Dessert First

We need to talk.  Are you sitting down?  I went to Pizza Hut on Sunday.

gina pizza hut

That is not the big news, stop laughing.  What I am trying to tell you is that I can’t find my favorite pizza on the menu.  Back in the good ‘ol US of A the menu made sense. Who got the cotton-pickin’ idea to put shrimp and scallops on a pizza?! These European people are weird. Wait. Shrimp on pizza… I guess maybe… No. Nevermind. Not cool.

I am going to give four stars to the brilliant minds that kept MUG rootbeer and Wild Cherry Pepsi on the menu because I am going to need a frosty beverage to wash down the chilis that come on everything. Dang, Jen. Are you sure your insides are not on fire? (Will somebody send me some Preparation H? I don’t know what they put on piles here.)

And this was following the Mexican food I had Saturday night at a birthday party for our friend Lauren; which was before I had to show them all up on the dance floor at Club de Fromage. Oooh child. I had to make the boys get in line to buy me drinks.

Speaking of drinks, Drew took me star-gazing on Tuesday at the Premiere of An Education in Leicester Square.

gina premier

The square has been packed with all of the British Film Festival Events this week! Thankfully, I was safe on the balcony at Ruby Blue with a comp’d bottle of Cava. (Cava=fizzy Spanish wine. Don’t ac’ like you already knew that. Sorry, I am a little cranky because my butt is still on fire after the Vegetarian Hot One that Drew and Jen made me eat on Sunday.)

I have had some fun this week, but I think I am going to look for some of those Blackcurrant Tums Jen’s got in the medicine cabinet. A girl has got to get out more.

My Stroke of Insight

To say the least, this week was challenging. Last week I had to leave people I love behind in Tennessee for the second time in seven weeks. (I can’t deny being thankful to retreat to my nest, though.) I didn’t get to see my Auntie Jean or my cousin Bobby. My team at work is undergoing restructuring. I have been informed that I will need to travel back to the US to get my work permit (which is expensive and takes vacation time). I have been assigned additional responsibilities with little information to go on thus far. I miss my mom. There is an ache in my body like I have not known before. It doesn’t feel like Swine Flu, before you ask.

Thank goodness a few strikingly beautiful Canadians invited me for tea on Sunday afternoon. It gave me a very good excuse to sit in Leicester Square to finish my new book.

My Stroke of Insight is something I had been meaning to read since a friend sent me a link to a video of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED presentation.

stroke of insight

As a student of psychology, her experience intrigued me.  As someone grieving the loss of a mother to mental illness, it became a must-have.  This book is absolutely for everyone.  I would love to wrap my arms around Dr. Taylor someday.

Any Dream Will Do

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a spectacular event not to be missed.  Gareth Gates lends a tangible familiarity and lovable quality to his debut as Joseph.  This show is absolutely dream-like in its presentation – the detail in every fantastic element, as well as the timely humor infused throughout, makes for an evening to be remembered.  If you allow yourself to stop wondering how the cast manages to belt out each beautiful note amidst the frenzy of choreography and perfectly timed costume changes, you can fully appreciate the wonder of this show. 

Brits know the Bible story of Joseph very well and most learn the musical score of the “Joseph” show in their music classes.  They might agree that the musical is a bit more like a circus than a Bible story heard in traditional Sunday school, but they identify with the teacher and pupils in the play as they accompany Joseph on his amazing journey, imagining it as a child might.

Prior to the show we enjoyed tapas at La Tasca just off Leicester Square.  With an environment that would please a local and tourist alike, as well as a perfect menu for sharing, I highly recommend it.  Meals and drinks are affordable and we found the staff to be friendly.

Five stars for our brilliant Tuesday evening!

On the Waterfront

For some reason, what’s hot in London theatre at the moment includes two plays set in New York (centering around the dock workers) near the same time.  We had the opportunity to see a fabulous revitalization of A View From the Bridge, and Tuesday night made our way to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for On the Waterfront.  It is a gorgeous traditional London theatre complete with marble and ornate chandeliers.

While Steven Burkoff’s stage adaption of On the Waterfront does showcase a group of talented actors, a compelling style and interpretation, as well as a having a similar feel to a graphic novel, there is something a bit disjointed about this production.  The slow motion scenes which are so cleverly used in a few instances may be a bit overused and tend to become a bit awkward.

Credit should be given for the obvious efforts being made to entertain and challenge the audience through a very artistic presentation of a well known film.  The actors came across as absolutely committed, unfortunately the production still felt a bit forced.  The romance was not entirely believable.  At times anger and shouting covered lines and did not give a wide enough range to convince us of the darkest truth.  The mob wasn’t quite a formidable as may have been intended.  The ending, well…  It dissipated into a slow motion sequence rather being strongly punctuated–the triumphant moment losing its glory and fading directly into the cast’s bows.

I am still impressed with the amount of work that went into this production and I keenly wish for its success.  Perhaps with the remainder of the run, the details will fall into place.

Added to the list of things I’d like to see: Waiting for Godot, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.  Handsome and strange all in one show.  Nice.

A View From the Bridge

I met Drew at his office and he grabbed a quick slice of pizza as we headed to the Duke of York’s Theatre.  It seemed quite the appropriate thing to do on our way to a play set in New York.  The theatre itself was the first proper English looking theatre I had yet been in…

pizza one

pizza two


Arthur Miller, who is well known for works like All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and The Crucible, tells twisted tales of the great American dream gone wrong.  A View From the Bridge certainly delivers all the hidden sin and guilt one would expect.  I would not have been nearly as uncomfortable had the performance not been so good.  The truth is that the set was just eerie enough and dark in the right way, the lighting cast all the right shadows, and the characters cut through the fourth wall.  I was delighted to see who were playing the leads; Ken Stott, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Hayley Atwell delivered an all star performance.  [For some reason it was really exciting to me that we unknowingly stumbled upon a show featuring an actress from my favorite US tv drama (Without a Trace) and one of our favorite films (The Abyss).]

I was convinced by the costumes, the accents, and the street scene that I was sitting around that kitchen table, 50 years in the past–a witness to a conversation and a fly on the wall as the story unfolded.  

The attention to detail was evidenced by the sound of the train that could be heard ever so often rumbling by outside the flat where most of the play took place.  It was like distant thunder, an ominous reminder of the of the coming storm.  Director Lindsay Posner really does deserve credit for this stunning production.  This was two and half hours of anxiety that I am thankful I had the opportunity to endure.

On a completely separate note, we sat next to a couple from Philadelphia who told us that they visit every year in January and we sat behind a group of students from Virginia who were taking a class on the arts in London.  One of the students was from Franklin.  Small world.

Is it That Late Already?

Sadly, I feel that there is very little news to report.  I have rearranged my CV so many times, and written so many covering letters, I am quite tired of myself.  I have lost count of the number of jobs about which I have contacted recruiters–or the numbers of recruiters I have contacted to be considered for potentially suitable roles.  There are a handful of positions I am seriously pursuing and I have an interview on Thursday.  Whew!  Being unemployed is a lot of work.


I have managed to keep the laundry at bay and cook meals that didn’t get scraped out the window or into the bin.  I also had lunch with Drew and Janita on Thursday at Wagamama. (I think I might compare it to Pei Wei, though it’s not quite the same.)  After lunch Janita and I inadvertently led Drew to an arcade in search of caffeine after our meal.  At least I got to show Drew my favorite store in London–Octopus.  Who needs any of this stuff?  And why do I want it so badly anyway?


What I didn’t do today was prepare the magic notebook, pack a contest survival bag, or copy an insane number of cds for a Field Day performance.  I did, however, let my thoughts drift off to those crazy folks who are doing those things.

Where There’s a Will, There Something Good To Watch

This evening in Leicester Square the critically acclaimed 7 pounds premiered at the Empire Cinema.  Crowds were already camped out when Drew passed through to go to the office today.  Drew attempted on his way home this evening to get a picture of Will Smith on the red carpet, but the lighting was poor.

Lucky for us, we got to see this movie with David, Cynthia, and Jeffrey while we were home over the holidays.  It turned out that night that David enjoyed the Olive Garden despite his reservations about trying new things and none of the boys were caught crying.

What’s That Smell?

Term of the Day: Have a jolly good go

  • Make the best effort (usually with light and fun undertones)

While I am having a jolly good go at learning how to live the life of a Londoner, I also learn a lot about myself. I shouldn’t expect any less from this blip out of my life-long journey, but sometimes it still does surprise me a little to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. For instance, I still find it shocking how little I understand foreign relations matters and know not a thing about how a hedge fund works. It is appalling how long I was completely uninterested in politics. Instilling these values in my children will be a challenge I have to face in the age of technology, where every single word from my mouth will compete with the never ending barrage of incoming signals. My every action will have to speak where words will fail me.

Whew. I bet you are glad that’s over!

How about some photos of the Carnival in Leicester Square that Drew mentioned? Please look carefully through some of these photos for the smoking carnival workers. I just don’t know how they manage to enjoy their nicotine, keep their balance, not get hit by an unwieldy teacup, and keep everyone sufficiently nauseous by spinning them around more than should be good for them.


basketball throw

bumper cars

dart throw


ice maze

merry go round

night flower

pstry stand

ring toss


sweet stand



Why Doesn’t Drew Post More Often?

And the answer is… I am busy. Nothing more glamorous than that unfortunately. Good news is, I am back with an update today so Jen could take the night off. May not be great news to you, but Jen is glad to have a night to herself.

Over the next few weeks Jen and I will be reworking the site a bit – adding things, moving things, and generally making it a much more interesting and informative place. You will notice we have added a coupe of things already, a skype status message and local weather tracker. These are just a couple of examples of things we thought might be interesting to those of you who visit regularly. The skype widget simply lets you know when we are near the phone (email us if you need the number) and the weather just so you have an idea of what kind of lovely London weather we are having while you are reading. …I also am thinking of adding a map detailing the places we have visited, and maybe a calendar.

So back to the funny.

Had a pretty uninteresting day at work. Mainly the same old routine I have had since we landed – two mile walk in the cold to work, followed by eight hours of life in a cube farm, followed by a two mile walk home and finally a few hours of being served a tasty homemade meal cooked by the greatest woman on the planet. So yeah, life has changed a good deal from Nashville and so far I am liking it. But come on, seriously, who wouldn’t enjoy having someone cook them breakfast every morning, dinner every night, does the dishes and laundry. …she even makes cupcakes and brownies for me! I couldn’t, and wouldn’t dare, ask for anything more.

Yesterday when I was stepping out to grab a bite to eat for lunch I was shocked to find an entire carnival had moved into the square. I just walked out the door and there it was. If I didn’t know better I would think it had materialized out of thin air in the blink of an eye. Strangest thing.

That of course was not half as entertaining as the sight I beheld today. Some of you may have heard of this movie that just came out in the states, Twilight. Yeah so apparently it is some kind of hit with the ‘tween’ crowd (know anything about it, Ashlee?) back in the states bringing the romance back to vampires. So anyway, the thing premiered in Leicester Square this evening.


You would think it was the second coming of The Beatles. Crowds of young girls screaming all over the place. I had noticed they were setting up some barricades outside the Vue theater on Leicester Square this morning with the giant Twilight sign out front so I had a good guess it was coming, but I was NOT expecting the pure insanity of these kids. I have footage (and I apologize for the weird close-up of my mouth, I’m not used to being my own camera man).


And here is a little bit more closer to the front of the theater. It was surprisingly less crazy toward this end. Think that is because all the stars were hitting the red carpet at the other end.


Yeah, so that is good times. Maybe next time I post a blog I will be able to actually make you laugh.

Oh, actually I will leave you with this – Jen’s new british word ‘bap’ is not only a slang term for a large roll, but is also a humorous reference to women’s breasts. So be careful when and if you choose to use that one while you are here for a visit because you will either get some tasty bread or a sharp slap.


Hey, Quiet Out There!

So yesterday, on my way into the office there was a large chuck of Leicester Square blocked off by barricade and a large crane was behind it hanging a sign on the front of the Empire building. Now I guess I should tell you a bit about Leicester Square so you understand what I am talking about.

Leicester Square is a nice little square. It has a nice square garden at the center with a road wrapping around and buildings wrapping around that. Actually, I posted a video back during our first visit which is just a quick 360 view of Leicester. But this is basically THE place in London to go when you want to see a movie or buy tickets to a show (as in proper theatre). It is always filled with people – whether they are just sightseeing or actually have somewhere they are going I have yet to sort out, but since this particular square has been converted to a pedestrian only area, you only see cars / trucks when they are making a delivery.

So anyway, I say all that to tell you this – the barricade did not stop with a crane hanging a sign, because it was not just prepping for a new movie release, but a PREMIERE. And not just any premiere, but the premiere of High School Musical 3. Now I know nothing more about this movie than it seems to be a movie for kids and teens, hence the “high school” bit in the name, but as I am walking to work I am made aware something insane is going to happen this day.

As my eyes move from “poster hanging crane” back to barricade, I begin to see what I originally though was simply the everyday mass of people moving through the square is actually a mass of people who are doing the exact opposite of moving – they are planting themselves right beside said barricade. As I am continuing on my typical path through the square to my office I find myself walking past men, women, and children of all ages who have brought camping chairs and sac lunches. These people were planning to be here for a while. Then I notice the stage.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, they were erecting a stage outside my office door. This is when I realized my day was going to be a little weird. Apparently this is not entirely out of the ordinary. In fact, this is probably pretty typical considering it is in the freaking heart of London. Hello! Drew! You live in LONDON now. These things are going to happen.

So anyway, long story short (ha, yeah right), Through out the course of the day I am inside working, meeting with people, having lunch, etc. and I begin to hear screams coming from outside. They get louder throughout the day and reach a climax about a half hour before I leave the office. It didn’t turn out to be quite as insane as it could have, but check out the video below to get a look at the madness that was outside my front door.

Needless to say, I had to take the long way around the square, bumping through a mass of kids, to get home after work.

Ah the excitement of life in a big city.