Tag Archives: weekend fun

Orchids and greenhouses at Kew Gardens

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Kew Gardens is an expanse of lush greenery on the western edge of London, a section of the city that I haven’t spent much time in due to it being full of more residential neighborhoods and not much “stuff”. I recently read a breakdown of London’s regions that described them like this: “east is poor, west is posh, south is rough, and north is intellectual”. That sounds like a crazily broad brush, because it is, but west = posh seems about right. It’s definitely fancy over there.

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The whole point of making the drive up to Kew Gardens was to check out the Orchid Festival, a yearly celebration in the Princess of Wales Conservatory in the gardens that celebrates the plant life of India. There are literally thousands of orchids (plus cacti, succulents, and all sorts of other plants) across ten different ecosystems in different rooms, all blooming simultaneously. It is stunning.

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Jon and I spent an hour or so in the orchid conservatory, wandering from room to room, battling the crowds – a beautiful Saturday in London, no surprise there – and then headed back outside for more general Kew Gardens exploration. The grounds themselves are so expansive that I think crowds would be impossible, so our walk around in the dying winter evening light was very calming and just plain nice.

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We also spent some time in the Palm House, a Victorian-era glass greenhouse that is as hot as the sun. I was melting, and it would be an amazing place to go on an actual cold day in winter to escape the chill. However, we were there on the warmest day of the year so far. It’s a lovely building though. My research tells me that experts consider the Kew Palm House to be one of the most important surviving iron and glass structures in the world. Pretty nifty!

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Jon and I also took in The Hive, an art installation in the gardens that is actually inspired by scientific research into the health of bees – it’s made form thousands of pieces of aluminium to form a huge metal hive that hums and buzzes like a real hive does. And in fact the Hive is responding to real-time activity of the bees in the Kew Gardens.

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And that was that. We left the gardens and found a cute little pub across from the cricket grounds to have a refreshing beverage, then it was back in the car for a few hours’ drive back to our fluffy dog and some dinner. I’d like to go back sometime in the spring or summer, when more has come to life and everything is in bloom. But if you have the chance – go check out the Orchid Festival before it’s too late!

The Color Run Brighton

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Two weeks before the race my friend Tilly sent around a facebook message urging our group of lady friends to sign up to run the Color Run 5k with her. ¬†Definitely an on-again off-again runner, I figured I had a baseline cardiac health from all the other exercise crap I do working in my favor, and also it’s not a RUN run, but a fun run, you know? So I said yes. And it turned out that two of our other friends were already signed up! So with one more recruit from Tilly’s work, we signed up a little team and rocked up to the starting line a few days ago for the second race at 4 pm. The whole deal had proven so popular that one race at 11 am wasn’t enough, and thank goodness for that. There is quite simply nothing like the euphoria of a thousand people on the seafront, all on a runner’s high, throwing colored powder at strangers they don’t know, all to the beat of pumping club music. At each of the kilometers a different color of dusty powder was thrown at you as you ran through a gauntlet of volunteers, and at the end, it was just a bananas dance party. And what a gorgeous day! Have we thought of a better word for indian summer yet? Because when it’s 75F on the third Saturday in September in England, you know things are happening.

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Before……and after

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I had a pretty adorable set of cheerleaders.

This was the view from Jon’s seat overlooking the finish and the stage where everyone congregated before and after. Bananas I say!

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As you can imagine, I got some stares (and some laughs) on the train and while walking home. And my bath….well, it’s still a little pink. But I’d definitely say it was worth it.

Brighton has a dog cafe

Turns out Brighton has a dog cafe now with the best name ever-Chubby Chops Cafe. Chubby freakin chops cafe, how cute is that?! And the resident dogs there are named George and Bonnie and they are grumpy faced and adorable and make weird noises with their smashed faces when they get excited. Bruce was his usual anti-social self, but the trio had a good time together regardless.

It all reminded me of the Dog Cafe Jon and I went to in Seoul when we first started dating. There were a lot more dogs there-I hope Chubby Chops grows too, because I am so down for a truly dog friendly place that isn’t a pub. Not that I don’t love pubs, but it’s a lot easier when the furry ones can run around and play and skid around and you don’t have to worry about someone accidentally letting them outside.

I had a pink lemonade (they say it’s homemade and if it is, well done them), Jon had a berry smoothie and some cake because that son of a b is always eating cake, and it was all good. Solid Sunday afternoon with some dogs, and we shall definitely return. If you have a dog and live in/around Brighton, you should go too-the staff are really super nice, and at least half the people there didn’t have dogs, so it’s no big deal if you don’t have any pups. They are in the Lanes, right by that weird mermaid fountain!

Oh, and the other best part of last weekend? (obviously the dog cafe was the main best part) Seeing a working Dalek outside the Mini Maker Faire at the Dome. Well, not working working, it didn’t incinerate anyone. But it said “exterminate!” a lot and chased kids around of its own volition, so that was pretty great.¬†daleks in brighton

And last thing-Jon was struck down with a change of seasons cold at the end of last week, as you get, so while I worked from home on Friday he drugged himself up and slept on the couch next to me, and this was my view.

Doctor Bruce, always on call.

 

sunday in shoreham

shoreham by sea low tide

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Sundays have become these ultra productive days where I wake up and work out and clean the house and eat good foods that are healthy and then when that’s done and over it’s still somehow only 1:00 pm and there’s a whole day left. Thank you Sunday!

Today we did all that stuff,and I nearly killed myself on the elliptical this morning, which got things off to a strong and sweaty start. I’m doing a thing where I am trying to be much much healthier, while not getting obsessed and still loving myself. It’s nice, and easy enough to do when not being in America, where everything seems to be made to remind you that you look like shit and are terrible. This idea also seems to have seeped into the American psyche from normal humans who also aren’t gorgeous super models but deem themselves arbiters of what all should look like anyway. Not saying England is perfect, but the judgement just isn’t there so blatantly, and I’m getting so used to it that when I hear comments from my American compatriots or read articles that insinuate that a perfectly normal woman (or man, but let’s be honest, it’s always women) is getting chunky, it just infuriates me. Who gives a shit? Stop giving a shit everyone! Stop it!

Well this digressed quite a lot, didn’t it?

Back to Sunday-the sun was out, there was a breeze, we cleaned everything then spent a few hours sitting on the balcony, reading things and having a nice time, before making dinner and taking a walk on the beach at low low low tide. Summer is great around here and the dog people know it! I don’t know what the non-dog people do, but all the dog people in Shoreham seem to congregate at the same time in the same places, like on the beach at low tide.

On a similar note, two weeks from now I’ll be on a beach in Spain with Jon and I cannot wait. Jon keeps making fun of me for bringing it up…”guess what I’m excited for?….our holiday!” But it’s true. We haven’t ever spent a beachy vacation together, instead spending most of our time and money either going to Ohio or going to England. But now a few years into my emigration, we are lucky enough to be able to branch out. So a beach it is! I’m just going to keep talking about this, I bet it’s super interesting. Anyway, beaches are cool, right? Right!

 

 

Sunday visitors

Sunday afternoon we were graced by a visit from Penny and Dave as they headed back up north from a long weekend in Brighton, taking pictures of new babies and whatnot. We only had them for a few hours, but Jon and I took advantage of the slightly spring-like temperatures and intermittent sunshine and took our guests for a long walk up the high street with the dogs, with a stop for a drink at The Bent Arms in Lindfield, before bidding them adieu once again. Jon even made them sandwiches for the car! What a nice guy, right? Right.

Trying to get Spud to pose for pictures is a fool’s errand, but Pen managed it.

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Boys!

The ever-cheerful and oh-so-photogenic Maxi.

Majestic, isn’t he?

It was a short and sweet interlude, but hopefully we’ll see them again soon, either up north in Nottingham (who am I kidding….Jon, like most southern English folk, has a lot of shit to talk about the north and has no intention of going there unless he has to), or when they’re back down here. Summer adventures by the seaside would be nice!

A freezing whirlwind trip to the Brighton Food Festival

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On Saturday Jon and I took the train into Brighton to hit up the Brighton Food Festival and do a little shopping. We love the annual food festival-it is amazing and is a one stop shop for not only filling your belly with all the best of local vendors, but also with stocking the ol’ freezer/pantry with great bits and pieces from, you guessed it, local vendors. It’s a real event, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything!

Last year we remember going while decked in much lighter clothing choices-but alas this year’s weather took a turn for the worse. We exited the station to sunshine and high hopes, but after running a few errands (you guys, I have the coolest salad lunch box EVER now) and hitting up Cafe Coho for a little caffeine to jump start the day, by the time we started strolling through the food festival street, the skies had clouded over and it even started snowing for a while. It was…..just….icky. Everyone was sad, and I felt absolutely terrible for the vendors who didn’t have a hot grill to keep them a little bit warm! They were allll bundled up-scarfs, hats, mittens, the whole nine yeards. The depression was palpable. I think all of England is currently suffering from seasonal affective disorder, no lie. I’m inches away from buying a sun lamp.

We picked up some of our favorites-local goat’s cheese and this really delicious hot sauce made in Sussex, some very awesome sausages and gluten-free tarts for Juan, smoked ham and marinated garlic. We don’t mess around, I’m tellin’ you. And I treated myself to a freakin’ delicious pulled pork sandwich. Amazing! Even if I ate it while shivering in the cold on the sidewalk. It was heavenly.

Even though we’d planned on spending more time hanging out, the weather made us run home with our tails between our legs, ready to chill out and enjoy the rest of our Saturday from the warmth of home. Oh spring….when will you come to England?