Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week One - Catching Up and Seeing the Sights

-- Streatham - A Nice Place to Catch Your Breath --

Lovely pic of a robin in Streatham Common taken by Andrew
We were only too happy to provide what we hoped was a comfortable spot for Andrew and Anthousa to recuperate from their amazing, but tiring, trip around southern Asia. Sadly for me, I had to pretty much carry on with work and leave the three of them to enjoy themselves during the weekdays. But we made the most of all our time together, starting with a walk in Streatham Common and a nice big grocery shop on Tuesday, their first full day here.

Lucky me, I came home to a roast chicken dinner and a trio of happy friends. After roughing it for several weeks, A&A were very happy to have potable water, in-house laundry, a shower, and... what am I leaving out, guys? You get the idea. They went a bit nuts a Morrison's (our other-other favourite local grocery store) and I benefited from the outcome - yumm.

Andrew set to work carving the bird. We took the opportunity to light candles and enjoy wine together, which we paired a bit incongruously with malaria pills (for Andrew and Anthousa, who were still cycling through an insanely long dosage period following being in India) and echinacea (for David, fighting off a cold in the wake of his busy master's wrap-up). Please also note that the malaria pills and echinacea pills looked alarmingly similar. We are pretty sure we didn't mix them up...

Let it be known that we ate very well during this visit.

-- A Whirlwind Tour of London --

I'll try not to sound too bitter that I missed all of what follows. Now, David is very good at planning walks around cities, to optimize taking in lots of key sights. They aren't for the faint of heart, of course - you have to like walking. In particular, after a year of visitors who have come and gone (not to mention a master's degree in issues of urban design and wayfinding), David has developed a mean walking tour of central London. He whirled A&A around the city on the Wednesday after they came to us, while I was sending faxes and compiling expense claims.

Please note - Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge.
The Tower of London
Some bird, no doubt significant - however Andrew is no longer here to tell me what it is.
The Globe Theatre. I would have liked to take them to a play here but, being open to the air, they don't perform in December.
A&A took the tour of the Globe. David amused himself by eating a game pie outside.

-- Go With the Flow --

I'm not sure what all they got up to on Thursday during the day (some of the above pics might actually belong with Thursday), but after work I met up with Anthousa in Balham, for our friend Kathleen's yoga class that she teaches in rooms above the Bedford pub. It's a great neighbourhood, a great pub, and Kathleen leads a great hour of yoga. 

Now, here is where it gets interesting. I've now been living in London for a year, enjoying that Kathleen is here also. She stayed on after doing a master's degree at the Central School, and got her yoga teacher training. We both went to Concordia University's theatre programme together. Recently, another graduate of the programme, Julia, came to London to be a teacher. I've seen her once or twice at Kathleen's yoga classes, and am glad that she's living in London and doing well here. A few weeks ago, one of Kathleen's flatmates moved out, and Julia moved in to Kathleen's flat, so now they live in the same flat. Another young woman from the theatre programme, Miranda, just recently moved to Belfast (if I've got the city right) and is doing a qualification in translation. She popped down to London to visit Kathleen and attend her yoga class. Then we have Anthousa, visiting David and me enroute back to Canada, also a graduate of the programme, also at the yoga class. We had five (count 'em) members of our university theatre programme in the same room doing yoga together.  Crazy, right?

We all loved the class, and we rolled up our mats and headed to the pub (not the yoga pub, actually, another one nearby) for a pint and a catch-up. It was really, really interesting to see the directions our lives have taken in the more than five (!!) years since we graduated. It felt great to connect with each other again - they are four wonderful and interesting women and I'm privileged to know them. (At what point am I required to stop calling my friends "young women"? Herm...)

-- Hilary-Come-Lately --

Friday finally came (I work four days a week), and it was my turn to play tourguide. David had a wrap-up activity to do with his MRes people, so it was a different trio this time. We took the train to City Thameslink rail station and started making our way toward the British Museum. (Those who know London will know that these two landmarks are nowhere near each other. I wrote down the bus information but couldn't find the right bus-stop once we got there. Wayfinding with Hilary, folks - I'll get you there, probably.)

We happened upon the original Twinings shop, which I am quite taken with. I wandered in to buy a few single teabags to try out - they were all delicious.

After stopping at a Japanese fast-food spot called Wasabi for some quick noodles and sushi, we made our way to the British Museum.

I love my Andrew!
Here we are! What do you think, friend?
The Rosetta Stone - SO neat.
Wow Anthousa, your ancestors must be pissed these frescoes all ended up here...
I should have a caption contest for this one.
While we wandered through the museum, between exclaiming at various impossibly famous artifacts, we got caught up on each other's lives. It was so amazing to have the chance to be with such good friends in our new (though getting more and more familiar) city and new apartment, and to catch up on where we're at and where life is taking us. We heard all about their trip (incredible), and told them our plans for our trip this spring. They both raved about Grenada and how much they'd enjoyed visiting the Alhambra, and they completely sold us - we are adding it to the itinerary.

-- Dinner with Friends --

On Saturday, the lovely flatmates Kathleen and Julia hosted dinner for all us expat theatre grads at her place. Remember how I said we had five of us doing yoga together on Thursday? Well on Saturday we did one better - we added Joey to the mix, an accomplished dancer and choreographer also living in London, who was able to join us last-minute. Joey is (you guessed it) ALSO a graduate of the theatre programme at Concordia. Six of us together, enjoying each other's company in London, UK - you would think a reunion of that size, especially a really rather impromptu one, would have to take place in Montreal. Wrong - London, the black hole / commune / magnet of Concordia theatre grads. So much fun!

Anthousa, Hilary, Miranda, Joey, Kathleen, Julia
-- Retail Therapy --

Okay, so - Anthousa is my shopping buddy. I love shopping with her, and we hadn't done so together in about three years, so we had to carve out some girl time and wander the local retail plaza together. I think Andrew and David went and did something cultural together (Museum of Natural History?) so I guess they get culture points... or whatever.

Anthousa took the opportunity to try and score some new sweaters for Andrew. So much choice, it's a little overwhelming!

I got some Christmas presents for David (sssssh don't tell him - oh, it's January now) and we basically shopped until we dropped. A half-time latte at Starbucks afforded the time for some girly catch-up (the best kind?)

I love you, friend!

One week down, still much more fun to come!

1 comment:

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