Saturday, 13 April 2013

Remember the Time We Went to Putney? Me Neither.

I've had so many adventures that I want to blog about so I can share them with all of you back home, but the having of adventures takes up a lot of time, which means very little time to document such things.

Picking up where my last post left off--The Sunday after my tour of London and the National Gallery, there was a big boat race on the Thames.  The rowing teams from Oxford and Cambridge race every year and it's a fairly big deal here.  One of my co-workers told me all about it and I really wanted to go since this is a once a year thing and I'll never have the opportunity again.  Two of my flatmates and I made plans to head to Putney, where the race starts, to see the teams set out.  Due to several factors including us leaving later than we originally planned, closures on the underground, and a trip that was longer than we had realized, it took us a very very long time to get to Putney.  We spent about an hour riding the tube.  When we finally got to Putney and left the tube station, there was a mass of people flooding towards us.  The race was over and everyone was heading out.  There's really nothing else to do in Putney on a Saturday, so we had no choice but to turn around and get right back on the tube.  Such a disappointing day...

Monday's plans didn't work out so well either.  Since it will be a while before we get paid, we tried to focus on the free activities in London.  On Monday we decided to go to the Natural History Museum which doesn't have an admission fee.  I was really looking forward to it until we arrived and saw the line to get in.  It seemed like everyone else in London had the same idea we did.  The entire yard in front of the museum was a giant line of people, most of them families with young children.  There was no way we wanted to stand around in the cold for hours waiting to get in and then not be able to see the exhibits because of the crowds, so we gave up on the museum for this trip.  Luckily, we weren't too far from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace so we ventured there instead.  I'll be going back to the park and gardens as soon as spring arrives and everything starts to bloom.  Despite it being April already, it's still been very cold and wintery here ever since we arrived.  More recently we've had a few nice days, but over-all the weather's been rubbish.

The following weekend was Dorset Weekend, a team-building adventure with other people doing the program.  Dorset is nearly 3 hours outside of London and I got to see some decent scenery on the train rides there and back.  The weekend was split into different parts.  On my first day, my group got to go rock climbing and abseiling (repelling) on a cliff called Dancing Ledge.  It's on the English Channel and it's GORGEOUS there (Google Image Search "Dancing Ledge" and you'll see what I mean). I am so upset that I didn't have my camera with me.  I was really nervous for the abseiling and of course that was my first activity.  You start off standing at the very edge on top of the cliff and lean back until you're in a sitting position with your legs straight out in front of you.  Then you walk down the cliff.  It was a pretty neat experience.

Climbing up the cliff was more challenging for me, as my fingertips went numb from the cold rocks and I lost my grip.  I swung and spun on my rope and crashed into the face of the cliff pretty hard.  I was a good sport and tried to keep going only to have the same thing happen again.  Luckily the only damage done was a gash on my knee and a very big bruise.

The following morning was a ropes course that was AWESOME.  Those of you who know me well know that I'm scared of everything, but I approached each activity with the mindset that I would try everything and go as far as I could, and that it was OK if I didn't finish it as long as I tried.  With that as my guide, I was able to complete all of the activities.  The first big one was a tall pole that was topped with a see-saw.  Four people climbed up the pole onto the see-saw and then had to make it balance.  Do any of you know how hard it is to stand up 50 feet off the ground on a plank of wood that is MOVING with nothing to hold on to???  I was shaking so badly from the cold, the nerves, and the adrenaline.  We got the see-saw to balance, then did  the can-can (because hey, why not?).  Getting down was an adventure too as the guide had us all push each other off.  As I was being lowered back to solid ground, I got to flip upside down, grab the rope with my feet, and let go with my hands.  It was such a free feeling--I loved it!  The next challenge was similar.  A 50 foot pole with a small platform on top.  Two people climb the pole and both have to stand on the tiny platform.  It was so small that when my partner got to the top, I had to stand on one foot to make room for us.  Then, as a team, you both JUMP OFF the platform 50 feet in the air to catch a trapeeze.  I only managed to catch it with one hand and lost grip after a few short seconds.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the activities.  I felt so safe in the harness that I would have been happy to keep climbing and jumping off of things all day.  I definitely want to do another ropes course sometime, and try ziplining.

On Sunday we were back in London and despite being exhausted, I wanted to go out and explore.  The weather was a lot nicer than it had been, so I went to Covent Garden Market.  Browsed around for a long time, checked out some really neat stores, and found a lot of things I wanted to buy but that were too impractical.  The problem with shopping here is that you always have to question what you're going to end up doing with it.  Am I going to be willing to pay to ship it back home (because my luggage was full coming here and it's going to be full when I leave) or am I going to be willing to leave it here?  I don't want to buy a lot of things that are going to get left behind because that feels like a waste of money.

After Covent Garden, my roommate and I wanted to other parts of town and went to a giant bookstore and then to a comic / cult show store where they have a TARDIS (a Doctor Who thing for those of you who don't follow the show).

I'm trying to make the most of every weekend here.  There is still so much to see and do here that I can't imagine ever being bored in this city.

I would say I'll try to update this blog more often, but that would be a lie.  Adventure comes first, journaling comes later; and when you live in London, adventure is never far away.

Warm regards,

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