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December 23, 2011

Holiday Crowds and Carols in Trafalgar Square
Holiday Crowds and Carols in Trafalgar Square

Click on any photo to see it enlarged. It will appear as part of a slide show of all photos on this page. The image size can be changed by clicking on the plus and minus buttons. In the upper-left corner of a slide show click on either of the small-blue triangles to see another album (sets of photos). One of the albums is of us in Rome (and some of our food). Two more show us in Florence in January-February and us in Morocco in November.

We're a week into an 18-day stay in London. Our journey here was from Paris via Morocco and northern England. Transportation costs are rather funny these days. In the old days we didn't research them much because prices were mostly set by governments and it was the same for all comers. But deregulation and the rise of low-cost airlines and their traffic-management has changed all that. Consequently it cost us about the same to fly from Paris to Marrakesh as it would have cost to take the Eurostar from Paris to London. Our flight from Marrakesh to Manchester was only a bit more; overall it is as if, in planning to go to Darlington from Paris we got to have a trip to Morocco thrown in for free.

This posting is actually three-in-one: Along with it there are two other front pages, July 25 and October 29, that were written long ago but never got posted. There just never seemed to be the right moment to finish off what was started. The best aphorism that we've learned in a long time came from an article about Facebook. That team and organization is always changing things, often to the consternation of Facebook users. Facebook's motto is “Better done than perfect”. So now you'll get to see some pages that have lots of rough edges but they are at least out there.

Not publishing a front page doesn't mean we haven't been working on the web. In fact, in certain aspects we have been ahead of where we might have been if we'd done things the old way. This may seem a negative to you when you look at what it is: Now before and during a trip to some places we create a set of outline pages: one page for each city (or major site) that we expect to visit along with another that manages a photoshow of our best pictures. (In fact, this has gotten so standardized that Gerry is looking into generating these pages using PHP, a popular programming language for web development.) The good news is that we have far fewer broken links; the perhaps disconcerting news is that many pages are initially empty. We created that way sets of pages for our go around northern Italy in July and Morocco in November. In each case many of the pages have write-ups and, sadly, a hefty number don't. As in the ad that asks “Does she or doesn't she?” for you to know which is which you'll have to look.

Roman Ruins at Volubilis
Roman Ruins at Volubilis
Switchbacks on Dades Canyon Road
Switchbacks on Dades Canyon Road

Bradford and Town Hall
Bradford and Town Hall
Darlington College

The two months that are covered by this front page were about equally split between being on our own (Morocco) and being near and seeing friends (England). When we arrived in England we started by visiting a neice in Stockton for a few days, making a quick visit to Bradford for Jan to see what had happened since she graduated, and then to York to old friends for another day. Then it was a two-day birthday bash to celebrate sister's 50th and brother's 65th. One was a week early because that was the time when everybody could get away for a week end and the other was a few weeks late. Then came two weeks in Darlington of catching up in detail with family that we hadn't seen for a year – two days in a hotel eating every meal with the siblings wasn't enough. And then off to London for more of the same, but with friends and not family. Christmas dinner, just two days off, will be a repeat of a reunion last year, hosted by friends Mick and Dinah.

As usual, we close by asking “What's next?”. In the short term we know the general idea but not the details: see more of London and perhaps, if Jan can be persuaded, go off to Trafalgar Square to be part of the New Year's crowd. Just a few days ago we celebrated the first night of Hannukah by going to a lighting of the Menorah held in front of the Golder's Green tube and bus station. That crowd, about 150 people, was easy to handle. Half a million? We'll see.

The longer term is equally known. Month's ago, even before we bought our Morocco tickets we booked a flight to Newark (USA) for January 4th. We haven't been in the USA since September, 2007. Our trip there was part of a round-the-world flight that started in Sydney in January, 2007 and ended in the same city in October that same year. Our last days in the USA were spent sampling the beaches and other wonders of Hawaii. Our flight 10 days from now will be to colder climes. We're hoping that the weather will be as temperate there as it is here in London. A year ago it was mostly freezing, with ice and the remnants of snow everywhere. This past week it has warmed so that hat, gloves, and fleece are in temporary storage.

Once in the New York – New Jersey area we'll start another round of catching up with old friends. We'll successively stay with friends in Scarsdale, Middletown, and Hamilton while seeing them and many others. One event Gerry is particularly looking forward to is a Sunday brunch he has organized with three other guys; he was the best man for two (many years ago) and went to the wedding of the third (also many years ago). All four have many things in common: three are immigrants of long standing; three are ex-physicists (different three); etc, etc.

Even before we got to London we started to get various people's annual letters; in London the arrival rate has picked up. In the last few days we've written ours and it will be on its way to friends and family at the same time as this is posted. It provides a more comprehensive view of our 2011 than a series of scattered (and sometimes repetitive) web pages. You can download it here. At the end it explains that we're hoping to buy an apartment in the Washington DC area and settle down there for a while. Who knows? Maybe we'll stay there even longer than the nine months we spent in Berlin in 2008-2009. (Want to tempt us? Offer us a house sit!). Here's our summary of these past years (with apologies to Joe Khajadourian, Ross Golan, and Alex Schwartz):

And now, the end is here
And so we face the final flight
Our friends, we'll say it clear
We'll state the case, which we know is right
We've lived a life that's full
And traveled half of nearly ev'ry place
And more, much more than this, we did it our way.

Regrets, we have a few
But then again, too few to mention
We did what we had to do
And saw it through without exemption
We never planned a charted course,
nor took planned steps along the byway
But more, much more than this, we did it our way.

Yes, there were times, We're sure you know
When we wondered when it would be through
But in bus, boat, and train, when there was doubt
We chewed it up and spit it out
We handled 12 years in all, spring, summer and fall and did it our way.

We've loved, we've laughed -- and oh yes, we've cried
Now we've had our fill, our share of bumpy rides
And now, we find it a matter of pride,
To think that homeless no more will we be
And may we say, not in a shy way
"Oh, no, oh, no, not us, not homeless anyway"

For what is a couple, what have they got?
If not a ticket and a destination, then they have naught
Unless it be a three bedroomer with two baths cum PC
And an easy Metro ride to DOWNTOWN DC!
And yes, the memories, the memories that we did it our way.

To Each And All, to All and Each, we wish a

Humungous Happy Hannukah
Super Gigantic Merry Christmas
Happiest of New Years
A Wonderful 2012


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