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I love visiting historic locations where famous (or infamous) events took place. I recently watched The Conspirator which is based on Dr. Kate Clifford Larson’s book The Assassin’s Accomplice. The movie follows the trial of Mary Surratt, the owner of the boarding house in Washington, DC where Booth and other conspirators plotted to kidnap President Lincoln, but then Booth changed the plan to murder.

Mary Surratt was arrested two days after President Lincoln died. She and her co-defendants were tried by military tribunal rather than in civil court. She was the first woman executed by the Federal government and the facts surrounding her trial and execution remain controversial. She and three others were hanged on July 7, 1865.

Robert Redford did a fabulous job as the director of this movie and it was produced by The American Film Company  which uses historians to assure their films depict the events accurately. I’m usually so disappointed with movies and TV shows that play fast and loose with historical facts.

The main actors, James McAvoy (from X-Men) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) are fantastic. I didn’t recognize Robin Wright at first ~ she played the role of Mary Surratt so well. It’s a courtroom drama and the movie drags on a bit at times but for the historical accuracy, I highly recommend it.

I’ve already been to Ford’s Theater where President Lincoln was shot but I learned through the film that the conspirators were hanged at Fort McNair DC. Before I headed over to take a look, I looked up the photos taken by Alexander Gardner (a famous Scottish photographer who covered a lot of the US Civil War and the aftermath). Here are his photos (caution: graphic):

Alexander Gardner HangingA. Gardner
(c) Alexander Gardner.  Photos from the Library of Congress collection

…and here’s what the location looks like now:

Fort McNair Tennis courts
The site of the execution is now tennis courts at Fort McNair. John asked if I wanted to play some tennis there but the thought of that was too macabre for me.

 

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 I can get you tickets to any tournament in the world EXCEPT Wimbledon”  Nick Bollettieri, Tennis Coach

The above quote was made during a conversation I had with Nick Bollettieri in the early 1990s. It made an impression on me because Wimbledon has been on my list of things to do for years but his comment made it more of a challenge and I knew if I ever had the opportunity, I would have to jump at it.

Everyone in my family liked to play tennis so I started when I was young. I think my Dad had visions of the next Chris Evert but that wasn’t meant to be. I’m thankful he got me out on the court though because to this day it’s my favorite form of exercise. Just need to play more often.

As a child, I remember watching the big tournaments on TV with my mom and dad so actually going to Wimbledon has been on my “must do” list for years. One of the first things I did when I moved to London was enter the lottery for tickets to Wimbledon. Sadly, no response from them. BUT we were lucky enough to get tickets through a friend for the Men’s Quarter finals on Centre Court! And, yes I’m bruised from pinching myself to make sure it’s real!

Wimbledon My Golden Ticket

My Golden Ticket. I know how Charlie felt going into the Chocolate Factory! Instead of Candy ~ I got to see fabulous tennis.

Wimbledon view of Centre Court

Wimbledon Centre Court line up

View from our seats ~ my big fear was getting caught on camera blowing my nose or something like that.

Wimbledon medical call

Literally, less than four minutes into the 1st match Del Potro was down with a knee problem. He rallied to come back and win. I was cheering for Ferrer,the Spanish player.

Wimbledon Fernando Verdasco

The second match of the day was Fernando Verdasco against Andy Murray. Verdasco is an incredible tennis player (One of his serves was calculated at 139 mph) and he gave Andy a run for it by winning the first two sets. Andy Murray is lucky the crowd was so encouraging and cheering for him because I don’t think he would have won otherwise ~ he seemed to feed off of the crowd. Hopefully he’ll go on to win his first Wimbledon trophy this weekend and be the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. It’s going to be party-time in the UK come Sunday if he wins!

Wimbledon Andy Murray warming up

Wimbledon Andy Murray Backhand

I only took photos during the warm up session. Someone took a photo at eye level right when Andy Murray was serving a crucial point and the flash went off. Oh, my ~ if looks could kill.

Wimbledon Cameraman

Wimbledon Media Coverage

Of course there was media everywhere!

The grounds at Wimbledon are beautiful:
Wimbledon Centre Court

Wimbledon Restaurant area

Wimbledon Linesmen

Wimbledon Club

Wimbleton Flowers

Wimbledon is definitely going down as a top highlight of our time here in London! Now on to the rest of our must do list…only a few weeks to go before we move back to the states.

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London: Pub Quiz and Tennis

Although I feel like I’m on a permanent vacation, listed below are a few thoughts on activities I’ve done that locals might do.  I’ll be sure to pass it on to the next Expat who asks about living in London:

1) Went to a Pub Quiz Night in St Johns Woods last night and had a great time especially catching up with my friend, Leslie. I’ve been to Pub Quiz Night twice and would recommend it as a fun night out.  Some pointers if you’re going to your first Pub Quiz Night:

  • The number one tip for Quiz Night is to have a British person on your team ~ preferably one who knows about Cricket, Rugby, Football (soccer) and British TV/Movies.
  • It’s best to have a team of no more than 4 people.   Any more than four and you spend more time second-guessing answers
  • Know your team members ~ don’t go with a super competitive team if you’re there just for fun
  • It doesn’t matter if your team member has an ivy league degree in quantum physics, they still might know jack about pop music so don’t be intimidated that they know everything even if they act like they do
  • Don’t get there too early or else the beer/glass of wine might muddle your thoughts.  After two glasses of wine, some answers were on the tip of my tongue ~ how could I have forgotten the title of “Jerry McGuire”  when I could remember all the actors in it and have seen it multiple times.  Thankfully someone finally got it!
  • It costs between £1-2 for each player and first place winners split the monies collected (usually).  Some pubs offer a bottle of wine, vouchers, etc.
  • I’ve been to The Warrington in Maida Vale http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/pubsandbars/the-warrington-info-18136.html and to the Lord’s Tavern in St Johns Woods http://www.lords.org/lords-ground/lords-restaurants/lords-tavern/
  • Here’s a list to get you started if you want to partake: http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/pubsandbars/quiz-nights-in-london-pubs-recommended-london-621.html

2) I was thrilled to find a group of ladies who play tennis (doubles) every Wednesday for 2 hours at Westway Sports Center’s indoor courts.  The group didn’t have space for a permanent member but I signed up as a substitute four weeks ago and have already played three times.  I prefer singles but am embracing the challenge of doubles.  Westway also has a climbing wall  for all levels ~ may give the beginners route a try.

Side story: Westway is close to the Latimer Road tube stop and that’s how I usually get there, but after a late night at the Pub Quiz, I decided to catch a cab there to conserve my energy (the Tylenol hadn’t kicked in yet).  The cab driver was taking a longer route than I preferred (cost me an extra £2) so I was getting a bit irritated with him but when I told him to drop me off and I’d walk the 100 meters to the front door (the car couldn’t get any closer), he said “Are you sure? Do you know this area? Do you work here?”  I wasn’t sure why he was asking so many questions but I held up my racquet and said “I play tennis here”  Then he said “I was just checking to make sure it was safe ~ the area looks a little run down from the last time I was here about 6 years ago.”  How kind that he was looking out for a woman alone.  I wanted to say “hmmm, I have a racquet and I’m not afraid to use it” but I just thanked him and hopped out.  As I got to the front door, I turned around and he was still there waiting to make sure I got in safely.

3)  Learned something new about traveling around London.  We get our US mail at West Ruislip which takes about 40 minutes (without tube delays) but I learned you can use your Oyster card (frequent travel card for the tube which you just keep adding money to) on any of the trains within the tube area.  So we hopped on the train at Marylebone station heading for West Ruislip and was there in 15 minutes and it cost the same as the tube!! May even check my mail more than once every 10 days.

4) I love reading blogs/informational websites on London.  Here are my favorites so far:

Those were the highlights of the day-to-day life in London ~ now back to a museum or guided walk.

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