I’m not complaining. Or bragging. Just noting my thankfulness for everything that I’ve been able to do and see, as well as for the fact that I got to spend some QT in my much neglected bed this weekend. And my room was even clean! Double win! (Or as I was reminded recently, I think C Sheen calls it bi-winning?) Here’s the best part:
The last 8 weekends (and parts of weeks!) have been amazing. So so so so so amazing. But oh man was I glad to be back in Londy. Because it was the first weekend in London in way too long though, I had some difficult, but obvious (if I wanted to be a good human) choices. While I wanted to just lie around, I had made plans with Sharry, a friend who studied in Austin a few years ago and now lives in London, for Saturday, signed up to volunteer on Sunday, and as I belatedly realized, had also signed up for a trial run of a cycling class bright and early on Monday morning.
After brunch at Andina, Sharry and I headed down over Tower Bridge to the Scoop and had a quick look at the RNLI Courage on our Coasts – Photography Exhibition. Then we headed to Maltby Street Market for a Craft Coffee and Sharry got her first look at our little market and picked out what she wanted to brunch on next time. Then we made our way to the White Cube via a furniturey shop with a relic of Daenarys Targaryen’s and a little British shop with the cutest (and most expensive) little handmade baby shoes:
I wanted to see the Franz Ackerman exhibition I’d read about, but ended up liking the He Xiangyu one much more. Check it out if you’re in the area! It’s on until April 13, 2014. And be sure to pick up an explanation paper at the front.
Sunday night and Monday morning were the two Cycles. One that was [hopefully] good for others and one that was good for me. But general aspects for both were actually kind of similar. The main of which was being a newbie. Both Cycles started off quickly because of time constraints, and so there wasn’t really time for newbies to be inducted before jumping in feet first. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing! Learning on the job, when it matters most, is hard, but I think it helped in blotting out any inhibition to ask questions, because if you don’t, then you’ll just hold things up!
FoodCycle – Sunday evening
I can’t remember exactly how I found out about this group, but I think it might have been at Feast London, where they held a raffle for dinner at Hawksmoor and I read their brochure and thought it seemed like something I really believe in and would like to help out with. They are ‘a UK charity that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation’. I volunteered at the LSE hub near King’s Cross, which happens in the kitchen of the Holy Cross Centre Trust.
I reached there around 4 for the 2nd shift. While the 1st shift goes to pick up the groceries, the 2nd shift chops, cooks, serves and cleans up. As soon as I got there, it was nose to the grindstone. Serving time was at 5pm, and there was a lot to do. Still, we chatted while we chopped, so it was nice to meet a few new people. And as is almost always the case in the wonderful London, the new people were from all over – Italian, French, Welsh, Turkish, English, Aussie and I came in as the American. In the end, in the span of about 2.5 hours, I chopped broccoli and mushrooms, buttered and cheesed bread to be toasted, peeled and cut oranges, served salad during the mains course and custard during dessert, and washed and/or dried many, many, many MANY dishes. The idea was to just have at least a couple of people washing dishes at all times so that there wasn’t a huge pile at the end. So basically, any time you weren’t doing something else, you were washing dishes. But I felt useful! And like I was doing something that made a teeny tiny impact. So I was happy to do it. The meal was as follows:
Appetizer: Spiced cabbage and carrot soup with cheese-on-toast
Main: Pasta with vegetables and an olive-oil based sauce, topped with cheese (made by the Italian, prego!) and a mixed leaves and avocado salad. The pasta was SO yummy, but when I asked Daved for the recipe, he said he kind of just made it up. Tragedy.
Dessert: Apple crumble with custard and fruit salad.
After we served each course, we were to take out a plate of our own and just mingle with people. I didn’t know this was going to be the case, but I thought it was a really good idea. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, as many people weren’t very social and many people at this particular location have mental health issues, but I think it really broke down the wall (literally) between where we served from and the room in which they ate. It was a busy and interesting first experience, and I am excited to do it again. I think there are some pictures on the FoodCycle Facebook page if you’re curious 🙂
BoomCycle – Monday morning
On Sunday eve, we did a little bit of calibrating with the weights James bought to make us be healthy, in conjunction with the exercises his sister Sarah gave us last month. Then thanks to Time Out telling me so, I headed to the Monday class I had booked at BoomCycle during the two week introductory period where you could try a class for free. Since I read my Time Out a few days late though, all that was left were 7:15am classes during the second week. Now I know I’m out of shape and hate even thinking about exercise, but oh man I was really feeling pathetic until I realized that yes, the instructor asked if anyone was new, but then didn’t do anything about it! I had no idea where the resistance on the bike was, much less how to change it, and anyway, the room was so dark that I could barely see it anyway! I also didn’t know if my bike was set up correctly for my height. The instructor did come to help with the pedal straps when he saw my foot come out once or twice, but it just might have been better all around if maybe 5 minutes before class, the instructor taught the newbies how to position their bikes and themselves in order to get the most out of the class. And since I even made it there 10-15 minutes ahead of time, it would have been perfect. It was also a bit hard to understand the instructor (Sebastian) through the mic, so maybe that sound system arrangement could be improved too? And there seemed to be a big line for the few (3-4, maybe?) showers, so I wouldn’t count on being in and out quickly there…
The class was definitely a challenge though — nothing more innovative or better than any other fitness center, whatever the focus of that center may be ie yoga, boxing or other — and just nice to have another option around (for all of that vigorous exercise I do daily).