Canada Day in London

Canada Day is celebrated in Trafalgar Square every year, but with my being American I’ve never attended out of fear I’d have their traditional chips covered in gravy and cheese thrown at me.

I joke. Canadians might possibly be the least offensive people on Earth?

When I found out Our Lady Peace was going to be performing a free show this year, my American butt was there.
20120701-234322.jpg

It wasn’t my intention to wear a sweatshirt that screamed American, but it’s all I had. Either Indiana State or Ohio University. It was fine though, because no one noticed me or tossed¬†gravy at me. They were too busy being Canadian!

20120701-234236.jpg

20120701-234309.jpg

20120701-234300.jpg

20120701-234226.jpg

20120701-234243.jpg

Eventually the show started, and I rocked out (sat on a step with my American friend) for about thirty minutes.

20120701-234202.jpg

20120701-234209.jpg

Then they stopped! They played maybe seven songs and they were done. I think maybe they didn’t play much because they’re doing a real show at the O2 tonight. Still, I’ve wanted to see Our Lady Peace for more than 10 years, so in that sense I was satisfied.

Happy Canada Day!

Night walk across Tower Bridge

One of my friends took me out for an American dinner Tuesday night because I was being moody and needed a fun time. Afterward we walked past the Tower of London and then across Tower Bridge because it was right there, and there’s never, ever a time when it’s not fun to walk across this bridge at night.

20120626-230649.jpg

20120626-230657.jpg

20120626-230707.jpg

20120626-230540.jpg

20120626-230606.jpg

It was cool because we got to see the Olympic rings before they were let down the next day.

20120627-181022.jpg

20120626-230614.jpg

20120626-230630.jpg

20120626-230637.jpg

20120626-230557.jpg

See all the experiences I’m now able to share because of my iPhone?? iPhone, I love you.

Independence Day in London

What do a Kiwi, an Italian, some Canadians, a Northern Irishman, some English and an Estonian have in common?

Don’t worry, this isn’t a dirty joke. The answer is an undying love for the good ol’ USA and a desire to celebrate it in style with their favorite American friend.

Maybe that’s a joke, too. But in any case, we gathered and ate and drank!

I made cornbread that was gone almost immediately. My American friend Melizza made amazing chocolate chip cookies, and they were gone before I took a picture.

I did, however, get a picture of the bread she made.

Manuela made her perfect apple pie.

And that completes the food photos! I can’t believe I took no photos of the food other than this. We also had burgers, lots of mixed drinks, and three different salads.

Although we had to celebrate a bit early I’m really glad I decided to do something this year rather than feel like I’m missing out while all my friends back home have cook outs and parties.

These are my two American friends. I don’t now why I look so crazy here.

Most of the people who came were people from work. I don’t think I’ll ever again be lucky enough to work with such cool people.

I hope everyone here had a fun “Fourth of July” and that all my friends back home have a fun one in a couple weeks!

Happy 4th! ūüôā

The end of summer

Tomorrow marks the end of summer in England. The news forecast today read: Diamond Jubilee Weekend – Rain Returns.

This happens every year. We get a week of brilliantly glorious sunny weather in April or May, and people start shouting, “It’s summer!”

But then it goes back to normal and summer never returns.

Still, when it’s nice in London, it’s really nice. Normally about 75-80 so it’s just hot enough to enjoy the heat but not feel like you’re choking on humidity.

This weekend I was lucky enough to get tickets to see David Sedaris recording a reading for BBC Radio 4, and he was fantastic. I’m so excited to have finally seen him speak, because I’ve been trying to see him for years.

I took my friend Chris, and the plan started like this:

me: we’ll have some prosecco and grill out!
Chris: oh man
i love summer

So we bought a ¬£3 disposable grill from Sainsbury’s and had a cook out in my trashy backyard. Not my fault the landlord never cuts our grass!

We bought a pile of vegetables and sliced ’em long. Egg plant, zucchini, red onion, bell pepper drizzled with EVOO and topped with salt + pepper.

A pair of tuna steaks.

Chris made a really fresh cucumber + tomato + green onion salsa with lemon, olive oil, parsley, s&p that we used to top the tuna. I used the juice from the dressing to dip my bread (which we also grilled).

20120530-195247.jpg

20120530-195258.jpg

20120530-195306.jpg

It was so bright that when I accidentally left my iPhone uncovered it yelled at me and told me it was overheated and needed to be cooled immediately. My phone is the closest thing I have to a child or any kind of creature to care for, so I was distressed and praying he’d come back to life.

After too much sun and food, we went to Oxford Circus to the BBC.

20120530-195314.jpg

There are flags everywhere because of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend. Sixty years!

20120530-195331.jpg

20120530-195349.jpg

I am still so angry that I forgot my book. I could have had my book signed by David Sedaris, and actually gotten to speak to him!

I already felt special because he’d e-mailed me and gotten me on the guest list for this show, so I totally could have said, “Hey! Remember me??” He’d have likely said no, but still. Exciting.

You can kind of see him sitting down in front of the small row of smart people who didn’t forget their books.

20120530-200009.jpg

His reading was fantastic, and pretty much a laugh every two seconds. I’ve read all of his books and also listened to all the audio books. He reads his own work for the audio books, which is great. I’m not one to listen to audio books, but these are perfect road trip material!

As bleak as it gets

I haven’t seen the movie “As Good as it Gets,” so I’m just going off the title here, but if anyone were to make a movie about daily life in England this spring it could be titled “As Bleak as it Gets.”

Look at this!

20120520-122306.jpg

That’s my mom eating fish and chips, in the rain, on a step outside of a construction site in Southwark because the chip shop decided to close early and kick us out. They rudely handed our fish & chips to us in a package with no salt and vinegar for our chips, no napkins and no fork. We had to ask for all three, and then walk outside in the rain to find a place to eat.

20120520-122319.jpg

20120520-122327.jpg

We weren’t angry, though, because this was right before we left for Rome!

Let me tell you, Rome was great! It was about 72 degrees and sunny all three days we were there, and I took almost 700 pictures. I ran out of space and battery on my camera before we even got to the Vatican.

I’m going to edit the pictures tonight and hopefully have at least one Rome post ready for tomorrow.

Happy Monday!

A look in Benjamin Franklin’s London home

My mom dropped a little bomb on me this weekend. I was rocking out to Kenny Chesney’s duet with Tim McGraw, Feel Like a Rock Star, and I asked her how much she loves the song.

She said, “…well, I don’t love Kenny Chesney.”

What.

Then she said she didn’t even really like country music, and she doesn’t know why I like it because I certainly didn’t get it from home.

!!!

Despite this, I still took her along for some coffee and Benjamin Franklin-ing. Yeah, that’s right. I went to Ben Franklin’s house in London. The only surviving Franklin home in the world!

She met me at work and we had mochas at the ScooterCaffee on Lower Marsh, near Waterloo. The mocha was some weird kind of chocolate that was super thick. Good!

20120514-213359.jpg

20120514-213418.jpg

20120514-213431.jpg

After the coffee we went next door where I found this 60s bag that I WANT. You know what I’d use it for? A lunch bag. I have to bring 2-3 meals to work every day, and this would be way better than carrying my food in a crappy orange Sainsbury’s bag.

Too cute, huh?

20120514-213446.jpg

After work we took an architectural tour of the Franklin home near Charing Cross. It cost £3.50 per person, and since it was a Monday afternoon my mom and I and another woman were the only people there. This place should be packed!

So far I’ve visited the homes of:

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Andrew Jackson
Benjamin Franklin

I loved them all, and although Jefferson is not my favorite founding father, Monticello can not be beat. It’s gorgeous. ¬†Here’s the view from his house:

I LOVE American history, because once you study it you realize it’s a lot different than the mythical stories you learn in school.

Outside the Franklin house on Craven Street.

20120514-213508.jpg

20120514-213524.jpg

20120514-213537.jpg

I couldn’t take many pictures because I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to and I was too afraid to ask. He was living in style. He had floor to ceiling windows and the whole first floor to himself. Almost all of the architecture is original from when he lived there.

We stopped off for a drink at our local, but at this point I was so tired! I couldn’t even finish that little glass. Mom had her standard half Guinness, but that wasn’t enough so she got another!

20120514-220337.jpg

20120514-220404.jpg

20120514-220417.jpg

20120514-220423.jpg

I’m in Rome today! See you Saturday!

An iPhone tour of central London

It’s been raining for weeks, with no sun in sight.

I don’t think you understand. It’s been raining all day, every day, for weeks. Plural.

In Ohio it’s 80 and sunny, and my mom came here for 48 degrees and rainy. Still! It’s London, and even under the safety of an umbrella you can have fun.

We started out at Leicester Square and walked around the West End for a bit.

Chinatown

20120506-115056.jpg

20120506-115109.jpg

20120506-115120.jpg

After walking around Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Chinatown for a bit we were hungry so we stopped in Byron.

Byron gets two enthusiastic thumbs up for being totally cool with swapping the beef patty for a ‘shroom for me. We both ordered the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee special. Not sure what spicy green chilis, spicy mayo sauce and cheese have to do with a Diamond Jubilee, but it was good. Pickle on the side topped it off!

What I love about the West End is that all the major sites are within a five-minute walk of each other, so it’s easy to do a quick overview with visiting guests.

Trafalgar Square

20120506-115331.jpg

The official Olympics 2012 clock. It shows a different amount of time on the other side, so originally I thought it was broken but I think maybe it’s for different things? I don’t know. I could look it up, but I’m lazy.

My English friend said if it was in fact broken it would be so tourists wouldn’t get the impression that things here actually work. I love English cynicism!

20120506-115146.jpg

20120506-115227.jpg

20120506-115241.jpg

The walk to Westminster

20120506-115129.jpg

20120506-115158.jpg

20120506-115209.jpg

Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives

20120506-115217.jpg

And a really boring picture of Big Ben.

20120506-115316.jpg

I love pubs too, too much.

In the US if you are recommending a good restaurant to your friends you’ll undoubtedly go on and on about the quality of the food, the decor, etc. In London, if you’re recommending a restaurant it wouldn’t be uncommon to talk about the food and the service.

“The food was great, and they were so … nice!”

I’m so used to dealing with the attitude that I’m doing them a favor by eating at their restaurant that I don’t get upset anymore at the sometimes outright angry attitude of staff. This makes it even more of a shock when a restaurant/pub staff is nice.

After two years of being in the UK, I went back home last year and I was shocked. Everyone was SO nice. I was like: Everyone here loves me! I’m a rock star!

A couple weeks ago when my cousin was in London for business we met up in Wimbledon for dinner. I took him to my favorite pub in South West London, The Alexandra.

I don’t know what’s different about this pub, but they are so nice. I’ve been here dozens of times, and the food is always great and there are always multiple friendly people.

It’s especially great in the summer because they have a rooftop patio. I used to get pie platters and eat in the sunshine!

It’s not like they simply hired one happy person – everyone is friendly. Even though the pub was busy we had three separate people coming to check on us.

All the food is always presented so well and a new menu is printed every day.

I had the special, a beetroot & mushroom lasagne. It was very good, but I’m not used to eating so much cheese so I wish the ratio had been more beetroot than cheese.

I wouldn’t normally comment on fries, “chips,” because I don’t like them, but oh em gee. These fries were amazing.

When my sister was little she used to say, “I love you TOO, TOO MUCH.”

That’s how I feel about pubs.

I love them TOO, TOO MUCH.

London’s Little Venice

On this second sunny day in row (!) I met my friend Chris for some American food and then a drink at Warwick Avenue, near Little Venice.

Fun fact: this American-style diner we went to sold boxes of cereal (Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch) for ¬£12.50. That’s about $17. For one box.

Fun fact #2: I never learn my lesson that sun in England does not mean you can go out of the house without a jacket. Especially not in a little summer dress with flip flops.

I went for a ros√©, which I haven’t had in … years? It was good!

Chris had his usual cider, which I like as well but I can never consume that much liquid so I never get it. Maybe if they made cider into shots I’d have at it.

With me being a lightweight, I couldn’t handle another glass of wine at 3 in the afternoon, so we went for a walk along the canal.

You wouldn’t believe it, but this kid does an amazing impression of Louis Armstrong, which is what he was doing as I was snapping pictures all down the river.

It really is water off a duck’s back:

Fun fact #3: A couple years ago I got super excited because I was moving and thought I’d found a place to rent in a really nice area of London. When I got there, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Then I realized I couldn’t find it because it wasn’t actually a house … it was a boat in what must have been the only not-nice part in that area. The idiot guy renting the room failed to mention he was actually renting a room on a BOAT, not a house, and the “front yard” was actually just the crappy piece of land the boat was docked to. I was so angry I didn’t even go view the room.

The area looked nothing like this.

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Only one more day until my Copenhagen trip!!

Days like today

Confession: yesterday I spent the entire day in bed and it was everything I thought it could be. I sound like Peter on Office Space. But seriously, it was great. I’ve been going and going for literally months and really needed a rest. I took like, three naps, listened to smashing tunes and Skyped with my sister.

Then I had a Seinfeld marathon. I could not stop laughing at the episode where Kramer gets hit in the head by Crazy Joe Davola and then shows up at Jerry’s place with only one leg in his pants.

I may have also created a YouTube playlist devoted to Disney songs.

Today, however, the sun was shining. I went to North London to meet up with fellow expat bloggers and a friend from work.

We had a walk around Highgate and Alexandra Palace, which I was excited about because I’ve never been there but always heard the views were great.

We kept seeing these weird stick huts in the park at Highgate. Looks a bit Blair Witch, huh?

Lunch was had at an adorable cafe.

Alexandra Palace.

The view. I am always amazed by how big this city is.

I love days like today, where you don’t really have a destination and you’re with people who don’t care if you take literally 100 pictures in the span of a few hours.

Now I’m back home, chilling out, listening to music …

… and getting ready to make strawberry basil pesto for my lunch tomorrow.

I’ve got a big week ahead of me! I signed up for a 5K in Clapham next Sunday. I don’t have a specific goal time, but I have been working on my pace the past couple months so I’m going to use this race as a benchmark to try to improve upon, and then I hope to run another 5K in April or May with some people from work.

Have a good week!