Dublin

The sun came out in Brighton today just in time for me to walk to the station. Everything was so wet and shiny, the sudden brightness was almost blinding. Travel went without a hitch. There was one slightly awkward moment when going through security. Evidently, they don’t make you take off your shoes in Europe. Of course, I’d gotten one shoe entirely off by the time I realized no one else was doing so. I tried to act natural and just put it back on… But definitely held up the line a bit.

Had an awesome moment at Irish customs. The line was super long, as it is, but I followed the signs for non-EU residents and found I was the only one. I walked right up and went straight on through. It. Was. Epic.

I met up with Hayley outside Trinity College near the city center. Ireland is shockingly green for the it being January. We explored Dublin for the rest of the day and into the evening.

We had dinner at Queen of Tarts (where we plan to return tomorrow), had a pint of Guinness at Kehoe’s, a cocktail at 37 Dawson which was definitely a highlight, saw Hayley’s apartment, took a tour of her school, went out for a “flat white ” (coffee drink popular over here), had chips at Supermac’s, and took the scenic route home without getting hit by a single car.

I took lots of pictures, but I have no way to get them onto my iPad. They will have to wait til I get home on Saturday. I’ll give a more detailed account then as well. All is well here in Dublin! We have a busy day planned tomorrow and a day trip to Galway on Friday. I’ll be checking in per usual.

Cheers!

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University of Brighton

Today began almost as frustrating as my day yesterday. I went to my university at 10, as they asked, only to be told that I’d need to come back at 2. Honestly, the four hour delay might have been a blessing in disguise. I was having trouble keeping my happy face on, so I took that time to relax and regroup. Not that I really had many options. Here’s what my university looks like…

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University of Brighton

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University of Brighton

and the surrounding area, which is appropriately artsy.

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I like tea!

I headed up into the North Lanes to grab a bite of breakfast, and stumbled upon a restaurant that had been recommended to me yesterday. It’s called Bill’s, and is in a rather large, warehouse type space. It also seemed to sell specialty groceries, and all the walls were lined with their own products in quaint glass jars. My waitress was from Canada, which was funny… “You sound like you’re from the same side of the pond as me,” she said when I had to ask what “bubbles and squeak” was. I was hoping for something like a mimosa. It turned out to be a food, not beverage, and her explanation had something to do with potatoes. Of course I had to order it. and it was delicious.

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Bill’s bacon and eggs on toast, bubbles and sqeuak

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bubbles and squeak

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Bill’s

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Bill’s

After breakfast, I felt a lot better about things. I headed next door to Farm. I’d eaten dinner there a few nights ago, and noticed then that they had a coffee bar. I had a cappuccino, which was delicious, and wrote postcards to a few lucky people.

My view out the window at Farm

My view out the window at Farm

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postcards: en route!

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English post box

And of course, even now I still had some time to kill. Fortunately, right out of Farm’s door, I found the perfect place to while away my time.

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Great Gatsby, anyone? Anyone… anyone… Jane?

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ohhh yeah

There were a lot of fabulous coats, but the weather is warming up and I reeeeally don’t need to add any more to my luggage. I might be back for the pencil skirts, though. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this place. One thing I’ve noticed about British vintage is that there is a LOT of vintage British army uniforms. I haven’t seen anyone wearing them, yet, but they sure seems to be popular. After this, I had even mooooore time to kill… so I wandered into an English flea market. It’s amazing how much older and nicer everything seems to be at antique shops and flea markets over here. I saw a lot of things my Mom would absolutely have loved, but unfortunately I won’t be able to fit in my suitcase. Like these chairs…

actually, I want these for myself

actually, I want these for myself

or this, if she liked board games:

Harrod's Monopoly

Harrod’s Monopoly

or this luggage… is your heart breaking yet, Mom?

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one ticket to London, if you please!

and then there were the gorgeous things that everyone finds interesting, from vintage sewing machines and typewriters, to model cars and early cameras. Unfortunately there were no pigs. Sorry, Susan!

By this time, I really wasn’t worried about school at all anymore. But it was time for me to go back in that direction. Everything finally did get sorted out, to a certain extent. I was given a Student ID and a tour. The head of paining, Chris, introduced me to what students were there. Evidently, you just show up when you feel like it or don’t. I kept asking exactly what time I had to show up and where, for anything, and they couldn’t tell me. Eventually (it’s like pulling teeth with these people) I found out that I have art history once a week on Tuesdays. It starts at 11 and ends… whenever, maybe about an hour. I also have a thing that sounds like an elective that I have to show up to on Wednesdays, and maybe lasts for an hour or more. Or maybe less. I’m supposed to go to studios for some time most days, but if I don’t, it’s no big deal. Occasionally someone will meet with me sometime, maybe once a week. And yes, it really is as vague as it sounds.

I did get to see the studio I’ll have, but I’ll only be there for one week. And thank goodness because this is it:

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Yeah, that corner there, the one that’s being used for storage. Behind the door. The door that everyone uses to get in and out of the studios. So… a week after I “move in” to that “studio,” there’s a girl who’s moving out of a larger studio. She’s going to Korea to study abroad, and I’m taking over her former space. So don’t worry, things will get much much better very soon.

Tomorrow, I’m headed off to Dublin to see my good friend and fellow KCAI student abroad, Hayley!

Universities

Today was a very caffeinated day for me.

I journeyed to the University of Sussex, in the nearby town of Falmer. The bus I took was loaded with students. It seems like quite a few live in Brighton and then commute to Falmer, where the campus is located. It seems so common that when I meet people here, the first question I am usually asked is which university I go to.

My family’s close friends, Maureen and George, have a good friend who teaches at Sussex. Maureen and George got me in touch with their friend, Mick, so I went to go meet her on campus for coffee. Their campus is much different than the University of Brighton. Sussex seems like the traditional college campus, a close cluster of buildings. Brighton, on the other hand, has different buildings for each department spread throughout the city. I haven’t spent much time around large universities, so it felt strange to navigate through all their various buildings. I didn’t take any photos while I was there, but here is one I found online of the first view when entering the campus:

very university-ish.

So Mick and I grabbed coffee, then headed back to her spacious office to have a chat. It was very refreshing to have some good conversation, and with someone who is so knowledgeable about art history. It would be absolutely marvelous to have the chance to go to a museum with her someday. Now, since I’ve gotten here, I’ve had some trouble with figuring out doors. I never know whether to push or to pull, and the handle is often misleading.  I learned from Mick that, after some great fire at a ballroom or nightclub or something in the States, all doors there were made to open outwards. When the crowd panicked and rushed to the door (that opened inward) they were all trapped inside because there was no room to pull it inwards. The crowd was too frantic and pushing towards it the door the people nearest couldn’t get away enough to open it. After this incident, most doors in the States were made to open outwards, which I’d never consciously noticed but certainly explains why I get confused so often here.

We couldn’t meet for long. The beginning of the semester is obviously a very busy time for everyone. I’m just fortunate that mine doesn’t start for another week, so I’m not feeling that yet.

I’ve gotten very little information from my school so far, which has been beginning to worry me with the start of the term being so soon. I had gotten no information from anyone in three weeks, hadn’t heard a word from the school since I’d arrived, and had no replies to my emails. So, I decided to visit my own school when I returned to Brighton. There were students everywhere, which made me very nervous that I had somehow been given the wrong date for the start of my term. At the school offices, I found the very lady who hadn’t been responding to my emails.

She assured me that my term indeed did not begin until next Monday, and explained that the students who were here were still completing their first semester. There is no break between semesters here. However, she could not tell me who my instructors were, what courses I would be taking, where my studio was, or what my schedule would be. Nor could she issue me a student ID/key, tell me whether I was taking any classes besides painting itself, or how I could register for other classes. Her advice was to come back tomorrow, at 10. I hope she can figure it out before then. I’m skeptical.

When I walked out of the building, I asked the very first person I saw whether he was a student there. His name is Jaakko and he turned out to be a very nice philosophy professor. Disconcertingly, he informed me that the second semester had definitely already started for him. He was headed out for coffee at that point, and I went along with him to find out where the best coffee around campus was. It turns out that the Frankie, very nearby, has a delicious cappuccino. We chatted for a while about philosophy, art, and America. It was very nice to calm down and clear my head after the bizarre and frustrating experience I’d just had with my new University.

I spent the rest of the day walking around, the Lanes again. The temperature dropped significantly in the early afternoon. I found some fabulous shorts that might have taken care of my problem (that people don’t know right away I’m and American) but they were the wrong size. It’s a shame, too. They were awesome.

America, oh yeah!

America, oh yeah!

Oddly, I’ve seen other things like that around here… so I’ll keep an eye out. If all goes well, I’ll have a very patriotic wardrobe by the time I make it back in June.

I also made it to the clock tower, which is the city center and near the train station, and BACK without getting lost. It may not have been the quickest route, but it is definitely more efficient than what I’d been doing. Note the TK Maxx in the background… I know you’d never guess, but that’s the UK equivalent to TJ Maxx. I might have to pay them a visit soon. My riding boots seem to have sprung a leak, and my socks were soaked by the time I got home today.

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I grabbed an early dinner/late lunch and headed home. I think walking all day, every day is starting to wear me down. My left foot has been giving me trouble for a few days now, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it before too long. It’s better than having to depend on the bus to get to school… at least I’m on my own schedule.

Cheers!

Sunday Roast & Yorkshires

The sun came out today. Until the moment that I walked out my door and squinted into the bright light, I hadn’t realized that it’s been overcast for my entire stay. Even now, there was a very thin layer of clouds. Everything looked a little different, just like it had the first time I stayed out after dark.

the sun!

the sun! …sortof

It inspired me to set out in a different direction. I usually walk straight down my hill, towards the non-residential part of town. Today, I decided to cut over up the hill through some neighborhoods first. The views were spectacular and made me realize how hilly Brighton actually is. I also discovered that most streets were actually U’s that eventually looped back around to a main street. It’s very hard to get used to cities not being laid out on grids.

Brighton

Brighton

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I had been looking at google maps a few days earlier and noticed a cafe that was fairly nearby and in the new direction I was currently exploring. As it turns out, a “cafe” can mean many things here, and rarely a coffee shop. Elm Grove Cafe turned out to be a sortof English version of a diner. Breakfast all day, sandwiches and stuff. I still stopped in and grabbed a coffee to go, just to have a look indoors. I’m not sure whether I’ll be paying a visit to try the fare in the future. I did notice some other interesting neighborhood spots though that I’ll investigate some evening, like The Hartington and The Wellington. Actually, I noticed that  “Hartington” and “Wellington” are the names of the streets that these places are located on, respectively… and the Franklin, where I visited on Sunday, happens to be located on Franklin.

The Wellington (a nearby pub)

The Wellington (a nearby pub)

I’d been hearing about a neighborhood called Kemptown, so today I tried to find it. The directions I got from a barista were the typical British vagueness: “You know the main pier, the big one? Well you come off that and take a right, and then after a bit you go sortof up the street and that’s it.” I improvised a little, and did find an interesting neighborhood. I was able to confirm later that the place I found was, in fact, Kemptown. It was really gorgeous, because between each block was a straight shot to the ocean.

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The shops all looked interesting, although since it was Sunday most seemed to be closed. The restaurants all looked good, too, and I had trouble deciding where I wanted to eat. I decided to go with the place that was almost full at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was called Cornel’s, and it had a wheelbarrow sitting out front on the sidewalk. I really don’t mean to make this a food blog, but dinner is usually the best part of my day. It’s also been the only time that I’ve exchanged words with another human being lately. Til tonight I hadn’t seen my roommates in almost a week, and haven’t really met a lot of people yet. So, placing an order (and occasionally explaining where I’m from) is the extent of my human face-to-face interaction on a day-to-day basis. I didn’t notice it at first, but it’s starting to feel really strange.

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Now, all week I’ve been noticing signs advertising sunday roast. Every restaurant and pub seems to advertise it. And, it finally being Sunday, it was my turn to try it. I ordered the chicken roast, and it was… quite a lot of food.

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But it was delicious. I don’t know if you can see the circular things on top there, but I had no idea what they were. After eating one, the waiter came by to see how everything was. When I pointed to the remaining circular thing on the plate and asked him what it was, he looked at me like I was crazy. He didn’t even answer me for a few seconds, then told me it was yorkshire pudding. I asked him what yorkshire pudding is, and he explained that it’s flour and water and egg that is baked and all sortof rises. Then he asked me if I was American. I guess people don’t realize that right away. Perhaps I should drop a few more “Howdy!”s into my conversations.

I finally saw my roommates again tonight. It was really nice, I missed them.  I had a good time catching up with Alec, and when Alice got home (from London) we watched The Fighter and ate dinner. They had made enough to share… another Sunday roast, pork belly with cracking and more yorkshires. It was even better than the first.

Farm

Today, I woke up and realized that I had completely run out of breakfast food. I was up pretty late last night and I wanted to stay close to home today, so I decided to just run out for a quick coffee and pastry, hit the grocery store, and come home. I went to the same cafe, Lucky 13, that I had visited earlier this week. They have a notice now that they’re hiring, but they want two years of barista experience that I don’t have. I’ll see if I can charm them, anyway.

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I demolished my breakfast at Lucky 13

After eating and chatting with the barista, I decided to venture out a bit further. I went back to the lanes and found my way around some new streets, and many very exciting vintage stores. Because it was a Saturday, most of the stores and restaurants had set up booths  or displays out onto the sidewalk and into the street. The weather was nicer today, too. There are quite a few vintage shops around that look lovely, and I did manage to snag a beautiful dress on sale for £10. I spent most of the day happily window shopping, and picked up some groceries (eggs and bread) as well. I’m on the look out for clotted cream. Shockingly, they didn’t have any at that particular store. I’ll try for that again tomorrow.

However, they did have this little gem that I know my Dad will just love:

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CHICKEN themed candy

I never thought I’d say this, but I might miss our backyard chickens just a little bit… all of the crazy antics they inspire, and definitely the constantly supply of fresh eggs.

I also ran across a street called Portland Street. My boyfriend, Matthew, has never been to Portland but is pretty enamored with it after watching the show Portlandia. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix and is admittedly pretty funny. I think a few of the skits were made for my Mom, and her alone. Like this one:

So, Matthew has been wondering if Brighton is like the UK’s version of Portland. So far, there’s been some pretty good evidence to support this. I feel like finding Portland Street may have been a sign… no pun intended.

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On my way back, I decided to get some dinner. I passed a cute little place called Farm, and decided to check it out. One thing I’ve noticed in Brighton, and that I really like, is that everywhere seems to have fresh flowers on the table. No matter how small or casual it is, if it’s a restaurant or a coffee shop, this is across the board. I suppose with as little sunshine as they get, they have to brighten things up in other ways. The only exceptions so far have been places I’ve walked past like KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, McDonald’s… you get the picture.

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flowers at Farm

Farm

Farm

I went with Shepherd’s Pie, minced lamb and mash. It seemed like a good British meal, as I haven’t quite worked my way up to kidney pie yet. My American friend, Jolie, has not given it a good review. I don’t know if I’ll ever be quite brave enough fro black pudding, either. But the shepherd’s pie was delicious!

Shepherd's Pie for dinner at Farm

Shepherd’s Pie for dinner at Farm (and my new travel-sized sketchbook)

I made it home not too late after sundown. It’s a little sad to come back to an empty house. My family is a lively group to live with, so a “quiet night in” here in England is much quieter than in Kansas City. I think adjusting to this will take some time.

the day after London

I spent most of my day today recovering from yesterday’s adventure. I slept like a log last night, this morning, and some of the early afternoon. However, the morning did hold one very very exciting surprise.

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a package for me!

a crockpot!

a crockpot!

my very own crockpot

my very own crockpot

I don’t know how anyone gets along without a good crockpot. They’re just so convenient, and there are so many delicious recipes. I’m very excited to cook with it, but I have a lot of leftovers to work through before I get that far. If there’s one thing I know, though, my mum loves me! And amazon.co.uk means she can order things that are local to me, and save on shipping. Three cheers for the internet!

The weather is still a little nicer than it has been, which means venturing out in the afternoon (when it gets dark) is actually an option. After dinner I visited the pub nearest my house, Franklin Tavern. It’s named for Benjamin Franklin… naturally. I was hoping it would be kindof a neighborhood place where I could perhaps meet some people who live in the neighborhood. Strangely, it didn’t have a bar to sit at. It was also full of people my parents’ age. I had decided to give it a solid shot, though, so I sat down alone and fiddled with my portable electronic devices. An very friendly older man started talking to me, and shortly afterwards his son walked in. The guy introduced me to pretty much everyone in the bar. It does seem to be a very neighborhood-like place, where everyone knows everyone.

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My lonesome table at the Franklin Tavern

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the bar with no stools

The guys son, Matthew, took me to see a few of his own favorite Brighton spots. He’s pretty new to the city as well, but has had time to scout out a few good things. I have to say, though, people here have a very different definition of what is “nearby.” It was dark and cold outside, I was very tired, and I said I wanted to stay close to home. 30 minutes later, we arrive at pub just outside Brighton Station. Based on my adventure last night, the only way I knew how to get home from there was to walk 45 minutes into the next town (Hove) til a perfect stranger offers me a lift. It was a nice little place though, called Queen’s Head. The chandeliers were very pretty. I’m very jealous that most places around seem to have gorgeous chandeliers. It was right across from Cafe Coho, where I’d spent my first few hours ever in Brighton (re: https://annablanck.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/day-one/ ) . Afterwards we stopped by an Irish pub, Molly Malone’s, that usually has live music later in the evening.

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Queen’s Head

On the way back, we walked by a KFC. I wanted to see if it tasted very different over here, so I just grabbed ooooone little chicken strip for the road. It was actually tiny, hardly larger than a chicken nugget, but it did seem exactly the same as what we get in the States. The primary difference to note is that they don’t sell mashed potatoes at KFC over here. In fact, the only side available at all is one that KFC doesn’t offer in the states: chips. Frankly, they should have stuck with the mash. The fries were not good.

chips at KFC

I stopped in my house for just a moment. It was an incredibly full night. My roommates were having a board-game party with all their friends, which looked and sounded very fun. It made me very sad to leave again. I really want to be friends with my room mates, but it has been so hard to meet anyone here that I really needed to follow through on the plans I had made with James. As it turns out, we really are neighbors. He lives right by me in a big house with his girlfriend and a bunch of guys, I think about six of them. They were moving around too much so I couldn’t really count.

We all walked to a house party that once again challenged my notions of proximity. It was much further than I felt like I’d been lead to believe, and I knew I’d have to find my way back somehow. It is amazing how many college students can fit into one of these tiny houses, and also amazing at the noise level the neighbors must be putting up with. Everyone was very nice and I had nice chats with a few different people. I ducked out early, since it was already pretty late, and I knew there was a good chance of losing my way getting home.

The English give directions very different than we do in the states. Rather than “Go right, take a right at the stoplight, go left when you get to the library,” and so on, I was given the following help when I left the party: “Oh yeah it’s back that way, and in a bit there’s that street we crossed, then walk for about fifteen minutes and cut through one of the allies.” Of course, it’s now raining. Things are also getting dodgy because when I recognize a place, I no longer know if I recognize it because I’ve been there before on one of my adventures, or if I had seen it before when I was wandering around lost. So nothing is a landmark for me unless it’s a very very big landmark.

About a block later, I encountered a six way intersection and was completely at a loss. Do you know you have to be 18 to get a driver’s license here? It’s because their streets are nonsensical. Fortunately, there always seem to be people about, so I ask someone else how I might get to Lewes Road. “Oh, that’s a ways off. Yeah, and you have to walk up hill a lot. It’s that way,” he points, “so just go down afdhkjgf and up sfkjhasdfluhas and across adskjhffhfjk and you’ll be there.”

I don’t know if it was the pointing (I’d been headed, once again, in the opposite direction) or if I’m slowly getting better at deciphering English directions, but that took me straight home.

 

Anna goes to London

There are no rules in England, only tradition. So Lady Jolie (who truly does have the title) tells me over high tea at Harrod’s.

Jolie is a friend of mine from Kansas City. even after only a week, it’s nice to spend the day with another American.  Jolie has been with her husband, a proper Englishman, for the past 9 years. She moved to London only a year ago, but has spent plenty of time here and knows the city quite well. Today we met at Victoria Station, and she led me on a whirlwind adventure around London.

London!

London!

Our first stop was the National portrait gallery. It was fabulous. The half hour we spent there felt like barely 5 minutes. We saw the new portrait of Kate that had been unveiled only last week. There were many portraits of the royal family and royal families past throughout the museum, amidst the stellar collection of artists. Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed inside the museum with or without flash, but I did manage to sneak this this one in. I hope you recognize those handsome faces!

the boys (Henry & William)

the boys
(Henry & William)

Our first real first stop was to find a wallet appropriate for this crazy British money. With bills all different sizes and most smaller denominations in coins, American wallets are significantly lacking. Jolie set me up for success with Cath Kidston. It’s an adorable store filled with durable bags in the cutest, very unique prints. “Boots,” their classed up version of CVS, was also an important stop. I had spent less than a pound on my shampoo and conditioner because I’d bought it at the time when I literally had 25 to last me the week. Between the cheap soap and the hard water, the situation was not pretty. I am so very glad to finally have some of the good stuff.

the goods!

the goods! passport case, wallet, & coin purse

As soon as we had left the gallery, I completely surrendered all hope of knowing where we were. By the time we’d gotten the necessary shopping done, I was happily lost. I was trying to take in everything, all the sights, and had no time to pay attention to direction. Jolie took me through book alleys, theatre districts, street food markets, and all the many varied and fabulous shopping districts. I scored a program for the upcoming shows at the Royal Opera House, so I can plan to see as many as possible during my stay.

Royal Opera House, London!

Royal Opera House, London!

We even snuck into a little shop for cappuccinos and artisan chocolate, to start the afternoon off right.

artisan chocolates

artisan chocolates

cappuccino aka the stuff dreams are made of

cappuccino aka the stuff dreams are made of

It only got better from there. The shoes are incredible, the luggage and leather is fantastic, the cosmetics are outstanding, the bags are chic, and everything is classy. Jolie showed me where to find the top, fresh from the runway designer lines. The clothes blew my mind, as did the prices. Maybe someday when I’m rich and famous. On the other end of the spectrum, even the American chain stores like Guess, H&M, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, and even Forever 21 seem to be vastly improved.

Our next stop is the one I’ve been hearing about all my life. This one is for you, Mom!

HARROD'S!

HARROD’S!

Harrod’s was glorious. The diamonds and the designers were like nothing I’d ever seen. The Egyptian elevators were unreal. There was a life size statue of Cinderella, a pet store with adorable french bulldogs… and mice, shoes and jackets and food and everything in the world. Jolie surprised me with reservations for high tea at 3:00. Well, we made it a champagne tea. It was amazing. The each finger sandwich was better than the last. The scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam and rosewater jam were better than any I’d ever had. And the sweets… to die for. And the chandeliers were everything I ever wanted.

Lady Jolie & I at High Tea, at Harrod's

Lady Jolie & I at High Tea, at Harrod’s

High tea at Harrod's

High tea at Harrod’s

High tea at Harrod's

High tea at Harrod’s

The whole day flew by. We came out of Harrod’s swearing we would never eat again, but time flew as we walked around London. It was actually refreshing to be outdoors, since it wasn’t so cold today as it has been this week. We saw the London Eye, Big Ben, the Thames, and all the very fancy places to live and dine. I hardly got any pictures at this point, since it was already dark outside. We went to a few other fabulous Harrod-like stores, my favorite being Liberty’s. It had a designer vintage section. I thought I’d gone to heaven.

The Ritz

The Ritz

where whistling is illegal

Burlington: where whistling is illegal

I caught a late train back to Brighton. The exciting thing about the train passes is that, having purchased it during super-off-peak hours, I got a return ticked that included all London public transportation for only £20. Thursday is the going-out night over here, so there were lots of people on the streets. It felt plenty safe to walk home, and it had been a pretty straight shot to get there. What’s the worst that could happen? An adventure. And adventures are exciting.

It had only taken me 20 minute to get to the station this morning. However, when I set out tonight I must have gone in the exact opposite direction. I new things didn’t look quite the same, but I had been in such a hurry on the way there I was willing to accept that. It had also been a very long, very exciting day. But when I came to the ocean, I knew I was in trouble. The nearest ocean to where I lived was a good 45 minute walk. I started walking along the ocean front, hoping I’d get to something I’d recognize. I walked for a pretty long time before I realized that the chances of this were very slim. I approached a man (the only person around, at that point) who seemed pretty not-dangerous. Turns out, he was on his way home from salsa dancing. He confirmed my suspicions that I was indeed very far away from my little home, and pointed me toward a busier street where I might catch a cab—which I could have done in the first place, for approximately £6. Thanks to my “adventurous” whim, it was surely going to be more than that now.

Andy (that was his name) ended up just giving me a ride. I got home safe and sound, and made another new friend in the process. Although frankly, the jury’s still out… he called me Dorothy when he heard I was from Kansas City, and I don’t take to kindly to that. I’m from Missouri.

Today was the best I’ve had here, and I can’t imagine having a better one. I just want to say again, it couldn’t have happened without Jolie. I would not have found or recognized almost any of the wonderful things I saw today, and even if I had seen it all, it wouldn’t have been half as fun without a good friend to share it with. Thank you, Jolie! You’re wonderful.

I’m so happy, and to think that was just the overview of London! When I go back, we’ll go through all the museums, the Tower, and everything else. I can’t wait.

One last thing. My Nonnie is back in the hospital for the second time this month with a bad case of pneumonia. I’d like to ask you all to keep her in your thoughts and prayers while she’s on the mend. It always helps. Thank you!