Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A collection of the smaller things

Just a little collection of moments from the past few months
Drudging up memories from Wales when we drove off the road on top of a mountain. Nothing for miles, silence, fog, mist, happiness.
Borth-Y-Gest...aka one of the most beautiful places that i have ever experienced. Wales, come to me!
February 9th 2013...Sarah's 16th birthday party in Washington DC 
 February 13th absolutely spectacular Mumford and Sons concert
 March 3rd...waterfall at the nearby state park
The lake was covered with a thin sheet of ice in the middle. The signs still were up warning people not to dive, and the boats sat lined up as though they had only just been put away


went to sugarloaf mountain with Zoe yesterday, up to the very very top. Zoe wore a long,dramatic cape as we ran about the East and West point overlook laughing and tripping and taking hundreds of pictures. The mountain was silent (like how the mountains were in Wales) and was shrouded in clouds so that a thick mist filtered in between the trees, spilling over top the moss covered rocks. Before we began the hike up to the summit  we hollered to the sky, to the fields that lay below us, to the orchestra of birds, and to the couple (the only people we had seen as of yet) sitting on a bench far below us.
The hike up to the top wouldn't have been so bad if not for my camera bags, but it still wasn't too difficult. It was lovely to hear nothing but the sound of our footsteps, our laughter, and the birds far, far in the distance serenading our ascent. The trees were bent and crooked, and the way the mist hung amongst them reminded me of "Where the Wild Things Are." There were giant boulders caked in crevices and moss, and the earth was perpetually damp because of Winter.
At the top I thought we had wandered into another world- the boulders, the warmth of the air, the cloud we were in, the arching trees, the steep drop from over the edge. We took some more pictures, and I climbed (stupidly) up a few more slippery rocks just so that I could be at the very top of the mountain. I sat there with my legs dangling over the edge and with my lungs filled with crispness as I watched Zoe dance and disappear between rocks and mist. 
Besides my memories of England, I think this might have been the best day of my entire life. 

Zoe is an idiot and decided to act like Gollum 

One of the final images that I got that day


We are leaving I write this post I am thousands of miles above the Atlantic Ocean, but then again I fell as though I am not. I don't feel completely here...
I know that soon I'll be back into the pattern of every day life, but for now I think I'll just sit here sulking.


To be perfectly honest, I am about to cry. No, this is not an absurd exaggeration…the sadness that I am feeling is deep and cutting, and I feel absolutely ill at the thought of leaving England. This is my last night here in the UK, tomorrow I go "home".

We got a late start today much to my dismay, but the weather outside was gorgeous and the sun actually made a dazzling appearance. We dressed and began walking towards Kings Cross station, and along the way we stopped at a Pret a Manger. I have always had a sort of stigma against Pret A Manger, due entirely to my father who has always scoffed at it and called it "crap". However, after yesterday morning's surprisingly nice meal I have completely shifted positions. I had a cappuccino and another Ham/Cheese/Tomato croissant, and we then made our way to the tube. We took an easy yet crowded ride to Pimlico station, and we then walked briskly (we were close to the embankment so their was a heavy breeze) to the Tate Britain museum. 
I visited the Tate Britain museum a few years ago, but it was when I was much younger and not able to fully grasp the grandeur of the great masterpieces. Instead I favored the quirky and interactive aspects of the Tate modern, and the unique sculptures that filled the rooms. We hadn't been back to the Tate Britain since, but now that I am more interested in art, I was excited to give it another try

There was little on at the Tate Britain besides the pre-Raphaelites…but these alone were worth the entirety of the trip. There was a persistent crowd but it moved quickly, and there was a lack of screaming children which was much appreciated. I have since decided that I am not at all a fan of Rossetti, which I know might immediately discredit my artistic taste in many people's eyes…but I found his work utterly unappealing. It all seemed overdone to me, and his portraits of women all seemed technically "off", as certain aspects (such as the hair and flowers) seemed out of place, and the females all seemed distinctly masculine. I much preferred the work of Edward Burne-Jones and of course Millais and Turner. I purchased some gifts for my more artistic friends, along with a side satchel for myself that was decorated with cartoons of polaroid cameras, and my family and I then made our way down the embankment of the Thymes until we reached the boating dock. We waited for 15 minutes until our boat arrived, and then took the short ride down to the Tate Modern (which is across the Thymes from St Pauls). 

My memory of the Tate Modern had always been one of comedy and intrigue, but this trip was actually quite boring. Throughout the entire museum we saw nothing of any interest to us, and in fact I am still puzzled as to the fact that some of the works there were actually considered "art". It didn't take us long to get through the entire museum, and we were soon left standing next to a grey sculpture of a flower deciding what to do next. 
What we did next was entirely my suggestion…and in retrospect, not a particularly good one.
We went to Harrods. As soon as we boarded the tube to head towards Knightsbridge we all knew that we were in trouble, as it was absolutely packed. We were all squeezed like sardines in the very center of the train, all swaying back and forth as we clung to the high poles. Once we emerged from the station we followed the steady flow of people around a corner, and soon the crowds made sense…Harrods was having a sale. 
We battled the crowds and made our slow way down to the grand food court, all the way being jostled about by mindless women with handbags (I'm sometimes ashamed of my gender). We bought samosas and other various Indian/Asian sides, and then quickly ran away left and rode the tube back to the hotel. At the hotel my Mom and I began the long, arduous, dreaded, horrible, wretched, and incomprehensible task of packing.
      I could have cried right then and there.
Finally we went to dinner at Pizza Express, where we had perhaps one of the more fabulous nights of the trip. We had pizza and caprese as we chatted and kaughed, uktimitaley having such a wonderful time that when we finished eating our meal we set our forks down, looked at each other, smiled, and asked for the dessert menu. (we had cappuccinos and tartufo)

     I'm back in the room now, lying in bed staring at the ceiling dreading our return home. My Dad and I went for a quick little farewell walk 
through the nearby streets and alleyways, following the siren call of quaint street lamps and the cheerful shouts of Londoners out on the town in raucous pubs. We wandered aimlessly as the wind kissed our faces and a commotion of nostalgia, happiness, and bitter sadness spread throughout us. It seems impossible that I'll be leaving England tomorrow. I don't know how I'll possibly be able to return to my normal life. It all seems so surreal and like a dream, and I can't even fully describe just how much this country means to me. 


I adore Cambridge. For eight years now I have fantasized about going to university here, but after today my fantasy has become resolve…I can't get it out of my head.

We awoke late this morning and bickered for a while as to where we should go to breakfast as my Father checked train times on his iPhone and I glanced through yesterday's pictures. Eventually he decided to skip all of the nearby places (starbucks) and head directly to Kings Cross station. The walk there was pleasant due to the lack of rain…but really I consider any walk in London to be pleasant. My father and I were both confused by Kings Cross station because of all of the changes they've made in the past few years-the new entrance, the two floors, the back to back coffee shops. We chose to eat at a Pret a Manger, where my Mother and I both had ham/cheese/tomato croissants and my father had two cinnamon raison pastries. We sat in a small dining area as we watched the train board shift screens, and the people standing in the center of the station leap into action and begin racing to their train. At some point I asked for money to go to the Starbucks next door so that I could grab a skinny latte, but the Starbucks didn't give it to me skinny so it tasted like pure sugar (no thank you). At 9:00 the central board shifted screens again and finally our train was listed, so we gathered our things and walked to platform 7…and at precisely 9:15 the train set off. 

The train ride was fantastically easy, and we arrived in Cambridge within only 50 minutes. We pushed our way through the hullaballoo of the station, only to emerge and discover that our normal bus waiting post by the roundabout had been moved all the way down an adjacent street. Call us fat Americans, but my father was furious aw we walked in the howling wind all the to the very end of the street. To be perfectly honest though, it wasn't that bad and we had only to wait for a few short minutes until a bus arrived. Back on the train we had discovered that my mother had never actually been to Cambridge before, so she was fascinated by the shops and the pubs and bicycles we passed as we rode our bus into town. We walked through the small shopping mall and past the public bathrooms, and then turned right towards the center of town. We followed my father to the area where his bookstores are, but sadly his favorite one was closed. He was understandably upset and stormed into the children's store while yelling over his shoulder for my mother and I to head on over to the market area, where he promised that he would meet us later on. As it turned out, many of the stalls in the market were closed…but thankfully the ones that I was really set on visiting were there (I bought a cardigan, some pearls, and a hat). We visited the hemp bag stall then and I found a backpack that I liked; and when I expressed my concern that it wouldn't be big enough to hold my laptop the man running the stall let us go to the nearby apple store and try it out. It was a perfect fit.
From the apple store we returned to the market place where we walked around for a little longer, until eventually we found a cheesy stall with Cambridge University T-shirts and Sweatshirts. Despite my general disapproval of gift shops I found myself trying Cambridge merchandise on, and falling in love with a sweatshirt. my father walked by then and found a few shirts that he liked as well, and after buying all of our corny tourist apparel we were on our way again.

We began to walk down a little alley way until I eventually spotted a lovely little camera store which insisted that we all go in. I give my parents the credit here, as I was looking blindly around at filters and lenses, purposefully not paying much attention to the film cameras and tripods that I instinctively knew would all be too expensive. My parents though were asking a young man who worked there questions about a Canon Ae-1 that was fully operating and reasonably priced. They called me over and tole me that if I wanted it I could have it. My other 35mm camera broke several months ago (back in August) and I have been heartbroken ever since, but I was very reluctant to buy the camera as I felt that it was still too expensive. I was hesitant and so we told the man we would think about it and then come back, and I thought then that the matter was settled and that surely we wouldn't be buying the camera. However, as soon as we left the shop my father dragged my mother and I to the Cornish Pasty restaurant next door, where we ordered hot pasties (my mother and I split a tomato and cheese one) and hot drinks. Sitting on the otherwise deserted second floor, I tried my very first cappuccino (it was my dad's), and it was love at first sip. We ended up having a quaint, lovely lunch together as we discussed the pros and const of the camera, and in the end my argument against the price was lost. A  short yet attractive waitress came and bussed our table, and we then wandered back nedt door and bought the Ae-1. 

From there we set forth down the gorgeous, quaint, splendid, majestic Cambridge streets, where numerous tourists got in my picture taking way, and I almost got run over my a long string of bicyclists. My father and I had both been excited about the idea of showing my mother Kings Chapel and the Bridge of Sighs and the punters on the Cam, but everywhere was closed to visitors. We wandered around for a while trying to find somewhere to break into an open entrance, but alas everything was closed.  By taking a ridiculously long detour we finally managed to get to the other side of the Cam where we watched one or two punters go by, but Kings Chapel and the Bridge of Sighs remained distant and unobtainable. 

It soon began to drizzle so we headed back to the market area in order to cut through the shopping center to the bus station, but as soon as we reached the little white tents an absolute deluge began to fall. We were trapped under an empty stall as we waited for the storm to pass, and I know my parents both silently worried about what would happen if the rain didn't in fact pass and we were forced to walk all the way back to the train station soaked to our bones. I know this is my young and reckless brain speaking here, but I admit that in that moment I was perfectly content listening to the rain pour around us, watching all the other people huddle under awnings or stroll nonchalantly through the middle of the street, determined to ignore the fact that they were soaking wet. The sky was absolutely beautiful-dark, foreboding, mysterious…and there was something wonderfully spontaneous about the entire situation. 

Of course, it did eventually stop, and as soon as it did so we walked quickly through the mall and hopped on the first bus we saw, taking the quick ride back to the train station. My father and I ordered a cappuccino at the station (which wasn't as good as the one at the Cornish Pasty shop) and we waited only 15 minutes for our train to arrive. We then had a wonderful ride back into London where we discussed books, weed, and travel as I gazed out the at the darkening skies and the lights of warm houses and streets and rivers rushing by. When we arrived back in London I visited the King's Cross bathrooms, which I mention for the sole reason of my having to pay 40 p in order to simply get inside. After we left the station we made our windy and rainy trip back to the hotel room. 

Back in the room my mother laid down to relax, but my father and I both decided to brave the elements outside and venture down the street nearby our hotel in order to find a silly t-shirt for a friend. We bought her the obligatory "Mind the Gap" shirt, and then made our way down to Pizza Express where we made reservations for tomorrow night at Pizza Express. My father and I have low hopes that our reservation will be respected/remembered. From there we walked down to Carluccios to make reservations for later tonight. There was an austere Russian woman there who didn't seem very keen to allow us to make the reservations, but she promised us that she would still be there at 7:00 and would do her absolute best to keep the window table open. We then went to Waitrose and bought some cheese, apples, crackers, and wine for desert, and then walked back to the hotel and relaxed for an hour or so. Eventually we all began to move (without checking a clock) and left for Carluccios, and it was then that we looked at a clock and realized that we were several minutes early. To kill some time we went back to Waitrose and looked at salts, chocolates, and smoothies until eventually it was 6:55.

Carluccios was just as grand as we remembered it. We got our little window seat that we wanted, the ingredients were fresh and wonderful, there was high end sea salt on the table, and our food was excellent. We ordered caprese for our appetizer which was wonderful, along with some cheesy, thick, airy foccacia bread. For my main dish I ordered the spinach ravioli with a brown butter and sage sauce, and after we finished eating we all decided that we were having such a fantastic time that we didn't want to leave. My parents both ordered another glass of wine and I ordered a gelato for the table to split, and we happily spent another half an hour in there telling stories and laughing and discussing the future. When we finally did leave we popped back into Waitrose where I bought the salt and some chocolates for my friends, and we then walked quickly back to the hotel. 

The first forty or so minutes back at the hotel were quite frightening as my mother began to pack, which involves screaming and cursing at the suitcases. My father and I could only hide in our respective corners while waiting for her to finish. When she finally did my parents opened their bottle of wine and we made make-shift plates out of the lids of cups for our apples, crackers, and cheese, and we had a delightful little desert on our beds as we talked some more. The entire day has been lovely to be honest, and completely devoid of arguing and raised voices, which for us is rare.