Sincere apologies to my faithful readers for such a long gap in my posts.
I was not in much of a mood for writing. My family in New York has suffered through an inconceivable loss, and a beautiful little girl has never got a chance to open her eyes and experience the world and the love of her family. I am truly not a sentimental person, and it is hard for me to find words to express how I feel. So I decided to give it time…
Guys, our hearts go out to you, we grieve with you and curse at the senselessness of it with you. But we also know that joy and happiness will one day be with you again! We love you all!
Life goes on, fortunately or unfortunately. And after a week, it is time for me to resume my literary endeavors and chase grief away with some levity.
So, whatever of note has happened over the last week?
The chess bet was triumphantly won. Richard reneged on promising to open with 1.a4, and instead we played plain-vanilla Italian opening. I was up a bishop by the 7th move, and Richard’s position was hopeless by the 18th. As his interpretation of the bet meant that I had to checkmate by the 25th move, he engaged in some delaying tactics. However, he missed a chance to sacrifice his queen for my rook that would have delayed the inevitable by a few more moves, and the checkmate came exactly on the 25th move.
I don’t get much in the way of bragging rights, if I am honest. Different weight-classes, is all.
Arsenal football club keeps losing with me as one of their newest supporters. It has now been eliminated from the Champions League, and will have to do without any silverware for the year, the third place in the English league remaining the only achievable target.
My father-in-law has arrived for a visit. Heathrow airport proved to be the worst of all London airports to get to from where we live, as the choice is either 62 miles of freeways or 26 miles of city roads. The former is pretty exhausting, the latter can take hours due to (in)famous London traffic. To make the long story short, we arrived at the airport good 30 minutes after our guest had cleared the customs and walked out to the arrivals hall. The hall was fairly empty when we walked in, but Natasha’s dad was dutifully waiting…
On Saturday, prior to his arrival, we made our habitual trip to the city. We decided to try driving, as opposed to using public transportation. Actually, we already drove to the city a couple of times, but for late dinners. This time, we wanted to see what broad daylight, on a weekend, would bring us. The verdict: Driving does not save time, probably the opposite, and parking can cost more than our combined tickets would. Considering that yours truly was a chauffeur for a day and ended up fairly tired, it is something to be undertaken only in special cases.
We went to the famous Portobello Market in Notting Hill, which is a great place for those interested in antiques, jewelry, accessories and bric-a-brac. The eponymous street is made pedestrian by the market-goers, with both makeshift stalls and resident shops participating in the fair. The street is quite narrow, the people quite numerous. Movement along the succession of vendors is very slow, but you get a chance to take a look at all the different wares. Becky was especially impressed by the early 20th century photo cameras, Kimmy by the ornate ink stamps. Fun place, all in all.
We then visited rather overpriced Kensington Palace, with several sequential exhibitions, none of which was overly exciting. Few rooms dedicated to Victorian dressmaking and royal court presentations were somewhat curious, and some of the state rooms are imposing, but only a few rooms are decorated with furniture, and walking through a large empty hall – while the audio guide trumpets erstwhile magnificence – is hardly stimulating. The audio guide, by the way, was not great; certain commentary was okay, but it was too lengthy in some cases or ended too abruptly in others.
The weather is gradually getting to be spring-like – I “downgraded” to a leather jacket over a light jumper. We went to the city today as well, to show Natasha’s father the ropes, as it were, since we expect him to tour the city on his own. The sun was shining, inviting throngs of execrable tourists to where only a few appeared at in colder months. It was still a pleasant outing, culminating in a hearty pub meal at the familiar Sherlock Holmes restaurant.