Category Archives: Travel

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Greetings from Minnesota where I’ve been laying low for the past week. After running here there and everywhere seeing my nearest and dearest, I have finally found a moment to share my day with you. Enjoy!

8First, and most importantly, let me introduce you to the newest addition to my family: my MacBook Air! Methuselah is getting angry and uncooperative now that she has to share my affection with another, but she’ll enjoy retirement, I think.  She and the Spinning Rainbow Wheel of Doom will have many happy, quiet years together now that they’re empty nesters.  It’ll be cute.

9These Minnesota days have been bright and sunny but also freezing cold. There’s nothing like a warming coffee to get the gears working in the morning.

10Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? I did. His name was Little Fox and he was (you guess it!) a little fox that would follow me around and keep me company.  When my mom saw this  ornament, she immediately thought of Little Fox and got it for me. It actually looks a lot like Little Fox except my LF stood on his hind legs and smoked a pipe, naturally.  Still, I love him! His scarf is adorable.

11What’s great about the US is that there’s a definitive Christmas season and it begins after Thanksgiving. In the UK, it starts getting cold and suddenly you enter a waiting game where we all watch each other trying to guess who will be first to say the ‘C’ word. Here, we all know that it’s not time for tinsel and holly until after the pumpkin pie has been devoured and someone has gotten trampled at a midnight Black Friday opening at a Best Buy or WalMart. We don’t start listening to Christmas music until Thanksgiving day. That’s the rule and it’s a sacred one.

12We call this room in our house The Library.  I didn’t realise that calling it that was pretentious until I went to college and some girl in a writing class called me on it.  Anyway, it’s a super cosy room and I love our little library, which is full of books that include The Atlas of Middle Earth, a set of Encyclopaedias from the 80s, and basically every book written by C.S. Lewis ever. Plus so much more. It’s a magical place and I have many happy memories here.

Also, my new knit scarf! Isn’t it pretty? It’s by The Gold Thread Collective, a group of insanely talented Minnesotans.  Be sure to do some shopping with them in their Etsy store and, if you’re local (in Minnesota, I mean) be sure to visit them at the Holiday Bazaar on December 7th. It looks like it’s going to be a really fun day and I’m super bummed I won’t be there for it!

13You guys, Minnesota is such a magical place.  People who have never been to Minnesota don’t understand this, but Minnesota, and specifically the Twin Cities, are a mecca of talent.  Food! Music! Art! Medicine! Big Thoughts! There. Is. So. Much. Talent. And whoever made this Huevos Rancheros at The Kenwood Restaurant is among the super talented. It was so good!

14After devouring our delicious meal with our dear friends Sarah Vande Kamp (remember her?!) and Joe Whitson (who should totally do a Tuesday With Vous because his life is like a magical hipster history book), we went for a walk around my favourite lake, Lake of the Isles.  The lake had already started to freeze over and our faces were quickly following suit so we abandoned our walk after strolling only a quarter of the way around the lake.  Despite the frigid temperature and wind chill, it was still a beautiful walk.

15To bring some warmth back to our limbs and faces, David and I stopped at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe for some hot chocolate.  Just like the wizards in Harry Potter, I firmly believe that hot chocolate has healing powers.

16Back at home, we watched the sun set and waited for the next part of our day to unfold.

17Sitting on the sink in our powder room, my mom has put together an adorable rock tower with stones she collected at Lake Superior over the summer.  Isn’t it the cutest?

18I can’t even tell you how nice it’s been being home with my family.  It’s nice to take the time to stop and smell the flowers and to eat too much and drink too much, too.

19It’s also been nice to see my family’s neighbours that I don’t often see.  Neighbours I’ve grown up with who used to feed me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after school and now feed me bourbon. I don’t complain….

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Friends who we kiss goodbye under the mistletoe.

21Every time I visit, I daydream of moving to Minneapolis. And when I do move back, I’m going to move right next door to Bachelor Farmer. This was my favourite dish of the evening, the Beet Carpaccio. The flavours were spectacular, diverse, and surprising in all the right ways.  Everything about the meal was fantastic, in fact– the food, the music, the ambiance, A+ all around! Plus, one of my favourite bars in the city, Marvel Bar, is conveniently located directly beneath. If you go, be sure to have a whiskey sour. It’ll change your life! (Okay, maybe it won’t change your life but it will certainly make your night a little more fabulous.)

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There’s nothing I love more than a hearty meal and great conversation.  Sitting around a table with my love and my parents is one of my all time favourite ways to spend an evening. I’m thankful to have such spectacular people in my life!

23On the way home to the ‘burbs, we drove past the most intricately lit tree in the whole wide world. Every branch is wrapped in white lights and has been standing as a beacon of joy for as long as I can remember.  It’s a sight to behold and you can read all about it right here.

And now, my dears, is Turkey Time.  Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for reading!  KISSES!

Tuesday With Vous: Liam Rogers in NYC!

When my dear friend Liam went to America last month, he pitched the idea of sharing a Tuesday With Vous on video. At first I was a bit hesitant because videos are noisy and distracting and I’m a curmudgeon, but then I thought, wait a second, I LOVE ARTISTIC EXPRESSION! and said yes. Et voila, here are my two English friends, Liam and Nick, enjoying a Tuesday in New York City in 2 minutes and 53 seconds. It’s super cute. Enjoy!

Name: Liam Rogers
Location: NYC via Tunbridge Wells
Occupation: Photographer / Film-maker
Camera Used: Nikon D7000

Are you someone creative and fun who would like to share your Tuesday with everyone? Get in touch & let’s make it happen! xx

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Boston Edition

Boston. Oh, Boston!  I lived in Boston for six years before moving to the UK.  If you’ve met me in person, I’ve probably told you that I lived there for seven, which is a lie, but a well-meaning one as I’m very bad at math and didn’t realise I was lying until right now.  Regardless of the actual number of years, I lived in Boston for the most transformative years of my life. They were good years.

David and I met in Boston and fell in love and married there.  As individuals and as a couple, the city means a lot to us and we had been anxious to get back for quite some time.  When a friend’s wedding gave us the opportunity to take a prolonged vacation in Beantown, we happily booked our tickets and found a sweet little oasis near the beach in Southie to rent.  And it was in this little seaside rental that my Tuesday began.

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Typically, I didn’t take any real time off whilst on holiday and woke early each morning to complete a few hours of work before the rest of the house began to stir.  Jet lag made rising early easy, but the cocktails the night before sometimes made my eyelids long for more sleep.

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If you’ve never been to Southie, you should go.  Go before it changes too much.  Walking around, you can still see the characters that have defined the neighborhood walking down Broadway and cutting through the back streets, but more and more, those quintessential characters are being replaced by 30-something corporate types with good jobs and practical shoes.  The neighborhood is changing; new construction is going up on almost every block, established Boston restaurants are opening new locations in Southie and the greasy spoons and corner pubs are being squeezed out.  It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like in another five years… probably a lot like the South End.

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When we were in Boston, we lived in Southie for two years.  “In Southie.”  Technically, we lived just over the bridge from Boston in a swanky high-rise.  Sometimes we’d see junkies at the bus stop or hear a crowd of sirens moving into the projects when we were walking to brunch, but for the most part we were far removed from the heart of Southie.  Think The Departed, Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone.  We knew those streets existed, but we didn’t live on them.  This trip, we were closer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Ben Affleck and Matt Damon films accurately depict the reality of Southie.  No.  Like any community, Southie’s made up of families who care about each other, their community, and their people.  Sometimes you hear stories about shady characters going missing and bodies washing up in the ocean, but that kind of stuff goes down in any city.  For the most part, people keep their heads down, work hard and look forward to the weekends. For the most part, it’s a really great place.

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Whilst we were visiting, I was amazed by how quickly my life in England seemed to evaporate. My feet remembered the streets like no time had passed and we fell into familiar conversation with our friends without missing a beat.  In many ways, it was good that I was working, good that I had something to tether me to my life in Tunbridge Wells.  If I didn’t, I don’t know if I would have come back.

(Note: I love living in the UK and I love Tunbridge Wells.  I also love Kudos, a new magazine that my friend just started.  I like to joke that it’s the Tunbridge Wells magazine that you can actually read, but really, it’s true– read it! It’s all about living local and loving local, which are basically my two favourite things. Plus it’s super pretty so be sure to check it out!)

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It was our pleasure, whilst away, to share our apartment and our time with my old roommate and greatest friend, Brent.  He lives in Washington DC and works at NPR (so cool, I know) so as you can imagine, the two of us don’t get the chance to see each other very often. It was really nice to just hang out with him again.  Drink coffee in our pajamas in the morning, play Ticket To Ride on the couch, go on long walks and remark on everything that’s changed.  Simple stuff.  Normal stuff.

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After Brent left us to go to a museum with his girlfriend, David and I went for a walk along the ocean.  The day was grey and humid and the ocean oscillated between smelling like heaven and like rotting fish.  After a while, we stopped on a bench to look out over the harbor.  Gulls sounded in our ears, a group of school children picking up trash laughed and flirted in the background, and my heartbeat fell in time to the lapping of the waves. In England, I really miss the ocean.

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We continued our walk to the very tip of Southie where the planes fly so close you feel you can reach up and touch them.  I took this picture to add to my dear friend Casey’s #aplaneaday hashtag on instagram.

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The sky got dark and threatened rain so David and I returned to our apartment.  The roofers across the street continued to work and we heard the slap of shingles hitting the sidewalk as we waited for the rain that did not come.

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David decided to nap and relax for the afternoon so I struck out alone and walked through Southie to Boston to meet Brent and Acacia.  I loved walking through the neighborhood alone and noting all the things that are different.  Cupcake shops and yoga studios are opening where credit unions and sandwich shops used to be. Barber shops and liquor stores still seem to be thriving.  This mural is still on the wall…

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Upon meeting my friends, we decided it was high time to enjoy one of my favourite foods of all time, nachos!  Here is Brent and Acacia looking nacho happy!

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What’s great about Brent is he’s always forcing me to try new things or urging me to do things that I really don’t want to do in an effort to broaden my horizons.  Sometimes these things are fun, and sometimes they are the worst.  On this particular evening, Brent made me take the T at rush hour.  I don’t like being underground to begin with and don’t even like riding the T when it’s off-peak, so you can imagine my happiness when he forced us to cram into a completely full train on a very warm day.  This particular moment is one in which I made him pretend to call for help because I just couldn’t deal.

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Happily, we got off the T in Brookline and explored our old stomping grounds on foot.  I love the architecture in Brookline.  Everything is orderly and the homes stand in confident even rows, brick on brick, sturdy and secure.  The trees are tall and strong and the sidewalks are even.  Brent and I used to joke that you could get pregnant drinking the water in Brookline because the summer we lived there everyone seemed pregnant.  It’s a very popular part of the city to start and raise a family.  Also a very popular place to eat delicious bagels!

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One thing I almost never do is venture anywhere near Kenmore Square when there is a Red Sox game on.  On this occasion, I made an exception and sometime during the first or second inning we all settled into Hawthorne for a drink.

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The challenge with visiting a city you love in which you have a wealth of friends is that there is no possible way that you can spend quality time with everyone.  Rather than picking just a few people to go out to dinner with during our stay, David and I announced ‘office hours’ at bars around the city and urged our friends to meet us there en mass.  For the most part, it worked very well, though I will say that I wish I had time to sit and catch up with everyone individually.  Unfortunately, as humans, time is not on our side and we were content instead to see many great friends each and every evening.

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After a delicious whiskey sour and a beautiful Manhattan, we relocated to Franklin Southie, our old ‘hotel bar’, to see another group of friends and fill ourselves with beef cheek tacos and red wine.

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We wiped our fingers on damp wipes like children and laughed like we didn’t have a care in the world, because when you’re on vacation, the cares melt away and you live in an alternate reality where real life doesn’t exist.

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No matter how long you’re away, some things never change. Laughter, drink and food still draw people together, good friendships never die, and being welcomed home to a stand of twinkle lights will always feel like the coziest welcome ever.

                                                                                                                                                                

As you’re well aware, dear reader, I am now home in my UK home with the cat curled at my feet and the cares of the world heavy on my shoulders.  I’ll admit to being rather glum since our return– I should have taken more pictures, written more things down, seen more museums and gone out with more friends!– but I’m happy to say that I think I’ve mostly recovered from my holiday regrets and am able to move forward and focus on some exciting new projects now.  The holiday blues… if that’s the worst thing going on in my life, then boy do I got it good!

The Badlands

And the Worst Blogger in the World Award goes to Kate Sims!

Seriously you guys, I’m sorry.  I’ve been everywhere but here lately and, now that I’m booking clients, founding events (more on this another time) and moving my business forward, I’m not adjusting to the life-work balance quite as seamlessly as I’d hoped.  In fact, I’m happily drowning in work, but every second that I’m working means I’m not writing for myself and maintaining this space, and no matter how I cut it, that just doesn’t work for me.

So let’s play catch-up and look at some photos from my Wild Wild West adventure.  Today, let’s focus on The Badlands.  Badlands+1 Badlands+2 Badlands+3 badlands+4 Badlands+5 Badlands+6 Badlands+7 Badlands+8 Badlands+9

Badasslands* is more like it!  Seriously, it’s like going to Mars.  How are those land formations even real?  How do they go from looking like extraterrestrial craters one moment to melting creamsicles the next?

As we drove through the Badlands National Park, my head was poking out the window with my camera to my eye as I snapped photos of the strangeness all around.  After hours (and hours and hours) of the flat expanse of Pro-Life billboards and never-ending fields that is South Dakota, I was amazed by how starkly different and unique the badlands are.  It was eerie, this sudden change in scenery, but it was beautiful and welcome, too.

Whilst winding along the wall and around hills, we saw a coyote (or was it a wolf?), scampering prairie dogs with screams like chirping birds, bighorn sheep (above), wild turkeys, bison and deer.  At 244,300 acres, the Badlands are vast, and desolate, any every time we saw a living creature I was moved by their fortitude, ’cause whether you’re a beast or man, living in a place like The Badlands can’t be easy.  As we wove along, my mind kept flashing back to games of Oregon Trail  and I imagined how soul crushing it must’ve been to pull a covered wagon up to The Badlands, wipe the sweat of your neck and let out a low whistle thinking, Damn, we’re going to break so many wagon wheels and lose at least three kids to snake bites and dehydration on this here stretch.  Those pioneers were brave people– if I’d come from Virginia and set my eyes on The Badlands, you can bet your butt I’d have turned around and gone back home.

Or maybe I wouldn’t have.  Maybe I’d have ridden through The Badlands on the back of my pony and thought about how the patterns in the sand looked like melting creamsicles and daydreamed of petting a bison.  Some things never change, after all, and my attraction to The Badlands will always endure.

*I almost made a sheep-noise pun about the Badlands but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  You’re welcome.

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Minnesota Edition

So, it turns out that developing film takes a while.  Oops!  Regardless, it was a lot of fun to use Brother Luke’s vintage Minolta XD5 and shoot film for the first time.  No, really, I’d never shot film before and was terrified that none of these pictures would actually turn out.  But they did turn out! So here they are.  Finally. 

6This is the view from the window in my childhood bedroom.  It’s been a lot of fun to watch this crabapple tree grow over the years– it’s so big, now!– and it’s especially pretty in the spring.

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Jet lag has been a welcome gift these past two weeks.  It’s been nice to rise early and get work done from bed before the rest of the house begins to stir and the day falls into place.

8lt’s also nice to enjoy a quiet breakfast alone.  Avocado toast is my favourite.

10The crabapple tree is next to a lilac bush that my grandmother gave my father for his birthday one year.  Together, they make our yard smell amazing.

11I was beginning to feel very insecure about the fact that the light meter in my brother’s camera didn’t seem to be working, so I re-read the manual and decided it would be best to only shoot in spots that are very well lit.  So here’s the floor.  And my feet.  And some sunlight.

12A bird (or a bird couple?) has built a nest on the flower wreath on the front door. I’m terrified that one day, the door will open, the nest will fall, the eggs will break, and the baby birds will die. Silly birdbrains!

13It’s been raining daily since I got here.  I wasn’t joking when I said I brought the English weather with me.  :(

14This is my chauffeur, Luke.

15He’s also one of my younger brothers and, when I twist his arm enough, he drives me around, fans me with large palm leaves, and tells me I’m fabulous.  On this afternoon, he took me to the Mall Of America.  Why?

16Because I wanted to see this guy: my older brother, Neal.  He’s a (fantastic) personal shopper at Nordstrom. If you want to spend way too much money on fabulous clothes that you probably don’t need, he’s the guy for you!

17After enjoying a sushi happy hour, we got down to business…

18If shopping counts as business, I mean.  These are my new shoes.  I love them!

19After my MOA adventure, I went to visit with my friends Angie (remember Angie’s TWV?) and Marlo.  They’re basically the most creative people on the planet and Angie’s house is the perfect place to play a game of I Spy because she has the coolest stuff.  Like these photo slides!

20Over wine and cheese, we chatted, laughed, and dreamed together.

21We also hung out with Angie’s GIANT dog in the backyard where this yellow chaise lounge lives.  I think this is a double exposure.  I mean, I know it is.  Kinda cool though, right?

22And then we talked some more even though we were beginning to feel sleepy.

23And then we said goodnight to Angie’s antlers and to each other.  It was a lovely evening– a lovely day.  And it was great to learn that film photography is not as scary as I thought. It’s just kind of expensive.  But fun!

So thank you for being patient with me this week, dear reader, and thank you for spending my Tuesday with me. I’ll be back in the UK on Monday and will be back to posting regularly next week. Have a great weekend!

xx

Home

AmericanWestLet’s go home.
Where?
Home.
But where is home?
Home is where there is soft light and big pillows and wine.  Home is where there is someone to welcome us and laugh with and sleep next to us, too.  Home is where there is stuff and things with stories that we remember, it’s where we have memories.  That is where home is.
But I have lots of places like that.  Can a person have lots of places that are home?
Only if they’re lucky.

                                                                                                                                                      

Feeling kinda conflicted about home these days.  Minnesota, Boston, Tunbridge Wells.  Family, Friends, David.  Heart, Hands, Soul.

We returned home from the Wild West late Sunday night.  We were exhausted but still managed to stay up too late drinking wine and laughing about the journey with my father, who missed us while we were away.  It felt good to be back, good to be home, and good to take a hot shower and sleep under warm covers on a real bed.

But I’m not home.  Not really, not anymore.

Sleeping in my childhood bedroom triggers all kinds of memories.  Memories of growth and impatience, memories of writing page after page in my journal about how I was going to leave this place and make something of myself on the east coast.  The early morning sound of my dad readying and then leaving for work, the whine of my mom’s espesso machine as she froths milk for her breakfast latte, the endless ticking of antique clocks that give this house a heartbeat– they’re all so familiar that I feel as if the last eight years have never happened.  I’ve been here, I’ve never left, and I’m yearning again for somewhere else, for another home.  

I wonder, sometimes, will I ever be happy in just one place?  I don’t know the answer right now, but even though I’m longing to go home, I’m simultaneously happy to be home.  It’s a comfortable confusion and I’m lucky to have a home in many places.

Mission Accomplished

Buffalo+CusterAll I wanted out of this trip was to see a buffalo up-close and personal and yesterday, I saw one.  We were driving through Custer State Park and, at a stop sign, we pulled up next to this guy. I was so excited, you guys!  So excited that I couldn’t even get him in a single frame.  So excited that I took two photos with two wildly different focuses.  So excited that now, after seeing hundreds of buffalo, I can’t believe I was ever that excited.

Anyway, the American West is beautiful!  I’m so lucky to be here and I can’t wait to share more with you soon.  So soon!  Or, like, as soon as I have internet again.  xx

Telling Secrets

Minnesota+Rainstorm+1Minnesota+Rainstorm+5

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Minnesota+Rainstorm+7 Minnesota+Rainstorm+8

Minnesota+Rainstorm+3 Minnesota+Rainstorm+4 Minnesota+Rainstorm+9Clearly, when I said “tomorrow” in my last post, I meant Saturday.  I was a little too busy yesterday to post anything.  Why?  BECAUSE I FLEW TO MINNESOTA!  Surprise!

Yesterday afternoon, after 9.5 hours in a flying gas chamber (aka airplane), I arrived in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for my dad’s birthday.  He didn’t know I was coming.  It was cute.  This morning, I woke up at 6:15 to a glorious Minnesotan thunderstorm and, whilst the rest of the house slept (and is still sleeping even at 9:45) I took my coffee and camera to the porch and watched the sky flicker with lightning and the rain pour down.  It’s still going on, actually.  Guess I brought the grey English skies along with me.  Hurrah!

Now that the secret’s out, I’m free to dish all the details: I’ll be in The States for two weeks.  In that time, I’ll be visiting all my favourite Minnesotan spots and taking a trip in an RV to the wild wild west to pet bison and make friends with grizzly bears.  Obviously, I’ll share these adventures with you here.  But today, just enjoy the thunderstorm; breath deeply and inhale the world around you.  xx

American in England

American+In+EnglandMy officemates at Create DM recently introduced me to the above book.  Originally a pamphlet written by the United States War Department in 1942, it’s full of timeless advice and interesting facts for Americans roaming the war-torn British wilderness.  Each page reveals a new nugget of wisdom, some which is genuinely interesting, and some that serves no other purpose than to make me laugh and feel slightly embarrassed for being a loud-mouthed Yankee.  Seeing as my one-year anniversary of being an American in England is fast approaching, I wanted to take a moment to share some of my favourite quotes with you.  Enjoy!

The whole of Great Britain– that is England and Scotland and Wales together– is hardly bigger than Minnesota.  As a native Minnesotan, this kinda blew my mind.  Seriously, my brain is hurting. Minnesota?  Really? 

You will find that the British care little about size, not having the “biggest” of many things as we do.  Americans, always so humble… and subtle.

The British don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee.  You don’t know how to make a good cup of tea.  It’s an even swap. Generally speaking, this is spot on, though I will say that the English are growing their appreciation for coffee whereas I still make a crap cup of tea (just ask David) and really can’t be bothered to learn how to rectify this inadequacy.  

Another difference.  The British have phrases and colloquialisms of their own that may sound funny to you.  You can make just as many boners in their eyes.  It isn’t a good idea, for instance, to say “bloody” in mixed company in Britain– it is one of their worst swear words.  Oh, how the times have changed!  Also, boner?  What! 

In “getting along” the first important thing to remember is that the British are like the Americans in many ways– but not in all ways.  You will quickly discover differences that seem confusing and even wrong.  Like driving on the left side of the road, and having money based on an “impossible” accounting system, and drinking warm beer.  But once you get used to things like that, you will realize that they belong to England just as baseball and jazz and coca-cola belong to us.  Hahahahaahaaaa.  But yes, warm beer and driving on the left side of the road are most definitely confusing and wrong.  I mean, c’mon you guys, stop that! 

Anyway, I hope that made you smile. The entire book is an absolute gem, really.  Happy Monday!

American in England: Brighton

Brighton+1 Brighton+2 Brighton+3 Brighton+4 Brighton+5We rang in BST with a sunset stroll along the beaches of Brighton, my ears heavy with the noise of feet raking through rocks, my eyes glued to the horizon.

Today, England feels like summer.  The sun is out and the clatter of an unseen construction site is carried through the window like a yawn.  Birds chirp happily in the trees and though it’s still cool, I can again recall the taste of sweat, the smell of freshly cut grass and the buzz of insects doing their insect things.  I can close my eyes and imagine the way strawberries taste when they’re freshly harvested, the way a drink refreshes when it’s sipped in the sunshine and the way heat rises in a blur off the pavement.  This is going to be a good summer, dear reader, a spectacular summer.  I can feel it.  Can you?