According to London…

The ’80s are back with a vengance, and both skinny jeans and leggings are still solid staples.

London Eye!

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A quote

For every runner who tours the world running marathons, there are thousands who run to hear the leaves and listen to the rain, and look to the day when it is suddenly as easy as a bird in flight.
George Sheehan

Life in the UK

For those who are unaware, I’m spending 2 weeks in the UK for work. Not that I think everyone is that interested or that I’m that cool, but I wanted to keep up some blog posts just for my owm memory’s sake. Since I have a computer here and the ability to type while sitting outside on a patio under an umbrella in the sun, I thought I’d take advantage of it. :)

I flew out of Atlanta on the redeye flight on Saturday night, leaving at 8:30 – but in true Atlanta form we didn’t actually take off until 10pm. Once we were in the air, it was 9 hours to CDG in Paris, where we had a connector to Birmingham in the UK. I say we because I’m traveling with a colleague and we were booked on all the same stuff. It was a tight squeeze making the connecting flight to Birmingham – when we got there, the gate was already closed, but they managed to get us onto the flight anyway.

An hour and a half later, we arrived in Birmingham, only to wait in line at Customs for about an hour. And once we made it through, we were delighted (sarcasm) to find out that while we had made our connecting flight, our luggage had not. With a promise that the luggage would be delivered to our hotel that evening, we exchanged some money and found a cab to take us to Coventry, where I am now and have been all week.

We’re staying at the Village Hotel in Coventry, which is in central England. It’s really close to “Shakespeare country” and is about 2 hours from London and 2 hours from Southampton, where we’ll be from this weekend until we leave. The hotel is huge – kind of a giant complex all in one. There’s a restaurant, a pub, a Starbucks, a gym (yes, like an LA fitness type thing that is the local gym in the area and lots of locals have membership to), and a business center. Our rate includes a meal plan, so we eat our breakfast and dinner here at the hotel.

On that Sunday afternoon, I did a little exploring. It was gorgeous here – high 60s and sunny – so I looked up how to get into the town of Coventry since our hotel is a little outside of town, in an area considered Canley. I got the street directions and wrote them down (it was only about a mile and a half – and this was my first taste of life without a cell phone, since I can’t use it here yet and I normally would have just used my GPS!). I started to make the walk and did really well for the first half – until I discovered that there were a number of streets missing street signs. This then become common as I tried to maneuver my way through the streets. When I finally got close to the city center, I couldn’t figure out a way to get around the ring road as a pedestrian and just decided to walk home.

It’s odd crossing the street here because cars come from the opposite side of the road than you expect them to. No one uses their horns Overall, the landscape doesn’t look all that different from the US, but the housing is totally different, with not many standalone houses. The streetlights go red and yellow at the same time right before the red light turns green. While we speak the same language, we have totally different ways of saying some things and it’s so interesting to hear the same language spoken so differently. Almost all the cars here are manual, and while the wheel is on the opposite side of the car, the transmission gears are in the same order, left to right, as they are at home. There are roundabouts everywhere and I still haven’t figured out how they work. I love the double decker buses and the super long European license plates. A Toyota Prius is the same size over here and looks giant compared to 90% of the vehicles on the road.

We started class on Monday at the TAP program (Training Assessment Program) at the University of Warwick’s Training Foundation. There are 5 of us in class – my colleague and I, as well as another Jamie (a guy) and his coworker Chantel, and one other gal named Bianca. We’re in the Training Delivery class and have been working on the aspects of training deliver all week and the class will culminate in presentations we’re all giving tomorrow morning.

We work through the day and have a number of breaks; Jaffa cakes, coffee, and tea are abundant, and we break for traditional English lunches daily – coldcut sandwiches (aka Ploughman’s lunch), pork pie, jacket potatoes (baked potatoes), and Branston pickle. After work we have time to ourselves before we go to sleep and do it all over again.

I kicked off the first night in the UK by having fish & chips at the pub, and Monday night our entire training class ate together at the restaurant (we are all staying here, though the other 3 are from various part os the UK). It took 3 hours to get our food, which wasn’t even very good, so we haven’t gone back there since.

I got up Tuesday morning and went for a run in 50-odd degree weather – what a nice break from the Atlanta heat! I’m psyched I can comfortably keep up my running here. It’s also a great way to see the country! After class, I went to Zumba with Bianca – it was fun and high energy just like the classes I take at home, but because it’s a public gym it was PACKED – they should have cut off the class at a certain size so we weren’t all about to smack each other!

Tuesday night after dinner there was Pub Quiz going on in the Victory Pub. We decided to play and actually came in second out of seven teams, even though we didn’t know who the first test tube baby was (Sandra Jones?), or what a rabbit’s tail is called (it’ s a scut I believe). We did, however, know that octopus’s have 3 hearts, calcium carbonate is chalk, and that the traditional color of an Indian wedding sari is red. ;)

Wednesday night was uneventful, just some drinks and food in the pub. Tonight we’re meeting back up at the pub, and last night, like tonight, I’ve spent my between-class-and-dinner time out on the patio having a beer and reading or blogging or having Brits try and guess where my accent is from (most common? Australia. Do we really sound at all like Australians?).

Tomorrow we’re expecting to get out of class early, so I’m hoping to have some time to sightsee and explore. Saturday morning we catch a train and head down to Southampton for the rest of the week. I will keep blogging as the days go on, but for now it’s time for our last supper!

Side notes from Thursday evening: I found my least favorite British thing (Pimms) and my favorite British thing (scones with butter, jam, and clotted cream..mmmmm). I also am enjoying the round of songs on the radio – so for your enjoyment:
Dirty Talk – Wynter Gordon
Mr. Saxobeat – Alexandra Stan
21st Century Girl – Willow Smith
Changed the Way You Kiss Me – Example
Beautiful People – Chris Brown
The Power of Bhangra
This Is My Life – Edward Maya
Spaceship – Tinchy Stryder
Never Be Your Woman – Wiley
Busy – Olly Murs
Bass Down Low – Dev
Easy Please Me – Katy B
Best Damn Night – Six D
Obvious – Emin
Crazy Love – Michael Buble
Judas – Lady Gaga (I know this is popular at home too but I still love it)

Easter brunch

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Happy Easter ya’ll! May you enjoy a wonderful day with family and good food!

Yum.

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Great slogan. In case it’s not clear in the pic: “You can smell our butts for miles.”

Aaahh.

I am often negative. Not on purpose; frankly I don’t consider myself a negative person. I consider myself positive. And when we’re talking about most things, I certainly am. But I am constantly griping endlessly about certain things, and I really get going when someone is rude. People close to me may be familiar with these rants. In honor of the beautiful weekend weather, and the pleasures that come along with it, I will prove that I do see the positive things life.

Things I love:

  • When Lexi lays somewhere near me instead of in her bed or on the guest bed. She loves soft, squishy places for a nice midday nap, but when she chooses a less comfortable place near me, it makes me grin, since I know she’s only doing it because of the proximity to her mum.
  • The first nice day of spring, where it’s not too hot or too cold, and you can spend an entire day out in the sun in a pair of pants and a tank top.
  • The way my neighborhood looks and feels in the mid-morning hours, and the hours right before and during sunset. There is just something about that time of day that bathes houses and yards in a perfect glow that makes me reminiscent of childhood; I just adore it.
  • Driving with the windows down and the sunroof open.
  • Spending time with a good friend and having a super memorable day when you weren’t expecting it. Sometimes a routine-seeming get together produces some of your favorite memories.
  • Laying on a blanket in the grass and feeling a light breeze.

More to come, but I thought this was a nice start. :)

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