Quick update:

Yesterday the Physic Garden!  So many stories to tell from there. Will tell them tomorrow or Sunday, our time.   Here’s a photo or few.

Also a dash through the Victoria and Albert museum.  Some Hand crafted item photos below.


And then a fabulous dinner as the whole group unites:  Anjala, Cassie, Patrice the Planner of the whole thing, Greg, Sandy, and Bill.


No Time to Bathe in Bath (Pronounced Bahth)

Took the train to Bath Friday night, intending to find a day trip to the Avebury (pronounced Avebry) stone circles. My researches had found dozens of tours to Salisbury to take tourists to Stonehenge, but none to Avebury circles. I still thought Avebury could be done. Meanwhile, I was primed to see Bath by an Englishman (Peter) of my acquaintance who had lived in Bath for 8 years. He said there were weeks worth of things to see, and a beautiful city, to boot. I chose my hotel for its cheapness (£105 per night is cheap here, with most of that rate being made up by local taxes) and its excellent location (five blocks from the train station and three blocks from the Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, five more blocks to the Bridge.) Glide your cursor over the photos in the collage and you’ll see the captions. The hotel is over 200 years old. Boasts a plaque that Admiral Nelson dwelt therein. So Did I Dwell.

I had a room on the top floor. The staircase got narrower and narrower as I trudged upward. One of the room-cleaning lads took pity on me and carried up my rolling bag and seemed astonished when I tipped him a pound. This room was an under attic small room with definite resonances of “early dorm room”.

Stayed at the Parade Park for one night.  Note the hot air balloon. 🎈 🎈 

See how the windows protrude from the roof on the upper level?  I was in a roof room, thus the angled closet ceiling.

Cleaned walls to left of middle, black with age and sooty walls to the right.

Preciou$$$ touching Mostly Dead MacBook


two feet if that at the base.  “closet”

Hotel called Parade for the street and Park for this large park across the streed and downhill to the riverside.  To wander its gardens a fee is required.  If you continue on Parade street to the cricket fields, however, you can get to the other bank of the river for free.

I grabbed hat, purse and computer and followed the lead of my phone to the Apple Geniuses.  I checked in and people-watched the customers while waiting to be seen.  Thirty-something heavy guy with tattoos, ripped shorts, and a pink half-hawk.  White-haired older woman with a jaunty pink streak in her bob.  Japanese teen girl in a fake fur pink parka.  And two out of the three were wearing sneakers with below ankle socks.  Seems sneakers (not track shoes) are the fashion of choice.

Nick the Genius diagnosed Mostly Dead as being screen dead but brain alive, so we agreed on a brain transplant into a new MacBook.  He warned it could take 48 hours.  I had to head back to London in 18 hours.  Still, I had to make the attempt. . . if it ran long they could probably send it to an Apple store in London.  A quick consultation with a sales guy as to what customization I wanted, signing on dotted iPads, and off I went to find dinner.

Beef and Stilton pasty, £4, okay, not very flavorful, which is weird to say of something with Stilton in it. A £1 worth of tangerines, probably 20 of them. And a cone of Ice Cream of the Gods.


I bet you thought I made that up!  The Hotel Chocolat had lots to offer.  

[5 days later, still nibbling away at the tangerines.  Best food buy yet!]  The ice cream of the gods was for average non-gods.  Okay tasting, but I thought it needed cream and less milk.

The computer now in professional and hopefully good fast hands, I needed to figure out how to get to Avebury.  And could I get a massage and mineral bath at Thermae Spa?  And how many Bath sights could I fit in 18 hours, minus sleep?

They are only Mostly Dead

Got to the hotel, unpacked a bit, and brought out the computer. Welcome tone rings out but below is the screen I see. A swift transmission of this image to my Apple-guru friend Gina gives the diagnosis: broken screen. Well poop! The antique MacBook is now mostly dead. My only hope is that the innards still function and I can transfer the information from the old onto a new computer. It was already in my post-trip plans to replace it, but the timing just moved rapidly ahead. How much of this vacation will be spent getting it replaced?


Photo of the antique, mostly dead MacBook screen. Rather artsy, don’t you think?

Meanwhile, I’ve also managed to break the right stem of my prescription sunglasses and now I have it stuck together with clear tape provided by the front desk. Accordingly, I roamed the rich streets of South Kensington looking for optometrists. An apartment here goes for 1.5 million pounds to start, and there’s a Bentley and a half dozen BMWs and Range Rovers. One Maybach! All slightly funny to me because the hotel booking site said that South Kensington might not be as safe a neighborhood as others. I notice that the block-sized parks here are private to the neighboring flats, you need keys to enter. This theme will be revisited.

Turns out it was a good thing that I had to walk those extra blocks from the South Kensington Underground stop to the hotel, I now knew where a few optometrists were. But none of them had spare stems. They sell whole sunglasses, not parts. One taped it up better for me.

Thank heavens I also had my antique-but-new Galaxy 5 smartphone. Just prior to the trip, my other Galaxy 5 started acting like I had dropped it too many times, which, despite an armor case, I had. It was showing signs of being mostly dead, so I purchased not one but two, new-in-box Galaxy 5s, transferred info from the old to one of the new ones, and brought the old one along as a spare, because once I stopped using it daily it stopped wildly switching applications and acting mostly dead. (Put the spare new one in a drawer at home.) Also packed three Galaxy 5 batteries AND a portable charger. And it was good. For three days I depended on that Galaxy 5 to direct me around London, find me bookings and transport to Bath, and take pictures of the holiday (as they call vacations here).

It did just fine. And in Bath I visited the Apple Geniuses to see if the mostly dead laptop could somehow live on.


Sorry it’s blurry, I was trying to catch the electric train before it passed and the sunset light didn’t give my autofocus much to work with. These electric trains are the backbone of transit throughout London. I’m told the end stops on the underground are rather scruffy, but main stops of train and tube are well-patrolled.

You wouldn’t think a town looking golden and archaic like this would have a huge Apple store, but it did, in one of its many plazas. Buildings and streets are golden because of the locally quarried Bath stone.


Quarried by the Romans thousands of years ago to make the famous Baths.

Those small flames I mentioned. . .

As I was riding the monorail at Heathrow Airport I noticed billowing black oily smoke.  At an airport, not a welcome sight.  Especially after reading about the woman suctioned out of the Southwest airline plane.


From inside the moving railcar I took this less than excellent photo, complete with a bald  passenger substituting for the cliché fingertip.  But what I want you to notice is the number of nearby airplanes, to give you an idea of the height of those flames.  EASILY the height of a plane fuselage!20180417_192259.jpgAnd what was more interesting to me was the fact that there were Zero emergency vehicles on the site.  So this must be a normal thing.  Break for teatime and flames, perhaps.  Stiff upper lip and all.   This ridiculous hypothesis was made stronger by the monorail going around more curves and there being a second pyre, again, right in front of a plane.  Again, with no emergency vehicles.  Anyone with airport operation experience want to do an explainer for me, thank you very much!

The Unwelcome Roommate

I checked into my room and it was lovely!

Blackout curtains held back with valences

Large-closet sized bathroom and shower

Deeply exhausted by the 9 hour flight in which I could barely sleep, I took a wonderful shower and prepared to take a nap.

After brushing my teeth and doing other naptime preparations I realised I was not alone in the bathroom.

One of the biggest roaches I have ever seen.

I try to be a good Buddhist and not kill unless I have to. So I shot it, with my camera.

Showing my photographic trophy to the kind ladies at the reception desk, they responded with horror and immediate action. I am my luggage were promptly moved to a lesser but uninhabited room. They vowed to make everything up to me and proceeded to give me free glass of wine with dinner and an expectation of a better room on Thursday.

So they gave me a free glass of wine with dinner Thursday and a very sweet update to an even better heritage room.

Wood shoe horn and shoe brush hanging from the desk

So it was very pretty, but not perfect. I would need arms like a pro basketball player to be able to get the toilet paper from the seat.

There is a scale under the bath mat under the sink

And I learned another international traveler’s hotel method, the free soaps, lotions and gels in the fancier rooms are miniatures of higher-cost items (that I saw being sold in the duty-free rooms at the airport.) The gels and so forth in the smaller room of last night were rather mundane.

Landed in Kathmandu

This is the start of a spiritual pilgrimage through Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet organized by the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC.  We are currently 19 people from around the world, some born in one country/residing in another city: Cote D’Ivoire/Newark, Brazil/Coral Gables, New Orleans, two from San Antonio, two from Guyana, two from New Zealand, Barcelona/New York, Singapore/New York, Vietnam/New York, many from California, and me, from Oregon.  Not all of us are Rosicrucians, but all are seeking something on this trip.

One woman is trying to deal with overwhelming emotional blocks, one man is dealing with depression.  Four have been on the trip before and loved it so much they’re back.  I’m along for the Tibetan Buddhism sites because I chose that religion decades ago.  I’m also dealing with a “three-week” cold that is now in its fourth week, which causes me to dryly cough, and feel generally like a 75 watt light bulb in a 150 watt package.


There’s tons of paperwork to fill out, immigration to Nepal form, clip the 1×1 inch photo off the page of photos of myself that I printed, tape it to the form, fill out and pay for the  90 day visa form, because we’ll be in the Himalayas for 32 days.  Then there’s getting in the right lines to submit the forms (I was not talented at this, and had to switch lines three times), but eventually it was done.  THEN, let’s get the luggage.  They are serious about security and will Not let you get luggage that doesn’t match your luggage tag.  A Nepali airport worker takes my tags and squats by the baggage belt.

After close to two days of flying, starting with two pieces of luggage, a duffel bag and a carryon backpack and ending with a third rolling bag when Qatar Air said my duffel was too heavy, I was glad to see the the duffel arrive.  But we waited 20 minutes.  25 minutes. Eventually the rolling bag arrived.  I had thought all the time I spent filling out forms my luggage would have been waiting for me.  Nope.  My airport worker grabs it, puts them all on a trolley and is taking me to the parking lot when a Nepali airport official blocks us and asks: “what is your name?”  I say Anjala, and he brightens, and guides us into the chaotic parking lot.  I tip the airport assistant a $5.  A tall African man I’ve seen on the flights is rolling his luggage beside me, turns out he is on the tour also.

I swear that many cars were parked half up on the curbs, the angles of parking were not being obeyed, and it was all rather bewildering.  The sun is out, the air is smoggy and stings the eyes.  Then the official hands me over to a man with an AMORC  sign, and the sign bearer escorts me to a car.  A local man says “Welcome to Kathmandu!”and places garlands of marigolds around my neck and the African man’s neck.  We get seated in the back.  Driver is on the right front. Local Nepali men are hustling my luggage into the trunk of the car, then one comes to the door where I am seated. “$20 dollars” he urgently suggests I pay for the luggage assistance.  Heck no! I know the exchange rate.  I show him my wallet which I had carefully stocked with ones and fives.  “No 20.” say I, lying easily, having put the big bills elsewhere.  I gave him a $5 which is dang good money for 3 minutes work anywhere, especially with the exchange rate.

Fellow traveler and I introduce ourselves, he by humorously accusing me of stalking him on the flights.  I took a photo aboard Qatar Airlines economy class just to show the roominess.  Also to show the pleasant ambient pink lighting.  I did not know him at the time, but the black man directly across the plane from me was my fellow traveler. 20160426_220030


Notice the airport worker wears a full face balaclava.  Many did.

He is Abraham Sissiko, from the Ivory Coast, now residing and working in Newark, NJ, as a sanitarian.  He’s a tall, quiet man who smiles a lot.  He likes to quietly observe things.  Neither of us find observing the traffic restful at all.  Driving on the left, as opposed to the USA protocol, honking to pass on the right, swirls of motorbikes with drivers helmeted and passengers not, pedestrians crossing willy-nilly, quite the show.


We got to our hotel, checked in, and then our guides took the group of us out to dinner.  More about that entertaining dinner tomorrow.