In a new Janome advert!

October 6th, 2014

What a thrill!  My copy of American Quilter, the AQS magazine for members of the AQS (American Quilters Society, as in the quilty folks in Paducah), arrived a day or two ago.  Yesterday I pulled it out of its wrapper and was leafing through it while making decaf tea last night.  I set it down, cover down and my eyes just about popped out of my head–there was the banner I made for Janome in thanks for their long-term support and loan of machines over the past decade ON THE BACK COVER in Janome’s new ad!

The back cover of the current issue of American Quilter with a Janome advert and MY quilted banner!

The back cover of the current issue of American Quilter with a Janome advert and MY quilted banner!  Right click to view larger.  They photography is great–it is really hard to photograph quilting on white fabric and show the depth and texture and they did a great job with this.

The banner was quilted on an 8900 to show what one can do with the machine.  It is a *brilliant* machine.   If you don’t want the top of the line 15000 (what I currently am using on loan and OMG is it a phenomenal piece of computer and machinery) and all the embroidery functions, the 8900 is tops and has a zillion options.   Anyway, here is a picture I took of Janome’s booth last year in Houston, with my banner hanging!

The banner in the Janome booth at International Quilt Festival last year (2013).

The banner in the Janome booth at International Quilt Festival last year (2013).

And some shots of the full front, back and a couple of detail photos.

The full banner.  Right click to see larger.

The full banner. Right click to see larger.

The back.  I LOVE the backs.  The more I quilt, the more I like the back even more than the front!

The back. I LOVE the backs. The more I quilt, the more I like the back even more than the front!  Right click to see larger.

And some detail shots.

Detail of stitching.

Detail of stitching.  Right click to see larger.  I really like the way the background quilting turned out.

And one more detail photo. Right click to see larger.

And one more detail photo. Right click to see larger.

Thanks again to Janome America for years of support and making the best machines ever.

Thanks are also due to Jenny Bowker, a fanatastic art quilter from Australia.   About four years ago at Quilt Festival I was chatting with Jenny Bowker, who was telling me about how she teaches free-motion quilting and invited me by her classroom to see her samples.  In my classes I have always suggested using a large print to free-motion practice, but Jenny had this great way of using a square of big print surrounded by a solid color then by white (like a log cabin blog of sorts).  I asked permission to use/borrow/adapt Jenny’s idea and, Jenny being the wonderful and generous person she is, instantly said of course I could.   When I started my samples and offering this as an alternative to the main exercise in my intro free-motion quilting class, I wanted mine to be different so I eliminated the colored fabric and changes the shapes a bit.  Think of it as big print meets Quilt Modern!

After Festival I made some samples and blogged about them and Jenny’s work.  This banner is an extended version of those samples.   Thanks again to Jenny for a brilliant idea and sharing it!  Do go visit her website and enjoy her artwork, here.  Warning:  do not drool on your computer…her work is what I aspire to be able to do!

England 2014: the 13th, Stonehenge

October 4th, 2014

This late afternoon visit is one of the memorable moments of my life.   If you stick with me and go through this post, you’ll not only see photos, but two short videos I took while walking inside, so you get to walk along with me!

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm.  On a typical summer’s day, some 3000 tourists visit Stonehenge, which is located on the Salisbury Plain.  They must keep to this walkway around the stones because they were being loved to death, with folks compacting the soil so much it was disturbing the structures.  But with our after-hours tour, we got to go inside.

The tour Eli and I took, with Premium Tours and here, visited Bath, Lacock and Stonehenge (first part of the day blogged about here).  For a considerable (but worth it!) sum, a few companies are allowed to bring a tour bus in at either sunrise or sunset, before or after the general public is allowed in, so you have the grounds to yourself.  Since at least when I was in school in England in 1978, you couldn’t walk near to the stones but on a path a distance away (where I took this first photo).  Now, these groups are allowed (in groups of 25) INSIDE the CIRCLE!  Keep reading…the best, longest video is toward the end of the post in sequence.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face.  The new wonderful visitor's center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face. The new wonderful visitor’s center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago. Just to the left of Eli’s head, about the level of his chin, you can see a structure beyond the fence post…that’s it.  Seems small on the broad horizon.  Just wait!

The official sign near the visitor's center

The official sign near the visitor’s center

From that perimeter pathway.  As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

From that perimeter pathway. As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone.  Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze....

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone. Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze….the hush as we all stood looking.  There were the 50 people on the bus, our tour guide and two security guards.  LOTS better than a throng of thousands like during the day!

The site allows only 25 persons at a time inside the circle, and you are not allowed to touch the stones.  Luckily, Eli and I got ourselves into the second group.

At one of the signs on the perimeter path--yes, we were really there!

At one of the signs on the perimeter path–yes, we were really there!

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down. Notice the guard on the left, to give a sense of how BIG these stones are!

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot.

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot. Just by the trees on his right is a major road, the equivalent of a US interstate.  They are working on relocating that major road farther away from the site.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside.  The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside. The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

From inside the circle.

From inside the circle.  That tallest stone in the center has a nipple on top:  at the top of each of the standing stones is a nipple with a corresponding divot on the under side of the lintel / cross-piece.  Amazing to think considering what tools they had when this was built.  

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird's nest.

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird’s nest.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

Here’s the first video, me turning around inside the circle; if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view):

Stonehenge 1-Inside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Decided to lay down on the grounds--no, didn't feel any deep vibrations or c ommunication from the other side!

Decided to lay down on the grounds–no, didn’t feel any deep vibrations or communication from the other side!

Eli at Stonehenge.

Eli at Stonehenge.

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

And the second video, walking around the stone circle.  Remember, if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view).  Come walk with me and listen to the wind and sigh:

Stonehenge 2–Outside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Then the sunset began to glow…OH MY!

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014.   SIGH.  Contentment.

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014. SIGH. Contentment.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze...Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze…Stonehenge, August 2014.

Everyone was just awed–we were all walking around smiling and awed from ear to ear.   It was a long day, and at about 8 pm we began the trip back to London and our hotels.  Worth.  Every.  Penny.   Expensive, but worth it.   A memory for a lifetime, and so glad I got to share it with Eli.  SIGH.   Contentment.

Whimsy-Class and Sarah’s Thermofax screens at Fiber on a Whim

October 2nd, 2014

What FUN!   As a result of collaborating with Fiber on a Whim, I am thrilled to announce that they are now carrying a line of thermofax screens designed by ME!  Whooda thunk it?   Best of all, FoaW is debuting the screens with a sale!

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.   This piece was made (in part) with the Queen Anne’s Lace thermofax screen at Fiber on a Whim.

The collaboration began when Fiber on a Whim asked if I would like to do a mini class in their booth at Festival.  At International Quilt Festival I will be teaching regular classes (Intro to Machine Quilting, Birch Pond Seasons, particpating in the Machine Quilting Forum and giving a lecture on Tuesday), but I will also be doing two mini Whimsy Classes in the Fiber on a Whim booth #144 on the show floor on Thursday at 5 and Friday at 11. I’d love to see you in both the regular and the Whimsy classes!  The Whimsy classes (both the same)  will use thermofax screens and other paint processes to create your own cloth.  The booth is on “Main Street” (the big red-carpeted aisle in the middle) right next to the passageway/entrance to the quilts exhibits!  Read more about FoaWhim’s Festival plans here on their blog.

In the class I hope to have students do two small projects each.  In the class, students will create the Queen Anne’s lace background fabric used in this project along with the painted part of the nest, then finish the stitchery and quilting at home.  I will provide the materials you need in class, you add the rest at home.  Just show up, pay for the class (a very modest fee that covers supply costs), and play!  There will only be 8 spaces per class; stay tuned for details but I think you just need to show up about 15 minutes before class and the first 8 people in line get in to the classes.

The Queen Anne’s Lace custom stencil, which you can purchase from Fiber on a Whim not only at International Quilt Festival but also on their website is this one, which has the flower head in three sizes on a 9 x 12 inch screen.  (PS–did you remember all my screens are on sale right now?)  You can print with just a single size or use all three (or portions):

 

My custom Queen Anne's Lace screen that will be available from Fiber on a Whim, probably on their website later this week.

My custom Queen Anne’s Lace screen that will be available from Fiber on a Whim, probably on their website later this week.

I will also have students work on a piece of art cloth to make something along the lines of the piece below, which uses my Onions thermofax screen (I’ll post more about the screens once Fiber on a Whim is ready to sell).  This was like fingerpainting in kindergarten–pure play–but with cloth!

And some art cloth--this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style.  I wanted to have something totally "not me" though so that students get to try both representational and not!

And some art cloth–this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style. I wanted to have something totally “not me” though so that students get to try both representational and not!

Here are a few more images so you get the idea of what we will be doing–do come play!

For the nest piece, I took some pale beige batik, my Queen Anne's Lace stencil and paint to create this cloth, which I love so much I can see making yardage of this to use!

For the nest piece, I took some pale beige batik, my Queen Anne’s Lace stencil and paint to create this cloth, which I love so much I can see making yardage of this to use!

My onion screen will also be available at Fiber on a Whim.  I simply overlapped it a bunch of times to create this cloth, again something that I can see using as background fabrics.  And what a variety you'd get depending on your base cloth (this was plain white) and colors.

My onion screen will also be available at Fiber on a Whim. I simply overlapped it a bunch of times to create this cloth, again something that I can see using as background fabrics. And what a variety you’d get depending on your base cloth (this was plain white) and colors.  This was layers 1 and 2 in the red-black-white piece.

Hope you’re intrigued.  Personally, I want to go play with paint and cloth!

 

England 2014: Wednesday the 13th: Bath and Lacock

September 30th, 2014
Minerva Sulis, from the Roman Baths in Bath, England

Minerva Sulis, from the Roman Baths in Bath, England–simply exquisite.  I SO need to get out my pencils and watercolors and sketch this head.

Wednesday, August 13 was such a packed day that I’ve had to split it into TWO posts.  When I planned the trip, I wanted to give Eli as good a feeling for various parts of England and times in its history as I could manage in two weeks.  We went from over 2000 years ago to early Roman Britain to medieval to Georgian to Oxford/universities to modern in various places.   Stonehenge is really hard to reach (impossible) by train, and I didn’t want to drive, so that meant a coach tour.  Very early on in the planning, I discovered a special tour that ran from an 11 a.m. pick up in London to Bath, Lacock and Stonehenge, home about 10 p.m.   This post will be the first two stops.

On the way to meet the coach, I had to hug a pillar box (for mail) just in case they ecome a vanishing artifact, like the red phone booths (after all, how many pay phones are there in YOUR town now?  Precious few!)

On the way to meet the bus tour, I had to hug a pillar box (for mail) just in case they become a vanishing artifact, like the red phone booths (after all, how many pay phones are there in YOUR town now? Precious few!) .  Yes, happy to be back in England!

As with my earlier posts, I’ll put most of the info in the photo captions as there are so many photos.

The English countryside, headed west from London to Bath.  Wales is in the distance.

The English countryside, headed west from London to Bath. Wales is in the distance.

In Bath, our guide had the bus stop at the top of the hill so we could walk down to the center of town.  He said these trees were planted July 4, 1776.  Not sure how they know that, but the ring of trees must date to about them.  They are in a circle in the center of Georgian homes on a circular area/park-let.

In Bath, our guide had the bus stop at the top of the hill so we could walk down to the center of town. He said these trees were planted July 4, 1776. Not sure how they know that, but the ring of trees must date to about then. They are in a circle in the center of Georgian homes on a circular area/park-let.

Our guide wanted us to see the view down to bath but also to see a quintessential Georgian “crescent” of homes.  These would have been for the well-to-do as they are tall.  Transport yourself to something Jane Austen-ish!

This neighborhood in Bath has been well-to-do for a good 300 years.

This neighborhood in Bath has been well-to-do for a good 300 years.

We then walked down the hill through town to the Roman Baths.  The building on the other side of the horde of tourists is the Roman baths.

We then walked down the hill through town to the Roman Baths. The building on the other side of the horde of tourists is the Roman baths.

Not sure of the date of this building, but obviously it isn't Roman.  But it was decorated incredibly beautifully with "classic" themed images.

Not sure of the date of this building, but obviously it isn’t Roman. But it was decorated incredibly beautifully with “classic” themed images.

One of the triangular panels beneath the dome--just love the artwork, the "fit the space" composition, the delicacy of the lines of the figure

One of the triangular panels beneath the dome–just love the artwork, the “fit the space” composition, the delicacy of the lines of the figure

Drum roll:  the Roman Baths.  A tad green, eh?  But folks have gone to take the waters and regain health in Bath for nigh on to 1700 years.  And The US of A  is scarcely 300 years including many colonial days...

Drum roll: the Roman Baths. A tad green, eh? But folks have gone to take the waters and regain health in Bath for nigh on to 1700 years. And The US of A is scarcely 300 years including most of our time as colonies…

Never one to miss a sewing opportunity or idea, however, I snapped this young woman's backpack with button pocket while at the baths.

Never one to miss a sewing opportunity or idea, I snapped this young woman’s backpack with button pocket while at the baths.

As always, I am fascinated with "how did they do that back then?"  This is a hollowed out brick used in creating an arch, with deep scored patterns to help the mortar stick.  My thought:  what a great rubbing that would make!

As always, I am fascinated with “how did they do that back then?” This is a hollowed out brick used in creating an arch, with deep scored patterns to help the mortar stick. My thought: what a great rubbing that would make!

And carvings.  Now can anyone tell me that whoever created E.T. (remember the movie, "phone home" and the trail of Reese's pieces?) had NOT seen this carving?

And carvings. Now can anyone tell me that whoever created E.T. (remember the movie, “phone home” and the trail of Reese’s pieces?) had NOT seen this carving?  It is TOTALLY E.T.!

A thousand years ago when I was in England in college I visited the baths, but I had not realized or remembered that the waters are WARM.  This interior waterfall that directs the mineral-laden water to the bathing pools clearly shows *how* warm!

A thousand years ago when I was in England in college I visited the baths, but I had not realized or remembered that the waters are WARM. This interior waterfall that directs the steaming mineral-laden water to the bathing pools clearly shows *how* warm!

And when I entered the room with this Green Man it simply took my breath away.  I KNOW they displays and museum weren't this good in 1978!

And when I entered the room with this Green Man it simply took my breath away. I KNOW the displays and museum weren’t this good in 1978!

Back outside of the baths is the Cathedral in Bath.  I hadn't realized that in England a city is a place that has a cathedral.  The rest are towns.  Makes it pretty straightforward, eh?  And as always, incredible artistry in the carvings.

Back outside of the baths is the Cathedral in Bath. I hadn’t realized that in England a city is a place that has a cathedral. The rest are towns. Makes it pretty straightforward, eh? And as always, incredible artistry in the carvings.

The next ones are for my dear friend Marie Z, who has a thing for angels:

On one of the towers of the Cathedral.  Note most of the angels are going up, but one is falling.

On one of the towers of the Cathedral. Note most of the angels are going up, but this shot of a portion of the tower shows how one is falling, too.

We were to meet the bus near to the Cathedral, where there was a park down by the river, with this beautiful angel.

We were to meet the bus near to the Cathedral, where there was a park down by the river, with this beautiful angel.

I loved the wings so much that I had to take this close-up.  And I must say, traveling with a digital camera and being able to take a gazillion shots, delete the flubs and not worry about how long one's supply of ten rolls of 36 negatives each would last, is really nice!  And being to see that you FLUBBED all the shots before you leave so you can take them again!

I loved the wings so much that I had to take this close-up. And I must say, traveling with a digital camera and being able to take a gazillion shots, delete the flubs and not worry about how long one’s supply of ten rolls of 36 negatives each would last, is really nice! And being to see that you FLUBBED all the shots before you leave so you can take them again!

Professor Slughorn's home

Professor Slughorn’s home.  Our next stop was a tiny town, Lacock.  Wikipedia entry here; the town dates from the 1200s and is now largely a National Trust property, but folks live in the old homes.  This is a more modern house on the outskirts of town and was in the Harry Potter movie with Prof. Slughorn (we wanted to do favorite books on this trip).

An intersection in Lacock; these homes are still lived in, with wiring and plumbing added 500+ years after they were built!

An intersection in Lacock; these homes are still lived in, with wiring and plumbing added 500+ years after they were built!

I took a number of photos of "chimney pots,"  often with birds. Love the feathers ruffled by the wind on this gray day.

I took a number of photos of “chimney pots,” often with birds. Love the feathers ruffled by the wind on this gray day.

In the Harry Potter films, this was Harry's parent's house when he was born.  Cool, eh?

In the Harry Potter films, this was Harry’s parent’s house when he was born. Cool, eh? (And look at those clouds!)

And one more typical street in Lacock.

And one more typical street in Lacock.

We had a pub supper here, then went on to Stonehenge, which will be my next England post.   It was an experience of a lifetime…AND I actually have a 2 minute video for you all when we walked near the stones.  It is so wonderful to re-live this trip–now I need to find time to SKETCH!  We were so busy doing so much on the trip that I scarcely lifted a pen or pencil.

 

England 2014: the first Tuesday, London

September 22nd, 2014

Back in 1989-91, Paul and I lived in Libreville, Gabon, where he was the deputy US Ambassador and, since I wasn’t allowed to work under him according the State Department rules, I was on leave without pay (which was fine by me).  Our nearest neighbors and dear friends were the British Ambassador and his wife, Mark and Lynn Goodfellow.  Mark passed away years ago, but we keep in touch with Lynn.  We were to meet her on Tuesday afternoon, so in the morning Eli and I did the hop-on, hop-off tour of London (which took HOURS), then met Lynn for the afternoon and evening.  It was if 23 years evaporated–such fun!

With Lynn and Eli at Lynn's home in Putney Heath, near WImbledon, after a lovely day

With Lynn and Eli at Lynn’s home in Putney Heath, near WImbledon, after a lovely day

And I apologize in advance for so many photos, but gosh, this is maybe five percent (or less) of the photos that I took–things to remember and design inspiration EVERYWHERE!

Some of the things I noticed:  how CLEAN the air is compared to 30 years ago.  Gone are the diesel-spewing lorries and busses.  The vehicles have much stricter emissions, many are hybrids, and the air is actually CLEAN!  No more coughing on choking exhaust.  And the building–there were huge construction cranes and building and upgrading going on EVERYwhere.   Alas, I had told Eli to expect people to queue up nicely, no pushing, to wait for lights and so on.  At least in London that is no longer the case–it’s more like a big city anywhere.  And the dress:  in 1978, Americans looked American, Brits looked British, the Germans German and so on.  Now, MAYBE some of the French flair will pop out at you, but otherwise  from Japanese to American to British to generic European we all dress alike.  Except for the Muslim women in veils, but even there is a wide range!

Imagine, design inspiration even on the double decker buses.  Loved this take on steampunk!

Imagine, design inspiration even on the double decker buses, here on Regent Street in the heart of London. Loved this take on steampunk!

This beautiful building reinforced the dictum to "Look Up."

This beautiful building reinforced the dictum to “Look Up.”

Look at that cool critter up on top and the ornamentation in the base.

Look at that cool critter up on top and the ornamentation in the base.

I wish I had thought to switch the camera over to video, here on Regent Street at Oxford Circus.  A "Circus" is a roundabout or traffic circle.  This was about 10 am on a Tuesday  morning.  Talk about a swarm of humanity...it made me laugh, and really glad I was on the bus and not IN the swarm!

I wish I had thought to switch the camera over to video, here on Regent Street at Oxford Circus. A “Circus” is a roundabout or traffic circle. This was about 10 am on a Tuesday morning. Talk about a swarm of humanity…it made me laugh, and really glad I was on the bus and not IN the swarm!

SWOON--that half-timbered building is Liberty, as in Liberty of London, as in all that glorious fabric and more.   We did get back there but only for half an hour.  Just as well, if I had stayed longer I would be even more broke and have needed a suitcase!

SWOON–that half-timbered building is Liberty, as in Liberty of London, as in all that glorious fabric and more. We did get back there but only for half an hour. Just as well, if I had stayed longer I would be even more broke and have needed a suitcase!

Coming up on Picadilly Circus, traveling on Regent Street.  Notice the done on the building on the corner.

Coming up on Picadilly Circus, traveling on Regent Street. Notice the done on the building on the corner.

Look at that utterly amazing sculpture up near the dome, a woman diving...way cool!

Look at that utterly amazing sculpture up near the dome, a woman diving…way cool!

So much of the old architecture is laden with inspiring ornament, but even new buildings proved interesting.  Think how dull this modern building would be without that design up the front.  Hmmm...that could get translated into a really cool thermofax screen now that I think of it....

So much of the old architecture is laden with inspiring ornament, but even new buildings proved interesting. Think how dull this modern building would be without that design up the front. Hmmm…that could get translated into a really cool thermofax screen now that I think of it….

Soon we came to Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields church, Lord Nelson's column, and this blue rooster.   This plinth (base) has been the home for some rotating art.   I'll let you google to find out more about it... but a big blue....ummm...let's go with rooster.....someone has a sense of humor!

Soon we came to Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields church, Lord Nelson’s column, and this blue rooster. This plinth (base) has been the home for some rotating art. I’ll let you google to find out more about it… but a big blue….ummm…let’s go with rooster…..someone has a sense of humor!

National Gallery on the left....

National Gallery on the left….

And take a look at the design work on that dome.  What a great quilting pattern or background design!

And take a look at the design work on that dome. What a great quilting pattern or background design!

Next we went into the City of London, the original small city.  This clock is at the Inns of Court, the justice departments.

Next we went into the City of London, the original small city. This clock is at the Inns of Court, the justice departments.

Here's the fairy-tale-like building to which the clock is attached:.

Here’s the fairy-tale-like building to which the clock is attached:.

Next we drove along Fleet Street, home to the London press.  LOVED the dragon!

Next we drove along Fleet Street, home to the London press. LOVED the dragon!

And for my friend Jacquie who loves owls, this clock on a building on Fleet Street.

And for my friend Jacquie who loves owls, this clock on a building on Fleet Street.

One of the old narrow b uildings next to the raised light rail lines--if you look up a bit, you'll see the trains.  I used to take the train in from Lewisham when I was in school in the 70s.

One of the old narrow b uildings next to the raised light rail lines–if you look up a bit, you’ll see the trains. I used to take the train in from Lewisham when I was in school in the 70s.

The old and the new:  the Tower of London (another place we regretfully decided to skip because it was wall-to-wall people), with the modern building called the Gherkin behind it.

The old and the new: the Tower of London (another place we regretfully decided to skip because it was wall-to-wall people), with the modern building called the Gherkin behind it.

Going across Tower Bridge.  The Bridge is a stunning architectural beauty!

Going across Tower Bridge. The Bridge is a stunning architectural beauty!

A neighborhood (Belgravia or Chelsea I think) in London

A neighborhood (Belgravia or Chelsea I think) in London

A most stunning artwork-in-progress at The Tower to commemorate those slain in World War 1, as this is the centennary anniversary of the start of that war.   Learn more about this Fields of Blood installation here.

A most stunning artwork-in-progress at The Tower to commemorate those slain in World War 1, as this is the centennary anniversary of the start of that war. Learn more about this Sea of Red  installation here and here.  Red poppies, which grew in Flanders Fields, are traditional in the UK to commemorate those lost in war.  These are ceramic poppies; the last will be installed on November 11th, 2014, armistice day (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, our Veterans’ Day).  The Smithsonian article (the second link) said “All told, 888,246 poppies will flood the Tower’s moat, equaling the number of British and Colonial soldiers who perished in the war.  The project, titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, comes from the creative minds of ceramic artist Paul Cummins and state designer Tom Piper.”

At 1 pm, we met Lynn at Westminster Pier.  She said she'd have on a hat.  Well, as we walked up I saw a woman in a hat with her back to me in a stance that looked SO familiar, so I called out and indeed it was Lynn!  We went on a cruise ship up the Thames from Westminster (home to Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey) to The Tower and back.  It was tons of fun!

At 1 pm, we met Lynn at Westminster Pier. She said she’d have on a hat. Well, as we walked up I saw a woman in a hat with her back to me in a stance that looked SO familiar, so I called out and indeed it was Lynn! We went on a cruise ship up the Thames from Westminster (home to Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey) to The Tower and back. It was tons of fun!  Lynn on the left, Eli wishing I would stop taking pictures with him in them.

I also  had a lot of f un taking pictures of chimney pots everywhere.

I also had a lot of f un taking pictures of chimney pots everywhere.

The Golden Hind, a replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship.  Depending on which side of the sword you were on, he was either a hero of Britain or a miserable marauding pirate.  He explored the San Francisco bay area and the main artery near where I grew up is called Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and the public high school is Drake High School.

The Golden Hind, a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship. Depending on which side of the sword you were on, he was either a hero of Britain or a miserable marauding pirate. He explored the San Francisco bay area and the main artery near where I grew up is called Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and the public high school is Drake High School.

American theatre impresario Sam Wannamaker is a hero in England for his successful efforts to reconstruct Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, complete with thatched mossy roof, on the banks of the Thames.  We didn't get to any plays...maybe next trip?

American theatre impresario Sam Wannamaker is a hero in England for his successful efforts to reconstruct Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, complete with thatched mossy roof, on the banks of the Thames. We didn’t get to any plays…maybe next trip?

London Bridge is not falling down, and is still in place.  It is also NOT the beautiful Tower Bridge, but this rather bland thing.   At least I can now say I've been under, over and ON the Thames.

London Bridge is not falling down, and is still in place. It is also NOT the beautiful Tower Bridge, but this rather bland thing. At least I can now say I’ve been under, over and ON the Thames.

Eli recognized this building immediately as having been the location for MI6, the spy agency, in the last Bond movie, Skyfall.  Luckily, it did not really blow up, as it is the new Charing Cross Station (rail and tube).  The boat guide told us there was a design competition with the goal to design a building that has train-like...I can see the hint of the old engines in this--can you?

Eli recognized this building immediately as having been the location for MI6, the spy agency, in the last Bond movie, Skyfall. Luckily, it did not really blow up, as it is the new Charing Cross Station (rail and tube). The boat guide told us there was a design competition with the goal to design a building that has train-like…I can see the hint of the old engines in this–can you?

And our next day, the first Wednesday, was a day to remember for a lifetime….stay tuned!  I’ll blog about it in two parts…..