Friday, May 11, 2012

Weekends in London and a Birthday

On April 16, Bobby left for an extended research trip to London. While my (Carla) weekdays have been lonely in Copenhagen, I've been fortunate enough to visit Bobby twice. Our first weekend in London, we did a bit of sightseeing downtown. We had unusually decent weather! Though the skies may be drearier than Copenhagen's, the spring started earlier in London. The trees were already turning green and the flowers were budding in mid-April.
Aside from a lot of walking, Bobby and I also attended two great concerts. There was a conference during that week about the music of Conlon Nancarrow, an American ex-pat who spent the majority of his life in Mexico. He was a life-long Communist, which is why he left (or was forced to leave) the US. The majority of his music is written for the player piano, but he also wrote some works for other instruments and ensembles. I was amazed at how many people were in attendance at both concerts. After speaking with one of our English friends, we came to learn that the London music scene is not only huge, it's also quite well supported. What a great place!
During my second weekend in London, Bobby and I went to the UK premier of the 1970s minimalist opera Einstein on the Beach. Composed by one of Bobby's favorite composers, Philip Glass, and co-created with the fantastic avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson, it was a dream come true for Bobby to see this!
And to make it even more exciting, both Philip Glass and Robert Wilson were in attendance at the performance! In fact, Philip Glass sat just three rows behind us! We should have asked for his autograph...
Back to the sightseeing... While our first weekend was spent sightseeing around downtown London, our second weekend together was spend getting to know the East End better. We came across the Columbia Road Flower Market on our long Sunday walk. The market was packed with people buying flowers, plants, and all other gardening goods.
As I mentioned above, Bobby is staying in East London. He is in London for 11 weeks to do research at Queen Mary University, London. He is staying in faculty housing right on the Mile End campus. In the middle of the campus is an old Jewish cemetery. The cemetery was open from 1733 to the early 20th century. Customary of Sephardi cemeteries, all of the tombstones lay flat. This is suppose to symbolize that all are equal in death - old and young, rich and poor.
Mile End, and East London in general, has a reputation of being a rough part of town. Either our time in East LA has affected us, or the reputation of East London is greatly exaggerated, because we have only experienced a hip, multi-cultural, lovely area. There are even amazing bakeries! We walked over a hour to reach the Violet Cakes bakery, and it was worth the walk. Here I sit with a violet-flavored cupcake, which was very tasty if not lacking a bit in the violet flavor, and a fresh cinnamon roll, which was also quite good. We will definitely be re-visiting this bakery. I want to try the salted caramel cupcake, and Bobby is dreaming of the sponge cake with Jersey cream.
During the week days, both Bobby and I have to fend for ourselves. Bobby has been visiting many of the local pubs, where he gets a pint while reading journal articles before dinner. He made this meal for himself one evening. He calls it 'Bobby's Grapes Of Wrath'. Yes, he wants the o in of capitalized.
I, on the other hand, stick to my comfort zone: quiche, salad, and white wine.
Last but not least, I had a birthday yesterday! I celebrated in typical Danish style, which means you have to make and bring your own cake to work. In typical Carla fashion, I made a 3 layer lavender cake, with a forest berry whipped cream filling, and an Italian meringue frosting. It was quite yummy, if I say so myself. No one at work complained; then again, I don't supposed they would do so to my face. One way or the other, I was happy. Happy birthday to me!

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