Monday, 10 December 2018

Into Europe

I've spent the last two weeks in Milan, Italy. I treated myself to first class trains there and back, which is a much pleasanter way to travel than flying in a cramped smelly aircraft from grotty airport terminals with aggressive and abusive airport staff to contend with. I broke my journeys in Paris, which I haven't been to for many years. The Alps, clad in winter's first snows, were impressive to ride through.

Just a few images from my trip:

Milan Cathedral, one of the world's largest and most impressive places of worship

Beautiful shops everywhere. I had to be careful not to stare at the frocks too much. Nor should you. So here's some fish instead.

1928 tram stock, built so well that they still form the backbone of the Milan tram fleet after 90 years on the road. Polished wooden seats, leather grab straps, glass lampshades and wooden doors. Based on the classic San Francisco street car design, they are impressively swift and a delight to ride in.

Dog roses are in bloom everywhere in December

Harvested paddy field in Piedmont, Italy

Only in Paris do you get to see your partner shower while you are in bed!

The one bad thing is that I am staying with a family member, they don't know about my trans side and, given my family's bigotry, it is best that they remain ignorant. So no girly clothes. Well, apart from my shoes and socks which are women's because my feet are so small that men's sizes that small don't exist. So I am always connected to my femme life in that way. My stay with family is temporary until I find a more permanent abode.

I am back in England for a few days before I return to Italy for Christmas.

Sue x

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Heading off

My plans to move abroad were interrupted last month because I badly damaged the plantaris muscle in my right leg. Thanks to the care of a special trans friend of mine and her family I was able to rest up for two weeks at her house and get gradually better. I am so grateful to her.

This week I moved to the North of England and have been improving my walking, including quite a few trips to the shops. I was especially pleased with the pretty lingerie from Marks & Spencer. I thought I deserved a treat.

Now that I am off crutches I will be heading to the Mediterranean tomorrow. A gentle train trip stopping off in Paris. I hope to get there in one piece this time!

Sue x

Tuesday, 20 November 2018


TDOR: Transgender Day of Remembrance, that day in the year dedicated specifically to remembering all those transgender people who are killed or who kill themselves. Usually listed as highest number of violent deaths connected with any social group.

I wish such commemorations were unnecessary. I wish that it was possible for people to be accepted. But I do despair. And so I blog, I am visible in public, I talk to people. Just so they know that we exist and are not freaks or perverts or a danger.

Just stop killing us, OK?

Sue x

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The best laid plans...

In my last post I explained that I was planning to travel abroad this week.

Except I haven't because, whilst in the middle of removals, I had an accident. It's not clear if I was actually hit by a speeding bike or just avoided it but damaged myself in the process. Either way, I ended up in A&E and am now on crutches because I have a damaged plantaris muscle. My leg was swollen like a halloween pumpkin.

The last few days moving out of my home whilst on crutches were very difficult to say the least.

However, I have made some wonderful friends in this trans community of ours over the years and one has take me in to her home for as long as it takes me to recover and literally get back on my feet. I'm not mentioning her name as she's quite modest about what she's done for me even though it means so much to me.

Doctors say it may take a month to be back to normal.

The worst is that I am proud of my legs but can only wear horrid loose trousers!

Sue x

Sunday, 28 October 2018

A new life abroad

I have implemented a giant change in my life: I am aiming to settle abroad in the long-term.

I have sold my house and this week I am moving out.

I will have an address in Britain for a while as it's difficult to vanish all in one go and I need a base for return trips. That will be in the North of England, which means I should be able to spend more time with my many trans friends there, especially those near Manchester.

But chiefly I am moving to the Mediterranean. Next week I will head to Italy by train via Paris.

Yes, I have already made initial enquiries with trans groups in Italy, France, Spain (and even Austria). The final destination is not settled yet.

Why? Well, mainly health, politics and a number of difficulties here that have made life much harder. Subjects for a more detailed post another day.

I have lived in London virtually all my life and so it does feel odd leaving all that behind. But I feel the time has come and I am looking ahead now.

Sue x

Saturday, 13 October 2018

An evening with Jo and Gina

Gina and Jo, who've popped up before in this blog, have come to London this weekend for some sightseeing. I met them at their hotel on Friday night and we enjoyed time together.

A few years ago Gina and I went to Belgo Centraal, the Belgian restaurant in the Seven Dials / Covent Garden area, and she wanted to go again. The food is not bad, the beer is excellent and the service fast. We were always addressed as "ladies" and that always goes down well with me. There weren't so many waiters dressed as Trappist monks this time, though. The one down side to this place is the acoustic so the noise level is high.

Personally I like the Kwak beer served in a glass that needs a wooden stand.

Continuing our beer themed evening, I took the girls to two old pubs, the Nell of Old Drury opposite the Theatre Royal and the Lyceum Tavern where the wooden booths are very cosy.

I hope the girls enjoy the rest of their weekend. Meeting up with them was a good start to mine.

Sue x

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Autumn things

I confess I find this time of year trying: the first tendrils of chill creep up my legs, the colours fade, work gets busy after the calm quiet of summer, and the year slowly dies and darkens. I know some people love this time of russet leaves, woodsmoke and squirrels gathering nuts, but the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness doesn't suit me so well. The romance of autumn seems to me more of a Keatsean myth than modern high-speed polluted reality. So I keep my mind occupied if I can with fun things.

These last few weeks I've enjoyed several events. Foremost is the annual Great River Race here on the Thames where over 300 rowed or paddled boats of all sorts race 20 miles along the river from Greenwich to Ham (or vice versa depending on the tide). It's a fun thing but also important in keeping alive the traditions of watermen on this river and around North European waters. Boats from all over the British Isles, as well as from Holland, Iceland, Germany and other places take part. In addition to local familiar Thames skiffs and wherries there is a vast array of other boats - jolly boats, longboats, lifeboats, luggers, gigs, cutters, shallops, whalers, sloops, dragon boats, war canoes! ...  The rule is you must carry a passenger all the way. A small selection from this year's race...

Thames skiff rowed by sailors and mermaids. I like it!

The only barge this year.

Despite being commanded by Vikings this was the worst rowing I have ever seen! More like the rolling of a drunken spider than a water craft. Leif Erikson would have waved his axe in disgust!

Smart but hard work

I was also given a free ticket to Kew Gardens, which I haven't been to for some years. Kew Gardens is an important place for me as the very first trip I made as a woman out of my own front door was there. It was a beautiful day. Again, just a selection...

The landmark pagoda, now fully restored and open
The maidenhair tree (Gingko biloba). Kew's one was planted in 1762. I particularly like this tree as the species has male and female trees but this one was grown from a male onto which a female was later grafted. Gender reassignment by a tree surgeon!

The beautiful waterlily house
A new and very complicated feature called the Hive, an art installation which is supposed to give you notions of life in a beehive. I won't go into the complex explanation of how it works.

Cactuses and other plants from arid regions in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. I love these.

The famous old palm house and its pond

I am reading a lot, including trans or gender lit: Ursula Le Guin's "The Left Hand of Darkness", about a planet where the inhabitants are each male and female, and Roz White's "New Horizons", the third in her Sisterhood series about modern trans women (see my post about trans literature a month ago).

I also make sure I go out for coffee every morning as I like to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the break, as well as some of the coffee shops themselves. When your cappuccino looks as good as this, it soothes you at once! Or when there's a fluffy pussy cat in the shop!

Perfect cappuccino in what is arguably London's best coffee shop, Vergnano 1882 on the Charing Cross Road

The deliciously bohemian Scooter Cafe in Lower Marsh by Waterloo Station. It used to be a scooter repair shop and has a Vespa in the window, Italian cinema posters (and music) and good coffee, pastries and (later) cocktails. And a cat.

Have a nice autumn, girls

Sue x