I’m not sure I could be doing a worse job at blogging.
I’ve been in London for two months and I have exactly one month to go (I said, don’t remind me). I’m already dreading it. I’m already stressed about it. I already go into a bit of a panic when I think about it.
This place – the flat, London, England – has become home to me in such a short time. Hell, it was home to me after a week in December. I should have known coming for such a long-short time would do more damage.
I’m anonymous – I pass unseen through the streets and into dark cinemas, into Costa and Starbucks, into Tesco and M&S, into plays and musicals. I’m alone and entirely independent. I’m jobless, but not penniless.
I can’t leave.
I’m so desperate to stay, I’ve filled out an application to another masters program here. It would be a part-time program, which would put me here for two years starting in February – if I make it. Just need two letters of rec and should probably ask about what the fuck GCSEs are, or whatever.
I’ve met friends and celebrities, but no lovers. That’s okay, though, for now, because England is kind of my lover. Doesn’t ask much, but gives a lot.
Okay, before I gag myself from all this poetic waxing, I’m going to try my damn best to run down what exactly I’ve been up to since I last updated… JUNE 15TH? Jesus.
You know what, I’ll just start from the beginning.
One of my first days here, I decided to walk from my flat to Hampstead Heath – quite a walk. I live very close to Abbey Road, so I walked past Abbey Road Studios – always a treat. Hampstead Heath is absolutely beautiful. If it weren’t so damn posh, I’d probably stay there next time I’m here. There is a large hill in the Heath that gives great views of the Finsbury Park area as well as the London skyline. I need to go up there a few more times before I go.
I’ve been down to the Marble Arch area and through Hyde Park, ignored some people on Speaker’s Corner. I walked through the Buckingham Palace area – past Downing Street, found a pub called The World’s End (even before I became obsessed with the film – I’ll get into that later). I’ve been to Regent’s Park a number of times – lately to lay out and catch the sun there. It’s been an unusually warm and sunny English summer!
Somehow, I’ve learned to like hot tea – I take it with milk and sugar. I’m still an iced tea girl, but there’s something to be said for adding heat.
I love Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, New Bond Street, Regent Street. I could live down on South Bank or Embankment.
I have befriended a gal I met at filming the first night I was here. She has a twin sister, so the three of us have become friends. They leave a few days before I do. Not looking forward to any of that. We three went to an Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead – some celebs had some hand-drawn art for auction, but I didn’t win anything. I did buy a Beatles mixed media piece that I can’t wait to hang up at home. Sigh, in Omaha.
I could also live in the Regent’s Park area… or Canary Wharf. Wow, what an area. It’s so modern and reflective, what, with the buildings’ glass and the water. I went to a Motorexpo down there. I couldn’t even say all the cars I saw: Lamborghinis, Lotuses, Ferraris, Jaguars, Aston Martins, MINI Coopers, Maseratis, Bentleys, a Mercedes SLS (drool), etc. I did that on Father’s Day because I figured that’s what I would have done with dad 🙂
I’ve seen Westminster Abbey, yet not been inside of it yet. If I woke up before noon one day, I’d go to a service. I’m still on a weird sleep schedule. It’s bed between 2am and 5am, then sleep til between 1130am and 1pm. Everyone wonders how I do it. Well, it helps not having a job or any obligations, really.
I’ve walked Shaftesbury Avenue looking for where Ron, Harry, and Hermione disapparated (nerd). I believe I found Irene Adler’s place in Belgravia. I definitely found Shaun’s, Ed’s, and Pete’s house (from Shaun of the Dead) in Finsbury Park and walked by the (now demolished) Winchester Pub from the same movie. I found Ben Franklin’s London flat, Jimi Hendrix’s flat, and his neighbor, Handel. I have been by Royal Albert Hall and will be back there in May of next year to see Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness performed by a live orchestra (DROOL). I’ve been by the Gherkin and the Shard, later to go up to the View at the top with mom and Tom.
I found a wonderful pub with chandeliers down by London Bridge – I’ll have to go back there once more before I leave. I love that whole area – London Riverside.
I saw A Strange Interlude at National Theatre, starring Anne-Marie Duff as Nina (I mean, how could I not see it). Speaking of someone from Parade’s End, I saw Rebecca Hall behind me at the bar at The Shed: National Theatre to see Andrew Scott in Seawall. Then I met Andrew outside The Stage Door and got a photo with him. That was surreal.
I got to tour the BBC Television Centre off Regent Street. I totally nerded out for that. It was such a beautiful place. I saw the iconic BBC Microphone, got to see where they record some radio dramas, and more importantly, got to go into Radio Theatre where they recorded Cabin Pressure in front of a live audience. Sigh, wish it would have worked out with my December trip to see that before it ended. Being at the BBC was lovely and I didn’t want to even leave the plaza afterward.
I became obsessed with Marks and Spencers’ strawberries and whipped cream, and I’m now obsessed with their casalinga tomatoes and mozzarella. I drink beer like water. Honestly, though, it’s like 3.8% so it might as well be.
Mom and Tom came for about eight days and said I was such a good tour guide, I should open up my own chaperone business here. It just so happened that everything I planned worked out, which was odd. On their first night, I took them down to one of my other favorite pubs, The County Hall Arms on the Thames. After their inaugural fish and chips, we walked around South Bank for a bit. We went by St Paul’s Cathedral and saw blue trees (still don’t know what that was all about), the hotel where Conor and I stayed in December, British Museum (I found ‘fuck’ in the Bible on display). We went to the Tower of London and had a Beefeater tour, then went across Tower Bridge, up in the Eye.
For the Fourth of July, I discovered that there was a classic American car show in Canary Wharf and there happened to be a food truck line-up right next to it. I thought that was pretty damn American, and it was a beautiful day. That night we saw Man of Steel, also. Not a bad film, really. Then on the tube home, a Superman look-alike sat across from us and mom used her creeper skills to get a photo of him. It must be hereditary.
We saw The Bodyguard and walked into the Savoy. I took them to Abbey Road so they could do the zebra crossing. We went to Hampstead Heath for a picnic and heard The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park.
They left and for lack of anything better to do on a Monday night, I saw The Who at Wembley Arena. That was fucking fantastic. Between the copious amounts of beer, flattery, and awesome music, I think I was in tears the entire time. Just an extraordinary experience. An awesome band opened for them – Vintage Trouble – check them out. I kept waiting for a bad song so I could go get yet another beer and it just never happened.
When my friend Jo stopped in London on her way to Bristol, we went to the European premiere of The World’s End in Leicester Square. Talk about surreal. Saw Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, Louise Brealey, David Walliams, Jimmy Carr, Jason Isaacs, Bill Bailey, etc. I wish I could have been closer to get a photo with Simon, he’s my hero. Walking out of there toward Trafalgar Square, we saw Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller filming Elementary. Star-studded night, that was.
Jo and I also went to Watford to see the Harry Potter Experience at Warner Bros Studios. I had been there with Conor in December, but I cried nerdtears all over again. (I’m sensing a theme here with the tears). That was awesome. I had a really fun time with her, especially drinking in Canary Wharf and therefore drunkenly facetiming my ex. We’re close friends still, so it wasn’t one of those dumbass decisions. I hope not, anyway.
We had a Sherlock Saturday where we took the tube to Baker Street and saw the Sherlock Holmes Statue, went by 221B Baker Street, then where they film the exterior of 221B on North Gower (right next to Speedy’s Cafe – I’ve yet to eat there, damnit). We went to St Bart’s and had a nerdfest. Then as we’re sitting there, where Sherlock fell, nerdily, this tour group shows up and starts talking about why it’s a point of interest. Facepalm and don’t mind us, we’re just waiting for the bus…
That night, we went to Zizzi’s (one of my fav restaurants) and had pizza and a couple bottles of California rosé. From there, we proceeded to wander around Southwark and Embankment until 3am. It was gorgeous seeing the Thames at night with all the lights. We even found stairs down to the bank and of course I had to put my toes in the Thames. It looks much better at night, believe me. It was a really great time.
That was the first time Jo and I actually met, by the way. We had been talking since December and finally got to meet in person last month. Crazy how those things happen, eh? Oh, and Jo’s a chick. Sorry to disappoint.
Jo invited me to Bristol to see where she’s from and also to meet her daughter and parents. Before that, though, I got to see The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the midnight premiere of The World’s End, in succession, at the cinema in Leicester Square. It. Was. Amazing. Shaun of the Dead, to this day, remains one of my favorite movies ever. It is such a feel-good movie and is obviously hilarious. Hot Fuzz is another favorite, of course. And now The World’s End won’t get out of my mind. I’ve seen it four times so far… The soundtrack alone is worth seeing the film – I have about eight new favorite songs because of it. Edgar and the boys continue their theme of genius (and Cornettos).
On to Bristol, (I just realized this has almost turned into a proper journal of events now) I took the train from Paddington Station – first class (inexpensive and worth it). I loved riding in the train, it was very relaxing. I got to Bristol and met Jo’s daughter, then her parents (DARLING people). We set off in the rented Sluggish Marshmallow Babushka (white Fiat 500) and she took me through Chipping Sodbury where JK Rowling grew up/went to school, then to Castle Combe where they filmed part of War Horse, and Portland Square where they filmed part of Sherlock Season 3. After that it was back to Bristol proper and a pint with a view of the suspension bridge over the gorge.
She also took me up through to Symonds Yat (amazing views from the rock), and to Herefordshire. Lovely town – I could live somewhere like that 😉 It was really nice to get out of the city and see some true English countryside (and true English-speakers). We went through the Forest of Dean, where they filmed part of Harry Potter. (If you haven’t noticed, I love to say “where they filmed” – it’s pretty much anywhere you go here. What can I say in Omaha – here’s where they filmed exterior shots for that shitty ass movie About Schmidt?)
She also took me into Wales and then on the last day, we went to the Roman city of Bath. That was a beautiful place – would have liked to spend more time there, but it started pouring and I had a train to catch.
Since I’ve been back… about a week now… I’ve mostly been lazing around and catching my breath. I am having a hell of a time narrowing down a topic for my capstone project in my masters program. Thank fuck I only have about 28 days of that left. Jesus. And I’m filling out an application for another masters program? What am I thinking, really?
August is shaping up to be the Month of the Arts: I have about seven plays and musicals I need to see, I am seeing Moulin Rouge! and Grease on separate occasions, both on rooftops, and I have two concerts to go to (Suede and Singin’ In the Rain by an orchestra), both at the Kenwood House in Hampstead.
I also need to get up to Cardiff one of these days while they’re filming Sherlock season 3. The Aussie twins are there now for a couple weeks, so I’d have a place to stay. I might get to see some sea while I’m there. And some Holmes.
If I didn’t have my laptop with me, I might go have a pint somewhere – I just know by the time I get home and drop it off, I’ll be way too lazy to go back out.
I like Covent Garden, but the amount of people is overwhelming and mainly irritating. Even when I don’t have any time constraints, people are just in my frickin’ way. The world revolves around me, right?
I have beer in my fridge. Carling.
Thinking about adding tags to this post is giving me high blood pressure. I talked about way too much shit.