Monday, 19 September 2011

American Suburbanite in London, Part II

It has taken me ages to get the master suite painted, infact, I have only taken a short brake to finally post again.  It is such a large open plan room, that I don't like having part unfinished and everytime I turn around, there is another surface to paint!  I have decided today will be a day for all things other than painting (mostly) and give my shoulder a bit of a break!

Last month we spent a couple of days in London while touring a bit of the South Coast.  Our first day was crammed full of activities, and our second day was much the same.   It was my husbands birthday, so we started off lazing around the hotel room where he opened cards and gifts.  He was about to pick up his electric razor when we decided to treat him a bit and let him get a wet shave.  Now that we have added a bit more to our day, we got dressed and headed out to take on the city.  

(c) ASRE  So Cute!
First stop, Primrose bakery.  I received their cupcake cook book as a birthday gift from my husband so we incorporated a visit to compare my baking to the original.  It was also a way for my husband to get a bit of birthday cake, even if it was for breakfast!  I have to say, I have not done too badly, first batch I made were spot on, second, not quite as good, but I know my mistake!  The originals were yummy, a bit sweet, even by American standards, but still not a bad breakfast.

(c) ASRE Tea, teacakes (toasting) and a cupcake for my husband
(c) ASRE Water (old habits) and 2 cupcakes for me :)

(c) ASRE
Our next task of the day, to find the barbers wet shave place we spotted the night before whilst walking around Covent Garden.  We soon found Murdocks,  but discovered they were booked for the day.  They must have seen how dissapointed we were and immediately suggested we tried another one of their shops.  Uncertain at first, we walked out the door and took a few steps, but turned around and booked into the Mayfair shop.  My husbands appointment was in an hour and it was only a short walk to Mayfair so we had a relaxing stroll, a nice change from our typical holiday where we are high paced and energetic much of the time.  My husband had a fabulous experience for his wet shave, and he looks forward to doing it again. 
(c) ASREA good look for my husband?

At this point we were famashed and had a quick bite to eat from the sandwich shop across the street.  You can just imagine English gentlemen on this street 100 years ago getting their shaves, stopping to have their suits made, and stopping in a similar shop for a bite  to eat.


Not much time to dilly dally before we were off for our bit of playing the tourist, off to the Tower of London.  On my first vist to London, we walked past frequently, but could not fit in a visit.  So again with our Tesco club card rewards, we were able to see an attraction with very little out of pocket expense.  We knew we were in for lines due to the timing of our visit (smack in the middle of school summer holiday), so prepared ourselves and headed in. 

(c) ASRE, photo from first visit to London
We started with a Beefeater guided tour, but there were so many people in the group, we wandered off on our own.  We quickly decided to get in to the loooong line to see the Crown Jewels.  I was quite impressed with how the line worked through many different rooms with different films and bits of history playing.  It is one of the few places in the UK that understand queing has to be as much of the experience as what you are queing for, seems they have taken a lesson from the numerous theme parks in FL and elsewhere acrosss the States. 
(c) ASRE I even managed a terrible towel picture!

We also visited the Torture Chambers where prisoners were stretched, squished and various other likes of punishment for their crimes.  It was very interesting to see to what extremes torture was considered acceptable. 

(c) ASRE Raven habitats and the entrance to the dungeon...
With little time left we strolled around and viewed the beasts of the Tower, some live some not live!  These very impressisive lifesize sculptures were throughout the Tower. 

(c) ASRE Lions, bears, monkeys, and even a partial elephant throughout the grounds

Our favorite animal has to be the live ones, the very famous Ravens of The Tower of London.  Legend has it if the Ravens leave the Tower of London the Kingdom of England and the Tower will fall.  While they were enclosed in habitats most of the time we were there, a pair was released with their Yoeman guard on one of the lawns as we were leaving.  It was a pleasure to see them out, although the crows would not agree!  For now, the Ravens stay and the Kindom of England still stands!

(c) ASRE

The night was capped off with a lovely Indian Curry for tea and then early to bed and early to rise... next stop Paris!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A day of rememberance

(c)ASRE, a gap in the skyline
On this day it is difficult to not think about the tragic events that occurred 10 years ago.  As I listen to the names being read, I think how lucky I and my family have been.  We know no one directly impacted by the tragic events of that day, nor have we lost anyone in the wars that preceded or followed.  I am so thankful and yet my heart will still ache for those that were directly impacted.

(c) ASRE graffiti... memorial

As many people do, I remember exactly what I was doing on the day of the attacks.  What is more important I remember where I was, at my family home, not 1000 miles away.  On 9 September 2001 I had booked a flight from FL to PA, which I missed.  On 10 September 2001 I was placed on a flight, which I boarded and safely made it to my destination.  For that I am most thankful for.

(c) ASRE The rebuilding efforts in 2009 from our hotel window.

My families closest link to the World Trade Centers comes from my father.  Before the collapse of the steel industry in Pennsylvania, he worked in a mill which built the i-beams and fittings that supported the towers.  He recalled building them as the towers came down and was in awe of the power that he knew it took to break down those beams.  We were all speachless when we visited a travelling museum exhibit hosted by the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh several years ago.

(c) Skyline from the Ellis Island Ferry

I think it is quite befitting the USS New York was built from the tangled mess of metal of the WTC.  It shows the American spirit in true form, as has been done before.  We may get knocked down, but we will get back up again.

(c) Lady Liberty's little sister on the Seine from the Tour Eiffel

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A Whale of a Tale

source BBC
After this weeks Minke Whale stranding in the Humber River at Immingham Docks I realized just how much I miss my animal rescue work.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change a thing right now.  I am glad I have moved to the UK with my husband and enjoy the new experiences and challenges life brings me.  I have however, been motivated to get involved with similar work here in the UK.

Source BDMLR

The organization that coordinates stranding response in the United Kingdom is 'British Divers Marine Life Rescue'.  This charity has been working since 1988 in response of stranded pinnipeds, dolphins, and whales.  They have equipment and volunteer responders around the country to maintain and educate.  I am extremely excited to get involved with them!

(c) ASRE, my start in rehab
Coincidentally, one of the facilities I worked with in FL is about to hit the big screen!  Nearly 20 years ago, I did an internship at the Clearwater Marine Science Center in the Animal Care department.  Two years later I moved to Florida to volunteer and continue to get experience in marine animal care and rehabilitation.  Soon afterwards the Marine Animal Stranding Response Team was developed which became the standard for communities around the globe for volunteer response teams. 

my first marine mammal stranding
Over the next 10 years or so, the Clearwater Marine Science Center went through many changes.  North American River Otters became a common rescue, we became recognized for our achievements both in and out of accredited circles, and even changed the name to Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  Staff changes were also plentiful as it is difficult to keep a non profit business running with all the staff needed and getting the right staff and board of directors is even more difficult.  Some good changes, some not so good changes, all water under the bridge now.

Blondie, eventually released!
About 6 years ago one of the biggest events in the Aquarium's history would occur, not known  to anyone at that time.  A rescue was made on a young dolphin tangled in a crab trap line.  Numerous facilities turned down this baby as she had very little chance of survival.  In America, we will rehab an animal even if it can not be released, but will recommend euthanasia if it does not seem to have at least a chance.  Dr. Cianciolo, the veterinarian for CMA at the time, would not give up on the infant though. 

The little dolphin was named Winter as it was the season in which she stranded.  She lost her tail, but not her will to live.  She has advanced prosthetic technology which in turn helps humans especially our wounded war veterans.  She has also helped numerous children accept their own differences.  On September 23 in the States (October 14 in the UK), she will be seen on the silver screen, in 3D no less!  

cuddle time (zinc on back as sunscreen)

my last intensively involved stranding

wanting to help me clean!
The film 'Dolphin Tale' is a fictional account of her story in which she does most of her own stunts.  She was the last dolphin I interacted with before making some moves of my own.  Each time I see a movie trailer my heart swells and my eyes well.  I am more motivated than ever to get back into my work and look forward to the opportunity to be involved with some amazing people and animals.