God, The Universe, the Powers that Be, have predestined my Journey these past 8 months with so many twists and turns, you would think I was a Ride in an Amusement Park!
I am Blessed, I am Strong, and I am going to honor and document it all.
Since June 15th, I’ve taken 2,380 DSLR Pics + Video Bits, 500 iPhone Pics/Videos/Snapchat/IG Story Bits, 50 Instax, and currently making my way through rolls of B + W Film:
And OH the Summer Light …
As I purge, pack, and go through a Lifetime of Bits, I realize that everything in the last 20 years has led me to where I stand. And in looking back, it also gives me comfort for what lies ahead.
I left home in 1998 to live in an 1940’s Cottage in Midtown Sacramento:
Not a good pic, but most of the V Street Cottage Pics are packed away already: more to come! Scanned B + W Polaroid
I was a Manager of a CPS Homeless Shelter in Oak Park at the time, but I will not be posting those pics! In those two years, I tried to help Reunify Families and instill them with Life Skills. It is hands down, the hardest Job I ever had.
It’s where I lived when I proposed to my Ex Husband, whilst I was away on a Medical Mission in the Philippines and it’s where we would come home after many a Gig :
Scanned B + W Pic
Then my Ex Mum In Law was violently Raped and Attacked down the street from Us:
It was a High Profile Case and it tested all of us on so many levels. We will be forever connected, because of it.
Then we Eloped in 1999:
He turns 50th Birthday today and I send out Happy Vibes where ever He is …
Not long after the Wedding, we moved into a 1930’s Apartment two blocks up from the Cottage:
We had the entire upstairs + I grew that Big Tree in front.
It was in this Apartment that I began one of the biggest Adventure of my Life:
My Creative Journey …
Musings on that, coming soon! Until then, follow my Instagram for daily updates!
After the Sublimeness of Wiltshire County and the Brilliance of Oxford we were off to Bonnie Scotland:
It would be my first proper Rail Trip across the UK and what is it about Train Trips that unlocks such Wanderlust?
And remember the Brick Lane Sign that I bought in London? No it wasn’t from a shop, it was from the Truman Brewery Vintage Market. It was an impulse buy coupled with my Vintage 1930 Red Cross Trench Coat, and I still love them both Dearly, and let me tell you, they are Well Traveled. I made quite the impression walking down my first Train Aisle trying not to hit anyone in the head with it! My first seat mate when he saw me said ‘ Stealing signs are we? ‘
My SO big backpack was sticking out of the lift, and the door wouldn’t close. I was saying ‘ I’m Sorry !’ a million times over to all our lift mates as I pushed myself deeper into the crowd. One kind Lass said, ‘ We’re loving your Brick Lane Sign and British Red Cross Coat, so no worries!’ I was chuffed. PS She was in the British Red Cross and my coat brought back fond memories for her! THIS is why I heart Vintage.
My Fave Memory of the Christmas Market is a Mum coming up to me because she stated her Wee Son thought that I took an Instax Photo of him. I actually took one of the above Scott Monument and it was still developing in my Hand. I bent down and assured him that I took a picture of the Tower, and asked if he wanted it. He shyly smiled Yes, and with that we were all happy! Ran into them again later, and the polaroid was still developing, yes it was that cold and yes, the Wee Lad was still Happy!
I asked if I could I take their picture, and they kindly obliged:
The Soldier on the right asked if I could send him copies of the pics, and of course I said Yes!
And whilst we crowded around an iPhone to take a pic, the soldier on the left grabbed me closer to him and said ‘ Sometimes you just have to be Manhandled!’ ‘
… This From Soldier Stuart after I sent the pics to him:
Still high from our Bagpipers, we boarded our tour Van with the Charismatic Steven. I took many videos of him offering up the Brilliant + Passionate Scottish History of the areas he took us through see: Flickr Set, Page 4 for a l l of the video bits.
But first, this pic I took on the way out of Edinburgh. Moving in the van and on the sly, this shot epitomizes what Traveling means to Me. Seeking out the Unexpected, the Non Tourist Moment, and looking up and about, not down at your Device ( like She is!) .
Saying that the Scottish Countryside is B e a u t i f u l is an Understatement. You must truly see it, feel it, let is seep into your Bones.
LOVE this because A Scot, A South African Couple, and an American walking in the Scottish Countryside talking about celebrating my Birthday and the Couple Celebrating their Wedding Anniversary! PS The South African Lass was also a Sagittarius !
It is an Etheral place, it vibrated with Spiritual Energy, and the Light, OH the Light.
Scanned Panoramic Film
Scanned B + W Ilford Film
Scanned B + W Ilford Film
As I was meandering around with my Cameras, at one point I looked up and saw a Brown Monk’s Robe. I was taken aback, but quickly and easily said to it, ‘ Thank You for letting me take Pictures! ‘ … and then it was gone.
Another Brilliant Bit was this:
The Christmas Pudding at the GreenHouse Cafe. Truly the best ‘Meal ‘ of the trip, topping the whole of my Birthday Dinner in London, it was T H A T good.
We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the Chapel, so I did a bit outside:
Scanned B + W Ilford Film
Inside the Chapel, Words Fail Me. If you read the Book or watched the Movie The Da Vinci Code , you get a taste of it, but inside, it’s bone chilling. I could go further into all the Mysteries and Theories, but I know what I felt when I was in there, Pure Spiritual Electricity.
It was a Memorable Trip, Brilliant in bits and filled with Lessons. I was sad to leave, but I knew I was coming back in 2018! I turned 50 in a part of the World I Loved the most, and that’s all that mattered to me.
So, my Sign:
I lost it in the Dublin Airport at one point. Some Cheeky + Galant Irish Airport Porters had it behind the Counter and teased me, ‘ Are you going to use it to club Lads back home? ‘ Apparently when I checked in at US Customs, I was ‘ Profiled ‘ because of the sign. Or was it because the Color of my skin? Needless to say, I followed a US Officer who held my Passport in his hand, to a back room and watched as my Luggage was wheeled out on a cart along with my Sign. There was nothing I could do but eat my Mince Pie as I watched the clock on the wall countdown to my Boarding Time. Finally an Officer looked at my Sign, called my Name, gave me my Passport back and said ‘ Have a Nice Trip ‘.
Currently planning that 2018 Solo Trip (the only way to Travel) in December to Redux it the way I want to. Sunday Markets in East London, check. Back to Oxford to possibly see an NDVR Filming, check. Then onto Three New Cities in Two Countries!
Adendum March 5, 2018: As I sit here finally ready to post more about my Birthday Trip in December, I find out that Russ Solomon passed away Yesterday watching The Oscars, probably rooting for another Brilliant Sacramentan, Greta Gerwig (more on her later). He was the Founding Father of Tower Records, a Sacramento based Company that went Global. I have always loved telling people that Tower started in my Hometown and that my first Milkshake was in the Original Tower Drugstore with my Dad. Tower ‘Block’ , for those that are from Sacto, was on Watt Avenue and included Tower Books, Records, and Video:
… and after I got my Driver’s License, everyday after School, most Friday Nights, and even Saturday Afternoons, were spent trolling the Magazine Racks, sitting on the floor reading Books, flipping through Vinyl Records and Tape Cassettes, and renting Foreign Films. Tower was single handedly responsible for my Creative Aesthetic that I still have today. It was my window to this great big World, and as Greta says, ‘ … it gave me Roots and Wings’ ! Tower holds such a Special place in my Heart, that I even tried my hand at Archiving some of his treasured Tower Bits! Watch Colin Hank’s (Another Sacramentan) Brilliant Homage to Russ, All Things Must Pass. Thank You Colin for Rightly honoring him …
Thank YOU Russ for giving us all things Tower and for giving a fellow Sacramentan a comforting and expansive place where I discovered my Soul.
Rest gently dear Giant xxx
Back to my Post:
First, Thank YOU Dear Visitors from all over the World! I would love to hear from you, how you found Me, what you like @ my wee Blog! Drop me an e-mail: email@example.com or leave me a comment!
The Film couldn’t have come at a more Auspicious time in my life. It’s inspired me to start a couple of ongoing Projects this year, a bit of my own Personal Resurrection of sorts. Just in time for Spring:
After the Milestone and the Rush of London, I was Thank – Full for the Second Leg of the Trip. Booked a Tour with Rabbie’s. Planning a trip to the UK? Book with them, You will n o t be disappointed: Intimate, Personal and wide range of Locations!
Leaving London, it wasn’t Raining or Snowing, it was S u n n y for our trip to Wiltshire County:
Always ready for a bit of London History on the way to Avebury:
We wanted to go to Stonehedge, but after talking to some Mates, Avebury seemed like a more up close + personal experience.
I feel asleep for part of the ride, woke up at a Rest Stop: WISH I had taken a pic of the Magazine Stand, oh my: the Brits love their Rags! The rest of the ride to Avebury I was wide awake for the beauty that is the English Countryside. It was the first time to roll through it at a semi leisurely pace, and with every Meter that passed by, I fell more and more in Love.
Our Tour Guide’s Musings on Avebury:
There are no words that truly express the feeling of stepping in between the Ancient Stones, touching them, and being in their Silence.
It was Soul Soothing.
Scanned B + W Ilford Print
Scanned B + W Ilford Film
Scanned B + W Instax
Scanned B + W Ilford Film
Swept around the Village a bit:
Scanned B + W Ilford Film
Found these two Mates with matching boots …
Sat Patiently waiting for no cars to get this shot whilst happily chatting with another Photographer doing the same. Who needs to buy things at the Shop? This moment was priceless.
Spot the White Horse + the first of many Orbs on the trip …
The Love continued as we ventured into Lacock Village. Lacock is composed of the Village, the Abbey (which we didn’t get to visit) , and the Fox Talbot Museum: We found out from our Tour guide that Lacock is the ‘Birthplace of Photography’ ( I let out a little yelp, when I heard that! ). I did N O T know that, if I did, we would have stayed the night in Lacock , most likely at the Sign of The Angel , so I could have properly done the Museum. Had a wonder-full chat with the caretaker however, Bless her in all her lovely-ness. The Museum is on my Bucket List now.
A wonderful Gentleman did oblige me by taking an Instax in front of the Museum, which seems appropriate:
Scanned B + W Instax
Lacock Village was serene, peaceful, blissfully charming and I can see why Film Crews and people want to be there, it’s a bit of Heaven here on Earth:
Thank YOU Rabbie’s for a Wonder-Filled Tour. I will book with you again, Full Stop!
Then it was back to London to pick up our left luggage at Victoria Train Station and to hook up with our Driver to take us to Oxford. Really, it was a feat in and of itself, but we did it! Don’t feel like taking a Train? Book with Blackberry Cars for door to door service!
But first, my Beloved Sign was finally leaving London and Traveling …
Scanned Panoramic Film
As long as I can remember, I’ve been told that I need to go to Oxford. That I would fall in Love with the ‘ City of Dreaming Spires ‘ …
As Endeavour, a show set in Oxford, ends it’s Fifth Season on Sunday, I recall when I first discovered it the Fall of 2011 on Netflix. I didn’t know anything about Inspector Morse , I didn’t know how beloved the (Endeavour) Morse Character was on Telly, and in the Inspector Morse Novels as well. Thank YOU Colin Dexter for opening me up to a whole new World and facilitating my Love for Oxford …
… I fell asleep on the M40, apparently a good thing, as my Cousin said it was i c y. But when I woke up, we were magically in Oxford, on our way to Wadham College where we had a room for a couple of nights. Yes, that’s right we stayed at Uni! I wholeheartedly recommend University Rooms when in Oxford:
My Treasured Wadham College Scarf bought at the Official University Shop ! It’s not cold enough here in Northern California to wear it this Winter, but it will come with me wherever I Travel in the UK!
Fancy a Cuppa?
Best Closet of the Trip, even a place for my Hats!
The Best Toiletries ever, that I will never use!
After we arrived, I walked around the Quad + a bit of the Campus on my own.
I was Smitten:
Cheeky Snow People
Then in the Morning we had Breakkie in the Hall.
Panoramic Views of:
The Quad + The ‘ Staircases ‘ on the way to the Hall …
The Hall, which is the largest in Oxford University …
My inner Hermione was satisfied.
SO kind Hall Staff …
Scanned Color Panoramic Film
Hall Happy in my PJ’s and no Makeup …
After Breakkie, I wanted to visit Wadham Chapel in the daytime and I’m glad we did: It was the second (bone chilling) Spiritual Experience of my Trip.
I L O V E that there is something this Beautiful on Campus. If I was a Student, I would be here everyday:
I was so moved I started singing Amazing Grace , and I don’t usually burst out in song, but it felt right.
I had a bit of time on my own to Explore and Document this Venerated Space:
Scanned Panoramic Fim
Looking at this again, I do see some Ghosty Type Light, and truth be told, I did not feel completely ‘ alone ‘ in my exploration …
I lit a Candle, said a Prayer, and I left some Pounds.
Took one of these to remember this Special Place.
The visit filled me up deep and set me up for the rest of our Glorious day in Oxford.
But it was the 3 1/2 Hour Walkabout in the Rainy Cold with our Friend Tom, that solidified my Newfound Love of Oxford. Tom, I will be forever Grateful.
Straight from the off, the City’s indiscriminate beauty of Colors, Energy, and UnprecedentedHistory, won me over and shook me at my Core. It was surprisingly tangible, inexplicable, and comforting all at the same time.
With every step, description, and moment, I fell deep for this City of Enlightenment.
It was a brilliant ramble of an Afternoon, meandering through it’s Alleys and Narrow Roads. Walking amongst the Spires, Bricks, and Stones. Shuffling through hallowed halls, being in awe of everything we saw and heard, and discovering Endeavor’s Oxford.
I have tried to the best of my abilities to aptly place the images that follow … wish I had been like Endeavor and had a notebook + pen! If any of you, dear Readers, can help me with my memory, please give me a shout!
I did however recognize the following places! Thank You Tom for helping me check these off my (Endeavour) Bucket List:
One. Merton College which stands in for Endeavor’s Fictional College, Lonsdale.
Can you tell I’m Chuffed? My fave Portrait of the trip!
Three. This sorry excuse for a Selfie ( I stayed away from them on the trip ) was taken at the Sheldonian Theater . It’s where Morse stumbled upon these steps after being stabbed in the stacks in ‘Fugue’ !
PS I lost this Brolly somewhere in Oxford, and I want it back!
Four. Walking by Queen’s Lane I did a short intake of Breath:
I wish I had taken this shot with my DSLR or 35mm Film Camera, it’s just SO Beautiful. It’s one of my most Fave of the trip.
Five. This infamous Staircase from the Brilliant Endeavour Pilot that lead up to The Oxford Mail. I had to touch it twice to just bring it home to me that yes, it’s real! Near the Infamous The Turf Tavern where I had a pint + chips at later in the Eve.
Six. Bodleian Library which was featured in the Endeavour Film Fugue. We walked in a bit, but all I could think of was how can I borrow books here? I know, become a Student!
And after a Pint at a Pub ( Tom, what was the name of it ?), talking about Orbs, My UK Art Dreams, and rightly guessing the Regional Accents of our new Mates at the next table, we said Good Bye to Tom. Thank You again for a Brilliant Afternoon.
Them we met up with Sarah for a Pub Tour and a Walkabout at Night:
Sharon is Enigmatic, Thoughtful, and a wonderfully Spirited Tour Guide. We met her at the Christmas Market for some local Gin Tasting which fortified us for the increasingly chilly, yet sublime Adventure of Oxford at night.
Our first stop was at The Eagle and Child which was quite busy, and where we ran into our new Mates from the other Pub earlier. But what was most exciting for me was that this is where the Pilot for Endeavour was filmed and where I was introduced to the Sublimeness of The Inklings . I was so inspired by seeing the wee corner where they used to ruminate, that I have begun to read their works, starting with C.S. Lewis!
After a quick stop at The Lamb and Flag, we made our way to the third pub of our Tour. It was then, I started to become aware of the allure of the British Pub Culture. I also quickly realized, it’s a practical way to warm up! We arrived at The Bear :
… which was more busy and smaller I may add, than the other Pubs, but we were determined to have another Pint! London Pride was my Lager of Choice and only a Half Pint at that. I wanted to remember things! What I remember from this pub is the TIES and the SO Lovely and Accommodating group of Mates that let us share their Table. We talked about the cost of living in Oxford, why I need to m o v e to Oxford, and the Brilliance that is Wadham College. We left as I hugged them Good Bye, and I said this was one of the Highlights of my Birthday Trip!
We walked to our next pub, The Turf Tavern ( A favorite of the Harry Potter Tribe) but first we saw the Inspiration for Hogsmeade:
Walked under The Bridge of Sighs, again … siiiigh:
And I touched The Staircase again:
By the time we got to our last Pub, The White Horse, many an Inspector Morse Films were shot here, it was almost Arctic Cold ! My glasses + iPhone lens fogged up the minute we walked into the Wee Cozy and Quaint Boozer:
This is the only pic that came through!
Thank YOU Sarah for showing us Oxford at night and braving the Cold with us! Can’t wait to come back and have some proper Pintswith you!
I had tried my best to Honor my Journey up to this day with my Living 49 Project , revisiting a Lifetime of Memories on my Instagram ( Scroll down, you’ll see the pics ), Journaling, Visual Journaling, and making Art ( perhaps I will make a Zine Issue out of all of it ).
I did feel Special because it was in a City that held a Lifetime of Memories for Me, I was Blessed to have walked this Earth for 50 Years, and I feel I had lived all the Experiences (Bliss Filled, n o t so Bliss Filled, and everything in between) that God had gifted me with, to the F U L L .
As I woke up to a ‘ Happy Birthday ‘ from my Cousin and a hand-full of wishes on Social Media, I got ready for my Day.
While taking the picture in the Rain, a kind Gent walking by said ‘ Model that Photo ! and My Cousin commented, ‘ It’s her Birthday today! ‘ … He joyfully said ‘Happy Birthday! ‘ To wit I answered, ‘ I’m 50 today! ‘ He then threw back over his shoulder, ‘ Keep looking 17!’ SO touched I shouted back ‘ Thank You, Love!’ …
Perfect Birthday Moment.
We went to the Mall near the old Olympic Stadium ( I know ) to get Snow Boots because it was Winter in the UK and I treated Myself to an Instax Camera because I needed a new one!
Bought my own Birthday Cards as well.
After finally getting a cab in the snow + regrouping back at the Hotel, we did a bit of Touring via an Uber on the way to Westminster Abbey:
I had been to the Abbey before, but returning as an Adult on my Birthday seemed, Appropriate:
As stated earlier, this was a Whirlwind trip. Lots of getting in + out of ubers, cabs, and trains but when I had Bliss filled moments, moments of intention and purpose, they made up for all the hurried – ness in spades.
I had about 5 of these types of Moments through out the trip and being at Westminster Abbey was the first.
We weren’t allowed to take photos in the Abbey, but I did sneek in one:
It seems like a bit of a Metaphor for the trip, for my Journey into 50 … the light at the end of the Tunnel.
From the moment I walked in, I felt an enormous sense of awe, peace, home.
I can’t adequately put it into words …
It was like closing my eyes and tilting my face towards the sun.
And then I cried.
As I lit a Candle for a Loved One, I had a bit of an Epiphany.
I was supposed to be here, at this exact Moment, on my 50th Birthday, and I will not let this Gift go, lightly …
Thank you God for 50 Years of Life.
We Toured a bit on a Bus we paid a l o t for:
Had snack before My Birthday Dinner ( Right? It was cold + we were hungry ):
Rest in Peace, Thank You for being a part of this Life, and watch over our Stephanie
And 50 is here: Fabulously full of Blessings, full of Lessons.
It all started with a trip across the Pond to the UK, my most favorite part of the World, to honor the Milestone. If anyone truly knows me, knows how much of a full blown Anglophile I am. England has my heart, it has my soul. It was the only place to turn 50 and I am finally sharing this Journey in upcoming posts!
My life long love of England started at an early age: My very first visit to London was when I was 12 on a Two Week, 7 Country Tour.
This is my most fave pic of the trip because I have camera in hand. I will scan those pics one day:
Then I randomly stumbled upon, THIS COAT. It took me all of 5 minutes to try it on, find out it fits me p e r f e c t l y, and fall in love with it ( that is the face of H A P P Y below ). The SO sweet booth owner ( should have given him my business card, but at least I introduced myself ) told me it was a 1944 British Red Cross Trench Coat, and with that, it became the b e s t ( 50th ) Birthday Present ever:
LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.
It weathered the British Rain, Snow, and my backpack heavily laden with Photo Gear for the rest of the Trip.
The conversation + their dandy – ness was the Cherry on Top ( actually my Wood Brick Lane sign was ) of the best Shopping Experience of my Trip, a trip that wasn’t about shopping.
Then out onto the street to Document:
Yes, I’m back and in front of where I had my first Art Show in London, at The Truman Brewery!
And just a taste of the Famous East London Graffiti:
In My Element.
Next Blog Post: The Birthday
PS Endeavour Season V starts on Sunday, just in time for me to Blog about my new love, Oxford.