Tag Archives: Inspiration

London Liverpool LONG Recap

18 Apr

Oy, mates.

So I’m back from my recent trip to London and Liverpool which was amazing. In fact, I dare say it will be a tough trip to beat. I just love London. My mother keeps insisting that I move there so she can have a reason to come visit me. We’ll just pretend that my mother didn’t tell me to move to the other side of the ocean (Just kidding, Dish. I love you!).

So first off – LONDON.

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Trafalgar Square

This was our second trip to this fantastic city. I loved it the first time but this time, I really got to know it. Like walk around without a map sort of know it. And if any of you have been to London with it’s bazillions little no name streets (come on London, that’s why we build grids in NYC and use numbers. Easy Squeazy Lemon Peazy).

So here’s some places we went:

St. Martin in the Fields

That’s St. Martin in the Fields. I’m a big classical music fan and back at home on WQXR I occasionally get to hear performances done in St. Martin in the Fields and I finally got to go to one! They’ve been hosting these FREE concerts for 75 years (did I mention they were free, cause they are. Though they’ve got a donation box, and honestly, what’s wrong with you? Donate a little). They did a variety of pieces by Handel including a stunning soloist  and a trumpeter who placed a Baroque trumpet (no spit valve so watch the floor!).

Hey wanna know something cool I learned about the lions in Trafalgar Square – the sculptor who made them had never seen a lion so he modeled the feet after his dog instead.

 

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And of course we say this:

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And we went here:

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Where we saw this:

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and he did this:

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And I did this:

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And we also went here:

Charles Dickens House and Museum

Charles Dickens House and Museum

 

where we saw this:

Charles Dicken's writing desk

Charles Dicken’s writing desk

I know it’s kind of blurry cause you couldn’t have the flash on but that is Charles Dicken’s writing desk. He wrote Oliver Twist in this room, on that desk. Seriously *MindBlown*

And we went here:

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But only “real” explorers get to go inside. Whatever that means.

But they did have this:

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Which was cool but nearly as cool as this:

Robert Falcon Scott Monument

Robert Falcon Scott Monument

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And in case you didn’t know how much I love Robert Falcon Scott, proof.

We also went to lots of writers homes and musicians homes but I’m saving that for a new blog that I’m creating for fellow travelers. But I will say we did see the rooftop where Elton John wrote Your Song, some Rolling Stones homes, David Bowie’s apt and where he took the picture for Ziggy Stardust.

Okay that one I’ll show you

It was here:

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And now it’s this:

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But you remember it like this:

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Where were we?

Oh yes, museums! All the museums in London are free which is such a fantastic way to promote and foster the arts (I’m looking at you, NYC).

It was like ART OVERLOAD but here are some highlights:

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

'The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

‘The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

 

We also went to the Handel house (it was a very Handel themed trip apparently)

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which happened to be right next door to this:

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The Handel house was great, and one of the best things about it is that on the ground floor they have a small rehearsal area that musicians can book and we were lucky enough to be there when people were practicing which really brought the whole thing to life.

We also did a Jack the Ripper walking tour of the East End, which was cool because the first time we went to London we didn’t get past the Tower Bridge and I really wanted to go to WhiteChapel.

You can still find the actual spot where Jack the Ripper killed his victims on the street:

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It’s even creepier if you picture 1888 gaslight London

Also, the East End has some fantastic graffiti:

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And no trip to London would be complete with a walk over the Tower Bridge

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To Southwark to see the Globe

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have some pie at Manzees

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Seriously, this stuff is amazing. Look every pub in London sells meat pies. And all the meat pies are good. I mean, how could it not be good. It’s a pie….full of meat…..with mashed potatoes on the side. But what happens at Manzee is MAGICAL. It’s worth the visit down Tower Bridge Road.

And finally, because you all know how obsessed I am with Doctor Who we walked all the way across London to find this:

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Look at it! A TARDIS just sitting outside the Earl’s Court Tube Station.

I died.

Seriously. DIED.

Can you see how happy I am? Cause I’m so happy. Happy and dead.

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And then there’s still LIVERPOOL. You know what’s great about Liverpool? Everyone sounds like George Harrison. Seriously!

We saw the Cavern Club, which to be honest was sort of a disappointment.

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It’s not the original – that was torn down even though the bloody Beatles played something like 250 shows there. So they built this one a little down the way from where it was. Jay does a better job of explaining what it was like so I’ll let him talk for a change.

But they do have this outside which was pretty cool

 

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We stopped off at a couple of John and Stu Sutcliff’s favorite pubs

First Ye Cracke (insert snickering here)

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See, proof

John Lennon at Ye Cracke

John Lennon at Ye Cracke

 

And also The Phil

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mmmmm ciders!

 

And of course we went to Mendips, John’s childhood home.

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To see John and Paul’s place you have to buy tickets for the National Trust tour. That’s the only way you can get inside and honestly, being inside is the whole point. Standing in John Lennon’s tiny (so tiny) bedroom was surreal. I thought about him, with his feet up on the wall, coming up with the words to Hello Little Girl. As he told Yoko when he took her by, “There it is Yoko. That’s where I did all my dreaming.”

In the back was were the trees that overlooked Strawberry Fields….”No one I think is in my tree….”

The guide told great stories about Mimi, a stern but good woman who raised John from the age of 5.

Afterwards we went back on the bus and headed down to 20 Forthlin Road, Paul McCartney’s home

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It was an council house – which is a form of public housing built for working class families. They were rented not owned. Mimi, John’s aunt, didn’t think much of people who lived in council houses, but she liked Paul because he spoke ‘proper English’ and didn’t sound like a Scouser (Liverpool accent – basically what George sounds like).  Their carpets were sewn together from scraps of other carpets, one big patchwork and the walls were lined in mismatched wall paper. The walls are also covered in pictures that Mike, Paul’s older brother took of ‘Our Kid’ (his nickname of Paul).

This is Paul and Mike with his mother Mary who died when the boys were young. In fact after John lost his mother, Julia, in a car accident he bonded with Paul as they were both now motherless. Paul wrote Let it Be for his mother.

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And one of my other favorites ones, of Paul climbing the drainpipe outside. He used to do that as a kid when his father locked him out for missing dinner.

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And here he is with John…working out I Saw Her Standing There in his living room, where they would practice when they cut school.

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I stood right next to that fireplace.

Crazy.

Okay I’m getting carried away and there’s still a lot to cover.

We also found George and Ringo’s place during an epic trip through the suburbs of Liverpool that I wrote about here and that I’ll go into more depth about on the new travel blog I’m going to keep.

But here’s George’s place.

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This one is special for me. Not just cause it’s George and I adore him (if I’m FORCED to pick a favorite, it’s George) and not just cause the people who live there don’t like people coming around to take pictures but because this is the first house we found after being told it was IMPOSSIBLE. We were told by shop clerks and tour guides not to bother. Take a taxi tour, they said. Get on the Magical Mystery Bus. As soon as they told me I couldn’t find it was the moment I knew I would. I’m stubborn like that. With our day bus pass in hand we found our way all over Liverpool.

To Penny Lane:

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To Strawberry Fields:

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To the churchyard where the QuarryMen played their first show

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Which if you look closely has this:

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This particular gem was shown to us by a small Chinese couple that spoke broken English. As soon as we walked in the graveyard they beckoned us over and pointed it out and then he mimicked John Lennon playing his guitar.

Then across the street to the place where John and Paul met.

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Where they hung this:

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Pete Shotton: “Hey Paul, John wants to know if you want to join the group.” Paul: “Okay” *rides off on his bike*

 

And then to Julia’s house, where for a small precious period of time, John had her back in his life. Not as a mother but as a friend. Julia taught John to play the guitar. John referenced Julia in quite a few songs, but most famously in Julia, which also has references to Yoko Ono. (Ono in Japanese means child of the sea)

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And then finally to the Dingle, where Ringo was born

It was a craphole then and it’s a craphole now. Such a craphole that I made us leave early when I thought I heard voices behind the shuttered and boarded up windows and feared being robbed by squatters. I’m such an idiot.

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And then of course there was Stu Sutcliffe.

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Stu was the Fifth Beatle, a best friend of John’s, an amazing painter and unfortunately a pretty crappy bass player.

Stu left the band to study painting, his true passion, in Germany with his girlfriend Astrid Kirchner. Astrid not only took some of the most iconic pictures of the Beatles, but she was the reason they got their Beatle haircut. Tragically Stu died at the age of 21 from what is believed to have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

When he and John were in art school together, they lived on Gambier Terrace, in this loft.

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Stu is buried in Liverpool and finding his grave was one of the few things we didn’t get to.

But we did go into the Walker Art Gallery and found his art. I can’t help but think Stu would have appreciated us picking his art over his old bones.

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Hamburg 2

It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

I think he would have been an incredible force in the art world.

 

So I think that’s about it. I had the best time with this guy:

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Everyone should be so lucky to have a traveling buddy like this.

So Cheers!

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And Goodbye England!

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Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

P.S…..Trish the Dish and Big Ron (ie. Mom and Dad) the backpacks were AMAZING. I never knew I could carry that much crap on my back. You’re the bestest.

 

 

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If You’re Loved by Someone You’re Never Rejected

20 Jul

….decide what to be and go be it………

Interview over at Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd

5 Feb

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I’m over at Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd talking about Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. 

 If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. I would be a dinosaur.

That’s a true story. And since I know you’re dying to know, I would be a pterodactyl. Because the only thing cooler than being a dinosaur is being one that can fly.

So many thanks to Emily at Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd for letting me blather on like a fool. And when people do nice things like let us blather on like fools, we say thanks. With candy!

Oh and also – there’s still time to sign up to win a free print/ebook copy of Lizzy at I Am A Reader Not a Writer!

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Here’s to books!

24 May

I was hanging out with my oldest friend in the world (literally, from the cradle) and we were having one of those conversations where we talk about the years between us and our childhood growing up together, and how growing up together has effected our adult artistic life. So on the subject of books I mentioned Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and the effect that it had on us and how reading it changed me when he admitted a startling fact. It went something like this:

Me: “Our entire childhood was changed by that book. I mean, if we hadn’t read that book we never would have created our own imaginary land.

Him: “Well, yeah but I never read it.”

Me: (stopping on the street): “What do you mean you never read it?”

Him: “You read it, Ally. You told me what happened. I never read those books. That was you.”

It wasn’t much later that another old friend of mine, commented on my clearly annoying habit of recounting books to my friends.

So it got me thinking about the books that stuck and how there are authors who change your life. So here’s a few:

I’m not sure exactly the first time I read Bridge to Terabithia because I read it so many times afterwards that it became ingrained in the very fibers and DNA of my imagination. As I said, shortly after finishing it my old friend and I crafted together our very own world, Fanteris, complete with entry points, creatures, witches (though I’m quite sure we got those from Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which, but more on that later), and journals to document it all. We were Kings and Queens of our land.  None of that would have happened without Jess and Leslie.

The story behind the story, in case you didn’t know is that Ms. Paterson’s son lost his best friend in a freak accident and to deal with his grief as well as her own she created this book.

This is the specific edition that I wore to pieces. It was part of a box set, which I still own.

Oh, Mr. Lewis. Where do I begin? I was probably seven when I read this book the first time. Every closet door I have opened since then, I’ve held my breath for just a moment because hey, what if? If Lev Grossman can build an entire series out of the meager hope that Narnia is real, well, then I can hope so too.

I watched the British cartoon they made hundreds of times and cried every time Aslan was dragged to the Stone Table.  I had the whole set and I read them over and over and over again till I had to tape some pages back in. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the Last Battle, my unhappiness was really about Narnia being over. The story was true because I believed it was true.

And then, of course the inevitable happened. I got older and the light went off and I said, “Wait what? Aslan is Jesus and for a while the whole thing came apart. And I was angry and felt betrayed and vowed to never wish for Narnia again. But of course, then I got even older and I got over it. The truth is I will always separate that story, that land, that magic from whatever allegory it was. Because when I was a child, I believed in Aslan, the lion, the warrior, not Aslan the stand-in for Jesus. And finally, and maybe most importantly C.S. Lewis was the first one who made me want to be a writer. I wanted to craft a land, people it, and live in it.

(I’m not gonna touch The Problem of Susan. I’ll save that for another post.)

And that brings us to Meg. Meg Murray was my favorite character ever created. She wasn’t fearless. She wasn’t spunky. She was neither Anastasia nor Pippi Longstockings. She was awkward and shy and lacked confidence (though she’s smart as hell)  in her family full of geniuses. She was ME (minus the family full of geniuses – no offense guys, I love you!).

Plus there was Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which who to this day I still find fascinating and clearly stole, renamed the Wandering Witches and peopled my imaginary world with.  Plus the book opens with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Perfection. Even now I try to throw the word tesseract into at least once conversation a day (no, it doesn’t work well, but thanks for asking).

Plus time travel, centaurs, the man with the red eyes, the black thing, telepathy, alternate universes. Need I go on?? It’s sci-fi and fantasy with a healthy dose of realism and chock full of people who I understood.

There are ton of other books I could add, like Watership Down, whose heft intimidated me in my old one-room library back in my small town. I had watched the movie so many times but the book itself seemed massive when I was eight. I could include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Jungle Book, Just so Stories, Pippi Longstocking, Are You there God, It’s Me Margaret, Everything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary.

But this post is already too long.

So here’s to books. Here’s the changing lives one page at time. Here’s to parents who encourage reading, who take their pushy daughter to the library every weekend, (yeah, I’m looking at you, Mom). Here’s to librarians who keep it up (against massive budget cuts, mind you). And here’s to authors who thought up these stories, crafted them, believed in them against doubt  and shared them.

Here’s to books! Long live books!

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