Random Friday

Last weekend I took Dear Nephew to London with Techie Bro. It was his wish to see it, especially the Big Ben (invisible behind its restauration coat, but he got to see the Lego version and had a painting of it in his room) and the London Eye. The Big Ben is actually better at night these days, as you can see above! πŸ˜‰

So we arrived on Friday around lunch time and dropped our bags at the hotel. They had a travelcard, I had my Oyster card so we felt confident we could wander around. I had in mind of showing him a couple of things, so we got off at Piccadilly Circus, but he was too taken by the Lego shop to notice much else. Besides, it started raining and he was tired and Waterstones didn’t have the books we were looking for and and and… we got back after about three hours and dined in their room (it was bigger).

The next day we had all day, so morning we went around the Tower of London, took the DLR and the Emirates cabins to the O2 where we had lunch. We took the Jubilee line back to Waterloo but when we got off it started raining, so… back to the hotel around 2pm (just like in Paris). We relaxed in my room, since theirs wasn’t done, then went out again. Techie Bro took him on the London Eye as per his wish, and when he came down he said it was one of the best days of his life.

Happy nephew, happy adults. We even had a group hug at some point! πŸ˜‰ Sunday morning, we went at the Natural History Museum, then headed back for Victoria Station where we had lunch at McDonald and then headed back for Gatwick Airport. We were more or less on time, but the customs proved Italy is a third world country: EU and Italians with under 14 had only one policeman checking documents (and I think he was being slow on purpose) until the other one came back.

We ended up at 10pm eating pizza by my house, since of course we didn’t eat on EastyJet! Next time British Airways, I don’t care if it costs more! Or Alitalia. Or whatever. No more low-cost. Have a great weekend! πŸ™‚


Random Friday

Weekend in London on the Chinese new year! Southall was disappointing (after 10am most shops were still closed, the “newsagent” that boasted magazines had none and even at the train station there were no magazines worth my time and the trip there, grrr), but I found some DVDs at FOPP (not to mention a wonderful security guy at the door who must have been half my age but still said “Enjoy, Miss” when I left – it’s been too long since someone called me “miss”, LOL!) and some magazines at a WHSmith for future reference.

London shopping

London shopping

I had lunch with a friend, then dropped that bag at the hotel and headed for the O2 to watch Kaabil – the reason why I went to London in the first place. Now if only they dubbed it in English, I’d ask Tori to watch it and tell me what she thinks! πŸ˜‰ But I doubt she’d go with Kelly reading the subtitles to her…

Barb's review

Barb’s review

It was wonderful seeing the O2 at night… so I’ll leave you with a slideshow of London by day (Chinatown) and by night! πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend! πŸ˜€

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Random Friday

So, London! It keeps changing under me. When I got to Greenwich, I got lost – and I used to know it fairly well, having attended the Eurocentre in Lee Green (now closed, I’m afraid) four times! 😦 Anyhow, had a look at the O2 (unfortunately I was 3 hours early for the movie, so I didn’t see it at all – will have to get the DVD) and enjoyed the rides and met with friends and bought meself stuff! πŸ™‚

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Now, the books! They were all pocket books for 3.99Β£, how could I leave them there? One I’ll need for Ingolf the traveling vampire, one for Bran and his millenarian siblings and one for next book, Shashank, since he’s the only one who actually gets to see the great Moghuls beyong Akbar. Add another non-fiction that I’ll use for whenever I wrap up the story, starting in Mumbai 2005… I’ve got some reading to do! πŸ™‚

And still speaking about vampires, here’s yours truly posing as the protagonist of Norman Blood at the tower of London. Of course you need to use your imagination and see a man with a helmet instead of the backpack and a sword instead of the hand in pocket. And the wall around the White Tower was built in the 13th century, so only William the Conqueror’s keep in the background…

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At the National History Museum they have this simulator that makes you live the 1995 Kobe earthquake… and then I came back and we had another big quake on the boot-shaped country! 😦 Here you have a sequence of the shaky-shakes – I felt only the 3.40am one. At noon of the 24th, 160 hits: 59 between 3.0 e 4.0, Β 5 between 4.0 e 5.0 and 1 more than 5.0, in Norcia (PG) 5.4 at 04:33. I was asleep again by then.

Villages such as Amatrice (home of the world-famous pasta sauce Amatriciana) is almost completely destroyed – and it was full of tourists… Norcia is the home of my fave salami… Already almost 40 dead at lunch time and it was as strong as the one in 2009 that destroyed L’Aquila at 3.30am.

There’s another report, with even higher dead toll. Definitely not a nice year – but then, I never liked leap years! Have a great weekend!

Random Friday

Randomly ending the London break. Met a few nice people – almost the same as last August – and had a few good chats. *waves at Tori and Josie and Alice*

Had my first IMAX experience and… um… I guess I’m too old for that stuff. I couldn’t care less. I’d have happily saved some of those 18Β£. But at least I saw John Wick in theaters, like I hoped to do last October! πŸ˜‰

And I had my first “London by night” experience, since I got out of the cinema at 9pm and Leichester Square was crowded – it was also a Friday night – and the Piccadilly line was crowded and I was just fine. Even the Warwick Street exit of Earl’s Court had a long line of cars – it was a little more deserted in the back streets!

I’m usually back into my room (hotel or B&B) by 8pm (or sundown if it’s winter) whenever I go to London, so it was fun. I admit I asked the hotel, because I had no idea of what I could find. I wouldn’t take the underground in Rome after 8.30pm, so… in “unfamiliar” territory… but I was quickly reassured, and he was right! πŸ™‚

Still have to kill my travel agent for booking me a shitty hotel and forcing me to move to an Ibis (throwing away the price of the other one, since it was pre-paid), but well… shit happens. Now I’m back, it’s spring, and I’d happily sleep all day. Except I have to go to work in the mornings. Sigh.

Weekend formatting and editing ahead… stay tuned for a new title of the Star Minds universe! πŸ˜€

Colorful note: Friday 17 is bad luck in Italy. Actually, it’s #17 that is really bad luck, but coupled with Friday… You get it. (And you won’t find a “room 17” in any Italian hotel either for this reason…)

Have a great weekend!

Random Friday

I scheduled the previous post before leaving for London, but I’m writing this one in London – again, scheduling for my comfort, so I can sleep late, LOL! Just kidding. I’ll spare you how it started (not very well), but now I’m calmer, I’m going to the library every day to do my research, and every other day I meet friends – although I almost missed my first meeting on Tuesday because of my lack of smartphone.

I have also found a Bookcrossing Zone in London, it’s a pub, so don’t go there at 10, but they took 4 of my books for bookcrossing, so I was very relieved. I even had a huge hamburger that I couldn’t finish, since I went back there at lunch time. It’s on the side of Waterloo station – the Camel & Artichoke, just in case you happen to be in London.

Another book I left on the train to Reading, put it on a seat and went a couple of coaches forward and then a young black woman passed with it and sat a little further. I almost jumped out of my seat to tell her “hey, I wrote that one, hope you enjoy it!”, but I kept mum. I observed her, but first she toyed with her smartphone, then she read the newspaper and then she probably started on the book, yawned and put it down. But then I had reached my stop – Southall – so I got off. Hope she takes it home and reads it and releases it again!

Another book I left in the waiting room at Southall station – if it doesn’t get destroyed because they think there’s a bomb in a book, that is. I waited until the train came and the two people in the room exited to put it on one of the seats. There was some kind of problem on the way to Heathrow that morning, so the train to go back to Paddington was packed!

Got meself more DVDs, and since the vendor was nicer that the one I went to in 2013 and said he could have more by Friday, I promised him I’d be back on Friday. So this morning I’m back there for a few more titles. And then tonight I’m going to the cinema with my friend to watch John Wick on the big screen. I swear I didn’t know when I booked this trip that the movie would come out so late in the UK (and Ireland), or I’d have waited to buy the DVD! πŸ˜‰

Tomorrow I’ll be back home and will tell more about the stay – maybe next week. Have a nice weekend!

Random Friday

So, after Loncon, the rest of my stay in London! πŸ™‚ Monday (the 18th) I moved out of the Ibis Styles, took the DLR to Lewisham and then the train to my B&B in Grove Park. I dumped my trolley and went back to the center to meet with Laxmi, who is very taken with her upcoming book. Stay tuned for more on this very blog! That night I got a message on Goodreads from another author who saw me on Loncon’s programme… and we managed to set up a meeting for the next day.

Tuesday I went to Gay is the Word to donate two copies of one of the books I hadn’t sold at the convention. It’s very close to the British Museum where I was meeting my roomie Rachel. We spent the morning in the upper floors of the museum, had lunch, then I headed out for a walk and my appointment with JA Clement – I’ve met her on Goodreads, through Creative Reviews, but I don’t interact there anymore and I had posted about Loncon only on the Smashwords Authors group and the LGBT Fantasy group (nobody came from that group, apparently).

So I met with her, we had a great chat and wonderful French pastries (I had a “tarte aux fraises” much like in Paris), and now I know I have somebody else to contact next time I go to London! πŸ™‚ I could move there anytime now, LOL! Anyhow, it’s always great to talk to other writers and their processes… hopefully I’ll have her as guest on this blog sometime in the future – especially if she has a new release.

Wednesday I had breakfast with Maurizio Manzieri – a very late breakfast, since my train to Charing Cross was canceled due to “train fault” (whatever that means), so I didn’t have time to go to Southall like I had in mind. I went to meet Viv, instead, since we’d set up the meeting months ago. It was a wonderful time walking around London with her, checking the National Gallery Portraits and discussing historical movies about the people we were seeing portrayed, having an ice cream in Covent Garden, and finally splitting in Charing Cross.

Thursday I headed to Hastings to meet Tori and again it was a wonderful day out, walking along the beach and chatting with her and her husband. She even presented me with a handmade unicorn for my collection – and I’ve now decided to call him Victory a.k.a. Vic! So here he is with the others, playing dreamcatcher over my head when I sleep! πŸ™‚

unicornsThe oldest is Pinky, who was gifted to me by Renee (along with Sky some time later) way back in 2002… Most of the others I bought myself. And those are only the stuffed ones. I have pins, figurines, plates, pillows and then stickers, stationery… yes, mine is the house of the Unicorn! And I am the Lady of the Unicorn as well… πŸ˜‰

By the way, if you like fairy tales, revisited or not, try Tori’s stories of faeries. I’ve read a few now, since they’re short, and I hightly recommend them. My favorite is still Jinx and the faerie dragons because it’s longer, and then I hope one day she does a collection of them all – not that I don’t like short stories, but buying a collection makes me feel better! (but please, Tori, don’t do it now, my TBR pile would never go down!)

And then I came back, late, and went back to work… sigh! Now looking forward to my next, longer break… in approximately a month and a half! πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend!

Random Friday

Sooo, London! Here’s a summary of my 3 days wandering around:

London2013_resizeI came back with 18 Bollywood titles again (like last year from the US), so I’m all set until next year, since I won’t watch them unless I finish the other stuff first (carrot&stick, remember? πŸ˜‰ So one week back, I haven’t even started on the list!).

Being a once-a-week aunt for the rest of the school year, I can tell you that panel 1 was a success with Dear Nephew. I managed to make him do his English homework (in spite of the interruption to peruse my own art book on how to draw dragons) and then gave him the Angry Birds masks book. He wanted to take it home when his mother picked him up, but since the text is in English andΒ I proved him I’m much better than his mum in translating, he left it with me so we can play with it again next Tuesday. As for Techie Bro, he’ll get his book for Xmas! πŸ˜‰

Right hand “duplicated” panels – are you eagerly waiting for my review of Krrish3? πŸ˜‰ First of all, I had to watch it twice because I found some difficulty in reading the subtitles on a big screen – so one was for reading the subtitles and one to watch the movie. On a “small” screen (32″ TV) my peripheral vision catches everything, on a big screen – not so well. By the way, did you know men have tunnel vision and women have peripheral vision? Check this article on eye signals for more! πŸ™‚

I digress again. The first time I was also distracted because of the tea and hot colored water you call coffee outside of Italy that I had drunk – I needed the restrooms badly. So the second time I went there before the movie started and enjoyed it much more! πŸ™‚ I don’t do spoilers, but yeah, glad it ended the way it did. Now I can write Krrish4 with Bad Krrish (either a cloned version or his wax statue that comes to life – whichever tries to kill the original, so Hrithik gets to play both the good and the bad), LOL!

Since it has only 3 item songs, it’s recommended to whoever loved the X-men movies (it has mutants!) or even 12 Monkeys (invisible virus kills millions!), so even if you don’t like Bollywood, you can check this superhero movie, especially if you’re into superheroes. I’m not really (I readΒ only some Marvel heroes comics), but Krrish is Krrish! πŸ˜€

And if you’re into comics, you might want to try the comic as well. Since it’s a moving comic, and I’m not too fond of the art, I’ll pass. I’m following the Motion Book Tool page on DeviantART, but I’m not impressed with the results. I know the future is this, but since I’m an old lady and don’t have an i-Pad (or even an android phone), I’ll pass… And there’s the videogame too, if you’re so inclined – Techie Bro didn’t want to try it because he doesn’t know the movies, sigh.

That’s all for now… slowly getting back into the routine and ran out of guests for Sundays, so if you’d like to be featured on this blog, drop me a line or leave a comment, thank you! πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful weekend!

Random Friday

soooo late, huh? Yep, just got off the plane. But it’s total randomness, so why not. I’m not scheduling this, so it might have a few typos here and there.

Please Akishmet stop marking Nafees as spammer – he’s not! 😦 And he’s discovering my muse’s movies, so stop treating him like that! 😦 Ahem, sorry Nafees, sometimes these thingies don’t work properly.

So, spent 3 days in London – well, 2 mostly. Met up with Alice (of Wednesday’s post “fame”) in spite of misunderstanding,s and got to talk to Laxmi after reading her book – The Destiny of Shaitan. I’m a little too tired to review it today, but you can check my review during the weekend. You might remember she was a guest on this blog last JULY! Yikes! Took me that long to actually read her book! *shame*

Anyway, it’s always fun to meet in person other bloggers and we had a great time at Dishoom near Covent Garden! πŸ™‚ Couldn’t find many DVDs, so I guess I’m free to spend the holidays re-watching what I already have (which is a lot anyway, LOL).

Okay, should have programmed this, as I’ve already run out of things to say… and there’s no jet-lag to justify it, so I’ll blame it on my age that makes traveling so difficult, LOL! πŸ™‚
Have a great weekend!

Back and still catching up

Last week I was in London to meet friends AND use libraries without having to buy books and doing some research “on the field” for the historical novel. I came back with a cold, thanks to the British weather, and Sunday afternoon/night my server (Telecom Italia) was so very slow that I had to quit reading the Six Sentence Sunday participants and continue on Monday. Considering the overwhelming number of participants and that barely a third of them actually tours all the entries, I think I’m going to do like the other two thirds from now on: sign up and just wait for the others to visit me… Lazy, I know, but time’s flying! 😦

But back to my short British vacation! I spent two mornings at Westminster Reference Library, Tuesday working on 12th century clothes (and tattoos, so I had to modify SKYBAND again, haha!), Thursday on Norman castles, Westminster Hall and other 12th century buildings in London and Lincolnshire.

Wednesday I took the DLR to the Tower of London – with SEVERE DELAYS of… 15 minutes! I’m Italian, for me a “severe delay” is one hour or two! πŸ˜‰ – and then walked to Westminster (that’s when I caught the cold, the wind was quite chilly along the Tames and I had to cover my ears with… my hair!) like my characters are supposed to do. I knew in the 12th century London and Westminster were two separate cities, but I couldn’t figure out how long it would take: one hour of fast walking. Therefore I believe my characters will go by boat! They can’t show up at Westminster Hall all sweaty and stinky, it’s a court! πŸ˜€ (And for those of you still wondering, YES, they DID BATHE in the Middle Ages, especially the nobles at this time of courtly love. There are plenty of mentions of baths and washing hands and changing clothes in the chansons de geste).

I didn’t pay to get inside the Tower of London nor Westminster Abbey because I’ve already been there in the past. The white tower (built by William the Conqueror) can be seen also from the outside, and Westminster Abbey was rebuilt after Richard’s coronation (the only one featured in my story, my characters aren’t too fond of John, therefore carefully avoid HIS coronation).

Tuesday I met a friend at the British Museum and had a look at the few medieval things they have there, while Thursday I met a friend at Charing Cross and we discussed my sci-fi novella.

Now I’m back, still catching up on blogs, finishing short stories and sending out guest posts and interviews, so you might see me somewhere out there in the future. AND I have to edit and finish the damn historical, or I won’t be able to move forward with the fantasy stories. But now I have a clearer idea, so I think I can do it and nail the first draft by the end of May.

By the way, if you enjoyed last week’s short story The Sect in spite of it being very dramatic, I can put more here, pre-editing, before I upload them on Smashwords and Kindle… I have a couple more almost ready (but one is a sequel to Air, and a spoiler for the novel, so don’t read it, haha!). I might start doing Story Sunday instead of Six Sentence Sunday! πŸ˜‰

Travel hassles

Like I said, getting to Wales wasn’t too hard. I met my roommate Daphne on the Virgin train for Birmingham at London Euston station. Getting to Birmingham was fast and easy, and as Daphne had booked luggage assistance, we were taken to the next train and seated at Birmingham International, where the longer part of the journey began. It was rainy already, but the sun came out, so we even had a glimpse of rainbow upon arrival. Daphne had booked a taxi that took us two miles from Harlech station in the middle of nowhere (see previous post.

Friday 5 we started off for Harlech again, to buy food for the trip at the local Spar and get on the 12.25 train. First surprise was the train was canceled. Canceled? A train showed up, but was indeed not in service. They mentioned a bus service, but it never showed up. So Karen taxied us up and down (bless her) and eventually we went on the 14.30 train to Birmingham.

Except it was 30 minutes late, so we missed our connection again! Poor Daphne had to call luggage assistance over and over again to adjust to our journey, and in Birmingham nobody showed up. Luckily there was another Virgin train we managed to catch, and reached London Euston at 20.35 (previous connection should have arrived at 20.15. Original trip was 18.15…). I said good-by to Daphne, rushed to the Tube, got off at London Bridge, found a train to Grove Park, was there by 21.40. I thought that would be the end of my traveling tribulations, but I was wrong.

Saturday I got up and was dropped at the train station with regular service to Charing Cross. BUT there were engineering works on the TUBE which I forgot to check! Never ever travel to or from London on week-ends, I should know this by now but well… there we go.

Went down to Embankment, 3 Tube lines were partially interrupted – the ones that I needed! So I took the District to Earl’s Court, changed for the Piccadilly through damn stairs (and a heavy-with-books Stitched Trolley), reached Hammersmith where the Piccadilly line was interrupted, walked half a block outside of the station to a bus that took us to Osterley where we went back on the Piccadilly Line to get to Heathrow. Luckily the first train was for Terminal 4, so I wasn’t too late.

That was another journey, I tell you! Luckily the flight was on time and the rest wasn’t so bad, but getting to the airport… I was really wondering if the damn Brits wanted to keep me on their rainy island (which I wouldn’t mind too much, but I’d love to be able to pack my stuff and find a place to live first! ;-)) πŸ˜€

Travel hassles never end… I thought these things with trains happened only in Italy (to go to Hotel Mum last summer it took 7 hours instead of 5 for a late train), so I’m kind of relieved to see the world is all the same…! πŸ˜‰

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