Sunday, March 31, 2019

Horrible March

After ten days in London in March, I was sick for a week. I had a very similar experience when we went to Europe in 2016. I got a cold on that trip and was sick for a week after we got back...

I have been trying over the last two weeks to get back on my feet. I ended up running 48.7 miles in March and doing 48.7 miles on the Peloton One bike. Although it is probably the fewest miles that I have run in a month in 15 years, it is a little deceiving because I rode the bike twice a week over the last two weeks.

Pushing hard last week, for the first time since the first week of January, I had more than 140,000 steps in a week!

142,300 steps

Saturday, March 30, 2019

If Beale Street Could Talk

Saturday night, Sharon and I watched If Beale Street Could Talk on the AppleTV. This is the last of the films that we hadn't seen that was nominated for or won a major award at the 2019 Oscars.

The movie was chosen by both the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute as one of the Top 10 Films of 2018. It received Best Supporting Actress wins for Regina King at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. It was also nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Screenplay at the 76th Golden Globe Awards and Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score at the 91st Academy Awards.

If Beale Street Could Talk was directed and written by Barry Jenkins. Jenkins directed and co-wrote Moonlight. It is based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name.

The film follows a young African-American woman who, with her family's support, seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged lover and prove his innocence before the birth of their child. In addition to Regina Kings, It stars KiKi Layne and Stephan James.

While movie has some interesting parts and performances, I don't recommend it. I was shocked when I finally sorted out who Regina King was and her role in the movie. While her performance was good, it just doesn't seem like she has enough screen time to win a Best Supporting Actress awards...

Friday, March 29, 2019

Neighborhood Book Club

Sharon is part of a neighbor book club that meets about every two months. Their book for March was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens..

For their meeting this month, Sharon organized a trip to a few of her favorites places. They took a limo to Napa. They wine tasted at Donum and Bouchaine. Afterwards, they had dinner at Ad Hoc in Yountville.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Volvo XC60 T8 - Day 152

I bought the Volvo five months ago. Partly due to our trip to Lond0n in early March, I have only driven 4,817 miles.

At this point, I have only filled up with gas three times. This includes November 23, December 29 and January 30. Topping off the battery at a free Volta charger on work days, I am commuting almost exclusively as an electric vehicle.

Most of the gas was burned running the Volvo as a hybrid on longer trips. This included a weekend in South Shore Lake Tahoe in November, a day in Marin visiting my sisters in December, a trip to the East Bay in January and an afternoon in Santa Rosa visiting Tomasin in February.

I continue to be very pleased with the SUV. I love the Carplay integration with my iPhone. I use it mostly to play podcasts and run Waze. The integration of Waze into the dashboard screen is fantastic. I have been using the adaptive cruise control and pilot assist off and on in the commute and on the longer trips.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Song for 2016

I have a playlist on my iPhone that I use when I run outside. It morphs slowly over time as I add and subtract songs and fuss with the order of the songs. When the weather is nice, my typical run is two laps around Ancil Hoffman Park. I am always trying to find the right rhythm for different stages of the run.

The playlist includes a couple of songs by Adele. In particular, ever since the SNL skit, I have always had Hello in head.

The song for 2016 is Hello by Adele.

You can find the work in progress Soundtrack for My Life here!

What is this?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Mill Buildings

I came across this historical marker during my long run on Sunday at Sea Ranch.

Mill Buildings
Marker 35E-6

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This site is located on the Bluff Trail near 198 Sounding, Sea Ranch, CA 95497, California. The Sea Ranch Archives Committee has identified twenty-six historic sites scattered about The Sea Ranch. They have constructed trail markers with information explaining the significance of each place. They were placed as part of The Sea Ranch 50th anniversary being celebrated from Memorial Day 2014 to Memorial Day 2015. The GPS coordinates for this location are 38° 44' 29.7" N 123° 30' 25.8" W.

Mill Buildings

This is about where the mill machine ship was located, in the meadow immediately beyond once stood a cookhouse, a bunkhouse for single men or a those who did not bring their families to the mill town, and various other utility buildings.

Mill Buildings

Monday, March 25, 2019

True Detective: Season Three

Friday after we had dinner with Tim and Kathy, Sharon and I watched the final episode of True Detective: Season 3. We had both really enjoyed the first season of True Detective. We tried to watch the second season, but lost interest after three episodes.

The story takes place in the Ozarks over three separate time periods: 1980; 1990, and; 2015. Every episode weaves scenes from all three timelines together. Over the course of the eight episodes, two detectives investigate a macabre crime involving two missing children. Mahershala Ali plays the role of detective Wayne Hays, while Stephen Dorff plays his partner detective Roland West.

There are parts of season three that are very well done. There are several episodes that I would grade an "A". Our biggest problem was that it was extremely difficult to understand the actors at times. Particularly in the later timeline when Mahershala Ali was playing an older character, he was mumbling.

My other problem was the last episode. The story uses two extended dialogue scenes to pull all the threads together and explain what happened. As a vehicle to wrap up everything, this left me flat. I grade the last episode as at "B-". I did enjoy season three enough that I am tempted to go back and try to watch season two again.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Liz and Scott

Sharon's high school friend Liz came over in the afternoon. Liz's friend Scott eventually dropped by. After I finished watching Duke and Zion Williamson hang on to beat UCF by the score doc 77 to 76, the four of us spend some time visiting on the deck.

Neighborhood Homeowners Association Board Meeting

Sharon is now on the board of the neighborhood homeowners association. She spent the morning at a board meeting at Jim's house. Rod is the third board member. The agenda included: the project to replace the wall on the east side of the pool; defining common areas, and; the continuing problems with Cook.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

2019 Kings versus Suns

2019 Kings versus Suns

I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Phoenix Suns NBA basketball game with a group from work [Matt, Bruce, Brian, Sean and Danny]. Trailing by 10 or more for most of the first half, the Kings outscored the Suns by 10 points in the third quarter to lead by 79 to 75 at the end of the third quarter. They won the game by the score of 112 to 103.

Buddy Hield and Harold Barnes were the leading scores for the Kings; they both scored 25 points. Hield was 9 for 20 from the field and 7 for 14 from three. Barnes was 10 for 17 from the field and 5 for 8 from three. Barnes was particularly effective in the closing minutes of the game. Neither got to the free throw line?!?

Hield made 7 of 14 from beyond the arc, giving him 245 3-pointers this season. That surpassed the mark of 240 set by Peja Stojakovic in 2003-04. Stojakovic is now an assistant general manager with Sacramento.

Devin Booker was the leading scorer for the Sun. He was 32 points on 10 for 27 from the field, 2 for 11 from three and 10 for 10 from the free throw line.

Jimmer Fredette signed with the Suns late in the week. Watching him play for the four minutes that he was in the game, I continue to believe that Jimmer doesn't have the speed and athleticism for the NBA game.

Playing 18 minutes Cauley-Stein had no rebounds?!? As Snipes texted me, Jimmer had outbound him...

The Kings now have 7 wins and 2 losses in games that I have seen in person during the 2018-2019 season.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Dinner with Tim and Kathy

Finally starting to feel better, Sharon and I finished the week with a nice dinner with her brother Tim and his wife Kathy at Cafe Bernardo. I had spiced red lentil soup and stir fry noodles [Seared chicken, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, jalapeño, roasted cashews, Chinese black bean sauce], while Sharon had the mushroom & Jarlesberg cheese salad and grilled salmon [farro, roasted winter squash, Brussels sprouts, Meyer lemon, almond and herb salsa]. Timmy and Kathy both had pizzas.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

2019 Kings versus Mavs

2019 Kings versus MavsI went to the Sacramento Kings versus Dallas Mavericks NBA game. Wanting to see Doncica play and go to a game in March, I bought a single ticket (Section 111, Row L, Seat 15) a couple of months ago. Larkin also ended up buying a single ticket for the game (Section 111, Row H, Seat 9).

Both teams seemed flat in the first half. Leading 53 to 51 at halftime, the Kings outscored the Mavs by 6 points in the third quarter and 8 points in the fourth quarter. The Kings won the game by the score of 116 to 110.

In his first start for the Mavs, former King Justin Jackson was the high scorer for Dallas. He had 19 points on 9 for 16 from the field, 1 for 6 from three and 0 for 1 from the free throw line.

When he was in the game, I focused on Doncic.  I was a little disappointed that he only played 26 minutes. Doncic was 4 for 19 from the field, 2 for 10 from three and 3 for 5 from the free throw line. He added 10 rebounds.

Doncic is listed at 6' 7" and 218 pounds. I was shocked to see him guarding the Kings small forward. Mostly Doncic was guarding Barnes, but also spent some time covering Bagdonovic and even Bagley at one point. It is clear that Doncic and Bagdonovic know each other and have some kind of relationship.

In his farewell tour, Nowitzki played 13 minutes. He scored 3 points on 1 for 5 from the field and 1 for 2 from three. Nowitzki looked like he literally couldn't run. It was painful watching him move up and down the court.

Buddy Hield was the Kings leading scorer. He had 29 points on 10 for 21 from the field, 7 for 13 from the three and 2 for 2 from the free throw line. Hield needs three more threes to break the franchise record of 240 set by Peja Stojakovic in 2003-04.

When Doncic wasn't in the game, I focused on Bagley. I am amazed at how high he can jump!

Snipes and Keith were also at the game. At half-time, Larkin and I wandered over and talked to Snipes. I continue to be crestfallen that I had to cancel my Spring Training trip.

The Kings now have 6 wins and 2 losses in games that I have seen in person during the 2018-2019 season.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Books mentioned in The Sports Repodders Podcast

I am always looking for book recommendations! In the March 15, 2019, Sports Repodders Podcast, Bill Simmons starting asking the group about the best sports books. He then throws out a list of his own.

Initial Discussion

Bill Simmon's List

  1. The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
  2. Wait Till Next Year: The Story of a Season When What Should've Happened Didn't, and What Could've Gone Wrong Did by William Goldman
  3. Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
  4. Bringing the Heat by Mark Bowden -
  5. Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made by David Halberstam
  6. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
  7. The City Game: Basketball from the Garden to the Playgrounds by Pete Axthelm
  8. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey
  9. Loose Balls by Terry Pluto -
  10. Ghosts of Manilla - Mark Kram
  11. Life on the Run by Bill Bradley
  12. A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers by John Feinstein
  13. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
  14. When Pride Still Mattered : A Life Of Vince Lombardi - by David Maraniss
  15. Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy by Jane Leavy
  16. Joe DiMaggio: A Hero's Life - Richard Ben Kramer
  17. Thin Ice: A Season in Hell With the New York Rangers by Larry Sloman
  18. The Game by Ken Dryden
  19. The Fab Five: Basketball Trash Talk the American Dream by Mitch Albom

Cycling Books

Books about the Cowboys

Closing Discussion

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

While Sharon was having dinner with Tom on Saturday night, I watched The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. This is a 2018 American western anthology film written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers. The film features six vignettes that take place on the American frontier.

The film was based on Western-themed short stories which were written by the Coens over a period of 20 to 25 years that differ in mood and subject. Two stories--All Gold Canyon and The Girl That Got Rattled--are based on previously published short stories. The stories are by Jack London and Stewart Edward White, respectively.

The vignettes star Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Harry Melling, Bill Heck, and Tom Waits. It took me a long time to recognize Liam Neeson...

Like Roma, The Ballad of Buster Scrugges had a limited theatrical run beginning on November 9, 2018. It was then released on Netflix on November 16. The National Board of Review named it as one of its top ten best films of 2018. The film earned three nominations at the 91st Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Song ("When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings").

I watched the film because it had been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. I didn't enjoy it; I don't recommend it. I found the film slow in parts and just too morbid. This is just not my sense of humor. Reading a couple of articles about the film after the fact, I probably missed some of the finer points of the Coen humor and story telling. I will admit that the Western scenery is gorgeous.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Party

Sharon and I spent the afternoon at a St. Patrick's Day Party at her brother Tom's house. Tom made a great early dinner of Corned Beef and Cabbage.

The group included: Eric and Ashley; Kevin, Leah, Lydia and Amelia; Teri and Steve; Erin; Eileen and Will; Jim; Larry and Diana; Lou and Nadine; Mary; Chris (from Sharon's work); Chris and his wife (the couple that Tom went on the South American Cruise); Sharon and I; and a couple of others whose name I didn't get... Still not feeling a 100%, I made an early exit.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Dinner with Tom

Saturday night, Sharon and her brother Tom went to dinner at Wildwood. Sharon planned the dinner thinking that I would be at Spring Training. While she was out to dinner, I watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs on Netflix.

Friday, March 15, 2019

2019 Spring Training

Down for the count on Tuesday, I made a decision to crash out of my trip to Spring Training. I cancelled my flight, rental car and hotel. I was scheduled to fly out on Friday afternoon and come home late Sunday night.

For more than twenty years, I have been telling Wallen that we need t-shirts for the group. Wouldn't you know that the year that I call in dead, Wallen pulls the string on the idea...

Given the loss of the annual lake trip, the Spring Training trip is an important touchstone to maintain a connection with everyone. I am very unhappy that I missed this year. My Spring Training game log is here.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Holly's Retirement Party

Thursday evening, Sharon organized a F@rm Credit West retirement party for Holly at Il Fornaio at the Galleria. Sharon and Holly have worked together off and on since late 1988. Holly left the bank in the early 1990s during one of the reductions-in-force. She came back to the Farm Credit Banks in early 1999. When Sharon came back to work after Jack was born, Sharon and Holly job-shared until late 2002. After Sharon left Rabobank, Holly worked for Rabobank for a while in Roseville. About six years ago, Holly came to work for F@rm Credit West.

Holly and I were actually at UC Davis during the same four years in the late 1970s. She was an Econ Major, while I was Ag Econ Major. There is a good chance that we had a couple of classes together. My first memory of Holly is in a committee meeting at the banks in what I believe is late 1987 or early 1988.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ohlson Ranch House and Barns

I came across this historical marker during our bike ride at Sea Ranch on Monday.

Ohlson Ranch House and Barns

Marker 35E-11

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This site is located in the Del Mar Recreation Center at 40600 Leeward Road, Sea Ranch, California. The Sea Ranch Archives Committee has identified twenty-six historic sites scattered about The Sea Ranch. They have constructed trail markers with information explaining the significance of each place. They were placed as part of The Sea Ranch 50th anniversary being celebrated from Memorial Day 2014 to Memorial Day 2015. The GPS coordinates for this location are 38° 44' 33.9" N 123° 30' 01.2" W.

Ohlson Ranch House and Barns

Prior to the Olson Sheep Ranching Family, this was the site of the Del Mark Lumber Mill Foreman's house, which was subsequently used by business tycoon Walter Frick's family as a summer home. Frick probably built other structures, like barns, garages and a tennis court. The Ohlson family lived in the old house until they built the home that is used today as the Del Mar Center.

Ohlson Ranch House and Barns

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Down for the Count

After struggling into work on Monday, I woke up feeling horrible on Tuesday. I was fighting a losing battle against the cold that started during the London trip. The respiratory inflection had gotten worse. I was able to get into my doctor's office by 9:30 am, get a prescription and then crash for the rest of day... Unfortunately, this is going to have a cascading impact on some ambitious plans I had for the end of the week.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Jesuit High School National Signing Day 2019

February 6th: National Signing Day

Athletes on Scholarship:

Carter Benbrook - Baseball for UC Santa Barbara
Cade Pilchard - Baseball for Cal State University Northridge
Jackson Canaan - Football for San Jose State University
Laiatu Latu - Football for the University of Washington
Isaiah Ruthorford - Football for the University of Notre Dame
Ryan Parry - Golf for Cal State Monterey Bay
Chase Sienkiewicz - Golf for the University of Arizona
Kevin Mitchell - Lacrosse for St. Michaels College
Cole Bailey - Lacrosse for Westminster College
Gabe Sabillo - Lacrosse for Notre Dame de Namur University

Athletes Signing with Intent to Play:

Akili Bonner - Football for the University of Wyoming
Cade Brownholtz - Football for Oregon State University
Joseph Cavasos - Water polo for Loyola Marymount
Cade Cunningham - West Point for Football
Samuel Daly - Baseball for Willamette University
Ryan Garvey - Soccer for Dominican University of California
Henry Harvego - Football for Claremont-McKenna College
Viliami Hopoi - Rugby for Iona College
Jake Malaney - Football For Rutgers University
Connor McIntee - Football for the Air Force Academy
Patrick McIntee - Crew for Oregon State University
Matthias Milton - Soccer for Cal State Monterey Bay
Bennet Sackheim - Lacrosse for St. Michaels College
Max Schumacher - Rugby for the UC Berkeley

Jesuit High School National Signing Day 2018

Jesuit High School National Signing Day 2017

Jesuit High School National Signing Day 2016

Sunday, March 10, 2019

2019 London - Day 11

2019 London - Day 11 - KnightsbridgeSharon and I were both up and moving shortly after 5 am. When we arrived ten days ago, we arranged for a cab through London Connections to pick us up at 7 am and take us to Heathrow. With the light early Sunday morning traffic, we were at the airport by about 7:40 am. The three of us breezed through the luggage check and security.

While Sharon and my flight boarded at 9:10 am, Jack's flight didn't leave until after noon. Sharon and Jack went and got him a day pass for the United lounge. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich.

I really enjoyed having a chance to spend the ten days with Jack!

Sharon and I boarded on time a little after 9 am and the flight left on time. We had upgraded to United Plus seats. I actually sat in the middle for the entire flight and let Sharon have the aisle!

At eleven plus hours, it was a long flight. Unfortunately, the cold that I had been fighting at the end of the trip started to turn into a nasty upper respiratory infection. I pity the person sitting next to me on the window; I coughed for eleven straight hours.

I tried to sleep once or twice, but couldn't. I spent most of the flight with my nose in my book: The Passage of Power. There was a long particularly powerful section following the events of the Kennedy assassination from Lyndon Johnson's perspective.

Although the flight tracker kept saying that we were going to be 30 minutes early, we ended up landing and getting to the gate a little after 2 pm; ten plus minutes late. Jack landed in Washington DC at almost the same time.

We breezed through customs, but had to wait a while for our bags. Leaving the international terminal, we had expected someone to be waiting for us. After some running amok that included finally calling the car service, we met the car at the curb.

Given how bad I felt and the fact that it was pouring rain, I was very glad that we had arranged for someone to pick us up. I slept most of the way from San Francisco to Carmichael. We pulled up to the house about 5:30 pm. It was a great trip!

Saturday, March 09, 2019

2019 London - Day 10

With the trip winding down, Saturday was finally a slower morning. I wandered down the street and got oatmeal for Sharon and I and a breakfast sandwich for Jack at Starbucks. After eating, I went back out and walked down to the Albert & Victoria Museum to get a better picture of the front.

Eventually, the three of us started off towards Hyde Park. We walked in Hyde Park to the Diana Memorial Fountain. This is a very unique memorial. We wandered though and around the fountain.

From there, we walked through Keningston Gardens to Keningston Palace. We decided not to tour the palace. We walked to an underground station and headed towards Covent Garden. I had spent some time researching historic pubs in the morning. I mapped out four pubs that we could walk between as we headed towards downtown London.

The first stop was the Lamb & Flag. The very first mention of a pub on this site is in 1772. We had a pint downstairs and then had lunch upstairs. Sharon and I had fish and chips, while Jack had a meat pie.

After lunch, we walked through Covent Garden. This area includes restored market buildings with street performers in the Piazza. I was surprised by the number of people!

The next stop was the Cittie Of York. Although the current building was rebuild in the 1920s, the buildings on this site have been pubs since 1430. We had another pint before we wandered on.

As we were navigating to the next stop, I noted to Jack that the Sir John Soane Museum as up ahead. His head jerked up. Apparently, Jack had studied him in an architecture class. We stopped and toured the museum.

Our third pub crawl stop was actually closed!?! Hard to find, Ye Old Mitre is buried in a business district. The pub's website reports the original build year as 1546 with building expansion occurring in 1782, and remodeled in the early 1930s. It was a very cool looking little building.

From there, we headed to Ye Old Cheshire Cheese. Rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666, the pub is known for its literary associations, with its regular patrons having included Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton and Mark Twain. There has been a pub at this location since 1538. All the monarchs who have reigned in England during the pub's existence are written to the right of the door. Located on a major street, this pub was much busier. Sharon started to get claustrophobic in the windowless gloomy rooms...

2019 London - Day 10 - Pub Crawl - Lamb & Flag2019 London - Day 10 - Pub Crawl - Cittie of Yorke2019 London - Day 10 - Pub Crawl - Ye Old Mitre2019 London - Day 10 - Pub Crawl - Ye Old Cheshire Cheese
We grabbed an Uber back to the apartment from there. Getting cleaned up for dinner, we went to Mr. Chow. This is a chain of upscale Chinese restaurants founded by restaurateur Michael Chow. The first one was opened in Knightsbridge in 1968.

With an early start to end home on Sunday, we all crashed fairly early...

Friday, March 08, 2019

2019 London - Day 9

2019 London - Day 9 - British Museum

After we got home from the theater, Jack went back out to meet Charlotte. Fortunately, he didn't stay out the whole night like Saturday night/Sunday morning!

After eggs and bacon again for breakfast, I was able to get the three of us moving fairly early. The plan for the morning was the British Museum. The museum is dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in world. As you can imagine, it was widely sourced during the era of the British Empire.

I was surprised to find the Rosetta Stone. It was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. I was even more surprised to find an enormous room full of the Parthenon Marbles. Apparently, in the early 1800s, the Earl of Elgin removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum. It is an amazing sight, but it seems like they should be in Greece, not London.

From there, we took the underground to the Tower of London stop. We wandered down the street towards the Tower Bridge and had lunch of pub food at The Pommelers Rest.

Sharon and Jack had been talking all week about wanting to go to the top of The Shard. The Shard is a 95-story supertall skyscraper. At 1,016 feet high, it is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the tallest building in the European Union, and the fifth-tallest building in Europe.

There is an indoor bar and viewing gallery on the 69th floor and an outdoor bar and viewing gallery on the 72th floor. While Sharon and Jack went to the top level, I grabbed a table and chairs along the windows with a view up the Thames. We ended up staying longer than we planned. We watched the sun go down and the city light up.

2019 London - Day 9 - The Shard

Grabbing the underground back to the apartment, we got cleaned up for dinner. We finished the day with dinner at Rib Room Bar & Restaurant located in the Jumeirah Carlton Tower. We split starters of Six Angel oysters with raspberry and shallot vinegar and Pan seared duck liver. Sharon and I had their signature dish: Roast rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding selected from Donald Russell, trusted supplier to H.M. The Queen and a Royal Warrant holder since 1984. This was billed as a traditional English dinner.

After we got back from dinner, I was feeling under the weather. I had been fighting a cold for a couple of days. Laying on the couch and channel surfing, Jack and I ended up watching Killer Elite with Jason Statham and Robert de Niro. Apparently, it is supposed to be a true story based on a book called The Feather Men. It was probably after 1:30 am by the time that I finally went to bed...

Thursday, March 07, 2019

2019 London - Day 8

2019 London - Day 8 - Buckingham Palace

Sharon made eggs and bacon for breakfast again... After breakfast, we headed to the underground. Getting off at the Green Park station, we walked to Buckingham Palace. I was underwhelmed by Buckingham Palace; it just looked like an office building. There was a large group arriving and queueing up in front of the palace. They appeared to be parliament members(?).

2019 London - Day 8 - Tate BritianWalking back to the underground, we headed to the Tate Britain. I enjoyed the galleries more than I expected. They are laid out chronology. Starting about 1500, we walk your way up to present day. The collection is exclusively British artists. The museum is also home to the largest collection of works by JMW Turner.

We had a light lunch in the Djanogly Café in the museum...

Heading back towards our apartment, we decided to make a stop at the Albert & Victoria Museum. It is described as the world's largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design. We selectively hit a few rooms. I was fascinated by a giant room full of casts from around the world. It included the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo that we had seen in Burges. They also a cast of Trajan's Column. I need to find this column some day! One of my things on my bucket list is to live in Rome for Lent.

2019 London - Day 8 - Albert & Victoria MuseumI was also impressed with the Raphael Cartoons. They are a set of seven full-scale designs for tapestry painted by Raphael (1483 – 1520). The cartoons are considered one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance. They were commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X for the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and depict the lives of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

With an early dinner scheduled before the theater, we walked back to the apartment and got cleaned up. About 4 pm, we took an Uber to the Piccadilly Circus area. Sharon dragged down the street to a perfume shop. From there, we wandered back to the restaurant.

We had a drink in the Bar Américain. This is connected to the French restaurant Brasserie Zedel. Eventually, we wandered into the restaurant for dinner. We spilt starters of snails and oysters. I had Filet de Saumon, Cresol et Fenouil [salmon, watercress and fennel with honey & mustard dressing] as an entree, Sharon had the Polet Grillé à l‘Ail et Frites [grilled spatchcock chicken with garlic butter and french fries] and Jack had Rumsteck d’Agneau, Écrasé de Petits-Pois [rump of lamb, crushed peas, red wine & mint jus].

After dinner, we walked across the street to the Piccadilly Theater. We had tickets for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We went round and round about what to see. This play won a number of London Theater awards. Apparently, it is actually based on a fairly well-known book. I didn't read much about the play ahead of time and was taken off guard from the start. It was very different, but I enjoyed it.

2019 London - Day 8

Exiting the theater, we used a London Cab for the first and only time. It turned out to be a lot more expensive than the Uber!

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

2019 London - Day 7

2019 London - Day 7 - Stonehenge

When we first started to plan this trip, I wanted to see if we could do a side trip to Stonehenge. When I was in the United Kingdom in 1991 for the Rugby World Cup, we were supposed to tour Stonehenge, but the group decided to skip it!?! Sharon and I ended up booking a small group tour with International Friends to Stonehenge, Bath and Windsor Castle.

Up about 6 am, we took an Uber to the spot where we were supposed to meet the tour bus. To our surprise, we were the only people on the tour! Instead of a 16 person sprinter, we got a driver and a van for the day.

2019 London - Day 7 - StonehengeIt was about a two hour drive from London to Stonehenge. You take a shuttle bus from the visitor center to the actual site. Our driver said that this is a change in the last couple of years; you should be able to drive right up to the site. Although it was very windy and cold, I really enjoyed the stop.

From there, we drove to Bath. With a couple of accidents along the way, it took longer than it should have. In Bath, we toured the Roman Baths. We were all very impressed. With a hard timeline for getting back to the van, we could have spent more time touring the site.

We grabbed a quick sandwich for lunch. The downtown was very impressive. All three of us felt like we could have spent the afternoon exploring the city. This might be a spot that we come back to for a night some day...

2019 London - Day 7 - Roman BathsIt was another two hours from Bath to Windsor Castle. I had a nice nap in the van. At Windsor Castle, we toured the State Apartments and walked the grounds. St. George's Chapel closed just before we got to it. The place was essentially deserted.

After the tour, we wandered the neighborhood and had a beer in a pub. We met back up with the driver and the van about 5:10 pm and started back towards London.

We finished the day with a nice dinner at Osteria Romana. This was a small restaurant walking distance from the apartment. We split starters of fried artichokes and Roman-style gnocchi and Black Truffle. I had rigatoni with tuna, Jack had Cacio e Pepe pasta and Sharon had sea bass.

This was a long day. We were a little rushed at couple of points in order to keep on schedule, but it would have been a much different experience with 16 people, rather than just the three of us.

2019 London - Day 7 - Windsor Castle

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

2019 London - Day 6

2019 London - Day 6Although Jack was out late again with Charlotte, I was able to get everyone up and moving reasonably early. We had a quick bite to eat at McDonalds around the corner from the apartment.

From there, we caught the underground to Westminster Abbey. The Abbey opens at 9:30 am and we got there about 9:45 am. I was shocked at the number of people already inside. We got audio guides.

I don't think that I have ever seen a church with as many statues. Everyone and there brother appears to be buried there.

Afterwards we walked down to Downing Street and then took a couple of pictures with the Horses Guards. One of the horses bit Jack...

We continued up the street to a red line Big Bus stop. Although Sharon had really enjoyed the Big Bus in Chicago, the experience in London was not good. It took forever for the bus to show up. When it got there, it was packed. Overall, we don't recommend using it. There are easier ways to get around.

We got off the bus at the Tower of London. We wandered back towards the downtown and had lunch at BrewDog. Jack had seen the place from the bus on Monday. We all had burgers...

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Tower of London. We took a Beefeaters tour. We saw the crown jewels and walked through the exhibits in the White Tower. Jack and I walked all the way around on the ramparts. Tomasin and I toured the Tower of London in 1991. I remembered it very differently.

2019 London - Day 62019 London - Day 6

The Citycruise boats take the Big Bus tickets. After we were done at the Tower Of London, we jumped on a boat up the Thames River to the Westminster Bridge. The boat dropped us near the entrance to the underground station. We took the subway back to the apartment.

We finished the day watching the Tottenham versus Dortmund Champions League Game at the Famous Three Kings. On the strength of a Harry Kane goal, Tottenham won the game by the score of 1 to 0 and advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals.

We had pizza and nachos for dinner. This was not a notable food day!

Monday, March 04, 2019

2019 London - Day 5

The plan for the day was to ride the hop-on hop-off Big Bus to see a couple of sights. Up early, Sharon made omelets for breakfast.

We took the Piccadilly line from Knightsbridge to Green Park. We picked up the red line Big Bus starting at Green Park. This took us through some areas that we hadn't seen yet. The guy providing the commentary along the way was pretty good. We rode the red line all the way to the 15th stop at St. Paul's Church.

We ended up taking a 90 minute guided tour of St. Paul's Church. As Jack noted, one of the oddest things was that there was essentially a series of war memorials in the church. The tour guide talked a lot about Wellington and Admiral Nelson. All of us enjoyed the guided tour.

2019 London - Day 5 - St. Paul's Cathedral

From there, we walked across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern Museum. We had lunch at the Kitchen and Bar Restaurant inside the museum. Sharon had sea bass, I had a burger and Jack had pasta.

2019 London - Day 5 - Tate Modern Museum

After lunch, we toured the museum. I have a hard time with modern art. While there were some Picassos that I enjoyed, I am not sure I appreciate a large part of the collection.

During lunch, I asked Sharon and Jack who are famous modern artists and got a blank stare. I am sure I understand how this is or isn't impact by a digital society.

We caught the red line Big Bus back at St. Pauls. There was a taxi strike and, as a result, the route was changed. This lead to a number of upset passengers and a running dialogue between the tour guide and several passengers. This tour guide was not as good as the one we had in the morning. More on the Big Bus experience tomorrow. We jumped off the bus at the Waterloo station. We took the Jubilee and then Paccadilly lines back to the apartment.

The plan for the night was dinner at a restaurant called Rabbit. Jack's friend Charlotte who is doing a semester in London joined us for dinner. She met us at the apartment and then the four of us took an Uber to the restaurant.

All of us had a local and wild fixed menu with the wine pairings. This turned out to be an unsatisfying experience. I think that I am going to write a separate post after we get home and I am not feeling so rushed.

After dinner, we caught an Uber back to the apartment. Jack and Charlotte went out to listen to music...

Sunday, March 03, 2019

2019 London - Day 4

With Jack out very late with Charlotte, we got a slow start to the day. Eventually, Sharon and I wandered down the street and got oatmeal and a breakfast sandwich for Jack at Starbucks.

UntitledThe plan for the day was the National Galley. We caught a Piccadilly line train to Leicester Square and then walked to the museum.

All of the London museums are free. We spent a long afternoon wandering the gallery. We have been dragging Jack to museums since he was born. He is going to get an art history minor at Georgetown. At this point, I just follow in Jack and Sharon's wake feeding off their analysis and debate. Jack and I had a long discussion about a set of paintings by William Hogarth called The Marriage A-la-Mode series.

I am on a quest to see all of Caravaggio's paintings. There are sixty plus spread across the world. I think that I have probably seen as many as thirty at this point. I have been planning to build an index to the ones that I have seen, but haven't got to it yet. The National Gallery has three. Two of them were on display: The Supper at Emmaus and Boy bitten by a Lizard. The third--Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist--was not on display.

I was a little disappointed that part of the post-impressionism wing was closed. I am always looking for Von Goghs and Picassos.

2019 London - Day 4 - Trafalgar SquareAfter the National Gallery, I wandered around Trafalgar Square. We ended up having a light very late lunch at a pub called The Chandos. I initially balked at the choice, but Jack pointed out that we should hit pubs in London.

Taking the underground back to the apartment, Jack and I stopped and had a beer at the Tattersalls Tavern. We watched some of the second half of the Everton versus Livermore Premier League game.

Getting cleaned up for dinner, we took an Uber to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel. This is a Michelin Two Star restaurant. It will probably be the nicest dinner of the trip...

Sharon had a Roast Marrowbone Royale [c.1720 - Smoked anchovy, snails, radish, mace & lovage] as a starter, while Jack and I split Frumenty [c.1390 - Grilled octopus, spelt, smoked sea broth & pickled dulse]. For entrees, Jack had Powdered Duck Breast [c.1850 - Braised grilled red cabbage, spiced umbles & pickled cherries], Sharon had Spiced Squab Pigeon [c.1780 - Onions, artichokes, ale malt] and I had a very good Roast Iberico Pork Chop [c.1820 - Smoked hispi cabbage, pickled onion, ice cider Robert sauce]. For desert, we split a Tipsy Cake [c.1810 - Spit roast pineapple].

The concept for the restaurant is that all of the dishes are based on historical recipes. It was a very good meal!

By the time that we walked home and got ready for bed, it was after eleven. I think that I am finally getting in rhythm with the time change. I finished the day buying a two day pass for the "Big Bus." The plan for Monday and Tuesday centers on using the hop-on hop-off bus.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

2019 London - Day 3

Up about 7 am, I wandered a couple blocks to Starbucks for coffee and a couple of lattes. The apartment has a kitchen. Sharon made eggs for breakfast.

The plan for the day was the Tottenham versus Arsenal Premier League game. Somehow over the years, Jack has become a Tottenham fan; I am not exactly sure how...

About 9:15 am, we headed to the Underground. At the Kingsbridge Station, we boarded a Piccadilly line train to the Green Park Station. From there, we boarded a Jubilee line train to Wembley Station.

The trip went smoother and faster than I expected. We were in the stadium early. I had bought some club level seats through StubHub. Our seats were Block 248, Row 14, Seats, 209, 210 and 211. I was impressed with the stadium. Jack said that it has been remodeled recently. We checked out the game seats and then found a table to bogart until the game started. We had a couple of adult beverages and a bite to eat before the game (pork shoulder sandwiches).

2019 - London Day 3 - Tottenham versus Arsenal2019 - London Day 3 - Tottenham versus Arsenal2019 - London Day 3 - Tottenham versus Arsenal

With Tottenham pressing most of the first half, Arsenal scored first on a long breakaway. Tottenham equalized in the second half on a penalty kick by Harry Kane. Arsenal had a penalty kick near the end of the game that the goalkeeper blocked. The final score was Tottenham 1, Arsenal 1.

With close to 80,000 people exiting the stadium, I was surprised how easily we got on the Underground. We are on the side of the stadium near the station. As a result, we got somewhat of a jump on the crowd. Just as we were boarding a train, they made an announcement that they were holding people outside the station.

From there, we took the Jubilee line back to the Waterloo station and walked to the river. We bought a couple of fast track tickets for the London Eye. Although I am not fond of heights it was a cool view of London.

2019 London - Day 3 - London Eye2019 London - Day 3 - London Eye

Afterwards, we walked across the Westminster Bridge. Boarding at the Westminster station, we took the Piccadilly Line back to Knightsbridge.

We finished the day with dinner at Dishoom Kensington. When I was in London in 1991 with Tomasin, Bachman and the Tennessee Long rifles, I had a great Indian dinner. I have been talking to Sharon for months about wanting to have some Indian food on the trip. We took an Uber to the restaurant.

It took about 30 minutes to get into the bar and then an additional 30 minutes to get a table. Although the bar service was slow, the wait was worth it. Everyone enjoyed the meal.

We grabbed an Uber back to the apartment. It turns out that several people that Jack knows are in London this week. Back at the apartment about 10 pm, Jack turned right around to meet up with Charlotte and her friends.

I finished the night trying to sort out why my Uber account stopped working. We are going to need it for the rest of the trip.

Friday, March 01, 2019

2019 London - Day 2

2019 London - Day 2

Sharon and I landed at Heathrow at about 9:40 am. Walking what seemed like a mile, we wandered through passport control and our luggage was waiting for us. Jack landed about 10:15 am. By 11 am, we were all together and had all of our luggage.

Walking through customs without a second look, the driver was waiting for us. We arranged for transportation from London Connections. This is the same company that we rented the apartment from. This is a Utah based company recommended by Rick Steves. I have been very pleased with their service so far.

By noon, we were in the apartment. We are spending eight nights in a two bedroom apartment at 34 Beaufort Gardens in the Knightsbridge area of London.

After getting settled, Sharon and I wandered out to explore the neighborhood. Harrods is about a block and a half from the apartment. I have never quite seen any thing like it. It is a very high end department store. We wandered through the store looking for somewhere to grab some lunch and checking out the grocery section.

We ended up having a bite to eat at Caffe Concerto across the street. We split a antipasto misto. Afterwards, we bought some groceries and continued to explore.

I had hoped to try to hit one of the major sites like Westminster Abbey in the afternoon. I couldn't get anyone rallied. With the overnight flight and the time change, everyone was more than a little out of it. We all ended up taking a nap.

Getting cleaned up, we headed out for a late dinner. Sharon and I had wandered by a pub called Bunch of Grapes earlier. We all had fish and chips upstairs. After dinner, we wandered downstairs and had a pint. It was nice to have chance to visit with Jack. We crashed about 10 pm...