London mischief

My biggest challenge (by far) on this trip has been looking the right direction when crossing the road.

I’m living right down the street from my kindergarden, so walking past it I remembered a lesson from all those years ago. Stop, look both ways, and cross when it’s safe. Getting smushed by a double decker bus isn’t on my top ten list of ways to go.

This morning, I went out to get a tea. I took the Clark’s dog, Millie, with me so I could appear more local than I felt, especially since I was wearing my Tevas. Walking around Notting Hill on a saturday morning made me feel just like Hugh Grant. My wandering brought me to Portabello Market, one of the most popular saturday street markets in the world. Millie and I were a great team, she was a total magnet of attention. Then, she decided to pee terrifying close to a woman’s nice shoes, started barking ferociously at street actors that were ‘headless’, and finally took a big poo in the street. I knew you were supposed to bring a doo doo bag when walking around London to clean up after your dog, but all I could find in the kitchen was a zip-lock bag so I ended up walking down the busy market with a sandwich bag filled with dog poop. Nice. Millie is all tuckered out and sleeping on the floor next to me.

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting a British film director named Adam Smith. He took me out for a coffee in a swanky hole-in-the-wall (#onlyinSoho) coffee shop. I had met him 18 years ago when he did the light show at my Dad’s 50th birthday party…so it was great to catch up. He was really excited about what I had planned for the year and said to get a lot of footage of what I’m doing because I’ll appreciate having it later down the road. He was very soft-spoken gentle speaker but clearly was a brilliant, creative guy so he was interesting to listen to. One is the most memorable parts of our coffee get together was his description of the roads in India, how they are a symphony of interwoven bikes, motorcycles, rickshaws, and animals that has no rules yet works flawlessly.

Here is one of his films (10 minutes long–but well worth it. It has a James Bond meets Blow meets Cohen Brothers vibe). Booya. Lana Del Rey wrote a song specifically for this, so you know its a keeper.

On Thursday, I hiked London’s riverfront from Parliament to the Tate Modern. It was remarkable how much tide and current changes the character of the river throughout the day. There were giant barges sitting in the mud in the morning that were floating in deep water by the afternoon. You could really see the thrust of the current, too. I immediately noticed how much London activates it’s riverfront. There are swamped, crowded patches of tourists, then pleasant stretches of benches and trees, then markets and so on. There are government offices, museums, cathedrals, markets, banks, and homes–thats why the government decided to protect London in the mid 70s.

The two things the government did was border the Thames is bordered with a 12-15 foot tall embankment throughout London. The city is literally giving the water lots of room to rise and fall with the oscillations of the tides. Closer to the estuary, where the salt water of the North Sea meets the River water, London built the Thames Barrier, a marvel of engineering that spans over a quarter of a mile across the river. It is the second largest flood barrier in the world that boats can pass through. I am going to dedicate a new post solely to my drawing of, and information related to, the Thames Barrier.

Cheerio!

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