Saturday, January 31, 2009


I suppose you want to know what I've been doing with my time since Thursday, since it's already Saturday night. Why, you ask, would I bother to get on and ravely review my Thursday happenings without continuing to elaborate on the rest of my time since then?

Well, I don't really have a good answer to that, so I guess I'll just get on with it.

After we finished the Lion King we got McDonalds (FOR SHAME) and proceeded to have an amazing dance party back at the flat that lasted until about 5 in the morning.

Friday I sat around and attempted to read for my religion class.

Saturday some friends and I went to Camden Market (which was totally freaky) and then we came back and did some more homework.

I suppose that's why I didn't bother telling you about it.

Hannah, Laura, and me.


The Lion King is a great movie.

It is also an AMAZING musical.

No joke - first song, Circle of Life, all the animals start coming out, I thought I was going to cry. And then when Mufasa's saving Simba from the stampede and you know he's not going to make it - seriously almost cried again. Of course, I'm going to chalk my quick-draw emotions up to hormones, but it was still amazing.

The first thing that struck me was the complete ingenuity of the costumes. I just...I'm having a hard time even coming up with words to describe how unique, but appropriate, they were. Talk about suspended reality...there were puppets and stilts and wheels and strings and it was mind blowing.

I was also pleased that (for the most part) the character players attempted to emulate their cartoony counterparts. Timone sounded like Timone, Pumba sounded like Pumba, and so on and so forth. I mean, I'm all about thespians developing their own character and what not, but it's the Lion King, okay? Isn't it enough that they all had British accents?

Finally, I would just like to say that in all of London they couldn't find a young Simba that could stay on key? Really? Really?

If you ever get the chance to watch the Lion King in theatres, you'll be making a mistake by not going.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Sunday I went to a high Anglican service in one of the oldest churches in all of Britain, St. Bartholomew the Great (built in 1123). It was, according to my teacher's wife, more Catholic than any Catholic service she went to, but there were still bits and pieces I could pick out from my own experiences as a Presbyterian (the Lord's prayer, the Apostle's creed, those kinds of things). The building was dimly lit, the service was highly structured, and the choir had about 8 people in it, but they sang in Latin and wooed me completely. The Reverend was a jokester as well, commenting on the fact that the "incense" they were using was actually from a fog machine. The whole experience had this very archaic feel to it, which was a fascinating foil to the world we had just stepped out of.

Interesting trivia about this particular church: Hogarth (the painter and namesake of a road some of my fellow classmates live on) was baptized here, and

(this picture was lifted from the Daily Mail)

scenes from Shakespeare in Love, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves were shot in the premises!
If you want to find out more about St. Barts, they've got a nice little site online that you can visit.

In other heavenly news, today after our visit to the Tate Britain we took another little field trip to a mosque in St. John's Wood (home of Abbey Road). It was the first mosque I've ever been to, and I enjoyed it greatly. We had a soft-spoken, articulate (and sharply dressed) young "tour guide" who filled us in on the history of Islam and the reasons for some of their particular customs, such as the removal of shoes before entering (they don't want to get the carpet dirty).

While I'll freely admit that I know very little about Islam, I found it fascinating how similar it is to its relative religions, Judaism and Christianity. To put it in a harsher light, it was easy to see the mini-version we were given as Christianity, plus a couple extra chapters (Muhammad). We witnessed a call to prayer, and reveled at the remarkable acoustics at work via the gilded dome. This is a subject I hope I'll be able to expand upon later, perhaps tomorrow, when I have time to flush it all out, but it was definitely a beautiful thing to experience.

I forgot to mention! Before we made it to St. Barts we stopped by the market where, apparently, William Wallace was drawn and quartered. It also gave a little history of Queen Mary, who (tale tells it) garnered her nickname from the sheer number of people she had executed.
Bloody Mary,
Bloody Mary,
Bloody Mary.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


In-depth musings on Stonehenge, because I just can't let it go.

Stonehenge was a majestic site, and it almost took my breath away as the coach approached it. After riding for what seemed like hours through British pastureland, I was seriously beginning to doubt we would ever see anything more than green fields and sheep. But there it was, finally; an ancient monument I could only reference through pictures, staring back at me through my tinted window. This awe-struck mindset, however, was short lived. When I envisioned visiting Stonehenge, I thought I would be mysteriously transported though space and time to a different world – one without planes, trains, or automobiles. In the end, though, I really just felt like another tourist.

My first brush with modernity came from the very existence of a welcome center, an “entrance” to Stonehenge. Capitalism had made it all the way to Salisbury Plain in the form of a snack shack, a gift store, and an admission fee; turnstiles efficiently acknowledged my arrival. Magnets with the half-wit slogan “Stonehenge Rocks” glared back at my reflection in the store window, and painterly reconstructions of the antiquity lined the walls that herded me to my ultimate attraction. My friends back home had warned me that Stonehenge was kind of a let-down, but at the moment I was mostly let down by society.

Ironically, I feel the measures taken to preserve the sanctity of Stonehenge have only managed to make it seem cheap. The roped-off pathway snaked me around the site, and after a few moments of strained reverence, I whipped out my Nikon and began snapping pictures. Stonehenge had, in a manner of minutes, gone from a place of mystical commune with the creativity of the past to nothing more than a pile of rubble. I couldn’t walk between the stones, stand in their shadows, or imagine what hand might have shaped them before mine. In the end, with the wind from the nearby highway whipping though my hair and prickling my ears, all I could do was recreate the photos I had once seen with awe and think about how great they would look as a background on my computer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Done with school so soon? I love classes here…it’s Thursday, 10:50ish, and I’m finished with university for the week.

I really shouldn’t wait so long to update things, but I’m sure you understand. I’m a busy girl!

Monday: My history of photography class took a trip to the Robert Capa show at the Barbicon Art Centre (called On The Subject of War, very powerful stuff), and my Art Appreciation class got in a huge fight over what the purpose of art is, whether the fact that Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel devalues his work, and whether Hitler was a good guy.

An-My LĂȘ, who was exhibiting with Robert Capa.

Tuesday: The pub at our Union had an inauguration watch party for us. It was…and odd experience to have in London, and probably in any other country other than our own. The room was filled with more Brits than Americans, and their reactions to Obama’s speech made us all very hypersensitive to what he was actually saying. The room was rather still, but everyone cheered when he was finished. It was a good feeling, regardless of where we were, and a buoyant one. Then we had to go to a lecture about paleo-meso-neolithic Britain. Snore.

On the bright side, my roommate from freshmen year stopped by with her boyfriend Darrion (who is in the same program as me) and we all went out together! I haven’t seen Crystal for what seems like ages (she studied in Spain last semester) and it was a great time all-around. I haven’t laughed that much in a while, and I did some silly things indeed, but all-in-all we agreed we would have to spend a lot more time together while we were here.

Wednesday: It was a day of many emotions. We woke up bright and early (after a rather long night) to go to Stonehenge. Unfortunately, one of my lovely friends had a seizure on the coach. This was her second one in a week, and we’re all very worried for her. She had to miss the trip, which is a pity, because it was a gorgeous day for Stonehenge and Bath.

I was not, as some people were, disappointed by Stonehenge. I was a little pissed about the rope holding corralling it in, but not because I wanted to climb all over the ruins or anything; I live by Elephant Rocks state park – been there, done that. Mostly I was angry because it really took away from the feel of antiquity the site *should have had. It was like a sideshow attraction, not something awesome you could have just stumbled upon whilst exploring the countryside. A lot of the glamour was tarnished by the fence, but also by the highway running along side it. That helped too.

After Stonehenge we rode on to Bath, which is possibly one of my favorite cities to date. All of the buildings matched (aside from the ones replaced after being bombed, but they tried, they really did) and the restaurant we ate at was quaint, classy, and delish. I highly recommend it.

(This was so cool! The picture was a representation of Oliver King's name...the olive tree and the crown.)

(Don't touch the water!)

(one of my favorites)

Sunday, January 18, 2009


It’s been a little over a week now, but it really feels like I’ve been here forever.
But not in a bad way.

Kensington, we’ve been informed, is a very wealthy borough, but not the best representation of “real” London (when we inquired as to where we would find the “real” London we were told vaguely, “anywhere else”). Kensington is known as a business hub and a place for second houses, not first homes. Orlando Bloom is rumored to have digs in our area, so I guess that only goes to prove the point. Nevertheless, it’s a nice, peaceful place, consistently 5 stories high, and I like it.

Our first day or so here, we were taken on a sight-seeing bus trip that hit a lot of the famous places: Buckingham palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the London bridge, Diana’s favorite shopping complex. We were allowed, once, to feel like the tourists that we were. I doubt we’ll feel like that again.

Interestingly enough, alcohol in London (and all of Europe, I’ll venture to suppose) doesn’t have the stigma attached to it as it does in America. Pubs are great places to make new friends, or just sit and chat with Yanks you already know. Any night is a good night to go out (at least for us) and there doesn’t seem to be a fervor for the weekend like there is in America. In fact, I spent my first Friday night lounging around my flat. Imperial’s Union is fun for meeting boys because of their school’s terrible guy-to-girl ratio (science FINALLY does me some good) and the pub down the street is good for Monday night trivia; my current favorite drink there is peppermint tea.

I’ve tried (successfully, I believe) to have at least one adventure a day. These have helped me to become thoroughly acquainted with the tube, which is handy information when my friends need to get somewhere.
I’ve been shopping on Oxford Street, which nearly killed me, and have found the Westfield shopping mall, which I haven’t yet thoroughly explored.
I’ve been to Portobello Road and examined their wares, and can say with confidence that, in fact, anything and everything a chap can unload is sold off the barrow in Portobello road.

I’ve been to Abbey road, and crossed it.
I’ve even walked to Greenwich, which has probably been my biggest adventure to date.

Friday morning, I awoke with nothing in particular to do. So, I turned to the handy guide Amanda made me to find some inspiration. Walk the southbank of the River Thames, she tells me, and see the living statues! That sounds like a good idea to me, so off I go. I hop on the tube and ride to Westminster, and alight for the London Eye and Aquarium. I cross the bridge, gawk at just about everything, and be-bop my way along the riverbank. I pass the Millennium Walking Bridge, the London Bridge, the Tate, The Globe, and eventually the Tower Bridge. It’s been a nice walk, but I’m getting a little tired, so I’ll cross back over at the next bridge I come to and find a tube station home. Little do I know that the next “bridge” is the footpath through the Thames in Greenwich. But hey, a deal’s a deal.

(see any more bridges? yeah, me neither.)

(no more people, either.)

(these kinds of places took up a large chunk of my walk)

(Greenwich park!)

(the Royal Observatory!)

(some college in Greenwich, ac

Friday, January 16, 2009


Quite a few Brits actually love the queen.

The pigeons in Kensington are a lot like the squirrels in Springfield.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Everybody smokes,
and no one knows which side of the sidewalk to walk on.

But I love it, I really do.

I plan on exploring more with camera in tow, so hopefully I'll be able to shed some light on my first full week in a couple days, with visuals!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Home sweet home, part 2

We arrived at Heathrow at about 11:30 yesterday, and I was so glad. Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t handle motion very well, and spiraling in for the landing was rough (but I made it out with the contents of my stomach still intact). My first British meal was fish and chips, and it was delicious. I don’t even like fish and it was delicious. I’m in Britain. Fuck yeah.

We also went on a pub crawl last night, and I made it through 3 pubs and the Imperial Union without paying for a single drink (or drinking a single drink, but that’s besides the point). The Union was full of university students, and my friend Sarah and I introduced ourselves to four dashing fellows and were thoroughly entertained throughout the rest of the night. And by “rest of the night” I mean I was in bed by 11 o’clock, but it had been a long day, so don’t hold it against me. They were extremely excited that it was our first day in London and that they were our first British friends. They also love Obama, the Queen, and tea. Go figure.

Today we woke up at a bright and early 7:45 to have a 3 hour tour about London. It was a lot of fun, but mostly I was tired. We saw Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the London and Tower bridges, Trafalgar Square (where there was a protest about Gaza…they’re rather popular), and all of the best and most touristy spots in the city. When it was finally finished the bus driver dropped us at Picadilly Circus and let us find our way back to our flats. Some friends and I ate lunch at a nice Chinese restaurant and then rode the tube back to our borough. I’ve got a phone and an oyster card and a pillow and I’m feeling much better about things.

This evening my friend Kendall and I went to a pub to watch a football game with some guys from our flat – I had a pint and some chips and now I’m sleepy. And happy.

If you're expecting pictures from our tour today you won’t get them…maybe later, but they’ll have to be filched from someone else.

Here's the view from flat 5, if that makes up for it. Hopefully it will, because it's fucking awesome.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Home sweet home.

I made it without losing any luggage, so I guess you could say I made it in one piece. I'll add some photos when I'm not a zombie.

Pub crawl tonight!

Friday, January 9, 2009


I expect everything to be fixed when I get back.

Love, Kins

Friday, January 2, 2009


One week!  One week!  One week!  One week!  One week!  One week!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Happy New Year!

Did you make any resolutions? I didn't, not really. Never do.
My friend Justin and I had a late dinner at IHOP and discussed it, and I suppose there are some things I'd like to accomplish in '09, but hell, as long as I accomplish them, who cares exactly when? I've got to keep my back strong, and finally figure out some kind of career plan. I want to do something exciting or new every day; last night, we made oreo balls and went over to a friends house (even though it was already late and I had to be at work this morning by 8).

Hey, no time like the present.