Monday, March 30, 2009


as i sit here, my butt muscles, thighs, calves, shoulders, forearms, triceps, biceps, pectoral muscles, upper back, lower back, abs and knees are all in pain. it was worth it though.

our adventure weekend started out with an adventure at paddington station... we couldnt find dana... she had kristen's train ticket, but was no where to be found. she forgot her phone at the flat... as she usually does... and it wasnt until 2 minutes before our train was about to depart that we saw her, in her little red jacket, wandering around the station looking for us... we also had to run and jump on to a moving train at our switch over in swansea... we really were quite the daredevils these last few days.

we get to preseli venture at about 11 on friday night. we walk in to the only building with lights on. it was the bar/ game room, and it was filled with about 30 guys. they all went silent when we walked in... us with sleep marks on our faces from the train ride, huge backpacks with our trainers dangling from the bottom... them with pints and pool sticks in their hands... we stare at each other for about 20 seconds until charlie (the bar man/ concierge) comes to great us. the guys go back to their party and we follow charlie to our room. the encounter was very awkward and funny. come to find out preseli is hosting a bachelor party this weekend.

anyway, this place was awesome. its called an adrenaline junkie ecofriendly adventure lodge. (which, by the way, screamed alex koerten. they talk about moon cups in the bathrooms, which have showers that only allow water to pour for 1 minute before shutting off and you have to push the button again. there is a compost in the kitchen where you put all your apple cores and banana peels. and loads of the guides had dreds). our room was so cute. it looked like a room right out of the parent trap. it smelled of cedar wood and i chose the bed which was up against the wall, nestled in a little corner, just the way i like it. the ceiling was slanted because we were in an attic, basically, and there, right above my head, just a few feet away, was a sky light... it was a dream come true. that night it rained like crazy and i felt like i was teasing the water as it violently hit the glass creating the most perfect sound. i slept soundly listening to my favorite noise in the world.

saturday morning, at the crack of dawn, a lady ran up and down the halls knocking on all the doors, "breakfast is ready, come and get it." later we found out she was called libby, and was the sweetest, coolest lady in the world. but at that moment we hated her.

after breakfast, which was delicious and painstakingly made for about 50 people by libby's mum (all the meals were), we spent about an hour trying to get all our wetsuits on. we piled into a van and went down to the shore. the weather was chilly and windy and grey. the sea was choppy. but we were going to coasteer anyway. coasteering is a combination of rock climbing, swimming and cliff jumping. the cliffs were huge, unreal actually, and every once in a while when a big wave would crash against one of these huge cliffs, it would cause a bunch of little foam bundles to fill the sky. they looked like little pieces of a cloud, good enough to eat. and watching them fly through the air and land back in the ocean reminded me of life and death almost... beautifully and tragically poetic. we slid off smooth rocks slides into freezing a ocean. we jumped off a cliff into waves and swam with all our might against the current, trying desperately not to be carried away into the unknown. we jumped off an even higher cliff, and then when we climbed up to the highest one, everyone hesitantly held back. our guides looked at us like we were sallies so i walked forward, with out a word, and jumped. i felt like i was falling for hours, and even more, i felt like i was underwater for hours. it wasnt until i surfaced and gave a thumbs up that everyone started cheering.

the next bit was hilarious and i wish we could have recorded it... picture us... 10 girls trying to get our wet wetsuits off... in the middle of a car park. when we were all in the mists of undressing, with our hands and arms stuck above our heads trying to get our vests off or with our legs glued together unable to walk because the waist of the wetsuit was around our knees... the other van... filled with those bachelor guys pulls up... theres nothing we can do. and the guides just start cracking up. there i am... trying to get my damn wetsuit booties off and my fingers are numb and i can't breath from laughing... i have managed to get the top half of my suit off though... and one of the guides (his name's brumble) comes up and tells me to just sit down. he pulls my booties off for me. he tells me to stand up... he yanks the wetsuit down to my ankles and i stand there... in shock... freezing... and have no idea if my bathing suit bottoms came down as well... all i can do is put my hands on my butt cheeks to feel if its skin or fabric... it was fabric, fewh. "hurried that right along, didn't i," he says. and he goes along helping the rest of us wetsuit novices because hes hungry and wants to get back.

piping hot vegetable soup for lunch and homemade bread. to. die. for.

after we've eaten and changed into warm, dry clothes - its time to pile back into the van. libby drives us 10 miles down the coast, gives us a map, kicks us out, and tells us to make it home for dinner in 5 hours or we will have to eat it cold. i didn't realize this was part of the adventure, but it was fun just the same. the southwestern coast line of wales is unbelievably stunning. miles and miles of barbed wire, sheep, these bushes with yellow flowers, cliffs and the sea. there is nothing like hearing ginormous waves crash against massive cliffs. it was quite majestic really... and once the sun started to set the sights were sublime. there were moments when the 10 of us were chatting away, talking about places and people from home, cities we want to visit, things we want to do. and there were other moments when we just walked... in a straight line, along a path, looking out onto the ocean, deep in our own thoughts. we made it home in four hours.

piping hot curry chicken and steamed rice for dinner. there is nothing like the satisfying feeling of eating a delicious, warm home cooked meal when you are starving and cold. i will absolutely start putting in more effort at soup kitchens during the holidays.

later that night we had a bone fire and hung out with the bachelor dudes. they were funny. the stars were so bright and the air smelled faintly of salt water and sheep. such a nice break from london, really. dana and i went up to go to bed a little earlier than everyone else. i fell asleep listening to laughter from outside and looking up out the sky light window at the most beautiful stars, wishing i new what was so funny and what the names of all the constellations were. i slept soundly knowing that everyone i love from home would look at that same moon in a few hours.

crack of dawn. breakfast is ready. gotta love libby.

sea kayaking with brumble and johnny. another hour getting out wetsuits on, really, i don't understand why its so hard. then we drove down to abercastle, got a quick tutorial about how to row and what to do if you capsized, and we were off. it was amazing. and so much fun. johnny said i was the best kayaker of the bunch. i winked at him and then almost tipped over. we spent the next few hours going in and out of sea caves, rock jumping in our boats, having races and playing games. at one point, i stopped, turned my kayak in the direction of the sun, closed my eyes and just relished in the fact that i just partook in an adventure weekend, in wales, and it was an unbelievable amount of fun.

we returned to the lodge for one more meal. we packed up our stuff, said goodbye to everyone, and jumped back on the train. it took forever to get back to london because of signal failures and what not, but i finished another book (the hours, so good!) and took a nice long nap. over this weekend i ate the best i have since coming to the uk, i had the most sound sleeps, i dreamt really cool dreams, i saw beautiful stars, i did things i have never done, i met a bunch of interesting people and learned even more about myself.

everything in the world is a lesson and i have never had my eyes and ears open this much, i dont think. i wish i had a waterproof digital camera so i could have captured everything i did. believe me when i say the cliff we jumped off was epic.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

sunny day.

the weather here has been great. its been sunny during the day, a little breezy, beautiful really. there are often rain showers at night, but it helps me fall asleep.

i have to say, i love getting all these emails from home. the internet really is unbelievably helpful for keeping in touch with people on the other side of the ocean. every time i read a message or speak to someone from home, i am overwhelmed by the way i have some how managed to surround myself with the most amazing people. my friends and family are always there for me. my life is filled with people who care about my growth, my experiences, my health and well being... you guys still miss me, you guys haven't forgotten about me... thanks! i appreciate the fact that i have big, heavy rocks in my life and i take solace in the fact that no matter how hard the world or life may try and push those rocks away, they aren't budging. (jesus, my analogies have been so cheesy lately).

time for me to go eat my lunch and drink my tea in the park... turning my cheeks up to the sun, thinking about how much i miss everyone from home, reminiscing about all my happy memories and day dreaming about how nice summer will be.


ps. cliff jumping in wales this weekend!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

luck of the irish.

dublin, what can i say. you are a unique city and hard to describe. let me quote jim, an old, chubby, red-nosed, white-haired irish man we met at o'sheas while we were eating dinner last night... "dublin is the best of all the capitals in the world. the technology is more advanced than anywhere else in ireland, there are more people, more things to do, more business... but everyone knows everyone. you always feel like your at home no matter where you go."

starting back from the beginning... we arrived in dublin at 8 in the morning on saturday. we easily found a bus to o'connell street, which is basically the center, and went to breakfast. 1 egg, 1 piece of bacon, 1 piece of toast, a cup of coffee and 10 euro later (not joking) we started venturing off to find our hostel and make our weekend plan.

after storing our bags until check in time and talking to the woman at the front desk of the hostel, we decided to walk the city. it seemed small enough. we went to grafton street which has a bunch of shops and street performers. we went to the little park at the end of it. we went to st. patrick's cathedral, we found a parking lot with cool graffiti. we went to the guinness factory. and then we took a cab back, because it started to rain, and the city was, in fact, a little larger than we anticipated.

my favorite part of day 1, sightseeing: the guinness factory. it was really cool inside. definitely not what i was expecting, seeing as i have no interest in beer what so ever. but kristin, dana and i found ourselves pursing our lips and nodding our heads as we learned a lot about something we knew little about. at the end of the tour, you are on the 7th floor of this cool old factory, over looking the city, and they give you a pint of guinness. you watch it change from an orangey-caramel color to dark black-brown. and the put a little shamrock in the foam. it was nice, but not very enjoyable. i tried my hardest to quickly acquire the taste and drink my pint, but i got about 3/4's of the way down and just couldn't go on anymore.

back at the hostel, we met up with lindsey, my friend kristin from home and her friend sam from boston. we were hungry so we decided to go to a pub... little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. we sat down, ordered some burgers and jacket potatoes, and wondered why on earth all the tv's were so loud and all the people were standing on chairs. through further investigation, we realized that ireland was playing wales in the championship rugby game as we ate. two huge rivals. one big game. when ireland beat wales in the last second, winning the title for the first time in 61 years, we jumped out of our seats and joined in with the cheers, hoots and hugs. what a scene. typical irish, i'll tell yah.

after that we went to a bunch of pubs in temple bar. every one was completely different. one had a band singing old irish songs. (i'd never heard of them, but them seemed like old irish songs.) one pub played american 80s and 90s songs and was filled with trinity college students jumping up and down. one pub had these two old men singing rockabilly and you could hear them from outside. everyone in there was just sitting down, drinking, listening, laughing and swaying their upper bodies in perfect beat with the songs.

is not the most pretty of cities. the architecture isn't very interesting, the landscape is quite average, the river is a little dirty. there doesn't seem to be much emphasis on art. but i think dublin holds its beauty in the people. never have i seen a culture so content with being merry. everyone was so laid back and full of a love for life... no doubt all of this was aided by beer. but nonetheless, it was fun to get caught up in the happiness of ireland on the night that their team just won the game... we couldn't have planned a more perfect irish evening.

sunday morning we boarded a little 14 person tour bus and took off on our trip to the country side. we went to wicklow and glendalough... and believe me when i say... we went the scenic route. it was utterly breathtaking, though. i tried to take photos, but they just didn't do justice... so i resorted to putting my camera in my bag and trying my hardest to just memorize everything. to fully appreciate the sights we saw, you would need to breath the fresh country air, hear the trickling streams and smell the grass and the ponds. we ate beef stew and mashed potatoes for lunch. we saw the ruined churches and towers at glendaough. we watched our tour guide do a jig and we saw a group of people in kilts playing bag pipes.

there is no other place like ireland in the world. its very hard for me to describe the feelings and emotions that i experienced there. while laying on a big grassy field, in the middle of the irish countryside, looking up to the sun... i wondered if anyone from home would look at the same sun in a few hours and be able to appreciate it as much as i was in that moment.

we went back into town and ate dinner at a pub across the street from the bus that took us to the airport. we met old jim. he told us about life in ireland. about his wife, his kids... he told us about the beauty of the 60s and about his hopes for our generation to point the world back in the right direction.

we arrived back in london at 11. i fell asleep in the same clothes i had travelled around ireland in.

<3 Rd

Saturday, March 14, 2009

you may say i'm dreamer.

this week was jam packed.

i went out for indian food for the first time with some girls from work. it was delicious. now i know what the big fuss is about chicken tikki masala. and there goes another "to do in london" thing i can cross off my list.

i did hot yoga again.

i went out to lunch by myself. i asked for a table for 1, and sat down, ordered. i stayed their for my entire lunch break. i read my book and i people watched and it was a lovely afternoon.

i went to a school play that my flatmate was in.

i had an amazing conversation with my boss at work about life and traveling and careers. i now may possibly be going to south africa for an extended period of time after i graduate.

i met dana for lunch at cha cha moon, and we began planning out our after the term adventure. tentatively, we plan on going to nice and to morocco.

i started researching the best places to go on a tour of italy, and the best ways to get there. and kate has officially bought her plane ticket. i will be meeting her in milan on may 17th. words can't express my excitement.

i went to a play in the west end called three days of rain. it was the best live performance i have ever seen. james mcavoy was phenomenal. it rained real rain on stage. it tugged at my heart strings. it brought tears to my eyes.

kristen and i ate mexican food and drank margaritas on friday and ate italian food and drank wine on saturday. we went to two restaurants that were on our list of things "to do in london".

i spent the day working at modus on saturday and made a little bit of money. the winter 09 collections are in and they are beautiful. burnt orange is the pantone color of the season.

we went shopping in east london, on brick lane and to the spitalfield markets. it's hipster central, full of artists, designers and street fashion. i got some great vintage stuff, went in to some beautiful old book stores and saw some awesome painted brick murals. as i was browsing through the stands with old coats and boots and dresses and skirts, i couldnt help but wonder why on earth you threw/gave away all your old clothes, gagi. what i would do to go back in time as you were bagging them up and getting rid of them and tell you, "don't do it... save them. save them for the granddaughter you are going to have someday." conclusion: east london is a great place to be, i want to live there someday and going shopping there yesterday is just another thing to cross off that list.

the boys from next door came home from their holiday last night. they had a bunch of stories to tell us and were talking a mile a minute. in the 15 minute span i was over their listening to them... i think i laughed more than i have all week. i miss them when they're not around.

today is sunday, and i am not leaving richmond. its sunny and beautiful and i am going to spend the day reading in the park, doing homework and appreciating what a beautiful, little english town i live in.


ps. dublin next weekend!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

little pieces of boston.

so the girls visited. it was great. i brought them to our favorite pub, around richmond, around london... we saw big ben, westminster... we ate fish n' chips, we went to a rugby game... we got dressed up and went out for the night in kensington... we went shopping on sunday, and the boys cooked us dinner.

having a part of home visit was a really comforting feeling. i think the thing i like best about my emmanuel friends is we are so used to being apart for a couple months out of the year that we can go a while without seeing eachother, but it never feels like any time has passed. we always pick up right where we left off. it's great.

miss them already. and everyone else from home, too.

<3 Rd

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

enamored with paris.

this past weekend was amazing. i am going to try and make you feel like you were there...

the eurostar was great. i have never ridden on a train for longer than it takes to get from south station to mansfield, so i wasn't sure how it would be. but, it was comfortable and there was a little cafe where you could stretch your legs. and, most importantly, i was happy to get more stamps in my passport. the landscapes i saw of france and england's countryside were utterly breathtaking. the sky was grey and misty, but the ground was bright green.

when we arrived on friday afternoon, we dropped our bags off in our room and a group of us headed out. we had no idea where we were going, we just started walking.

we went out to dinner and tried to make a plan. our mission was to find the eiffel tower and we wanted to walk around. we eventually made it to the arch de triumph and jumped in front of it. and when we turned to the left... we saw it... the eiffel tower. it was beautiful. and i think my heart stopped beating for a second or two.

what i thought would be a 10 minute walk to the tower, ended up being about 45. but when we finally reached out ultimate destination, it was more amazing that i could have ever imagined. there were people everywhere. and all these men, trying to sell 3 dumb little plastic eiffel towers for 1 euro. when i got to directly underneath the tower, i positioned my camera to look up at it, and right as i was about to snap a photo, it started sparkling. it was as if the push of my shutter release button caused the lights to sparkle. i started jumping up and down. my neck hurt from looking directly up for so long. it was the most perfect eiffel tower experience... ever.

oh, and the air smelled like crepes and waffles. we obviously bought some waffles with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. and they were scrumptious.

later that night we met up with the rest of our group (there were about 15 of us) and we went to this cool, french bar. the atmosphere was great and people all seemed cool. as soon as we sat down at a booth and settled in, this man got up with his guitar and started singing old american songs from the 90s... like natalie imbruglia and third eye blind. it was awesome. we all sang a long and became fast friends.

the next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and jumped on a bus to begin our tour of paris. i think the notre dame was my favorite part of the tour. it was such a humbling experience. the cathedral was beautiful. the fact that people sculpted all the sculptures is sort of insane. outside, looking at the building, everyone was quiet. inside, looking at the paintings and the alter, everyone was quiet. music was playing and we were informed by our whispering tour guide that the crown of thorns was being displayed. we obviously couldn't see it, but i guess you just had to believe it was there... after, when we walked outside again, we could hear the music. just a few minutes before we couldn't, even though we were outside in the same exact spot. (i hope that makes sense).

the tour ended at the louve. yea, yea.. i saw the mona lisa. but that museum is far to large to really appreciate. next time i go to paris i am headed straight to the d'orsay which has the kind of artwork i really enjoy...

from there we went to pere lachaise, a huge cemetery, and i was thrilled. it was the most beautiful cemetery i had ever seen. all the love stories that were written on the tombs broke my heart and at the same time gave me a warm hopeful feeling about the beauty of the world. i think for my next photo assignment, i want to document graveyards. i am slightly obsessed with the tragically poetic insanely calm feeling i get when i set foot in one. (kate, you'll never understand...) the weather was beautiful. sunny and about 65. my coat was stuffed around my purse and my sunglasses were guled to my face. i was also beginning to run low on camera battery...

after dinner we went to montmartre. the streets were packed with people and the smell of crepes and waffles filled the air again. we obviously bought some crepes with strawberry jam filling. they were scrumptious. we walked up to the top of sacre core and saw the entire city of paris at sunset. there were so many things going on on the steps.... a man singing and playing guitar (the same man from the bar the night before... so ameile like), break dancers, people kissing and people smoking. kids, old people, students, artists, french, american... you name it. it was diversity at its finest. and i at that moment i fell in love with paris.

after that, we started walking down the hill and found this perfect little cafe resturant. there were big italian lights strung from the gutters to the trees. the picket fence and tables and chairs were painted all different colors. the inside walls were green and blue. there were old mirrors and pictures everywhere. in my dreams... if i could have lived in paris and owned a cafe, that is what it would have looked like. lindsey, kristen and i got their at 6:30, but they didnt start serving food until 7. our waiter was this cute french guy with a black hat and stripped shirt (i swear). he spoke english and said some of the most beautiful things about paris i had ever heard. he was in love with this city, too.

we sat for hours, drinking homemade wine, having intellectual and though-provoking conversation, watching this empty cafe fill up into a hustling, bustling resturant. our waiter brought us over chocolate cake, and then espresso, and then more wine... all on him. he liked our american accents, and the way our eyes lite up when we listened to his stories... or atleast thats what he said.

i can honestly say we spent our saturday night fully embracing the french culture and having one of the most amazing evenings i have had since i've been here.

and sunday morning we went to the market at bastille. another great way to take in the french way of life... i was overwhelmed at how fast the world seemed to be moving at that moment, so i stood, with my arms by my side and my eyes closed, in the center of the market. i took a deep breath and tried my hardest to memorize the smells. i listened to a plethora of different languages being spoken, but somehow i seemed to understand what everyone was feeling. i heard cheeks being kissed, little kids running around, dogs barking, flowers being sold, ukuleles being played... i bought 4 pillow cases. i can't wait for someone to compliment me on them and i can say, "well, at this little market in the middle of paris...."

we got back to london around 4 on sunday afternoon. the train ride home was filled with chatter among these 15 people who left on a trip sort of knowing who everyone was, but returned from the trip with 14 new friends. if i had a penny for every laugh...

<3 Rd

ps. i am in the middle of the alchemist. i dont think i could have picked a better time in my life to read that book.