Tag Archives: travel

The Honey Trail by Grace Pundyk

I happened to pick up Grace Pundyk’s little gem whilst casually strolling through unexplored sections of my local library. She succeeded in taking me on an adventure that many authors can only hope to replicate. And she was lucky enough to experience it firsthand. 9780312629816

I’ve been interested in beekeeping (and honey) for many years, but it was only in the spring of 2011 that I decided to do anything about it. My college offered a non-academic apiary class open to the public. The meetings were only once a month, so how could I say no? There I got to experience beehives and the honey making process up close and personal, even building my own hive and keeping my bees for nearly a year before they succumbed to an invasion of wax moths while I was in England.

Pundyk, like me, took an interest in bees because of their delicious golden upchuck. Honey.

This interest in the product, as well as the industry, led her on what had to be an almost year long around the world adventure. (If only we could all be so lucky to have those traveling funds!) She explored Borneo, England, Australia, New Zealand, China, America, and Russia and how the unique techniques and attitudes of the area influence the local honey–not to mention how the terrible pests and mysterious diseases that now abound are threatening supermarket shelves globally…

I found this book absolutely riveting and my only criticism is that I didn’t have the opportunity to stow away in her luggage!

A new favorite is hatched.

5 worker bees of 5

Harry Potter Studio Tour, London :)

So, over the weekend Jason drove me almost two hours to go beneath London to a little town called Watford. An otherwise innocuous area, Watford is home to one of the coolest things in the history of time. That’s right. I’m talking about the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour. It is a really popular tour, and to book our trip on the 6th, we had to schedule it mid-September!

But, boy was it worth it! 

I absolutely ADORED everything about it. I couldn’t stop smiling. After we got past the queue (taking us past the cupboard under the stairs) and into the first section of the tour, they sat us down and played a small movie about how the Harry Potter films came to be. Then, when it was over, they rolled up the giant screen and we were all directly in front of the ENORMOUS doors that lead into the great hall. Seriously, we walked through the same exact doors Harry, Ron, and Hermione did and straight into the hall. It was amazing.

We got to see the door to the Chamber of Secrets, the Mirror of Erised, the Sorcerer’s Stone and a million other important objects for the wizarding world. It was honestly like a childhood dream come true. I would’ve easily lived in there, slept in the Griffyndor boy’s dormitory, cooked in the Weasley’s kitchen, and lounged in the common room.

I took about a zillion pictures, but none of them really do it justice:


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Paris 9-22-12

We just got back from our weekend in Paris and it was absolutely amazing! We got to see Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arch of Triumph, and even climb the Eiffel Tower. There were delicious pastry shops everywhere and everyone seemed to be carrying a baguette. (Haha… No lie.) Every morning I’d eat a fruit tart or some bread for breakfast. They had gorgeous open-air markets full of fresh meat, fish, cheese, olives, and produce. I loved it. Everyone had a great sense of style and the atmosphere was great.

Jason and I even visited the famous Love Lock Bridge, where couples hook locks to a fence to symbolize their unbreakable bond. We left something of our own behind 🙂 

If I spoke French it’d be a perfect place to live. As it was, we were kind of bumbling American tourists, but everyone seemed friendly about it.

Below is a slideshow of our trip for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

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Ely Cathedral 8-19-12

This past weekend Jason took me about a half hour away to the largest cathedral in the area–Ely Cathedral–so named after the island it used to stand on (before it was dredged and drained) being surrounded by eel infested water. (Anyone else reminded of the Princess Bride? Shrieking eels? Eh, eh?) The eel fishing industry was a large part of the commerce in the area back in the day. Now it’s surrounded instead by much more pleasant (and hopefully much less slimy) buildings, houses, and farmland.

The cathedral itself was massive and we decided to take a guided tour to the very tallest tower. Of course, it wasn’t until after we’d paid the fee and begun the tour that our guide kindly informed us about how no foundation was built underneath the floors and the cathedral itself has sunk quite a bit. This causes “problems” for them because the east wing of the cathedral had collapsed several hundred years ago, and major reconstructive work had to be done relatively recently because the tower was sinking, leaning, and crumbling. Great.

We proceeded to climb 218 crumbly, slick, narrow, steep, claustrophobic stairs to the top. Seriously, the Stair Master’s got nothing on this… Not to mention you’re crammed in there like sardines with 15 strangers just praying nobody has to fart. It was not even funny. Plus, all the while, the guide is reiterating about how things have fallen apart over time blah blah blah. When we were stopped at a point, Jason grabbed a stone to wiggle it to be funny–AND IT ACTUALLY SHIFTED. Like, not a loose brick or anything, it was part of the wall. Gahhh. I punched him and told him to quit it. Leave it to us to collapse a thousand year old church…

But finally we made it to the top in one piece and we could see for literally 20 miles around. It was gorgeous and totally worth it.

Yep… That’s the tower.

This one was creepily realistic…

The stained glass made pretty patterns on the floor 🙂

This was a memorial stone for a (very fertile) couple’s deceased children. You can read one section that says “Also 22 of their children died from 8 to 12 months old.” 22! Sheesh! It’s a wonder the mother survived that!

The ceiling that took 20 years to paint.

The view from the tower was spectacular!

Heights are worse for us tall people…

 It’s a gargoyle 🙂

It was that awkward gray-brightness outside and super windy at the top. We were scurrying around like rats trying not to get blown off the side!


Our Trip to London :) 8-11-12

London was an amazing city. Amazingly busy that is. With the tail-end of the Olympics going on while we were there, literally hundreds of thousands of people bustled around us all day. It was a bit overwhelming. We were lucky enough to get to see SO MUCH in one day, thanks to the extremely convenient tube system London has. For next to no money you can rocket around the city all day, seeing things miles apart with ease. And sparing your poor feet–although tube or not, it didn’t much matter after 12 hours there. Wear you walking shoes, my friends!

King’s Cross Station was our first stop! As you saw in a previous post, I was dead-set on finding Platform 9 3/4 🙂

Inside King’s Cross I made a beeline for this little pastry shop called “Patisserie Valerie.” Jason and I both have hunger-induced rage problems, and after nit-picking each other like little bitches on the entire train ride from Epping, I realized it was time for some much needed breakfast.

This fruit tart will forever go down in history as “The Fruit Tart that Saved Jason from Terrible Physical Injury at the Claws of his Girlfriend Chelsea.”

On the tube!

Finally coming above land in the middle of the city. Cue David Bowie singing “Down in the Underground…” (The Labyrinth, duh!)

I found Sasquatch at Picadilly Circus! Hahah

Buckingham Palace! They were NOT letting anyone in, and you can’t see it but there were thousands and thousands of people outside the gates watching the “sprint-running” Olympic event.

If you look closely there at the bottom, you can see one of the guards 🙂

The gates were extremely ornate

Sprint walking is the silliest-looking sport I’ve ever seen. It looks like they have pooped their pants and are shuffling QUICKLY to find an emergency bathroom!

Big Ben!

The London Eye. We decided to skip riding it, because it would’ve cost us $60 American! Blegh

Westminster Abbey, so cool!

The South Bank Lion

Be prepared to hear this like, 827 times if you’re riding the tube…

Frozen yogurt cafe I really wanted to try but didn’t get a chance to. I ❤ Pinkberry at home.

We ate at a cute little Mexican grill in the city.

There were sex shops EVERYWHERE and we accidently wandered into the gay district. Hahah. Of course we had to explore! 😉

See how crowded it was?!

Went to the HUGE Nike store! How did they know?

This really neat clothing store, Top Shop, had little three little shoppettes inside. One for cupcakes, one for candy, and one for frozen yogurt. Genius, I say! Of course women want that!

The City of London is the smallest city in England. It’s actually within London and is only one square mile. It’s like a secret society!

How come every time you come around, my London London Bridge wanna go down? (Sorry, I had to…)

The London Bridge itself is actually rather a letdown, especially compared to this:

The Tower Bridge, made oh-so-famous by the Games this year.

Please ignore how absolutely hideous I look here. It was a long day, and at about this point we were both done…

And this is where I almost pissed my pants and was considering awkwardly peeing in an alleyway. The only thing that stopped me was the heavy foot traffic. There were no bathrooms to be found anywhere!

Phew! The end of a long but amazing day. Back at Epping Station (after mixing up trains and going MILES out of our way) and ready to head home.

Hello from England, my loves! <3

I just landed early this morning in London, and now I’m residing in my boyfriend’s oh-so-posh flat in Mildenhall. This building is almost 1100 years old! Isn’t that incredible?? The weather is beautiful today, and not a cloud in the sky. I can actually see a tea garden here from my window.

Just wanted you to know that I made it here safely and give you a small glimpse into my new world 🙂

Great News, CS Fans! I’m moving to Europe! :)

So, in about five days I’m getting on a plane to England and am not coming back. There is no return ticket. Crazy–I know–but a wonderful opportunity presented itself to me, and I just couldn’t refuse! So not only do I get to spend the rest of the year exploring Europe–I get to spend it with my handsome lover man. (See handsome lover man below:)

Right now I’m in the absolutely wonderful, joyous, and uplifting process of decided which crap I need, which crap I’m storing, and which crap is getting thrown away or donated. Yay.

But that’s not the only thing I’ve been up to–I’ve been tearing it up since I found out I’d be leaving the Sunshine State. (see tearing it up below:)

Don’t worry my darlings, I won’t forget about you! Just expect to see a lot more pictures of earl gray and bad teeth mixed in with my regular content. 😉

Cheerio, love!

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

How is traditional beauty defined? Is it tall, blonde, and big-breasted (ahem) or is it something else? What if the more malformed, grotesque, and disfigured you were, the more your family valued you? In Geek Love by Katherine Dunn the tables have been absolutely dumped on top of society’s preconceived notions of beauty. Al Binewski–ring-leader of a failing traveling carnival–decides to feed his wife Lil an ever-increasing and odd cocktail of drugs and chemicals, in the hopes that each of their children will be freaks in some way. The better the freaks they bore, the more money the show would make. And guess what?

Geek Love

It worked.

“Crystal” Lil gives birth to Arturo the fish boy (with flippers instead of limbs), Electra and Iphigenia the piano-playing Siamese twins, Olympia the bald hunchbacked dwarf, and Chick–a disappointingly normal-looking child with strange psychic abilties. (Not to mention a baker’s dozen of freakish miscarriages displayed in glass jars…) The carnival thrives under the influence of these adolescent oddities. At least until Arturo’s quest for fame and fortune takes an abrupt, cult-like, and sinister turn.

The narrator of the story is Olympia, and she chronicles her family’s triumphs and tragedies with the detached air of a casual acquaintance. Except for Arty. She adores him and do anything he asked of her. But when Olympia’s extreme love for her brother takes a perverse (and unexpected) turn–there are consequences the likes of which not even carnival freaks could have predicted.

Geek Love was a strange book. At times I wanted to hug Olympia for what she’d been through, and other times I wanted to smack her for her unwarranted adulation of Arty. I HATED HIM. What a slippery, flippery little asshole. Seriously. He ruined so many people’s lives throughout that book it was ridiculous. And his following was out of this world. People loved him. They believed him. The little snake…

I really enjoyed reading about such an unusual cast of characters. In most books, there’s a handsome guy and a beautiful girl and they inevitably fall in love and go on all sorts of amazing adventures. Not so within this story. Al Binewski almost abandoned his youngest son Chick at a grocery store because he looked TOO normal. He was a huge disappointment until his powers were revealed. I love this stuff. (I’m sick, I know. I watch shows all about the Half-Ton Man and the 100lb Tumor on TLC. It’s my guilty pleasure, so sue me!) I liked the extraordinary element that Dunn breathed to life.

That being said, I wish Olympia had been a bit more emotionally involved with the whole plot. Some pretty heinous things were happening all around her, yet I never felt like she was as “with it” as she should have been. Maybe it’s just because my point of reference isn’t the same–having decidedly NOT been born into a traveling show of circus freaks–although since my parents don’t read this–close enough… I also wish the story wasn’t told in flashback form, because Olympia’s time with the show was much more entertaining than her present day life. Dunn could have skipped the part about Mary Lick completely and the book wouldn’t have suffered for it.

I would recommend this book to anyone with a curiosity to the strange, reverence to the weird, and an admiration of oddities.

Step right up.

It really gave me something to think about…

What if the ugliest among us were the most revered?

3 carnival abortions of 5