Sunday, June 28, 2015

DESiGN Round 2

I went to Norfolk again!

You're probably all thinking I spend more time in Norwich than London...only partially true! But I was there for several days again this weekend, happily working again at Holt Hall. 

Last year, the Marshall Scholars ran an environmental arts, science, and policy residential programme at Norfolk County Council's Outdoor Education Centre as part of our service project. The weekend went so well that the centre manager asked us to run it once again - this time explicitly focusing on vulnerable young people in the area. The programme was funded by Children's Services instead of the Scholars via our activity fund (as it was last year), giving us more flexibility for additional events - and hopefully working toward a model of running the weekend several times a year, as there certainly seems to be the demand! We were overbooked for the weekend. 

Teenagers came to the glorious house and grounds and...
-cooked me curry dinner over a campfire they'd build themselves;
-competed in random groups during an environmental photography scavenger hunt; and
-developed action plans for running energy-saving campaigns in their schools. 

The students were absolutely brilliant, and we had a really fantastic weekend. Here's to many more! In the meantime, I'm now in London for a whopping three days in a row. :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hey, Matt!

A quick but delightful meet-up today in central London with a beloved friend from undergraduate years. Matt is a British citizen who's spent almost all of his life in the US and hadn't been in the UK for five years. He finally got himself to the island for a few weeks with his family. Flying into Heathrow, he managed to steal a few hours to come meet up for cake by Somerset House's fantastic fountain courtyard. Good catch-up on the multiple directions that life takes us all!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ciao, Italia!

Gregory and I had our first European mini-break this weekend, flying into Florence for a few days to meet up with some beloved friends. Becky, the woman I'm named after, is a University of Kentucky biochemist who presented at a conference in Siena last week. She took some time on either side to do a bit of Germany and Italy with her husband and son. Nate is now sixteen, but he's the first baby I properly baby-sat...quite the wild ride, seeing him again!
This was my first trip to Italy, and it was lovely to have a good excuse to get here. Michelangelo's David really is even more incredible in person - with most art, I have a tendency to shrug a bit and say "yep, that looks like the picture". But some of these pieces really are quite amazing. Wandering the streets in perfect temperatures with gelato, live music, and glorious lights everywhere is also rather magical.
I've also eaten just a wee bit of caprese and bruschetta while here. Hello from and goodbye to the country of tomatoes and wine and art!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Homeward Bound

Fly Away Home!

Insert other cheesy movie title here. 

The point is...toodleloo, America! It's been swell; it's been grand. It is definitely time to head back to the land of my temporarily permanent abode.

I spent a fantastic week in Chicago with the kids, who are somehow a little larger than they were when I left them two years ago. I left them with promises that they are coming to visit me in London next summer, which shall be delightful. 

I also managed to get a PhD draft chapter handed into my supervisor and several other mega projects off my desk. There are still more, of course, but things are more or less manageable. Which is good - because I am landing in Heathrow in order to go immediately to my brand new house! Anne-Marie et al. moved in last week; Kitty Brother has been apparently patrolling my loft to ensure its up to scratch. 

I'll drop bags there and say "hello" to the crew. And then it's time to go belatedly welcome my brother Gregory to London, who's been there working since Saturday already. 

Thursday will be spent moving in and catching up with the mates I now haven't seen in 5-6 weeks. And then Friday, Greg and I fly to Florence to meet up with my namesake and her fam while she's at a conference! I would say it's going to slow down soon...but it isn't. ;)

Friday, June 12, 2015


Hello to the Windy City!!

I'm not really in Chicago proper, but instead spending a week with some beloved family friends catching up with the young kids and desperately getting work done whilst they're all about at school and work.

Happily, Chicago is relatively close to where a few friends live - so out came Megsie and Alec to visit me.

Last night involved a Boy Scout Court of Honour Honor and a barbecue potluck at a suburban church...hello, America!!

I've also seen the dress rehearsal for an elementary school talent show and a million gymnastics maneuvers all about the house, as well as playing several rounds of Bananagrams.

Life is good. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Disney and Harry and Cami, oh my!

Wowzie. That was a weekend.

Audrey and I drove from Grand Rapids to Dearborn Wednesday night for an early morning flight from Detroit to Orlando on Thursday.
Friday, I saw my sister, her partner, and my nieces and nephew for the first time in far too many years. And there was the little side detail of being at Disney. We laughed, we cried, we carried on. Friday was Magic Kingdom day – Mickey and Princesses and Coasters, oh my! Saturday we went to Animal Kingdom (my favourite) for a fantastic show of The Lion King, more coasters, a close-up with Donald, and all kinds of delights. That evening, Audrey and I snuck off with Cami the eldest to Hollywood Studios for some evening fun and more coasters – and a pillow fight with Buzz and Woody on Andy’s bed!
And then came Sunday. Oh, Sunday.
Universal Studios just opened a second section of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They’ve had Hogsmeade set up in the Islands of Adventure Park for several years, but now you can take the Hogwarts Express to the second park and enter Diagon Alley through London near Grimmauld Place. Audrey, Cami, and I had one heck of a time exploring Gringotts (we may have ridden the Escape ride 3 times…), Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and Ollivander’s. And we got to eat at The Leaky Cauldron for lunch! It was pretty much a perfect day.
Heading back to Michigan now to get on a train to Chicago…where I’ll write a chapter of my PhD while my family friends are at school.
The past few days involved some 1500 iPhone photos. I won’t post all of them. But each is worth 2000 words, so I’d best throw at least a couple at you:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

He's alive!!!!

I saw several very old friends this week. Kendall and I drove to Battle Creek and Grand Rapids to catch up with folks from middle school days - including a few I haven't seen in nearly a decade.

Also among them was a birthday boy, a beloved mate from ages ago who I don't see or talk with nearly enough. It was great to celebrate with some of our old mates on his 25th. The festivities included having a good laugh at Kendall as she relived her teenage years on the Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine in Stella's.

And now I'm sitting in the Grand Rapids flat of my old flatmate from Norwich, preparing to frolic off to Disney to see my sister and her kids. :)