London, Baby! #gratuitousfriendsreference

Happy Tuesday, blog buddies, and let me apologize for my disappearing act over the past two weeks. I swear I have a good excuse, though – I just returned from a terribly exciting, relaxing and historical trip to London with my youngest brother, Kevin. (And I promise that I would have tipped my hand and told you all ahead of time, except that apparently in my 29th year I’ve grown somewhat paranoid and decided that it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to tell the interwebz that my house was going to be empty for two weeks…) I booked the trip on a whim after a bit of a life shakeup at the end of last year. Kevin is a writer who took a day job this year and decided to join me to take advantage of finally having a regular income. My favourite people know that I love solo travel, but this time it was so much fun to spend some time with my little brother as an adult and to have someone to laugh about shared nonsense with.

I probably won’t do a formal day-to-day recap of my trip – partially because it was just a lot of wandering around museums and streets, partially because I’m not sure that we’ve built the blog relationship where you care to hear about me sitting in nine different pubs to kill the hours between adventures. (Yes, we averaged almost one pub per day. It was pretty impressive.) I will be dropping tidbits/anecdotes here and there, though, as we return to our regularly scheduled blogging. But for today? How about a few highlights?

Tower of London

1) Did you know that people live in the Tower of London?! This has been the first thing I’ve said to absolutely everyone who has asked me about my trip because it still blows my mind. The Yeoman Warders (“Beefeaters”… yes, the uniformed men who give hourly tours – they are not “just” tour guides at all) are actually Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard formed by Henry VII and the 37 Yeoman Warders and one Chief Warder that compromise this military group actually live at the Tower of London with their families! The Chief Warder lives in the Queen’s House… literally, her house at the Tower because it is still an active Royal Palace. There is also a doctor, chaplain and the Resident Governor living on site. I had been to the Tower of London before, but somehow this fact slipped my notice before and Kevin and I just could not stop marveling over it.

pub

2) The system of ordering in British pubs is quite different from Canadian ones, and really wonderful. Jetlagged and starving at 9 pm on our first day there, it did take us probably far too long to figure out how things were done but once we did, we were hooked. Essentially, the system in the pubs cuts out the middleman and takes a lot of the pressure off of sitting for too long or not ordering food – you can do everything on your own time. For those who don’t know (and to save you the jet-lagged confusion that I experienced), when you enter a pub proceed directly to the bar to order and pay for your drink of choice. Bring this drink to the best possible table and enjoy it (and maybe one or two more!) with your friends and conversation. If you decide to do food with your drink (and please keep in mind that there is never any obligation to do so… you’ll probably notice that most of the tables around you aren’t eating), bounce back up to the bar to order and pay for your food. In a small bar, you’ll just indicate to the bartender what table you’re at; in a bigger one, they may give you some sort of table marker. The best part of all? When you’re done with your evening, you can just leave… no waiting for the cheque because you already paid!

airbnb

3) AirBnB is always worth it. I’ve done AirBnB before but other people have always done the actual renting and I’ve just tagged along. We rented a lovely little flat in Kennington owned by a very charming and friendly gentleman, and it could not have gone smoother! It was so nice to have a private, relaxing home base in which to kick back in the evenings and to enjoy some cereal in the mornings. I think the cereal is what saved us from getting tired of restaurants on this trip!

wicked

4) If you are really thrifty and clever, you can see two professional West End shows in one day for less than forty pounds. In our case, a Wicked matinee for 17.50 and an evening showing of The Woman in Black for 12.50. It was our second last day and was absolutely thrilling.
I think that may be enough for this Tuesday… but I have so many more rambles and pictures so I’m sure you’ll see more pop up soon…

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March Wrap-Up

Barre Body Studio pic

My March recap is decidedly late (I know, I know, it’s already April 5…) but I swear I have a good excuse. I bought a tablet this weekend and have fallen into a bit of a black hole of setting it up. And by setting it up, I mostly mean playing with it. I feel like I did when I got my first iPhone back in 2011! My wellness benefits at work will actually reimburse me for this tablet because it will enhance my wellness and improve my efficiency, I guess? If I can ever stop testing out podcast apps when I am actually supposed to be blogging…

Overall Month Rating

B+. March was a decidedly better month than February – in a large part because of Big Taste Calgary and a couple other excellent social outings with friends. The weather improved with a couple of absolutely gorgeous days in the high teens and, with the sunshine as inspiration, I made a concentrated effort to reframe my mental state to be equally sunny. I’ve always been aggressively positive at work; I wanted to bring that into my personal life as well. However, I was not nearly as fiscally responsible this month as I meant to be and I still don’t have a roommate. B+ it is.

Highlight of the Month

Either the incredible dinner at Teatro (and a chance to catch up with an amazing friend who I do not see nearly often enough) or the fact that the auditions I had lined up for this month went exceedingly well and I’ve been cast in a super fun show that goes up this June. I am going to hold off sharing details about the show until the company formally announces the cast, but check out Theatre Thursdays for more about what it’s all about to be in a play once I can talk about it.

Lowlight of the Month

To protect the innocent, I’m going to be vague, but I had a situation mid-month where there was someone else involved and we were just not on the same page at all. At all. Which is fine, except this other person thought that the situation was so great and… it was not. Which I had to tell them. I hate having to disillusion people. (But, oh man, that misinterpretation could not stand…)

Number of Workouts Completed

March was actually pretty solid in terms of workouts. I got in a good routine with barre classes on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, sometimes with an extra one added on Thursday mornings and usually with a lunchtime yoga class on Tuesdays. Moving into April, I would like to solidly add in that fourth barre class and also start the Couch to 5K training. Everyone who runs loves running. I want to feel that too.

Number of Plays Watched

The Turn of the Screw at Vertigo Theatre, Bad Jews at Theatre Calgary (this show sparked such great conversations between myself and my mom, I definitely recommend it if you can sneak it in), Fight or Flight Response by Verb Theatre. Hopefully I can sneak in a show or two more in April as well.

Number of Movies Watched

In theatres – 1. I made the mistake of seeing 10 Cloverfield Lane which really fell apart once they started doing the “Cloverfield” stuff. John Goodman rocked, though.
At home – 5. Okay, I watched 22 Jump Street twice and after one particularly stressful weekend my mom and I unwound to The Ridiculous 6. Don’t judge me.

Number of Dates I Took Myself On

None! I went on far too many dates with other people, though. I really have to talk my friends into hanging out with me in my home.

Best New Food Discovery

These peanut butter balls. The recipe was shared with me by my lovely Irish co-worker earlier this month to add into my weekly meal prep insanity. It’s total junk masquerading as health food (come on, the recipe comes from Kraft), but I have no interest in making the recipe un-trashy. One little ball is so super filling.

Best New Culture Discovery

I watched all of Unreal in about a week once it came on shomi… keep in mind, these were hour long episodes and I was relentlessly social this month so that is a huge compliment. Apparently Unreal is strikingly accurate in terms of what goes on behind the scenes in “reality tv” (though obviously the drama is somewhat exaggerated) and I cannot wait to watch The Bachelorette with this knowledge in mind. Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby kill it by embracing the nuanced, sometimes unlikeable, sometimes so vulnerable characters that they are given.

Best Book Read

This is one of those super buzzy, probably read in a zillion book clubs book, but for good reason. I absolutely devoured The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah in about a day and a half. I started reading it while invigilating one Thursday and had finished it by the next afternoon. So compelling.

As always, if you’re in Calgary and aren’t a creep… please live in my house.

Happy April!

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