Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sun, Stars, ABBA and Owls

Finally! Sunshine! I went for a long walk yesterday through Piccadilly and Soho, along the Strand and across Waterloo Bridge. It was a fabulous day -- chilly, but with great sun and shadows and lots of photo opportunities. Olga stayed home, but I think today is supposed to be pretty nice too, so I'll make it up to her.

First, in Piccadilly, I walked past that restaurant that Chris insisted was closed. It is, in fact, still open. I think he was on the next street over, where there is a building being demolished, and he just got confused. Of course, he'll never admit it.

I walked through Soho toward Covent Garden and the area around St. Martin in the Fields. I wanted to find Cecil Court, a street of small used-book shops, which a friend recently mentioned on Facebook. I did indeed find it, and although I didn't buy anything this time (with my Newbery project, the last thing I need at the moment is more books!) I'm glad to know where it is.

I had lunch on the Strand -- a nondescript sandwich -- and then walked across the bridge to Waterloo...

...where I caught the tube for North Greenwich. I was bound for the O2 Dome to see the new ABBA exhibit, a collection of artifacts and memorabilia retracing the band's history from the mid-'60s to the early '80s. I have been an unapologetic ABBA fan all my life, so it was fun to see.

Fun fact: The song "SOS" is the only palindromic hit by a palindromic band. Now there's a trivia question for you.

My only complaint is that some of the most famous costumes on display are replicas and not the originals. Maybe the originals don't exist anymore. But I did see some of the band's gold records, some interesting footage and photos and heard plenty of ABBA music, which was carefully placed in context with other pop music and current events of the day. I was in there for almost two hours!

Self-portrait with ABBA.

By the way, although many of the other people there were about my age, some were younger and were certainly not around when ABBA was in its heyday. (One young guy was wearing a pair of fabulous gold lamé shoes.) I suppose they're evidence that "Mamma Mia" and other productions have helped create a new audience.

Anyway, I got out of there and came home and immediately watched "Muriel's Wedding" -- one of my favorite movies, as I'm sure I've said before. The soundtrack is almost entirely ABBA.

Finally, last night, as I was lying in bed, I heard an owl calling outside. Olga perked her ears up, but she didn't move. I, however, grabbed my phone and stepped out the back door to record it:

It sounded like there were two, one nearby and one farther away -- tawny owls, I believe, which I've heard before in our garden. I saw one of them fly away, dark wings against the starry sky. Yes, STARS! In London! How often do I have a chance to see those?! (Answer: Between often-cloudy weather and light pollution, not very.)


  1. Self portrait with ABBA. How neat is that?

  2. I love ABBA too. My first boyfriend had an ABBA eight track that we listened to all the time. The music makes me want to dance.

    That owl recording is lovely and haunting.

  3. What An Outing - Its Good To Be Us - Thanx For All The Photos - Dig The Audio Portion As Well

    P.S. Olga May Need A Just BC Treat From Uncle T

  4. ABBA went almost entirely under my radar. I mean- no one could really not hear them when they were at their height. But I guess I was busy doing other things. I'm glad you got to go see that exhibit. Probably a bit different than the Rolling Stones one.
    When I hear owls here I imagine that they are at least three feet tall. What powerful sounds they make!

  5. I loved ABBA too. I agree, something about their music made you want to start dancing. Your sound track is awesome. I've never really heard owls, or if I did, I did not recognize them. Thank you for sharing this. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  6. I'm so glad you got out for a walk in the sunshine. That's the best balance to the otherwise gray world.

  7. Wow, I just listened to the owl recording. Fantastic! What a grand sound they make.

  8. ABBA....did someone say ABBA! I was a huge ABBA fan (and still am). I would most certainly have enjoyed that exhibit. What a great walk you took. I loved hearing the owls too!

  9. Hey, ABBA is one of my favorite groups too. I didn't listen to them when they were active but found them much later. I still listen to them.

  10. I was aware of ABBA but just as background. I was busy raising two babies and trying to make my studio pay us a living during the 80s so no disco nights for me.

    I know we must have owls out here but I've only heard them once and never seen one.

  11. Hi Steve,

    A bit more than a year ago, we went to visit our friends in Stockholm. And of course ABBA Museum was on the agenda. They do have some of the original costumes on display there. What I found amusing was I could never have worn any of those items. (I'm a big man) but those people are tiny to have fit in those costumes. Dimi danced to the music on stage, he's such a show off.
    I also wanted to comment about your blog discussing the flat. We were happily living in Santa Clara, CA in a town house that was built in the 70s. The rent was all of $3,000 a month. We knew something was up when a Realtor came to visit and carefully inspected the whole place. First one Realtor came and then a few months later a second one. Replacing that house in Santa Clara would have been impossible.
    We then got the notice that Dimi was being transferred to Texas. When we moved they did sell the place. I was told they got $1.2 million. There is no way we could have bought that place.
    Change is a very hard thing to confront but we did it. For several months were upside down. But now, all those miles later, we have a nice house, that we are buying, and making it just like we want it. If it happens you and Dave will do just fine. Change is hard but change is good.

    Thanks for the blog. I know it's hard work but I read you almost everyday and really enjoy sharing your life.

    Tom and Dimi

  12. Muriel's wedding. Yes. must watch again. Thanks for this.

  13. We have Great Horned owls. They make the who-who call. In the middle of the night, they're pretty loud.
    I really really really hope you don't have to leave that apartment. I, too, was looking forward to seeing the garden in the spring.

  14. Abba was great when they came out and I have listened to their music for many hours over the years. We have owls around the house and if you are outside and not expecting the hoot, at first it can be pretty creepy, then you look forward to hearing it again.

  15. I don't believe I've ever heard an owl hoot. It's certainly better than ABBA music. (Sorry, I'm {not} a believer.)

  16. ABBA was part of the soundtrack of my university years and it was wonderful to dance to. That was my first taste of independence from my family, and that freedom - plus the fun of being around a couple of thousand other young people - was heady. Those feelings are all tied up with the music :)

    Your friend Chris sounds a bit like my mom. She has to be right even when she is wrong. It's very tiring.

  17. I too love Muriel's Wedding! I watch it every few years and it never grows old.

  18. It looks like you had a great day - a nice antidote to SAD for sure. I love that recording too - so haunting.

  19. I was in Melbourne watching the Eurovision contest when they won. Did not think they were worthy at the time...but they grew on me and BAM hooked! LOVE ABBA. How lucky for you to go see their ...stuff! That would be fun.
    Cecil Court is so tiny, but worthy...I bought a couple of old books thee and a vintage movie star fan booklet there. Five quid each. Not bad, but generally I found that it was pretty pricey. Loved your city walk! And the owls sound wonderful! Very cool that you got them on audio.

  20. Alphie: Right?! Talk about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities! LOL

    Lilycedar: Ah, yes. Eight-tracks. Who ever thought THOSE were a good idea?!

    Padre: Olga ALWAYS needs a Just BC treat!

    Ms Moon: I was the perfect age to latch on to ABBA at their peak -- about 11 or 12 -- and they stuck with me!

    Edna: Different types of owls make very different sounds. These are tawny owls, which I don't think exist in the states. (At least not in the wild.)

    Robin: It DOES make a difference to get some exercise and get outside in the scarce daylight!

    Sharon: It's a hoot! If you're back in London any time early this year, you should check it out!

    Red: I think a lot of people found them later, mainly through the "Mamma Mia" movies and shows.

    Ellen: I used to see owls in Florida occasionally. I'm sure you have them where you are. They're not easy to see -- stealthy!

    TJ: Thanks for the reassurance re. the house. I'm sure everything will work out but the disruption is no fun. Dave and I are trying to look at it as an opportunity. Like you, we may wind up buying something, and that would probably be wise. Thanks for reading! I'm glad you're both out there!

    Sabine: It's a tonic!

    Allison: Yeah, I definitely saw great horned owls when I lived in Florida. Once a pair of them landed in a tree right outside my bedroom window. They're LOUD.

    Hshawjr: You can definitely see how owls became associated with Halloween and an eerie atmosphere! Thanks for stopping by.

    Catalyst: Philistine!

    Jenny-O: There's nothing like music to take you back, is there? For Proust it may have been the smell of madeleines, but for me, it's the radio.

    John: And that takes some doing! LOL

    Pipistrello: I say that ALL THE TIME. Best line ever.

    Sue: Every time, I think, "Man, this is a brilliant movie!"

    Bug: Isn't it? Such a remarkable sound. And immediately identifiable.

    Linda Sue: How cool to have watched it live! "Waterloo," the song that won, has never been one of my favorites. I think if that's all I knew of their music I'd be underwhelmed too. And yet it launched them into the stratosphere.

  21. I love photos like your first one in this post. Everyday life caught in motion, with so many things worth looking at that we so often ignore.

  22. My mom and I were both ABBA fans. Love the owls.