Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Cat Does Not Care For Portuguese

Both Teresa (my Portuguese teacher) and I had been away on alternating holiday schedules over the summer, and today was my first lesson in what felt like ages. I was all set for getting back into the swing of things – I’d even done my homework! – but little did I know that my enthusiasm would be met with considerable feline opposition.

Teresa had only just got back yesterday from a two-week stint in Portugal, and despite having arranged for a relative to tend to her cat, Otto, the poor darling had clearly suffered severe psychological damage from the prolonged lack of attention. And he was determined to make up for it.

Otto is usually quite reticent and prefers to watch proceedings from his chair in the window, which made today’s antics all the more amusing.

Otto on book

“That book’s out of action. And if you want the computer, I shall sit on that!”

Otto close up

“We are so NOT doing verbs now.”

Otto tail

“If you insist on talking to each other instead of to me, I’ll just have to feed you a tailful of cat hair.”

I expect that, by next Monday, he’ll be back to his aloof old self. Shame 😉

 

Municipal Water Feature Crimes – Part Two

Some of you will remember my momentous rant about Toledo’s eyesore fountain, which obliterates the historic city centre, from a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, this isn’t the only… erm… visually and conceptually challenging water feature the city has foisted upon its residents and visitors.

There’s also this one, located to the west of the Jewish quarter:

Decking fountain

What did you say? You can’t see a fountain? Just a dead tree sticking out of some shoddy decking?

Well, let me put it to you: This whole sorry plank assemblage IS the fountain.

But a fountain needs to spout water!

 

I hear you. Let me help you: Can you make out that tiny hole/ring in the fourth row of planks in the centre of the photograph above?

No? Let’s get a bit closer to it:

StandpipeHere we have it. An upturned standpipe sunk into slats of wood, oozing water, like some up-the-creek plumbing. Sigh.

OK, this one’s not quite as aesthetically offensive as the other one, but as far as decorative water installations go, it’s another spectacular fail.

The only positive thing I can say about this piece of “public art” is that the sound of trickling water, as you’re walking over the area, is actually quite pleasing. Unless you happen to be desperate for a wee at the time.

Burgers, Beverages, Orgasms – Just Push The Button!

Toledo is not only blessed with thousands of years’ worth of culture, breathtaking views and the most horrid fountain in municipal water feature history, but it has now officially joined the ranks of elite cities, where all human desires can be satisfied in one garish vestibule at the click of a button. Move over Tokyo!

This is what popped up in the main shopping street in Toledo’s historic city centre a few months ago:

Pica y pica

A “shop” featuring no doors, no staff – just orange slot machines, ready and waiting to cater to your every whim. There’s even a tape recorded message welcoming you.

Pica y pica vending machines

Fancy a cow burger? A porky? A Hannibal?  Or perhaps an intergalactic orion? (I’m 99.9% certain that this is a typo and should have read “onion”)

Now, if someone could perhaps explain to me why anybody would want a soggy burger that’s been festering in a metal bio hazard box for three days, when there’s both a McDonald’s AND a Burger King just around the corner…? If only I could be bothered to loiter outside this dreary dispensary at 3 am, I’d probably get my answer…

As to the establishment’s name, “Pica y Pica”, the verb “picar”, in colloquial Spanish, means “to grab a bite” or “to nibble”. It also means “to itch” and/or “scratch”. Evidently, those in need of scratching a particular kind of itch are well served by this outlet:

Vibrators

Do the “diamonds” change colour, I wonder, the closer you get…?

Blow up doll

Never mind the furry cuffs. My attention was seized by Romping Rosy designed for men with a dwarf fetish. Any guesses as to whether she’s got hairy Hobbit extremities leading up to her “love passage”?

Easy Beat Love Egg

Another one for the boys to have a crack at. Or, rather, insert into same such.

Ah. NOW I understand the facial expression of the guy on the top left:

Vending Machine Enjoyment

It’s not just the potato chips that are stoking his bliss…

I think I’m ready for cake…

 

 

Cruising Down The Thames To Greenwich

This is my last batch of London pictures from last week’s trip. You can pat yourselves on the back, you’ve held up most valiantly. Thanks for indulging me in my nostalgic reveries…

I wont torture you with tedious explanations – I’m sure each and every one of you has a tourist tat dust catcher of at least one of these landmarks on their mantlepiece.

Tower bridgeSt Paul'sTower bridge & boatLondon Eye

London river viewCanary Wharf ResidentialCanary Wharf

And a few shots from the hill in Greenwich Park:

Greenwich Park 1Greenwich park view 2Greenwich park view 3Bottled Ship, Greenwich

— THE END —

* Phew! *

 

 

That’s Just So… North London!

I spent a decade of my life North London, and those who’ve read my previous few posts will know that I went back there last week for the first time in three years. Anyone who moves to London will suss out very quickly just how attached Londoners are to their neighbourhoods. Many will only socialise in two places: their part of town and the city centre.

There is a particularly curious divide between North and South – to convince a North Londoner to cross the river and set their Kate Kuba encased feet onto the southern Thames shore, you’ve got to come up with a pretty good reason. Taking their children hostage and threatening to force-feed them food additives should do it.

Anyway, here is a selection of pics that struck me as typically North London. Let’s start with a few shots of Hampstead front gardens and back streets…

Hampstead garden 1 Hampstead Garden 2Hampstead Garden 2

Hampstead Street

Hampstead pubHampstead street 2

Hampstead shop inside

Decor inside a Hampstead Shop

Hampstead street 3

I bet my bottom dollar that she’s got a quinoa burger on a bed of rocket and mango salsa in that paper bag…

The Bishop's Avenue

Take on Bishops Avenue, Hampstead Garden Suburb, dubbed “Billionaire’s Row”.

Highgate Tea Shop

One of my favourite Highgate Tea Shops. Oh, the cakes…!

Highgate message board

A message board in Highgate

Highgate house buyer

Now, a house in Highgate will cost you anything upwards of £3m… that’s a lot of cash propping up her pillow!

Highgate Pet Shop

What exactly happens at “Weekly Puppy Parties…?”

Highgate Car

Now, I just want to point out that I didn’t live in either Hampstead or Highgate, but in a more …erm… affordable patch wedged in between 🙂

 

London Cakes and Brekkies

I’ve had complaints. Several, in fact. About the dearth of food pictures from my very recent London trip. I want to assure you all that I did, in fact, eat. Morning, noon and night. And in between. Everything in sight. Especially Asian food (which is hard to come by in Toledo) and, of course, CAKES.

I wasn’t as conscientious as usual about taking food photos, but I did come away with some. Here’s a selection:

An adventurous Chelsea bun, with blueberries and pistachio topping, devoured in a new cafe in East Finchley. My friend had a delicious chocolate almond cake.

An adventurous Chelsea bun, with blueberries inside and pistachios on top, devoured in a new (to me) cafe in East Finchley. My friend had a delicious chocolate almond cake.

Brazilian Cake

At a Brazilian café in Cleveland Street. And yes, the board with the cake AND the chocolate truffle was mine 🙂

Belsize Park Cafe

A café in Belsize Park.

Highgate bakery

A bakery in Highgate

Doughnuts

I just had to home in on those jam doughnuts on the bottom right… and they were every bit as delicious as they look.

Let’s finish off with some breakfasts for those of you who prefer savoury fare. After all, this is what the UK is famous for 🙂

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Muswell Hill

Giraffe

Drooling…?