London, England, Manchester, England, Paris, France

LonSum 1: Lovely Jubbly June

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Summer 2017 was full of incredible events! Though it’s the busiest time of year for my role, I was lucky to share meals, celebrate friends, and reunite with family to keep me energized right up to the end of teacher training.  The next three posts will string together the highlights for each month.  As the days get shorter heading into September, I’m having a great time revisiting our warm memories. Missing you all!

 


1st June- London: To kick off the month, Nick Wong visited London prior to his EU tour with his family.  It’s been a big transition year for him so it was incredible to get some time to share reflections and next steps. Plus we tried a restaurant that he’s been interested in for a while: St John’s Bread and Wine (near Spitalfields Market).

We walked Brick Lane, Kingsland Road, Regents Canal, and Essex Road, all the while catching up on life after Ssam Bar, and the goings-on in NYC.

It was also a real treat that I was able to share a meal with the Wong family later that evening to catch up with his broddah and with Mr. and Mrs. Wong.  We actually had double dinner- Ottolenghi first, and then Poppy’s Fish and Chips as a follow up! Now you know where he gets his love for food!


7th-8th June- Manchester:  Training for Summer Institute was a top priority in early June.  Though the majority of the days were spent in a conference room, I looked forward to exploring Manchester after completing professional development sessions.

I took a morning run with a group of PDLs/LDOs through a lovely park on day 2, and hit up a gym session on the final night with my colleague, Zoe, whose circuits felt like that of a personal trainer! I kept up with reading A Little Life between taking notes, and answering emails.

My colleagues planned a night out for our final day of training which was a great time.  But when asked why I was leaving the bar early, I shared that I was heading to St Ann’s Square to pay my respects for those killed at the Manchester Arena.  This created an exodus to the square.  You could feel the emotion of the space.  The intense sadness of the tragedy.  Flowers, balloons, candles and messages to the victims were thigh-high.  Each of us took in the length of the square.  We waited until the last person had taken the time they needed, and walked back in reflection.  One of my colleagues said to me ‘Good idea on coming here… that you wanted to make this happen.  With everything that’s been frustrating with work, I’m sad it took this to remember that we’re all ok.’ I completely agreed.  We are so lucky.


21st- 23rd June- Paris: I still can’t believe I was able to say  ‘I’m going to Paris for a few days for a wedding of one of my dearest friends’.  Congratulations to The Grays!  Corey and I were so happy to celebrate your love in the City of Lights. You two were gracious hosts and you have some incredible friends and family.  Plus, check the pictures –they looked fabulous!

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The first night was an easy boat ride on the Seine which was a nice way to spend time meeting friends and family.  On this warm summer night, we waved at locals sharing beers and wine on the edges of the river.  Dinner was on our own so we revisited one of our favorite restaurants, Le 404, with friends Reed and Lauren.

Paris was experiencing a heat wave at this time, but an outdoor ceremony was a must with the Eiffel Tower as the perfect backdrop.  Tracy and Andrae shared their own vows, and looked incredibly happy.  For a part of their ceremony, they had all guests bless their rings with one word as they passed them around to us.  Words like ‘love’, ‘joy’, ‘passion’ were spoken over their rings, and I thought it great that my word was ‘growth’ and Corey’s word was ‘understanding’.

We had a very French dining experience- definitely delicate and delicious at the same time.  Holly and Junior shared their speeches as well as the mothers of the bride and groom.  Then– very organically–each guest started to share a small speech about Tracy and Andrae.  It was clear how much everyone thinks the world of them as individuals and as a couple.  Corey pushed me to share my sentiments by clinking the glass when he thought I might chicken out.  My heart was pumping through my chest as I hadn’t prepared anything to say, but I would have missed that opportunity if it hadn’t been for him, and I am grateful for his perspective on that.  (Trace, if you’re reading this, I love you so much that I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to say everything that I feel about how wonderful you are without writing it down!)

Tracy and Andrae hosted the after party in their honeymoon suite of a room.  Close friends became even closer as we played Heads Up, broke baguettes (broke bread), drank rose, and talked music, politics, race, gender, poetry and love until the wee hours of the morning.  I’m not sure the exact time but around 2am, we realized we needed to get out of their room, but we continued our deep conversations about life until 4am in the lobby!  It was a perfect way to celebrate these two since their relationships with close friends are clearly built on thoughtful exchange.

Congratulations Tracy and Andrae!


27th June- 6th July- Back to London:  Ginny and Jamie flew out to London to start their summer vacations!  It was special that Jamie just finished her 1st year of teaching, and that she would celebrate her birthday in London.  It was also a significant trip since Ginny was transitioning to a new school and new home.

We loved seeing Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe. It was a modern take on the story with elements of drag, 70s disco, and musical ballads!  None of us had seen a show at the historical theater so it was a great birthday-eve celebration for Jamie Lynn.

Lynn Bynn’s birthday featured a Tamiko-Forrest-Original Pub Crawl starting in Angel at the Narrow Boat for fish and chips and Camden brews.  We walked along Regent’s Canal to Shoreditch for a pint at the Ten Bells.  We strolled Spitalfields market and Brick Lane but Jamie was keeping herself accountable while shopping: no purchases unless they had a place to live back in Oakland.  This limited us to mainly food which was fine by me!

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We shared some sour beers at the Earl of Essex and tried a scotch egg (see above).  Our final stop was the Queen’s Head where we had a late evening of philosophical conversations: financial woes and awareness, standards about beauty and weight, mixed families and above all else- love.

Of course, no trip to London is complete without a meal at Lahore, late-night kebabs, and egg sandwiches from Sainsbury’s.   We also snuck in an afternoon tea at The Renaissance Hotel Gilbert Scott Restaurant (booked by Ginny’s roommates). Corey figured out how to get us the afternoon tea menu even though we were told upon arrival that they couldn’t seat us.  By the end of the afternoon, we’d gotten free champagne and 15% off of our bill! Spells to the rescue.

I was tickled that I was able to introduce Danielle, one of my dad’s former students, to Jamie at the Island Queen- a local pub that Ginny stumbled upon during her walk to Regent’s Canal.  Separately, Jamie and Ginny took on London landmarks at their own pace when Corey and I were at work.  You also have to ask them for the photos and stories of their trip to Amsterdam on 2nd -5th July as well.  I know they loved Vondelpark and a small cafe with yummy potatoes.

For a final meal, we headed to Berber and Q for smoky shared platters of cauliflower  and chicken and a bottle of Alicante wine.  I was so happy to catch up on life from this year and that Jamie visited London for the first time.  Every day felt like an excuse to celebrate.

Their trip kept me sane during the start of teacher training, and I’m grateful for their kind words and challenges to my mindset.  Having family visit is just what I needed at this time.

Image result for Only Fools And HorsesTheir trip is actually why the title for this post came so easily.  The phrase ‘Lovely Jubbly’ is an expression used to share one’s delight or approval.  Apparently, the phrase was made famous by ‘Del Boy’ the main character from long running English sitcom ‘Only Fools And Horses’. It’s a show about brothers who sell dodgy goods believing that next year they will be millionaires (some British pop culture for you).  Corey argues that ‘everyone says it‘ while I’ve never heard someone use the phrase in London–other than to say ‘no one says that unless maybe they were a geezer from the 80s’. Either way, it is a way to describe my feelings for the month of June so I’ll allow it!

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Paris, France

French Connection

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(Part 2 with Corey D) Arriving at Montparnasse station on Saturday morning was strange because I actually recognized the market that ran just alongside the station’s exit.  This was the infamous set of stalls where a pigeon flew into my hair while my mom was eyeing leather backpacks.  She couldn’t stop laughing about the bird mistaking my messy bun for a nest.

We strolled past purplish -green artichokes and milky white mushroom caps.  The leafy greens and the heirloom tomatoes were also beautiful in the sunlight.  The twenty minute walk to the airbnb was quiet and shaded with trees.  Our host was an avid comic fan.   His posters were of superheroes and of the most recent Marvel movies released in the States. Corey D. finished walking Champs Elysee in perfect time to meet up for crepes with our friends, Rich and Sam. It was at this time that Sam let us know that crepes weren’t actually Parisian, but that her neighborhood did have a wealth of creperies to choose from (crepes are originally from Brittany, a region in the northwest of France).  We ended up as La Creperie de Josselin, where I realized I had eaten with my mom just months before during her trip.  It’s interesting to feel like I ‘know’ parts of Paris now.

After lunch, we hit up popular shoe shops for Corey and Rich, and Amorino gelato for Sam.  As a side note, I recently discovered that Amorino has a location right on Upper Street! Corey and I have made rules about how frequently we can visit.

We made our way through the crowded, beer strewn streets to the stadium.  The Euros match between Wales and Northern Ireland was pretty rubbish, but it was so good to catch up with Corey D about his trip, and to have the opportunity to attend such a major event in a city so close to London.

Our group split up after the Euros as Sam and Rich had a birthday party and Corey D still had places to check off on his Parisian sightseeing list.  We made our way to Le Tour Eiffel, and took some prime shots amidst the Euros fans decked out in team gear.  We had dinner at Tracy’s favorite restaurant in Paris, La Coincidence, on a complete whim! We hadn’t booked but arrived early enough to snag a great table.  The meats were very tasty, and we laughed at how our waiter hailed from Miami.  It’s seriously a small world.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get Corey D to Sacre Coeur before heading to our next meet up at L’absinthe Cafe.  We met Aisha and Ismoyla for some good ol’ green fairy hangouts for her birthday weekend. I reminisced thinking about how my first understanding of absinthe actually came from Corey D’s older brother, Starlie. I’m sure he’d be proud of us, traveling together in Paris, retracing a few of his footsteps.

Aisha, Ismoyla, Corey D, Corey and I met up with Sam, Rich, her childhood friends, and some Bloomberg blokes who were also in Paris to see the Euros. It’s an amazing feeling to know that we are from so many different places, and had the opportunity to come together in Paris!  I’m embarrassed to say that after so much effort to meet up, I was pretty wiped out. I didn’t last long at the bars, but in an effort to see more of Paris on Corey D’s last night, we walked all the way back to our flat!  We held philosophical debates, discussed gender politics, went on about women’s studies, suffragettes, and the whole lot.  Yep, an evening stroll with two Coreys and myself making the world a better place.  I thoroughly enjoyed our final evening together, and Corey D was gone before we woke up the next morning.  In his place, he left a nice goodbye note complete with “See you for the wedding in 1 week!”

We needed to hit up L’As du Fallafel on Sunday morning as Corey still hadn’t been.  It didn’t disappoint.  I’d get the appetizer sampler as my meal since it’s basically a deconstructed pita with a few additional yummy dips.  Catching the Eurostar home without guests or friends felt…well…quiet, as Corey D’s trip was the final visit before our major trip to California in just a week’s time.  ((What happened that weekend? Well, it was really the start of our journey together for the rest of our lives.  So many memories that we’ll continue to return to as it was a total blast!))img_7257


Quick Shot:

Saturday

Market near Montparnasse Station (closes by 2pm so visit early)

La Creperie de Josselin (have the cider with your crepe)

Explore Rue Montorgueil and do some shopping in the Marais district

La Coincidence for dinner (book ahead to secure a seat)

L’absinthe Cafe – a fun treat if you’ve never tried absinthe (though this drink didn’t originate in Paris, it was very popular in the community of artists and writers in the late 19th century)

Sunday

L’As du Fallafel– (closed on Saturdays; fun shopping in this area as well)

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Bath, England, Cotswolds, England, London, England, Paris, France, Stonehenge, England

Thankful for…

 

This Thanksgiving, my mom took an eleven hour flight to visit us in London. Here, turkey isn’t on sale until December, we missed sweet potato and pumpkin pie, we didn’t experience Daisuke’s first encounter with sticky rice, and we knew Corey wouldn’t get a day off. Yet, we couldn’t help but feel incredibly grateful for our time together, and with her permission, I’m sharing an email my mom sent me the day after returning from her trip overseas.

I’ve only edited a few sections, as I thought it was best to stay true to her words. Because this post isn’t in chronological order, I’ve added the day to day itineraries at the end of the post.


I am thankful for 2 daughters whom I love and rely on them immensely.

I am thankful for curiosity. It gives you freedom.

I am thankful for you living in London and NY, so I can visit and see another part of the world. 

I am thankful that I like my daughters’ partners. They are fun and love my girls. Lucky.

I am thankful for good street art. Simple and Amazing.

I am thankful that artists are dedicated, creative and can support themselves via their art. (My mom is a beast when it comes to museums).

I am thankful for crows. They are smart and their midnight black feathers are so amazingly beautiful.

I am thankful for sheep who give us wool. A simple fiber to create with and produce clothing that keeps us very warm. (I’m cheating on this one because my mom has all the pics of the sheep… I should mention that she also was thankful for Christmas trees and took a shot every single day. Here’s a brief look).

I am thankful for immigrants/migrants who bring their food culture to new countries to share with anyone and everyone. So delicious. Ottolenghi – what a find! I am thankful for all his cookbooks!

I am thankful for having a personal tour guide for my stay in London and my visit to Paris. You have learned quickly of the city that you live in. I am thankful that you have friends who share their favorites as well and who have the privilege and desire to see the world.

As I took my 1st morning walk back home in Oakland, I realized that I am thankful that I can still walk and run to catch a train. That was some 100 yard sprint I did. I didn’t even have running shoes on! Not bad for an older mom! (We had to run to the catch a train to the Roald Dahl museum. But old? I think not, Mom. You climbed 345 steps up the Eiffel Tower, another 245 up the Arc de Triomphe, and trekked about 10 miles a day to see the sights in two different cities. Check her out!)

love you much.

thankfully,

justme

mom

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Here she is after she climbed to the first level of the Eiffel Tower! Work!


 

Quick Shot (links added here)

Day 1/2: Arrival and dinner at Afghan Kitchen (get a reservation if you can)

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

  • More Stoher bakery for breakfast and the day’s snacks
  • Walk Beauborg and Les Halles’ Jardin Nelson Mandela to see Forum des Halles (underground maze of a shopping mall), St-Eustache (gothic church modeled on Notre Dame), and Bourse du Commerce (commodities exchange)
  • Walk to Notre Dame and Sainte- Chapelle (medieval church) on the Ile de la Cite (the islands in the center of the city)
  • Cross over to the Latin Quarter to see the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore and Boulevard St. Michel
  • Pantheon
  • Markets: Rue de Mouffetard or Marche Edgar Quinet
  • L’as Du Falafel and cab to Gard Du Nord
  • Dinner at Lahore back in London with the wine from Paris (order the lamb chops starter, fish curry, garlic naan, daal tarka… and chicken tikka or lamb curry if you still want more meat)

Day 6

  • Brixton Market for meat, fish, grains, veggies, arts, crafts, fabric, longjohns and yummy lunch at El Rancho de Lalo (get the tripe soup!)
  • Mini Thanksgiving meal

Day 7

  • Royal Arts Academy for the Ai Weiwei exhibit
  • Lunch at Borough Market (the kid goat meal is delish every time)
  • Tate Modern: The World Goes Pop exhibit
  • Walk Millennium bridge and see St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • West End Show: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Day 8

  • Coach tour (Premium Tours groupon) for Stonehenge, Bath, the Cotswolds, and Stratford Upon Avon
  • Dinner at home (leftovers)

Day 9

  • Shakshuka breakfast (Plenty recipe that we made for 3 people)
  • Roald Dahl museum
  • Islington Contemporary Art and Design Fair
  • Ottolenghi (Round 2) Late Afternoon Lunch on Sunday ONLY
  • Packing for home (early train back to Heathrow on Monday)
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