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Friday, August 16, 2019

Preparing For China

Folks are asking why no posts. We are busy preparing for China. We leave in 5 days.

Everything is good. We got our China visas. Nancy upgraded our tickets to first class for a full flat bed on the long flight. 

I must admit that I am a little timid. We have never traveled to a place like China - and never traveled for such a long period - 5 months.

Beijing's weather is similar to our old home in Tamaqua PA. We will need clothes for all seasons. 

We normally take just a carry-on bag - but this flight will be 5 checked pieces of luggage. We can take 6 free.

We are both in excellent health. After my spine surgery - pain is a distant memory. It had not felt this good in 30 years.

I am excited to see if my computer and iphone function properly over there. We are hoping our home television Slingbox System works. Also Sirius Radio.

You can contact me by email or text message. Our T-Mobil phone supposedly works - but there would be a 25 cent a minute charge on calls.

I look forward to writing more - once we get there.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

German And Italian Prisoners Of War Build Pre-Fab Homes In London

Lulu said - I would take one - on the beach

Beautiful gardens

Someday soon it will all be gone

Kitchen - bath - living room - 2 bedrooms - in 600 sq ft

During World War II - 500,000 homes were destroyed in England by German bombs and rockets. Although the Germans never set foot on Great Britain - a war of terror caused great damage to the British homeland. Even before the war ended - in 1944 - a plan was put into place to use prisoners of war to build tiny prefabricated homes to provide temporary housing for the residents. Today - we would probably use trailers - but Britain build 180,000 small homes out of steel and concrete made from war rubble. They were assembled on site and supposed to last 10 years. Many people were just happy to have an indoor bathroom. 

England was on war rationing until 1954. Coal - gasoline - food - cloth - were all rationed. These things money could not buy without a ration coupon.

On Saturday - our last full day in London - we wanted to see something different. We took the train to Catford in South London. A development called Excalibur at one time was composed of 160 of these tiny homes. In homes that were supposed to last 10 years - people were still living and thriving 70 years later. The village was originally set up in park land. Now that land has become worth millions. An effort is being made to get the people out of the pre-fab homes - and develop the land. 

Excalibur was at one time a happy little tidy community. Now it reminds one of a holiday campground or an almost abandoned company coal town. The little houses are in all states of repair. Many are gone with nothing but a little foundation or sidewalk remaining. Tiny alleys and streets are overgrown in places - manicured in others. After the war - people found community and peace here. Now it is being turned over and erased like an Etch-o-Sketch toy. It was never meant to last this long - but it is still sad to see people pushed out. 

There is a cute modern community of Tiny Houses just opening west of Tallahassee FL. The tiny homes are all pristine lined up like cordwood. Families and friendships are being developed there. Is this how communities come and go? It seems a little sad. Nothing is constant but change.

Roughly 20 x 30 feet = 600 sq ft

This one had a nice yard with a few cars

This one looked closed

The garden was overgrown - owners gone

Thru the window - a coal burning fireplace

Thru the window - a steel bathtub

This old mini fit right in

This person had a Lexus and loved flowers

These alleys served as streets - few cars - just bikes

Excalibur had streets named after Camelot

This church still operates in the old military quonset hut

Poured concrete church school

It used to be tidy and green

Here is how you fit a bathroom - 2 bedrooms - living room - kitchen - porch in 600 square feet

Friday, August 02, 2019

We Were Blown Away By The Tina Turner Play

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe was fabulous

Review by Lulu Everhart

Tina, the play about the life of Tina Turner, just opened last summer when we were in London.
Harry is a magician at getting very good tickets for all the plays I want to see but this one was
impossible. I had hoped it was still playing this summer and was happy to see that it was. Time
was running out as we were going home in 4 days and it would be my last chance to see a
matinee on Thursday after my final class. My ticket magician didn’t disappoint (more on this in his blog) and we were all set for 2:30 p.m. show.
Biographies are my favorite reading genre and Tina’s book in the 80’s was a riveting tale. By
now we all know the story of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband Ike, her rise to fame as a solo artist. The play was getting outstanding reviews and I had a feeling that this
show would be special. I even bought a 12 pound program when I entered the theatre. Let’s just say it did not disappoint. The lead, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe was fabulous. She WAS Tina Turner. She could act, sing, dance (oh, could she dance). My program came in handy for some inside information – the young woman just graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018 – I couldn’t believe she was that young and play such a mature role. I am now a full-fledged fan and will follow her career and try to see her in everything she does in the future. The supporting roles were equally excellent. Ike, Tina’s mother, the Ikettes, all of them. The young girl who played Tina as a child could belt out a song that filled the theatre and was adorable in her dress and pigtails.
The sets reinforced the story and were more elaborate than are the typical in London. And in
several scenes the live band was on stage as part of the story and for the electric finale. As we walked home on a perfect London evening, we talked about seeing one more play on Saturday
but decided to leave perfection alone and conclude our theatre-going season with Tina.

Video ends with Proud Mary.

After thoughts by Harry.

I hope the video I posted shows up here - it may be pulled by the censors. I shot it using an iphone in my shirt pocket - I think it is quite good considering. Simply - at 9 AM I went to the box office. They had first and second row seating left - and sold me two for 31 pounds each. I had the choice of front row end or second row middle. They were smashing seats but sometimes heads got in the way.

At 2:30 - we were in our seats - ready for action. 

Tina's story is compelling but not uncommon for American women - that is - American men being me-firsters. When American women finally get the chance to spread their wings - it will be a better place. Tina has to deal with - being black - being a women - and being poor. She had talent and persistence in spades. I am dating myself but she reminds me of Josephine Baker. Tina is a great American success story.We loved Tina.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

British Museum - Home of the Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone - about 4' by 3' by 1'
The Rosetta Stone is probably the world's most famous piece of granodiorite - a type of granite. The type of rock is common - but the writing on it made it famous. The rock was a street sign - with a decree of law on it from the government of Ptolemy around 196 BC. It is written in 3 languages. First in hierogyphics (picture letters) - second in Egyptian text - and finally in Ancient Greek. It was done that way so many people would understand what the sign said. 

In 1799 - the French under Napoleon found it in Rosetta - Egypt. They immediately realized its value for translation. In 1802 - the British overrun Egypt - and took the stone to England to protect it. It has been housed in the British Museum ever since. Of course Egypt would like it back.

On the first time we went to London in 1996 - it was unprotected in the museum - you could walk up and touch it. Now it is in a protective glass case - easy for getting close to read - and making it the most visited item in the museum.

The British Museum is our London neighbor. It was started in 1752 and was the first - largest - free - public museum in the world. It is just around the corner from our London home. Tuesday morning it was raining and Lulu was taking her class to the Facebook Headquarters. It was maid day at the apartment - so I went to the museum - to get out of the way. 

There are 13 million objects at the museum.

There are hundreds of antiquities taken from Egypt when that country was under the British Crown.

This was a carving from an Assyrian Palace.

 This haunting beautiful statue raises my camera every time.

I love the simplicity of the Parthenon in Athens.

When we built our house we had the Parthenon in mind.

It is simple in an OCD person's mind

The museum room where they house Parthenon parts

Ruins stolen from Greece and Rome

This is the missing Caryatid from the Acropolis.

The basement houses the Africa antiquities

Monday, July 29, 2019

A Summer Sunday - Tour de France - Touring With Our Son

We spent Sunday touring Paris with our son and then caught our 6 PM train back to London. It was still light when we arrived back at our apartment in London.

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I is the number one French hero. In the early 1800's - he won many battles and they were the super power of their time. He is buried here in St Jeromes Catherdral - connected to the National Army Museum.

Near the end of the day we posed on the bridge over the Seine River near Keith's home.

Napoleon is in the stone box. He was exiled to Saint Helen - and island in the South Atlantic for 7 years. He died and they buried him there. Finally in 1840 - they brought him home - carried him through the Arch of Triumph - and to this spot. He has been here for 180 years.

 We were touring the American Church in Paris. To our surprised an orchestra from Reading PA was giving a concert. We listened and felt like home. There is a wonderful Franch-American Montesori School in this community center. It is just a couple blocks from my son's home. Grerat place for American kids.

 Nice community center

Ice cream shaped like flowers. You pick the flavors - they make the flowers - you eat them

 Notre Dame Cathedral under construction. Many super rich have donated millions to restore it.

 Nancy used to take  her classes to tour this church on a day trip from London.

 National Army Museum - Napoleon tomb behind it.

 We stumbled on the Reading PA Music Concert Tour.

This school is close to son's home

 Notre Dame is on an island in the middle of the Seine River. Water flows from right to left.

I took these pictures form the Left Bank

Lulu's students used to board a boat from this bridge in the old days.

So many colorful markets - cafes - etc - on the Left Bank.

We toured the Cluny Museum - we did not see George anywhere. 

Religous paintings in the Cluny Musuem. 

This traveling altar was made of ivory. 

This tapestry was 10 feet high.

Buying Tour de France clothes.

Louis Vuitton on the Champs a Elysee.

It was Tour de France Day.

70s and sunny on Sunday for the race.

The Arch of Triumph was built by Napoleon in 1806. It is on the Naitonal Etoile or Star. 12 streets come together like numbers on a clock. Normally you can go up on the top. Today there is a flame for an unknown soldier from WWI in the middle. When Hitler captured Paris in 1940 - his troops marched to the Arch - but did not march thru out in respect to the grave - now who said Hitler was a bad guy. Sarcasm.

These were really nice rental electric bikes. 

This electric scooter was also a rental. They are similar to a Vespa but electric. 

This is the torch from the Statue of Liberty.  It has turned into a monument to Princess Diana. In the tunnel underneath - she was killed in a car wreck. Many people here think it was intentional. See the tower in the background. See Lulu in all black.

How about some Napoleon Cognac. Ironically this national hero was thrown out of his country for 7 years until he died. Then 20 years later they brought his body back.

Sunday  6 PM - time to catch the train to England. This is the Gard du Nord. Eurostar train goes back and forth to London several times a day - almost every hour. If you buy your tickets early they are 49 euros one way. We bought late and paid 99 euros each way. It takes a little over 2 hours - you do not go straight - you go almost to Brussels - then turn left to London. We each had one carry on bag. We stayed 3 nights.