Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Saturday Seven: Reasons I'm Glad to be Home

After two weeks of travel, I can honestly say I am glad to be home. The majority of this trip was for work, so it wasn't a vacation, but I was fortunate to be traveling with people I enjoy spending time with, so I had a good time. I usually make the most of my travels, and try to get out and see as much as I can. But despite my love of travel and exploring other places, I am always so glad to come back. The airport security, multiple long flights home, then dealing with passport control and US customs are all designed to further exhaust the weary traveler. At long last I've returned, exhausted yet happy to be back "home sweet home". This brings me to another scintillating edition of:
The Saturday Seven: Reasons I'm Glad to be Home
#1 Back with my other half again (it's tough to be apart for so long)
#2 Hugging the dog and cat
#3 Sleeping in my own comfy bed
#4 Able to eat a bowl of cereal on the sofa watching TV
#5 Warm, sunny weather again!
#6 I can buy things that don't cost twice as much as they should
#7 I can finally stop writing so many postcards!
-Rick Rockhill

Friday, May 30, 2008

Rick's Roadshow: Last Day in London

Rick's Roadshow continues from London. Yesterday was a free day for me, from a work perspective I had taken Thursday as a "vacation day" in order to have one full day to do anything I wanted. The day flew by much too quickly! I had all sorts of plans, but the time just slipped away. My day started with a traditional full "English Breakfast" (fried eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom, tomato, baked beans, wheat toast, fresh squeezed orange juice and a pot of tea). With that fuel, I was ready for a busy day in Central London! Off I went to shop at the legendary Harrod's department store to pick up a few things. Much of the afternoon was just being out and about in the city and enjoying my last full day in London. The big finale, so to speak was dinner at the Institute of Director's Club (IoD). The IOD is an exclusive club in a magnificent building, located adjacent to Buckingham Palace. I was the guest of cousin Sean, who has hosted me at his club on previous visits to London. As you can see from these photos, it is quite posh. Here I am standing in front of a beautiful portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, painted quite early in her reign.

above: I took a moment to relax in the Great Hall at the IoD. Here I sit, underneath the portrait of the Queen Mum, (now deceased)


above left: This is the grand staircase at the entrance of the IoD. above right: The dining room at the IoD. If you look carefully, the walls have enormous portraits of all sorts of historically important Brits: Prime Ministers, Royals, and Generals.

above left: Cousin Sean and I dined in this cozy corner of the IoD dining room, which had lovely views of Buckingham Palace. above right: after dinner we left the club and went to the Rose Room at the Sofitel hotel for some champagne.
Earlier in the day....
above: Westminster Abbey.

above and below: close up detail of the exterior of Westminster Abbey, which is stunning.

above: the very top of the statue at Picadilly Circus.
above: nothing extraordinary, but a view in and out of St John's church near Covent Garden. I just liked the way it all looked.

above: at Harrod's department store, in the Egyptian Room in the lower level. It is unlike any retail experience you've ever had anywhere else in the world. Rick's Roadshow is nearing it's end. Tomorrow I'll post a few last photos of this journey. Thanks for stopping by today!
-Rick Rockhill

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rick's Roadshow: More from London

Yesterday was a very full day at work. The morning started with a business breakfast meeting and we continued all day. The setting for the meeting was at our hotel, so at least we didn't have to travel anywehere and able to be more productive. Despite working all day, I was able get out and have some time for myself. Fortunately it stays light quite late here in England, so I was able to get out and take some photos in Central London at the end of the day when our meetings finished. Before I get to those photos, I'd like to explain this one. It was taken of me before dinner, in the drawing room at the hotel. It is a beautiful room that feels like home and is very comfortable. Although dinner each night are with work colleagues, we try not to talk "shop" all night long and relax a bit. A pre-dinner glass of wine or a gin and tonic usually helps everyone to unwind a bit before dinner. More of Rick's Roadshow from London...
A Few Sights in and Around London

above: Statue of Oliver Cromwell, and a view of the House of Parliament, with "Big Ben"

above: Whitehall Palace guard house, and the flag adorned "Pall Mall road", which leads to Buckingham Palace.

above: Trafalgar Square. It was raining a bit when I took this photo.


above: I didn't waste anytime and went to Harvey Nichols department store in Knightsbridge, a fabulous retailer. I enjoyed a refreshment in their cafe on the top floor, just next to their fantastic wine shop.

above: a lounge also on the top floor of Harvey Nichols. this gold padded wall hallway led to the open lounge area which was bustling. It was THE place to be that evening...
above: Carnaby Street shopping area in London has many unique shops that are less mainstream. I love this one shop: "B never too busy to be beautiful" Seems like a good mantra to me! (I'm dedicating this store front photo to "B" of B- My Life My Thoughts)
More fun and photos tomorrow, when Rick's Roadshow continues...
-Rick Rockhill

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rick's Roadshow: London, High Tea at Fortnum & Mason

As most of you may be aware, I am in London for business, so the majority of my time on this trip is spent in meetings. However I always manage to find something that's blog-worthy to include in Rick's Roadshow series. A prime example is my trip to the famed Fortnum & Mason's retail store on Picadilly Street in the St. James area of London. It's a short walk from the Hyde Park Underground "Tube" station. Fortnum's has always been an exciting place for me. They are known for their fine selection of teas, foods, and high quality, luxury gifts. There is a sense of arrival from the moment you enter Fortnum and Mason. The decor is elegant, yet understated and tasteful. In the photo above, these "English footmen" statues flank the interior doors and illuminate the foyer for guests.

above: The exterior of the Fortnum & Mason building on Picadilly Street in London. Check out the up close detail of the clock.

Fortnum's Legendary Afternoon High Tea
The primary reason for my visit to Fortnum & Mason was to take Afternoon High Tea, the quintessential English tradition. I particularly like going to Fortnum's for tea because they offer proper high tea, in an elegant setting that is comfortable and relaxing. There is usually piano music playing softly in the background, or even harp music or violins. It's as near to a slice of heaven on earth as one can find in London.

above: Guests may choose to take tea in a more informal setting, such as on a comfy sofa, settee or arm chair, or at a more formal table with complete linen service. I probably don't need to tell you which one I prefer...

above: High Tea at Fortnums starts with champagne, then a choice of things like finger sandwiches, Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon and Welsh Rarebit. I happen to quite like Welsh Rarebit (it's really just toast with melted cheese and mustard). Then, fresh made, warm scones with clotted cream and jam are served. I could eat scones all day if you let me.

above: The service ends with a fabulous selection of petits fours (miniature cakes and pastries). By the point I have usually had far too many scones and limit myself to 2 or 3 petits fours at most. I resisted the temptation to have a photo taken of me, but I did manage to sneak in all these other photos. After tea, I went shopping for all sorts of unnecessary but truly wonderful things. It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon in London. Rick's Roadshow continues...
-Rick Rockhill

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rick's Roadshow: London, Tea with Olivia!

I'm back in London this week for business. Monday however was a bank holiday here in the UK (as it is in the US), so essentially I had the day off for myself. Tuesday and Wednesday I'll be attending a private conference related to my job, and will be on a market tour as well, so I'll be quite busy for work. But as I've mentioned, Monday was a day for me to potter about and enjoy the city. I had made plans to meet a fellow blogger friend, Olivia, from Olivia's London Dispatches. It is a rare treat for me to meet fellow bloggers, having only met "Rhodester" from Palm Springs once before. So the "surprise" I mentioned in yesterday's post is this photo of me with Olivia, having tea in South Kensington. We had a lovely time together, and I consider myself fortunate to have met Olivia in person. Olivia is actually heading to America in a few days, so the timing worked out rather well.

Views of South Kensington

above: The Pelham Hotel, where I am staying. It's a lovely hotel with an inviting drawing room, library and sitting rooms that feel like you are staying at a rich uncle's home, rather than a large hotel.

above: Buildings along Brompton Road, and the expensive row houses in the Kensington neighborhood.

above left: the front entrance to the famed Victoria & Albert Museum, and above right: the London Oratory.

above left: the entrance to the fabled department store Liberty of London. above right: a quick photo of Berkley Square (pronounced "barkley"). Some of you may know the standard song "...and a nightingale sang in Berkley Square..." Well this is the area to which that song refers. Hope today's post was worth reading and waiting for. Special thanks to Olivia for meeting me yesterday!~
-Rick Rockhill

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rick's Roadshow: A little more Nuremberg, Germany

As it turns out I have a few last photos of Germany worth sharing. Sunday ended up being a travel day anyway, so not much exciting to report in the way of new travels within London. I did, however spend time shopping, which was very cathartic and exhilarating, despite the unfavourable exchange rate for Americans.

So here are some final photos of my last night in Nuremberg, Bavaria. We ate dinner at a wonderful German restaurant called Raubritter, located just off the main square, in a rathskeller/basement. As you can see from this top left photo, the stairway going down had all sorts of "authentic" looking decor. We made our way down the stone steps into the restaurant, which looked like it had been there for ages and ages. Much to our delight, no one in the place spoke English, so it turned out to be a fun evening. Looking around (and listening) there were virtually no tourists dining. Or perhaps I should say everyone was speaking German.

above: the restaurant had a cozy bar that was decorated with all sorts of German beer stuff.

above: Stone vaulted ceilings gave the restaurant an old world feel. Our table (not shown) was in a tiny cave-like corner, with no electricity, so the only light we had was from two candles. The low curved cave ceiling had soot all over it from years of burning candles at that table. It was really a cool place to dine. The food was delicious, although we didn't recognize any of the food that arrived. It was because we couldn't read the menu!
One last statue/fountain...

above: This fountain was so beautiful, with lots of detail. It's difficult to see it all but you can tell that there is quite a bit going on within it.
And just for a laugh...

above: I saw a shop in Nuremberg with hundreds of wigs, all on display in the window. There were two other large windows like this one, all with different wigs. It's not something you see often in the US...so I just had to include it.
Tomorrow, I have a surprise for the loyal readers of this blog. I do hope you will stop by and check it out, as Rick's Roadshow continues once again from London!
-Rick Rockhill

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg~Bavaria, Germany

My final day in Bavaria. I worked all day until late afternoon. After two and a half days of being at the Interzoo the trade show, I decided to call it a wrap. So it was off to the old city to explore more of Nuremberg. I had an interesting experience on the train: three older Russians sat down next to me and started chatting with each other in their language. The old man sputtered something to me in Russian, which of course I did not understand so I smiled and said "Do you speak English?" he frowned, having no idea what I had said. He then turned and offered me a piece of candy. I declined initially but they were insistent so I accepted and ate the candy, which made them all smile, as they hungrily ate their own pieces of the sweet. I decided to bridge the gap a bit and used my BlackBerry to Google "Basic phrases in Russian". FInally the search results came back, and suddenly the train arrived at my destination. I quickly stood up, looked at my BlackBerry Google result and said to the three old Russians: "Spasiba" (pointing to my mouth, as I was still eating the candy). I glanced at my Blackberry screen again and managed to say: "Do svidaniya, Schast'ya i zdorov'ya!" All of which means "Thank you, Goodbye, I wish you happiness and health". A smile came over the faces of the three old Russians and they waved merrily to me as I exited the train. It was a fun experience, I was grateful for the magic of the Internet! Once I reached the old city again I went exploring and took a few more photos. I hope you enjoy these final views of Nuremberg.

above: Nuremberg is situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal. It affords charming views of the city.

above: this photo is actually from Friday but I felt it belonged more in today's post, as it was taken on another area at the river. It's tough to see but the building behnd me had fresh flowers in window boxes along the entire length of the building.
Nuremberg Castle

above: I walked up the hill to the massive Nuremberg Castle, which was built as early at 1000. Until 1571, all of the Kaisers and kings from the Roman Empire lived in this castle at some point.
The Hauptmarkt Square

above: The Frauenkirche (Church of our lady) has a wonderful clockworks movement. Just under the face of the clock, there is a mechanical statue of the Kaiser, who moves out when the clock strikes noon. above right: the Hauptmarkt square, with a farmers market type variety of stalls.
Performers on the Hauptmarkt

above: this man was my favorite, he was playing accordion and had his dog on his shoulder the entire time. The dog earned him a donation of 2 Euros from me..

above: a clown and an old German Witch from the Forest. She was playing the flute. I gave the witch 2 Euros as well.

above: The ‘Schöner brunnen’ (which means beautiful fountain). It was built back in 1385 and is the focal point of the square.
The Hauptmarkt has a huge number of fresh vegetables and food stalls. Above left: a cheese stall and above right: meat and sausages.

above left: Many of the stands were selling white asparagus, which are in season at the moment and are being served on every menu in town. above right- I thought these red eggs were interesting, not sure why.
Well that's all from Germany. Sunday morning I fly back to London where I'll be in town for a few days on business and a few days of personal time off, so I'll have plenty more to share. Thanks so much for stopping by, Rick's Roadshow continues...
-Rick Rockhill

Disclaimers...

This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.

It is for entertainment purposes only it, so just lighten up and just enjoy it. Life is short, live in the moment.

As the author, thoughts/views have no affiliation to my clients, business colleagues or my company.