April 14, 2012

I am Art

This post was written on March 20, 2009. When I went to include the all-important link to the visual element it had disappeared from the internet, so this post was never published. Through an odd series of events early this morning, I ended up finding that the art is back up, so several years later, here you go:

Back in October, during our fabulous UK Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare geekfest, Jen, Stacey, and I decided to make a quick day trip over to Cardiff. While we were wandering around the Queens Arcade mall in search of lunch and toilets and Doctor Who calendars we encountered a strange photo session in progress.

At first we planned to ignore it, but later we walked by again and the people working on it explained that it was some sort of community photo mosaic project. We were invited to participate. “We aren’t Welsh,” we explained. “That’s fine,” they said, “it doesn’t matter.” Clearly these people had a quota to fill. So feeling a little self conscious I followed Stacey and Jen as we each had our photos taken in front of several different colored screens, all the while being directed to look “up and to the left,” then “down and to the right,” and so on and so forth. One of the photographers flirted with Stacey. No one flirted with me. Clearly the Welsh don’t deserve me. Next time I’ll go to Manchester instead.

After they’d taken our photos they gave us each a T-shirt and sent us on our way.

So what was this mysterious project, you ask? It was the “I am Art” project, a photo mosaic containing more than 15,000 images of about 3,000 people. After the photos were taken the people (not us) voted to decide which famous Welsh person the photo mosaic would be of.

Go ahead, think of as many famous Welsh people as you can. I’ll wait here.

Done already? Yeah. That’s probably why the big winner, the “Face of Cardiff,” wound up being 2007’s “X-Factor” (think “American Idol”) runner-up Rhydian Roberts (I was hoping for actor Gareth David-Lloyd but Rhydian will do).

Several months passed and finally the completed project was revealed. The three of us spent some time zooming in on the mosaic to find each other. It was loads of fun. Each of us appears multiple times—zoom in and see if you can find us!

Here’s a pic of the three of us from earlier that week so you know who to look for.


So that’s the story of how Stacey, Jen, and I came to be featured in a strange piece of Welsh art, one with the people of Cardiff, forever immortalized in a pop star’s head. WE ARE CARDIFF. WE ARE RHYDIAN. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.

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May 30, 2011

A few more UK photos

I realized I never put up any photos from the London portion of our trip, so here are a few:

First up, here I am at Paddington Station with Paddington Bear.

Here is Noel on the Prime Meridian.

Stacey and I have no photos of ourselves on the Prime Meridian because we are cheap and refused to pay almost $20 a person to go and stand on it when we could see it just fine from the other side of the gate. Stacey and I, it could be argued, are no fun.

Here we are at the Sherlock Holmes pub. If you go, have the tomato soup!

Noel and Stacey inside the pub.

Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, at the National Portrait Gallery, tucked in amongst paintings of royals and other notable figures, we encountered this portrait of Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Sherlock on the show Sherlock).

And finally, Noel was able to get her photo taken with David Tennant outside the theatre. She was so happy she did a little song and dance afterward. Success!

All in all, a very lovely trip!

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May 15, 2011

Glastonbury and Wells

Sunday we decided to visit Glastonbury. We started by climbing up Glastonbury Tor to see St. Michael’s Tower. T was smarter than the rest of us and didn’t go all the way up, but Noel, Stacey, and I were feeling stubborn.

The climb was very steep and almost painfully windy. Seriously. The wind was just absurd.

In the end, the climb proved to be too much for poor Noel, so we left her there to be eaten by badgers.

After we’d admired the view a bit and listened to some random men play flutes, we made our way back down the hill. Next up we went to see the Chalice Well.

The Flow Form and Vesica Pool

There were some amazing flowers in bloom, including these enormous poppies, which were each about the size of my hand.

The iron-rich water has turned the Waterfall a red-orange color.

Noel takes a drink from the Lion’s Head. The water tasted like pennies.

This tree had something to do with Jesus. The flowers didn’t—they were just pretty.

The Wellhead.

I…don’t even begin to know how to explain this encounter. It involved a self-proclaimed Time Lord/mystic/Starfleet ambassador with a magical staff named Capricorn who looked into you and helped your mind achieve balance. Or something.

Relaxing post-mystical encounter.

After Glastonbury we drove over to Wells Cathedral for Evensong. The music was lovely, but the service was so soothing that I had to fight to stay awake. It reminded me of trying desperately not to nod off during post-lunch college lectures.

After Evensong we got a snack at a nearby tea place where the food was good but the waitstaff was a touch sketchy. We finished off the day with a drink at the Ring o’ Bells pub, a lovely stir fry dinner T’s husband cooked, and a little bit of British TV. All in all a very successful day!

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May 14, 2011

An addendum, from Stacey

Stacey, who has possibly had a bit too much wine with her Eurovision, wants me to let you know that, thanks to a disturbing encounter with an animatronic musical monkey at Gulliver’s Land, she had to become a woman of ill repute in the Old West section of the theme park.

Stacey would also like everyone to know that you should feel free to share these photos with any attractive, available English lords who might be looking for a woman.

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May 14, 2011

A most random day in England

We got up obscenely early this morning to join our host T in Milton Keynes for an attempt to break a world record. T is a Guinness Book adjudicator and had to be on hand at Gulliver’s Land theme park to witness the record being set for the biggest human foosball game. The whole thing was a PR event for the release of Gulliver’s Travels on DVD.

When we arrived we were invited not just to watch but to participate, so we did. Stacey and I were put on the blue team, captained by British TV personality Angellica Bell.

Noel was on the red team, captained by another TV personality, Michael Underwood.

We arrived before most people, so we had time for a practice round.

I was hit–twice–with the ball. It was painful. Stacey was also hit, as were several small children. But in the end the blue team won (5-0).

GOOOOOAL!!! And a world record was set!

After the foosball was over we went over to the main theme park to explore. It’s a bit like a mini Disneyland, with an Adventureland and a Western section and tea cup rides etc.

We spent much longer there than we intended to, but we couldn’t stop laughing the whole time. All of the park staff were very indulgent of the crazy ladies wanting to ride children’s rides.

Then it was back to the charming town of Ubley, where we are staying, to watch the new episode of Doctor Who (excellent), and now we are watching Eurovision 2011. Huzzah!

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October 31, 2010

Josh does the UK

Before we left for the UK, I asked our trusty dog/condo/plant-sitter Josh what he’d like us to bring him back as a souvenir. In addition to wanting a hot British man and some nice clothes, Josh requested that we bring a photo of him with us and take pictures of it in various spots so he could imagine he’d been along for the trip.

Here you go, Joshua:

Josh, slightly jet-lagged, at Avebury.

Look closely--there's little Josh at Stone Henge!

Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy gazes longingly at Josh in the restroom at the Jane Austen Museum in Bath.

Josh enjoys a Peeptini at the Roman Baths in Bath.

Josh admires the beauty of Wells Cathedral.

Josh quickly masters the maze at Longleat.

Josh explores Caerphilly Castle in Wales.

Josh in front of the Millennium Center in Cardiff, Wales.

Josh catches the eye of a knight in Conwy, Wales.

Josh says, "Rules be damned!" in Conwy.

Josh takes in a Man United game at Old Trafford.

Josh enjoys seeing John Simm in "Hamlet" in Sheffield, England.

Josh enjoys a Peeptini after crossing the stepping stones at Bolton Abbey.

Josh admires the Bridge of Sighs at Cambridge University.

Josh in the London Underground.

Josh at the British Museum in London.

Josh by the River Thames with the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral behind him.

Yes, we got a lot of strange looks from people around us. Thanks, Josh!

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October 30, 2010

Leaving London

Just popping on briefly to say we’re heading to the airport in a little bit. We have to check out by 10 am, and we’ll have all our stuff with us, so we figured we’d just go to Heathrow a little early. Let joy be unconfined.

Despite the rocky start, we’ve had a nice couple of days in London–visited the Borough Market, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, and a few other things as well. We are both very tired and not looking forward to the flight, but it will be nice to see our friends and our pets and be back in our own bed (which isn’t perfect, but is much better than what we’ve been sleeping on for the last several days).

If there is wireless at Heathrow I will try to post some more photos. If not, I guess I will post them from the comfort of my own home.

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October 28, 2010

Adventures in vomitourism

Yesterday I spent the day vomiting my way across England.

I knew I wasn’t feeling well when we woke up and checked out of the hotel, but it wasn’t until we were about ten minutes from our first stop that I realized the full magnitude of the situation. It was at that point, watching traffic build up in front of us, that I knew I was going to vomit. I know myself pretty well, so I knew there was at least a chance I’d make it to our stop, but the countdown had definitely started.

Sure enough, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot (full of children and nice old ladies) my time ran out. Deciding against puking in front of an audience, I ran to the public toilet and immediately almost killed myself. Apparently they had hosed down the floors, so when I hit it at a full run I went sliding into a wall. Then I slid into a stall–with a broken toilet! Slid into another stall and, trying not to fall down and hit my head, promptly vomited loudly and longly. Ah sweet relief!

After that I felt a bit better, as one does. So we went to a few shops and a post office. But by the time we were walking back to the car I realized the ordeal was not over. I sent Larry to the car and headed back into the ice skating rink of a public toilet. I think I actually vomited up some internal organs that time. Possibly I even lost a pinkie toe. I think I probably brought up the contents of every stomach within a three-mile radius because there really was no way that there should have been anything in there after round one, and yet…

Feeling considerably more shaky I got back in the car, and we started our drive to London Heathrow to return the rental car. No one can accuse me of not having hilariously poor timing. Those of you who have driven over here will know that when I say we had to go through 10,000 roundabouts during the drive I am not kidding. Nothing settles the stomach like driving in endless circles in a tiny car. But at least I knew–I KNEW–I wouldn’t need to throw up again because NOTHING could have survived the last round.

Or could it?

A hint: It could.

As Larry pulled into the rental car return I knew with a sudden and horrible certainty that I was about to vomit again. And this time I had almost no warning. I walked as quickly as possible across the parking lot, and–literally choking it back now–burst through the doors of the Avis rental offices, hand over my mouth, and into the restroom where I almost made it to the toilets. Almost. I got as far as the sinks.

The one small mercy is that no one walked into the restroom at that point.

So, nagivating the world in a fog, and with the worst taste EVER in my burning throat, we caught the shuttle to Heathrow and bought tickets for the hourlong tube ride to London. From there we stumbled to the rental office for the flat we’re staying in. Then walked for god knows how long to get from there to the actual flat. I don’t even know. At that point I just wanted to get somewhere, anywhere, where I could safely be unconscious.

Finally I was allowed to collapse on the world’s smallest, least comfortable bed. I slept for many hours. Larry worked on homework. He ventured out for food. He watched TV. I slept on. Time passed. Eventually I woke to find Larry had bought me a Gatorade. Larry is a most excellent human being. He also bought me a smoothie but decided to drink that himself before I woke up. Nobody’s perfect.

Around 7:30 pm, having kept the Gatorade down and wasted an entire day in London, I figured I was well enough to venture out for a little while. So we walked to the closest Underground station and headed to the Embankment to take some night shots:

After about an hour of that we went back to the room so I could rest some more. Ah well.

This morning I am feeling less than perfect and have a horrible pain in my neck, but I’m still doing considerably better than yesterday, so we are off to explore. Wish me luck!

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