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Why I Won’t be Watching Today’s Royal Wedding

I’m happy for Kate Middleton. Really, I am.

She’s found the man of her dreams, a prince no less. And today, watched by family and friends, and millions of people around the world, she will walk down the aisle with him by her side.

She’s lucky. Only a few women get to have that fairy tale come true.

I’m happy for her family, too. By dint of hard work, they were able to turn an idea into a lucrative business earning them millions in the process.

That put them on firm footing financially so that they could afford to send their daughter to a good school where she was able to meet and snag her prince.

And so today, as they celebrate their good fortune and destiny revealed, I am pleased for them.

But that happiness is tempered by the reality nearly 3 million Britons are out of work, that services including medical and mental are being cut and libraries are closing.

And if that isn’t enough, they will be picking some of the tab for the 48 million dollar wedding. (It costs British taxpayers nearly 67 million annually to keep the royals in the style to which they’re entitled. So, even with the family promising to pick up part of the tab, it’s still taxpayers’ money.) Add that to the 10 million dollar that the designation of today as a national holiday will cost and the tally rises.

Even though I don’t live in Britain, when I look at these numbers, I find it difficult to be celebratory.

And it seems I’m not the only one. Reports say nearly 80% of Britons claim they don’t care about the big day either.

Can we blame them? Come April 30th, they’ll still be out of work and watching their standard of living continuing to deteriorate.

So while I wish the couple happiness and a long life together, I will not be watching their wedding today.

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Tasty Thursdays: Steak and Ale Pie

As I might have mentioned in previous posts, I’ll try anything. My tour of Stonehenge came with lunch so we stopped at the George Inn in Lacock. Even though I’d never had it before, I selected the steak and ale pie. It seemed pretty straight forward and most importantly, hearty. It was an all day tour and I had no idea when my next meal would be.

George's Inn Steak and Ale Pie
Steak and Ale Pie

Since we’d pre-ordered lunch, we were served as soon as we found our tables. The steak and ale pie was delicious!

I wasn’t sure how it was made but an Australian couple at the adjoining table explained that the meat was cooked first in ale — at least, that’s how it’s done in Australia — then baked.

A Little About The George Inn

The George Inn has been used as a pub since 1361. Though it’s been renovated and modernized, the George still maintains some of the vestiges from its past, such as the large open fireplace with a dog-wheel that once used for spit roasting.

I forgot to ask for a recipe but found this one on If you try it, let me know what you think.


  • 1/2 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1/2 pound cubed beef
  • 1/4 pound carrots, diced
  • 1/4 pound turnips, diced
  • 1/2 pound peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 1/4 pound onions, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup bitter ale
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add lard, then meat. Toss to coat meat, and saute just long enough to brown meat on all sides. Remove from heat. Place meat in a 1 quart baking dish. Add carrots, turnip, potatoes, and onion. Mix well.
  3. Place 1 cup water and ale in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water until smooth. Slowly pour cornstarch mixture into simmering ale mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to simmer until mixture has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over meat and vegetables. Trim puff pastry to fit over top of filling.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until pastry is deep golden brown.

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The Roman Baths at Bath

Long before houses had indoor bathrooms, public baths were the most convenient way for people – rich and poor – to keep clean. They were not just for bathing, however, they were also a great place for socializing.

Founded in 75 AD, the Roman Baths at Bath, which are situated below street level, consist of a sacred spring from which water, as hot as 114° F (46° C) bubbles up at a rate of 257,364 imperial gallons a day, the remains of the Temple of Aquae Sulis, and a museum that houses artifacts found at the site.

The baths have been renovated and expanded many times over the years. During the Roman occupation, a frigidarium (cold bath), caldarium (hot bath) and tepidarium (warm bath) were built. After the Romans withdrew from Britain, the baths fell into disrepair. They were reopened when public bathing became fashionable in England and at the end of the 18th century, the Georgian building surrounding the baths was designed by architect John Wood and his son, John.

The pool is no longer safe for bathing as the water still passes through the lead pipes that were constructed by the Romans.

The first thing you notice  – wether in photos or as you enter – is the green color of the water in the great pool. Unfortunately, it’s not because the water is endowed with any mysterious powers, it comes from algae as the original roof that was in place during the Roman occupation was destroyed following their withdrawal.

I felt the water as it exited the spring. It was cool and buttery to the touch. It would have made for a refreshing and relaxing bath.

Some of the artifacts found in the pool are coins, a gilt-bronze statue of the head of Minerva and messages (curses) inscribed on sheets of lead or pewter that were rolled up and thrown into the spring where the spirit of the goddess dwelt.

A very modern way to arrive at the baths
Corner of the Great Pool where the water enters
View of Bath Abbey from the Great Pool
Cold bath (Frigidarium) - Those are coins in the water
Pans and coins found at Bath
Detail of the original walkway
Servant in period dress
Man in period costume
Heritage recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1987

Bath is one of the best preserved examples of a Roman bath. It received more than a million visitors each year.

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Bath on Foot

I wasn’t prepared for Bath. I knew that it was the location of the Roman Baths but I didn’t realize that the town itself was so beautiful.

The Circus

These residences were designed by the architect, John Wood. Unfortunately, he died before he could see them built and his son, also named John, completed his work.

Lights outside in the Circus
More Wood designed houses
Typical street in Bath
Quiet Street
Bath View

I’m not sure what to make of this sign on Bridge Street. Mr. Duck?

Old and New Classics Meet in Bath

At first, the juxtaposition of the Levi’s sign — a modern classic — on this Georgian building bothered me. A part of me still feels like it’s out of place.

Bath Steeple
Bath Abbey
Strive, Probe, Apply
Garfunkles Building
Ducks in the (Bath) Water

Bath is worth the trip.


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(Belated) Happy Easter Sunday!

I’m not sure when it happened. I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but I haven’t been to church in quite a while. I’m so clueless that I didn’t realize this would be Easter weekend, yesterday Easter Sunday.

When I was growing up, I knew the liturgical calendar. I knew when it was Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Had I been going to church, I would have known.

I’ve always loved Easter. It’s flush with hope and full of renewal. It’s always been special. Almost everyone pauses to observe the season. We prepare special foods and, of course, got new clothes to go to church on Easter Sunday.

Besides Christmas, Easter Sunday is the one other time when anyone who hadn’t gone to church in a while, makes an appearance (and vows to themselves to continue attending).

I didn’t attend Easter service yesterday but I did go to church — at Bath Abbey. And I promised myself to return.

Interior, Bath Abbey
Bath's stained glass window

Happy (Belated) Easter Sunday!

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Soulful Sundays: Charles Aznavour

Aznavour at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival
Image via Wikipedia

I discovered Charles Aznavour when I was at university and have loved listening to him ever since.

Aznavour’s songs are profoundly romantic, his voice passionate and seductive. He sets a certain mood that’s perfect for a Sunday afternoon (or anytime!).

This song, Mourir d’Aimer is one of my favorites.



Tasty Thursdays: Steak and Fries

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had steak. Once when I saw Ella Fitzgerald in concert in Toronto, and the other at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte in Paris.

I wouldn’t have known about Le Relais de l’Entrecôte but for my friend, Karen, who’d been working in Paris for a few months before I arrived. Karen and I had tried to meet for dinner in New York but couldn’t seem to synchronize our schedules. Then we found out we were going to be in Paris at the same time, we knew we had to meet.

When Karen mentioned Le Relais, admittedly, I was hesitant. Steak is never my first choice for a meal and the idea of having steak in a country that is known for its delectable cuisine seemed, well, pedestrian. But she sold me and since I’m always ready to try something different – who wouldn’t want to try steak and fries in Paris? – I relented.

At Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, steak and fries are the only things on the menu. I guess the only difference in each order is how the steak is prepared – rare, medium or done.

Steak & Fries from Le Relais de l'Entrecôte
Steak and Fries

We decided on 7 p.m., an early dinner, by Parisian standards, and there was still a short wait for a table.

Each plate arrived with steak doused in a lovely greenish gravy backed up by a side of fries. I wish I had the recipe to share but believe me when I tell you, it was good. When I finished, the only thing left was the plate. Yes, and the flatware. Neither Karen nor I even looked at dessert.

Our server was pleasant and efficient. Although I speak enough French, it was great to know that our server spoke some English.  There was constant turnover during the time we were there and a line outside when we left.

Although I’m a steak novice, I’d give the steak and fries at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte a thumbs up.

If you ever make it to Paris, be sure to check them out. You’ll not be disappointed.

Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
20 Bis Rue Saint-Benoît
Metro:  Saint-Germain-des-Prés