London and Beyond in Pictures

Traveling is a wonderful way to leave your worries and stress behind.  I find it energizing and relaxing at the same time.

In 2006 my daughter and I headed for London, where one of my sisters lives. This was our second trip together, and my sixth, so we didn't do much that was traditional.

London

One of the most exciting, take that any way you like, moments was finding ourselves on a bus that took us too far out of London before we realized we'd missed our stop.  The good news is that the bus driver told us how to get a free ride back, since we seemed like dopey US tourists!

While on the bus, we passed this cute back yard garden with its own castle and gnomes... about an hour out of the city.

A Garden outside Brighton '06
A Garden outside Brighton '06

After that detour, we went to the beautiful National Gallery.

National Gallery London
National Gallery London

And at the end of the day, we did what most Londoners would do... and stopped by a Pub not far from my sister's flat for a pint and fish n chips.

London Pub 06
London Pub 06

Notice the Desserts on the blackboard...

  • Apple Pie
  • Spotted Dick
  • Choc Fudge Cake
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Ice Cream

Which would you have ordered?

Jess in Pub2 London '06
Jess in Pub2 London '06

Brighton

We spent 3 days in Brighton, a first for both of us.  I had to visit the city that one my favorite British authors, Georgette Heyer , featured in so many of her wonderful novels.

The weather was not very cooperative. We had rain one day, and every afternoon the winds blustered and turned icy cold.  Brighton seemed very eclectic with a huge mix of people.

Jess -
Jess -

Of course the Royal Pavillion was a must see.  We took a day tour and went by later that night, when we captured its exquisite architecture against the dark sky.  It was built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV, in stages between 1787 and 1823.

"It takes its unique character from the man for whom it was built, George IV, and its magnificent interior is a reflection of his personality and Regency reign. It was conceived as a monument to style, finesse, technological excellence and above all pleasure. It remains unequaled in its colossal ambition and glorious sense of joie de vivre.

George was determined that the palace should be the ultimate in comfort and convenience.

Particular attention was paid by his architect and designers to lighting, heating and sanitation, as well as to the provision of the most modern equipment of the day for the Great Kitchen."

Read more here.

Royal Pavilion, Brighton 4_06
Royal Pavilion, Brighton 4_06

After resting for a day in London, we took a bus to Oxford...our mission, visit Christ Church where many scenes were shot in the Harry Potter films.

Chirst Church U of Oxford2 '06
Chirst Church U of Oxford2 '06
Chirst Church Oxford '06
Chirst Church Oxford '06

We got a quick bite to eat, and walked to the Church just as the doors were being closed for the day!  We couldn't believe our luck.  So we took a walk through the magnificent University,  did a little shopping and headed back to London.

Oxford2 4_06
Oxford2 4_06
Oxford 4_06
Oxford 4_06

Leeds

A bus tour took us to Leeds and Dover.  We both fell in love with Leeds Castle. It was built in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur as a Norman stronghold.

The last private owner of the castle was the Hon. Olive, Lady Baillie, a daughter of Almeric Paget, 1st Baron Queenborough, and his first wife, Pauline Payne Whitney, an American heiress. Lady Baillie bought the castle in 1926. She redecorated the interior. During the early part of

World War II

Leeds was used as a hospital where Lady Baillie and her daughters hosted burned Commonwealth airmen as part of their recovery.  The castle was opened to the public in 1976.

Leeds Castle '06
Leeds Castle '06
Leeds Castle2 4_06
Leeds Castle2 4_06
Leeds Castle 4_06
Leeds Castle 4_06

Dover was quaint, a typical fishing / Port town in many ways...except for the Castle!

Cyclelife -

I hope to make a similar trip with my son next summer.  Thank you for reminiscing with me! 

Pick Up a Colored Pencil, Open a New World

A few weeks into my Chemotherapy, I remembered that the Anthroposophic doctor I had seen the week before hosted painting classes for some of her cancer patients.  She herself had amazing drawings she created when battling illness. For those unfamiliar with Anthroposophical medicine, it is a complementary approach to medicine that integrates the theories and practices of modern medicine with homeopathic medicines, physical and artistic therapies and biographical counseling.

The medical approach has its foundation in a spiritual-scientific understanding of the human beingthat regards human wellness and illness as biographical events connected to the body, mind and spirit of the individual.

Anthroposophical medicine uses a holistic approach ("salutogenesis") that focuses on factors that support human health by strengthening the patient's physiology and individuality, rather than solely addressing factors that cause disease. The autonomy and dignity of patients is a central theme; therapies are believed to enhance a patient's capacities to heal.

This system was founded in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner in conjunction with Ita Wegman as an extension to conventional medicine based on the spiritual philosophy of Anthroposophy.

....

Up to that moment I used to spend the first few days after Chemo reading stacks of books by my favorite authors, taking my 'round the clock list of supplements, attempting a short walk in the afternoon, and doing light cooking till my son and bf came home around 4pm.

sharpie-ultra-fine-point-permanent-markers-profile.png

Based on that recollection of art as therapy, I felt the urge to try to paint, so my daughter brought me some paints, a few small canvases and brushes.  As a teenager, I dabbled with my father's oil paints, but enjoyed drawing a lot more.

I attempted an abstract painting, but didn't like the medium, so I asked J to buy me a drawing tablet on his way to work the next day, and he gave me a huge box of colored pencils. I ordered a rainbow of Sharpies from Amazon too.

In the early 70's I loved drawing psychedelic pictures, and actually had a couple that my Mom thought to bring me from Lebanon on one of her trips here in the early 90's.

HAC_love_small
HAC_love_small

Below is the template of one of them done in pencil that I decided to redraw in color.

A World of Colors

This began a journey that wove a thread from the past into the present in a lovely healing pattern.  I was addicted to cranking out a picture every 2-3 days.  Since I have never really 'grown up', I brought my favorite animated or cartoon characters into surround, and asked them to join me in this play with shapes, color and images.

The focus, the colors, and the call to be creative in a world of fantasy, helped me ignore the raging battle inside; my body dealing with the onslaught of Chemo drugs (I was on a dense-dose regimen with a treatment every 2 weeks), trying to cheerfully weather the awful taste in my mouth for 6 days after treatment and still eat well, and the stunning transformation of my hair into a brittle patch of falling squiggles, and the inevitable a drop in energy. (I shaved my head not long after that very disturbing experience began!)

HAC_ipod
HAC_ipod

My family had fun being surprised by each new creation, and made suggestions for the next picture.

HAC_record
HAC_record

Since my boyfriend J is in the music business, and we all either play an instrument, sing, or are avid music lovers... I had come up with a tribute to the what is essentially the backdrop of our lives.  Remember, my creativity was dampened more and more each week by the Chemo doing a number on my brain cells.

I laughed that these were worthy of a child's portfolio!  But I was having a blast, or as much of one as I could during this amazing process of rebirth.

HAC_mushrooms
HAC_mushrooms

Conclusion

I framed the originals, three were gifts, and made good quality copies of the rest, since my family thinks that I should make them available for purchase!  Cute people, aren't they?  :)

Art is a meditation, it reduces stress and summons creativity... as side many of us may not nurture enough.

So next time you're dealing with an overwhelming situation, whether you think you have talent or not (it didn't stop me!), pick up some colored pencils, crayons or markers, and Go WILD!

~ In Good Health!