Showing posts with label Friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friends. Show all posts

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Part 4: Friends in London: Lady Michelle of Malta, and Drunk Parishioners at Christmas Eve Mass

When I first came to London, I met this cool young lady in her twenties who hailed from Malta, I called her Lady Michelle. She was very tall, brunette with big dark eyes and long black hair, she looked a bit like an Italian goddess. She was intelligent, well read, super independent and strong. She always had five different things going on at once, and always knew what was happening at the latest minute. I kind of felt like she was my Matesian soul mate. She spoke with a funny Maltese accent, and a bit of an Italian lilt, ( Malta was under rule of Italy for many years and most of the homes get Italian TV). She also used "you know" after every sentence, which I found rather annoying, but I tolerated it because she was so charming and fun in every other way. She would say to me, " Sabrina I have a one off ticket to a rock Concert, you know, do you want to come?" It's in Camden town and we'd have to take a bus and get back home very late you know.  I often called it to her attention and she took it well, but she kept on doing it, so I just gave up and acceepted that is how she is. Besides, it's not that bad of a habit, considering all the myriad bad habits people have that are really despicable. Also she was so sweet, fun and smart that she won me over. She was also very helpful too. She had been in London I believe 2 times before me, so she knew how to take the bus, where the nearest hospital was, how to save money. She was my first friend in London, and we ended up spending Christmas Eve together 2009. During my first winter in London, I caught the worst cold, which evolved into bad bronchitis. The fact that the youth hostel I was staying at with Michelle had the worst heating of any hostel I have ever been. ( On top of that I had to keep borrowing blankets, I ended up having about 4 blankets, when I was only supposed to have a measley one. I had one to insulate the wall because the room was facing outside, and very cold, another one for the matress and then two on top). Man, I was bloody cold. Anyway, I was coughing up big huge gobs of green London phlegm and sweating so badly that I had to go the hospital, luckily Michelle geared me to the right place.

It was my first time in a London hospital and I was happy that they didn't ask for my papers or anything. They took me in right away without any questions asked. Th ey gave me antibiotics and I recovered quite quickly after that. I am very grateful to their kindness. ( Boy, what an experience, you know, I think I'll use this dialogue for audition material,You never know !)

Once I recovered, I was back to my party self again. At the last minute, Michelle had invited me to join her for a service at Christmas Eve mass. Why not? It would be fun to go to a Christmas Eve mass in London, England. I remember it was Christmas eve and we walked and walked in the cold London winter night, from our Hostel in Hyde Park for about another 2 miles to reach the Catholic Church. I remembered some lady walking right in the middle of mass, stone drunk and sitting right next to me. She smelled of hard liquor and decided to start hugging me, and crying all over me. I don't know why I attract such weird and out people, do I have a sign on my head that says " I am counselor, pillow included?" Anyway, Only in London.  The  Priest in the mass used such powerful incense,that seemed to hail straight from the Vatican, big huge balls of Frankincesse and Myrrh, that he kept swinging around to bless everyone with, while he recited some Latin phrases, I though he was going to hit us with it. I felt like I was getting high off them, between the choir and the incense, it  was indeed a spiritually transcendent experience. After mass, I wished everyone in my way "Merry Christmas" and  stopped to chat with  the Priest who had surprisingly had a  flute of champagne in his hand, and complimented him on the nice service. Somehow, he must have liked my friend and I, because he  went out of his way to give us both  flutes of champagne( perhaps, he liked my American accent), which made us both very happy because we were both to broke to buy our own. It was nice to sip champagne with an English priest. I was also wondering if he drinks like this all the time. Anyway, after we elegantly sipped the champagne and said our adieus to the priests, we walked swiftly home in the London cold feel very warm, fuzzy and not the least bit lonely that we weren't in each other's respective homelands to celebrate the Holidays.

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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Part 3: Friends in London

This is my friend Bader Mirza, he's half Egyptian and half Iraqi. He's very nice. I met him at the Queens Hotel when I was staying there. He worked part time as the reception desk. He was a first class gentleman, and would always carry my grocery upstairs. When I was sick he brought me some chicken soup to my room. I never forget his kindness, even though he's very mischievous. He also would invite me to all these parties with this Shiek that he met in his last trip to Dubai. Apparently, for such a humble job he had, he knew all these Sheiks and used to go to all these parties in London's classiest hotels. Bader means Moon in Arabic. He would call himself the King Bader, and he would call me Princess.

Aniello and Samantha Baldini in Twickenham, London

When, I first came to London, I did the COUCH SURFING thing . I stayed with this really charming Italian couple. Samantha's house always smelled like the LUSH store. I cooked a few times for them, and one time I made a Spanish  Tortilla and it landed on the floor instead of the pan. They were both very gracious about it.  They lived in Charming Twickenham, about 30 minutes outside of Central London. You had to take a train from Waterloo to get there. Twickenham is the home of the great rugby matches and the home of Orleans House. Well, Sammy and Annielo were very nice to me and made me feel at home. They also let me stay a bit longer, which I am very grateful, they left to go to Italy for about 4 days and left me the keys to their house. It was a great respite for me, at the time, because I after staying in noisy and populated hostels, I needed some private time to myself. It seems like my whole time I was in London I was always blessed with unexpected suprises and people supporting my life.  I was very much in rhythm. Sammy and Annielo, if your reading this, your the best, if you come to Los Angeles, mi casa es su casa. Millie Bacis. By the way, Annielo you look like Andrea Boccelli.

Hector is a reporter for BBC Latin America and I met him in London.
We met here at the Dublin Castle, where the 80's Ska Group Madness got their start.

Tanya Kwiez at Planet Organic Notting Hill
I used to go to Planet Organic practically everyday to stock up on vitamins and get a hot cup of tea during a break. The Internet cafe I went to was just across the street so I would often pop in just for a break of a cup of tea or some yogurt. I met the nicest people that worked there. Tanya Kwiez is a volunteer for project Watoto. Every year she goes to Africa and voluneteers at Paradiso orphanage with Project Watoto.
If you would like to work as a Volunteer or Donate to Project Watoto, please, go to

This is Heather Bowie,we met walking down Westbourne Grove street she asked me for directions in my neighborhood.  (I used to walk down Westbourne Grove and take it all the way to Notting Hill and then famous Porto Bello Road.). Heather Bowie hails from South Africa, and is of Scottish descent,  and we planned to go to Scotland together but never got around. She's very cuteand always sweet. She works in the fashion industry in London.

Sabrina's London Diaries: Part 1: Friends in London

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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Part 1: Friends in London

One of the nicest things about living in London was meeting interesting people from all over the world. I met friends from Azerbaijan, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Malaysia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden. Since England has so many people residing from it's Commonwealth countries, I also met a lot of people from  South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. 

 One of the nicest people I met, and the most interesting was this opera singer, Joy, who hailed from New Zealand. I met Joy while we were staying at the same hostel for a few months in Hyde Park. One day, I heard someone howling from one of the corridors. But, in fact, it wasn't the howling of a banshee, it was this beautiful voice singing opera. I so admired her from the beginning, for having the chutzpah to practice her singing any little corner she could find.  Joy is half Somoan, and half Welsh,and was very sweet, she travelled all over England selling jewelry in castles and would regale me with her adventurous stories, by saying ," What's going on in the universe?" She was a real  Bohemian free spirit.I thought I was adventurous, she would still hitch hike all over England. She also travelled to Palestine and Lebanon, and said how she almost got decapitated over there.  She's my kind of girl, intelligent,fun, artistic and gorgeous. If that wasn't enough, she could recite Aristotle. She taught me a lot about opera, The Greek Philosphers. Wow !

One night, we hung out in my little flat in Bayswater, and we would listen to both our favorite Aria, from the movie Farinelli.
After a night of partying drinking cider and eating Brussels Pate.
Joy turned me on to Pate for eating instead of Chicken, we would eat copious amounts ofPate, Brie Cheese and crackers.

Sabrina and Katerina, Pizza Express near The Globe Theater- Southbank-London

I had known Katerina Weiss for a very long time. Katerina is from Check Republic. She came to visit me with her Doctor boyfriend in London. We all went out together to Pizza Express. I had known her since 1999, when we worked at Rizzoli's bookstore together. She's very intelligent, childlike and very sweet. She was married to the famous Chekoslavkian film maker, Jerry Weiss, he passed away and now she married his friend. Katerina is very well-read, and always lets me know about the best books. Apparently, she's moved back to Pennsylvania to be with her Doctor boyfriend Peter, and now they live in some farmhouse, in the outskirts of Philadelphia. She's invited me to visit her, but I haven't been able to make it over there yet. I am to busy still writing about my time in London. Ha ! Will find time, in the future, to visit her.

She met me in London along with some other friends, we went to the Globe Theater to watch Shakespeare as a groundling. I think the play was As You Like it.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

My Trip to Winchester over the New Year Part 2: Gloriuos Food

New Years Eve is time to celebrate with great food and good friends
Party just a bit, so you don't seem like an old fart, but not too
much as to have a miserable bloody hang over.Be festive and happy,
another year's over and and a new one will begin. It's a time of reflection and debauchery, and a bittersweet mix of both is jolly good fun!!

Since I arrived in Winchester a bit late, we ate dinner practically
at the stroke of midnight. He said he didn't want to make the veggies
until I got there, because he was afraid the trains would stall. Fair
enough. Poor Sir John had been slaving away all day long to cook a proper English Roast for his new guest,me,Sabrina,or as he calls me, Lady Sabrina.

New Year's Eve Dinner was Chicken Roast,(which was made in a slow cooker)with English Potatoes.Stuffing Balls,Carrots,Turnips and Goosed Potatoes.

Potatoes made with whisked goose fat, which is great for your arteries.

My sojourn to Sir John's was absolutely exciting!!I was very so HAPPY, because it was my first time being a guest in a big English house. His house is a two story gorgeous Victorian, that he spent the last six months decorating and furnishing.Apparently,I was his first honored guest since he bought it to stay with him.He was such a gracious host, he even let me sleep in his master bedroom on his new mattress called " The Princess", while he slept in the smaller room.What a perfect English gentleman.

This is what an English Breakfast looks like. There have been a great many poems and odes in honor of the English Breakfast. It's very hearty and it's perfect before a day of walking around and site seeing in Winchester.

English Breakfast is very similar to an American breakfast, but look at the portions of the bacon, it looks more like strips of ham and mostly fat. Also, the English Breakfast has tomatoes,mushrooms,beans, and of course, no meal would be complete without tea. English Tea is usually straight black tea or commonly called in England, builder's tea. I opted for the double cream instead of milk,which is great, because it makes me fatter. My New Year's resolution to gain a bit more weight and go from size 10 to size 14.

On Saturday, I made my signature dish, ZUPPA DI QUATRO FUNGHI(4 Mushroom Soup).

It's made with four types of mushrooms: Portobello, Porcini, Shitake, and then
your common chestnut mushroom.

You make the chicken soup first. And,then use the broth from the chicken soup. That's the key to flavorful cooking, always use chicken broth in everything!! Now that's a million dollar tip!

When we weren't site seeing and watching movies.We sat around drinking whiskey sours,(Winston Churchill's favorite cocktail in between his 2 bottles of champagne he drank every day) and listening to old Led Zeppelin.I felt so enriched, because he educated me on a myriad of topics, I personally knew very little about. I love acquiring more knowledge for the sake of it, so he was absolutely a scintillating gem to be around.

Sir John is a master of the Hard Rock genre. He gave me a lecture on Hard Rock 101.I didn't know that Jethro Tull is the name of the lead singer,who also plays the flute and is supposed to be a striking entertainer. I thought he was just someone that sang,"Bungle in the Jungle." Hard rock is not my favorite type of music, but being a big music lover I love hearing about different genres so was quite pleased. Our conversations seemed to overlap, and the only thing we disagreed on for the four whole days was who was going to talk and when, and were we going to interrupt,as we simultaneously spoke on everything: from guitar riffs, to jazz, to how to make beer, women,Italians, Winchester, Da Vinci Code, The Free Masons, World War II,(he regaled me with stories of his Father's stories of being in the Great War).He's also a wordsmith and walking dictionary.I never met anybody who could talk as much as me, so needless to say I think I found my intellectual soul mate.(Lol !)

My clever friend Sir John, not only does he cook and clean,play the electric guitar and wax poetic on everything under the sun. He even makes his own beer!!

Anyone fancy a pint?

Beer is made from firstly steeping crushed malted barley in hot water. This is done to convert the starch in the grain into fermentable sugars. The sweet wort (pronounced wirt as in shirt) is then run off into a boiler where it is boiled with with hops for bittering and aroma. The boiled wort is then cooled and transferred into a fermentation vessel where yeast is added for fermentation to take place. Fermentation is where yeast consumes the sugars and the bi-product is alcohol.You now have beer! Enjoy.

Needless to say, I had a fantastic time in Winchester. Winchester is a heritage
city and replete with history and charm. Seeing Winchester and sharing my impressions with my friend Sir John was so much fun. I am very happy I met Sir John, he's a wonderful companion. I'll never forget my stay with him and his lovely English hospitality. He's coming to visit me this weekend and I'll show him the London I know and make him whiskey sours and will frolic and make mischief. I can't wait!

I remember growing up in San Diego and my Mom used to sing this song
Winchester Cathedral around the house, I had no idea what she was singing.

For Recipes please comment or send me an

More TALES and ADVENTURES in Sabrina's London Diaries

Sunday, 10 January 2010

My Trip to Winchester over the New Year Part 1

Over the New Year holiday, I went to visit my friend Sir John in Winchester.
On New Years eve, I boarded a train from Waterloo station in London, heading South towards Winchester.Winchester is in Hampshire county and is about 1 hour London. I love riding trains and it was the perfect train ride because it was nearly empty and very quiet so it allowed me to be pensive and self reflect about the wonderful year that was coming to it's close, 2009, and to think about my goals in the year 2010 to come!!

My friend Sir John,who is a wonderful host,just had renovated his big Victorian house and I felt honored to be his first guest.We ate typical English fare of Roast chicken potatoes,parsnips and carrots (and some other English vegetable with a very weird name, sorry I'll get back to you).

On Saturday after a big hearty English Breakfast, that he made for us.We journeyed like tourist to Winchester. Also, because Sir John has lived in Winchester all his life, he was the perfect tour guide.

First we hit the Great town hall, and according to Sir John it was part of the Winchester Castle, until Oliver Cromwell destroyed it because he was against anything that had to do with Royalty or the old regime. Apparently,during the English Civil War the Castle was held by the Royalists until its capture by the Parliamentary Forces in 1646. Oliver Cromwell ordered the demolition of the Castle, but the Great Hall was kept as a venue for assemblies and the County Assizes.

Winchester Castlebuilt in 1067.Only the Great Hall exists now; it houses a museum of the history of Winchester.Winchester Castle holds a prominent position in English history. It was built in 1067, within a year of the Norman Conquest. At the time, it was one of the greatest strongholds in England, and for over a century it served as the seat of government, before that position was taken by London.

The Great Hall is all that is left of the Winchester Castle

The first and finest of all 13th century halls, with the greatest symbol of medieval mythology, 'The Round Table of King Arthur'.Winchester Castle dates from the reign of William the Conqueror (1066-1087).

The Castle was made of Purbeck limestone

Tucked neatly in a narrow space behind the Great Hall of Winchester Castle is a quiet gem, Queen Eleanor's Gardens. This peaceful oasis is an accurate recreation of an early medieval garden, complete with many features that would have been present during the 13th century, and all the plants are known to have been grown in that period.

Winchester Cathedralis the Mother Church of the Diocese of Winchester, which is part of the Church of England. The Cathedral has its origins in the 7th century, when a Christian Church was first built on this site. Since then, it has played a fundamental part in the life of this ancient City and a significant role in the history of our nation.

Winchester Cathedral at Winchester in Hampshire is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave(architectural-the middle or body of a church, extending from the transepts to the principal entrances and overall length)of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.

In 2005, the cathedral was used as a film set for the The Da Vinci Code with the north transept used as the Vatican. Following this the cathedral hosted discussions and displays to debunk the book.

I saw choral evensong and heard beautiful angels singing.
It's a combined sensual treat to hear gorgeous music and be amidst
such splendid architecture.

Me, visiting Jane Austen apparently she wasn't at home.
My timing was off about 175 years. Oh well, next life Jane. Jane died in this house and she was about 41 years old on July 18,1817 and is buried in Winchester Cathedral. It is said she came to Hampshire county and took this house in her last remaining days so she could be close to the hospital. Janewas smart to do so,because unlike London, the air in Winchester is fresh.

This is an old Gothic entrance to a street.

I love this photo of Winchester Cathedral at dusk.It feels like something out of a Dracula movie.Very Gothic and spooky in an old world way. It inspires me to don a black velvet cape, a candelabra and howl at the moon.

Someone once told me,the best time to take photos is at both dawn and dusk.
Something about the lighting and it's a very spiritual time where the
universe is in the in between.England,has unearthly feel at this time,
you can just feel the faeries and sprites. The wall that you see is a wall of Wolvesly Castle. I am standing on a path and to my right is the
River Itchen which is famous for fly-fishing.Winchester is very idyllic and fairytale like.

This is another cute side street in Winchester. It's filled with charming
shops and pubs and unique and posh art galleries. I was quite impressed by the array of beautiful luminous Christmas lights.

Since there is just way to much see I went back the next day.I was happy to see idyllic Winchester from the vantage point of St. Giles Hill.I must admit,both the scenery and the 30 minute climb up took my breath away. Sigh!

More about Winchester in Sabrina's London Diaries


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