Tag Archives: London

Top 10 Suggestions for a Unique London Experience


London is a magnificent city drenched in history and mythology. As a first time tourist, you will undoubtedly want to see the main attractions, and so you should. See Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Go into Madame Tussauds, if that’s your thing. Ride the London eye. Cross the Millennium Bridge. Climb to the dolma of St. Paul’s Cathedral and look across the Thames at the picturesque Bankside, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.

Apart from the common tourist things, there are so many other things to see and do in London. After frequenting that remarkable city several times over the last couple of decades, here are my top recommendations: Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Travel & Tourism


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Major Changes in the Autumn of Life

Hyde Park in Autumn

Hyde Park in Autumn, October 2015

The past five years have been the most difficult of my life. The person I was in 2010 is dead, but it was a slow, agonizing death brought about by deceptions, betrayals, and even sexual assault. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anymore, after having lost my community, my faith, my job, my home, and my very identity, my husband of 15 years moved out.

The one thing I thought was strong enough to survive anything, wasn’t. The one person I thought I could trust to be honest and genuine wasn’t. In his own words, he’s been pretending to be someone else for the bulk of our marriage.

I don’t even know how to process that.

He’s made it clear he doesn’t want me around, and I had nothing left in the States except a handful of dear friends scattered around the country, an unfulfilling job, and an empty apartment.  Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 4, 2015 in Healthy Living, Personal


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London Travel Tips & Helpful Apps

London Sunset

London is expensive. I mean, really expensive. The prices exceed that of New York City and San Francisco for living arrangements. The exchange rate makes it even more pricey for Americans. Even the competitively priced AirBnB (app) has rates at £120/night, which equals close to $200 in Zone 1. Plus, space is extremely limited in Europe, especially the cities like London and Paris. That $200/night will get you a studio about the size of a large American walk-in closet, a kitchenette, and a bathroom in which you can barely turn around. I kid you not. Space is definitely a shock when traveling to Europe from America for the first time. Still, they are better priced than most hotels in the heart of London’s Zone 1. Zone 2 is still considered central, and it’s usually only a few tube stops away from the greatest attractions.

I remember flying to London in the late 80s and early 90s. I paid $500 for a ticket then. These days when I travel, I use point from an American Airlines reward card, so I get a “free” ticket. This “free” ticket costs $700 in taxes, more than I used to pay outright. Of course, it’s still a great savings since a round trip ticket in the summer from PDX to LHR is about $1200 before taxes.

Fortunately for me, when I travel to London each August, I look after pets for my friends, so I get accommodations for free. They get peace of mind and free pet sitting. It’s a great arrangement if you can find it.

Despite these ways I save enough money to make the annual trip possible, it’s still expensive. Over the years, I’ve found ways to make the most of my money and time while in this remarkable city, and I’d like to share those with you. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Travel & Tourism


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An Open Letter To Benedict Cumberbatch

Dear Benedict,

Last night, I saw you perform Hamlet for the second time. Unlike so many of those around me, I did not travel to London just to see this performance. I come to London every year because London is the city of my soul.

Although I recognized your talent and have greatly enjoyed your work until now, I frankly was a bigger fan of Hamlet. As an author and English professor, Hamlet is my favorite play, one I’ve both studied and taught. I identify with that melancholy Dane on many levels, so an opportunity to see Hamlet in London, especially starring an actor of your ilk, thrilled me.

After my first viewing, it took me a week to even put my emotions and thoughts into words.

I was so deeply moved that I had to see it again before I returned to the States.

After my second viewing, I waited by the stage door in hopes of an autograph, determined to find the courage I didn’t have after the first. When you made it around to me, I tried my very best not to keep you any longer than necessary. I was just two or three from the end of the line, and I knew you would be leaving soon. After a performance like that, you must’ve been utterly exhausted, especially since you do that an unthinkable seven times a week.

You were kind enough to not only sign my program but also agreed to a selfie. As you moved onto the next person, some girls pushed me, and I cried out as I briefly lost my balance. You stopped and seemed very concerned, and you told them to be careful and not to push.

You went on to sign their programs, and I quietly muttered, “brilliant performance.” To which you sincerely responded, “thank you,” turning back to look at me. Sadly, in my timidity I had cast my eyes down. Although I met yours a second later, I had but a fleeting moment of eye contact before you looked away.

“Brilliant performance,” I said.

What I had meant to say was this:

Your performance was magnificent. Inspired. Remarkable. You captured Hamlet just as I have always seen him. Raw. Broken. Desperate. Drowning in pain, in such profound despair.

Your delivery was exquisite. Your grief, piercing. Your impassioned anger and sadness deeply touched me. You embodied Hamlet in a way I’ve never seen.

What I had meant to say was that I was in awe to be in the presence of an actor who possesses the level of dedication necessary to deliver such a performance, not to mention the talent. In awe of the focus and effort you must have to become the prolific actor you are.

Before I saw you as Hamlet, I considered you a fine actor.

Now I realize you are an exemplary actor.

What I had meant to say was Thank You for taking the time to sign our programs and pose for pictures. Even though you had given so much of yourself on stage, you took the time to do that for us, and what’s more you were so kind while you did it.

My humble utterance of “brilliant performance” held all of the above and more I’ve not the talent to effectively express in words, despite my profession.

Although I can’t say I have seen everything you’ve done in your career thus far, I have seen many. I have enjoyed them all. I have felt them all. Now, I have a new-found, deepened respect for you as an artist.

I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future, and I can only hope to have the opportunity to express my admiration in person one day. On that day, I won’t cast my eyes down, but I will hold your gaze and fully be present in a rare moment when two human beings truly see and understand one other.

Until then, I wish you continued success, happiness at home, and peace within.

Quite sincerely,
Christine Rose



Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Personal


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Goodnight Sweet Prince: A Reflection on Hamlet

Barbican Theatre's Poster for Hamlet

Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Hamlet at the Barbican Center, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. This show has been sold out for over a year. People fly in from all over the world just to see this performance because they are huge fans of Benedict Cumberbatch, mostly from his work in Sherlock

Me? I’m a bigger fan of Hamlet. After all, my degrees are in British Literature with a focus on the Renaissance Era, and Hamlet is my all-time favorite play. I know it inside and out. I’ve seen many adaptations and portrayals by some of the greatest actors of our time. 

Before I saw Cumberbatch as Hamlet, I liked his work. I could even say I loved his work. He’s brilliant as the high-functioning, sociopathic, consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. I’ve also seen a few of his films since then, and I have not once been disappointed. I recognized his talent, and I considered him a fine actor among many.

After Hamlet, my respect and admiration for him has grown exponentially.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet

His impeccable delivery and eloquent execution left me breathless. The emotional depths to which he delved required ardent focus, profound dedication, absolute courage, and extraordinary talent. His heartfelt performance touched my very soul, as he captured the essence of the melancholy Dane like no other I’ve seen. He must’ve been emotionally and physically exhausted after such an exceptional performance. I know I was. Exhilarated and exhausted all at once, humbled at being in such close proximity to creative genius. The remnants of which still heave my heart a week later.

Such passion and intense emotion left me feeling drained, and strangely sad. No, not sad. It’s a feeling I can’t quite describe. Since that night, I’ve been trying to articulate the sensation and label it, but I have yet to do so.

Still, it lingers.

When I can’t find the words to express my experience, I have a tendency to talk and talk and talk, trying out words here and there–rather, trying on words to see what, if anything, defines the emotion, gives voice to the thoughts.

After the show, I watched the hordes of “Cumber-babes,” as they call themselves, crowd around the stage door to wait for him to emerge. Many other actors came out and walked past the hundred-or-so (mostly) women pressing themselves against the crush-barriers, who hardly glimpsed in their direction. I wondered how they felt. Perhaps they felt as invisible as I did, or more so since they just performed in the same play as Cumberbatch, only without acknowledgement of their own talent. Without fans wanting their autograph.

On the other hand, perhaps they were relieved they could get off work and just go home to their privacy and families.

Maybe a little of both.

As I made my way around the edge of the crowd, I saw Leo Bill, the actor who played Horatio leaving. No one even looked at him, but I said, “Well done,” as he passed me. He turned, surprised, and replied, “thank you” with the sound of soft gratitude.

I wish I had talked with him more.

Then another passed. An older actor named Karl Johnson who played King Hamlet and the Gravedigger. Someone I wouldn’t know by name until now, but I certainly recognized him from many films and TV shows throughout the years (Rome, Mr. Turner, among many others). Perhaps not the celebrity of Cumberbatch, but still a well-known, working actor in British theatre, TV, and film.

He passed by everyone without notice and disappeared into the London night. I wanted to talk to him, too; but I didn’t. He was far from me, and I didn’t want to chase after him. Maybe others thought the same.

I had a chance to get Ciarán Hinds autograph and picture, as most everyone had left after Cumberbatch made his appearance, but I didn’t. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would just be bothering him (even though he was signing and posing for others with a genuine smile).

I felt humbled. Inadequate, somehow.

My groupie days died with the cassette tape, but I found myself still in awe of these people. Just people, like you and me. People with drive and focus and talent. I’ve met my share of famous people, having worked in both the literary and film worlds, but there is still something quite intimidating about it for some reason.

I’ve respected Hinds’ work before this (Rome, Game of Thrones, among many others), and his portrayal of Claudius was excellent. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to say, “Well done.” I couldn’t speak loudly enough to ask for a picture or autograph. I tried once, but my words were so soft, they dissipated in the misty London air.

When it was all over and I parted from my friends, who had been assertive enough to get autographs and/or pictures with Cumberbatch and/or Hinds, this indescribable feeling really weighed on my heart. 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet

There I was, alone on the tube. It was near midnight in this remarkable city, and I had just seen the best performance of Hamlet in my life. I had just made new friends. I had just been in the presence of profound dedication and talent, and I was humbled. I was invisible. I felt as if my own flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew, or perhaps it already had. 

This amazing night full of passion and profound depths of emotions quickly became empty, a stale promontory.

A week later, I’m still grasping for meaning, for understanding.

Certainly the proximity to such creative genius, both in the timeless work of Shakespeare and Cumberbatch’s impeccable execution of the melancholy Dane, held up a harsh mirror to my own life and creative failures. Missed opportunities and overall insignificance. Shame and self-loathing. 

Yet, I yearned to be in that theatre once more. I longed to capture the swell of emotion as my soul cried and laughed with Hamlet. Instead, I replayed his soliloquies over and again in my mind, trying to hold on to every word, every moment of ecstasy.

I again saw the tears fall on his cheeks, watched his eyes crinkle with laughter, clutched my own heart in his palpable grief. I spoke “To Be or Not To Be,” emphasizing the words as he did, attempting to remember each intonation, each accent, each eloquent syllable.

If only I could bottle such perfect moments and taste their bittersweetness again and again when I’m feeling low. If only I did not have to say goodnight to that sweet prince. If only I could be illuminated by his brilliance. If only some rosemary would bring me remembrance. If only I could for once not merely be in close proximity to greatness, but that I could grasp it, absorb it, become it.

After writing the above, I’ve realized that perhaps it’s none other but the main, facing my mediocre reality after experiencing the emotional depths into which Cumberbatch took me. 

It’s merely the decompression of a touched and troubled soul, longing for inspiration once again.

The rest is silence.


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London KidRated 10/10!

Check this out friends and followers! The brilliant Stanley Laney gave Rowan of the Wood a KidRated score of 10 out of a possible 10!!

Watch for yourself:

Stanley doesn’t give out 10s easily, either. In fact, the only other thing to have ever rated a 10 by this London Kid was the hike over the O2 Dome.

Not even a cool practice operation on a stuffed animal with a proper veterinarian rated a 10…that’s just how highly Stanley thinks of our Rowan.

Cheers, Stanley. xo

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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Books & Reviews


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Ukiah Corner Gallery Art Show

Edgar & Me

Edgar & Me

For the entire month of July, my visual art and books will be on display in the front window at the Ukiah Corner Gallery. I’m ever so excited about this! It’s the first time in my life that my visual art has been on display in public.

There will be a reception for this month’s featured artists, me and one other artist, during the town’s “First Friday” celebration, which actually occurs on the second Friday this month because of Independence Day.

July 11, 2014. 5pm – 8pm.

So far, the response to my work has been overwhelmingly positive. While completing several of the pieces, I’d post them on my Facebook page in progressive images. From the background through the finished work, followers and friends got to see the painting transform in stages.

Due to the great response, I’ll be offering prints to several of the pieces. All of my available art is listed in this public photo album on Facebook, and it will soon be on art sites like Fine Art America and our Etsy page. In this Facebook photo album, examine each piece of art more closely along with its description, medium, and price for the original.

UCG1I’m accepting commissions at the moment, too. Email me if you’d like to see my rendition of your favorite author or musician…or even a cityscape or landscape.

See these paintings close-up in my Facebook photo album entitled Original Art & Prints. Leave a comment here or there and let me know your thoughts! Email or message me directly if you’re interested in a print, and I’ll get a quote to you ASAP. I’m working with photographer and founding member of the Ukiah Corner Gallery Elliot Little to get high quality prints made for those who are interested.

If you’re in northern California, stop on by the Corner Art Galley during the month of July and see them for yourself! Remember, the opening reception is July 11th between 5 and 8pm. Although I will unfortunately be at another scheduled event in Colorado (busy! busy! busy!) during the reception on the 11th, there will be plenty of other artists to speak with.

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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Books & Reviews, Personal


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