Month: July 2014

Literary Weekend in London Full of Surprises

I can’t stop talking about my literary weekend, so to speak. It was not only brilliant but also full of surprises – not the kind that I love to hate. Remember, those are the ones that I know are in the making. These jewels are nowhere near my radar until they happen.

First, there was the Books About Town exhibition to be in London until 15 September.  On 7 October the book benches will be auctioned to the highest bidder. Of course, we planned ahead but I had no idea how amazing the benches would be. I simply can’t choose a favourite. But I do know which one is the most sophisticated. Umm!

Anyhow, what are my chances of snagging one, you reckon? Nil, I can hear Paul saying in the background. Never mind! We had a fantastic time Saturday, checking out the art on the Bloomsbury Trail.

Not only are the benches cleverly designed, but also each represents a book or series of books, if you will.  While other book lovers blazed the trail on Saturday, too, so did art lovers and some, just plain old London lovers or shall I say lovers of London.

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Apparently, art around town in the capital is not a new thing and in all of its diversity, it is unlikely to become old hat anytime soon. In 2002, the capital hosted CowParade, which Paul and I had seen three years previous in Chicago. Fantastic!

Then in 2010, London was home to 250 life size baby elephants. Where was I? Though I somehow missed this one, some of the folks I met on Saturday will never forget it.

Two years on during a year of great hoopla for London, the capital celebrated Easter with more than 200 giant Faberge eggs. In a daze in 2012 for one reason or another, I don’t remember much about this stunning exhibition, either.

Thank goodness, I clued in on the book art, which alone was well worth making the trek. Still, bonuses not only included discovering more of London but also interacting with some of its people—amazingly sociable, contrary to popular belief. And best part was the weather, perhaps the most popular conversation of the day.

Speaking of popular, that brings me to the second surprise of the weekend. We had the opportunity to hear William Paul Young, author of The Shack, speak on Sunday.

Paul and I showed up at our church as we do, clueless as to whom the speaker would be. And this is not the first time we happened to be at the right place at the right time. Anyhow, it was a pleasant surprise to hear from the acclaimed author. While perhaps not as colourful as the book exhibition, he is arguably as creative.

In short, the book is a tremendous exploration of the human condition and man’s relationship with God, if you will. And Paul Young created it.

Four years ago, I reviewed The Shack. So I won’t do that again but I do have at least one new over arching thought about it—it is perhaps one of the most powerful metaphors of one person’s life that I have read.

Before hearing the author speak of his painful history and the bearing it had on the novel, I’ve often jokingly wished that God had given me The Shack, such a story if you will. Now putting all joking aside, I see why and how the author and his worldwide audience so deserve the goodness that has come from one tiny book. It is a big message. And at last, I get it.

Now back to those fabulous benches, you think I’ll get one somehow. Never mind! I’ll definitely find my way around another Books About Town trail, and soon. Can’t wait to be surprised!

Special Connection with First Famous Female

For many African American famous firsts, it is either getting late in the evening or night has come for their final rest, as is the case for Alice Coachman Davis, the first African American woman to win an Olympic Gold medal.

Mrs Coachman-Davis, who won her medal for the high jump at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1948, died on Monday, July 14 at the age of 90. Though her achievement itself is enough to celebrate, where it happened and where she is from makes the achievement that much more special for me.

From Albany, Georgia (the place I have called home for years now, though my family originates from nearby Leary) the record breaker won the medal right up the street from where I live now, if you will. More than 60 years later, Wembley Stadium continues to host some sporting events such as football, also known as soccer to some. Years ago, Paul and I saw Tina Turner and Lionel Richie perform there.

How appropriate for me to be in this space about now.

Somehow I can’t help feeling a special connection. Though I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Mrs Coachman-Davis, I have known of her for years, if only through the school that bears her name in Albany.

Interestingly enough, my sister Carrie, who has been in the Dougherty County School System for many years now, landed her first teaching job at Coachman Park Elementary School. And the story gets better.

Her then principal, Mrs Obzeine Shorter, was one of my first grade teachers.  In those days, the class was split between two teachers.  The other was a Mrs Boston, also from Albany.  To the best of my knowledge the latter woman died some years ago. Mrs Shorter lives on.

Wonderful firsts but not the lasts, I am sure. At London 2012, for example, women continued to make history. Females secured 29 of Team USA’s 46  medals. The women’s basketball players  won their 5th consecutive Olympic gold medal in London.

What a fitting to time to look at some of the noteworthy firsts in life. Share your memories here. As for now, I join thousands, if not millions, of others in celebrating the life of Alice Coachman-Davis and extending my condolences to her family.

The Magic of London at Night…

There’s something about London at night that’s enchanting—a bit surreal, too. As the taxi sped over Waterloo Bridge the other night, I couldn’t help trying to capture the magic. Well, while the amateurish photo isn’t bad, it doesn’t do the capital’s mysticism any real justice, does it?

Surely, I have something that says a thousand words, I told myself as I looked over my digital files—sunsets, sunsets, fireworks, fireworks.

Not what I had in mind. Though I have photographed Shanghai by night, Bangkok, Paris, New York, Boston and so on, I don’t have much of London. What does this mean? Possibly, that I don’t carry a camera around my home base at night. Who does? In any case, I’ll have to remedy that, but it might take some time.

In the meantime, I thought I’d take this opportunity to list five of my favourite views in London at night and tell a bit about what makes them special. Note that the list does not necessarily appear in preferred order. I love them all:

1) A view looking east on the Thames, which highlights the various riverside apartment buildings, the Albert and Chelsea Bridge and the lofty skyscrapers of the city of London in the distance. You’ll need a bird’s eye view for this one, but that shouldn’t be too hard to manage with skyscrapers popping up all over the place.

2) The twinkling lights of Harrods, located in Knightsbridge, which also happens to be one of my favourite views by day, too, or shall I say my favourite hang outs. The famous department store is one of the largest, if not the largest in the world. Checking it out by night won’t cost you a thing, considering what you might spend by day. Closest tube stations are Knightsbridge and Hyde Park corner.

3) Piccadilly, from Green Park to Piccadilly Circus.  It’s just vibrant, bodacious and atmospheric all at the same time.  So I am told the nightlife in the area keeps it teeming. What do I know, but when I am lucky enough to be there, I can see and feel exactly what the buzz is about.

4) Speaking of buzz, Park Lane is the place to be any time. But by night, the ritzy hotels light up and appear seductive under the moonlight. If you happen to be staying on the famous street or attending a gala there, you’re in serious luck. But if not, do catch a ride and zip alongside London taxis, Bentley’s, Maserati’s and the likes to take it all in.

5) When you tire of riding and want a stroll, go from Leicester Square to Covent Garden for a hive of activity and eclectic views.  From watching fascinating street artists to sampling exotic foods, expect to be wowed. Young and old alike gather before and after theatre or heck just gather for the fun of it.

With all this talk about wonderful views maybe those fireworks are fitting about now. Magic!

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All Stretched Out And Loving It

On my run this morning, I found myself still working out kinks in a couple of muscles. Even after a run on Monday and a full training session yesterday, I’m still paying for ignoring my stretching routine while recently visiting the US.

Even if I did have a resistance band and a small calf roller in my suitcase and plenty of know how in my head, I told myself I was just too busy.

Wrong answer!

Check out my recent Woman’s World piece on stretching and its role in healthy ageing.

As for me, I am all stretched out and truly loving it.