Lyns Abroad in London: “Can you manage?”

On the early morning of Saturday, October 31, 2015, I touched down at Heathrow airport just a week after having been in London for a week of work. This time, however, as the customs agent asked why I was visiting the United Kingdom, I told her with a grin that I was there to celebrate my 30th birthday. (It’s my secret mission to make serious folks like customs agents smile, and mission accomplished.)

The amount of time and effort to actually leave the airport after an international flight is long and tiresome, but once I got a hold of my checked bag, I was off towards the train to central London. By the time I reached Paddington Station, I was desperate for a cab to get me to my hotel and for someone to take my heavy bags away from me. I walked up to the taxi, lean in towards the window to let him know where I was going and hesitate, expecting him to get out and help me with my bags. At that point, the elderly driver, who had not moved an inch, says:

“Can you manage?”

Oh. Well. Yes, yes I could.

And so I did.

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Keep praying and don’t stop traveling

It’s a Saturday morning, a full week after I arrived home from my 30th birthday trip to the United Kingdom. I had wanted to write a few posts about my travels after I returned (because, honestly, I was too busy enjoying the experience of being there to write them in the moment) and I still plan to do that. But yesterday, a terrible tragedy happened in Paris and it has shaken me up a bit. Unfortunately, it’s not because this is the first time something like this has happened, but because it keeps happening. And I was just a short plane or train ride away from that very city only a week or so ago.

The world can be a beautiful place, but it can also be horrible and unpredictable. One day everything seems just fine and the next minute, there’s breaking news that no one wants to hear or see. This isn’t the first time that scary and dangerous things have happened around the time that I’ve traveled. It can be a bit surreal, and you bet that I say a prayer of thanks every time I make it safely to and from my destinations. But it hasn’t stopped me from exploring and having the time of my life.

And it shouldn’t.

I’ve been watching things coming pouring onto Facebook and Twitter about these attacks. It’s sadly addicting. But one thing I saw was a post from Rick Steves, who is known for his travels around the world. His message was that we can’t let the terrorists frighten us into locking ourselves up at home and hiding away. We should keep traveling and exploring because hiding away is just what they want us to do.

I think there’s something to that. When tragedy like this strikes, do we take a moment and perhaps stand still, count our blessings, thank God for what we have, perhaps check on friends and family? Absolutely. Are we more cautious about our travel plans–more thoughtful about where we’re going and when? Yes, I think that’s the smart thing to do. But should this stop us from going on our dream vacations and exploring the world? No, it shouldn’t.

Life is unpredictable no matter what you’re doing or where you are. When these sorts of tragedies strike, we come together. We pray. We help where we can. And eventually, life will carry on, and when it does, go explore the places you love near or far. Be smart about it. Do your research. Know what to do if there’s an emergency. But don’t let fear keep you from living.

The city of Paris and my friends on that side of the world are in my thoughts and prayers, and I look forward to the next opportunity to travel and experience the beauty that still exists in the world.

Photo taken back in 2006 on my trip to Paris.

Tea to wine ratio: The tea is winning

My title seems like a bit of a betrayal, doesn’t it? Well, send a proud Anglophile to London and wine o’clock turns to tea time…

Remember that inspirational post I wrote months ago where I decided to book my 30th birthday trip to London? Oh, that’s about to happen, but before we could reach my epic birthday journey, work sent me to London a tad bit earlier–2 weeks earlier to be exact. And so I had a test run of sorts and a cuppa tea has become my new best friend.

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Outlander narrator Davina Porter gives a talk at George Mason University and charms us all

Until very recently, I hadn’t listened to a “book on tape” since elementary school, when the librarian would play the story and flip through the pages for a group of us kids sitting on the floor with our legs crossed.

Flash forward a couple of decades or so and I’ve not only discovered Outlander the television series, but also Outlander the book series, and beyond that, Outlander the audiobooks. I give full credit to the ladies at the Outlander Podcast for the discovery of Davina Porter, narrator of the series. Being an audiobook narrator is a talent that not all people have. It isn’t just reading words off the page, it’s becoming the characters. And to me, the biggest feat is to convincingly portray the manliest (and arguably the sexiest) male character so well, that I forget who is actually speaking. Well, I can tell you about one woman who has absolutely nailed it.

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Diana Gabaldon goes east & becomes a dame

It started with pure luck and persistence. Nosing around the interwebs can prove to be fruitful, especially when you discover your favorite author will not only be in town but for 2 different events in 2 places you’re very familiar with–the local renaissance festival and your university alma mater.

I mean, let’s talk about geeking out here.

Ever since I became obsessed with the Outlander book series (and television show) last year, I’ve been keeping close tabs on Diana Gabaldon’s event schedule, should she make her way east. And then, she finally did.

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When real world issues collide with your fandom: A good kind of reality check

I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter these days. I find it the best way to keep track of breaking news and all of the things I fan over. It gives me a closer connection to the things I love. This time, it served to remind me of what’s going on in the world and the fact that I actually could help, even from so far away…

There have been quite a few polls/contests hosted by websites, where fans are asked to vote for their favorite actor/character. In fact, it feels like they’re never-ending. It can be a bit of fun (though, I won’t deny the feeling that so many of these challenges are more for website clicks than anything else). And if you’ve been a part of any of it, you know some fans are very dedicated to rallying the troops for votes. (Admittedly, though I do participate, it isn’t nearly as much as others.)

Outlander’s Sam Heughan really pushed fans to vote for him in the Radio Times TV Champion, and it was a lot of fun to watch and be a part of. His enthusiasm and engagement with fans around this poll was great. To me, when the actor is into it and turns it into a way to get ordinary people involved, that’s when I want to jump in and be a part of the action.

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Downton Abbey: My Season 6 Predictions

Let me set this up for you: I’m sitting here in my Downton Abbey Village Flower Show t-shirt with a glass of red wine. The only way I’d be in a more Downton mood was if I had a cuppa instead of the wine…

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(Image Source)

So with the Last Days of Downton upon us, it felt like a good time to take a moment and think about where our favorite characters will end up. (I suppose we can consider these OUR last days of Downton, though the cast and crew seem to have seen their last days and then maybe cried a little–and I fully expect to sob.) A few “soft” spoilers were shared by Vanity Fair recently, and with those in mind, I’d like to share my little Downton wishlist. (Warning: If you’re not caught up through the end of Season 5, you may want to skip the rest of this post.)

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Let the 30th birthday planning begin! First stop: London.

This morning I drove to a Starbucks so that I could escape the house and put myself to work on this little blog I’ve got going on here. The last few weeks have been full of many hours of overtime and very little me time. Figured I needed to rectify that…

So I stroll into the Starbucks, order my grande cold brew (sweetened with 2% milk should you ever want to be generous…), sit down with my laptop aaaaand…

…two hours later all I’ve done is gleefully search for flights to London, create a little budget spreadsheet, scan Twitter because ADD, and somewhat daydream about celebrating my 30th birthday in one of my favorite parts of the world.

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Welcome to the Wine Ghetto

I’ve been to California several times–five times in fact. And only during this last trip did I have the chance to go check out California wine country. Took me long enough…

For an East Coast girl, visiting the West Coast, particularly California is slightly like visiting another country.

Let me explain.

Of course we’re all Americans–it’s nothing like that (though Cali does have it’s own unique vibe). But when you come from a coast that is made of many states, including the 13 original colonies, and then go to the other side, where it’s 3 states that take up the whole of the other coast, you don’t realize how far away things can be, even within the same state.

So while I was recently out in LA visiting my friend Melissa, we decided to take advantage of the great weather on Saturday and road trip it north. Originally that plan included Big Sur, with its epic views of the coast. Me with my east coast mindset and Melissa not being a Cali native both thought this was a good idea…until we realized what we thought was a fairly quick road trip was actually going to take us about 6 hours one way. Ha! Time for Plan B…

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The Emmys, Outlander, & Life: Maybe being snubbed is a good thing

The Emmy nominations were announced last week and as much as I love TV, I’ve never really paid any mind to the nominations. I would be happy to hear that Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey received a few nods, but otherwise, it didn’t really seem to matter much to me. Not even the awards show itself.

But this year has been different. I’ve made it no secret that I love Outlander–the books and the TV series–and I’ve never seen acting that was so moving before. Never. So this year, I’ve been a supporter of the #EmmysForOutlander campaign, especially for Sam and Caitriona, but also costuming, set design, and many other categories that I would’ve thought were no brainers because they were just so good, so intricate, and completely on point with the story and the time period.

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