Friday, November 1, 2013

Kenz turns 30

Song of the Day: Into the Mystic, Van Morrison

Kenz was under the weather at the end of last week. I ignored her condition and dragged her along to the Bombino concert. 

She very nearly fell asleep during the show.

The Purcell Room felt like one big living room at Southbank, holding about 500 people. There was a diverse crowd in attendance - about what you'd expect at a "world music" concert - a cross-section of what I'd imagine the British equivalent of American public radio listeners are. You can interpret that however you want. It's safe to say, at least, we were in the youngest 10% of audience members.

Bombino started with an acoustic set.

And finished with some inyaface desert blues. 

It was a great show; I felt little remorse for yanking Kenz out of the house. Of course, that was until Saturday morning when she mentioned she may not go out to her Halloween party that night. 

Big problem: the Halloween party was doubling as a surprise birthday party for Kenz. 

I got a text in the early afternoon from her friend, Alejandra, begging me to intervene. Apparently Kenz had texted a few people to let them know she'd made her decision to do the "smart thing" and "stay in for the night." I finally got a taste of what it was like for Kenz to plan my surprise party. I spent the day subtly nudging her to reconsider her decision (Well, it is your last year. This'll be your last Halloween party. Just go for an three years, which will you remember: being at home sick or going to this party?).

Don't get me wrong - I deserve no credit for the surprise party. This was a party planned and executed entirely by Kenz's classmates. The beauty of it, however, was that two mornings prior to the party, Kenz stated that she'll "never get surprised."

I had no idea how much Kenz had planned out her outfit. Earlier in the month, she mentioned that she was buying a 20's-era dress and that she was going to be a "zombie flapper." I figured it was just a reason to buy a new dress. I was wrong. Kenz was going full zombie. 

Ragna came over to get ready for the evening, same as last year. The two of them made a mess of the house as they applied various makeups, stickers, and latex (Ragna was going, tongue in cheek, as a "sparkly" vampire a la Twilight).

I thought she'd stop at the makeup. Nope. She then applied latex...

I refused her kisses.
Knowing I wasn't going to stay much longer than the "surprise" moment, I didn't want to get too deep into costume.

I'm glad the days of full costume have returned.
We arrived at the house, the hosts met us at the door, and spoke to Kenz about nonsense as everyone upstairs was audibly shush-ing each other. I tried to get video of the event, but all the lights were off. It was endearing to witness Kenz open the door to a group of people asking,

ok, so now what do we do?
say surprise!
oh yea!

College surprise parties. Gotta love 'em.

They'd decorated for her!

And baked a cake!

Just perfect lighting.

Annie, Teddy, Kenz, and Jerome

Half of the pictures from the night are of Kenz biting people. brainssss...

All in all, the evening was a success and a testament to the type of friends Kenz has here in London. It was my first time meeting a few of them. And no, no one knew who the Celtics were. 


I got out for a round of disc golf on Sunday morning, relishing one of the last "warm" days of Fall. I hate that the course takes an hour commute, but am always happy once I arrive. 

I got the first "tombstone" of the winter season (which resulted in a birdie, natch).
This Sunday is the first leg of our annual Hyzer Cup, which is a Ryder Cup style competition between the Croydon Disc Golf Club and the Quarry Park Club. I'll be sure to post more uninteresting disc golf pictures next week.

Random Photo Break:

Neighborhood Cat who lives in Mary's Cafe, our local b'fast spot.

Caught enjoying some care package popcorn (each Brit who has seen it says, look at the size of that bag!).

The Walkie Talkie, known for melting cars (read the story here).

The Cheese Grater and Gherkin.

Union Street, Borough

Watching the CrossFit Invitational at my local a nerd (Kenz has banned all CrossFit discussion from the house).

A pop-up Movember barbershop in Soho (learn about Movember here).

Why there's a line out the door of Hollister is beyond me.

Kenz attempted to capture how early it has begun to get dark here. This was taken at 4pm.

A wonderful Friday morning sight: broken bottle + vomit. Someone had a rowdy Halloween last night (of course, that's a pretty standard scene on any morning in our neighborhood, so...).

Holiday decoration prep, Seven Dials

Owen and Celia dropped by with some Happy Birthday Apple Crumble on Monday night. All of us were a bit Monday-night-weary, but enjoyed an evening of dinner, laughter, and birthday gifts. 

Custard & Crumble! 

O&C got Kenz some warm socks...

...which she'll wear so often they'll have holes within a year, I'm sure. 

Kenz's actual birthday was on Wednesday. I was eager to give her gifts before she headed out for the day. I went 1 for 3 with the gifts, so we'll just move on (maybe I'll do better next year)...

Birthday morning set-up: juice, coffee, milk, sugar, and a card! 


Kenz got various packages/gifts throughout the week, but my personal fav was the batch of personalized cupcakes from the Ashburns (because those can be consumed by me as well!).

That evening, we went to Hawksmoor for dinner. Since we had concert tickets, we had to do dinner early, so we very nearly had the entire restaurant to ourselves. 

Birthday girl, engrossed with solitaire. 

Here we were, at a top-tier London restaurant, all gussied up, ready to order various fine foods off the extensive menu. Kenz fell into a lobster fit, ordering both a half-tail and the lobster mac'n'cheese. It wasn't until the food came out that she realized she'd "been eating mac'n'cheese every day this week." File under "reasons I love my wife": after eating a box of Kraft (powder) mac'n'cheese each day for an entire week, she orders the same damn thing in a restaurant that has some hifalutin version of it, realizes the error in her ways, and proceeds to eat it because, well, it's still good.

After dinner, we headed out to the Royal Albert Hall - one of the most badass venues in all of London - to see Van Morrison kick off this year's London Blues Fest.

Similar to the Bombino concert, we were in the youngest 10% in attendance. Only this time there were thousands of people singing, swaying, and chair-dancing along with 'ol Van.

He played for about an hour and a half, the last forty-five minutes being a slew of greatest hits. Each of us was in mild awe that we were sitting there, watching Van Morrison, in the same room as us, play his music. Tick that off the bucket list.

Sure, they were nosebleeds, but they were the only tickets left!

As we left, at 9:30pm, we exchanged eager glances: if we play our cards right, we can be home and asleep before 11pm. It made me think:

Seven years ago, we'd've gone out to a no-reservations-needed dinner, gone to some wild rock and roll show, danced the entire time, and then said to ourselves, what's next?

But for this (30th) birthday, we'd gotten dressed up, been to a nice restaurant, seen Van Morrison, sat the entire time (I even had tears in my eyes at Into the Mystic), and then left the concert eagerly anticipating a full night's sleep.

It's confirmed: we're getting old.

Despite her advanced years, however, Kenz is keeping it real. She's had a brownie and/or cupcake for breakfast every day this week. 

B'fast of champs.

Brownie in hand, cupcake box waiting patiently behind the aluminum foil.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!