Thursday, 31 January 2008

"Such is life"

So this blog is a day belated. I wrote it, but had to save it to deal with some things at home. Fortunately, I have a very good friend who gave me the advice-inspired title for this blog.

Happy Birthday Erica!Today was the first of a few 21st birthdays to be celebrated across the pond (Mine is the last I think). Not your typical 21st since we all have to get up and go to work tomorrow, but nonetheless a reason to celebrate!

Today we went to Tate Britain for our BLC field trip and learned about some of the finer points of ancient British art. I was naturally drawn to two pieces, a sculpture and a painting, that featured three girls- sisters. The first piece of art on the tour was Antonio Canova's statue "The Three Graces." The daughters of Zeus stand together and represent the qualities of beauty, elegance and joy. Later on, we saw Sir Joshua Reynolds painting of three sisters in "Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hyman." The women in the piece are gathering flowers to decorate an alter for the Roman god of marriage, Hyman. I liked this one because the youngest sister is knelt down looking up at the older two in admiration. No photography is allowed. Hopefully these will suffice:

Afterwards, Ambika and I went to Yo! Sushi in the Food Hall at Selfridges. We were in search of these adorable birthday cupcakes for Erica that we had spotted weeks earlier, but needed to make a pit stop at Yo!'s. It was my first time eating at a sushi bar with one of those conveyor belts and I loved it. Everything was delicious and the limited amount of carbs was a nice change from the life of cereal and peanut butter and jelly that I currently live. I picked up some pear sorbet for dessert and came home for a quick nap before a quaint birthday dinner (For those of you wondering, Marvin wasn't invited). All in all a pretty nice day off work.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Jane Austin, you are so wise.

"Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be."
- Jane Austin

I just ate yogurt with a knife so that I didn't have to wash another utensil. Erica just corked a bottle of wine with a paper towel. Ambika is sitting on a half eaten bag of prawn crackers.

You are so wise Jane Austin, so wise.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Adventures in Laundering

Sarah and I attempted to do laundry tonight. A word to the wise: Save your 20 p's. The machines only take those and pounds, which we found out after struggling with them for ten minutes. Hey, at least there was a drunk Australian helping us...

I'm hoping that the purple tank top he was folding was a girl's. However, by the looks of him, the only girl this guy ever brings home is Stella Artois (I know because she was with him at the laundrette).

I'll feel bad if he reads this. But then again, I'm not entirely sure he can- read that is.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Born to Hand Jive, Baby

The last Friday of every month the V & A stays open late, brings in a dj and serves drinks. We got there a little late, but definitely saw the best that the museum had to offer that night: a group of guests so moved by the atmosphere, and who knows what else, that they turned the entranceway into a dance floor- and tore it up.

After taking a spin around the museum, the first floor of which I have already studied in great detail, I stopped in the front entranceway underneath an enormous Chihuly glass sculpture. I sat on a bench to examine the delicate forms of blue and green glass swirling down from the ceiling. At the same time, something else caught my eye. The dj was located in the same entrance rotunda that I had stopped in and a group had gathered in front of the speakers. The dj was joined by another guy who prompted the next track by saying, "He always tells me not to play this, but I'm going to anyway."

I was nervous. But the next thing I heard was the familiar intro of "Born to Hand Jive." As a dancer, I couldn't stay seated. I stood up by a few friends who had gathered by me and started to casually rock to the beats. Suddenly, all attention was drawn to a couple whose dance moves were nothing short of spectacular. Breaking out in a 50s style swing with improvised partnering, all eyes were on them. They moved in perfect unity despite the spastic movements of their choreography and with an inhibition that is usually only expressed in front of one's bedroom mirror.

But when I looked around, what I noticed was even more interesting. My passion for dance has stemmed from many years of training and studying the art, but what is truly amazing about it is that anyone, anywhere, can dance.

The two in the center of a loosely formulated circle danced so freely that others were slowly drawn to them. They looked like they were having so much fun that others around, who weren't going to be as footloose or fancy free as them, found their own level of comfort with their moves. Coming out from the center of the circle, invisible tiers formed for different levels of energy and steps. There were women swaying with their friends, a drunk guy off by his lonesome and me, two-stepping in place with the occasional hand jive movements. I loved that everyone just put what they had out there. Whether it was a freedom and carelessness that allowed them to go all out or an understated little sway in rhythm with the music, the atmosphere was perfect for all.

What a wonderful way to bring people together. To evoke joy and lightheartedness. To burn a few calories. And to enjoy London.

I was absolutely obsessed with the energy in the room. People clapped and cheered when the song ended. There was a sense of unity felt by everyone in the room, whether they were workin it on the dance floor, or a few steps back groovin to their own tune. It was all smiles, and I truly think everyone around who could acknowledge this was sublimely happy. I know I was.

What a wonderful art, dance. The ability to make people happy and feel good about themselves, to find their own level of comfort, to be able to do it anywhere and with any level of expertise (including none at all).

I am so fortunate to have this as a hobby and to have found a way to experience it here in London.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Ruffles are in

After almost a week as an intern at Drapers, I have learned many things. The first and foremost is that I hate riding the tube. It is so crowded in the morning and it takes me 45 minutes to get to the office. Imagine standing crammed in between dozens of strangers while you all bump back and forth into each other for almost an hour. Not pleasant. Oh how I long for the relaxing nature of the BNSF railway from the western suburbs into the city- A much more desirable morning commute.

I have been doing a lot of cold calling this week, which is nothing less than thrilling. Not. But I am becoming familiar with certain brands and names, which is proving to be more and more helpful everyday. I am also getting to do some writing tomorrow that will appear in the Feb. 2 issue of the magazine. I think you should be able to check it out online.

The office is very cool- new and modern. There are lots of magazines in our floor and no real separation between each one. The entire place is open (no cubes mom) and so there are always people coming and going.

There are two British interns who are very nice, and unfortunately leaving tomorrow. I spent a lot of time with them today and got to ask a lot of questions about the internship and London in general. They are a very valuable resource to me and I will be sorry to see them go.

I am completely wiped out at the end of the day. I don't have to be up nearly as early as I did this summer, but for some reason I am more tired and less hungry at the end of the day. I'm sure I will get used to it as time goes on. Until then, I will continue to go to sleep at 9:30.

Family that is coming in the summer: Let me know if there are any places you want me to check out for you!

Splish, splash I was taking a bath...

Wednesday was our first out of town field trip to Stonehenge and Bath.Stonehenge was not at all what I thought it would be (I don't exactly know what I thought it would be). I thought it was going to take up a massive area and the stones were going to be very spread out. The stones themselves were massive, but the area that they were in was a lot more compact than I thought it would be. What is cool about Stonehenge is that even though it is in the middle of nowhere, it is so significant. There is so much mystery in the area- why is it there, how did it get there, etc.

In a way, it seems as though the rocks have just been sitting there for hundreds of years without any rhyme or reason. Yet, in actuality, there was so much thought and planning that must have gone into the final act of building the creation. It is crazy to think of the lack of technology that put together this amazing structure, and the fact that it still remains.

It's hard to describe. I felt like such a tourist, because like I said it is in the middle of nowhere, so you have to go with the intent of seeing it, but at the same time, it felt very meaningful to be in a place with so much history where so many people have been before me.

Afterwards we were back on the buses and headed to Bath. We toured the Roman Baths, which we also cool because they operate with the exact same natural pumps and drains as when the Roman were there. What an advanced civilization!

The water was as green as the pictures indicate. It may or may not be radioactive, and steam is constantly rising up from it. A little creepy, but cool none the less.

The town of Bath was remarkably quaint. It is exactly what I think of when I think of a tiny European town with short streets that wind around in every which way, little shops with homemade goodies and vendors in the streets. It was a perfectly grey day in England and I managed to find yet another fashion museum. Not as cool as either of the other exhibits I have seen, but it had worthwhile information and some cool sketches of original designs.

Here are the photos.

After our day in the country, it's back to work.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Oh, right...

Today was the first day of work.

Went straight to a 2 hour class after that. With no dinner.

Mad that we have a mouse.

Have to get up tomorrow at 8 a.m. like a normal person. Not happy about that.

No good writing could possibly come from me now. Check back later.

Marvin, that freeloading sob

We have a mouse. His name is Marvin. If he plans on staying around he better cough up some rent because this flat is already too small with too many people living here. And if he thinks he can just get away with eating through the box and finishing off the cereal, he is sorely mistaken.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

V & A

Sarah and I just returned from an afternoon at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The location of our flats gets better everyday, including today, when we realized that the V & A was only a short 15 minute walk down Cromwell Road. The weather was unbelievable today with highs in the upper 50s (fahrenheit that is)- perfect for a Saturday afternoon out.

The admission to the museum was free (which is great because last night a drink was upwards of 8 GBP). We only got around the first floor because the museum is unbelievably large, and because we spent about an hour and a half in the fashion exhibit.

The first exhibit we saw was entitled: Out of the Ordinary: spectacular craft and featured eight contemporary artists (including Ms. Anne Wilson from Chicago) who utilize old and new technologies to being life to the mundane and familiar. I was shocked and amazed by everything that I saw and at one point realized I had been walking around with my mouth gaping open. I don't even want to try to describe some of the pieces for fear that I will marginalize or depreciate their work. Check out the pics.

On our way to the fashion and photography exhibits we were stopped by the sight of the John Madejski Garden, an incredibly romantic courtyard whose lighting highlighted the natural beauty of all that it encompassed. The energy in the area made everyone want to stop and stand still, if only to hold on to the simple calmness that the scenery provoked.

Afterwards, it was on to the fashion exhibit. Unlike the Matthew Williamson collection we saw earlier this week, their collection focused on the history of the industry and the way clothing has evolved over a great span of time. There were some truly timeless pieces, and many fashions that were probably better off forgotten, but still every piece was relevant and appreciated in the totality of the exhibition. No photos there, the lighting wasn't right for it.

We finished up in an exhibit on photography, which was extremely interesting, although didn't have a lot of cohesion for me. I would have preferred a little more direction here, yet the diversity of the photos featured showed a great deal of varied talent in the field.

Since we only hit the first floor, we will be back.

Here come the Irish

I found the lovely ladies from South Bend Thursday night. Finally. Unfortunately, they are not close to me, locationally. Their flats are, however, much bigger than mine with the same number of people. Oh well, I will just have to embrace the "cozy" nature of Hogarth Home. We went to the four story O'Neill's in Leicester Square. Really fun. Oh, except for when the heel broke off of my black BCBG pumps (yes family, the ones I just had fixed). Needless to say, I danced the night away with one shoe intact, while balancing on the other one. No one is quite sure how.

Last night we braved a club called the Electric Birdcage. Free entrance before 10 p.m. so we arrived promptly at 9:50. The atmosphere was really cool- a glow in the dark Alice in Wonderland feel. We managed to get a table by befriending the woman working the door and were placed right next to the dj, who was spinning from inside of a giant birdcage. He told us that my roommate Shannon "made him dizzy." We got a pic with him of course.

Photos from the night up soon. Check back.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Tower Hill

Yesterday my roommate Sarah and I spent a lovely afternoon exploring the Tower Hill area. Coming out of the tube station we were met by beautiful scenery and amazing views of the Tower Bridge (what most people think is the London Bridge). The bridge is bigger and more magnificent than I ever could have imagined and Sarah and I had quite the photo shoot while crossing over the Thames. We walked through a cute area around the base of the bridge on our way to the Design Museum, our destination for the day.

The Design Museum itself was a very modern and geometrical building amongst the detailed architecture of the area. Its massive blank white walls were hard to miss. Inside we saw an exhibit on the work of Jean ProuvĂ©, a designer, engineer, architect, etc. whose work was rooted in utilitarian furniture. The next floor featured a myriad of different “inventions” chairs made from all different materials, a large race car and another structure I couldn’t quite identify (nor could I find its informational card). I think my favorite chairs in the collection were these rounded plastic pieces that were covered in faux fur. Their caption read: “where the animal kingdom meets Las Vegas” (or something to that affect).

Finally, we spent a long time in an exhibit on the fashion on Matthew Williamson. The curators did an absolutely brilliant job of highlighting the colors and textures of his clothes while humanizing the designer himself. Fortunately for you, photography was allowed. I’ll let the clothes speak for themselves.

After the Design Museum, we were headed to the Fashion and Textile Museum in the same area when we were met by a short monsoon. We decided it wise to stop in a cute cafe under the Tower Bridge for an afternoon coffee. Gorgeous views of the river and bridge accompanied our Irish and French coffees, while the conversation took the afternoon right into early evening. Back on the tube, we encountered the joys (not) of rush hour. Fortunately for us, many young, good-looking business men were on our line.

Photos Up (Jan. 17, 2008)

I made a new Shutterfly collection of my London photos and uploaded my first album: Home Sweet Hogarth. Check it out at:

The password is my dog’s name. If you don’t know the spelling, email me and I will be happy to give it to you!

Dogs of London (Jan. 16,2008)

Another observation I made today about the city had to do with its dogs. All the dogs here, and there aren’t really that many, are very squatty. Their legs are short and they have very stocky bodies. Today I saw a Westie that reminded me of Wilke and a long-haired Dachshund that reminded me, sort of, of Angus :)

Museum of London (Jan. 16, 2008)

First British Life and Culture (BLC) field trip today: Museum of London. It was not exactly thrilling. I almost felt as though everything was spelled out for me, like there was nothing for me to discover on my own. There were some artifacts that I could touch, which I really enjoyed and I did find a exhibit on the great London fire interesting because I could related it to my sweet home, Chicago. Most likely, I will write my paper for the week comparing the two great disasters.

This one’s for you Gram: A view from the museum window. Look how green the grass is!

Also, the tube stop we were at today made me think of my heritage. Perhaps Holben originated from this: Holborn Tube Stop

Last night, our BLC lecture, which proceeds our field trips, was given by a guest speaker. Wendy, who is a politics and international relations professor at another college in the city was very interesting and explained that London is not necessarily representative of the UK, or even England, as a whole. She said it has more in common with NY, Rome, Milan and other cities where there is una mezcla (mixture) of people from all over the continent and the world (This is why there is no convention for which side of the sidewalk to walk down… Everyone just follows what is custom in their homeland).

I also found out that many Londoners don’t practice a religion. Wendy told us, “We shop on Sundays… the new cathedrals of consumerism.” Ah, a sect even I can identify with!

Why is No One Reaaaady? (Jan. 15, 2008)

Today was a lazy rainy day in London. After sleeping in and cleaning our common room, AB and I headed over to Oxford Street to run a couple errands. I got a blanket for my bed for 4 lbs (yes i know that is not how it is abbreviated Meg) and a cute school bag for 2 lbs. We also went to another large department store called Selfridges and Co.

All the major department stores have basements with food halls. Similar to Marshall Field’s, but with more markets and counters for everything, like an entire counter of bulk olives that you would buy by the pound. They also have like gelato counters and sushi counters and a couple small cafes/restaurants. The areas with desserts are reminiscent of Candy Land, with more adorable little treats than you can imagine.

Today while riding the tube, I realized that there isn’t much handicap accessibility in the city. There are lots of stairs in the tube stops and not too many ramps. The elevators (”lifts”) are used by everyone, not just those who need them and are in many cases the only way to get to from one line to another. The entrances to sidewalks have these strange uniformed bumps, I suppose for traction and so the sidewalks don’t get slippery, but I hate walking over them, so I imagine it would be difficult for handicapped people to also.

We have class again tonight. BLC and then tomorrow our first field trip to the Museum of London.

Until then…

Drapers (Jan. 14, 2008)

Just got back from my interview for my internship. Amazing. I will be the most fabulous person in London yet.

Drapers is one of Emap Publishing’s magazines, but they have many (like Time Inc). The building is right outside of the tube station and from the outside has like giant cat statues and Grecian columns, weird, I know. But the inside was so modern with glass walls and doors everywhere and bright colored furniture. Very techy.

There is another girl from my program who will be working there also, so we interviewed together. My supervisor was away at a photo shoot (so cool) so two others interviewed us. They were very nice and I think impressed with how articulate I was. I made a point of mentioning London Fashion Week (or LFW) so that they would know I was interested. Hopefully that will secure me some tickets to some shows!

They wanted us to start working later this week… I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, check out their website:

Tonight is the first night of class. Should be pretty low key. Our teacher is from Mizzou, so she knows what’s up.

The Fabulous Life of... (Jan. 13, 2008)

Last night I got my first taste of fabulousness (thanks to wonderful and talented Suzi Hampton) and if I ever thought I was fabulous before, I now know, I’m not. Hopefully I charmed them enough to get another invite. I wore the gray skinny pants.

Ventured to Harrods today. One word: Exquisite. Similar to the size of the Marshall Fields downtown, but all designer things. The inside was extremely ornate and at times I thought I was in a museum, not a store.

Internship interview tomorrow.

Maria's not an Asset to the Abbey (Jan. 12, 2008)

Recap of last night: Hit up O’Neils, a relaxed pub just around the corner from us. More after work crowd than young hotties, but a good close place nevertheless. After that, a short tube ride away to The Sports Cafe in hopes of finding young hotties. Found the elusive TigerTiger, and realized we needed to be on a list to get in. Alas, we will continue to track this jungle cat in its natural habitat.

Today, slept in and then headed to Westminster after a confusing couple of tube stops. With the intent of seeing the London Eye on a gorgeous day, and before it closed for a month for repairs, we got their only to realize it closed yesterday, for repairs. We will be back January 22 for its return debut.

On the way to Westminster Abbey we got some shots of Big Ben and picked up a cup of warm roasted peanuts- a great snack to enjoy as we walked along the Thames River.

Good photo of the area: Big Ben and the London Eye

After getting to the abbey and realizing we missed the last tour for the day there, we headed in The Abbey Shop for a look around. Afterwards we saw people going in and realized that our desires to see the inside could be fulfilled by attending an afternoon Eversong service. The choir sang most of it and the inside architecture was as remarkable as you can imagine, which you will have to because there is no photography inside :(

Tonight we are attempting to hit the streets of London again. I am hoping to get a hold of some other amateur Londoners that reign from South Bend, IN. If anyone has any information on their whereabouts, I must be the first to know.

BTW: the title for today’s post was inspired by the song “Maria” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.

Singin' in the Rain (Jan. 11, 2008)

Although I was excited for my first London rain, my excitement has since ceased. When I got up this morning for our orientation meeting at 7:30, it was very dark outside and the rain for the day was only just beginning. We walked to Imperial College in the pouring rain and my socks were soaked through my Uggs and squishing the entire way (Dad- the top of the Uggs didn’t look wet, perhaps we missed a small spot along the seam where the sole meets the fabric). The rain made everyone grumpy, including me, but after a nice lunchtime nap I woke up to sunny skies and a new tude.

We went to a “social orientation” this afternoon where we heard about a lot of travel companies and their excursions. Very interesting. Afterwards, a trip to the grocery was in order while the rain was still gone. I got the necessities, including Activia, which here comes in a multitude of flavors. I got the eight pack with kiwi, strawberry, mango and apricot, but I noticed others such as fig, rhubarb, natural, cherry, currant and “cereal”…

Tonight we are venturing out on the town and headed to a place suggested by my favorite veteran Londoner. Thank you Miss Maggie Brown!

On the Side- means extra (Jan. 10, 2008)

Today I saw London by bus. We went past the school where Madonna’s daughter goes, the concert hall where Elton John plays and saw a 750 lb. queen. Oh yea, we also saw the Royal Albert Hall, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, all the major museums, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the changing of the guards (video up soon). For those of you keeping track, I wore my Uggs, dark Joe jeans, black jacket and pink scarf.

Check out a picture from today: Changing of the Guards

Today was also my first London rain. Fortunately, I was prepared with my weather proofed Uggs and cute umbrella. After the tour we got cell phones (I have free incoming calls if you want to ring me up), did a little shopping and then headed home. I bought cute house shoes for 3 lbs.

I have become the group’s resident navigator. I have been able to find our way home on more than one occasion and have really impressed my roommates with my directional skills. I’m like American Express: they will never leave home without me.

We ventured out to a London eatery tonight and I had my first falafel. Very tasty. There was a table of American boys next to us and when we sat down, they immediately asked “where in America are you guys from?” (They go to school in North Carolina and I dibbed the dark haired boy in the back with the lacoste half zip. They were very impressed that we are here the entire semester because they are only staying until the end of the month.) I also learned that when I asked for the chili sauce on the side of my sandwich, I got it on the side and on my sandwich as well. So apparently I asked for extra. Noted.

The boys invited us to meet them at some place called Tiger Tiger. We are unsure whether this is a real club or not. After investigation, I will have more to post.

The Little Engine that Could (Jan. 10, 2008)

There is this perfectly picturesque train track behind our building with adorable little trains that run along it. This morning was cloudy and the lights from inside the train shown outward. I looked down to see people reading their morning papers. When the trains go past, there is a gentle rumbling and the building shakes ever so slightly. I have grown to love the periodic visits of the trains because they remind me of home.

Safe and Sound in London town (Jan. 9, 2008)

(Title compliments of Lisa Noe)

I have arrived- in every sense of the word.

Last night I landed in London and fell in love. Rainy, yes, but magical all the same. After a night at the Regency (thanks to AB), we met all the chumps who took the group flights at the flats. I was soon informed that I had the Penthouse Suite, otherwise known as Flat 5, which sounded cool until I had to drag my weight in luggage up five extremely narrow flights of stairs. I have five roommates, three in one room with me and two in the other, a common room and a small kitchen. It is much cozier and cleaner than the poverty I was expecting. And my street is so cute. Straight out of Love Actually.

After settling in a little, and I stress a little, we walked to some library and then past Kensington Gardens and then to a pub for my first, and probably last, Fish and Chips. After waiting over 2 1/2 hours to eat, a lot of the group got restless and two girls got really drunk. They got lost on the way to the lecture on how to be safe while out drinking. Ironic.

Now I am at home blogging alongside two other roommates who are blogging. We are so journalism. I am about to attack my second suitcase and maybe even the shower- hey I’m feeling adventurous.

-An American girl in London

Leaving on a Jet Plane (Jan. 7, 2008)

It is officially my last day in the U.S. for the next couple of months and while I stare at 14 pairs of shoes trying to decide which won’t make the cut, I thought I would give some updates. Although I will have a cell phone once I get to London, I am going to be best reached by email: (and for those of you that have AIM or iChat: KNoe221).

I may also be investing in Skype because some of my loved ones prefer that mode of communication (although they won’t know that unless they choose to read this…).

Adios amigos! Hasta el 1 de mayo!

Flights Booked (Dec. 10, 2007)

I finally bought my tickets to London last night! I depart from O’Hare Airport on the morning of January 8, 2008 (28 days!) and arrive at London’s Heathrow Airport that night. My return date is tentatively set for May 1 (pending any travel after my internship is over).

Hello All (Dec. 6, 2007)

This is my blog for next semester so that everyone can keep track of me across the pond. Prepare yourselves: I depart from Chicago on January 8, 2008 and I have not yet bought a return ticket…