Sunday, May 25, 2008


Friday might have risen to one of my top 10 favorite days in London.

The day started early with a trip by train to Lingfield to go here and do some of these. The London Temple is so beautiful and it was inspiring to sit inside. I love how they are truly sanctuaries from the world, a world apart from the chaos and noise. Maybe living in London for the past month and being bombarded with so much commotion helped me to appreciate the serene quiet even more.

We got home around 4:30 and I helped with dinner before eating at 5. My days seriously revolve around meals here and the trend has got. to. stop. As I was helping clean up I had the water running while I was washing plates and all of the sudden luke warm water started streamed from the tap. I put my finger under and to my utter delight the temperature continued to rise until I nearly shouted to ElemEd to, "Get in here! We have warm water!" It's been over 10 days since we've had warm water and it was one of the most exciting discoveries of my semester. I immediately jetted up the stairs, stripped down and stepped into hot water. Ahh. Finally.

There had been talk of participating in what has come to be called, "Blade or Die" but we didn't know if we could get a deal on rollerblades, nor did we know if our tired-of-traveling bodies could handle it, but some of the girls went down to Slick Wheelies, batted their eyes and tossed their hair to secure a deal. Blade or Die, here we come. We dressed up quick in some bright colors and headbands, you know, to intimidate the competition . . .

Just a bit of practice outside the center before we head to our death.

I was scared for us after barely making it out the front door and seeing girls nearly falling left and right but we practiced for a few minutes before doing a trial run to the starting point at Wellington Arch. I don't think I've rollerbladed since the 6th grade.

Our ankles wanted to bust as we glided over the not-so-smooth walks in Kensington Gardens, but we pressed on only to meet nearly 150 other die-hards at the starting line. I did not anticipate the group waiting to Blade or Die to be so large (and due to Monday's holiday, they were half their normal size). There were about 20 people in bright yellow vests marked "Marshal" and they lead the group as we took off down the street just after 8. The Marshals acted as traffic directors since we bladed in the middle of the streets and all 150 of us acted like a giant vehicle in the midst of the cars and double-deckers.

Watch out.

To our delight Whitlie brought her portable iHome with a shoulder strap that I took command of and soon had music practically seeping from my skin. I was bustin' sweet tunes as I rolled along and at the red lights we'd stop and get on our groove thang. Everyone laughed and clapped along and we had the greatest time.

There was no doubt that we all stood out, neon tights, loud music, and obvious American accents. Combined they acted as American lures and I think we met every American on the skate. A guy from Baltimore, a woman from Dallas . . . they all wanted to know where those "silly girls" were from. We made a lot of friends who were impressed with our ability to keep up with the group, being first-timers and all.

Blade or Die.

About a quarter past nine we stopped for "half time" where everyone took a breather in the middle of the city. Honestly, I have no idea where we were. All I knew was that we were over an hour away from home. According to the regulars I spoke with, the routes are usually around 20K but the marshal told me at half time that this Friday's skate was a bit on the intense side and would be closer to 25K. I have never felt so empowered. According to the map it was about 4K to Wellington Arch from the center bringng our total to roughly 31K (and for all you doubters that is 19.262507 miles).

Half time. Not only surviving but THRIVING.

The night was seriously some of the most fun I have had in London. Zipping past the sights and rolling over cobblestones; dancing to the sweet sounds of Whitlie's iPod and blading in the midst of friendly people; sporting awesome outfits and feeling the burn; it all made for an amazing night. The locals all head to the pub after and we got numerous invites, but we settled for a picture under the arch and hit the road.We got home just before 11 and I was surprised how un-sore I was. Little did I know that the next morning my entire body would feel like it was filled with lead.

The guy taking the picture asked us if we thought we were Japanese. Victory!

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