Snapshots: London Under Blue Skies

Yes, I know: it rains a lot in London.

But when it’s nice outside, you’ve got it made, because London is absolutely gorgeous!

At the beginning of my stay in August, it was positively steaming outside, with temperatures in the 80s and very few cloudy days. According to the forecast, it’s meant to soon dip into the 60s and start its infamous spitting of rain, but in the meantime I’m just enjoying the Vitamin D.

The iconic shot of London, made a little more exciting with the Olympic Rings! 

Daytrip out to Greenwich. No fewer than three people told me, “Hey, Kristen. There’s a Nandos over there.” (just out of the shot). Thanks, guys! To be fair, EVERY SINGLE TIME I speak with a student about a particular site in London I inevitably follow it up with “…and there’s a great Nandos close by.” No shame.

Lovely morning in Kensington Gardens 

The street where my students are staying – too posh to believe, eh?


Celebrating London 2012

Londonians (Londoners?) like to brag that 2012 is their best year yet. But really… it’s kind of true. Their Royal Family is as popular as ever, with Good Queen Bess punching in another year on the clock. They successfully hosted the Olympics and Paraolympics. One Direction is set to release another album soon. Really, it’s a good year to be alive in London.

Luckily for ME, I got to experience some of the London Thrill with thousands of my closest friends in the past few weeks at the Notting Hill Carnival and the Piccadilly Circus Circus (which is probably my favorite name ever).

The Notting Hill Carnival is infamous for its HUGE crowds, and the occasional stabbing, in the world’s BIGGEST Carnaval after Rio. What started as a celebration of the neighborhood’s Afro-Caribbean community has become giNORmous.

I enjoyed it with a few friends, and I am proud to say that there was only one point where I thought, “Yup. This is where I die. This spot.” But I figured a gal who can make it through a New Year’s Eve in  Times Square can get through anything.

I was too distracted by my impeding death, and more importantly by eating delicious food with my friends, to take many pictures. But here’s just a taste of the huge crowds:

And the coolest guy on the planet, who made Jello Shots in portable plastic pouches and threw them out the window of his flat to the revelers on the street!

Right before I started to fear for my life – one of the bits of the giant parade that I caught.

The weekend following, I thanked my lucky stars that I subscribe to the Londonist blog because I found out about the Piccadilly Circus Circus! Not a typo – they closed down the streets in the neighborhood to host various acts of circus fun.

When I first got there, I thought it was going to be another failed attempt like my Peter Pan tour; nothing seemed to be happening! Luckily I just got there during the short break, because after a few minutes I was able to slowly wander down the street and enjoy scenes of acrobatic amazement.

First up: super hunky dude.

 Next, one of the coolest chicks I have ever seen. Just chilling in her street clothes (and super awesome shoes. I gotta ask girlfriend where she got them.), climbing up a pole and swinging off it like it’s no big thang.

I shot a video so you could see how cool she is:

This next girl was about five years old, in my approximation. My question is, how does one get into doing this? Do you start with gymnastics and decide you want something more? DO you run away with the circus?

Next group: Yes, they may be just doing a plain ol’ cheerleader’s pyramid, but according to my intense research they are basically a modern-day Moroccan Von Trapp family, so you gotta give them props for that.

One final thing that is making London proud this 2012 – Larry, the 10 Downing Street resident cat (the Prime Minister’s own mouser) has FINALLY caught a mouse! It’s been in all the papers here, as I gather there has been a lot of smack talk that this cat was a little soft prior to his kill. Downing Street issued a statement and everything. My absolute favorite article had this picture of Larry with the caption reading something like, “Larry striding down the stairs after his first confirmed kill.” I LOVE IT. Thank you, London.

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