The London Zoo

North of the River here in London near Regents Park lies Camden Town & Primose Hill. Both areas are great for little shops & cafe's, markets and generally celebrity watching. Particularly the Primose Hill area has been home to Jamie Oliver, Jude Law, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller and others. We only managed to briefly wander around (we'll have to come back when its warmer and we have time to window shop) because what we were really there to see was something completely unrelated to the above: The London Zoo.

I was a bit worried when the entrance fee was £17 (nearly $40) each but in the end the money goes to help with conservation and we did manage to have a good time. Not many animals were out cause it was cloudy and freezing and were probably keeping warm inside like we should have. We did get to see a few really cool things though as you can see from my pictures. My absolute favorite was the Butterfly Paradise---You walk into a greenhouse like thing and the most beautiful, brightly colored butterflies are everywhere. It was absolutely surreal to be so close to them and having them flying around and landing on you. I also enjoyed the penguins as well. Ever since the movie March of the Penguins and the series Planet Earth, I've been a bit of a sucker for these tuxedo laden mammals. I guess I'm a bit of a girl---give me the cute fluffy animals anyday over anything slimy like the reptile house!


Thoughts on Acceptance

This phrase has come to mean a lot to me recently and I think its such a wonderful & powerful prayer/mantra. What I know for sure is that acceptance of the moment/the now and situations out of your control can be so difficult sometimes. But doing all you can and then letting God/the universe pick up the slack can bring so much peace. I forget this principle a lot, but I just do my best which is all I can do . In a way its not really the end result that matters but the process getting there right?

Your thoughts, Comments?


Happy Easter

We took these pics this morning in Greenwich Park. We woke up to it snowing! This is actually the first snow-fall in London this year as we didn't have snow all through winter. It won't stick unfortunately, but all the poor flowers they don't know what season they are in!


Consolation Prize

After moping around for the last few days and eating WAY too much chocolate, we've decided we are going to do something spontaneous over the marathon weekend. What better way to get our minds off over 5 months of training completely going down the toilet, than checking in with a long lost friend you could say. Its been way too long since we've been and I've got a craving for gelato & home made pizza. So guess what we booked up this afternoon? (umm---Its NOT the movie if that crossed your mind!)


Marathon Withdrawal

Very, very difficult day as we've both had to withdraw from the London Marathon this afternoon. Basically the last two weeks pain caused by health problems I've had the last year has acted up a lot recently which has irritated the nerves and muscles in one of my legs. I can run for just over two hours, nearly 10 miles before I get the most gosh awful, excrutiating, horrible, horrible shooting pains and am unable to continue and have difficulty even walking. I have tried to rest for a day and then try again but to no avail--every time I get pain about the same marker in the route. It wouldn't be that big of a deal except the fact with marathon training---you MUST do regular 15+ mile runs at about a month before ( you then decrease your mileage) otherwise you could seriously, seriously risk your safety.

I went to a physiotherapist today to see if I could do a last minute fix and she pretty much laughed at me when I asked her if I could run this race. I've apparently managed to severely pull one of my hamstrings and will have to be on ice & pain killer duty for the next couple of days as I'm really hurting and my leg is pretty swollen. I assume the injury is due to running on an already sore & weak leg. Serves me right I guess.

This was NOT an easy decision and you have to go through a big hoopla in withdrawing filling in masses and masses of paperwork. Not to mention the fact that we've disappointed a charity that means a lot to us as relatives currently have Leukaemia. We may have been able to pull through this injury & obstacle but not a month before as unfortunately time is just too critical at this point.

I blame myself and think maybe all of this is my bodies way of saying this is WAY too much to do after a surgery. I have to give at least myself a little credit for trying very hard to complete this and for getting soooo far not even two months afterwards. This is not the last time I will apply to do a marathon, but maybe its just not the right time I guess. Maybe next year or even one after? Everything in its proper place & learning to accept the things I cannot change is what I've taken from this situation. Its amazing how much you can grow from even your biggest obstacles.

Anyway, until then in the mean time I'm going to focus on all I can handle at the moment which is HEALING and indulging myself in mini-chocolate easter eggs!


Vanity Fair at the N.P.G.

Photography is one skill I covet greatly. I'm a fan of many, many photographers but particularly have been keen about Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino for a while and these names are quite synonymous with the magazine Vanity Fair. I admit I frequently buy copies of Vanity Fair just to see the pictures and love how they not only do the 'greats' of Hollywood but other prominent figures in all walks of society. So when the National Portrait Gallery decided to have a '100 years of Vanity Fair' exhibition, I decided I just had to go. The pictures- well worth it and of course its made me covet being able to take great pictures even more. Everything in due time I guess, but until then I can salivate the fantistic photos I got to see including:

Cary Grant
(Hoyningen-Huene, 1934)

Doesn't he look like George Clooney?

Connery & Caine
(O'Neill, 1998)

Julia Roberts
(H. Ritts, 1993)

Gloria Swanson
(Steichen, 1924)

Legends of Hollywood, Cover Vanity Fair
(Annie Leibovitz, 2001)

Fairbanks & Crawford
(Muray, 1929)

"Thriller" -London Style

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jackson's Thriller (can you believe its been this long?), random zombies have turned up in New York & now London. Whether you think Michael's a weirdo now is immaterial as any child of the 80's grew up loving his music, Thriller being one of them. So kick back and remember the good old days with a bit of 'British' twist:


British Stereotypes

Since living here I've become aware of the stereotypes about the British that are out there. Some are true, others obviously are just ridiculous. Unfortunately I think a lot of these have been created by movies and television. So here's a few I've heard and my opinion on whether there's any merit to them:

1. Everyone drinks tea- Not everyone does drink tea here as there are plenty of coffee shops and Starbucks to go around too because of the influence of Europe. But go to any grocery store here and you'll see I kid you not about half an aisle dedicated to every type of tea known to man. The tea-break is to England as what a trip to the water-cooler is to America, a part of the culture and considered an 'institution'. I personally have come to love herbal and green tea for its health benefits. Some still do 'high-tea' and have biscuits or little sandwiches, but most just take it with sugar or milk-straight up. Some of the favorite types of tea here are 'Earl Gray' or 'English Breakfast Tea'. Don't ask me to explain the difference though--although I can say that these two are a lot darker in color than green tea.

2. Everyone either talks like Eliza Doolittle or Hugh Grant- There are more accents here than cockney or posh upper class accent. The ranges of how people speak are huge just like you get in America. (If any of you are curious, James has a mixture of a 'posh' and Midlands accent because he went to private school)

3. Everyone has bad teeth- I think it depends on where you go for this one. This is a big stereotype that the British all have horrible yellow teeth. Its partly true dependent on the area. There seems to be a lot that don't have decent teeth sometimes here because dentists on the NHS are hard to come by but in London it seems you get less people with the whole mangy thing going on. Its definitely better in recent years but all that sugar they put in their tea doesn't help either. So I would say this stereotype is sorta true unfortunately.

4. Everyone wears bowler caps and carry round umbrella's (brolly's)- In 7 years of living here I've seen a guy in a suit, bowler cap and umbrella once. Bowler caps are really a thing of the past. Umbrella's particularly in London are a necessity though. I saw a funny thing the other day in Canary Wharf--an umbrella dispenser. You put £2 in a machine and out comes a cheap umbrella. The weather here makes this kind of thing understandable though---its pretty rubbish between the months of October-mid March.

5.British Food is crappy- I've eaten the food here for this long and haven't keeled over yet. The 'traditional' food gets a bad wrap as being horribly fatty and just plain gross. I think it depends on how you cook it though and I really think you can make it a lot healthier. Some stuff I still have a hard time with like steak and kidney pie or black pudding (blood pudding), but there are good things like fish & chips and sausages & mashed potatoes (bangers & mash). British food is really making a comeback in recent years and many chefs like Gordon Ramsay are bringing good food to this country with their Michelin star restaurants. Particularly in London, a lot of the melting pot of cultures have made their way into the food such as curries in east london, great Asian food in China town and good Italian food like carluccio's. I'm grateful for this huge choice because otherwise I think I'd starve!

6. The British are stuffy/snobby- I think you do get the ocassional upper class snob, but generally the British like to have a good time. They are not as laid back as the French and it takes a while to crack their shells and open them up, but once you do that they are as warm as can be.

7. British generally carry a 'stiff upper lip'- I think this one is true just because of having to live through the wars and bombings that they have had. I was here during the London terrorist bombings of 2005 and whilst I was freaking out, the Londoners here were very admirably resiliant in the face of everything.

These are just a few stereotypes that I've heard about. I'm sure there are others. I think every culture has these 'images' (i.e. not every American is fat or french person is rude). That's the great thing about truly living in a country is you get to find out 'THE TRUTH'!


5 Random Things

I was tagged by one of my new good friends and blogging buddies, Rebecca and I'm finally getting round to posting 5 random things about myself as she requested. So here goes:

1- I don't know how to swim/ride a bike. Don't ask me why I never learned I just didn't. I regret never taking the plunge (no pun intended) specifically because travelling the world like I have I missed out on some amazing opportunites (like swimming in the most beautiful lake I've seen in my life in the middle of nowhere in Southern Thailand). I hope to learn how to do both in the near future.

2- I love any opportunity to be creative. I love the arts and try to soak up anything music, art, theatre (or theater in American), pictures/photography or literature related. I like creating things with food too. I love cooking and although I'm still stuck on the recipes I'm starting to venture out into creating my own stuff.

3- I never planned on living in London as long as I have. In all honesty I don't think I had a clue when I arrived about anything on so many levels. Living here has like ummmm COMPLETELY changed who I am, so I am certain that moving here was meant to be.

4- I have an old soul and I think WAAAAY too much. Maybe these two are related who knows?

5- One of my biggest goals in life is to make a difference in the world. However at the moment, the biggest obstacle in accomplishing this is ME and the thing I'm trying to work on in order to overcome this is just being in the moment.

I'm not going to tag anyone in particular but I'll bring to your attention some super cool blogs I love to peruse in no particular order.

Fab Shab
Written by a friend I went to high school with, Sherrie. She's uber artistic which I love and what's great is she completely understands about unconditional compassion. She's been a great comfort to me last year in probably one of the worst years of my life. I love reading about what she gets up to and seeing all the great pictures and artwork she posts.

Simply Put
Written by Sherrie's sister, Kristine. She's an AMAZING photographer and I just adore looking at all the pics she does and reading about all the cool stuff she gets up to in California.

Three Men and a Lady
Written by another friend from high school, Michelle. I just like reading what she and the men in her life get up to. Its never a dull moment in her house and I admire her for having the patience that she does.

Tripping on Words
Written by two random people I met in Blog-land, Claire and Lara who are grads from Stanford. They have started a Non Profit Organization called "Hope Runs" in Kenya. Their musings on travel and charity work particularly hit a chord with me as they've become huge parts of my life as well.

Tumaini Kids
A break-off blog from Tripping on Words, written BY THE ORPHANS at the Orphanage in Kenya Claire and Lara help. This blog reminds me of what's true in life and what real courage means.

I do read more blogs obviously, but these are a few of my favorites!


A New Earth

Wow, what a great book -so deep on so many levels and so uplifting. I ended up having to have a highlighter whilst reading this because not many pages went by without it being underlined or highlighted because I didn't want to forget something.

Basically this book is kind of like a new-age self-helf book. If you are not really into that kind o'thing or if you don't have an open mind then you wouldn't get much out of reading this. With this in mind though, I always find it amazing how people can poo-poo the new age stuff when many of the principles are soooooooo basic and have been around for like a bazillion years. Take yoga which was disregarded as something freaky and new age a few years back that only hippies and tree huggers would benefit from. Now, people can't get enough of it and traditional doctors have become wise to the benefits of the whole mind, body, spirit thing. So you never know, people may come round to the whole 'new age' book thing in future too.

Anyway, I'm glad Oprah picked "the New Earth" as a book club selection because it was exactly what I needed to read at this point in my life. I'm even going to try to get James to read it because I think he would benefit so much too at the moment. Oprah's even doing an online class on this book and even though I'm in London, I've already signed up and can't wait to learn more.

Its going to be impossible to list all my favorite quotes or passages from this book, but here's a few that really hit home with me:

"You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness." (p. 13)

"One thing we do know: Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment. " (p. 41)

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. " (p.96)

"There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life. Being one with life is being one with Now. You then realize that you don't live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance. " (p. 115)

"The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for. Everybody's life really consists of small things" (p. 266)

"The philosopher Nietzsche,.....wrote, 'For happiness, how little suffices for happiness!...the least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard's rustling, a breath, a wisk, an eye glance-little maketh up the best happiness. Be still.' " (p. 235)

" Jesus goes on to say that if God clothes simple flowers in such beauty, how much more will God clothe you. " (p. 268)