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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Archive for the London Category

The London Logs: I’ve Been “Tweened” in East London!

August 19th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

Today I built my day around a book signing and free walking tour conducted by Alan Gilbey, a original East Londoner who wrote East End Backpassages: An Explorer’s Guide ( 100_0379.jpgHe and Ray, his “visual aid,” conducted an amusing, informative and personal tour of London’s former outpost.

I added on a visit to Columbia Street’s Flower Market (, Sundays til 2:00. The block-long series of stalls not only packed in all things green, but a series of burly busking men. “Dozen roses for a fiver!” called one muscled, shirtless man sporting more tattoos than Brick Lane does graffiti. 100_0372.jpg (more…)

Category: London

The London Logs: Hampstead Heath

August 18th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

Besides leisurely lunches, Londoners love their parks. And they use them! They walk on the grass, they nap, they neck, they play soccer. As much as I’ve loved Hyde Park and Greenwich Park, nothing beats Hampstead Heath.
This 790-acre urban park, forest and series of lakes supported thousands of Londoners on this hot Saturday. Yet, my hostess Jill and I walked for over 2 hours and I never felt I was in a crowd. We walked along worn paths across meadows, through a thick forest and over centuries old bridges. It was relaxing and energizing.

I met Jill in Los Angeles just one time when we overlapped in my old (and her old) writing group. She’s a fascinating (and highly intelligent) woman who, at 68, just earned her PhD. Her dissertation challenges the myth of Eve as the temptress behind Original Sin. To research original texts, she learned to read ancient Hebrew! (more…)

Category: London

The London Logs: Who Says There’s No Free Lunch?

August 17th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

On my way to Covent Garden, I was tempted by Sofra’s £8.95 (about $14 US) all-day specials and decided I had a craving for Middle Eastern lamb ( I expected a modest plate of lamb patties with a side of hummus. What I got was a generous portion of mouth-watering hummus with homemade bread that filled me before the lunch even arrived. The lamb was served with a roasted tomato (yumm!) and large green salad. After eating the salad, I was so full, I could barely touch the lamb. I asked for it to be wrapped for me to “take away.”
The restaurant’s new chef came running over to see why I hadn’t eaten. When I started to explain I was just full, he barked to his staff that the food was not good and ordered me a whole new lunch to take with me – at no charge! Quite the out-sized character, he told me his life story: How he was born and raised in a rural village in Turkey, where he grew up herding sheep, and now he runs a fabulous restaurant in cosmopolitan London’s theatre district. (more…)

Category: London

The London Logs: Only 3 Weeks To Go!

August 16th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

Hard to believe, I leave in 3 weeks. 21 days. I was stuck in the house today dealing with a crisis in LA, so I spent the time between phone calls making a list of things I still want to do: Visit Stonehenge. Take a Jack-the-Ripper Walking Tour. See the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Julius Ceasar” at the Noel Coward Theatre. Check out an opera. Wander around Notting Hill. Score a ticket to “War Horse.” See the Munch exhibit at the Tate Modern. Find Alfred Hitchcock’s home, which is somewhere in my neighborhood in Leytonstone. Stroll Bermondsey’s antique market. Sit in on Parliament. Eat more Turkish food. Find a British boyfriend so I can come back and do this every summer!
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Category: London

The London Logs: Stratford Swan Hits London

August 13th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

Today, I reconnected with Verity, the woman I met on Stratford-Upon-Avon’s walking tour. She just returned from Nairobi, where she visited the orphanage she’s been supporting. Verity lived in London and has plenty of friends, so I was delighted she had time to get together. We met at Somerset House to take advantage of the Courtauld Gallery’s free day ( 100_0235.jpg The collection is free on Mondays before 2:00pm. (more…)

Category: London

The London Logs: From the Flame to Fireworks: The Closing Ceremony

August 12th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

100_0214.jpgAfter an easy domestic day doing laundry and paying bills, I joined “my” neighbors in spontaneously spilling into the street at midnight when we heard the fireworks from the Olympic Closing Ceremony. Neighbors meeted and greeted and pointed out the best vantage of the news blimp between the East London houses. We couldn’t see any fireworks, but the noise bound us together in the shared community experience….much as the flame passing a few blocks from here had a few weeks ago.

I’ve been so blessed to be here to participate in this historically marginal community’s very non-marginal connection to this international spectacle. From the annoyance of the overcrowded trains to the quiet pride of the neighbors, I’ve been a local!
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Category: London, Olympics

The London Logs: Swan Lake

August 12th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

100_0402.jpgIndescribable. I was in tears at the end.

And the Coliseum is gorgeous!
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Category: London

The London Logs: Affordable, Accessible Art & Leisurely Lunches for a Wannabe Art Slut!

August 11th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

Tonight, I’m enjoying a late lunch of luscious mussels on Leicester Square, wondering how much more alliteration I can pack into this sentence. They’re in a wonderful cream sauce and served with pomme frittes that the Brits insist on deromaticizing by callingchips. Fabulous dinner in this outdoor corner restaurant overlooking the square is only £7.50 (about $12 US).
I’ve been here for nearly 3 hours catching up on these blogs and savoring my meal and coffee. No one cares. Londoners are leisurely diners. (more…)

Category: London, Shakespeare

The London Logs: Buckingham Guards & Beach Volleyball

August 10th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

100_0211.jpgAt the request of Barbara Mountain, the woman for whom I housesit in Ajijic, Mexico, I went on a quest to find the venue where the beach volleyball tournament took place. The idea of photographing beach volleyball a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace was too much for me to resist. 100_0217.jpg (more…)

Category: London, Olympics

The London Logs: The Portrait Gallery in a Snapshot

August 10th, 2012 | Username By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | Comments No Comments »

I expected the Portrait Gallery to be a stuffy museum of painted headshots of the royals. It’s not! The current exhibit is the entries in the annual portrait painting contest. (
The winning entry was a mesmerizing full body portrait of the painter’s elderly aunt – in the nude! The artist skillfully caught every unaltered wrinkle and twinkle and made me want to meet this saucy woman who looked like she didn’t play by the rules. (”Auntie” by Aleah Chapin)

Exposed my ignorance! (more…)

Category: London
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