Saturday, 27 March 2010

Cemeteries in London

One of the many things, of the many things,that I loved about London is the parks. Some of these parks, residential or otherwise have gravestones. I have to admit it's a bit eerie and Goth, and I kind of like it(that's what happens when a mind is raised on Gothic Literature like The Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, which I've read 4 times and loved every page of it and plan to read it again in my old age).I wanted to wait until Halloween to post this blog, but a bit of spookiness in the middle of Spring never did anyone any harm. Besides,looking at graves reminds us of our mortality, and a dose of that every now and then,without being moribund and Gothic-like, is in my humble opinion,a sign of good mental health.

To me,the fact there are gravestones in parks is what makes London so charming and of course, so intereseting. Everywhere you go,everywhere you walk,just as soon as you walk out of your flat door,and sometimes, when you least expect it,you have history staring at you in the face: mews, old alleyways, parks, pubs, cemeteries, city streets, canals,underground tunnels, Churches, palaces, museums, secret buildings, the underground, and all sorts of tantalizing and delectable gems of London's ancient past waiting to be discovered.The fact that Londonium is such an old city,(dating back to the Romans)it has an ABUNDANCE of graves, it can't help it. In the twenty first century,most of the cemeteries are so overcrowded that they have to put them alongside the kids play area(which is fine by me, if the kids don't mind,why should I).The interesting juxtaposition of the old gravestones, alongside the newer swing sets, I find most poetic and thought provoking.

These are some photos I took right next to the SGI( Soka Gakkai International)Buddhist Center in Russel Square. This little residential park was located just next door, so after a meeting or a meditation, I would go to the park for a minute to gingerly contemplate the seasons,drink my tea and have a chat with the locals and bribe them into taking their photo for this blog that you are reading.

Cemeteries in London Lyrics by Cold Play

More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries

More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries

Saturday, 20 March 2010

My Initial Impressions of the Drinking Habits of The English

My Initial Impressions of "The Pubs"
When I first came to London I was appalled by the rampant drinking or what I perceived was gross alcoholism. I was in fact, "grossed out" weekend after weekend. I would find elegant coiffured and chicly dressed women puking in the tube stations or on the street from too much alcohol consumption. Not glamorous AT ALL! You see, where I come from the people that binge drink are the kids that just got their right to drink or College kids. In the USA, you just don't see a lot of binge drinking on the streets from grown up professionals like you do in London. So, it came as a big shock for me. One night, I found a woman wandering around the tube station so drunk, I thought I better help her or at least get her on the right tube. I ended up befriending her just so she would be safe. She looked like she could have tipped over and fallen on the tracks. I took her under the wing for the rest of the night. She was so drunk, she went to the ATM, withdrew 50 pounds and told me to hold on to it. We went to the local club I frequent in my neighborhood and danced salsa. At least she could dance off the liquor and I could get my groove on, especially when she WAS NOT BUMPING INTO ME on the dance floor. Later, we took a taxi from Bayswater to her house in North London just to make sure she got home alright and not at 6 in the morning. She insisted I spend the night. After taking a taxi to North London at 3 in the morning that was not a bad idea. I gave her 50 pounds back, crashed on her couch and in the morning we finally got a chance to get to know each other since she was sober. Well, I guess you could say we ended up becoming fast friends and you can find her own Facebook. She sells real estate in Spain and will probably help me buy my house there.

My next Impression
After about year and a half of living in London, I realize that social drinking and pubs are just part of the culture. In the end, there's a positive side to social drinking. It builds community and it's relaxing just to shoot the breeze and have a pint or two after a hard day’s work. Often at many pubs they have Game Night, Quiz Night or Karaoke night. Some pubs have large screen TV's so, of course, during football season,the pubs are filled with fans. It's practically a national obsession. In addition, there are the gastropubs, which offer traditional English fare and have become quite fashionable.

Gastropub, The Hillgate in Notting Hill

Pubs are quite popular on Sunday. Sunday is a big day in English culture. It's a great place to visit with family and friends. Often, you see a lot of children and Mothers with babies and their whole brood. Sunday Dinner is usually English Roast of Chicken or Beef served with potatoes and pudding. Many pubs serve this food regularly and especially on holidays like Christmas.

The Duke of Wellington near Portobello Road, Notting Hill

Two Cute Asian blokes at Sun in Splendor pub. There were supposed to help me with my myspace page. If you guys see this, you've been very naughty and need to contact me straight away.

Pubs aren't my thing

There are more pubs in London per square inch than there are McDonalds in the USA.
According to wikepedia, there are 7,000 pubs in London alone. This is not taking into consideration The City of London or Greater London. In my old neighborhood in London, there was about 5 pubs within about 4 blocks from each other. There was virtually one on every corner. There was a pub just 1 block from where I lived. In the whole year and half that I was there I only went there once to meet a photographer for a business meeting. It is said that many English down pints and pints of Guinness in one sitting on an empty stomach. Their purpose is to "get pissed" not pissed off, but bloody drunk. Pubs aren't my thing. I could never get behind the pub mentality. I know I'll never be English, because all that power drinking and shooting the shit for no reason in mind,seems so boring and mindless. Do I sound like a snob? Well, that's just too bad. Oh, but give me a purpose and a purpose for drinking and now that's another story all together. Now, that's where the cock comes in. The Cock is a pub on Great Portland Street.

The Cock

I grew to love "the pubs": Spanish night at The Cock
My last month in London I ended up going to a pub called The Cock (it's short for cockerel)on Tuesday nights for a Spanish Exchange. Every Tuesday night from about 8 pm onwards Londoners longing to be fluent in Spanish or improve their English stroll in. This gives everyone a chance to speak Spanish, or if you are from Spain, you can practice your English. Everyone gets to speak Spanish (Spanish from Spain is different from Latin American Spanish) or English. The beer is pretty cheap too, just £2.50 for a pint, not bad. It's a fun night, you get to meet new friends with a common interests and improve yourself too. We all go home feeling a bit more fluent in Spanish and beer. A bunch of wellversed tipsy English,European and me the American holding hands down Oxford Street and trying to find our way home.I am really going to miss this pub.

The Cock is located on Great Portland Street

In the end, I suppose pubs and a bit of social drinking are not so bad after all, and in every respect could be positively good for your health and well being!!

Me, Sabrina The Blogger at The Sun in Splendor pub near Portobello Road-Fancy a pint?

More on Pubs in the History of the Pubs in upcoming Sabrina's London Diaries

More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Shakespeaere's Contribution to the English Language

While William Shakespeare died 388 years ago this week, the English playwright and poet lives on not only through his writings, but through the words and sayings attributed to him that still color the English language today. So if the "world is your oyster", your super "fashionable" and to boot " green with jealousy," you can thank Shakespeare, who likely coined the terms.

Here's an example of how many phrases in the English language that are now common place take their origin from Shakespeare's plays.

From Hamlet:
Polonius:(aside) Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.

The colloquial version is 'there's method in his madness'.

Reason behind apparent folly or disorder.


This line derives from Shakespeare's Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 193–206:

What is the matter, my lord?

Between who?

I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Slanders,sir;for the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams; all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am,if like a crab you could go backward.

[Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.


Polonius sees that Hamlet indeed has gone "mad" over Ophelia and has recognizable Elizebethan disease of love-melancholy. He also recognizes his speech has some order and fluidity,some "method" to his madness.

More Interesting Shakespeare Sites:
Short History of the English Language

Shakespeare Lexicon and Dictionary

Words Coined by Shakespeare are now Common Currency

Do you really think you know Shakespeare?
Take this Quiz and find out!

More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries


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