Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Celebrations

Britain doesn't really do Thanksgiving. Though, rather absurdly, it does now do Black Friday. (Yes, really. Yes, I know.)

Thursday saw me happily ensconced in Norwich, lecturing on the hydro cycle. Both the workshop seminar with the MSc students and the public lecture-turned-three-hour-conversation went very well. 
And then...I got to go stay with Maestro. The family I nannied for when I lived in Norwich still very happily take me in. Several of our mutual American friends came over and we served the full works. (Okay. My pronoun use is rather unjust here. They served the works. I ate and amused the manlet.)

I'm now heading home from the second of my Thanksgiving celebrations, this one significantly more dramatic: 100 Marshall Scholars and a potluck. Always a wonderful evening. Always totally exhausting for those few of us who have to set and clean up. But worth it!

This year, we added some delightful substance - Saturday afternoon, a diverse group of current and alumni Marshall Scholars shared some of their research. It was a great chance for interesting topics and learning, and also gave the new Scholars a chance to hear about the kinds of initiatives they can get involved with in Britain and the wide range of stuff going on in our community. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Edinburgh Graduation

The University of East Anglia holds most of their Congregation (graduation) ceremonies the July following your programme. With a dissertation handed in at the end of August, this makes it nearly a year before receiving your degree. Summer is certainly better weather, and perhaps it makes it slightly easier/more sensible for family to come. But the ceremonies are held on a Mayhap not.
In any case, I didn't make it to UEA's Congregation. Most of my mates weren't coming back for it, and I had been in Norwich just a few weeks prior for a conference. 
The University of Edinburgh, however, holds Graduation in November, just a few weeks after final marks are announced. Still on a weekday (seriously, who graduates on a Tuesday?), but one that it was easy for me to pop up for. So there I was, happily back in Scotland's capital with many of my coursemates. Hugs and squeals and too many selfies all around. 
Fun fact - an alum of the uni took the university's insignia on some nice felt into space with them. The fabric is now sewn back in to the Chancellor's graduation cap, which he taps on our heads as we walk across the stage. degree was conferred by a "hybrid medieval space bonnet", as Sir Timothy puts it. Grand fun.

I was back in London for a quick stopover and catch-up dinner with Effy - she's had a proper three days of work in the London office now! And now I'm on my way to Norwich for some lectures on the hydro cycle and some Thanksgiving celebrations with Maestro and family. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

La Boheme

I am, as a rule, much more interested in Broadway musicals than opera, straight plays, dance, orchestra, etc.

That being said...a show is a show is a show! And how delightful they are. 

One of the new Marshalls has never been to the opera or the ballet and is trying to check those off his bucket list. 

So I collected another Marshall and his girlfriend - who just happens to be an opera stage manager. The two of them shared insightful operatic and musical history over a delightful dinner that happily included roasting passion fruit marshmallows for s'mores.

And then off to the Coliseum we went to bawl our eyes out over "La Boheme" - the tragic opera that inspired "Rent". (The smiley photo of me was most definitely taken pre-show, prior to the red eyes and wet face.)

Friday, November 21, 2014


Ladies and gentlemen, after five-star reviews from the DC and New York Stage, we are happy to announce - for a special three-year engagement - the arrival in London of Miss Elizabeth Meckes.

My cousin is moving to London!!!!

Effy arrives at Heathrow this morning. I'm stuck in meetings, but one of my mates is going to meet her, chauffeur-with-a-twist-style:

Effy has a job with Amnesty International. She's also quite possibly taking over the role of Becca's social secretary. 

This could get quite dangerous quite quickly...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Mostly, I'm cooking a lot and eating very healthily in London.

Except Dishoom. 

One of the other Marshalls discovered it; it's entirely his fault. 

There is a delicious Bombay restaurant in London. There were two locations. But now, there's a dangerous third. It's quite close to King's Cross - which is dangerous in and of itself, of course. And the thing isn't actually open's in the midst of its soft opening. Which means that, while training all their staff and finishing their building, everything is half off. 50%. Drinks, all courses. 

Danger. Danger, Will Robinson. 

When one can get three cocktails, a good bottle of red wine, five appetisers, four mains, and bread for under £40...what is one to do?

(Eat a lot, is the answer.)

So. That's basically what I've been up to the past week. ;)

Happily, they open for real later this week. The Thanksgiving-like gorging is coming to a forced halt very soon!

In the meantime, last Bombay dinner is happening this evening. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Anonymised notes from the invitation to the Housewarming Party I'm going to tonight:

"We moved to our flat on 20 July 2014. Well, to be precise, A, B, and C moved in. D was in Liverpool. Then A went to NYC, a week before D came down from Liverpool. By the time A returned, D was in the States. The day before D came back, B went to Atlanta. And then while B was in the air, heading east over the North Atlantic, C left for his long-awaited European sojourn. And C was gone until October. It turns out that the four of us were not in the house together at the same time for even one minute until about 23:30 on 25 October. That is 3 months 5 days and 7 hours, or 27% of our entire lease. So you can understand why we were so happy to be reunited.

"Despite having had you over for several parties before, we wanted to have a proper housewarming. The first available weekend night: 8pm Saturday 15 November. That’s 32% of the way through our lease for those of you keeping track. Ok, the house is already warm..."

Props to them on their careful record-keeping, I suppose.

In any case...I, of course, know of only one way to warm a house, and that's via the oven.

Yesterday consisted of homemade truffle making. Today, there shall be cookies and banana bread.

And maybe I'll even squeeze in some actual work somewhere in there. But maybe not. It is Saturday, after all. ;)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus at the Aldwych Theatre!!!

Sunday 7 December, 5pm
Aldwych Theatre, London
The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus presents a Musical Celebration for Peace

The Jerusalem Foundation UK is proud to present The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus, a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli high school students, in their debut UK Tour this December. Singing out for hope, mutual understanding, and a better future for all in the Holy Land, the Chorus seeks also to promote interfaith efforts in the UK during their visit this Christmas season.

On Sunday 7 December 2014, the Israeli and Palestinian singers of the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus invite you to A Musical Celebration for Peace. Be a part of the experience: hear stories and sounds of the season from the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus, New London Children’s Choir, AfterParty A Cappella, and special guest Miel de Botton.

This family-friendly evening will include holiday favourites, original arrangements, and musical styles from around the world.

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus empowers young singers from East and West Jerusalem to become leaders for peace in their communities by providing a space where they can engage one another in musical and verbal dialogue. They are looking forward to sharing their journey with you in song and story at the Aldwych Theatre on Sunday 7th December from 5pm.

Tickets are available online (, over the telephone (0845 200 7981), and in person from the Aldwych Theatre Box Office.

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus is proud to present their first full-length music video with YouTube star Sam Tsui. “Home” has received global attention and been featured in The Huffington Post.

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus UK Tour is organized through the Jerusalem Foundation UK Office. The Jerusalem Foundation is proud to support the Jerusalem Youth Chorus and other coexistence projects in Jerusalem. For more information please visit or contact Rachel Silver, PR Consultant Jerusalem Foundation UK | +44 797-498-3859

For more information about the Chorus please visit:

To schedule an interview, contact Claire McDonald: | +44 741-574-2291

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

London Life and Lights

I am slowly growing used to actually living in London, rather than psyching myself into thinking I'm just on a long business trip and will be back in a smaller city soon.

London is, of course, magical. It's London! But I simply am not a big city girl, and I'm not sure I ever will. Two and a half years left to convert me... ;)

Trying to get somewhere at 9am, 5pm, or weekend nights is simply never fun. Fighting my way through crowds just to get to school is never going to be my idea of fun. Traveling an hour+ to get to a meeting in your own city isn't either. concerts and shows, regular influxes of amazing lecturers, being a hub for mates flying through to other places...these are all grand. Running along the Thames at 6am when virtually no one else exists is quite delightful. The lights of London streets preparing for the holidays are exquisite. And I will forever adore the beauty of the Somerset House ice skating rink and huge tree.

So, all in all...I'm not miserable. ;)

That being said...I get to visit both Edinburgh and Norwich soon!! :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NIFS Season

November for many of you in the States means pumpkin lattes, coloured leaves, and brisk air. 
For others of us, though, it means that delightfully exciting yet stressful time of year when interviews and selection for the Marshall, Rhodes, etc. scholarships take place. It is also the time of year the new Marshall Scholars begin exploring their options for the second year of their British academic career. 
Enter lots and lots and lots of coffee and Skype meetings for Becca! It's always a lot of fun - practice interviews with mentees are a blast. But of course it's always tricky to manage never know who else is interviewing and who will win. For new Marshalls exploring options for next year, the job is a bit easier: Encourage them to look far out of OxBridge-London, set them up with meetings with relevant faculty if I know any, and remind them they're spoiled for choice and are likely to have a great year regardless of where they ultimately decide to go. 
So...should anyone be seeking life advice, I'm well practiced right at this moment. Of course, I'm not really good for much other than "here's how to tweak this essay" and "look at this British university". ;)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Return of "Ramblings"...for real

My vlog had several false "starts" this summer, as I traveled, then shot a video explaining why I hadn't been rambling and promising to start again...and it kept not happening.

But. I really must start properly doing academic work for this PhD. And that means focus of some sort. Enter "Ramblings" as an accountability tool.

I'm using the series to give a shout-out to my two major projects at the moment, with the Kuwait Dive Team and the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. I'll then give an overview of my Edinburgh dissertation. And's time to ramble about various PhD topics. Game on, Ivory Tower. :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

And back to work!

And we are getting back to the swing of things. After a fairly calm weekend post-Kuwait jetlag, it's meetings today and the rest of this week - which is probably good for the sake of some sort of productivity. ;)

Tonight is another Members' Night at the British Museum. A Marshall mate and I are going to explore the Ming Dynasty and porcelain...

And eventually, it's also time to turn 20000 words of notes into some kind of book!!