Apparently I slept through (of course) an earthquake Tuesday night, the biggest to hit London in 20+ years. Here are two stories (UK shaken and Quaking all over) from my favourite (like that spelling) paper here in London, The Independent.
Also, there are a lot of protests going on surrounding the expansion of Heathrow Airport. I am honestly very surprised that a country that seems to be environmentally conscious is going to put so much money towards a detriment to the environment. Earlier in the week, Greenpeace members climbed atop an airplane to release banners of disagreement, and yesterday protestors scaled the roof of Parliament to get their message across (story here).
For those of you who don't know, I have been volunteering as a camp counselor at the for about four years now (I am starting to lose track...). I was a camper at Sports Camp when I was in junior high and high school and the counselors always made the week for me, so I jumped at the opportunity to be a counselor as soon as I was asked. Unfortunately, enrollment has been pretty low (which is unbelievable considering how fun camp is) and last year we were unable to have it at all. All the staff was heartbroken, but more importantly that meant a year that there were kids missing out on all that Sports Camp has to offer, which believe me is a lot. Sports Camp is a week-long camp in Princeton, IL that is sponsored by the UCC. It is an amazing opportunity for kids with all levels of athletic ability and faith to come together and just enjoy a week away. Campers are grouped into "families" to foster friendship and sportsmanship, while competing in Olympic style games, but to understand the Sports Camp "magic" you'll have to experience it for yourself :)
So, this year we are back in full force making sure that everyone knows exactly what they have been missing. Our wonderful camp directors have put us on the web: http://www.uccsportscamp.org/ and have included a blog where they, and other staff members, post information and updates, as well as favorite memories and stories from the past 30+ years. I really cannot stress how fun, and rewarding, Sports Camp is (and you all know I can usually find a way to write about anything). I have been on both sides of the camp dynamic (camper and now counselor) and consistently camp is one of the best weeks of my entire year. I am hoping that by spreading the word to all your family and friends (especially those with kids who have just completed 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th grade) that I will be able to share this experience with so many others. Please email Suzy, Marc and Scott (email@example.com) if you have ANY question. They are seriously some of the nicest people I have ever met, and they love camp even more than I do.
So I guess I can start panicking about how quickly my time here is going... my midterm break starts this Saturday! I am headed to Germany (Berlin to be exact) on Saturday. After a few days there, we will be trekking to Rostock on the Baltic Sea to visit the land of Laura's ancestors and will be finishing the trip on Wednesday in Frankfurt (the rest of the week will be spent with the lovely Shayne Zotti in London). Any suggestions on places to stay, eat, visit, etc. are greatly appreciated. Leave it here, or email me Kristin.Noe@gmail.com.
Suzi and I had the pleasure of hosting Lisa, Bridget and Bridgette this week. Here is a recap of their visit (also known as the best week of my life):
Sunday: Brunch at Balans, Portobello Markets and the ElectricSunday started off with breakfast at Balans, the greatest place for eggs benedict in the entire city (thank you Suzi). Afterwards, we went to the markets on Portobello Road, which is an excellent weekend activity in London, but I was too excited by the girls' arrival to shop seriously. Drinks and appetizers at the Electric were the perfect end to the day.
Monday: Historic Pub Crawl along the Thames River The girls' met Suzi and I after work for the London Walks Along the Thames Pub Walk. It was a chilly night, but we stopped in some cute pubs along the way to warm up. Tuesday: London Eye and Thai Pub
Dusk proved to be the perfect time to take advantage of the London Eye. Neither Suzi nor I had been yet, so the girls' visit was the perfect opportunity to see the city lit up from above. Afterwards, we went to a pub in Nottinghill, The Churchill Arms, which doubles as a Thai restaurant. It was some of the best Thai food I have had here yet (besides the Papaya Tree on High Street Kensington) and was extremely reasonably priced.
Wednesday: Dover and Canterbury
This week's field trip featured another boring trip to a castle in Dover with absolutely no sign of any white cliffs...
Afterwards, we were back on the bus to Canterbury (I'm still not quite sure why) and in their cathedral. The architecture inside and out of the cathedral was beautiful, but with the prospect of my birthday in the near future, I lost interest quickly.
I did notice this very cool tile on the cathedral floor that made me think of my cousin Michael. Wednesday night we kicked off the birthday celebrations at Maddox, and I had my first drink as a 21 year old.
"Birthday festivities" (Lisa's term for opening presents sent from my wonderful family) began at Suzi's and preceeded the best dinner of my London career at Signor Sassi. Singing waiters and a delicious meal were more than I could have asked for, but the night continued to The Loop for drinks. I am proud to say, I woke up without a trace of a hangover the next day!
Friday: Buckingham Palace and Dolce
I took the day off Friday and went with the girls to Buckingham Palace (we didn't see Harry). At night, we met up with some of Suzi and Mia's friends at Dolce, which is probably the sweetest place I have been yet [the male company wasn't bad either :) ].
Lisa has kept me on my toes this week, which has kept me away from my computer (and my blog). Rest assured that I did survive my twenty-first birthday, with flying colors I might add, and will be back tomorrow to give a review of Lisa's visit. Check back.
She may not have any luggage and she may have been a few hours later than expected, but she's here with all my birthday presents in stow. I am so excited for the best week of my life (including the best 21st birthday in history).
Yesterday was definitely one of the most exciting of my life.
I went to my first catwalk show: Louise Amstrup (not the show I thought I was going to). The show was at the Royal Academy of the Arts, which is a much smaller venue than I was anticipating, and was a part of On/Off (a portion of London Fashion week). Before the show, I was interviewed while waiting in the holding area. Check out the interview.
The collection was very naturalistic. The clothing was a odd mix of tailored pants and flowy dresses. I was definitely captivated the entire time though.
After watching so many seasons of America's Next Top Model, I now understand why a model's walk is so important. Some of the models were not very seasoned, as seen in their bouncy walks, poor posture and duck-like faces. Those girls definitely took away from the clothing, however those that could walk made me want to wear whatever they were wearing.
After getting the afternoon off work to go to the show, I came home for a short cat nap following the catwalk :) Last night, Sarah and I went to see the Royal Ballet perform three pieces: Chroma (the most amazing thing I have ever seen choreographed to an orchestra's rendition of the White Stripes), The Different Drummer and The Rite of Spring. The theater itself is magnificent with red velvet seating and soft lighting throughout, but the performances certainly outshined the venue. Chroma was a perfect display of the athleticism of a professional ballet dancer combined with the fluid grace and strength of their movements. I could have been knocked over with a feather watching these gorgeous women wrap themselves around their partners as though they were no more than a strip of rubber. The men were exquisitely strong and incredibly flexible and fluid as well. All in all, a perfect contemporary display of traditional ballet technique taken beyond the tutu.
After giving my roommates a pep talk on how Valentine's Day is for all types of love, I headed off to work in a very "loving" mood (and wearing a red top). I also read a valentine from my Grandma three times over. When I got to the office, however, my coworkers sucked the love right out of me. Apparently, Valentine's Day is not celebrated the same way as in the US, and it was kinda depressing...
My faith was reaffirmed when I got off the tube at the end of the day and saw countless men racing around with bouquets of flowers, and a group standing in front of a streetside flower stand.
And to all my family and friends who are concerned that I may fall in love here and never come home, rest assured, for even on Valentine's Day, when love is in the air, it is nowhere near yours truly :)
Only in London could I drink while writing a paper for my weekly British Life and Culture class. I have escaped to a local pub to write, and despite the loud music, it is surprisingly more conducive to writing than my apartment (perhaps that's the lack of internet). Apparently, a glass of merlot is all I needed to make my analysis of Shakespeare’s writing more concrete. More to come...
This morning on the tube I was trying my best to continue reading the book I am currently absorbed in (The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards) when the a woman next to me said, "Isn't it just wonderful?"
I looked up and she nodded towards the book. Oh yes, I am really enjoying it I told her.
She said she was about a hundred pages ahead of me and told me I was just about to uncover something good. She began to tell me what she liked about the book, which included the perfectly detailed descriptions that make you feel completely immersed in the scene. The next thing she said pinpointed put my exact feelings about the book into words: It really requires concentration though.
How simple, yet profound. Although I love the story, I have been struggling with it. At first it was just identifying the characters and feeling sympathy for them, but more recently it has been feeling as though I was missing the subtleties that really brighten Edwards' writing.
When I got to my stop, I told her to enjoy the end. She replied, "You too. Take care."
What a wonderful way to start my day. This woman, a complete stranger in a city I am only just becoming familiar with, had been able to verbalize the secret to enjoying the same novel I have been working through since I left the states. She was much older and, judging by her accent, not from the UK either, yet we could find similar enjoyment in one story. I never thought that reading on the tube would make me feel smarter, more connected to a complete stranger and less alone while traveling abroad.
With a positive outlook on the day, I was extremely productive at work. From reading my earlier post you know I was also fortunate enough to get a ticket to a London Fashion Week show, and then was allowed to leave work at 3:30 PM. I spent the rest of the day reading and writing in Kensington Garden watching a peach colored sky fade into the tree spotted horizon. Dinner (sushi) and a movie (Juno) with Ambika and I am happy to call it a night.
All of my wildest dreams have just come true. My supervisor has just told us that we have invitations to a catwalk show at London Fashion Week next Friday afternoon. I think I will be seeing the collection of Aminaka Wilmont, but I was so excited that I blacked out for a second and missed the designer's name. What am I going to wear?
So this Wednesday field trip was, simply put, dull. We saw some pretty views from the top of Warwick (oh, and everything here that ends with "wick" is really just "ick" so the city we went to is war-ick), but other than that were disappointed to waste such a beautiful day on a bus. In Stratford we toured Anne Hathaway's family cottage (she was Shakespeare's wife) and Shakespeare's birthplace. Both are now museums and not in the original condition they were in when they lived there. Not even close. Anne Hathaway's cottage had more than quadrupled in size had modern windows and the roof was currently being rethatched like it is every 2o years. "The birthplace" (of Shakespeare) as they referred to it all day long, was certainly not the "Shakesperience" that our guides hyped. At least I got some good photos.
To sum up the day:
The courtyard at Warwick Castle
Anne Hathaway's cottage
"I must be cruel only to be kind; Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind." -William Shakespeare
I probably shouldn't be blogging at work, but we just got this week's issue of Drapers and I am listed in the masthead as a contributor! Hooray! I guess some of my hard work has paid off. Check out the website if you haven't already.
We are in hot pursuit of Marvin. He came out in tonight with all three of us watching, so we have now set a trap (pizza box with peanut butter in it) and are poised outside of it. We have turned the lights off and plan to close him inside and throw him out the window.
The only problem is that this is not the "Marvin" I saw the other day. My guess is he brought his girlfriend back to our place...
So, I finally saw Marvin (the mouse that cohabitates our flat).
I am now hiding up in my top bunk because I am too afraid to go anywhere near the kitchen. Perfect time to recap my weekend:
Friday night Sarah and I ventured to the infamous Brick Lane as suggested by locals at both of our internships. It was a little scary at first with lots of abandoned buildings and foreign men trying to scoot us into various middle eastern restaurants, but we found a charming little place to have a couple of drinks. The atmosphere was very cozy and the service was great. Next we walked down a little alleyway flooded with people. There were foodstands on both sides and judging by the smell and the crowds, the food must have been pretty good. We didn't get anything. We then saw another interesting looking place and ventured inside to find the perfect combination of lounge and bar. Good crowd, not too difficult to get a drink and comfy leather couches. The creepy guys that tried to carry on a conversation with us were the only negative.
Saturday was a cold day in London. After an enjoyable lunch with Suzi, I headed to Trafalgar Square and visited the National Portrait Gallery. The collection was very interesting and informative- A great way to learn about history. One of my favorite exhibits was on the artist's process, which was a cool way to look at portraiture by seeing exactly how some artists put together a seemingly straightforward piece of art. Let me tell you, its not as obvious as one might think. I also got to see the entries for the Photographic Portrait Prize 2007. There were some very creative shots, and also some not so creative ones, but a good collection nonetheless.
Afterwards I braved the cold and walked around the fountains in Trafalgar Square. There was quite a crowd despite the gloomy weather. I walked around what would be the equivalent to the theater district in Chicago and stumbled upon the Covent Gardens marketplace. I heard live music and clapping, so I followed the cheers and found a string quartet of twenty somethings entertaining a huge crowd. They all danced while they played their instruments, which was quite a feat for their bassist.
Today Ambika and I went in search of some much sought after food items and were extremely successful. First stop was a creperie that was more than worth the wait. I hope to take some visitors back there. Afterwards we headed to The Hummingbird Bakery to satisfy our intense cravings for cupcakes. I went with the red velvet (only to find out it had a cream cheese frosting) and Ambika got vanilla with vanilla frosting. You can order birthday cakes from there too which is good to know :) We finished up the afternoon with a little shopping in Knightsbridge. If only I didn't have to go to work tomorrow...
My favorite blog, The Winger, has recently added former NYCB member Kyra Nichols (pictured at the right in all her splendor) as a contributor- a wonderful addition, in my eyes. Her first post was about a young girl she had met while in the company who is now a very accomplished cellist. Her name is Ashley Bathgate and after visiting her website I am completely hooked on her music (and listening to it as I write this). I don't claim to know much about music, and even less about cello music, but if you are at all interested you should go to her website and have a listen.
That got me thinking that I could use my blog to shameless promote my own family's musical pursuits. Check out my cousin Kevin on bass in his band, City In Reverse, at their myspace page. Be sure to listen to Sunglasses- it's my fav.