The Great London Adventure

French Word(s) of the Day: le marriage (leh marr-e-ah-geh)- the wedding

I did very well in the UK.  Will and Kate’s wedding ended up being the perfect vacation.

Vanessa and I went to Stonehenge and Bath on Tuesday.  I won’t describe Stonehenge; you’ve all seen it in photos.  It’s pretty much the same in person, except bigger.  They stopped letting people touch the rocks in the 70’s due to erosion.  I didn’t get to touch it, so it’s uninteresting.

Bath had the Jane Austen Center.  Clearly, the only Austen character any female has ever cared about is Mr. Darcy, because there are about 8,000 photographs of Colin Firth in his Darcy gear gracing the walls.

Wednesday was our official celebrity sighting day.  We stumbled upon Natasha Bedingfield singing at the London Tower.  She was singing for a tv special.

When we got back to the hostel, my new Swiss-Italian friend, Diego, informed me that he knew where Keira Knightley would be singing autographs.  As a celebrity enthusiast, I decided that would be agreeable, and we joined him.

She was speed signing.  I couldn’t even get a good shot of her face, but still it IS her.

Thursday, we filled my Shakespeare love and went to the reproduction of the Globe Theatre.  We bought standing seats (very cheap and the best “seats” in the house) and saw “All’s Well that Ends Well.”  Vanessa and I had to explain some of it to Diego, but he did well considering.  (Shakespeare is confusing enough if English is your first language.)  Thankfully, it didn’t rain, as the standing seats aren’t covered…

We then walked around and stared at all the people in tents outside Westminster Abbey.  Some of them had been camping out for an entire week.  Personally, I like a more comfortable setting with a bed, running water, and heating, but their devotion to the Royals cannot be denied.

I’m not hardcore enough.

Friday, we woke up really early and headed to Hyde Park to watch from the screens.  We were considering lining the streets, but after seeing the people in tents, we knew we’d never get a good spot.  Also, Hyde Park’s screens would show us more of the event.

Luckily, this is where most of the real British people were.  They were sporting a collection of the ugliest hats I’ve ever seen.  Those Brits sure have awful taste in head wear.  I was considering bringing hats back until I saw them.  Now, I think we should be very afraid of them.

My friend, James, came in on Friday night to see me.  He’s in the British Air Force, but they got Friday and they’ll get tomorrow off, so he had/has some free time.  He turned out to be a font of knowledge of the Princes.  They’re both in the Air Force, so he’s had drinks with them and some of his instructors have taught them.  I got to hear a few stories, and am uber jealous.  Although, I guess I would rather not have Prince Harry think of me as a drinking buddy and more as someone who could possibly join him in Holy Matrimony whilest wearing Alexander McQueen.

Posh Spice would absolutely be there.  And Sir Elton.

I’d been seeing “mushy peas” on the menu everywhere.  James said, “They’re even worse than they sound” but insisted I try them at least once.

They’re definitely worse than they sound.  Which really, you have to admit is quite tough to do.  Anything “mushy” already is unappetizing.

They don’t even look like they would taste good.  The fish and mashed potatoes more than made up for them, but why does this exist?

On a related side note, I bought heartburn medication in London.  It was needed.

James then took me on a pub crawl of all his favorites.  I became addicted to this fabulous drink called Pimm’s, which I believe is gin and lemonade.  Much like sangria, they put fruit in it.  I had James pose with it.

(His is the more manly-looking beer in the foreground.  He didn’t join me in the deliciousness that is Pimm’s.)  Check out all the fruit!  I’m pretty sure that counts as a daily serving of fruit.  Five glasses of Pimm’s, and you’re good for the day.

James and I were going to meet the next night because we’d had such a successful and fun bar crawl, but he was still recovering (he even missed his stop on the way home).  Poor kid.  I guess the British just aren’t as skilled at drinking as those of us with Irish in our blood.

Also, Pimm’s probably has less alcohol than beer.  A lot less.  It’s the fruit.

I walked around St. James’ Park on Saturday and saw Buckingham Palace the day after the wedding… not as exciting as the day of.  But I did see this:

Today at the train station, I met another writer!  I had two hours to kill, so I bought a coffee and was writing stories in my notebook at one of those huge, collective, meant-for-6-people tables.  He joined me when the other spaces ran out, and asked for some help on dialogue with a play he’s been writing.  After he found out I was also a writer, he asked me to read the entire play.  He’s going to send the final version to me when it’s finished.

Yeah, I’m expanding my literary connections!  I’m going to have writer friends in all parts of the globe.

I’ve never tried writing at a cafe like that before.  Must make it a habit.

I’ve convinced the members of the group I have to do a speech with on Thursday that the Royal Wedding should be our topic.  OOOOOH YEAH.

Pain au chocolat count: 77

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Thinking of my friends…

French Word(s) of the Day: tremblement de terre (tremb-lay-mon duh tare)- earthquake

I go to a language school in Paris.  The French don’t need to learn French (though some of them could benefit from a few classes), so I usually have made friends with people from other countries in my courses.

I still keep in touch with several of them from the first time I was here.  Guess where the people I talk the most to are from?  The Ivory Coast, Libya, and Japan.

Nooooot such great places to live right now.

For me, the hardest ones to talk to have been my friends from Japan.  One was talking about how her city was running out of mineral water, and she was worried about her friends in Tokyo.  Another has been experiencing a ton of earthquakes and is desperately trying to contact a friend she hasn’t heard from…

My friend from the Ivory Coast has been here for longer, so his family are all safe, but he’s worried about a few friends.  My Libyan friend lives here now with his family, but can’t return to his country because he’ll be questioned about why he left, etc.  He’s also worried for friends left behind and has been having nightmares about bombs and Khadafi…

I’m never sure what to say to any of them when they tell me these things.

My experiences in Paris have been surreal.  I think meeting so many people has opened me up to all the catastrophes that happen in the world in a new way.  When you hear about something bad that has happened in the world and see footage, it’s hard.  However, after awhile, you find yourself distanced from it.  I’m guilty of doing this quite frequently when it’s a country that’s far away from me.

It’s different when it’s affecting someone you know.  When I heard about what had happened in Japan, I immediately went on facebook to check that my friends were okay.  It’s much harder to hear that Yulia is in the middle of an earthquake and terrified or that Reina is running out of water than that people I don’t know or can’t envision are having problems.

I think it’s made the world a bit smaller.  It makes me sad that the world is having so many problems.  I always just wish I could help them all. 😦

*EDIT*: Yulia’s friend is safe!  She finally heard from her (a week later)!!!!!  I’m so happy for her.  🙂

Pain au chocolat count: 62