Friday, August 28, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by land and by sea! Part 1

The Grouch clan headed to the UK and Ireland for a 11 day whirlwind tour recently.  We flew to London, stayed for a couple of days and then boarded the Princess cruise ship the MS Ocean Princess.

Our flight in both directions was on Air New Zealand, a very nice airline that provided two meals during the close to 10 hour flight plus had seat back video monitors that held endless entertainment options.  The flight was on time and everything went well except the cabin was overly warm and there were no fresh air vents available to the passengers,  Don't dress warmly on ANZ expecting the typical freezing airliner experience.  Dressing for the beach would have been a better idea.

Older Son and his girlfriend joined us at the ship.

London was hyper crowded!  The sidewalks were jammed and jumping from early in the morning until late at night - at least where we were staying within walking distance of Buckingham palace, Big Ben and Hyde park.   Along with the summer tourists were the young professionals hurrying to and from their places of employment.  Add to that the aggressive motorists and swarms of bicyclists and moving from place to place could be an adventure.   All of that said we had a great time and eveyone we encountered was very friendly.   A clerk in a convenience store quizzed the Missus about the U.S.  He was originally from Pakistan and felt that London was way too crowded.  He asked how many hours it would take to drive from L.A. to New York city.  When we told him about three days, stopping for the evening, he didn't believe us.  We wished him luck and hoped that someday he would visit the U.S.

We checked in to our hotel and then set off to see the town.

The L.A. Grouch contingent patiently waiting at LAX for our 10 hour flight to London.  Everyone looks rested and fresh!

Our luxury  room at the Grosvenor hotel.  It was pretty small but in comparison to the Grouch children's room it was quite spacious!

We couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights in the room and finally the Missus called the front desk to ask.  You had to dock your room card in this slot to get the room lights to come on.  Guess the hotel was tired of patrons leaving their lights on all day in an empty room.

The outside of the hotel.  Victoria station was right behind us and the sidewalk was busy day and night with people dragging their suitcases past our place on the way to their destinations.  The entrance to the hotel wasn't street level so the suitcases had to be dragged up the stairs to the entrance.  I don't know what someone in a wheelchair or on crutches did to cope with this.

We visited the Buckingham Palace mews - essentially the transportation center for the palace.  The horses for the carriages, the carraiges themselves, and motor vehicles are stored here.   The queen and her horses were on vacation when we visited.  This is the riding area for the horses.

We had a tour guide for our visit who was very knowledgeable and entertaining.  That is the Missus.

And Young Daughter

The royal family doesn't usually travel by horse coach.  One of the motor vehicles used by the Queen.

Now that is a coach!

Our tour guide

The newer coaches have heating and air conditioning, lights, power windows, metal bodies...We encountered more coaches at Windsor and in the Queen's residence at Holyroodhouse in Endinburgh

Lunch at the Bucket of Nails pub with some hard cider for the Grouch young adults.  Both brought their Lego mascots with them.

Young Son stretches for a better photo
The battle of Waterloo memorial.  Wellington's house was across the street.  It was the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo and reminders of  the battle were everywhere.  I read a book about the battle during the trip and was ready to see everything related to it.

A future Wellington?

War memorials are everywhere in London, to every military formation and for multiple wars.  Many started as great war memorials and then had WW2 added to it.  This is the Imperial cavalry memorial in Hyde park.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Where's Citizen Grouch?

Where has Citizen Grouch been recently?   

Well, the family went to:

and traveled around on one of these:

And went to many places that lead up to here:

To see this amazing event:

600 photos and 7 videos later we were back home.  Stay tuned for a location by location display!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Oldest daughter and incidentally the first Grouch child was recently married in a lovely ceremony in her home town in North Carolina.  The groom is a very nice person and they will make a wonderful family.

The Missus took many photos of the event, however this blog didn't seem to like some of the photos and wouldn't allow them to be placed properly, but here are some for you to view.

The ceremony was held in a former Episcopal chapel from the mid 1800s, re purposed as a wedding venue.  It was just the right size for the event.

The new family!
Oldest daughter and the Missus

The Grouch family minus Oldest Son who was out of the country

The bride and I
The Grouch daughters

The traditional cake cutting and serving, done in a civilized manner

New adventures for Young Son

Young son is now an official Police Cadet for the same city that I work for.  He got the job completely on his own, no undue influence from his old man on the hiring process.  He's on his third day on the job and so far so good.  This is more like an intern position than a police officer in training but should be a good introduction to Young Son about the life of a police officer.  I asked him what his career plans are and he stated that he aspires to be a police chief!  Way to go Young Son!

Last weekend he worked as an extra for an internet feature.  He supplied his own costume and had fun doing it.  Unfortunately for this blog, he signed a non-disclosure agreement while participating so he couldn't tell us anything about what went on.  Seems that the urge to perform still runs in his veins.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Latest Thing to Bug Me

Ok, I've got to say really bugs me when drivers have a little dog sitting on their lap.

This morning on the way back from the shooting range I had a hankering for donuts.  I think there is an ancient instinct bred into males that associates firearms and donuts.  Just look at police officers.  They carry a handgun and where do you find all the cops?  They're hanging out at the donut shop of course.

So I pulled into the parking lot where my favorite donuts are sold and where everyone knows my name, bought my bag of donuts and headed for the exit, only to encounter a van driven by a guy with a small white dog on his lap.  The guy wasn't able to fully turn the steering wheel because the dog was in the way...or maybe the dog was actually driving and the guy was just sitting there, it was hard to tell.   I had to stop short of the exit just to give this yahoo and his little white dog room enough  to jerkily swing wide into the parking lot.

Dogs on the laps of old lady drivers isn't anything new.  It isn't right, but it isn't new.  What distresses me are are the dogs on the laps of middle age men.   This is driving me nuts!  What is happening to American male-hood?  No wonder Russia is collectively sticking its tongue out at us and giving us the finger wiggles too.  They know that any nation that has men driving around with small dogs on their laps is a nation of wimps and fools.

So, it has come to this. 

The Grouch's visit Warner Brothers

The Grouch family had the pleasure of hosting some friends from the east side of the country last month and to show them a really good time in the couple days that they were to be with us, the Missus arranged for us to tour Warner Brothers studios.

Fortunately the studios are about 10 minutes from my regular place of employment, so the visitors, the Missus, and Young Son picked me up at work mid-day and spirited me off to the studios.

The Warner Brothers studios is a very historic site for movie buffs but alas because sets are used over and over, not too much remains from the movies made in the 30s to the near present.  Some of the outdoor streets and buildings appeared in various movies back in the day and carry on today for WB current group of chick-flick TV shows such as "Pretty Little Liars", "The Fosters", and others.  

The tour is via an electric tram with a guide giving a running narration.  At various points along the way the group disembarked to get close up looks at some the notable buildings.  We also got a visit to the Batman/Harry Potter studio museum and also the Batman vehicle garage.  A quick walk through the prop warehouse was very interesting.  I wish we could have lingered there.

The WB studios is very much an active filming area although most shows were on summer stand down so we didn't see anything being worked on while we were there.  The WB workers were friendly and waved and said hello as we went by.

As I've noticed previously when touring studios, it is amazing how mundane and grungy the sets and  buildings look but how nice and realistic they look on film.  Shortly after we toured the backlot buildings Young Son spotted one of the back lot street areas in the TV show we were watching.

I recommend the tour to any and all fans of the 'biz'.  It is fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes!

Our visitors arrived and departed via Amtrak. We met them at Union Station in downtown L.A.

The famous WB water tower as seen at the beginning of WB TV shows and films.  It doesn't hold water any more sadly.
The happy tourists outside the studio visitor center.

One of the many street and building sets in the WB back lot.  Most of the buildings we toured were being used for current WB chickflick TV shows which meant nothing to me but sent many of the women on the tour into fits of ectasy when "Pretty Little Liars" or "The Gilmore Girls" were mentioned.

The original "Spiderman" was filmed here.

Young Son doing the sorting hat thing in the Harry Potter studio museum.

Now it is the Missus' turn!

Young Son approves.

The subway entrance only goes down far enough to get the actor's heads below camera level when descending.

In the Batman vehicle garage.  This part was pretty interesting even though I didn't see any of the Batman movies.

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As seen in the prop room.  Who would need a pair of giraffe legs in a movie?

Citizen Grouch and friend discuss the day's events.