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Violating Sanctions

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

The London Logs: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on…”

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | July 13th, 2012 | Comments No Comments

I was going to blog tonight about butterflies, since I just visited the UK’s largest butterfly sanctuary and am beginning to work on a chapter of my book I currently call “Butterflying” (about a 6-year-old Filipina girl who died from leukemia likely brought on by exposure to toxics the US military left behind when it closed Clark Air Force Base).

But that blog will wait. Instead, I want to write about 3 strangers I met today: Three women who “are such stuff as dreams are made on,” as Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, his last play, and the play I saw tonight.
"The 3 Stratford Graces"

This afternoon, I joined a walking tour of all things Shakespeare led by an animated guide named David who regaled us with the Bard’s poetry as well as his biography. It was an interesting group: An Indian couple now living in Dubai, a family from Kalamazoo whose pre-teen son wants to be a Shakespearean scholar, a Japanese family who spoke no English. (More on the tour in tomorrow’s post.)

Since the sun was making a rare appearance, I decided to treat myself to dinner at an outdoor café after the tour. Just as I finished my meal, along walked Diana, a woman from Leeds I had briefly spoken with on the tour. She joined me, and just as she finished her meal, along walked Verity, another woman from the tour.

Turns out it was Diana’s birthday! At the last minute, her traveling companion took sick and was unable to go. Diana decided to travel alone anyway – even if that meant spending her birthday without friends or family. An extremely youthful 74 (what is it the Brits put in their water to preserve their women so well?), she’s well-versed in Shakespeare, opera, classical music and – London theatre. We’ll probably see each other again this summer when she comes to London for the Olympics.

Verity was born in what is now Pakistan to expat parents and grew up in the UK and India. She worked for the UN’s food distribution programme in Somalia, among other countries, and now lives in Barbados and works as a life coach for Louise Hay’s workshops ( She’s spending the summer in London – with a side trip to Kenya to help an orphanage. We’ll probably see each other again in London – or perhaps next summer when I might housesit for her in Barbados!

Then, I returned to my B&B and its new owners. Sue was still up and invited me into the kitchen* for a cup of tea while she finished unpacking. I am so thrilled to be her first guest in her new “stuff of dreams”! We got into a lively discussion about the West Bank; she and her young children were in Jerusalem in 1994 when 29 Palestinians were gunned down by an American Jewish extremist while attending Ramadan services at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Sue joins the latest of folks who want to read my book (me included!)…It took 17 weeks to close the deal to sell their home and buy this B&B!

Such is the stuff my dreams are made on: Interesting women who inspire by their willingness to live life beyond anyone’s expectations.

* I once read an article on about the criteria for listing a country on your “been to” list. Some folks are quite liberal and count airport transfers as having “been to” a country. My favorite was 2W1P: “two wees and a poo” – a bit of a higher bar if a bit more scatological! My criteria is that I must be invited into a kitchen. If I haven’t met someone well enough for them to take me beyond the parlor, I just haven’t “been to” the country. So, I’ve now officially “been to” England!
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