AshleyWoods

Finally A New Post

In Personal, Travels on October 26, 2011 at 4:51 AM

I know, you could tell me until you are blue in the face, it has been a looong time since I have last posted even a morsel of my own existence. September was crazy though beyond my own imagination and October, well that’s just between October, me, and all that sangria that was consumed while I was in Barcelona.

I love posting new blog posts…writing them, coming up with new pictures and new ideas to craft for each individual posting. I have so many drafts all saved up and I think that I am now in place for the moment, I am finally ready to recap every part of my life so far while I’ve been abroad. I have been craving this for I cannot even tell you how long now and even writing about is making me anxious. I kind of can kick myself in the bum for this lapse of time, but the future only holds more room for more opportunities to get it done and to really do it well.

I could not have ever imagined what this trip would really mean for me. It has transformed me, shaken me up, and made me redirect the focus and purpose of my life. From the outside looking in, that’s putting too much emphasis on this trip, but when you begin to relate to your past in a completely new way, well there’s the difference that I have been waiting for. And it wasn’t about waiting….it was about making it happen for myself.

Inspiration from Nutrition Nut on the Run

A Wonderful Way to Start My 21st Year

Tags: Nutrition Nut on The Run, Dessert

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Black Taxis, Cookie Crumble Galaxy Bars…and A Glimpse of Harrods

In Personal, Travels on September 8, 2011 at 10:59 PM

I never thought that the stories of  my life in England would actually ever start. And it would have been very easy to have it read like an idyllic Hollywood script….riding underneath the Tower Bridge to the beat of “London Calling” and hopping onto a Red Double Decker bus and getting to my flat in “true” British style. I don’t even know where my luggage fits into this story, oh wait, it didn’t….

Well as I hate to admit it, my parents were wrong about one thing-the amount of luggage that everyone was going to bring. Every person that I can think of on this trip paid for overage charges on their luggage-for both weight and numbers of bags. Yes, even the four boys, which contributed to the already cramped undercarriage of the coach that was booked for our group. The lack of luggage space on the first coach began the longest afternoon of my life. Terribly anxious to see the city that I had seen on television during the Royal Wedding and had idolized over for 6 months, this little bump in the road, became laughable to me. It was the tiredness and the excitement I’m sure, but I just could not help but burst out laughing. It was absolutely hilarious to me that this would already happen and we were not even in the country for 15 minutes! This is kind of stuff that you ask for secretly so that you have better stories to tell your grandchildren, but when you hope too hard they don’t happen.

I didn’t even have to try, because the story has kept unravelling for me from that very first day and throughout this entire trip. With the rain pouring down all around us, we made a roundabout and came back into the terminal, the wait seemed long, but it was a chance to really introduce ourselves to these “total strangers” that we were going to be around day and night for the next four months. Surrounded by the shops in the airport, we got a glimpse of a mini “Boots” chemists store-uhhh it is absolutely amazing, a little pricey, but CVS Pharmacy in the States cannot even compete with “Boots.” I really cannot wait to go to Paris at the end of September to see the French Pharmacies that Tessa has gotten me so obsessed with. And yes, they are indicated by a cross-like sign, which make them actually easy to find when you are craving a “Boots” spending splurge. (I will resist, I will resist)

A uniquely named “AMT Coffee” stood right next to it with banana and caramel frappuccino-like concoctions beckoning our names. There  also was a small convenience store where I officially purchased my very first item with the local currency. Any guesses? A BIG bottle of Evian water-which was relatively cheap, so I was quite shocked, (in hindsight, I should have realized this rare first exception that I encountered). Everything looked different to me: the celebrities on the front of the tabloids were almost unrecognizable and the food was packaged very differently from America. This is where the great Candy Bar excursion of London (with a point of no return)officially began. I was offered by the checkout clerk to try one of the Galaxy bars at a discounted prices. “What is a Galaxy bar?”  “What you have never tried a Galaxy bar before?!” My first purchase and I was already playing the part of the American yupee, but this was well worth it. One of the best candy bars that I have ever tried-the Cookie Crumble flavor. It rivals a Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme bar in the States! The water and that little bit of shared cookie crumble chocolate kept us content for a short amount of time as we finally pulled our luggage through the “car park” and got into our cabs. The best moment of the day was when we both piled into our cab and our driver got into the  “wrong” door, I was like what are you doing over there?! and then I just burst out laughing and it was really my first experience of true culture shock.

Not only did our little mishap give us an entirely new experience that was only shared among the 5 of us, plus one of Courtney’s bags (:, but it gave us our first experience of riding in a reserved taxis around London. We were all hoping for the black taxis, but these were so nice that me and Faith fell asleep at one point while we were riding into London in Thursday night rush hour traffic. The first taste of the city and I am still reminded of LA (I thought that I had sneakily escaped the horror of car traffic)! But the highlight of the first drive through London was all of the sites that we passed, “Here comes the sun” was definitely playing in my head throughout this entire afternoon. I realized just how close everything was and how easy it was going to be to get around London. It was so incredible to actually see what London looked like and get a glimpse of Knightsbridge and Harrods (!), Burberry, Topshop, Picadilly Circus, Hyde Park, the Marble Arch, Oxford Street and finally the entire area where we would be living. Breathtaking. I had held no expectations and that the probably the most incredible part because it looked like London, not like this place that I was expecting for it to be (although I have discovered that most of the places that I thought were close to each other in the movies are quite far apart!).

I was finally here, despite everything that had happened that afternoon, the hardest part was carrying my 70 pound bag up four flights of stairs. All those strength training workouts definitely came in handy at that point!

Then it was off to the pub for my first British refreshment and a taste of British pub food!

*Note: the nice iPhone quality photos that are posted here, it was raining and I didn’t want to ruin my camera already!

Yummy Cookie Crumble Galaxy Bar

The coach that never was

Heavy Cart FULL with my baggage!

The Group that Got "Left Behind" + Courtney's bag!

Faith, one of my new London flatmates

A Beauty Editor "Top Shelf" dedication to Tessa

Hopefully I will see His Majesty and Katherine at some point!

PB and J, Hard Croissant, Cadbury Vending Machines

In Personal, Travels on September 6, 2011 at 10:06 PM

After trying unsuccessfully hard to fall asleep, while I told Dina, my friend and fellow USC Londoner, how many hours were left each time she woke up, I put up my feet on my seat, scrunched myself up underneath my sweater and for 30 very short minutes I actually got some rest. I knew that that amount of rest later would be quite hard for me to function, but for the moment it was going to have to do. With the exception of my Italian neighbors, the majority of the plane was still sleeping, so I enjoyed bits of “The Lincoln Lawyer” and “Glee” as we prepared for the downhill venture of our flight.

The breakfast trolley was being wheeled down before I knew it, and a hard pre-warmed croissant and those-peel away oj cups with yogurt were thrown in my direction. My own pre-made PB &J sandwich and a banana was my pick of the day and a great start to a very exhausting evening for my little group.

And in true British style….the rain greeted our  entrance in Heathrow delaying our flight’s arrival by a good 15 minutes. Of course all of our parents knew this because they had been tracking our flight the entire time. So when I phoned my mum (hehe), she had known exactly where I was-way to spoil the fun a little of telling her that I was officially in London.

I am so glad that we got through Heathrow as fast we did, I was so scared about customs even though I ended up being perfectly fine. In fact, the hardest part: lifting our suitcases off the circus of all the other 60 pound suitcases. Finally free of the airplane, in a raining and blustery London, we waited for our coach to take us to the flat and continued to stare around at the new things that greeted our entrance into the main hall of the airport like the most brilliant invention ever-A Cadbury Chocolate Machine where every Cadbury Candy imaginable is right in front of you! If I have one weakness at Easter-it’s those Cadbury Eggs, I cannot get enough of them!

I Had Slightly More Baggage Than Audrey

Credit: Peanut Butter Fingers: Yummy PB & J Sliders!

 

 

*none of these photos are my own personal photos*