Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Adventures of the SP Walker Air Cast

*This is guess post from SP Walker Air Cast.

In the wise words of the late Johnny Cash:
"I've been everywhere, man 
I've been everywhere, man
Across the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere"

While I didn't make it to the desert (does the Underground count?) or breathe the mountain air (how about the English countryside?), I did get to see loads during the 3 weeks I spent on Wynne's left foot. Here's a few of my favorites.

Opted for the lifts at Green Park one day. Might as well have ridden the escalator.

Crossed Bolton Street!

Some of the "salsa" from this poor attempt at a burrito at the world's only Polish-Mexican restaurant landed on me.

Laughed out loud at Spamalot. Thankfully no SPAM came near me.

Wowsers! My poor rubber cousins, the Wellys, got turned into dogs!

My view at the National Theatre for the nationally acclaimed musical "London Road". Can you imagine if my velcro had gotten mixed up with his fro!

Almost burst out of my Velcro drooling over Lizzie's jewels at B Palace while Allie and Svea visited. PS I'm definitely the best looking footwear in the lot!

Got stepped on at da' club

Just another day on the tube. Jubilee line baby!

Beautiful grounds at Salisbury Cathedral

Hanging with Will & Kate

Fancy a cuppa?

Kicking small children at Stonehenge.

Green Park. I'm still mad about your poorly designed lift system.

Minding the gap

Tangle Foot...there never was a better named beer. 

I wish a morsel of this divine Georgia inspired BBQ landed on me. That's right, I almost went airborne when Wynne discovered one of the Pitt Cue Co. owners is a native Georgian.   

Sadly she's dismissed me to the back of her wardrobe. Velcro crossed, I'm hoping to board the plane for America. It'd be a dream come true to charm the Delta flight attendants on the Trans Atlantic flight into upgrading Wynne to First Class! 


Today I realized it's exactly 6 weeks until my flight back to Atlanta.

It's been an amazing experience and I'm glad it's not over yet. I'm still enjoying my time here and will continue to until I board that Delta jet.

In the meantime I'm off to Berlin this weekend to visit a former London flatmate, Jaclyn, who lives there now. Looking forward to rockin' my Birkenstocks in their homeland.

Friday, August 31, 2012

2nd Opinion

It's been 2.5 weeks since the cabinet door jumped ship. So when I received a letter yesterday from the hospital, I presumed it was the invoice receipts which I need to send to my insurance company for reimbursement. (Oh yes, international medical insurance paperwork is even more fun than domestic!)

It was not.

Two weeks later...a second opinion arrives

Left Foot Xray

Left hallux: I am not convinced a fracture has been demonstrated. A small osteophyte is noted on the medial aspect of the terminal phalanx."

Translation - "Your toe ain't broke but you do have a bone spur." From the Radiologist.

Um, isn't 14 days after the fact a tad late to be providing an opinion on a bone's structural integrity?  According to my doctor, a foot surgeon, my bone is supposed to be set well enough for regular footwear come Tuesday. That's 5 days away!


The saga continues...


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A pain in my... big toe

Definitely a case of the Mondays yesterday. I was standing at the kitchen counter slicing bread when the cabinet door, which hides our washing machine, fell off its hinges and directly onto my big toe. I was just in the right place at the right time. Thankfully it was me and not 6 month pregnant Maria or Marshall.

The scene of the crime

Like a good patient, I immediately began the RICE regime. Then I wondered when I can go to Bikram Yoga again. I've been going almost daily for awhile and you really need your big toe to balance!

This morning the swelling and bruising hadn't gotten any better. It was painful and hard to walk.

As I have travel medical insurance, Seven Corners, I looked online for the nearest healthcare provider. They cover private hospitals! (The NHS, National Healthcare Service, which was so strangely celebrated in the Opening Ceremonies can only help you so much.) I called and was able to get a lunchtime appointment with a foot surgeon. Lucky me!

The Wellington Hospital's Platinum Medical Centre was like a posh hotel. After taking the bus, I limped up to be greeted by the doorman in a 3-piece suit and top hat! He would have valeted my car if I had driven. I proceeded to the Welcome Desk where a suited woman directed me to the Reception Desk. More smartly dressed staff at computers ready to check me in. I took my paperwork upstairs to the Outpatient floor.

The nurses were chatting away pleasantly at the desk like any other doctor's office. They asked me to take a seat in a sleek white leather chair as the doctor was running a few minutes later. 10 minutes later, a nurse showed me to his office. Doctor Herron or "Mr. Herron" as they are called here, was in a blazer seated at his desk. The small exam area was to the right. I sat in an arm chair answering his questions about myself - work, hobbies, etc. (Wait is this a date?) All before getting to my medical issue.

When I explained the situation, I was treated to British humor, medical style.
Doctor: "Was the cabinet door heavy?"
Wynne: "It was to me!"
Doc: "I bet that hurt."
Wynne: "It did."
Doc: "Let's have a look then... I suspect it's just soft tissue that's injured."

He sent me down to X-ray conveniently located in the basement. After a brief wait, the cheery technician had me hop on the table for 2 quick X-rays. When I returned to the Outpatient area to wait for the X-rays to be emailed to the doctor, the nurse offered me tea or coffee. Not even 3 minutes later a friendly woman presented a little tray with a full coffee set-up including Walkers shortbread cookies. Not a bad way to wait for your results!

X-rays confirmed it's broken. Non-displaced fracture between the knuckle and the foot joint. The bone should set fine and heal straight in 3 weeks.

Doctor: "You know the Crunchie bar - hard on the outside with a soft honeycomb center? Well your toe is like that. The break is in the honeycomb but hasn't gone all the way through the chocolate."

Big toes are like Crunchie bars.

Doctor: "Does it hurt to walk? Now's not the time to be brave."
Wynne: "Yes."
Doctor: "I can prescribe a walking boot air cast."
Wynne: "I walk a lot. I would like that protection (from both myself and strangers)."
Doctor: "Ok. Wear it for 3 weeks. It's rather thick soled so you'll need to wear a thick soled shoe  to balance you out.  Like a trainer (sneaker) or wedge."
Wynne: "And after 3 weeks?"
Doctor: "Be careful with it. The bone will have set but you'll need to wait another 3 weeks before doing anything high impact like running."
Wynne: "Ok, so 3 weeks in the walking boot then another 3 weeks before high impact exercise."
Doctor: "Right, no kicking people for another 6 weeks. Well small children in 3 weeks."

Yes, both the wedge suggestion and the kicking of small children comments came out of the Doctor's mouth!

Giggling, I hobbled off to see the Physio (Physical Therapist) for my air cast fitting. A chatty Kiwi, he instructed me on strapping my foot into the brace. Complete with an instruction manual and a  "hand bulb" for inflating and deflating the aircells, my SP Walker Air Cast is very comfortable. Like a pillow for my toes. And interestingly enough, the "device" was imported from America and made in Mexico. Point for North America.

SP Walker Air Cast - Fall's must-have footwear

Hands down, the best hospital visit I've ever had. Can't wait to see the bill.


Post-Olympic Depression

I've been suffering since 12:30 AM BST Monday at the conclusion of Closing Ceremonies. I have many fond memories and even more pictures to whittle down to "the keepers". So bare with me. I will post the highlights.

Overall I'd say London 2012 was more than I, or almost anyone who was here, expected. The volunteers were highly trained in hospitality with smiles and friendly "hellos" at every pass. It felt more like Southern hospitality than British hospitality. Perhaps they were wearing hidden Coca-Cola IVs? The weather even cooperated for the second half of the Games! Cabbies didn't have much to complain about as the traffic was lighter than normal. Public transport ran really well too. And spectators were patient and jovial about the entire experience.

Much like Atlanta in 1996, London was a 2 week long party! She really was at her very best! So now we're dealing with the hangover.

Always looking on the bright side, the Paralympics start on the 29th. Hope to score seats to a few events but again tickets are hard to find.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Laura & I are headed to Wimbledon this morning! We've got coveted seats at Centre Court for the Women's Singles Gold Medal Match (Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova) then Men's Doubles Gold Medal Match (The Bryan Brothers vs. France's Tsonga and Llodra). If you're watching the matches, look for us in the crowd!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Spirit!

We have definitely got the Olympic Spirit here! 

It's 5:12 AM and we're heading to Weymouth (in Dorset, a 3 hour train ride) this morning to watch Sailing. Last night Maria, Laura and I cheered Great Britain's Women's football team to victory over Brazil along with 70,500 fans at Wembley Stadium. So fun! 

Post-victory shot

The rest of our Olympic schedule includes a visit to Olympic Park on Thursday. Then Friday it's Beach Volleyball is at Horse Guards Parade, just down from Buckingham Palace. Saturday is the big one for us... Tennis at Wimbledon. It's the Gold Medal Women's Single and Men's Doubles Matches! 

The city is alive. What a thrilling time to be in London! Pictures and commentary to come soon. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Opening Ceremonies

Let the Games begin!

Laura arrived Friday morning from Raleigh. After a nap and freshening up, we went to a friend's flat near Hyde Park for an American pre-party. Our hosts were fellow Miami alumni. Allyson had quite the American spread... homemade fried chicken, adorable cookie and pretzel dumbbells, Chex Party Mix (harder to find that you would think) and mint juleps. Leave it to me to bring British alcohol, Pimm's, a Summer staple! We really got into the spirit courtesy of an American medley of "Born in the USA" and "Proud to be an American".

Then a quick stroll down to Hyde Park for the BT London Live Concert. Each of the 4 musical acts represented different countries of the UK: Paolo Nutini for Scotland, Duran Duran for England, Sterophonics for Wales and Snow Patrol for Ireland. At 20:12 at Olympic Park, the RAF Red Arrows flyover took place. A few moments later, they soared across Hyde Park leaving in their path a stream of red, white and blue.

The Opening Ceremony was broadcast live on numerous big screens. During the Parade of Nations portion, Snow Patrol performed. We missed Team USA's entrance (but caught that online this morning). Snow Patrol did take a break for Team GB's parade to be shown and the remainder of the Ceremony was broadcast live. Amazing energy to be with 80,000 people celebrating the start of the Games!

Monday, July 23, 2012


Another reason I love London - celeb sightings. 

Today I actually spoke with Helena Bonham Carter. I had seen her a few weeks ago in my Bikram yoga class. As if improved flexibility, balance, meditation and all the rest of the benefits of Bikram yoga weren't enough, I now had additional motivation to attend class!

Fast forward to this morning. After class I walked out behind her and noticed her slip on a large wet spot on the lobby floor. I said, "Oh let me clean that up before someone slips" using my yoga towel to clean the floor. She replied with "Yeah, yeah ... (mumbled something about slipping), Thanks."  I wish I was able to make out the mumbles. Thankfully she only lost her footing for a split second.

Other encounters over the last couple months include Mischa Barton walking with friends on Primrose Hill; Creative Director of the Opening Ceremonies, Danny Boyle popping into a corner store on Marylebone High Street and Parks & Recreation's Rashida Jones sticking her fingers in her ears to silence the sound of jackhammering in Soho. 

Just waiting to run into Gwyneth or Madge one of these days. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Olympic tickets

My Olympic tickets have arrived! My great friend, Laura, is coming from Raleigh, North Carolina to visit for the Games. 

It only took a massive spreadsheet, a few international phone calls and two bank accounts to make our Olympic Dream come true. We managed to get tickets to Football (soccer), Sailing, Beach Volleyball and Tennis. Laura, an avid equestrian, will go to an Equestrian event. We also secured tickets to Olympic Park. It's a ticketed event to gain access to the Olympic venues there such as the natatorium, basketball stadium, athletics stadium, Olympic Village, etc. 

This will be the greenest games in history so Travelcards are included for spectators on the day of their event.

Can't wait for the festivities to begin! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Holy Matrimony!

Saturday I was a guest at my friend Louise's beautiful wedding. My first British wedding didn't disappoint. To use a common English phrase... "It was epic!" 

Louise was absolutely stunning in her Jenny Packham gown. Handsome groom James wore a morning suit, traditional for British weddings. There were fascinators and hats!

With the gorgeous bride
Thankfully, the English weather cooperated never dampening the events. 

I wish I had taken better pictures of the 13th century church, St. Thomas a Becket. Here are a couple courtesy of the internet.


The reception was a five minute walk down the road at Hammonds Green Farm. The perfect setting for a country wedding isn't actually a wedding venue but James' sister and brother-in-law's home. The marquee (big white tent) was expertly decorated with English garden flowers and vintage vases.

Cocktails (Pimm's and champagne) on the lawn led to a four-course roast dinner. The speeches were amusing, long and sometimes inappropriate. A great band, Welsh bride and cheeky Englishman meant the dancing was fabulous! The dance floor never stopped rockin'!

When you have a few minutes, enjoy my slideshow. 99 photos strong! You can pause, go back or skip ahead. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I see the sun!

What do you do when you're working from home, the sun comes out and the temperature reaches 73*F? You sunbath on the balcony of course!

Taking business casual to another level
Don't be jealous folks. It's not gonna last. Forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Like riding a bike again...

Yesterday I finally braved London's traffic and rode into town. Maria has an extra bike she'd loaned me. I had forgotten exactly how much I love to cycle! My bum did too.

Maria led the way, showing me the best route with cycle lanes, less congestion and easiest-to-cross intersections. SoHo was our destination as I had shopping to do in Covent Garden. It's an easy 25 minute ride. 

Surprisingly my backpack was able to hold my new purchases - heels and wellies for this weekend's  wedding! Bonus - both were on sale because it's "The July Sales". Every store has items at 30 - 50% or more off! 

Yes Mom, I wore my helmet. There's too many crazies driving on the wrong side of the road. 

On the way home I was riding solo and even managed to take a longer scenic route via Abbey Road. We live close to the famed zebra crossing (crosswalk) where the iconic Beatles photo was taken. There are always tourists there waiting to get the perfect snapshot. 

With my restored cycling confidence, I rode to & from Bikram Yoga today. The 30 minute walk is only a 10 minute ride!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Diamond Jubilee

It's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend. That means a "double bank holiday" or 4 day weekend with Monday and Tuesday off from work. The weather isn't cooperating but Britons will still celebrate. I'm headed down to the river to witness the flotilla - 1,000 boats parading with the Queen along the Thames. Festivities continue Monday and Tuesday. Will report more later...

Even the rickshaws have British spirit

Friday, June 1, 2012

Baking Frenzy!

Bake with Maria has been a busy place the last two weeks! I enjoy the role of freelance photographer with payment in baked goods.

A few of the highlights:

BREADS & SPREADS - Recipe testing for the new class. All delicious and all homemade (of course)! Pita, flatbread, hummus, tabbouleh and tzatziki.
Mediterranean breads and spreads
Puffy pita pockets
Chopping dill for the tzatziki

Hummus - my favorite!

FRENCH PASTRY - Amazing pastry chef, Pino Ficara, came from Paris to teach this course. 

Students made creme brulee, eclairs, creme puffs, napoleans and madeleines.


Pino creates a napolean.
Making eclairs and creme puffs
Better than any Parisian cafe 

Torching the creme brulee
A student's take home box.
After class, I gave it a try.

CROISSANTS - Another day, another French lesson from Pino Ficara. The lesson I learnt - exactly how much butter it takes to make a croissant. Let's just say you are much better off not knowing.

Pounding the dough
It's the Eiffel Tower! 
Creating the perfect croissant
See the layers of butter in the croissant dough? 
Rolling the pain au raisin
Pain au raisin

Pain au chocolate production
Flaky fresh croissants 


I love living in an international destination. It means visitors. And that means an excuse to try new cuisine.

Aunt Elaine was in London for a few days during her Great Gardens of England tour. We had a lovely dinner at a brilliant pub, The Abingdon, in South Kensington. It came highly recommended my friend and did not disappoint!

The national drink - Gin and Tonic
Gem salad in the bowl; Soft shell crab on the plate

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Requisite tourist picture

My good friend Katie's fiance, McKay, is stationed at an Air Force base outside of London. In town for a show prior to his deployment, we met up for dinner. As a proud Korean-American, McKay was thrilled to find a Korean restaurant in Victoria. 
Proud Americans
That's bibimbap in the stone bowls. The key is to let the rice at the very bottom continue to cook in the hot bowl. Then it's crispy and still warm at the end of your meal!
And it happened to be Memorial Day. Thanks for your service McKay!