16 May 2007

The Wining on the Wall

Wow, it is May 16th already. It’s amazing how fast time flies over here. Kelly and I realized the other day that we have already been here eight months, and it scares us how fast our time slips away. It’s just so darn fun you forget what day it is! So, what have we been up to, you ask? Well, a lot. We have been around London the entire time, as we are preparing to go to Italy next weekend for eight nights. We will be in Venice for three nights, Florence for two, and Rome for three before coming back. Unlike earlier in the month, it has been cold and rainy, and it’s getting on my nerves. It’s not supposed to be 55 degrees and rainy in May, but everyone else seems okay with it, so I have to learn to accept it.

I have been “working” in London the past month. I say “working” because I have nothing to do, so I go into the office and read the internet most of the day. I finally got some work this week, and it has made my days much more enjoyable. Well, the weekend of May 4 was a long weekend, as May 7 was a bank holiday. During long holidays we like to go on tours here in London or on trips. We decided to stick around here and mess around. Friday night we went on a London Walk. London Walks are cheap ways to see cool parts of London you would not have otherwise seen. You pay £6 per person, and a guide walks you through designated streets, telling the stories and history in the theme you selected. We did a Haunted London Walk, so as we walked through streets and alleys, he told us ghost stories and stories of murders in the City. It was really fun, but not as scary as we had imagined. This same man does a Jack the Ripper Walk, and it is supposed to be awesome. We are planning to do that in the winter when it gets darker earlier. Anyway, it was a great entertaining and cheap thing to do on a Friday night.

On Saturday night, Kelly and I ventured to Shakespeare’s Globe and saw Othello.
Friday night opened the season of the Globe, and I snatched up some tickets for the second night. We were told that you should be a groundling at one show so that you can experience the theatre up close and personal. So we paid £5 per person and arrived almost an hour early to get in line. We were about 15 people back in line, and we were 45 minutes early to the opening gates. The show starts 30 minutes after they open the gates. So we waited one hour and 15 minutes prior to the show, but the production was amazing. The groundlings stand in a circular “pit” in front of the stage, and the actors come through gates and doors around the groundlings through the crowd and onto stage. This is how they simulate an approaching crowd. Othello, for those who do not know, is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Shakespeare’s tragedies always amuse me because he kills off everyone. Othello is no different. Most everyone of any great importance is killed off by the end of the play. We enjoyed the groundling experience, but after you factor in intermission and the performance, we were on our feet for 3.5 hours, which was a little much. Also, weird French girls with big hair cut in front of us and ruined our view at the very beginning of the play. Kelly and I arrived early get a good spot, but then a group of young French girls came up behind Kelly and the strange one with really big hair kept bumping her until she got in front of her. Kelly, needless to say, was outraged. So Kelly and I swapped places, and I would not allow her friends to join her or come near her. Crowds are funny. All you have to do is move a few inches back every few minutes, and you can pretty much isolate anyone. The girl was not happy, but we really didn’t care. At intermission they slid up close again, but we were smoother and ended up with front row spots. All in all it was a great experience, but I think we will buy regular seats in the future. Here are some shots from our walk home.

Kelly and I have also joined a softball team. We are now team mates on the London Tigers, a mixed-sex team that plays around town. Kelly plays right field, and I play left-center. During our first game (May 1), Kelly had line-drive after line-drive hit to her. She had a pretty rough day, but she stuck it out and played well. She also had a good hit. On Sunday, May 7, Kelly and I took the dogs out to the park and threw the baseball to help her with her catching and throwing. I’m glad to say that we are currently 2-0, and Kelly is doing quite well. We are playing our third game tonight, so I’ll keep you updated. In addition to the London Tigers, I was asked to play in a tournament this past Saturday in Slough, which is 30 minutes west of London. It was a two-day tournament, but I only played on Saturday, as I was supposed to play golf on Sunday before our tee time was rained out. I played well, batting over .700, and made several nice plays in the field, but getting up at 6:30 on a Saturday is not my idea of a tremendous time. The name of that team was the Clapham Thunder. I met some really nice people on that team, so I imagine I will play again, regardless of my distaste for rising so early on a weekend.

On Sunday, May 6, we had the Triefenbach’s over for dinner. Jeremy has been working in San Francisco the past few weeks, and we enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with him. We have been trying to keep up with Katy during his absence to make sure she doesn’t get lonely or need anything. On Sunday we grilled some bratwurst on the charcoal grill outside in our garden. I haven’t grilled in quite a while, so it was nice to have a cold drink over an open fire again. For those who don’t know, I had a massive gas grill at home that we used often. Man, I miss that grill. Neal better enjoy it now before I get back. Finally we get to our bank holiday, May 7. What did we do? NOTHING!!!! I didn’t even leave the flat, and I think I can count the times I left the couch on one hand. It was a good day.

Well, this past weekend was a little wild. Kevin Mitchell, our friend from D.C., and Katy Triefenbach were supposed to come over for dinner / drinks and a laid back evening around the flat. Kevin asked if another couple could come, and we were more than happy to have more people. Sharon and Emanuel (Shemanuel, as they are called) joined us, as well. Later in the evening another couple came, as well.

Well, we all started playing a competitive card game called Presidents, and time disappeared. By the time we looked up it was after two. The next thing I know, I toss a soccer ball to a person (it wasn’t Kelly, and I’m not going to call out one of our guests), who ended up accidentally spiking the ball onto the coffee table, knocking over about six glasses of red wine. Needless to say, wine went everywhere. Most of the wine remarkably came out of the carpet, and the bleach pen from the Cookes worked on a white blanket we bought over here that was draped over the back of the couch, so all that is left to do now is paint the wall where red wine hit it. Yes, red wine covered a wall. Kelly and Katy cleaned the apartment and scrubbed a lot of the wine off the wall the next day, but it still wouldn’t come out completely. The landlord, thankfully, left extra paint in a hidden cupboard in our flat, so it will all be fine; all we need are the brushes. It was not funny at the moment, and the person who missed the ball, who shall remain nameless, felt awful and even offered to paint the wall. We had a great time, though, and we met some great people! We just might soon institute a ban on red wine in the flat!!

Sunday was Kelly’s book club meeting. I still have no idea what goes on there, but I know it’s growing. I believe they have more than 10 members now, and word is spreading fast. I’m beginning to fear the book club and the authority they are wielding over our homes here in London. Seriously, if the book club is coming to a guy’s flat, he’d better make himself scarce. It’s like being banned from your flat for a day. I swear they are planning to take over London. Anna Karenina my foot. I’m just bitter that my golf game was rained out. I still haven’t played since Christmas, and I’m having withdrawal symptoms.

Well, that’s about it. Mom and Dad, we can’t wait to see you in a few weeks. Brad and Jill, I love your blog updates, and Levi’s entry is hilarious. Congratulations to Lane and Libby Cooley; they are expecting their first child, and it is my first pledge brother to be expecting (that we know of anyway). Hadley and Savannah are great. I think they enjoy this flat a great deal more than our old place. Kelly and I have our Italy trip planned, and we are going to Paris for Bastille Day in July. We will be home for my high school reunion in August, I for a week, but Kelly maybe for the weekend. Summer will be gone before we know it. Other than that, post comments to tell us what you think. Good luck to the Mean Gene Barbequing Machine this weekend in Memphis. Go Sox!!! They are 8 ½ games up on the Evil Empire. I know you love that, Stuart and Brad.


Beth N said...

Wow, no mention of Buono Sera or Apt. 195. Where's the love???


Ginny said...

We used your awesome grill for brats the other day, although they pale in comparison to the brats you enjoyed. We miss you guys and can't wait to see you in July/August. Smooches!

Brad said...

We miss the brats!! They have some great ones over there! We're looking forward to your update on your Italy and France trips - we know you'll have a great time there! No comment on the "Evil Empire"...

Noelle said...

Im glad you guys are enjoying England so much! I wish tehre was so much to do here in Kalmar...
Hope you have a great time in Italy!! (had?)

Erma said...

Well written article.