wealthy, over-dressed people, AND the chance that you may run into Gwyneth and Jude (but not Madonna, who I hear kicks it in East London, but again, all hearsay, don't use this information on Jeopardy), and with a few dozen more tourists. 'They say' the best time to go is sunset, but this time of year that's 8:30, which means by the time the sun went down, I would have been too busy chewing off my arm to take a photo. I personally called it a day around 6:30 because HELLO, feeding time!, and headed down the hill to Lemonia on Regent's Park Road (which, by the way, was amazing, DO IT. Also, make a reservation, because then you feel like a stud when you pass the crowd at the door and get seated immediately).

Primrose Hill is an authentic London village, both in the denotative definition ('any neighborhood that doesn't have its own tube stop,' which is a definition people from Crouch End are quick to point out), and in the connotative definition (small, intimate, charming, self-sufficient). It's also one of the loveliest parts of London I've seen yet. It felt very...SAFE. And quiet. And all the dogs you passed were tiny and groomed, and the owners were smiley and gracious, and everybody appeared to know each other, and it made you think how nice it would be to live there and wear big sweaters and have your own stall at the annual street fair.

You can tell by the shops alone what sort of person lives here: the kind that are into pets, paper, and patisseries. Islington, where I live, is lined with vinyl shops and antique stores. Cool in a John Cusack sort of way, less cool in a stepping-around-piles-of-dog-crap sort of way.

For all of London's usually-appalling weather, there is a significant bike community here. Although some of the hardcore riders would be pressed to tell you that most of the summer bikers are 'fairweather posers.' I don't believe it. I mean, this girl above looks like she pushes her bike ALL the time.

Dolores Park? Or Primrose Hill? Wait. There aren't any drag queens. Definitely Primrose Hill.

This is the view you hear so much about. It makes you feel like you're a million miles away from London while being in the heart of it.

When you finally get to the top of the hill, you feel like this guy looks.

Yep. From up here, you can see the BT Tower, and the London Eye...

...and St. Paul's With Its Many Cranes...

...and my personal favorite: 30 St. Mary Axe looking for all the world like it's trying to hide behind some buildings. Come ON, St. Mary, we can see you back there. You're a giant GHERKIN.

My favorite row of houses...living here has GOT to be like permanent Easter.

Is it just me, or does that stroller look like a lawn mower? OMIGOSH, I just had A BRILLIANT IDEA: somebody should invent a lawn-mower-stroller! You could use it to cut the grass AND lull your baby to sleep, all in one go! I can see the commercial now... (fade into a tired mother, pushing an old, unwieldy stroller): 'How many times have you taken your baby for a walk to put them to sleep and found yourself circling the same park for hours at a stretch, while your chores list back home grows beneath your weary feet? Well, now you can knock off one of those chores while you're walking, using the LaMoStro--the one and only stroller that also trims your lawn! The humming and vibrating of the motor will sooth your little one to an instant slumber while your yardwork takes care of itself!' (switch to a view of the happy, invigorated mother next door, effortlessly pushing the LaMoStro around her pristine lawn, while her good-humored baby sleeps with a smile on his cherubic face. She waves merrily at Worn Mother trudging up her weed-covered drive.) (fade out to: 'Naptime will never be the same again: LaMoStro.')

Oh, this is gonna be GOOD. I can FEEL it.

And once the millions start rolling in, I'm SO getting this house. Primrose Hill won't even know what hit 'em...