March 14th: London

Seth is feeling poorly, so I wander off shopping. It’s a rainy day, and I hit a couple bookstores near Marylebone, but the best one was way down on King’s Road from the tube stop at Sloane Square. I stop at a Pizza Express for some lunch, have their Sicilia (artichoke, ham, olives) – quite good. When I return to the hostel, Seth’s still in bed, feeling better but not up to going out. I windowshop at HMV and Borders, then pick up food for him and me at Marks & Spencer. Bread and soup for him, a roast beef and yorkshire pudding for me – tasty but not anything like Mom’s. I resolve to have the real thing before I leave. We end up watching tv for a couple hours with some others staying there.

[Originally published at GoHither.Net]

March 13th: London, Salisbury, Stonehenge and environs

Seth’s decided the bus tour to Stonehenge is a little too pricey at about $75 a head (although the price of renting a car and filling up the tank is higher), so I go and meet up with the tour and my friend Monica, who’s traveling with her friend Dawn. We get in a van that seats about 15, and head out of London. There’s a lot of traffic going both directions that clears up about 30 minutes out. Our first stop is Sarum where ruins stand from an ancient castle (first occupied over 5000 years ago). It’s interesting, but there are strong winds in addition to it being cold, and we don’t stay long. Next is Salisbury Cathedral, some spectacular windows inside and one of four existing copies of the Magna Carta. I also wander into Salisbury to look at St Thomas’s Church (first built in 1219, featuring the Doom Painting).

Next up is lunch at a pub in the Woodford Valley, where I had egg, ham, and chips and Toadfeet bitters. Stonehenge is next, and it’s too bad it’s windy and cold, because it would have been nice to stay out there longer. The final stop is Avebury, the largest stone circle in Britain, but kinda disappointing after Stonehenge. We go back into London, where we had reservations at the extremely hard to find Gaucho Grill (so difficult that Seth who was supposed to meet us there, gave up after an hour of searching). They served Argentinean beef, and I had an incredibly tasty ribeye (for future reference, it’s under the J.D. Wetherspoon’s – Knights Templar on Gracechurch Street).

[Originally published at GoHither.Net]

March 12th: London

After finding out the reason people in the hostel go to Marks & Spencer is that the grocery store is in the basement, we get some sandwiches (sausage roll for me) and head back to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards. Interesting, but certainly the most crowded tourist attraction. Next we head northwest through Hyde Park, along the Serpentine. Striking west at the bridge, we come to Kensington Palace, then head north to Notting Hill. Portobello Market’s big day is Saturday, and there isn’t much to see on a Tuesday. There is a nice little bookstore there, Book and Comics Exchange on Pembridge Road (part of a great chain), where we both stock up.

Hopping on the tube, we get off at Waterloo, near the London Eye. It’s an overcast day and there’s no line, so we purchase tickets and go up. A great view, even when cloudy. The Dali Universe show is next door, so we go in. Very surreal. We eat at Mr. Au’s, an Asian chain with a buffet. Next we take a train to Croydon to meet a friend of Seth’s who was working there for a year. We wandered down to a nearby pub and chatted over a few pints.

[Originally published at GoHither.Net]

March 11th: London

We grab some sandwiches at the Somerfield on Berwick Street and eat them on the way to Charing Cross Road. Today is bookstores day, as we take in as many as we can. Unfortunately for me, they mostly deal in expensive firsts, and when they have the books I’m looking for, they’re way more than list price. We go to Sainsbury’s for some frozen dinners and back to the hostel to heat them up. I’m shocked that the chicken vindaloo I got is actually spicy. Two American girls are in the kitchen – they hadn’t seen any sights, just there to party. We leave them behind and head off towards the British Museum. If you desire to see the history of Western civilization in two or three hours, that’s the place to do it. I found the Rosetta stone and the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon particularly memorable.

Later, we returned to Moon and Sixpence for some fish and chips before we went to The Avalon to see Heather Nova. She’s never played the D.C. area, so I was happy to finally catch her. She was amazing, although Seth was more impressed with Howie Day, who recorded loops while playing guitar and accompanied himself with up to five layers of vocals, percussion, and guitar.

[Originally published at GoHither.Net]

March 10th: London

Failing miserably to get out before the changing of the guard, we head out west a block and Seth asks a fellow where we can get some breakfast. “My pub” is the reply, so I found myself enjoying eggs, sausage, and black pudding (not anywhere as bad as I feared) at O’Neill’s Pub. Afterwards, we trek back to Big Ben, now taking a left and crossing the Thames. We walk along the South Bank to the Tower Bridge, stopping at a book market under the Waterloo Bridge. We double back in order to cross the Millennium Bridge, to arrive at St. Paul’s Cathedral. We look around inside, then go through Chinatown, where I had some dim sum and amazing roast duck. We end the day at Shakespeare’s Head Pub, sampling more pints.

[Originally published at GoHither.Net]

March 9th: London

My flight from Washington Dulles leaves at 9PM Friday and arrives at 9:30AM Saturday. I take the tube to Oxford Circus, and find the hostel on Noel St. My friend Seth (traveling the world with one week in London) is already there and asleep. I wander east on Oxford St. to find the location of the nearest internet cafe and some bookstores on Charing Cross Rd. I stop in Soho square to read for a while.

When I get back, Seth’s up and we head over to a cafe on Poland Street and get sandwiches, then go to easyEverything, the cheapest internet cafe. Email (for him) taken care of and Paul McCartney tickets purchased (for me), we hit Sainsbury’s next door for some food, then wander down Charing Cross Rd. We hit Trafalgar Square and keep on going, taking a right at Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. At Buckingham Palace, the guards aren’t doing much, so we take another right and head back to the hostel through Green Park. Once there, we lie down to rest briefly, falling asleep for a couple hours. Hungry, we head out to Moon and Sixpence, a J.D. Wetherspoon’s chain pub two blocks east of the hostel. After a couple of burgers (and a couple of pints), we go to the theatre district, which has street musicians and lots of people. After one more pint at a pub near Chinatown, we go crash.

[Originally published at GoHither.Net]

Robbie Schaefer & Jon Carroll at Jammin’ Java

Let me preface this by saying I really like Jammin’ Java. It’s a little coffee shop with a nice, intimate performance space in back (the lady at the door said there were 108 chairs). The setlist spells it out more, but it was Jon and Robbie switching vocal duties (and sometimes leaving the stage). I kind of expected Mike to be one of the “special guests”, and was happy to see Eddie show up as well.

Robbie’s new songs were great (especially Independence, Indiana), but my favorite part of the set was when they asked Julie to come up. Jon sang lead on “Get Closer”, but she sang “Quick” and a smoking version of “Love Me Like A Man”. Robbie confirmed the Wolf Trap show and said that Jon would be joining them at the Birchmere shows and possibly the Wolf Trap one. Bill Danoff (used to be in the Starland Vocal Band with Jon) sang lead on a couple, too (I had no idea he co-wrote Take Me Home, Country Roads).

[Originally published through the edheads email list]