Guts, tenacity, and never giving up…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

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Daytime haunting grounds…

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Mythical place of priorities and dreams. Or, to be truthful – the birthplace of dreams and provider of the ability to see those dreams become reality. These walls contain the place I dream up the adventures whilst the logical brain solves problems. It is my vacation place of logic that gives my creative side a place to rest until I step off the grounds of logic land. I don’t begrudge it. I welcome the shift between right and left brain. This is my right brain’s home. My left brain is resting up to shoot a rugby pitch, cuppa, or landscapes. Balance. Without it, both sides get choked.

Unshackled joy of egg chasing…

IRB World Series, Las Vegas 2010

IRB World Series, Las Vegas 2010

“In our country, true teams rarely exist . . . social barriers and personal ambitions have reduced athletes to dissolute cliques or individuals thrown together for mutual profit . . . Yet these rugby players. with their muddied, cracked bodies, are struggling to hold onto a sense of humanity that we in America have lost and are unlikely to regain. The game may only be to move a ball forward on a dirt field, but the task can be accomplished with an unshackled joy and its memories will be a permanent delight. The women and men who play on that rugby field are more alive than too many of us will ever be. The foolish emptiness we think we perceive in their existence is only our own.” – Victor Cahn

Abraham Lincoln…

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States 1861–1865

 

Finding an Abraham Lincoln Sculpture in Parliament Square London was a treat. He stands in  front of the Middlesex Guildhall and was sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and erected in July 1920.

Abraham Lincoln: The Man (also called Standing Lincoln) is a larger-than-life size bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. The original statue is in Lincoln Park in Chicago, and several replicas  have been installed in other places around the world (one is located at Parliament Square in London). Completed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1887, it has been described as the most important sculpture of Lincoln from the 19th century.[1]Abraham Lincoln II, Lincoln’s only grandson, was present at the unveiling in Chicago, IL.

The sculpture depicts a contemplative Lincoln rising from a chair, about to give a speech.

The Location! Buildings looking upon the square include the churches Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s, Westminster, the Middlesex Guildhall which is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United KingdomGovernment Offices Great George Street serving HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs, and Portcullis House.

The History! Parliament Square was laid out in 1868 in order to open up the space around the Palace of Westminster and improve traffic flow, and featured London’s first traffic signals. A substantial amount of property had to be cleared from the site. The architect responsible was Sir Charles Barry. Its original features included the Buxton Memorial Fountain, which was removed in 1940 and placed in its present position in nearby Victoria Tower Gardens in 1957. In 1950 the square was redesigned by George Grey Wornum. The central garden of the square was transferred from the Parliamentary Estate to the control of the Greater London Authority by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. It has responsibility to light, cleanse, water, pave, and repair the garden, and has powers to make bylaws for the garden.

The east side of the square, lying opposite one of the key entrances to the Palace of Westminster, has historically been a common site of protest against government action or inaction. On May Day 2000 the square was transformed into a giant allotment by a Reclaim the Streets guerrilla gardening action. Most recently, Brian Haw staged a continual protest there for several years, campaigning against British and American action in Iraq. Starting on 2 June 2001, Haw left his post only once, on 10 May 2004 – and then because he had been arrested on the charge of failing to leave the area during a security alert, and returned the following day when he was released. The disruption that Haw’s protest is alleged to have caused led Parliament to insert a clause into the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 making it illegal to have protests in Parliament Square (or, indeed, in a large area reaching roughly half a mile in all directions) without first seeking the permission of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act relating to Parliament Square were repealed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which provides for a different regime of “prohibited activities”.

As well as sparking a great deal of protest from various groups on the grounds of infringement of civil liberties including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Act was initially unsuccessful in accomplishing its goals: Brian Haw was held to be exempt from needing authorisation in a High Court ruling, as his protest had started before the Act came into effect (though any new protests would be covered); Haw remained in Parliament Square. Later, the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, forcing Haw to apply for police authorisation to continue his protest.

So all that to say finding an American President’s sculpture in such a historic place is pretty darn cool. He did a great deal for my country.

In surveys of scholars ranking Presidents since the 1940s, Lincoln is consistently ranked in the top three, often #1.[4][5] A 2004 study found that scholars in the fields of history and politics ranked Lincoln number one, while legal scholars placed him second after Washington.[268] Of all the presidential ranking polls conducted since 1948, Lincoln has been rated at the very top in the majority of polls: Schlesinger 1948, Schlesinger 1962, 1982 Murray Blessing Survey, Chicago Tribune 1982 poll, Schlesinger 1996, CSPAN 1996, Ridings-McIver 1996, Time 2008, and CSPAN 2009. Generally, the top three presidents are rated as 1) Lincoln; 2) George Washington; and 3) Franklin D. Roosevelt, although Lincoln and Washington, and Washington and Roosevelt, occasionally are reversed.[269]

President Lincoln’s assassination made him a national martyr and endowed him with a recognition of mythic proportion. Lincoln was viewed by abolitionists as a champion for human liberty.  Many, though not all, in the South considered Lincoln as a man of outstanding ability.

Yeah, I cried when I saw the sculpture. He’s right up there with Churchill in our (USA) book. What he did for my country during the darkest days of the Civil War and battle fiercely for the Emancipation Proclamation (taking notes from William Wilberforce!). Absolute heroic guy. Thanks, UK, for putting him in such a historic location as Parliament Square. He did good by us.

To find out more about him, see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

 

 

Go left…

Being a Whovian and hearing tid-bits of philosophical musings in the character dialogue is a delight.

“Go left” references carving the adventurous path versus the safe, mundane, and predictable. I’ve taken a left as of late and seeing whom is along and whom is not along brings the yin and yang of my choice. Great adventures lie in front of me and I’ve not a fearful bone. Curious bone, absolutely.

When the world screams to go right into the safe, mundane, and predictable nature of things you can’t complain. You chose it – knuckles down, mates.

Go left. Seek the adventure, find the unknown, and for love of humanity get out there and discover life. I’d prefer being on my death bed with zero regrets than ask “what if?”

Go left.

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Riding the rails…

UK rail Afforded me the ability to see a vast amount of English countryside. The image presented was a dilapidated building next to the station popped up with HDR.

I was on another sojourn from Hull to York to the North at this point. Seeing homes, landscapes, towns, and cities I’d not otherwise see was a bonus. Flooding in the Yorkshire Dales, massive (for the UK) mountains, sweeping vistas, and clean/gritty cities added to the charm of my travel.

The individuals I met were equally as interesting and lovely. The woman who had a Torchwood connection, OAP’s (Old Age Pensioner) who were visiting family or out shopping, young parents with delightfully well-behaved children, and the lovely blokes who carried my rucksack without my asking.

Each of them and the brilliant train staffs (minus the Bristol nightmare) who taught me the ropes of traveling the rails are cemented in memory. I can still hear our conversations, see the scenery, and taste the beer and snacks.

Ta for your kindness, conversation, laughter, and shared journey.

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A moment of chill…

Being fortunate enough to drive by a nature preserve on my commute affords me the luxury of unwinding with scenes such as these.

All that is audible is the chirping of hundreds of birds in the rushes, ducks quacking, and the breeze rustling the grass.

I walk barefoot to reconnect with the warmth of the wood planks, dirt, and concrete path. The refreshing nature of shedding the confines of heels to soak in a warm spring day and get dirt on my toes is addicting and calming.

Temptation to dip into the calm water is negated by the tangly reeds below the surface. That, and a soggy walk back to the car AND drive home chases out those whimsical notions.

Ten minutes of quiet on a bench and all is readjusted in my world.

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Dead past, hopeful future

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Fellow blogger, Bill Jones Jr., told me in a conversation that an “unfiltered brain is the only kind worth having. Filters are for cigarettes, and cigarettes cause cancer. Ergo, just be you.”

Wise words and worth noting. My blog should be a good place to let loose and show a bit of the unfiltered brain.

Much like these daffodils with blossom.

Spring bloom – iPhonography

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iPhonography at it’s best. I’ve taken to shooting images from my iPhone over the last year. It’s non-intrusive, limiting, and oh so fun and immediate. Having the tools of applications such as Instagram, Hipstamatic, and various editing tools have made shooting incredibly fun. Most of my images save for the rugby shots at matches are from my iPhone.

Before I forget…big thanks for being a reader of my blog. It’s appreciated.

No blinking in the Big Smoke…

The Doctor proved elusive this last visit. However, I learned quickly enough not to blink in the Big Smoke. The weeping angels are everywhere. Great-Grandad John Lovell (1536-1599, London, England) surely met the Doctor at some point whilst in London. I’m guessing Pops had to be careful around the Big Smoke. As a Whovian and Lovell, I was careful to observe this ancient race of aliens on my visit.

Sometimes they are innocent looking…

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station

Paddington Bear

According to the Doctor, the Weeping Angels “are as old as the universe (or very nearly), but no one really knows where they come from.” This one landed in Paddington, right by the escalators which made it very difficult to not blink AND board the escalator at the same time. Luckily, I did not venture by him too often.

He describes them as the loneliest beings in the universe, since their quantum-lock reaction makes it difficult for them to socialise. Though they themselves cannot speak, they can communicate through the voice of a person they kill by removing their brains and reanimating their minds. They are also very physically strong (see below), capable of snapping necks, though physically killing a victim is rare for them unless the need arises (such as stealing someone’s voice). This lad didn’t have a difficult time, I reckon.

Camden Market

Camden Market

His counterpart was down the way and was a bit intimidating. Largest Weeping Angel I’d run across yet. Fortunately, enough people are watching him as he stays frozen at Camden Market. Could be that that the stalls of gorgeous frocks and scents of a thousand nations cuisine are mesmerizing him to remain still. I wasn’t having anything of it though – I knew better. Their paramount ability is their speed, as they are able to close distances of metres literally in the blink of an eye, allowing them to reach a victim or move to an unseen or darkened area before their quantum-lock freezes them again.

Warrior

Warrior

With a touch, a Weeping Angel can send a person into the past, to before his/her own birth. The Angels feed off the “potential energy” of the years their victims would have lived in the present. The Doctor describes them as “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely” because their victims are otherwise uninjured and may live out their lifespans in the past. Could this be why I felt so at home in England? I’m here before my time and is the angel below responsible for my fascination?

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Emperor

He is a tad intimidating (all Roman Emperor looking) so I made fun of him at the Tower of London. Whistling in a graveyard, I reckon. Honestly, he looked like a tour guide of days gone by now pointing out the Gherkin in Central London. Funny chap, that one. Wonder if his arm gets tired and if he uses the wall behind him for workouts (rock-climbing and such).

The biggest surprise was Monty. A Weeping Angel right on Whitehall. Come to think of it, proper spot for him considering his history. They can drain other forms of energy, such as that from electric lights or other electronics. Could also be a grand joke on 10 Downing if Monty isn’t too fond of a residing PM. I’m guessing it’s Clegg’s residence that gets the brunt of Monty’s jovial humour.  Is quite nice folks leave red poppy wreaths at his feet. We will always remember them.

Monty

Monty

Without power, the Angels start to decay, turn to stone without being watched, and corrode as a statue does; their speed is also extremely hindered if Angels reach starvation, lessened from meters to a partial step in a blink. Seems this fair angel is in that predicament in the Italian Gardens at Kensington. She is lovely but I wouldn’t trust her even if she seemed dainty. Must be bloody freezing though – she’s without her top.

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Italian Gardens at the Long Water

The Big Smoke is filled with Weeping Angels of all sorts. Keep your eyes open and don’t blink.