Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Okay, I lied. I forgot to put up pictures from Dover and Canterbury, where we went for our field trip last week. Today we didn't have a field trip, so I don't have to worry about that.

Dover we visited a castle, Canterbury we visited a cathedral.
I had a lunch of fish and chips, and carrot cake for dessert. PS, I like fish now? I'm still not sure how that happened.
Tidbits: You can tell the castle was built before Richard the Lionheart (aka Sean Connery...we had the best tour guide) because the towers are square. After Richard, British castles are built with circular towers. Also, Canterbury is where Christianity was reintroduced to Britain after the Romans left.

I can see France from my house!



Prague was a-ma-zing.

We spent two days walking around the city, and it snowed almost the entire time. We went to a string concert (read: not Sting concert, string) and entertained ourselves in a 5 story club. Somebody asked me if I was Arabic. (?) We visited the castle, numerous souvenir shops, and rubbed the statue of a saint for good luck. As per usual, I'll put up some pics, but I don't think I can really narrate it all.

Tomorrow we leave for Italy! Venice, Florence, and Rome!

Today I went to a Sikh Gurudwara and learned all about their religion, kind of. I would like to hear about it from someone not so...biased, but I'm not sure if that will ever happen. It was an enlightening experience, regardless. They also coaxed us into eating from their cafeteria, which apparently feeds 35,000 people a week. The tea was delicious.

What else did I do today? I charged the battery for my camera, ate a grapefruit, cleaned off my picture card, and walked to High Street Kensington (but didn't buy anything!). I also took a trip to McDonalds and snuck some of their wi-fi because ours hasn't been working since I've been home.

There probably won't be a lot of posting for a couple weeks...VACA!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Come Hell or High Water, Part 3 - a picture story

The end.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Come Hell or High Water, Part 2

When preparing to jump off a 30 foot cliff into the ocean, it is best to not question yourself. If there's no immediate danger, hesitation is pointless. Even if you're scared witless, at least you'll look like a badass.

Saturday morning you wake up and attempt to stuff yourself into a wet suit, which is much like squeezing into an ultra-tight girdle, and not all that flattering. You don't mind though, because when you're standing in a shed in your skivvies in the middle of February, all you want is to be warm again. After you've thoroughly suited up, you hop into the bus and make your way to the coast of Wales.

When you first hit the water, you forget how to breathe. Oh god it's cold, and the ocean is filled with bubbles, and you just float for a moment and then push back to the surface and toss your head back and gasp. Your limbs are loose but your chest is tight, so you just bob with the tide for a little while trying to reclaim your lungs. One by one your friends follow suit, the ocean continuously broken by sputtering, cursing youths. Helmeted heads dot the water, and on the guide's signal you break into long strokes towards a crevice in the rocks nicknamed "the toilet" because of the way the waves raise you up and then flush you back down. The surrounding rocks are covered in barnacles and they scrape the tips of your fingers that poke through your gloves as you reach for a purchase. You finally steady yourself during a low spell, just seconds before the water suddenly raises again, throws you off and swallows you up.

Once you've escaped the toilet and hoisted yourself up the shut-ins type rocks, the cold hits you with a whole new vengeance. Your fingertips are thrumming, and your forehead aches. Your lips are turning blue, and the salty wind whips across your face, a siren song luring you back to the sea. Luckily you don't stand still for long, and soon you're scrambling across the rocks and jumping cannon ball style back into the Atlantic.

After lunch you're back at the ocean, wedging your surfboard into the sand and laying on your stomach, pushing your hair out of your eyes and watching Bramble demonstrate proper surfing technique. The board is heavy and catches the wind, constantly blowing you off your feet. The cold water is a familiar shock as you wade into the waves with your board floating at your side. The leg rope tangles around your feet, and the foamy water fizzes around your waist as you wait for a substantial swell.

You wait too long for the first wave, and it flips the board you're only half on; you swallow a mouthful of sea water as you tumble under the surface. Catching the leg rope, you haul your board back to you and try it again. This time as you seen the wave gaining, you turn your board towards the coast, get fully centered, and start swimming frantically, rushing towards the beach with triumphant speed. The next step is to push yourself up into a cobra pose, and as you arch your back you think you've just about got it. Half an hour later, Bramble teaches you how to spring into a standing position, but the water and wind have sucked all the strength out of your upper body. Back in the waves, you tumble off the board repeatedly as you try in vain to get your feet flat on the plastic.

The sun sets as you strip off your wet suit in the parking lot, shame long since discarded in the morning shed. The promise of hot chocolate warms you long enough to pull on your soft, dry sweatshirt, but the bone cold of the day will remain in your fingers and back for hours to come. The muscles in your legs and arms ache, and your salty hair is a tangled pile on your head, but you're happy. If anything, you're happy.


Dear Mom,

Thank you for the lovely Valentines Day box! It came in the mail yesterday, and I was so excited to finally have more pumpkin bread. I had no idea you'd baked me THREE loaves! I've heard it's virtually impossible to find Cool Whip in London, but a neighbor did have some canned whipped cream that topped the deliciousness off nicely. Thanks for the Kissables, too. I think I ran around most of last night with a sugar high, so I'm going to have to learn to moderate myself. However, I'm not really sure what those lip candies are, so I haven't tried them yet. I mean, what if they're gum and I accidentally swallow them?

I also love the card that you and Tanner sent me. It was a little soggy when I pulled it out of the box, so I made sure to open it straightaway. It was great to hear your voices, and now I'll have something to listen to any time I feel a little homesick. I'm sorry it cost you $40 to send me that, but I appreciate it more than you know.

Love, Kins

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The guys in London have no asses.
Even if they did, the tight legged, baggy bottomed pants trend that they have come to embrace makes it impossible to tell. Not that I’m particularly interested, but these are the kinds of things you notice when you’re power walking the streets of the city.

It was a good walk, too. London has been beautiful the past couple days, gray as always but close to 50 degrees and breezy. It was the kind of walk that the High Street with their Porsches and shopping bags don’t appreciate at 12:30 in the afternoon, full of zigzags and close calls and long strides. It was the kind of walk you feel up the tops of your feet and over your ankles, the kind that builds and builds and sizzles for a jog until you’ve finally reached the gate of Kensington Gardens and you can give in. It was the kind of walk fueled by Enrique, the kind with hip swivels and the occasional finger snap and a strong and heavy beat. It was a good walk, to be certain.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Forgive me, for I am shirking on my duties.

Today I finished all my homework early and decided to get out of my flat and do something.  I chose to walk to the Science Museum, which is right down Cromwell, and is also the Science Museum.  Do I really have to elaborate?  Anyway, I thought "right down Cromwell" was going to make it easy to find; I really should have paid attention to that mapquest a teensy bit more.  Anyway, long story short, I passed it up and came across Harrods instead.  So I figured hey, I haven't been to Harrods yet and I've been here over a month.  Let's do it.

So I went in.  In case you didn't know, Harrods is one of those places where you shop for your Chanel rompers and open-toed booties and gold plated doggie dishes and for god's sake don't touch anything because it all costs more than you do!  It was 5 drool-worthy levels of decadence, and needless to say I was too nervous to really enjoy it.  Perhaps I'll go back another time when I've brushed my hair and traded my brown loafers for four-inch instruments of torture.  But that is a bit of a walk for brushed hair.

For all of you left wondering about the Science Museum, I was hell bent on finding it, and find it I did.  I felt quite a bit more at home in the Science Museum...I remember thinking that exact thing.  My sister asked me if it was at all like the Science Center in St. Louis, and my initial response was "no, not really," though I couldn't pinpoint why.  Now that I've had time to think about it, the Science Museum is different by its inherent nature of being a Museum about Science.  It is centered around numerous artifacts related to science, but not necessarily with giving in depth explanations about scientific processes and procedures.  It had Watson and Crick's DNA model, for example, but not a large elaboration on how DNA works.

In other recent news, I had a dream last night I was John Lennon's love.  
I think that's about everything...

Italy in 2 weeks!  

Saturday, February 14, 2009


It's the little, unexpected things that make you miss home the most...

Like not being able to find a sharpie in Sainsbury's?  Or a black permanent marker of any sort?
Really, London?  Really?

Friday, February 13, 2009



Oh! I forgot! Wednesday we went to the British Museum and I got up close and personal with the Rosetta Stone.

It...will...BE MINE!

I think that museum has more Egyptian work in it that Egypt does. It also has most of the good stuff from the Parthenon. Britain, I take it, knows how to pillage expertly.

My history of photography class also took a trip to a hip part of the city to check out a show by South African photographer Santu Mofokeng. His shots were touching and thought through...instead of photographing the images of the anti-Apartheid struggle most were focused on, he captured the life of Africans in between.



Come Hell or High Water, Part 1

Through a little enthusiasm, pretty pictures, and slick advertising, we were lured into an adventure weekend on the coast of Wales. The fees we paid would cover everything, they said, and all we had to do was find our way over there. Funny, that.

Friday morning we set out for the Victoria coach station, backpacks, duffels, and rolly bags in tow. It was a gorgeous day (actually I think it was raining a little) but all we really wanted was to get to the station, get on our coach, and get to Wales – especially since the ride was scheduled to be 6 or 7 hours long. The gates were rather like an airport, but there were pigeons roosting on the display screens and the stores sold boxed sandwiches instead of high-end perfume. We arrived around 45 minutes before our departure time (12 sharp!) set down our bags and grabbed some waters. Luckily (but mostly unfortunately) we didn’t have to wait for very long. After about 10 minutes, an amiable voice lit up the station, informing us that our trip had been cancelled due to “severe weather.” Mass panic ensued.

Okay, maybe not “mass panic,” but lots of people were 1. Confused 2. Pissed and 3. Confused. Were they going to reschedule our coach? Should we wait and see? If we couldn’t get to Wales, would they refund our money? Well, as it turned out, no, no, and no. So we hightailed it, through the not-quite-pouring rain, to the Victoria train station and finagled 1 o’clock train tickets for around 36 pounds, which was possibly less than what we’d paid for our coach tickets (would we get THAT money refunded? No, probably not; they can’t control the weather.). We hopped on the next train to Swansea, wandered through the (empty) first class cars, and finally settled in a (full) layman’s car, much to my dismay. But at least we were sitting down.

An hour or so into our ride, Ryan and I moved up to a table that had freed up and joined some of our friends. Here, we met the self-proclaimed most unusual man we would ever meet.

A few hours later, we arrived at Swansea (which was still about 2-3 hours from Haverfordwest, our ultimate destination) and discovered we were a wonderful hour ahead of schedule…unfortunately, our next train was right on time. So, Mark, Emily, and I decided to wander about Swansea, rolly bags still in tow, and observe the local Swanseans in their natural habitat. A run down of the street we experienced: a bowling alley (we considered popping in for a frame) lots of closed down and graffiti’d on shops, and three booming outdoor apparel and gear stores.

Our last few hours on the train passed relatively quickly. Of course, I was sleep on a shared table for the majority of it, but I digress. When we finally made it to Haverfordwest it was full night, but our hosts were there to pick us up, and a brisk 25-minute bus ride later we were at our lodge in the Preseli Hills. We were shown to our rooms, served a delicious hot dinner, and left to enjoy the rest of our night with the comfort of a full-service bar. After an hour or so I changed into my jammies and meandered outside to soak in the starlight. Starlight’s not something you get a lot of in the city.

The ecolodge But we could see the ocean!