Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taste of Home

After my London adventure, I was lucky enough to be able to go home for a little over a week. Only, my parents had moved so "home" became more of a concept instead of a location. Even though we live fairly close to where I grew up, I had a hard time adjusting. I had to use my GPS to get everywhere, and I still missed turns. As always, we crammed a lot of activities into my short time at home. 

I was alarmed when I came home to find a sonogram on our counter. Luckily, it did not belong to any human in our house. Instead, it belonged to Lola, our new cat. When my parents moved, my sister's cat got out and in the process of trying to find it, we ended up with another cat. A week later, we learned of the kittens. On my last full day at home, Lola gave birth to six kittens. My family now has eight cats. They don't need eight cats. If you would like a cat, please volunteer yourself! 

Aren't they cute? 

Food is the best at home. As a tradition, some of our close family friends had us over for our annual Nashadilla feast. Nashadillas are yummy quesadillas with chicken and peppers (and for the cheese eaters of the world, cheese), named after our family friends. Aren't we a creative bunch of people? It was awesome to catch up and eat real, really awesome food. 

We started off with homemade Pico de Gallo. This stuff is the best. I could eat it with a spoon.


While I was stuffing myself with Pico de Gallo, someone else was hard at work on the Nashadillas!

Alas, the finished product!



I spent a lot of time resting, putting my new room together and visiting family and friends. We live fairly close to Rock Springs, so we went tubing in the refreshing spring water (it wasn't as cold as I anticipated). It was beautiful and has been nicely maintained. The water was very clear and very different from the other murky springs that I have been to. 

My friend, Miranda, came with us!

I visited my high school friends, the "success group", back on the coast and we ate breakfast at Louis's and I had the largest bacon egg biscuit that I have ever seen. It was delicious and left me full through our time at Playalinda, our local beach. A lot of my friends were already back at school or are seeing the world, so I was happy to catch up with a few people who I haven't seen since Christmas!

We eventually got used to the water!


My family also spent the day of my parents' anniversary at my grandparents' cabin in the woods. Bobo, my dog, loves it and loses his laziness and runs crazily while he is up there. 

He likes to stand up when we're driving up the driveway! 


I was sad to go, but I was blessed by my time at home. I've kind of realized that home is where your dog is. 

Oh, and your family, too.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A few years later

Happy 23rd anniversary, Mom and Dad! 


Taken by Tom Branan at Lee's Lakeside

In 23 years you've:
  • changed jobs (a few times)
  • lived in seven houses
  • been instrumental in the life of five churches
  • had three biological children and have helped many others
  • gotten some grey hairs 
  • "made some memories"
  • stayed together
  • put God first

You're the best! 
-Hill.

Getting home in one piece

Some of you have probably seen snippets of my lengthy travel experience on Facebook. Let me tell you:  it was a long day. 

It all started out in confusion when the person I was meeting to go to the airport with and I mixed up the times we were going to meet. Eventually we found each other at the train station after each of us hauled our luggage through the tube, switching trains (climbing stairs) several times.

Once getting to the airport, I got checked in and my bag barely cleared the weight requirement by .04 kg. My bag was overweight going to London so it took a lot of moving around and throwing out of old things to make the cut. My carry-on items weighed a ton. 

The people at my carrier's counter said that we had a brief delay of 10-15 min. After sitting in the gate for over an hour past take-off time, we boarded. I still am not sure where the problem was.

My layover was going to be short anyways, but with over an hour taken out, I only had about 45 minutes to get off of the plane, grab my bag and go through customs and security. I was really nervous about it but all of the people of the Toronto airport assured me that I would have plenty of time multiple times.

In an ideal world, I would have had plenty of time. But there was a baggage jam, so I ended up getting my bag as my Orlando-bound flight was taking off. Waiting in the long line of passengers in the same boat, trying to get on other flights was eye-opening. It is amazing what stress can do to the individual. At the end of the line, a woman was screaming at the Air Canada employee who was not meeting her requests. Other employees had to be called in. Around me it was much more calm. I was surrounded by travelers who were exhausted from hours of traveling from India, Vienna and Scotland. The girl, a year older than me, coming from Vienna, had a chance of staying alone in a hotel in Toronto because of full flights. She cried when she overheard the airport officials say this. We all just wanted to go home.

Goodbye, Toronto!

I would consider myself fairly fortunate to have snagged a flight for several hours later that night. I had a few hours to burn at my gate, but we boarded right on time. There were a lot of storms and turbulence during my flight but I mainly slept and watched an in-flight movie, What to Expect When You're Expecting. Of the parts I was awake for, I was a little confused. I'm pretty sure international adoptions aren't a candlelight service. I could be wrong, though.

We landed right on time in Orlando. I was anxious to get off of the plane and leave but a voice came over the intercom and said, "Passengers, we have had a situation arise where public officials need to come on board. We need everyone to stay in your seats. It'll take about 30 seconds." 

I immediately plopped back down in my seat as the Orlando Police Department marched on board and arrested a man about 10 rows up from where I was. He was very calm during the whole process, knowing what was coming. I still don't know what he was arrested for even though I have looked. 

My bag came on time and I met up with my mom and we drove to our new house, that I have never been to before. It is something else. Yesterday when I woke up I didn't know where I was, and my mom found me frantically searching for my passport.

This story joins other crazy flight situations of missing flights, getting sick on board and meeting other people. My college roommate said to remind her to "never fly with [me]". I guess I have a history of strange airport happenings. It's one big adventure. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

London bucket list

We started yesterday, our last day in London, with an agenda. Our bucket list. While we were really optimistic about what we could accomplish, time kind of got away from us. We did knock out some of our activities, though.

We started the day headed to the  Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. After a late night the night before, it was hard to roll out of bed in time. We were all so yucky and tired so Cassie suggested Starbucks while on the Tube. As a recent Starbucks-convert and a part of a group of eager Starbucks-goers, I didn't need much convincing. We were trying to decide when we should get it but after climbing the stairs from the underground to the street, we decided it was divine providence when we were greeted by a Starbucks employee offering us free mini Frappuccinos and a discount at the store across the street. 

Poor Courtney didn't get a name. Also, my name is misspelled! 

We then went to Buckingham Palace and waited for the guards. Only, the guards never changed. 

Here we are waiting. Aren't my friends beautiful? They're also super talented and love Jesus. 


The reason why we couldn't see the guards was because the Triathlon was going by! 

It was neat seeing the bike portion go by in waves and hearing the crowd cheer. 

Cassie and I stayed to watch the Triathlon and Courtney and Becca met someone for lunch. Later we all met up at the Westfield Mall, the mall of all malls. It's 3 stories and crammed with people. It is overwhelming. It was neat to be constantly rubbing shoulders with Olympic athletes from all over the world. I can't even begin to name all of the nations represented that I have seen. After buying a few things, and forcing myself not to buy everything from the British equivalent of Vera Bradley, Cath Kidston, we decided to do some more sight seeing. 

Don't worry, we took the crosswalk picture. I just don't have it! Photo by Cassie.


We took the tube to see Abbey Road Studios, the studios of the Beatles, this small band that no one's ever heard of. On the tube we were scared by this guy who was on edge, threatening the woman and child who accidentally brushed past him, mumbling under his breath. After we got off, we were so relieved. We joined a group of other crazy people who took turns running out to pose in the famous Abbey Road crosswalk for a picture. Abbey Road is just a street. It isn't blocked off in any way. There were some close calls! 

We then met up with everyone else at the Tower Hill tube stop to get our last group dinner. We walked across the beautiful tower bridge that has the iconic Olympic rings on it right now for the games. It was starting to rain and the Thames matched the grey sky. 


Tower Bridge with the Olympic rings. Photo by Cassie.

We knew we wanted something authentic and we eventually ended up in a cozy pub, watching the games alongside lots of Team GB fans. Our food hit the spot and we had to go back to clean and pack. 

I hate packing. 




On another note, here are the links to our work:

Kentucky Monthly blog 

LEX18 page
     -Watch the videos on the right hand side, there's lots of good stuff!

Asbury Blog







Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Last day in London

Today was my last full day in London. It's bittersweet. So much packing and cramming activities in. More detailed post to come, I promise. Please pray for safe travels for all of us. Thanks for following :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

London theatre sampler

We have been busy! Aside from traveling around London, I have gotten to see two Olympic events and meet some really cool people. The credentials that we have get us into some press conferences and today I went with Becca to a "A Celebration of London Theatre", a showcase of the West End's best known productions (like our Broadway). 

I ended up going last minute in someone else's place, so I wasn't as informed as I should have been. I went in armed with the musical theater expertise passed on by my grandmother, high school chorus friends, and the one on-Broadway play I have attended, The Lion King. 

Becca and I entered the historic Hippodrome that has been converted into a casino. In its previous life, the Hippodrome hosted entertainers like Houdini and Charlie Chaplin. We were probably the youngest people at the conference but we were in for a treat. 

We heard performers from the West End's shows: Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia!, Blood Brothers, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, and WICKED belt out songs. It was fantastic! At the end of their songs, we were able to take pictures and meet them. One person, whom I unfortunately did not get to meet was this guy named Matthew Lewis. You know, Neville Longbottom?

Sadly, 10 feet was as close as we ended up getting. Some other broadcasters were quick to snatch Neville away! 


I had no idea so many actors and actresses double-dip in both musical theater and film. Several of the others had ties to American film but I didn't recognize them. Here is the group: 

Not the best but everyone was so antsy!

Becca and I ended up talking to the producer of Shrek: The Musical. She will also be producing the first ever stage performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory next year. When that was mentioned earlier, the whole room gasped. I guess everyone loves childhood stories.

This is a pretty cool gig. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

British Birthday

Today was Amy's birthday! It was her first birthday away from home (New Jersey), so we grabbed Italian food (her favorite) and came back for dessert at our cute house. 

Amy is ageless!


The whole cake-baking process was less than stellar. We had to call over the neighbor for help and she didn't quite know what to tell us! Before she left, she serenaded Amy in German, a language that she tutors students from her home.  British ovens have different symbols and we blindly picked a setting for our brownies. It was the top-down setting and one of the cupcake papers caught on fire and the brownies were basically lava cakes. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, though!

Lava brownies.


The cake faired a little better:

Two layers of chocolatey goodness.


Now for a night of editing.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

A few of my favorite things

While life over here has been great, there are a few things that I am looking forward to when I get back (in order)*:

1.) No mayo! Everything here is slathered with it. So goopy and gross.
2.) Water fountains. The only one I saw was in Olympic park.
3.) Public bathrooms. That I don't have to pay for. (My friend jokes that McDonald's restaurants are the embassy of bathrooms here.)
4.) Southern gentlemen. It will be nice to not be shoved out of the way or have a door slammed in my face. I had no idea how much I value chivalry! 
5.) Bill-based currency. I take an eternity shelling out my coins and feel bad for everyone behind me. 

*This list does not account for family members, close friends, my dog and a sweet boyfriend. They're way better than sans-mayo sandwiches and dollar bills. 

Sometimes I wonder if I'll get pushed in the gap by a guy in a hurry! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Visiting Robin Hood

Today I was a part of the skeleton crew that took a train to Nottingham to visit Taylor Amerman, a Louisville resident who was chosen to run the torch in Nottingham. She attends University of Nottingham and was one of three students from the University to run with the torch. We got to hold it! 


This is on Bathley Street in Nottingham where Taylor ran the torch.

I learned that each torch has 8,000 holes. Each hole represents a torchbearer. Also, torchbearers can choose to keep their torch for 200 pounds. Their issued uniform, however, is free. 

We then went to Robin Hood's castle to shoot some footage. Nottingham is home of Sherwood forest (which we didn't go to because it's rundown now) and the fairy tale hero. 

This is the entrance to the castle. 


While we were shooting, so many people came up to Taylor to have a photo op with the torch. The Olympic spirit is pervasive no matter where you are in England right now. 


This is Taylor and a mesmerized child. 


Eventually the photo-seekers went away and we got down to business. With some convincing, I shot the intro and outro with a very classy hat. 

This is where we shot. The "50 shades of grey" ladies were posing with my friend, Robin Hood. 


It was great to meet Taylor and it was clear that she was picked as one of the 8,000 inspirational torchbearers for a reason. She is deeply committed to helping others in and out of her corporate social responsibility field. 

It's weird that my time here is coming to an end. So much to do. Thanks for following! :)

Hillary


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Watching history happen

A little while ago, I got back from watching Olympic Swimming. It was incredible. The US had a great night, except for the Women's 100 free where we finished off the medal stand in 5th and 8th places. The hype surrounded the Phelps vs. Lochte showdown (Phelps won), but my favorite part was watching Rebecca Soni break a world record and be the first woman under the 2:20 mark in the 200 m. Breaststroke. It was incredible! 



Soni, lane 4 celebrates with a smiley fist-pump.


Getting our tickets, though, was an adventure. It all started yesterday when Courtney and I attempted to scalp them. Then after hearing that more were released, we tried to buy them via wifi on my iPhone. We weren't that successful but we were near the mall so we went to the Apple store and voila! Costar came through. The problem today came when we tried to pick them up at the wrong box office (it was for a different company) and had only a little bit of time to figure out where we were going before the correct place closed. We got there in the nick of time and met a nice Canadian lady in line who had stories from the rowing venue. (BP bought out all of the sausages at the vendor and caused an uproar with the hungry fans in line. Can you blame them?) Tickets in hand, we were good to go!

My ticket outside the Aquatics Centre at Olympic Park.


The one problem was that our seats were nosebleed seats. The view was great, but I am terrified of heights. I was in quite the dilemma. 

See what I mean? 


Eventually I got over myself. The night was filled with so many thrills that you'll probably see on delay if you're home in the states. We stood up for our national anthem so many times the facility was bursting with American pride. It was a good night. 

Hillary

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Dream

When I started getting more into swimming, a very prophetic family friend said that I'd go to London. While I never made it in the swimming sense (they are so fast), I came for something else. Who would ever guess? Today a big dream came true when Courtney and I were able to purchase Finals tickets for tomorrow night's events which include the Women's 200 m. Breaststroke (my favorite event to swim) and the Men's 200 I.M., where Phelps and Lochte will compete. We're just a tad excited. 



We're just a tad silly, too.


Today we shot human interest stories which included asking people to try an Ale-8 (Kentucky soft drink) and give us their thoughts. From this experience, I realized that I would be a horrible kidnapper because I don't like trying to get people to take food. We got some good shots and everyone seems happy about it, so I would say it was a productive day! One of the guys who tried the Ale-8's name was Raffi, which took me back to the days of this:

Look familiar? This is my brother and me in pre-school.


My brother loved Raffi. I've had Baby Beluga stuck in my head all. day. long. My friends, who didn't know the song before, do also. 

Tomorrow's the day! 
Hillary



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tyson Gay made my day

Today we interviewed Sharrieffa Barksdale, the Event Manager of USA Track and Field. Because she was with us, we were able to get a great backdrop of the Olympic Village! 

This is the Olympic Village. I'm surprised that I never saw it before because it is right by the shopping mall that we go to too often. You have to be with a differently credentialed person to get back here. It was pretty cool! Photo by Becca Price.


For this segment Will was the talent and I am responsible for the print story. This is Sharrieffa, a former Olympian and current Event Manager for USA Track and Field. Photo taken by Cameron Hassler.


She had an infectious laugh and warm personality and was very inspiring. She is genuine in her beliefs that she qualified for the '84 games by the grace of God. Partway through the setup she mentions that she'll get Tyson to talk to us. Wait. What?


Five minutes later, who strolls by?

Tyson Gay, Sharrieffa and Will. Photo taken by Becca Price. I really wanted to take a pic but I had to stay calm and take notes.


He even gave us a shout out.

Day made.

Hillary


Monday, July 30, 2012

Strangely Strange

Somedays strange things just happen. Here are the things that happened to me and my group today:


1.) We were told by city officials how to get alcohol without asking them to tell us. We were simply taking a picture in Westminster. (To be completely honest, we don't want to know!)


2.) We met an Egyptian swimmer who swims for Southern Illinois University, where a friend of mine's dad swam and the coach knew him. 


This is Courtney, Egyptian swimmer Mazen Aziz, his coach Rick Walker and me outside of Buckingham palace.

3.) We took the wrong way every time. On accident. We were always on the wrong side of the fence!

4.) Becca found her cousin unexpectedly while shooting a segment. She knew he was in London but there were no plans for today!

  This is Becca and her cousin whose name I do not remember.

5.) While shooting b-roll footage, Garrett Weber-Gale, a 2008 Olympic swimmer who was on the relay that made the comeback, walked by. I didn't realize it was him until it was too late. He was representing his company, Athletic Foodie.

6.) While shooting a package, a man asked to take a picture with Becca and me because he thought we were Irish. We're pretty sure it was her Ireland sweatshirt and my green cardigan paired with my red hair. After telling him that I wasn't, in fact, Irish he still asked for one for his pub. 

7.) After passing a bunch of USA swim fans, I said "swimming!" and a scary man on the corner asked if I was a marijuana user. (Not to disappoint you, but I am not.) The conversation went like this:
"Do you smoke marijuana?"
 "No"
"You're American"
"Yes"
"So you smoke marijuana" 
"No"
I was then saved by the walking man signal on the crosswalk.

8.) We got an Austrian table tennis player to try Ale-8 for a segment. Of the five people who tried it for us, most people had positive experiences. Ale-8 is a Kentucky soft drink that is essentially ginger ale. Most people were disappointed that it was not beer because they were thrown off by its green bottle. 

9.) Our WLEX page is bursting with stuff. Check out this quick clip on fencer, Lee Kiefer. That may not be strange...

10.) The possibility for purchasing swimming tickets has arrived. Cross your fingers! 

Hillary

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Strangely Warmed

My formative years coincided with my dad's seminary years. I have a feeling that most kids aren't quizzed on Methodist trivia or what songs Charles Wesley wrote at the dinner table or on the way to school (while the John-boy and Billy show was on, I might add). Today, I went with my friends Courtney and Will to a church service at John Wesley's chapel in downtown London. 


This was taken yesterday when we missed the tour. It was taken with love by Cameron, a member of our team. 


Interestingly enough, Wesley's Chapel partnered with the Leysian Mission in the 80s and the two distinct styles of worship are blended in a church service that I incorrectly assumed would be super frozen-chosen traditional. Afterwards we were invited for refreshments and enjoyed some tea and biscuits before we snooped around the property. 



The stained glass windows were beautiful and the panels beneath them displayed creeds that we affirm regularly.



Aldersgate Street in downtown is where Wesley felt the Holy Spirit in a way that made his heart feel "strangely warmed". Wesley's Chapel is not located on Aldersgate Street.



Wesley's pulpit with a spiral staircase. 


Afterwards we went back to our house and attempted to work on assignments but Courtney and I ended up falling asleep. I am still not on London time! We later found ourselves in the Lego store and made people for each of the members of our group there. 


Where am I?


Today was a nice day to reset and accomplish some assignments but tomorrow starts another day of packages!

Hillary









Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'm feeling very Olympic today

Earlier today Becca, one of my friends here, posted the Cool Runnings clip "I'm feeling very Olympic today" in honor of the beginning of the games. Today I felt particularly olympic as I attended my very first Olympic event:  Women's Fencing. I know that you're probably thinking "what's so cool about fencing?" but let me just say, the event was engaging and the atmosphere was full of energy in and around the ExCel Arena. Even though it wasn't swimming, I was hooked. 

This is a match between USA fencer N. Prescod and Hungary's A. Mohamed. Prescod did not make it past this round. 

It was so fun seeing different nations represented in the arena. Jane (who I attended the match with) and I met a variety of people from all over the world!


This is Jane. Follow her at janeloveswords.blogspot.com! This man from Thailand said that he loved her and from the looks of it, the guy in the back did, too!



This is the Queen and Mr. Bean, what an honor to meet them ;).


These are some very colorfully dressed men from Brazil and me. 

Here is a French mom helping her daughter paint up!


Tonight also had its share of adventures. We met a man who takes pictures of his stuffed animal squirrel and rat around London for a Facebook page. It started out strange and turned towards creepy but fear not, we are safe. We also were eating dinner at the mall's food court because everything closes so early here when the security alarm went off and partitions started coming from the ceiling. The automated voice eerily told us to get out. Panicked, we ran. After finally finding an exit (they are not marked as well here), we got the all clear signal. Don't worry Mom, we are just fine!

Also, a Lexingtonian, Lee Keifer fenced today and I got a shot of her and Jane wrote the short copy. Check it out here!

Tomorrow we may go to John Wesley's church for a service. Makin' my Methodists proud ;)

Hillary