Saturday, August 05, 2006

In Birmingham, UK

I have this friend that I hadn't seen in about five years who is currently living in Birmingham with his wife and son. I therefore decided to go up there this weekend to visit them. I am in Birmingham right now. It's a pretty nice city, and it seems relatively cheap compared to London.

On Friday I had training for working with the WORTH project, so I had to walk to the Berkely Hotel in Worthing, right by the sea. My host gave me some directions to the place, but she wasn't very specific on how far or how long it would take me to get there. Birmingham is north of Worthing and London, and the trip was projected to take 3hrs by train. Consequently I had to take my weekend bag to the training session, along with my tote bag. Bad idea!

It took me 45minutes to get to the hotel, and my feet were killing me, not to mention my back which felt like it was breaking! The training session wasn't bad though, and the ladies I met there were very charming and nice. :) I think I'm starting to pick up a bit of the British accent. LOL!

More to come later... right now I have the itis!


What the....?

I know the internet is a free space and all that, and people are free to leave their comments and stuff all over, but NOT ON MY BLOG! Someone left a really horrid comment on my Thursday entry, and I am not tickled in the least bit! I responded to them as another comment, so you can check that out. Not funny, not funny, not funny!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Being a bum and messing around with Picasa

I went to bed late last night because I was trying to upload lots of pictures from my first day in the UK. I didn't wake up till almost noon today, and I've just been in the apartment chatting online and reading a storybook. After all, it IS my reading and rest day. Teeheehee...

I downloaded Picasa onto my host's computer and I've just been playing around with it's features. I made a collage of pictures taken during my last year in college. I think it looks good. What do you think? Budding photographer?
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More pics from first day

Just trying something out. Trust me, my blogs will probably not be this detailed once I start my research in earnest.

So, I found this new website that hosts pics, and I created an account. I'm sorry I have to split up my writing and my pics, but it's taking too long to upload pics onto this blog. The url is

My first full day in the UK

Last night, after succumbing to jetlag at 5pm, I woke up at 9pm and had dinner that my hosts had made. Lovely vegetable and turkey curry with brown rice. This brown rice was pretty good because it wasn't like the round-seed-looking one in the US. I was actually able to eat this brown rice! LOL! Apparently, my host dad is a fan of Big Brother, a reality series here in the UK. We therefore watched a bit of it, followed by another reality show called Love Island, which has UK celebrities living on an island and hoping to find love. LOL!

I woke up pretty early, with the sun streaming across my bed. I had gone to bed around 2am, and it was now 9:30am UK time. My hostess Pauline was just rushing out the door to work. I was a bit excited, though I felt languid and lazy, in no hurry to get out of my pjs and out the door into town. I had a nectarine after brushing my teeth, and spent about three or more hours online looking for phones. I had been told that i needed phones that worked on GSM bands available in the various countries I'll be visiting. I did a bit of research on that ( was a very helpful website in sorting out what those different band phones mean). I found I needed a triband phone, so I looked up phone stores here in Worthing. I found about five, all on the same street: Montague! Isn't that charming!

I also chatted with my dad, my friend Phoebe in Ghana, another friend KD in the US, and my fiance Twum in Cali (who was up at 4am for some weird reason!! :P. My dad kept nagging me (teeheehee!) to hurry up and update my blog for the day, because he was anxious to read it. I told him I had not done anything yet, but he said he wanted to see my itinerary for the day. Love you dad!

So, after having breakfast of 2 slices of bread and a mocha ( i added cocoa to the coffee because I couldn't find the sugar! LOL!), I went to take a long shower! I actually had a funny incident during breakfast. I saw this spread in the fridge that had Omega-3 oils, which are supposed to be good for the heart or so. Now most (or all?) Omega-3 oils come from fish. I however didn't expect the spread (like margarine) to smell fishy. So I spread it liberally on my first slice of bread, only to realize I couldn't eat it. I forced myself to take two bites, then I used a knife to slice off the top of the bread. I had a second nectarine then, finished my breakfast, took a shower(around 2pm), and had a KitKat. :)

Armed with my camera, my ipod, a bottle of water and a banana, the names of the stores, and a general sense of where the center of town was, I started walking along the beach towards Worthing. I took quite a number of pictures because I kept telling people how pretty it was to live across the street from the sea. It was about a mile and a half to the center of town. I came across a needlecraft store with lots of stuff for knitting, crocheting, cross stitching and beading. I am planning to go there tomorrow for some yarn to start my crocheting binge! :) I also found a number of jewelry stores that had some of the most beautiful rings I have ever seen. Honey, I need to take you to this place...:P.

Let's talk culture shock and funny surprises. I still can't get over the driving on the "wrong" side of the road, and the use of double-decker buses. I squeal everytime I see one of those buses. :)Then, in the middle of this quaint seaside town, I found a KFC, a Subway and a Pizza Hut!! I couldn't help laughing to myself! Then, because of the beautiful view (I think), there were dozens of guesthouses (bed and breakfast houses) along the street parallel to the beach.

I went into three phone stores without finding anything I like, but I found a nice Nokia 3220 in the fourth store, and got a Pay As You Go plan with O2, one of the networks over here. The other competitors are T-Mobile, Orange and Virgin Mobile. I also got directions to an internet cafe on the way back where I got my phone unlocked for £10. All in all, it cost me £70 to get the phone and get it unlocked. That's a little over $140. Nice chunk of change.

My contact at the Worthing Project, Trish, actually had an itinerary planned out for me when I got in, all the way till 25th August. Today and tomorrow are my rest days, and then I have training on Friday. Exciting! I'm hoping to go visit a friend, Sammy, and his family in Birmingham on Friday evening and Saturday, and meet up with Christelle for church and brunch in London on Sunday. Yes, I'm chilling already! :)

After getting the phone, I got lunch at Caffe Nero, this lovely cafe on Montague road. I got a ham and provolone sandwich, a mocha and a bag of bite-size chocolate chip shortbread cookies. The total for all that was about £8.20. Let's not even bother converting into dollars anymore.

Pauline had invited me to yoga at Aquarena, the gym in town, but I had just had lunch so I couldn't participate. I went to wait for her there, but she went out through another door, so I began walking back home after I left her voicemail. She met me on the way home and took me back. We had savory pancakes for dinner. Pauline is vegetarian and eats pretty healthy. She made the pancakes with eggs, brown flour and some milk, and after they were done, we filled them with avocado, sundried tomatoes, spinach and hummus, or with baked beans an chickpeas. It was quite delicious. Then, we decided to go shopping, to ASDA, the UK version of Walmart (it is actually part of the Walmart family!).

The store was actually a bit far from the house, so we drove there with one of Paul's friends, Claire. It was fun! We passed by this private school that is reported to have the largest stained glass window, and I was also told that the makers of Harry Potter had wanted to film there, but the headteacher thought it would be too distracting. I bought some nectarines and apples, and got a small bathrobe to wear in the house ( I don't want to be walking about in just a towel.)I also got a cute red top for £6.

We got back home and Paul and I chatted for a bit before she went off to bed. I have quite a number of pictures to put up from today. I doubt I'll be able to blog this extensively everyday of this year, but I'll do my best to keep it recent. :) I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My Luggage Woes

I honestly cannot believe that I'm here in Britain. It still hasn't really dawned on me that I'm away, and that I'm going to be away for a year. The flight here wasn't too bad, and we actually landed at London Heathrow airport an hour ahead of schedule. I got some money changed into pounds, surfed the web at the airport, then went in search of my luggage. That's when it all started. I took a medium sized suitcase and a medium sized duffel bag. Both seemed pretty light when I left Mountain View. In London, now armed with the two aforementioned bags, a tote bag, and a backpack, I started to feel the weight. It didn't help that the underground train I was supposed to take was about two terminals away, and I had to drag all this stuff around. Then, to make matters worse, once I got to Victoria Station where I was to change trains to get to Worthing (where I'll be staying for a week), they had no elevators or escalators. I had to carry these bags up a lot of stairs. In fact, after the climb, I stopped at a cafe, had some breakfast, and lounged for about an hour and a half.

At the cafe I met a nice Australian girl who allowed me to sit at her table whilst I ate, and we chatted a bit. She's working in the UK for a year. She was also kind enough to watch my bags while I looked for a restroom after my long trip. I finally boarded the train to Worthing, only to find out that I was in the last coach, and had to move to one of the first four coaches because the train actually separated into two at one of the stations. I had to make mad dashes from one coach to the other whenever the train stopped at a station, and it was no easy feat, with all these four bags hanging on me. The funny thing is that I actually thought I had packed light this time. I need to do some serious reevaluation before I travel again.

My contact here in the UK was very nice, and actually found me a host family to live with while I'm here. The lady who is hosting me, Pauline, came to meet me at the train station and brought me to her house, where I'm sending this from. She's really nice, and she also recently started knitting. I'm pretty excited. She was also telling me about cheap tickets to fly to various European countries around. I hope to get a visa for one of the EU countries so I can do some sightseeing before leaving the UK.

Okay, I need to take a shower and/or a nap, because I feel pretty tired. Oh, and the house is right by the beach too...Worthing Beach! Lovely! I'll put up some pictures soon once I have the chance. Yay!!

Just checking..

To see whether this mail to blogger thing works.