A Weekend in London, Eh?

Much of my time in London, especially during the week, was spent working. As I mentioned, I began working at a private school in central London teaching high school history by the end of January. Being a full-time teacher, I now had a lot more responsibilities such as planning and marking and teaching year 7-13. It was a lot to take in and there was quite a bit of pressure as England has standardized tests that I had to help my students pass without ever taking one myself. I also had parent-teacher meetings weekly, something I’d never experienced before. Therefore, you can see why I wasn’t writing my blog as much then. Also, by the beginning of March we had been kicked out of our flat in North Finchley because the landlord thought that would be fun. Luckily for me, my lovely Australian friend Kylie had a flatmate moving out and a huge room in her flat with two other Australian guys, Tom and Adam, was opening up. The flat was close to Angel and Highbury and Islington, an area I already really enjoyed because my good friend Charlie lived there, so I took it! Kylie and I would become great friends and Adam and Tom made fun and lovely roommates. 

So, with all that going on in my life during the week, I tried to take advantage of all of my weekends. One of my favourite weekends was in mid-May. It all started when my friend Dayna asked me if I wanted to go to an Arkells concert on the Friday. Being from Hamilton Ontario myself I knew who the Arkells were of course but I’m pretty sure my reaction was, “The Arkells? Like, the Canadian band?” To be honest I hadn’t listened to them for a while and was a little shocked they’d made their way to England. I’m not one to say no to a good show though so I agreed to make my way to the Barfly, a dark  rock club in Camden Town. I invited my friend Charlie to come along as well and when we arrived I realized that nothing brings Canadians together quite like the Arkells. I hadn’t heard so many Canadian accents in months. It warmed my heart and with cheap beers in hand we waited for the Arkells to take the stage. Like I said, I hadn’t listened to them for a while but let me tell you, I didn’t need to know the songs to have the best time. Being that the place wasn’t as crowded as one of their shows in Canada would be, we were able to be front row centre and I don’t think I’d had that much fun at a show since I saw Gogol Bordello and the front man poured red wine all over everyone and I was soaked to the point that someone thought I was bleeding. They played some classics that I knew like John Lennon and some new ones that I’d never heard. They also played an amazing version of Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder that had the whole place dancing. Afterwards we were able to take some pictures with the lead singer and I even helped the piano player with a cord. I also got to thoroughly embarrass myself talking to two of the band members outside while I was a wee bit tipsy. The guys were really nice though. As we left the club, I grabbed a hot dog and walked through a park, stopping to feed some of my hot dog to a friendly cat, and found my double decker home. It was a great night and since then I have become a huge fan of the Arkells. If I went to that concert again I’d probably know every word to their songs! I would listen to them in my office while marking exams and papers, and they’d keep me moving while on my runs. When I moved back to Hamilton I bought a car that had a broken radio that only played CD’s so I went down to Cheapies Record Store and bought the album High Noon. It was basically the soundtrack to my summer and when the CD would get stuck in the player for weeks I didn’t even mind! (I eventually got a new stereo for my car though.) Either way, they helped me embrace my Hamilton life and I would now see them again in a heartbeat. 
That same weekend, Kylie invited me to go to the Rugby 7s tournament with her down at the Home of England Rugby, Twickenham Stadium. I had never seen a Rugby game in my life and this tournament was an excellent introduction. With 7s there are only 7 players on the field and the games are really short so if you aren’t excited about one match the next one will begin shortly. We arrived just in time to see Canada lose to the USA but that didn’t matter too much. The fun was sitting in the crowd, the sun on our pasty skin, sipping our ciders. When England played the crowd got really rowdy and we cheered along as members of the Commonwealth. In between games we sang S Club 7 songs with everyone else as well. For some reason they’re still big fans of the song “Reach for the Stars” over there. Every year the 7s tournament has a theme and this year it was something to do with outer space (really specific, I know… But I can’t remember everything!) so everyone was dressed up as aliens… and also super heroes for some reason. We got the chance to see Canada play again, this time against New Zealand and, being many ciders in at this point, I tried to rally the crowd to cheer for Canada but they didn’t want to cheer for the losing team. Unfortunately we could not defeat the notorious All Blacks as they’re called. After a team was defeated and out of the tournament they would then do a walk around the stadium and wave to the fans. I ran down and got the glorious picture you see below with a couple members of Team Canada:
Who needs teeth?
The one guy was really British and when I said “You’re not Canadian…” He said, “I live there now.” What ever helps us win I guess. 
After watching more than enough games of Rugby, I left Kylie to meet up with Ali and Joao and other lovely people to see the London Symphony Orchestra perform a free show in Trafalgar Square. Armed with blankets and snacks and more drinks, we found a spot to spread out and enjoy the music in the beautiful May weather. By this point I was a few ciders in and very sunburned but to be able to see and hear a live orchestra in one of the most recognizable landmarks in London was worth sticking around for. I lied back, looked up at the sky and enjoyed the music with hundreds of others. It was absolutely beautiful and it completely cleared my mind after my long day. With cellos and violins sounding throughout the square it was another great London moment. If anyone is ever in London around mid-May I would highly recommend checking it out though get there early because it fills up quickly.
View from in front of the National Gallery. We were by the fountain on the right. 
And so ended one of my favourite weekends. Very much filled with warm feelings towards Canada this one. I was pretty tired and as red as a lobster but it was one I will not soon forget. 
I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, 
Brooke 
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