Tag Archives: England

I want to blame the British, but it could be karma.

Let’s start by talking about how I got trapped in my bedroom this weekend.

The wonderfully constructed, cheap plastic door handle fell off this indestructible metal box with a dead bolt and latch, leaving me absolutely no way to get out of my room until someone could open the door from the outside.  Jumping out the window isn’t an option because our back yard is completely sealed off by a big brick wall which I couldn’t get over, so if I didn’t have my phone in the room with me I’d have been trapped from 10 am until about 2 in the morning.

I have many problems with the way the British construct doors because most of them have never heard of the door knob, and if there is a knob it’s a total PoS as demonstrated above.

For example, take a look at my front door.

WHO ON EARTH thought, “You know what – we could put a door knob here and some dead bolts people could twist from the inside, but let’s not. Let’s put a sharp metal ring that people can slide their fingers through to pull open the door, and let’s make it so you can only lock the dead bolt with a key, that way people can potentially be trapped in the house if there is a fire and they can’t find their keys.”

Here is my door knob that so cleverly doubles as a hook for the chain:

 

And here is the outside of the front door, with the little pull handle so close to the key hole that it’s very difficult to turn the key without twisting your hand in an awkward position or getting your finger pinched.

But back to me being trapped. My friend Clay loved the fact that I got trapped in my room because a joke I played on him one time caused him to actually have to jump out of a second floor window. His room mate and I took a screwdriver and dismantled his door knob one night because … well, for no reason. It was funny, but Clay didn’t think so. Then his door wouldn’t shut properly and got stuck a few months later. He was trapped, and his phone was in the living room so he had to jump out the window.

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Autumn in Hyde Park

Today I woke up ridiculously early and also forgot to set my clocks back, so when I got to Whole Foods in Kensington it was still two hours before they opened. I had a quick walk around Kensington Gardens, which is right next to Hyde Park, and decided the fall colors were so beautiful I had to call Adrian and ask him to bring my camera!

Adrian likes activities. He doesn’t like walking around taking pictures, and he refuses to use my camera because I have a big, bulky 1970s strap that he says “effs him off.”

In the spirit of activities, we tried out the Barclays bikes that are on every street corner in London. I’ve never tried them before because even though it’s only a pound to rent a bike for a day, I strongly fear being caught and stuck under the wheels of a London bus for miles until the driver notices. That stuff happens! This was the perfect opportunity to try the bikes out because Hyde Park is huge so we had a long, traffic-free ride through the park.

Today was yet another one of those days where I went into the city with a specific purpose and ended up doing something totally random and fun.

I also finally got my fall colors fix, and discovered Whole Foods caters to its American crowd and sells pumpkin ice cream in addition to shelves and shelves of Libby’s canned pumpkin! I stocked up.

I had wanted to go to Cambridge and get fall pictures like I did last year, but today was great too! I’m hoping we’ll have one more weekend of this …

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I love Borough Market.

I feel so lucky to be able to go to a place like Borough Market on my lunch break.

Borough Market is a big tourist destination market near London Bridge, but every foodie Londoner I know loves it as well.

It’s a huge market filled with stalls selling everything you can imagine, food related of course! On Thursday I went to the garlic stand and bought my parents a hot garlic pickle (as in British pickle, not pickles). It’s fantastic. I didn’t get many pictures because I spent so long waiting in line to get an iced espresso at one of the shops near the market.

On Friday I went with a friend from work and we thought it would be fun to have a dinner party using some vegetables from Borough Market that we’ve never heard of.

Look at all those tomatoes! I’m not a huge tomato fan, but this colorful display was definitely one of my favorites. I can’t wait to go again this week. I would go more often, but I always forget to take my camera and I can’t stand going there without being able to take tons of pictures.

If you ever come to London be sure to check this market out – there’s something for everyone and it’s a great place to pick up a quick lunch.

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Planet Earth: Richmond Park Edition

I went all David Attenborough today.

We made the short trip to Richmond Park and it was delightful indeed. I’d heard two things about Richmond Park. 1) It’s a huge park and there are deer running around everywhere. 2) Gordon Ramsay sometimes tweets about running in Richmond Park.

So, I was hoping for two things. 1) I’d see deer. 2) I’d see Gordon Ramsay having a quick jog.

Once again, I didn’t see Gordon. BUT, I did see this beautiful little thing:

We walked for about an hour and I started to get anxious that there would be no deer sightings, but then we found a group of about six sitting in a patch of shade. There were cars rolling by in the background and people walking past every so often. We got fairly close, and it was evident they don’t fear people in the slightest.

The park was huge. I didn’t plan well (at all) so we didn’t see much of it even though we were there a couple hours. I definitely plan to go back soon, because apparently you can get amazing views of the city from one of the hills.

I also plan to pack a picnic for next time!

Any better way to top off an English day than with a pie platter?

I wonder how many pies I’ve eaten in England?

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A randomly lovely day in the city

FUN day. I finally met a friend who was willing to go with me to one of the only German restaurants in the city. We went to Katzenjammers by Borough Market (next to London Bridge station) before our late shift at work. I read reviews and heard the food was good but the service was rather bad, which I figured was standard since the London Bridge area is so touristy, and let’s face it, this is England – not known for customer service.

Well, the service was great and the food was even better. I’m not much of a meat eater but I totally wolfed down a big sausage covered in a huge pile of kraut, then polished that off with a pretzel covered in cheese. We went from 2-3 so there were a few people there but it wasn’t packed. Apparently Friday nights are the nights to go because they have live music.

Sorry about blurred photo. It was just so dark by our table and I wasn’t about to take that sausage outside. It was all I could do to take one picture before devouring.

After our amazing German meal we were stuffed, but we still had a ton of time before work. I was really thirsty, so we stopped into an Italian place by work I’ve been wanting to try. As soon as we saw they were actually offering blankets so people could lounge in the sun on the grass we both knew we were going to spend the rest of the hour there. I’d never been into the restaurant but it was beautiful. On every table they have a fresh pot of basil – my favorite herb!

Yep. That’s a huge glass case filled with fresh basil.

We ordered two cocktails named Hugo – prosecco (my fav!) with fresh mint leaves, a lime slice and a bit of fruit syrup to sweeten it up a little. It was so perfect.

Only one of those is mine, although I’d gladly have had two. And yes that book is Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Read it now.

Sometimes I love London.

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Match of the Day.

Match of the Day is a football program on TV every single Saturday night of the entire football season. After the guys watch the games during the day and read all the news, they have to be home by 10 pm to see the highlights and commentary. At least Adrian does.

As soon as we finished our curry tonight Adrian said we needed to be getting back so I could get his tea ready.

“What? What tea?”

He told me it’s tradition that wives make their husbands a cup of tea so they can watch Match of the Day. I was also informed that I better not make any noise or complain, and I better not try to play any music on my lap top.

Like my new English tea towel? It has a bunch of different words for tea. I like “cuppa” because it’s so English and really funny.

I went to a football game once. Well, twice, but I’m only going to show you pictures of the time I saw England play at Wembley in the World Cup qualifier against Croatia.

I really really really want to get into football because you can’t escape it over here. It’s all anyone talks about for 9 months straight.

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Living in London during the riots

I woke up today thinking yesterday was a dream and buildings all over London, including where I live, hadn’t actually been on fire. It was the first time I’ve ever been scared in the city, and I never thought I’d be scared in this area of London. When I got in my cab at midnight to go home my cab driver assured me he’d been following the news closely and wouldn’t take me past any major shopping centers, and if he saw anything at all he’d drive away!

The ride home was clear apart from a lot of fire trucks and cops still around the retail center in Colliers Wood that was burned and looted earlier, and the road was closed off.

Today the rioting and looting spread to other cities around the UK, so it’s now being called the UK riots rather than the London riots. According to the BBC 563 people in London have been arrested and more than 100 have been charged.

I went to work at 4 today, and it was weird to see shops in both Colliers Wood and Waterloo boarded up. I brought my camera to snap a few pics, but I took my crappy one in the event I got mugged (that explains the poor quality of the photos).  As soon as I got to work they decided to send everyone home early to be safe. Since I was meant to be on the evening shift today they gave me the laptop to work from home.

This glass building wasn’t taking any chances and had a whole crew setting up some serious barriers.

Lots of little shops were closed for the day or just closed early. The pub across from Southwark station had already boarded up its windows.

I’m safe at home now just working, blogging and watching the news. Thanks to everyone for all the comments about us staying safe!

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#londonriots – A Different Perspective on the News

In England we get regular coverage of happenings in the US so I don’t generally feel like I’m that far away. When the riots started getting bad people in London were freaking out. I was checking news sites here and following Twitter and it was all over the place. Buildings, cars and buses are burning in several areas of the city, and shops are being looted in too many places to count. One of my friends was attacked and mugged (he’s OK) and some people had to leave work early to get home. It’s been an awful night in London.

I posted a Facebook status about the riots and several of my American friends had no clue. I couldn’t believe it. I feel so connected to the US, yet everyone I talked to had no idea I was in a city with riots erupting all around. I kept checking major US news sites and they either didn’t have any mention of it or it was a small headline buried under news of the debt crisis.

It was a weird feeling being a part of something huge that my whole country knew nothing about.

Check the Guardian for more news.

A police officer escorts a family past the burned-out Carpetright shop in Tottenham, north London. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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London’s Secret Garden

We discovered an amazing place in the city today, and even better is the fact that it was just down the road! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Cannizaro Park before. The park is actually in Wimbledon Common, just a 5 minute walk from Wimbledon Village (about a 2 minute bus ride from Wimbledon Station).

I know Wimbledon seems far away, but it’s only in Zone 3. I definitely recommend coming for a day out sometime and having a nice lunch in Wimbledon Village (lots of lovely restaurants and higher-end shopping around) before heading to the Common and Cannizaro. Also don’t forget there’s the lawn tennis museum for those of you who care about tennis!

The hotel and restaurant at Cannizaro:

The rain was really spotty today, but luckily many of the trees were so huge and numerous that we could stand below the big branches without getting wet. I was so worried about my camera so during the brief showers I’d stick him under my shirt like a camera baby.

Plan your trip to Wimbledon now! It’s beautiful! They should totally hire me to promote SW19, the best postcode in London. See? I can’t speak of this place without a promotion.

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Sun in Battersea Park

This weekend we decided to do something different and leave our little corner of London. I used to go explore the city every weekend, but the past few months we haven’t left South West London very often. Adrian found out about a foodie festival in Battersea Park, and I’ve always wanted to go there so we headed on over.

First we stopped by the Wimbledon mall to check out the new Sony store and their 55 inch 3D TV. We watched a few seconds of a show then played a video game. Adrian says this was a smile of genuine happiness because he didn’t know I was taking a picture.

I hate 3D at the movies because the glasses are always too big and wobbly, and it’s never worth it.

This was a whole new experience. We are definitely getting one of these TVs when we move back to the US. No doubt!

Once we got to Battersea Park I was so happy we decided to try something new. It was so beautiful and I couldn’t wait to go back within about 2 seconds of arriving. It’s like Regent’s Park, but without the tourists. Lots of trees, flowers and water.

The park also runs along the Thames. There were so many runners! If it’s nice next weekend I’m thinking of going running there as well.

We talked for about 5 minutes before we looked to the left and saw this:

Are you wondering where the foodie festival pics are? We walked up to the festival just after this, and the gate guard told us it would be £15. Per person.

“Shut the front door. Are you serious?” We walked away. Nothing says “rube” like walking up to an event, finding out it costs to get in and then turning away in disgust. Oh well. I hadn’t planned on spending £30 and since I was already having fun in the park it didn’t interest me to pay that much for something I didn’t know much about anyway.

We did decide to spend money on row boating, and it was totally worth it.

Adrian loves this picture of me because it’s so ugly. He kept zooming in on it and laughing, then he told me I have to put it on my blog:

Let me tell you. Rowing is hard work. 

Good thing I was the row boat’s official photographer. You can’t take pictures and row at the same time, can you?

Later we saw Captain America, and it was just OK. We saw Horrible Bosses Friday night and that movie was so much better than expected. Generally you can expect any Jennifer Aniston movie to be a total stinker (and I actually like her), but I laughed quite a few times and actually enjoyed it.

Until next time.

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I’m going to quiz night just like The Office!

I’ve been waiting for this moment. People at my work have decided to get together tomorrow evening to attend one of our local pub quiz nights.

So far working in a British office has been a major disappointment in terms of expectations The Office gave me. All of my managers are reasonable characters who don’t wear heels, no one eats scotch eggs, and no one has put my stapler in Jell-O and thrown it out the window. In fact, I don’t even have a stapler and we work in a basement with windows that don’t actually open, so it would be quite a toss considering it would need to shatter glass. A messy prank indeed.

Will there be fierce competition tomorrow night like The Office? Will I get my shoes thrown over the pub roof?

I don’t know the answers to these questions yet. In fact, I don’t know the answers to many trivia questions so I don’t think this will be a successful quiz for me. I’ll report back tomorrow.

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Boys will be boys? Part 2.

After Adrian finished cleaning the bathroom I noticed the toilet gloves on the table. Then later in the evening I went into the bathroom and noticed this. 🙂 Poor Adrian. He actually did spend a long time cleaning the bathroom. I’m not sure really what he was doing in there all that time, but I gave him credit for the effort. He asked that I mention he at least put the toilet gloves on his side of the table, and he does know it’s gross but he wasn’t paying attention because he was just “living life.”

In other news:

I’m being a big whiny butt, sitting on the couch with my arms crossed. I’m sad today:

I’m so tired of wearing a jacket every. single. day.  BOO HOO. Call the waaaaambulance …

Maybe some more of this will cheer me up?

I almost didn’t get a picture because my hand was on its way to deliver this straight to my mouth while I was snapping the pic

It’s strawberry basil pesto sauce over wheat pasta, a recipe I got from Daily Garnish, by Emily Malone. Her recipes are fantastic! I’ve also made her cornbread and broccoli cheese soup and polished both asap.

This recipe is basically just fresh strawberries blended with lots of fresh basil, sliced almonds, olive oil and lemon juice. You pour the mixture over whole wheat pasta, and top it with diced cucumbers, more strawbs and more basil! Definitely check out her recipe for full instructions because it’s super healthy, easy and totally worth making.

And how can this not help one forget it’s horrid outside?

I had to go buy two new basil plants because I completely killed the one I had. It’s death was a long time coming, though. I put basil in everything!

Look how pretty they are! (Except my dead plant. Kinda hoping he’ll regenerate, but not too hopeful)

After dinner I made Adrian’s favorite blueberry Greek yogurt pot.

Now it’s off to see Harry Potter 7 part 2 again!

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The falling phone booths of Kingston

Yesterday we ventured a couple stops past Wimbledon and entered the land of Kingston. If you remember my blog header a while back I had a picture of the falling phone booths from my visit to Kingston last year, and ever since I’ve been wanting to go back to get some better pictures.

This picture is actually just outside our house. I like the “public footpath” sign and I love looking at all the red berries every day.

Now we’re in Kingston.

 

Main shopping street in Kingston. I much prefer to shop here than a lot of other places in London because it’s not so packed with tourists and locals that you can hardly breathe. Plus it’s so close to the Thames and overall it’s a nice area.

The Thames

I like Kingston. It’s a place where you can walk innocently along the riverside and a woman will appear in front of you offering a plate full of free Krispy Kremes. Score.

YUM. I didn’t have any, but oh I wanted some.

 

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Wrong kind of sun.

I forgot to post this. It’s so funny. Remember last week when England had the second hot day of the year? Turns out it was so hot (80 degrees F) that trains leaving London were delayed for hours.

The photo is courtesy of my friend at work, Amit, whose train was delayed by more than an hour due to heat!

What you have to understand about England is that throughout the year the temperature is always fairly mild, so it’s never too hot or too cold. When it breaks a boundary on either side chaos ensues. People are stuck in the city for hours, trapped in trains over night with no food or water, that kind of thing.

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A lovely English pub lunch

Every English person has a local pub it seems, so we were excited when we finally found ours a few weeks ago. The Wimbledon area is generally very nice so we are lucky to have a good selection of quality pubs around, but The Wandle (named after the local river) in Earlsfield tops them all. The food is wonderful, the pub is beautiful and has a nice garden out back with plenty of flowers, tables and a BBQ for the weekends, and you don’t have to worry about any rowdy clientele spilling beer on you because they got too excited about a potential football goal.

Essentially, this place is as close to perfect as a pub can get so naturally we came here for a big meal on our 2nd anniversary.

Because it was so nice we decided to sit out back in the garden.

Adrian was having a hard time with the 80 degree heat. I felt bad for him, but I said now he knows how terrible I feel when the weather is cold! Cold weather is so painful for me because I have poor circulation in my hands and feet, so I never complain about being too hot.

The giant flying ants came out of nowhere this weekend, so although it wasn’t fun to be attacked by them it was amusing to watch other people be attacked.

I especially love how they print new food menus for the day. I went with the Sunday veggie roast, which was a cashew and mushroom wellington, and Adrian had a burger with stilton and bacon.

I must say I’m not generally a fan of cheeses like stilton, but this was exceptional. I kept stealing bits of cheese the fell off his burger!

Mine came with a giant Yorkshire pudding. The cashew and mushroom wellington was set on top of squash and fresh green green beans. On the side was cauliflower with what I think was a gorgonzola light cheese sauce. The gravy was excellent as well because it was also really light. I don’t know if gravy can be described as refreshing, but it was. Even though it was a hot day I polished my plate!

I know I should have gotten better pictures, but I really couldn’t wait to eat this.

After the meal we went inside to cool off a bit.

I loved the old suitcase table they had at the corner couch by the antique chairs.

Then it was off to Strawberry Hill!

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