Monday, June 30, 2008


Note to self: when one invests in luxury organic cotton sheets, one also invests 2 hours of one's Sunday to ironing them.

But it's so worth it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

China Design Now

Last night, I went to China. To be specific, I went to the V&A for their French Connection sponsored Last Friday party - this time spotlighting the China Design Now exhibit. Every last Friday of the month, the V&A stays open late (with an cash bar and DJs) for themed parties in conjunction with their major exhibits. Last night's theme was Beijing, so my friend and I went to see, be seen, see the exhibit, and have a tasty sausage roll and overpriced glass of white wine.

The party was a bit meh - somehow we missed the Chinese punk band playing their first show outside of China - but the exhibit was worth the £8 entry. Visitors travel through the exhibit starting in Shenzhen, a newly formed city producing cutting edge graphic design, to Shanghai, arbiter of fashion and Chinese cultural heritage, and end up in Beijing, capital of architecture and progress. The exhibit is interesting for the sole fact that the forms of design chosen to represent each city reinforce the cities' role in China's current cultural zeitgeist. Shenzhen didn't exist as an urban center until relatively recently, and that graphic design, a mutable, disposable, and extremely current form of graphic representation, was chosen as its "product" is notable; Shenzhen hasn't been around long enough to produce something substantial. Shanghai, on the other hand, is touted as China's oldest city and is represented by fashion, which consistently references traditional Chinese culture and influences. Shanghai kind of gets the raw end of the deal in the exhibit, with not a lot of substantive pieces holding up the narrative, but I suspect that Shanghai itself is a much more complex urban center and perhaps produces more notable design than either Shenzhen or Beijing. Beijing, host of the summer Olympics this year, is represented solely by provocative and important architectural commissions. I found the Beijing section particularly relevant, because architectural progress is a statement of both financial and political power; just as dictators and generals had statues commissioned to celebrate their victories, today's regimes build important new buildings to show the world that they are indeed in control and here to stay.

One thing I would have liked to see, or read, more of is the influence, or impact, of the Marxist regime on the production of design. There were a few instances were censorship was noted, or dissent, but there was no discussion of how design was developed, or produced, or how the government's reacted to design that challenged the status quo. Design is not inherently political, nor is it incendiary, but it is a vehicle of communication, and underneath the clever visual puns and rendering is very often a strong opinion. In a closed society such as China, where individualism has only recently been allowed to flourish, there must be a rich legacy of designers using their medium for their messages - and accompanying legacy of how those messages were disseminated and received.

Mom, I hope you're sitting: I voluntarily purchased an ironing board

I may have mentioned this previously, but the previous tenants sold Ashley and I a large number of household goods for an obscenely low price. Amongst the plates, silverware, pots and pans, is an iron - a halfway decent iron. So in the spirit of self-improvement and a realization that I should probably grow up one of these days, I purchased the cheapest ironing board IKEA had so that I can iron my clothes.

Now. I've ironed before. I have a few dresses that look better pressed. I always iron the collars on my work shirts. Inevitably the sashes on a few of my sundresses get wrinkly in the wash and need to be smoothed out. But I am about to embark on my biggest ironing challenge yet. I've been informed by several parties that Les Sheets, being 100% luxury organic Egyptian cotton, will need to ironed before I put them back on my bed.


Seeing as they were washed today, it looks like I have several hours of domestic duty on my hands tomorrow.

Universal Brand Experience: IKEA

A lot of what my job is about is standardization - ensuring that a customer's experience is as close to identical (and positive) each and every time the customer encounters the brand. One of the best examples of this consistency is IKEA.

IKEA is global; there are stores all over the world, from the US to the Ukraine to the UAE. And I'll bet that in every single IKEA, there are screaming children, people who flit zig-zag across the aisle from display to display with no rhyme or reason, arguing couples, angry employees, and general mayhem. That was my experience every time I went to the IKEA on Columbus Blvd in Philadelphia, and that was pretty much my experience when I went to IKEA in Edmonton, North London, last Saturday. Of course, the fact that I went to IKEA with the WORST HANGOVER OF MY LIFE didn't exactly help matters.

Two hours and £275 later, I was in a cab with all of my Swedish modular furniture, housewares, rugs, and lamps on the way home. Once I got there, I realized the second part of the universal IKEA brand experience: you may escape the store unscathed, but you still have to put everything together once you get it all home.


I ate the best food last weekend. It was at a restaurant named Canteen, in Spitalfields Market, and it serves all day breakfast - the closest thing this American can get to brunch. I ordered a fried egg and bacon over bubble and squeak.

What is bubble and squeak, you ask?

According to my buddy Mark, bubble and squeak is the leftovers of the trimmings from Sunday Roast. So the roasties (potatoes) and leeks you have left over are sauteed up together in sort of a pancake. This is served the next morning with eggs and bacon. And its brilliant.

Weeks 7 + 8: Nesting

Again there has been too much going on for proper weekly posts, but I think I deserve a break considering I just moved into my new flat and have been occupied solely with decorating, organizing, unpacking, yelling at the landlord, etc.

315 Upper Street pretty much rocks. Of course, as with any apartment, there are annoying/disappointg little things that escaped notice during the first viewing. For example, the bathroom was designed by men, for men. The mirror is on the left hand side of the sink. The sink has hot and cold faucets, but not stopper to fill the basin and mix. There is no toilet paper holder (men are FINE with keeping the roll on the back chamber), and absolutely NO storage. No medicine chest, no shelves, nothing. Thankfully the former tenants sold us a lot of household goods, including an IKEA cd shelf that was used for bathroom product storage. Obviously two girls have a lot more personal hygiene products, and therefore the tall skinny shelving unit is woefully inadequate.

Another weird thing about the apartment is that EVERY ROOM has a door. One wants a door on the bathroom and the bedrooms, but the kitchen and the lounge (living room) have them too. Being the handy, crafty girl and daughter-of-my-father that I am, I attempted to take the doors off the lounge and kitchen, but they have weird gear chains in the middle of the doors. Phil of course told me how to remove those, but they are full of grease and one set is painted over. So they are now functioning as drying racks for les sheets.

Oh, the sheets. THE SHEETS. They are worth every pence. Sliding beneath my duvet and snuggling against my four medium/firm goose down pillows every night is an absolute joy. Unfortunately, the hubbub and commotion of Upper Street makes falling (and staying) asleep difficult, but I'm slowly adjusting.

An apartment wouldn't be an apartment without landlord issues. We moved in to find mold still in the bathroom, a vent fan that didn't work, a communal hallway light that did not turn on, and a hideously large sofa that took up the entire living room. One phone call fixed all of these problems, except the sofa. The sofa, it turns out, was purchased expressly for us and was to stay in this apartment unless we paid a £90 restocking fee to the store. Several heated exchages resulted in no change from the landlord, so Big Blue is here to stay. Creative interior design and organization fixed the space problem, and a large khaki sheet from IKEA will hopefully solve the BLUE problem. GRRRR. Is it so wrong to want a well-designed home?!

Despite these niggling details (and more - like why do we not have a deadlbolt lock on the door to the apt? why does this place collect more dust than Utah during a drought? why does the weight fall out of my shade every time I open my bedroom window?), I love 315. It is a cozy place, and its slowly becoming more and more a home every day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I have returned to my former status as a fully-functioning, rent-paying, tax-paying, independent adult. This morning, a hired car picked up me, my three suitcases, and my £400 of luxury organic bedding, and transported us to my new flat. I think I permanently rearranged several vertebrae in my back lugging my HEAVY large suitcase up three flights of stairs, but I got it all up there and deposited in my room. I even took 10 minutes to rearrange the furniture in my room to my liking, and I think it's going to be grand. I can't wait to get out of here and go home and unpack for the LAST TIME.

Le sigh. I've never been so happy to move in my entire life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Like I mentioned before in this space, there is always The Football going on in England; whether it's in the form of the regular league play, championship league, finals, or European games, there is nearly NEVER a time when there isn't some sort of professional football being played.

Currently, everyone is getting all fired up about the Euro Cup. This year's Euro Cup was controversial before it even started because England did not qualify, and the major players all went home to play for their home teams while England had to make do with "friendly" matches against fellow losers like Team USA.

I actually like the Euro Cup. I think it's more fun to watch countries play against one another and to see people get all worked up about their nation, as opposed to a club team. Just because England isn't playing doesn't mean the Brits aren't watching the action; in fact, I think they're more into it because they can trash talk more since they have no skin in the game.

I myself have torn allegiances; being a life-long Francophile, I naturally want to support Le Bleu. But working for a Dutch company, and learning so much about them and their culture from both my clients, makes me also side with the Orange. Plus, Rietje, my friend from college, is Dutch, and during the last World Cup she and I ducked out of work to watch the second halves of the Dutch games during the semi-finals. I even made us orange t-shirts that said HOLLA(nd) to wear so we could show Dutch pride. I'm currently a little sad that I gave mine to Rietje for her younger sister to wear; I would TOTALLY rock it at the pub!

What it comes down to, I guess, is the fact that the French are playing horribly thus far in the tournament, and the Dutch have come from out of nowhere to play amazingly and win their first two games in major upsets. I watched one of those games on Friday, against France, and it was unbelievably exciting. So I guess from here on out, I have to put down my wanna-be Gallic pride and side with Orange because they are currently the team to beat!

Weeks 5 + 6: Blur

Last weekend was ridiculous and I didn't have a chance to write a proper Week in Review, and this week was more of the same so we'll just wrap the two weeks into one post and call it a fortnight (I think that's what a fortnight is...?).

Last week and this week at work were crazy; clients signed off on tons of new work, and it is good to be busy and crazy again. Work is also getting more comfortable, as I establish relationships with various people who are integral to getting work done in the office. I can ask them to review work, for opinion, and have general conversations about client work much more confidently, so I feel much more at ease in this new work environment.

Besides this positive development at work, nothing much more is going on beyond preparing to move into my new apartment, which happens first thing Wednesday morning. In addition to my posh bed linens, I've also picked up posh organic cotton towels from the same store and an Apple Airport wireless internet router. The plan is that everything else will come from IKEA, where I will go and charge up a storm next Saturday on my brand-new British Pound Sterling currency credit card. Hopefully, they will also have a delivery service that will pick up my purchases and take them to my flat for me, otherwise it looks like Ashley and I will be tackling the tube laden down with modern Swedish furniture and home goods!

London weather has been good for a while; despite spots of rain here and there, the sun has been out and its been warm for quite a spell. Watch me jinx it and the rest of the week it will pour. But one can't quite help getting excited about the weather; when it's sunny, the city takes on a vibrancy and energy that I've never seen anywhere else before. Maybe because the rain makes everyone introspective, moody, quiet, and sullen, the sun has the opposite effect of bringing smiles to faces and springs to steps. Whatever it is, I love London in the sun; after two weekends of wonderful weather, I never want it to stop!

The Telectroscope: No Sleep 'til Brooklyn

Saturday afternoon, at 3PM GMT / 10AM EST, Jeffrey and I had a date to meet and say hi via the Telectroscope. I wrote about the Telectroscope a few weeks ago, as Jeff had read about it in the New York Times and sent me the article as something we should do.

The Telectroscope is a sculptural installation on the South bank of the Thames near the Design Museum in London, and on the riverbank in Brooklyn Heights under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It is a fiber optic cable that allows you to see, in real time, the other side of the cable - Brooklyn to London, or vice versa. The sculptural element makes it look like something out of the fanciful era of exploration novels, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

I waited in line for about 35 minutes, making phone calls to Jeff to find out his ETA. Once he got there, kind people manning the line in London fast-tracked me to the front so I could see the Hefs. It was awesome; we were on the phone with each other, talking, and looking at each other; there was a delay, which was weird, because you could see the other person's lips move after you heard what they said. But the idea was awesome, and it was great to see Brooklyn in its sunny glory (and great to see Jeff in his Hefster hipness!).

What a cool idea, to connect people across an ocean via art – literally and figuratively. To be honest, the experience was like a 3D version of Skype, but by taking people away from a computer screen and into the outdoor environment, it somehow made the experience more human and less virtual by giving it context and place. Which is nothing more than life itself - a series of events given context by place, characters, and time. The Telectroscope enabled encounters between Londoners and New Yorkers in a very memorable way.

Friday, June 13, 2008

National pride

Note to self: when chatting with a cute Irishman, do not ask him if Ireland is geographically connected to England. You will be mocked and scorned, and you will be shown to be an ignorant American.

For future reference, it is NOT connected by land; it is an island and appropriately separated by the Irish Sea.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Banksy's Cans Festival

Banksy is perhaps the world's most famous graffiti artist. He's notorious for putting well-timed, politically charged pieces in strategic locations. You can learn more about him here.

He organized an installation of paintings by some of the most influential and well-known street artists working today. It is in an abandoned tunnel/viaduct in South London, near the Waterloo train station. And, it's brilliant.

I went to the exhibit this past Sunday and was completely amazed by the technical quality of the work. To be completely honest, I was expecting a lot of tags and spray-painted nonsense that didn't do anything for me. But the reality is that today's street artists are practically reinventing Dada-ism and resurrecting the same qualities of collage that launched Cubism and modern art. Street art is nothing if not masterful appropriation, taking contemporary cultural cues and well-known visuals and subverting them to make new meanings and statements. Most of the work is completed with the creation and use of intricate stencils, lifting symbols and signs from daily life and imbuing them with (mostly) cultural criticism. The technical superiority of the pieces are simply stunning.

Another fascinating aspect of the work is its actual location. Because the work isn't created on a pristine blank canvas, the artist must take into account the walls, the pipes, and the other three-dimensional elements of the space - in addition to the texture and quality of the space itself. Working with, rather than against, the wall as a surface - instead of treating it as a backdrop - allows the artist to find more permanence and authenticity for the work. I saw an exhibit of street art, including pieces by Banksy, at the Brooklyn Museum nearly eighteen months ago; none of the work installed in the galleries even approached the level of intensity that the worst of the works here did. If nothing else, Banksy's Cans Festival provides an airtight case for seeing art in situ.

I took a ton of photographs of the pieces in the installation; you can see them here. I felt very weird about photographing the pieces I loved; my ease spoke to the underlying sense of appropriating visuals from one realm - everyday life, communication - for another - personal expression, cultural criticism. If we consider street art to be high art, legitimate and real, can any one of us "own" it? Should it be carefully preserved and hung in a museum for all to enjoy? Can any one of us use the photograph of the work to manipulate it for future artworks? Are these questions even valid? I think so; I think that by questioning the very essence of street art and its existence as a vehicle for social critique, it makes the medium stronger as a method.

Organic granola packaging for Rietje

Again, guilt-trip from the Dutch design-master. But it WAS her birthday on Sunday and I didn't put her card in the mail (post) until yesterday, so I owe her.

Here is a shot of my new favorite organic breakfast granola brand, Dorset Cereals. Simple, clean graphics, uncoated paperboard stock, rich colors, interesting diecuts, and a touch of high-end with metallic photo-stamping in the typography.

Sorry for the poor lighting on the photo, dear, but I wanted to shoot the box before I tore it open to eat what was inside!

New pics round 2

More London pictures are up for your amusement and enjoyment, including one of ME and my roommate Ashley. Click here to see!


Monday night I went out with a ladyfriend co-worker to see a band recommended by an American ladyfriend. The fact that a man she fancies (note use of British colloquialism) is in said band may have been the primary factor in her telling us to go see them.

Anyway, we had a lovely time at a lovely pub called the Slaughtered Lamb, which would have been even lovelier had their sewage pipes not been backed up and in the process of being emptied. The entire pub, drinking and performance space, smelled disgusting for most of the night.

But the grossest part of the evening was my decision to order whitebait. The menu listed it as "whitebait, with tartar and lemon sauce £5, with chips £7". So I order with chips, thinking I'll get a nice piece of white fish with a sauce and some chips.


For those of you who don't know, like I didn't, whitebait is THE WHOLE LITTLE FISH - FRIED. It's like baby fish, sardines or something, and its fried whole - bones, eyes, tails, everything. One pops it into one's mouth like a fish stick.

Gamely, I ate about half my bowl. My co-worker ate all of hers, and at one point we discussed how disgusted we were by the meal. She is from New Zealand, and whitebait there is served mashed into little patties, not literally just fried fish. Obviously the only thing we could do after eating such delicacies was drink some more beer, and sit outside to escape the stench.

(PS: We bailed out before the band even played, thus making all of the torture for naught!)

The final countdown to luxury bedded bliss

It is officially 1 week until I move into my new apartment. I cannot WAIT! I don't think I've ever anticipated the passing of 7 days so strongly before.

In preparation for moving, I've started acquiring household goods and necessities. Obviously "necessities" means "needs" and maybe I didn't really NEED the tea towel (dish towel) that has the words "I had a very nice dream about Daniel Craig" printed on it, but surely it will make my new flat a home. But really, the one gross expenditure was on luxury organic cotton bedding.

Let me preface this by saying that for the past eight years, I've been sleeping on the same three sets of sheets and using the same four towels in rotation. Even my mother, the thriftiest of homemakers, questioned the absorbency of said towels and my father noticed that all of them were unraveling at the edges. The sheets were a combination of sale items and a set that my mother bought in 1975 designed by Princess Grace of Monaco. BEFORE she died.

These facts, coupled with the very harsh reality living in the outskirts of town for the last six weeks, led me to justify spending the most exorbitant sum of money that I have EVER spent on myself, on bedding. Don't think I didn't consider other options; I went to the posh linens store and touched all the samples, then walked down to Oxford Street and went to John Lewis and Debenhams, the nicer department stores, and fondled their linens. There was no contest. Once you know what camembert tastes like, why would you eat string cheese?

It physically HURT to hand over my credit card to the shop girl. I was NAUSEOUS while signing my name on the slip. But back in the office on Monday, I submitted my expenses and it all went away, replaced with the anticipation of getting into the nicest bed ever on the evening of 18 June. Sigh.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Holy Grail

It exists... I never thought the perfect museum could exist.

I will visit it soon and give a full report. Until then, the MOBPA has renewed my faith in humankind.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Cheers" = the English "Prego!"

In Italy, the only word you really need to learn in order to get around is "Prego!" It means, simultaneously, thank you, you're welcome, goodbye, no problem, excuse me, and see ya! It's sort of like "yo." In England, the word for all of that is "Cheers!" "Cheers" is often a conversation closer; for instance, when you buy something at the store, the cashier will hand you the change and say Cheers, often in addition to Thank you. If a person knows you, they might often use your name as well, as in "Cheers Danielle." It's slightly disconcerting at first, but one gets used to all the cheeriness.

And, of course, "Cheers" happens at the pub, too, when everyone gets a new drink.

My one month anniversary

Yesterday, June 3, was my one-month anniversary of my arrival in London. One month is not enough time for me to start writing dates "3 June" instead of "June 3" - old habits die hard.

To celebrate my anniversary, I took myself on a date to the Sir John Soane Museum. The Soane was recommended to me by one of my favorite people in New York, and on further investigation I realized I studied it briefly in graduate school. It is a house museum of an 18th-19th century architect and city planner who was responsible for major development in London. He was also an avid collector of antiquities and objets d'art who displayed his collections in a specific, if somewhat nutty, method of organization. As a former colleague put it, visiting the Soane Museum is "like a visit inside someone’s brain." I found out that every first Tuesday of the month, the museum is open from 6-9PM and lit by candlelight.

I arrived at Lincoln's Inn Fields at 6:15PM and proceeded to stand in line in the sometimes steady rain for about an hour and half, sandwiched between two goths and two yummy mummies. Once inside, the house is amazing. It remains unchanged from when Soane was alive, and it's fascinating to think about him collecting all of these objects and hanging them in his specific manner. The strategically placed pillar candles illuminating grotesque and gorgeous objects was a great plus. I didn't spend much time in the museum, as it was crowded (they only allow 50 people in the house at once, and I can see why - the passageways are so narrow and the doorways so tiny that even with ten people inside it feels tight) and the lighting was so dim one couldn't examine any of the objects adequately. I highly recommend the evening viewing, though, if only for the atmosphere and mood. I'll definitely go back during the day for a proper visit.

After the Soane Museum, I treated myself to dinner at a Thai restaurant around the corner, which was disappointing and expensive. Despite the poor food, however, it was a pretty great anniversary date.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I never realized how good the lowly boxspring really is.

Boxsprings are the ignored and unloved half of a bed. Everyone talks about how great their mattress is, how soft their sheets are, how cuddly their pillows. Let me tell you something (oh God, that made me sound like my grandmother...!) – your boxspring is the FOUNDATION OF YOUR SLEEP, and if you don't have one, you will yearn for the days that you did. Like me.

Since arriving in Britain 29 days ago, I have not slept on a normal bed. By normal, I mean having these critical and necessary components:
- bedframe
- boxspring
- mattress
- mattress cover (sometimes plush!)
- fitted sheet
- flat sheet
- blanket
- duvet OR comforter
- 2 firm pillows in pillowcases

Instead, Brits have these ridiculous beds that are platforms with a shitty mattress on top. The mattress is covered in a fitted sheet, and then there is a duvet. This duvet is all you get ... sometimes there is an extra afghan-type blanket, but not much more. And the pillows... the pillows are sacks of feathers. If you fold them three times, they might be supportive for a few hours, but you wake up and your head is barely lifted from the mattress.

I'm cool with the duvet... it makes making one's bed in the morning easy-peasy. However. My shoulders and back are really crying out for some support. I have a permanent pain under my right neck/shoulder blade assembly, and I constantly wake up over the course of the night. My biggest joy will be this weekend, when I go to the John Lewis department store and try out the pillows in the bedding department - I heard they have beds set up so customers can try out the different firmnesses of pillows and mattresses. I should probably take someone with me, because at the rate I'm going, I'll probably pass out when I find the right pillow for me.

Deep breath: 16 days until I move into my own apartment and have my own pillows and duvet and (hopefully!) a boxspring. It won't be a moment too soon, though; it's so bad, the best sleep I've had in three weeks was Saturday night on a PULL-OUT COUCH.

Are treats the way to your client's heart?

Brits love their treats – salty or sweet, crisps or biscuits, they love to snack. Today the BBC reported on a survey that, apparently, the better the cookie you serve your client, the better your business will be. You can read it here.

I don't think this is a uniquely British phenomenon; I had clients in New York who eagerly looked forward to the Francois cookie platter, and were shattered if it didn't appear. It's a cross-cultural phenomenon that cookies are universally appealing and put people in good mood. You're not human if you don't like cookies.

And, my personal favorite British cookie is the HIT. Mmmmmm!

Movie review: Sex and the City The Movie

I never thought I'd say this, but I think I've outgrown Sex and the City.

Maybe it's because after living in New York, watching four women live a completely unrealistic "New York" lifestyle garners an eyeroll. Maybe it's because the gratuitous name/label/brand dropping that goes on throughout the movie is ludicrous, and no one I know actually owns a "Louie," wears Manolos, or would ever dream of wearing a Vivienne Westwood wedding gown. Maybe it's because I now live in London, and watching a movie about life and love in New York is, well, foreign.

I agree with all of the reviewers who said that something was lost when they expanded SATC from its snappy 30-minute episodes made for a small screen to two-and-a-half hours on a big screen. Sort of like when a very crisp clear photograph gets enlarged to poster size, and the pixels blow out and the clarity and definition are lost, SATCTM was a less-than-perfect representation of itself. I really wanted to see the movie and be happy with it, but I had mixed feelings about it in the end. The dialogue was great, as usual, and some of the situations were classic craziness that made the series great. But some of the ancillary storylines were just that - unnecessary, and extra baggage. The "plot twists" that everyone knew about from the trailer were things that would have happened over an entire season, and let's be honest - Sex and the City the series had a happy ending, so of course Sex and the City the movie had one too.

One thing I was glad about was that the writers didn't shirk away from the fact that this movie takes place at a critical point in these characters' lives - they are older, want to be wiser, but the movie doesn't pretend they are still 25. Samantha turns 50 at one point in the film, and yes they're still dressing like young sluts, but at there are several points in the movie that you see them looking, well, old. On the beach, they wear more flatteringly cut (read: mom style) bathing suits. They have jiggly parts, crows feet, and wrinkles. But they also still have each other and their men (whether or not they are speaking to them), and that's a great thing to see in a movie that values superfluous wealth and sophistication.

In the end, I am glad I saw it; there was no way I wouldn't see it. But it didn't make me miss New York, it didn't make me wish I were there, it didn't make me wish I had a boyfriend, and it didn't even make me wish for my college apartment when the opening notes of the SATC theme song (do-do-do, do-do-do-do!) were enough to pull five warring girls from all corners of the house to sit together for hours and laugh hysterically. Sex and the City tightly defined New York and its women in a very narrow time period of hope and prosperity that somehow doesn't seem to fit anymore. I prefer to keep my warm and pleasant memories of that moment when anything seemed possible if you had your lady friends and fabulous fashion locked into the series, with its perfectly imperfect ending, rather than knowing what its creators thought happened five years out. I know what happened to New York five years out, because I lived it; these four women seem to still be in that fantasy, and the bubble has literally, and figuratively, burst.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Drunken fools

As of midnight last night, it is illegal to drink on public transport. Obviously, one was never allowed to drink on the subway in New York, but here it was always legal until the newly-elected mayor decided to clean up London's public transportation system. To "celebrate" the ban, thousands of people decided to host a party on the Circle Line, the yellow subway line that circles inner London; people were going to hang out on the train, drinking, riding around in circles until midnight.

The tube in London does not run 24-hrs like it does in New York, so the party had to end at 12:30 when the last trains departed. However, the celebration apparently got messy and tube stations had to be closed because of the melee. CNN has a good run-down of the ridiculousness here.

Thank god I stayed at Ashley's... if I had tried to go home on the train last night, I would have gotten caught in that nonsense, and I don't suffer puke on a subway quite well.

Week 4: A blur

Well! I can't believe I'm sitting here writing this again - it feels like I wrote last week's "Week in Review" just yesterday. It was a short week this week - we had Monday off here, for Bank Holiday, and work was pretty intense Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday I spent in Amsterdam with my client on a whirlwind, one-day trip for sixteen hours, and then all of a sudden it was the weekend again. It was kind of like being back in New York - getting to work early, working late, running, repeat. I'm grateful for the uptick in work, because at least I have something to keep me occupied until I move into my apartment on June 18.

Speaking of June 18, I spent this weekend doing a lot of recon for my new home. After sleeping in on Saturday and doing my run, I headed into town and saw Sex in the City the Movie with Ashley in my new neighborhood (review to come). After the movie, we ate at a nice Indian place half a block from our new place and checked out a few pubs in the 'hood. Angel Islington is a pretty happening neighborhood, and there is no shortage of good restaurants and pubs to help us do some damage.

Sunday, after sleeping on Ashley's host's couch (as per usual), Ashley and I ventured east to Spitalfield's market and the Columbia Road flower market. Spitalfield's was disappointing, because we were looking for vegetables to cook with, but the Columbia Road flower market was great. Lots of flower sellers yelling about 2 lavender plants for a fiver and selling flats of impatiens for £1. The shops along Columbia Road were also fun - lots of good antique and design-y houseware places. Ashley and I did a lot of window-shopping and planning for our apartment's decor - planters with red geraniums for our balcony, herbs for our kitchen, and cool things to put on our walls and shelves.

Since we didn't get vegetables ("veg") from farmers, we had to go to the next-best-place - Sainsburys. Note to self: do not do a big shopping trip on Sunday, because so is everyone else in Angel Islington. After about 25 minutes in line, Ashley and I went back to her flat and cooked traditional Sunday roast. Who knew it took 20 min per pound to cook a chicken... and that said chicken was weighed in kilograms. Despite that little hiccup, the chicken came out awesome and the sides (the "veg") were good too. Another note to self: when roasting fennel, set timer, and do not forget that the fennel is in the oven while your friend cracks you up at the dinner table and you allow the fennel to burn to a crisp. Sigh.