The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Long live King Charles III

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96:

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has died.

Prince Charles, heir to the throne since the age of three, is now king, and will be officially proclaimed at St James’s Palace in London as soon as practicably possible.

Flags on landmark buildings in Britain and across the Commonwealth were being lowered to half mast as a period of official mourning was announced.

As Queen of the UK and 15 other realms, and head of the 54-nation Commonwealth, Elizabeth II was easily the world’s most recognisable head of state during an extraordinarily long reign.

What a week in the UK.

Amazing late-summer weather

The South's misfortune is Chicago's benefit this week as a hot-air dome over Texas has sent cool Canadian air into the Midwest, giving us in Chicago a perfect 26°C afternoon at O'Hare—with 9°C dewpoint. (It's 25°C at IDTWHQ.) Add to that a sprint review earlier today, and I might have to spend a lot more time outside today.

So I'll just read all this later:

Finally, the leader of the Westminster city council in London really wants to close down the "American" candy stores opening up all up and down Oxford Street.

Friday night, Saturday afternoon

More photos from last weekend. I mentioned The Samuel Palmer in Shoreham, Kent, where I stopped after my hike through the Kentish Downs. I didn't mention that I had a delightful cheese plate for dinner, because cheese:

Then I got to experience four Chicago blocks' worth of an English country road at 10:30pm getting to the railway station:

On Saturday, I walked along the Regent's Canal on my way to the Southampton Arms:

Which remains, as ever, one of my favorite pubs in the world:

I will return to all of these places in due course.

Friday's hike (and pubs)

I started Friday by having lunch with a colleague in the picture-perfect Hare & Billet in Greenwich:

After lunch I hopped a Southeast service to Otford, Kent, where I embarked on the 6.5 km hike I mentioned Saturday morning. Otford looks like something out of a Brontë novel (either sister), surrounded by farms and walking paths. And sheep:

The village also sits in what I believe is a washout valley bisecting a long moraine known as the Kentish Downs. After a 75-meter climb, I got to this vista:

About 3 km of the walk looked like that. At the end of the ridge the trail sloped into the village of Shoreham, which made by brain hurt. I think I want to retire there:

I ended my journey at The Samuel Palmer, which opened in 2019 in a building continuously operated as a pub since the 15th century. Somehow, this village of 2,000 people supports three pubs, but I only stopped in this one. I might have to try all of them next time I visit the UK.

More photos later this week. Meanwhile, I've got to figure out a tricky security configuration and rehearse Mozart for the rest of the day.

Tube strikes suspended this weekend

This is a bit of good news for my weekend getaway:

Long-running weekend strikes on London's Night Tube have been suspended after the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union accepted a concession from London Underground about rotas.

The bodies have agreed to have a minimum number of drivers who prefer to work overnight on each line.

The RMT stressed the dispute was not resolved, and the situation would be reviewed in three months at the latest.

Ongoing weekend strike action began in January and was planned until December.

The union said the industrial action had been taken to "prevent the ripping up of staffing arrangements that would wreck the work-life balance of drivers".

The strikes have affected the Central, Jubilee, Northern, and Victoria lines, two of which figure prominently in my plans this week as I'm staying in Holborn and spending time in Gospel Oak/Camden Town.

Lovely day, actually

I'm working a half-day in my company's London office to catch up on some things and to ensure my team back home get the current sprint off to a good start. But the weather is absolutely perfect, so I might not make it past my 3pm meeting...

Contra Daniel Burnham, I made only small plans. Tonight I'm returning to a friend's old haunts in Earls Court to give her an update. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with a colleague at an historic Greenwich pub, then either going for a (10-kilometer) walk or popping round a museum. Saturday will see another walk that ends, conveniently, at my favorite pub in London.

Updates as the situation warrants. Photos next week.

Not 100% according to plan...

With an 8:30 international flight and great uncertainty in airport/airline operations these days, I thought it prudent to haul my ass out to a hotel by the airport last night.

Well, it worked, in that I got through O'Hare security less than an hour after waking up. I have plenty of time to sort through my email and load my Surface with some news.

On the other hand, I couldn't find a combination of pillows that I could tolerate, and only slept a bit more than 6 hours, so I can't call it a decisive win.

It looks like there are a lot of empty seats on the plane, so at least I didn't feel the need to check my bag. Depending on how I flex my strong dollars (£1 = $1.197 at this writing), I might have to check it on the way back, though.

Next report from my Ancestral Homeland in about 11 hours, if all goes well.

Stuff to read tomorrow morning

In just a few minutes I will take Cassie to boarding, then head up to Northwestern for a rehearsal (I'm in the chorus at Ravinia's upcoming performances of La Clemenza di Tito.) I'll then have to pack when I get home from rehearsal, then head to a hotel by O'Hare. Ah, how much fun is an 8:30 international flight!

As I'll have some time at the airport in the morning, and no time now, I want to queue these up for myself:

All right, I'm off. After I pack.

UK sets all-time heat record

The Met Office has provisionally recorded the UK's first-ever above-40°C (104°F) temperature:

Heathrow's 12:50 BST report to ICAO put the temperature at 39°C, with a heat index of 37.1°C (98.9°F). Meanwhile, the city of Abadan, Iran, has hit 51°C (123.8°F), which I can scarcely imagine.

And yet, the forecast for my trip this week looks perfect: highs in the mid-20s, with possible sprinkles Friday morning.