With only a few days in London left, I’ve been squeezing activities into my schedule like a little sister in a fold-up couch (It’s cool, Matt and Luke.. I’ve moved on). Here are some highlights from the past week:
1. Meeting with the captain of the world’s oldest cross country club, the Thames Hares & Hounds. Since 1868, the club has revolved around 3 equally important activities: distance running, eating, and drinking. One of the coolest things I gleaned from our conversation is the notion of a “mob match.” These are essentially dual meets where both teams bring as many runners as possible, and the lowest number of runners on one team scores. For example, if 60 Thames Hares & Hounds and 45 Ramelagh Harriers show up for a race, the top 45 finishers from both teams count. And as usual, the lowest team total wins. How fun!
2. A day trip to Bath. The Circle and Royal Crescent were charming of course, but my favorite part was the organic garden inside the royal park.
3. My 4 new Kenyan flatmates. I’m telling you, the East African culture has a grasp on me that I can’t explain! It’s a good thing everyone living here- 1 Irish man, 1 American girl, and 4 Kenyans- gets along well, because we’re sharing 1 shower and a microscopic kitchen. I actually appreciate the close quarters, though, as some of my best conversations have come from meals eaten on the hallway floor, crammed cooking sessions in the kitchen, and late night chats in the girls’ room.
4. Coffee with the distance coach of the Australian Olympic team and watching some of the Melbourne Track Club runners work out. After talking to them, I’ve decided to spend January in Falls Creek, where around 200 Australian distance runners go for altitude training each year.
5. Notting Hill Carnival, an annual celebration of Caribbean culture and Europe’s biggest festival. At first, I heard “Carnival” so naturally I thought: merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, cotton candy… right? Nope! This was the scene I walked into: thousands (literally) of people parading down the street, massive floats with DJs on top, bumping and grinding in every direction, traditional Caribbean clothes and extravagant costumes, and bodies doused in paint, glitter, and chocolate (yes. chocolate). Was it overwhelming and totally different than what I expected? Totally! But did I love it? You bet!
I’m leaving tomorrow for a month-long tour of the UK and Ireland (more deets on that soon), but not without fulfilling a promise I made to my Kenyan and Irish friends. The Kenyans are huge Walker, Texas Ranger fans and the show Dallas is huge in Ireland, so tonight I’m going to reinforce every stereotype they know and show them what TexMex is all about!