Monday, August 25, 2008

Bank Holiday Weekend

This past weekend we enjoyed our first UK Bank Holiday. For those of you who are not familiar with the UK, bank holidays are essentially random Mondays off that are observed by many businesses. We initially tossed around the idea of escaping the country (like most people) but decided to use the time to both explore London and continue to organize our lives.

Friday- Schlopy had a big adventure out as I took him on the underground to meet Jignesh and his co-workers at Borough Market for lunch. Borough Market is an amazing food market near the Thames River. In fact, it is the oldest food market in London and has occupied its present site for 250 years. Many of the over 150 booths sell some of the freshest products in Europe which serve both restaurants and the general public. It is a bustling area with just about every food item imaginable. Although I opted for a chicken wrap instead of my favorite paella, I did still manage to score a sangria (ummm…I could drink that stuff all day)! Jignesh, meanwhile, selected a North African lamb sausage wrap garnished with spicy mint salsa (whew…that was a mouthful).

Saturday- We decided that we needed to finally see a famous London landmark. So, off to Buckingham Palace we went! For just a few weeks each year, Buckingham Palace opens its 19 stateroom doors to public tours. Using the free audio guide, we got great insight into Royal life. We even saw the ballroom set up for an official state dinner. (How does one score an invitation to that gig?). Typically, close to 200 hundred people are invited to one of the two state dinners held each year. Our audio guides informed us that state dinners are held on Tuesdays and set-up usually begins on the Saturday before. The Queen sits in front of a huge U-shaped table with her husband (the Duke of Edinburgh) to her right and the guest of honor to her left. Every detail of the dinner is extremely precise and choreographed Using a ruler, they even measure the distant between each place setting that includes 6 glasses (water, pre-dinner champagne, white wine, red wine, post-dinner champagne, and port). After the tour, we enjoyed walking around the area outside the Palace and watching the festivities as it was the day before the Olympic flag would officially be handed to London 2012.

Sunday- This was our day of organization. We spent the majority of the day ordering some furniture, booking a trip to Barcelona, and just relaxing. Of course, no day with us seems to be without its adventures. Late in the afternoon, we decided to get out of the house and headed to the Heath with Schlopy. Jignesh and Schlopy found a field the size of three soccer fields and promptly chased each other until exhaustion. As were returning home, Jignesh turned to me and asked “Do you have my keys?” After seeing that I had nothing but Schlopy’s leash, a panicked look overcame Jignesh’s face. Realizing that the keys were gone and we were locked out, Jignesh sprinted back to the field for the insurmountable task of searching for the keys. Schlopy and I followed behind convinced that it was going to be a very long night. Just as Schlopy and I walked up to the field, I saw Jingesh told his hands up triumphantly! He had found them. It was undoubtedly like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack! We celebrated later that night with some good ole’ English cider.

Monday- We started the day by checking out the Notting Hill Carnival. This Caribbean themed event is the second largest street festival in the world. It is 2 days of complete craziness filled with outrageous costumes (or no costumes at all!), loud music, dancing, and lots of alcohol. (See picture for evidence!). After experiencing more carnival than we could handle, we headed to the peaceful Kensington area of London where we met some friends at a pub for fish and chips.

Overall, we had a great weekend. We were able to spend some time together and experience some of what London has to offer. We are both looking forward to many more weekends like this!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The past Friday, I used my trusty “Best Day Trips From London” book and headed to Greenwich. I met up with Katherine, a high school friend of my mom’s, who was in England to see an opera (thanks for the great day Kat!). We started the day by hitting the local market. European markets are becoming one of my favorite things to do…they are all so different and usually filled with a little of everything. Although I am usually a very impatient shopper, I wanted to buy everything I saw but settled for a simple pair of earrings made by a local artist. After a lunch of fish and chips, we headed to see some sights. And there are plenty to see in Greenwich! We missed out on the Cutty Sark, a 19th century clipper ship, bec ause it is under renovation but we did walk through the campus of the Royal Naval College and poke our heads into the National Maritime Museum. The highlight of the day was the climb through the park and up the hill to the Old Royal Observation. Greenwich is where all time is measured from the Prime Meridian Line. We straddled the line and where able to stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres at the same! The only bad thing about the day was that Jignesh could not play hookey from work so he was unable to join us. I guess I will have an excuse to visit Greenwich again!


Thursday, August 14, 2008


I am very happy to report that I am typing this blog from the comforts of our flat! Yes, we finally have internet in our flat. I can finally check email, surf the net, and write more blogs (lucky you) in my underwear! I tried to do that at Starbucks but it did not go over so well. Not only do we have internet, we also have cable tele and a DVR (something we did not even have in the states). Life is good. Now if we can only get some furniture so we do not have a leaning tower of clothes all over the place.


Monday, August 11, 2008

A Great Night Out!

On Friday, Jignesh and I enjoyed what was probably our best night out since moving to London! I met Jignesh and some of his co-workers at Skinkers, a busy pub near his office, for happy hour. After a few drinks and some great coversation with the group, Jignesh and I headed out in search of dinner. Craving Indian food, we found ourselves at Paradise, a small indian place near our flat in Hampstead that we had been wanting to try. We discovered that Paradise is owned by two brothers and was orginally opened by their Grandfather in 1968. We had a great a meal of tandoori chicken, butter chicken, nan, and rice! While the food was delicious, the service was even better (something that is hard to find in London)! Ok, maybe it had something to do with the fact that we got free Kulfi ice cream and two free glasses of wine but we did not complain.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We Are Family

On Sunday, the entire Shroff Family was reunited! It was quite an adventure for both Jignesh and Schlopy. The trip started over 24 hours earlier as father and son rose with the fish to begin the 8 hour car trip from my parent’s house in Knoxville to the Cleveland airport. Once in Cleveland, Jignesh dropped Schlopy off at the animal reception center located in the airport’s cargo area. I was quite relieved to get a call from Jignesh informing me that Schlopy’s paperwork was cleared and that he should be able to legally enter the UK (we were not going to have to sneak him across the border afterall). After returning his rental car, Jignesh checked himself in (Yes, he was cleared too!) and proceeded to the gate. Of course, it is impossible to fly in the states without a delay and Jignesh spent his 2 ½ hour delay at the bar. As he was boarding the plane, he did get a slight scare when the Continental employees informed him that they have been trying to find him and he needs to call animal reception immediately. Luckily, his fears were calmed when animal reception just wanted to let Jignesh know that they fed and walked Schlopy and he was doing great! After a long flight, both arrived at London Gatwick tired and hungry but otherwise intact. I met Jignesh at the airport (yes, I did get lost and went to three different coffee shops before finding him) and we took a taxi to the animal reception center to meet our son. I cannot even begin to describe the excitement I was feeling when we were nearing the center. Schlopy came from the back and immediately starting jumping in his crate when he saw us. We then took another taxi back to the airport and caught the Gatwick Express. We decided to be cheap and take the underground to our flat. Now, keep in mind that we had two huge suitcases, a laptop bag containing two laptops, a large backpack, a large animal crate, and an animal! We snuck onto the tube as the workers were trying to tell a fellow passenger that he could not bring his small boogey board on the underground. Good thing they did not see us!!! Schlopy’s first underground ride was a crowded, hot, and hectic but we all miracously made it home!

Now that we are all together again and Jignesh is not travelling as much, I feel that our UK adventure has now started! Let the fun begin!