More fangirling in London!

Well, not only fangirling, we mostly did touristy stuff… As I already blogged about in my previous post, my 15 year old son and I were in London this past weekend and what a lovely time we had!

We went inside Tower Bridge and walked on the glass floor there, looking down!

My son was fearless about that and while I did do it briefly, I found it scary. But I did it – yay me! We also saw the engine room…

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… and when we finished our tour, we were greeted by a cannon salute across the river!

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OK, so the salute wasn’t for us but for the Queen’s 91st birthday. Still, we felt honoured. 🙂

We passed through Westminster…

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… and went on to Portobello Road in Notting Hill…

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… which was also a bit of fangirling for me as it reminded me of the lovely movie Notting Hill. The Notthing Hill thing was a spontaneous idea; if I had thought of it sooner, I would have researched it better and would have fangirled my way to Hugh Grant’s front door from that movie.

That evening my son and I went to see The Lion King musical, which we both very much enjoyed (we had a good view from the front row of the Grand Circle)…

While we were walking to the theatre, we passed by Covent Garden and walked by a street artist/comedian getting ready to do his thing. The street artist looked straight at my son and in his microphone announced “Ah, there we have Justin Bieber”! I had to laugh and the whole crowd turned to look at my son as we scurried along and my son turned beet-red! He has been compared to a younger Justin Bieber before and he hates it… I know I’m probably an awful mother but I have ribbed him about this incident regularly and in hindsight he now also has started seeing some of the humour in it.  He still insists he looks nothing like Bieber, though. 🙂

We shopped a bit in Oxford Street and also met up with fellow Richard Armitage fan Hariclea from the Opera is Magic blog on Saturday afternoon! We met at “Fortnum and Mason” and had ice cream ‘coupes’ at the ice cream parlour on the first floor! Beautiful, delicious, filled our stomachs right up! So much so, that my son felt a little sick there for a moment! Luckily he recovered quickly. It’s always a delight to see Hari and it was so much fun that I forgot to take pictures of our beautiful ice cream creations! The only picture I took was of two teacups priced at £145,- while waiting for Hari…

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Hari and I may have mentioned Richard Armitage a few times in passing but didn’t get too carried away in the presence of my son. That evening, as Hari went off to the theatre, my son and I went to see the Scarlett Johannson scifi movie Ghost in the Shell in a Leicester Square theatre with a truly huge screen. The movie was not the greatest scifi movie I’d ever seen, but it was quite fun and had nice visual effects.

We spent our Sunday on Hampstead Heath. We walked there for a bit, my son even climbed a tree…

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… we got up to Kenwood House (also a Notting Hill film location, by the way!)…

… and treated ourselves to some delicious scones (this had been something my son had particularly wished for).

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Later that afternoon we made our way back to the airport and flew home again. But I didn’t leave London without some specific fangirl items!

I’ve bought a DVD of a Gregory Peck movie I came across that I have always wanted to see but have never been able to…

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I’m not that much into Westerns but, come on, it’s Gregory Peck, my first real teenage fangirl crush!

At Kenwood House I bought the book Belle that accompanies the excellent movie of the same name, about a black young lady who lived as a lady and not as a servant in Kenwood House in the 18th century. She was also featured in a painting that was painted at the time but alas that painting is not at Kenwood anymore and is now somewhere in Scotland. I had seen the film, I now saw the book and grabbed it for myself…

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And, I did some more Jane Eyre fangirling when, in a bookstore, I happend upon a book with this title…

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I immediately recognized it as the first sentence from the last chapter of Jane Eyre and just had to have it, especially considering we will be visiting writer Charlotte Brontë’s house this coming summer.

Last but not least, there was Audrey Hepburn fangirling as well! I came across this POP doll of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s  and just couldn’t let it go…

So, yes, London is a great place to fangirl; it makes me feel greedy when I see all these goodies together even though they all didn’t cost that much. London is also a great place to spend time with my son! He picked out pretty much all our activities (Portobello Road and meeing Hari were my picks, the rest were his) and I loved that one-on-one time with him. I think that, except for my snoring at night, he enjoyed his time with me as well. We’ll definitely be back!

The Brussels adventure

This past January my husband and I had the 25th anniversary of our first kiss and to celebrate a quarter of a century together (that sounds sooooo long!) he and I went away, just the two of us, to Brussels for 3 days (2 nights).  We decided to do it the unstressed way: go by train! The journey is only 2.5 hours from where we live and we only had to change trains once. The kids were looked after by friends, so there were no worries there, and we were off last Thursday morning. This is what it looked like just after we boarded the train to Brussels. Coffee for Mr Esther, tea for me, cakes and reading material… Yes, good start to our mini-break!

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We arrived in Brussels and walked to the street our hotel was in (right bang in the historical center!), had a late lunch, checked in to our hotel and then started walking… and walking… and walking… We walked by ‘Manneken Pis’ (yeah, world famous small fountain statue of a little boy peeing)…

… walked some more…

… and popped into a church where I lit a candle for my dad and which also turned out to be Heraldry-heaven for Mr Esther (the man loves medieval history and is a heraldry specialist, a fangirl of sorts, if you will)…

… we walked on and on till we got to the royal palace, which is the Belgian king’s work place…

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… walked from there back into the old town, with a lovely view as we came down…

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… we stopped for drinks then walked on to finally visit a high point: the market square with old city hall and beautiful old buildings surrounding it (click on images to enlarge)…

It’s a gorgeous square, it’s probably the best cared for part of Brussels. Our hotel was situated about a minute minute away from this location. This was our breakfast room view, by the way…

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Our feet were already getting very tried at the end of that first day. We went to the hotel room, freshened up and then went off to dinner and a movie after (Silence – slow moving Martin Scorsese movie about Portugese Jesuit monks in 17th century Japan – 3 people walked out during it, but Mr Esther and I found it totally engrossing).

Friday, the second day, we walked even more… We visited the cathedral (again, click to enlarge)…

… and, as we are Europeans at heart, we walked on to where the European Union administration is situated. The European Commission building is freakishly huge (these pictures don’t even begin to show that)…

… outside that building there is also a piece of the Berlin Wall with a text on the history of that eyesore and how since that was torn down European unity has grown…

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… we walked by the European Parliament buildings…

Outside the parliament building there was a tree decorated in a crocheted work of art. I have no idea what that is about but we found it amusing…

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We walked through more streets closer to the old center where our hotel also was…

… and in less touristy parts of Brussels, we also came across an occasional house painted with interesting illustrations (again, click to enlarge)…

Speaking of cartoon characters, we also came across this sign in a park, asking Pokemon character searchers to keep off the grass as the grass had just been re-planted. Apparently massive amounts of Pokemom game players had trampled the grass before…

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Of course, by the end of the day our feet were just about dead and we sat for quite a while sipping wine (me) and special beer (Mr Esther) in the old market square…

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We moved from there to a restaurant and later back to the square again for more beer. The square was beautifully lit after dark…

Saturday, our last day in Brussels, we spent at the museum, seeing an exhibition on famous Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. Alas, his most famous works weren’t there, but he sure made some really wonderful less famous paintings too!

In the same museum we also strolled through the beautiful medieval paintings section…

Alas, we were too tired to go on to the 19th / early 20th century paintings that I had also wanted to see; we skipped that in favour of a café (and more beer and wine) before taking our train and heading back home again.

For me, hardly a trip is complete without fangirling of some sort! And I got to do some on this trip as well! There was no Richard, Colin or latest crush Lucas fangirling but there was the 1920s Magritte painting, that made me think of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries because of the black bob hairstyle (sorry for the fuzzy picture)…

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… and we came across Simon Baker of The Mentalist fame in a Longines watches ad in a jewelry store window ( I stared and smiled at that for a while before moving on, the man and his smile are beautiful)…

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Brussels also likes its comic / scifi / fantasy stores… In a store window, for instance, we saw all sorts of wands from Harry Potter characters for sale…

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… and then in another store, which was filled with so much stuff you could hardly move, I decided to search once again for a Pop Thorin figure. I always regretted not getting Pop Thorin at the time The Hobbit movies came out and now they are sold out everywhere and they’re very expensive online. Well, I didn’t find Thorin but then my husband called me over and I saw these two…

20170305_155620… Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy! Granted, not Colin Firth as Darcy but hey, he can pass for it, right? And a kick ass Elizabeth Bennet, who I did enjoy in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. So yeah, I didn’t want to regret not getting Elizabeth Bennet! I bought her first, then the next day decided I’d get Mr. Darcy as well. I want no more Pop-regrets…

And the last bit of fangirling had everything to do with Charlotte Bronte! Jane Eyre is still one of my absolute fave books ever, this coming summer we will be travelling to Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire where she lived, and yesterday I walked in her footsteps in Brussels! Charlotte Bronte stayed in Brussels for about a year in her mid twenties, learning French at a ‘pensionnat’, a school for girls, and also teaching English there. She also fell in love with the husband of the pensionnat owner, Monsieur Heger, even though nothing ever came of that. She based two books on her Brussels experiences (‘The Professor’ and ‘Vilette’) and Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester is said to have been modelled after Monsieur Heger. The part of Brussels (between the royal palace and the older city) where she lived isn’t there anymore. Now big buildings stand on the street where the pensionnat used to be, the street itself is also gone. On one building (you really have to figure out where to find it, luckily Mr Esther is good at that stuff) there is a plaque commemorating Charlotte and her sister Emily living there…

… and there are steps there that were also there in Charlotte’s time and that she most certainly must have walked on…

When we were at the museum an hour or so later, we saw this painting…

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It’s  the painting of a school children’s parade in Brussels, all these girls are schoolgirls! It was painted quite a few years after Charlotte and Emily left Brussels but I like to imagine that these girls could have been their pupils… or maybe the teacher walking next to these girls was!

We took the train out of Brussels again yesterday at the end of the afternoon and got off at Antwerp to have dinner there before heading home. While in Antwerp station (beautiful building inside!) we sat drinking coffee and chai tea latte while waiting for our next train. This was our view…

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… and yes, it immediately reminded me of one of my favourite flash mob videos ever, which was also the first one I ever saw, I think. A flash mob The Sound of Music ad was filmed in Antwerp station some years ago and still is awesome to watch…

Yep, we had a really wonderful time! It was over all too soon…

“What is your tale of woe?”…

… “I have no tale of woe, sir”, says Jane Eyre in the 2011 film adaptation with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, despite all the adversity she has faced.

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So, that is what I tell myself as well… I will not be weighed down by woe. And yet, when you see your dad in a nursing home slowly deteriorating with Parkinson’s Disease it is difficult to not succumb to frustration and hurt and feeling torn between wanting it to end and wanting it to NOT end…

Real life keeps me busy with family, work (which I enjoy but my projects aren’t exactly developing as planned…grrr….) and now with the situation with my father who I love dearly. So, forgive me if I can’t form many coherent thoughts on this blog right now or if I can hardly follow what’s happening on any other blogs.  I hope to be back soon and this little snippet of a blog-post gives me the idea to blog about Jane Eyre adaptations next…