Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Seriously, how did we ever raise children before TV's a wonder they survived.

I know I normally talk about things in Britain, but I just have to make mention of two things that came to my attention in the news today. It seems our TV and movie censorship and ratings systems have gotten out of control.

I was reading some news feeds I get online and came across a movie review for something called August Rush. Now it wasn't the review that, it was the reason stated for the PG rating. '"August Rush" is rated PG (Parental Guidance suggested). The title character was conceived out of wedlock.'

I thought it was a little funny so I mentioned it to my other half. He asked if I'd heard that Sesame Street is Adults Only. I instantly did a Google search and sure enough. Sesame Street is not for kids. You have to read this article. It's short I promise.

We are getting too sensitive as a country and allowing people to feel offended over the slightest thing. Soon we will be afraid to say anything to anybody.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Remember, remember the 5th of November

The British may not have Thanksgiving and they may not do Halloween well at all, but they can offer me Guy Fawkes night which is also known as Bonfire Night. Always on the 5th of November, it celebrates the day when Guy Fawkes and his cronies tried to blow up Parliament and failed. Traditionally people would burn statues of Guy Fawkes in effigy, but it has since escalated into burning anything they are against. It is a day to make a political statement for the year.

In 2002 it was a statue of Bush and this year they had a papier-mâché hand holding a cigarette due to this years ban on smoking in doors. It is a holiday that is taken very seriously in England and for months we have heard fireworks being set off around town.

We went to Lewes with a friend where they are quite barbaric about it. They have 6 societies that all do their own bonfire. They start at the high street in town and have a big procession. Then each society separates for it's own fireworks display and bonfire. My friend was telling me that at one of the societies they have a person dress up like a catholic priest, but with fireproof gear, and the priest stands on a pulpit preaching and they throw lighted fireworks at him.

We followed the Waterloo Society which ended up being the best way to go because we got right up to the fire and could see the fireworks from all the other societies surrounding us. It was beautiful! At the end they burn their
papier-mâché statues in effigy, they are full of a ton of fireworks that they set off from inside. I couldn't get any pictures of it because there was so much it was hard to see anything at all on the ground.
This blog I read has a great article about the beauty that is Guy Fawkes day. Below are the pictures that I got of the experience. It was definitely an entirely different kind of day from the fourth of July.

I swear it felt like we were in Vietnam!

By the firelight

Up close and personal

Fireworks over the fire

Friday, 2 November 2007

Swank and Circumstance

Last Thursday I was meant to go to an art exhibition in London. I was really excited because I got to wear my new dress that I bought in an attempt to make myself feel better on day where I felt blah. :) Anyway, I got all dressed up and my friend and I caught a ride into London with her friend who has a flat there when he is in town. We ended up being an hour and a half late getting into London so we decided on an impulse to ditch the art exhibition and go out with her friend. I was all dressed up with no where to go so he decided to take us to see the very swankiest of London.

We wanted to go eat, but the only table we could get at the trendiest Chinese restaurant in London was 11:00 so we took the table and went to a place called Sketch first to have a drink. You can walk in off the street, but there are "members only areas" and he is a member. There was a new girl at the door that didn't know him and therefore wouldn't let us into the parlor. He was all embarrassed, but I was glad for it because while we waited for the guy who knows him we decided to get a drink in the bar that is open to the public.

The room is set under a dome like Griffith Park Observatory with bench seating all around the circular walls. The bar is set into the floor in a circle so the bartenders have to walk down steps to be behind the bar. When they do they are eye level with you if you are sitting down. I ordered an Etch a Sketch. The whole of Sketch is done in such a way that at first things seem normal, but when you look closer nothing is as it seems. I felt like I was Alice and I'd fallen down the rabbit hole. I started looking around and when you look beyond the lighting that made optical illusion patterns on the walls and actually see the white walls of this dome you realize that there are detailed pencil sketchings all over the dome. At the top of the dome you could see up through to the second floor where there is a dog on glass. If you go up to the bathrooms you can see the dog from above.

While we were there I swear a porn director and his minions walked in. He had to have been. He was carrying a case that looked remarkably like it contained a video camera. He was a creepy older guy wearing a floor length trench coat. The girls he had with him were wearing full leather red dresses that were so tight they had to take these little tiny steps. They had glittered fake eyelashes. It was fantastic.

After our drink we went back to find the guy that could get us into the parlor. The girl was still there and she said we could take a seat and wait on chairs that look like they are trying to fight to get through the wall. They had listening stations were you could listen to iPods while you wait. Soon we found who were looking for and were let into the parlor, which I have to say wasn't as cool as the dome. But there were a few things this room had to offer. There were these figures on shelves on one wall, one was a telly screen with an image of a bird and the screen was in the cage. Another was a face with a tv screen attached to it and had a blinking eye on the screen.

We were given complimentary champagne and my friend ordered some drink called the Quiet Storm for me. We chilled there for a bit and then I headed up to the loos. Now that was an experience. It was like Mork and Mindy. The bathrooms were these egg shaped pods. Each pod had it's own sound. He assured me that one pod had a porn soundtrack, but I went in every one and I couldn't find it. I did however find horse sounds, dripping water, carnival music, goats and what I think was supposed to be spooky music. It made me think of walking through the woods in a horror movie.

Around 11 we headed over to Hakkasan in a rickshaw. We ordered way too much Dim Sum and I was politely told they frown on cameras in the restaurant so I only got one shot from the front desk. The food was excellent, especially the ostrich and I know every one of you just cringed, but I am sorry it was yummy. :)

After dinner we took a rickshaw back to dance again at Sketch. We closed the place down. Gotta love it when the lights come on after you've been dancing for an hour and a half. At one point after two drinks and complimentary champagne and who knows what else I went into one of the pods and ran my video camera to capture the horse sounds. I must have been drunk because I was making some of the funniest faces into the camera. As we were leaving the guy that let us in came around and asked if we'd seen the crystal bathrooms. They were roped off to the public and he pulled it aside and let us run up to check them out. I have never spent so much time in bathrooms taking pictures as I did at Sketch. They were so cool!

Once we were done photographing the loos we went back to his flat. OMG what a view! It was such a beautifully done flat with this huge sculpture in the corner that was so my style I wanted to put it in my pocket and bring it home with me. Think he would have noticed? We hung out and went through his iTunes for a while playing songs and comparing musical knowledge. I didn't get home until about 5 in the morning....Oops. :) Oh well it was worth the experience.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Rocking out to the 80's and funny faces

A friend took us out to a place called Vinopolis in London last week. It is basically a self catered wine tasting event. You get tickets for each station and you go around and pick out the wines you want to taste all over the world. I recommend avoiding wines from Thailand, specifically Monsoon! It was such a blast! After we decided to carry on and go to a club near Regent's Street. Despite the fact that the DJ would not shut up we rocked out to their 80's inspired night. For some reason every time a camera came out so did the looks.....You have to see to know what I am talking about. Check us out below!

Monday, 8 October 2007

They really do fry everything in Scotland...

We set out after work on Friday to take the train to Gatwick airport. When we got to Guildford to change trains to Gatwick we found that our train was canceled. So with the next train not coming in time for us to make our flight, we were forced to take a taxi. It was like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The cab took us through all the small country roads trying to take shortcuts to get us to our plane. We drove down these one lane roads moving for horses and other cars. An hour later we made it to the airport. We paid the guy far too much money for the ride and started running since our gate was technically closing in ten minutes. Luckily we only had overnight bags and had already checked in online.

We get to security and ask the woman if there is a faster lane to get through. After scanning Josh's ticket she says that she thinks the last lane is fastest. So we run over to the last lane having picked up a few followers who were also trying to make the same plane. They go to scan Josh's ticket again and she says, "I'm sorry sir, but you've already gone through. You have to go back to check in." I have never seen the look that was in Josh's eyes like that moment. It thought he was going to lose it. He was like, "Ma'am you don't understand I have to make the plane." Then the woman says, "I'm sorry sir, I can't let you through."

Before he freaks, I say, "Josh just go back to the old line, I will try to stall at the gate." He leaves and I proceed through security. I take my shoes, belt, and watch off. I am not taking any chances at this point. I go through the scanner just fine, but the woman frisks me any way. Then my shoes come back, my belt, my watch......But my bag is sitting by the X-ray. They run it through again. The woman takes it off the belt and sets it next to her without even a glance at me. I wait and I wait and I wait. No one makes a move to my bag. They are just going about their business. I finally ask in I'm sure what sounded like a 5 year old squeak. "Uh there something wrong with my bag?" She turns to me and says almost on the edge of rude, "Yes, it's going to need to be searched. I just kept repeating in my head, be nice, be nice, be nice. I wanted to lose it, but knew anger was not going to get me to my plane.

Meanwhile I see Josh's head popping up over the line behind me followed by a guy with a walkie talkie. He points and the guy pushes his way through to get to me. Josh is having a heart attack asking me why I am stopped. I super sweetly told the woman we were going to miss our plane and so she started rushing through the search. Apparently it's not enough to put your liquids into plastic, but you have to also put them through X-ray separately.

She gives me the a-ok so we begin our run once more. Turning the corner we check for our gate and what do you know.....the last gate in the terminal. Of course! So we flat out run. I got to the point were I was shouting, "Just go on without me, I can't make it!" Panting into the gate, they were just letting the last people on to the plane. We made it in the nick of time!

Despite a stressful beginning, we had a blast in Scotland! Check out the pics from our trip below!

Andy Warhol attacked Edinburgh

All through out Sunday we could hear bagpipes playing

Isn't my new boyfriend hot? Don't tell Josh he might be jealous!

This is where we started our literary pub tour. Which turned into a pub crawl.

Josh is going to storm the castle...think he'll make it?

Look at that sky...who said it always rains in the UK?

I needed some lunch...What do you mean there's not actually soup in that can?

Josh or Rachel? Rachel or Josh?
Ok I know it's kind of creepy.

Starbucks at Edinburgh Castle.

MMMMMM! Deep fried Mars Bars!

Like my hat??

Josh had to have Scotch, might as well go for the 21 year old.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Spell check is bound to create great mental distress

Now that I am working in an office in the UK I am seeing the slight differences in the language and in the technology. It isn't much, but it is enough to confuse me slightly. I always have to check back and try to figure out why spell check is telling me that I have spelled a word wrong. It causes my typing to slow immensely.

First of all, I have a UK keyboard which in itself is different. The "@~#$ signs are all in different places. And of course there is the addition of £ and €. I send out emails all day with the @ sign in a different place. Then I go home and send personal emails and my fingers can't find that @ again on my US keyboard. Not to mention the size and shapes of the shift and enter keys.

But the thing that has really caused my brain to go all wonky is the spell check. I was typing an email in my company outlook account and typed 'color' which of course it corrected me to change it to 'colour'. Then later I was sending out a gmail email and I typed 'colour' which it then corrected me to change it to 'color'. I have this problem a lot it seems with 'center'/'centre' and even now blogger is going crazy with those little red dotted lines trying to tell me I have a typo.

Really I must come home to avoid all this confusion, it could be damaging in the long run. :)

Thursday, 23 August 2007

VIP and me without my camera

Through the wonderful connections that Josh has through work we obtained tickets to last weekend's V Festival, a two day music festival in Chelmsford, England. We decided to go for it and camp for the night and see both days of the concert. Of course, if you read my last blog you will see that we went out the night before. Which, I might add, was not the best idea I've ever had. Not only did I have a run in with the bouncer, but I also somehow broke my camera and didn't get to sleep until roughly 3 am. We were to be at the train around 9am.

So Saturday morning starts off with a bang...(in my head), we missed the train we wanted to take because we slept through our alarm so we got off to a late start. However, I took a nap on the train ride there and while I wasn't 100% I was better by the time we made it to the campgrounds. We checked in and it turns out we were full on VIP guests of the concert.

There were two VIP camping areas and it wasn't til the next morning when we realized we had full range based on where we were. There was a fence dividing the two campsites and the bathrooms were in the campsite on the left side and we were on the right. On our side was a nice little refreshment stand with hot food and drinks, since it pretty much was rainy and cold all weekend, gotta love the English summer. We could cross the fence to the bathrooms, but they couldn't cross to our side for food. While in line for breakfast we saw a lot of people get denied and sulk off. Haha, suckers. I'm only joking, but only a little since in all honesty it was kind of cool to have special treatment.

Anyway....We went to set up our tent and ditch our backpacks. That was definitely comical. We had bought a tent in a local camping store and let me tell you it is not the best design. After fighting with it for some time a girl came over and told us we were doing it completely wrong and that she had the same problem last year. The guy on the watch tower above us was having a great laugh at our expense. We were finally able to assemble our tent after too long trying and went off to see the first band.

At this point we'd already missed the first two bands I wanted to see, which sucked because as we found out later Foo Fighters made a special appearance at Juliette and the Licks, Juliette Lewis' band. So we started with Paolo Nutini. While there the cutest ladies walked by. I bought a disposable camera to use for the weekend, so forgive the crappy pics, but check out these ladies. They walked around all day with their little cart serving tea to the masses. There were three of them and they were all done up similarly and smoking constantly. Every time they walked by they had cigarettes in their hands, while serving their tea and biscuits. They were so hilarious!

After Paolo Nutini we checked out the Louder Lounge which is the area that our VIP tickets got us into. People were hanging outside hoping to see someone famous and trying to peak through the gate. I felt very important. :) Inside they had free food, a nice bar with free alcohol, pamper tents with massages and such and a DJ playing music all day and night. Of course the number one best thing about the area was clean bathrooms. Throughout the weekend we were able to go back to the Louder Lounge and use the bathrooms there rather than queuing up for the port-a-loos with everyone else.

They had a bar in the Louder Lounge that was sponsored by Red Bull and every drink was made with some form of alcohol and Red Bull. Josh is drinking the passion fruit version. They were tasty, mmmmmm.

Over the course of the weekend we got to see Paolo Nutini, Mumm-Ra (a UK band that I liked, well, when the singer was actually singing and not shouting they were awesome), Pink (who put on a great show with a nice tribute to Janis Joplin), Snow Patrol (not really my choice), THE FOO FIGHTERS! (WOO HOO--Awesome as always), Mutya Buena, Remi Nicole, Mark Ronson, The Fratellis, Mika, and Lily Allen (who ripped into Americans for her recent Visa problems. I quite enjoyed her performance, especially the song about her ex boyfriend's little willy...I bet he's kicking himself that he broke her heart).

My favorite part, however, was when we got bored of The Fratellis we went back to the Louder Lounge to get a drink before the next show. (Side note: I like their music, but their live show for whatever reason was not floating my boat at that moment.)

When we got back to the bar they announced that they were starting a special acoustic performance from a band that would be playing later. As there were 4 main stages on at the same time it was a band I had not scheduled for since I had never heard of them. So we sat down right in front of them and watched them perform a few songs. They are called Tiny Dancers. I LOVED them! It was so cool to see them jamming in this tent. It felt more like rocking out in a house party in someone's back yard. They were very cool and I am glad that I wasn't feeling The Fratellis at that moment. It made me regret not hanging out in the tent more often considering who knows what other special performances we had missed up to that point. :)

It was a very cool weekend and I am glad that we decided against Josh's home-bodied nature to camp in Chelmsford.