Tuesday, July 19, 2011
London was good to me and my time there I will never ever forget. Sharing with people my experiences is like not being able to hold in a secret - I am just so excited to tell them. As much as I still miss London, and probably will for a while, something awesome happened today...I was reunited with my best friend, Miss Ashley Hopper. Our reunion today - hugging, laughing, crying and smiling is something I will never forget. What is so beautiful about our friendship is that we both spent our summers doing different things, in different places, with different people but we still come back together as simple and heart-warming as ever.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Part of our course here with Lord Cormack is a final interview with him. Thursday morning I went to Parliament a little bit earlier to have my one-on-one time with him. He asked me to share my favorite Parliament moments. PMQs, visiting Southend, meeting David Cameron, Clock Tower tour, and committee meetings are my top five. Of course going to Sports & Social is a favorite of mine as well. Coming into my internship each day, strolling around the beautiful estate, gazing at its greatness, and walking amongst some of the brightest and most important people of the UK is a unique opportunity.
After my interview with Lord Cormack I returned to the office. I was put in charge of the phones Thursday morning, as the others needed to have a staff meeting with David. I was excited because I enjoy answering the phone (and secretly checking the time to make sure I am correct in saying good morning or afternoon). Although answering the phone is a small task, its performed numerous times a day. Telephone conversations are often the primary means of communicating with constituents (or any type of client) - so its important that you make them feel taken care of and well informed. Even when I could not be of immediate help for them, I still enjoyed taking a message and reporting the calls to the rest of Team Amess.
Elliott and I went took the tube to Victoria station and had lunch together there. After lunch we took the tube back to Westminster. It was such a beautiful day on Thursday so it was a nice chance to get a little time away from the estate and savor the sunshine. Elliott knew I wanted to stop into the Westminster Abbey shop so we went there before heading back to the office.
Late in the afternoon Elliott and I joined David at two receptions. Division was called right before we went to the first one so he told us to meet him there. (FYI: When a division is called, bells located throughout the Parliamentary estate and surrounding premises ring and the TV screens have a specialized feed to notify members that a division is taking place. Also, only Members are allowed to use the lifts when a division is called.) We went to the HOC Terrace, waited outside the tent for David, and then walked into the reception with him. This one was for National Grid, which was promoting its Young Offender Program. National Grid has pioneered business involvement in the rehabilitation of offenders. It is in partnership with over 80 companies across all industries in the UK. Over 1,500 offenders have now gone through the Young Offenders Program. The program is engaged with over 22 prisons: both adult and young offender establishments. I find this scheme to be a highly effective one. I remember Ken Clark (Justice Secretary) saying in the chamber on 29 June that tackling re offending of criminals is a major concern in improving the justice system and preventing crime. He said, "We need intelligent, radical reform of the justice system to protect and serve the needs of members of law-abiding society."
The second reception that we went to was for Airwave. Elliott took a picture of David with the Airwave representatives. David had to return to the office to speak with someone about his upcoming trip to Iraq so he told Elliott and I to enjoy ourselves at the reception. We satisfied our sweet tooth with a French Fancy. I feel like a princess when I pick them up and bite into them. After a little time chatting at the reception we walked around the estate; savoring the sunshine again. When we retuned to the office, David surprised me with champagne and snacks to celebrate me. I nearly got teary when they all toasted to me. He gave me a wonderful painting of Westminster along with a card that had a touching message written inside. Laura, Gareth, Fey and Elliott also gave me a card, each writing a special note inside, and a House of Commons flask. Here I am in my MP’s office with him and the staff, sitting around the table, laughing, enjoying champagne, sharing corridor gossip, and celebrating me. Pinch me. Being that it was Thursday of course Gareth, Elliott, Laura, her close friend Lucy and myself went to Sports after work. We also stopped into the Lord’s tub for a little bit and then back to Sports. It was a great night; I am going to miss Thursdays in Parliament!
Even though Thursday was supposed to be my last day of work, I went in on Friday. I banged out a stack of casework on my last day. Amongst the stack of responses, there were two concerning constituents that I met when I went to surgery with David in June. (For the sake of confidentiality I will abbreviate names.) Ms. M, a recent university graduate, had come to surgery seeking David’s help in finding employment as a social worker. We followed this with making representations on her behalf to the council. The letter I had dealt with on Friday was a response from S-o-S, stating the council is going to assisted her and there are great opportunities in store for her. The second constituent, Mrs. G serves as a foster parent to children with medical problems. She has housed and parented a number of children who have gone on to bright futures. Mrs. G came to David that Friday asking for assistance with the boy she was currently caring for and housing. At the time of the surgery, there were no weekday, daytime activities for the boy to participate in and being that Mrs. G works during the day this was an obstacle. The letter I read on Friday regarding her case was a positive response from the council as well stating that daytime activities are now being formed. Once Mrs. G and her foster child return from their holiday and meet with his social worker, he will be able to partake in these activities. Receiving these two letters was an encouragement and a boost in spirits for me. Meeting these two constituents back in June, I understand their struggles and obviously wished the best for them. Then on my last day receiving responses from third parties, who indicated that positive opportunities lie ahead for them was elevating. I was able to see their cases through and to a positive side.
Casework completed and five bells chiming from Big Ben the sadness was setting in. I piled my letters into the red tray for David to sign, took pictures with Team Amess, turned in my pass and hugged everyone goodbye. I admire these people so much! Having become so close to them, saying goodbye was hard. I took the lift down to the Ground floor, said my farewell to my favorite postman Garry, went through the matrix security window and made my way out of 1 Parliament Street.
Justine and I enjoyed our last dinner in Kilburn at our favorite local pub: the Queen’s Arms. Being the sweetheart she is, Justine bought some dessert for Matt, herself and I: little mini strawberry cheesecake cups. Delicious. Then came the dreaded task of packing. Yet, we watched Spanglish and laughed as we stuffed our suitcases and talked to ourselves about how we going to fit everything. Well, I talked to myself. Trying not to get sappy, we reminisced about the wonderful moments we’ve shared together at Penthouse roommates (we lived on the fourth floor of our flat).
Move out day. Justine and Matt made their way out in the early hours of the morning. I woke up a couple hours later, booked a Dial-a-Cab online and finished up the rest of my packing. Thank goodness for Beriah, who carried my two heavy suitcases down stairs. True gentlemen. With my knee being all banged up, I am so happy I had his help. Oh yeah forget to tell you, fell down the escalator the other day, yikes. I said my goodbyes to Beriah and his friends from Dublin who were staying with us and made my way to the corner of the Kilburn High Road to be picked up by my cab driver. My cab driver was so helpful with my suitcases and we had a great conversation the whole way to Hilton Heathrow. Once I got to the hotel I made a few calls back home, Mom & Dad, Andrew and Ashley :)
A few days ago all I could think about was how I wanted the days to pass by slowly. Now that I am in my Hilton hotel room, with my flight tomorrow afternoon, all I want is for the time to pass quickly so I can be wrapped up the arms of my family!
Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Thursday, July 14, 2011
All through this hour
Lord be my guide
And by thy power
No foot shall slide
The Clock Tower, commonly called Big Ben, is among London’s most iconic landmarks. Big Ben’s clock mechanism was designed by London’s top barrister of the day, Edmund Beckett Denison and was quite revolutionary. It was easily the biggest clock of its time and remains one of the world’s largest timepieces. And here I was Monday at the foot of Clock Tower ready to embark on one of London’s most exclusive tours.
Elliot and myself climbed 334 steps along with the rest of the group and our friendly tour guide. We stopped twice into rooms wrapped along the Clock Tower along the way twice. The first time we stopped we sat down and listened to our guide talk about the most notable figures in designing and creating the Clock Tower. After climbing another bunch of stairs (by then about 2/3 of the way up) we stopped again. We walked into a room that was directly behind the eastern facing sundial. As we walked around the sides of the Clock Tower on that floor we saw each sundial face, South, West and North. The combined weight of the clock faces is over 5 tons; being made of iron rails and 312 pieces of opal glass. The clock and dials were designed by Augustus Pugin. (Now I know why the Tea Room in the HOC is called the Pugin Room!) The dials are 23 feet in diameter and the numbers are 2 feet tall. Luckily for us the sun was shining and we got to see the minute hand move to the next minute. At the base of each face (we learned this since we could not see it from inside obviously) there is the inscription DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, which translates as “Lord save our Queen Victoria I.”
It was then the last of the stairs we climbed next till we reached where the big bell and the four smaller bells were. The big bell is 8 feet in diameter and weighs a little over 13 tons. This bell is decorated with the Portcullis of Westminster and the Royal Arms. Our guide also pointed out the inscription on the bell, which reads: This bell was cast by George Mears of Whitechapel for the clock of the Houses of Parliament under the direction of Edmund Becket Denison QC in the 21st year of the reign of Queen Victoria in the year of our Lord MDCCCLVIII. The most exciting moments of the tour were here because we witnessed the 12 o’clock chimes; the great grandeur of the bells. Also the views of London are spectacular from the bell room.
On the way down we stopped into the Clock Room or the Engine Room. The clock’s movement is famous for its reliability. There is a pendulum installed within an enclosed windproof box sunk beneath the clockroom. It is 3.9m long, weights 300 kg and beats every 2 seconds. The clockwork mechanism in this room weighs 5 tons. On top of the pendulum is a small stack of old penny coins (which we were able to see); these are to adjust the time of the clock. The entire tour lasted around an hour and a half and it was quite an enjoyable time. It was truly an amazing experience to get the chance to visit what is quite possibly the most famous and well-known landmark in London.
After a long day at work, my office and I went to dinner along The Strand at Pizza Express. It was so nice to socialize and be together away from Parliament. I am really going to miss each one of them so much. After dinner I returned home for a short while and then we all went to our last Monday night out at O’Neill’s. Going to miss it there a lot; the people, the music, everything.
Members of the press were swarming Westminster on Tuesday. The Home Affairs Committee was holding a meeting on illegal use and misconduct of mobile and other technological hacking. I had attended multiple Home Affairs Committee meetings that I had found interesting, however I knew this one was going to be an attention grabbing one. Rt Hon Keith Vaz is the elected Chair of the Home Affairs Committee. I could not help but think that since his appointment on 9 June 2010, this has to be the most imperative and controversial meeting he has experienced as chair thus far.
At this select committee meeting, multiple senior police officers that investigated the phone hacking scandal were questioned, or actually grilled. Four witnesses appeared: John Yates (Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police), Peter Clarke (Former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner), Andy Hayman (Former Assistant Commissioner), and Sue Akers (Deputy Assistant Commissioner).
The MPs were investigating the police’s response to the hacking affair by deriding evidence from John Yates, one of Scotland Yard’s most senior officers. As a matter of fact this was fueling calls from his resignation. Yates faced 50 minutes of hostile questions before the committee over the force’s faults in the initial investigation into the hacking at the News of the World. Keith Vaz told Yates that his evidence was “unconvincing” after he said he did not plan to resign over the handling of the inquiry. Yates did express regret at his decision back in 2009 that there was no need to reopen the phone-hacking investigation but insisted he had always told the truth to the committee. He suggested that News of the World “failed to co-operate” with police until the start of this year. He said he had “never, ever, ever” received payment from journalists for information but admitted it was “highly probable” some of his officers did.
Back in September of last year, Yates had told the Home Affairs Committee that police had ensured that mobile phones companies had warned all customer who has been identified as victims of hacking. In May of this year, witnesses from the phone companies confirmed to the committee that in fact none of them had been told to warn victims among their customers. All but one had followed normal protocol and kept their findings confidential because of the police inquires. Yates responded to the discussion of this instance with, “there was a range of correspondence” between police and the phone companies and “in retrospect, it may not have been followed through in the way that it should have been.”
Andy Hayman, who was in ultimate charge of the 2006 phone hacking investigation later went on to become a columnist at The Times. At the meeting he rejected suggestions that he was in the “back pocket” of The Times, a News International Paper. Hayman said that as far as he could recall he did not raise the issues of News International’s failure to co-operate with detectives because he was not aware of it at that time. Keith Vaz told him that his approach appeared to be “like Clouseau rather than Columbo”.
Peter Clarke admitted that his strategy did not work and said it was “utterly regrettable” that crime victims whose phones were hacked did not receive the support they needed sooner. When he and his officers went to the News of the World on the day the paper’s then-Royal editor Clive Goodman was arrested in August 2006, he said that they were met with “hostility and obstruction”. He added, “If at any time News International had offered some meaningful cooperation instead of prevarication and what we know now to be lies, we would not be here today.” Sue Akers who is leading the new hacking inquiry said, "There is an awful lot to do" after revealing police had compiled a list of more than 12,000 names and numbers.
Tuesday night I went to Sports to just dicompress after a long day. Before I met up with my friends Josh and Tom, I sat down on the comfy benches and started a conversation with these two ladies, Helen and Lisa. Both work with the Association of Colleges. The three of us bonded over our belief in promoting higher education and provinding individuals with the resources they need to succeed. AoC exists to promote the interests of colleges and provide members with guidance, advice and other support services. I asked them what inquiries are out right now concerning education. Helen stressed to be the Information Advice and Guidance Policy. IAG assists learners to think about what training or learning they might be interested in. It helps them think about how they can make the most of the skills. Also it helps them identify and overcome barriers which may stop them from achieving their full potential. Career development is a major focus; IAG works to support and motivate individuals to manage their career development. I really enjoyed talking to the ladies especially because I could sense their passion for promoting education in our discussion. As it turns out, when I mentioned the details of my program here in Parliament (internship and seminar with LC), Helen told me that she is related to Lord Cormack (he is her grandfather's cousin). I ended up staying around for a while after talking with Helen and Lisa. I met up with Josh and Tom for a litte bit. Later, Alice spotted me and asked me join her and the others. I went on to having a lovely time first in Sports and then on the Terrace with Beriah, Alice, Amy, Adrian, Chris, Raquela with Gavin Williamson MP. He is Beriah and Alice's MP. A night that I had nothing planned, ended up being a wonderful one with great discussions and laughs.
Wednesday morning we joined Lord Cormack at The Athenaeum Club, a notable London Club located between Green Park and Piccadilly Circus. The club charmed us all with its large libraries, beautiful carpeting, a grand staircase and imperial embellishments. The exterior of the club house is decorated with a bas-relief frieze. Members of the club include Cabinet Ministers, senior civil servants, Lords (referred to as Peers of the Realm) and senior bishops. For many years the club was widely seen to represent the peak of London's clubland for the public intellectual with most members of the Athenaeum being men of inherited wealth and status. Then under Rule II it came to be that the club additionally admitted men "of distinguished eminence in Science, Literature, the Arts or for Public Service." It was not until 2002, that members voted to admit women. I felt honored that Lord Cormack booked a room to host us at his club for our seminar. It was mainly a wrap-up seminar where LC the Parliamentary political system, political parties, and committees further. Yet we also discussed the latest news regarding Rupert Murdoch, Scotland Yard, and News International. Of course we requested to take a picture with Lord Cormack after our seminar, too bad he doesn't have a Facebook for me to tag him.
We walked back to Parliament from the Athenaeum Club through St James Park. The park is bounded by Buckingham Palace to the west, The Mall and St James' Palace to the North and Horse Guards to the east. So while I was walking through the park not only did it offer me an abundant peacefulness, it also treated me to stunning views of some of London's most iconic attractions. As I was walking through the Park, I thought a lot about my time here. I am really going to miss London as this experience has been one that I will truly never forget. It has made me more eager to travel and pursue more enlightening experiences. I've learned a lot about myself over here. I feel that I have a better appreciation for myself (not to sound boastful I promise) and know that I am capable of so much. As the door on London is coming to a close soon, I am eager to see what the next door that opens offers me.
Life is like a library owned by the author.
In it are a few books he wrote himself,
But most of them were written for him.
Harry Emerson Fosdick
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Souvenir and gift shopping today after Sunday mass at Westminster Cathedral. Considering that was a portion of my day, I decided to do a blog post about the biggest headline in the news today and some commentary.
Headline: best-selling tabloid, the News of the World, published its last edition today.
Rubert Murdoch, the 80-year-old News Corp. CEO arrived in London today to take charge of his media empire’s phone-hacking crisis, as his notorious tabloid published its last. Yet the scandal lives on despite his sacrifice of the 168-year-old paper at the heart of it. He was seen reading the paper’s last issue today in a red Range Rover as he was driven to the east London offices of his U.K. newspaper division, News International. Murdoch met with News International’s chief executive, Rebekha Brooks, later today at his London apartment. Brooks led News of the World when its reporters committed some of the most atrocious ethical blunders. Murdoch has publicly backed Brooks who obviously insists she had no knowledge of wrongdoing.
The drama that has absorbed media watchers in Britain and around the world has expanded at a quick pace following allegations News of the World journalists paid police for information and hacked into the voicemails of young murder victims and the grieving families of dead soldiers. The scraping of the media empire however has not tempered the British anger over the improprieties by journalists working for Robert Murdoch. His $19 billion deal to take full control of satellite broadcaster BSKYB remains in great jeopardy. The paper’s demise does not dismiss the questions surrounding Murdoch’s media corporation, which has been hugely influential in British politics for years. Leader among them is what did Murdoch, Brooks and other executives know about the actions of News of the World journalists?
Some 200 journalists have been laid off while Rebekah Brooks has kept her job. Three people have been arrested including PM David Cameron’s former communication chief, Andy Coulson. Tom Watson, Labour member of the Commons culture committee, stated that Murdoch and Mrs Brooks should be called to face MPs’ questions about the internal inquiry and when they knew about it. The Guardian reported today that only recently were emails and memos from 2007 handed over to police indicating News International was aware that phone hacking was more widespread than publicly acknowledged. BBC reported that News International had discovered emails at the same time period that suggested payment were being offered to police for information. The paper issued a full-page apology in its last edition today. It stated, “"We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards," the editorial read…Quite simply, we lost our way."
Some view shutting down the News of the World as a frantic move to stem negative fallpit from the hacking scandal thus sufficing Murdoch 19 billion to get full ownership of BSKYB which he already holds a stake in. I remember sitting in the House of Commons chamber on Thursday 30 June (l ½ wks) and witnessing the Urgent Question over allowing Murdoch to have full ownership. Looking back at my notes now from that day, I wrote down Tom Watson’s comments: “better practice of media companies is needed and the criminality of newspaper is valuable evidence of this.” How ironic then all that came out this week?
Much more is to unfold. It will definitely be coming up in Parliament this week no doubt. It is the first day of my last week tomorrow.; I cannot believe it is already here. I am excited for what Parliament brings this week and sad at the thought of leaving the place. It has become such a home to me, and so has London. I can imagine myself having a life over here. Only time will tell though where my life’s path will lead.
"March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on and fear not the thorns or the sharp stones on life's path."
- Kahlil Gibran
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Like many big cities, Saturdays are branded as market days here in London. Around noon I headed over to Borough Market. When I made my way out of the London Bridge station, I saw the extensive queue outside the London Dungeon. Just want to say, this place scarred me nine years ago.) After glancing at the people who had no idea what they were in store for I strolled over to Borough Market.
Borough Market is set beneath the railway viaducts between the river Thames and Borough High Street in South East London. It sprawls around an atmospheric series of mazy streets and walkways. There is also a labyrinthine central area where there are two more self-contained markets. The Market’s gourmet food market consists of up to nearly 100 stalls and stands. What’s interesting is that there are also restaurants or food markets that have a legitimate dwelling place so they are intermixed with the Thurs-Saturday producers. These producers bring a range of fresh produce to the market, including fish, meats, vegetables, ciders, olives, cheese, breads, coffees, teas, cakes and patisseries. Some stalls specialize in produce imported from abroad.
As I made my way up the walkway no.1 (with many to follow), I could smell the sizzling meats from the road and followed my nose to see what was going on. I came across The Guildable Manor. Then my eyes were fixed on the long queue. I figured if the queue is that long and people are willing to wait, it must be good. First off, I have to note that this isn’t a formal restaurant but rather a pop-up stall. To make use of my waiting time, I called the shore and caught up with Mom. Of course, she was next off to a bike ride with Dad along Ocean Drive. Before I knew it, it was my time to order. I ordered a Chicken Baguette. The chicken was marinated in lemon, parsley & fresh garlic. Baguettes come with baby leaf salad, sweet red onions and handmade coleslaw. Once you have your meat and baguette, you can pick from a variety of sauces ranging from harissa to salsa verde to aioli to sweet chili. I opted for the Harissa as I love a little spice as well as the Sweet Chili Sauce to calm it down a little bit. The chicken was tender and flavorful and the sauces exceptional. The meat was cooked just long enough to release the great taste without going into the tough and chewy territory. The veggies were super fresh, providing a range of textures to contrast the tender meat and super fluffy bread. It was tasty, luscious and mouth-watering. For £4.50 it’s a solid lunch that will keep you pretty full.
After walking around after my lunch, I enjoyed a refreshing Apple, Pear & Mint juice, made to order from The Total Organic Juice Bar. The juice bar uses all organic fruits and vegetables; the only thing the stand grows is the wheatgrass. All the other fruits and vegetables are bought from organic farmers. I spoke with the man that was making my juice a little bit about the business and what makes them stand out. He said, “It’s really important to use organic because it’s more sustainable and has less impact on the environment. You all feel good about drinking it.” The verdict: delicious and cool.
On Tuesday following a night out celebrating Indepedence Day with friends, a few of us went to Nando’s for dinner after work.
Nando’s has been on the list of restaurants to try since I arrived because everyone raves about it here. (I know there are some in DC too.) Nando’s had quality food, friendly staff, quick service and excellent value. It was a great place for the four of us to meet up and eat. As I read some signs in the restaurant I read that each Nando’s is tailored to its local surroundings and customers. I think that’s a great feature because it offers up a unique restaurant experience to go with the equally unique taste of their legendary, Portugese, Peri-Peri chicken. The chicken is super fresh and marinated for 24 hours in a secret, now not so secret, brew called peri-peri and then it is cooked to your liking over an open flame. Word of advice: go with 1+ people that have been there before and know how the menu works or don’t be afraid to ask the waiter/waitress for advice.
About two weeks before the school year ended we received an email from ESU. The English Speaking Union is an international educational charity that is aimed at bringing together and empowering people of all different languages and cultures. Their goal is to build skills and confidence in communication such that individuals realize their potential. ESU has almost 40 branches in the UK and over 50 international branches in countries around the world. ESU promotes a variety of activities such as debating, public speaking, conferences, seminars and student exchange programs. Lord Cormack is in close connection with the ESU and particularly close with Lord Hunt, the chairman of ESU. ESU endorses parliamentary exchange programs where they place about 12 British students in the offices of US Congress members and in turn places American and French students in the offices of MPs at Westminster.
The email we received from ESU that day back in late April was an invitation to the House of Lords Tea Party and Boat Trip. Lord Hunt of Wirral hosted the annual event. In years past, the event was only afternoon tea. However this year for the first time, an exclusive boat trip prior to afternoon tea set off from Westminster Pier and we cruised along the Thames to Greenwich and then returned. Following the boat cruise we all gathered on the House of Lords terrace. There were individual tables, all decked with tea, sandwiches, scones, and cakes. It was a magnificent event especially because I met two women who were born and raised near me at home in Philadelphia. Beriah, Justine and myself first talked to one of the ladies on the boat cruise when we were waiting in the queue for some coffee and snacks. As we strolled to the House of Lords terrace and entered the beautifully decorated tents, the three of us were told to not sit together and spread ourselves out. So I sat next to my new friend from the boat cruise! Her friend joined at that point and we had a wonderful time chatting about the US, the UK, education, fashion over the delicious tea and treats. Us girls all swapped emails making the ESU vision to provide networking opportunities a reality. Mid way through the event, Lord Hunt spoke before the guests. At one point he said, “We are thrilled to have our American interns here with us today (and then said all of our names and what we have been doing).” Being mentioned by Lord Hunt to all of these people gathered on the terrace was so surreal and special.
|Justine and I with the London Eye behind us|
|Directly in front of Tower Bridge on the boat|
After the Tea Party, I met up with a close Parliament friend. We went to dinner in Piccadilly Circus to a restaurant called Busaba. Easily one of the best Thai restaurants in London and earns a ranking in my TOP 10 London Restaurant meals. I can’t say enough good things about it. Awesome atmosphere; fresh and modern. The interiors, with dark oriental woods and low lighting created a sultry, exotic tone in the communal dining space. Service was good-natured, fast and efficient. But it is the kitchen that’s winning plaudits. The two of us shared the Green vegetable curry (with Thai aubergine, corn and coconut hearts), Red lamb curry (with lychee and cherry tomato), Thai calamari (with ginger and peppercorn), Jasmine rice, and a bottle of Sauvignon Black False Bay, S.Africa. Textures and flavors married beautifully. The colors and presentation were dazzling. The menu offers a wide selection of Thai and Asian cuisine with some very interesting options. The food was very tasty, and spicy with lots of different flavors.
Thursday = Library day. There was not much to do in the office, and the House had already sat earlier in the day so I took to time to do research in the House of Commons library. Again, the man who I think did not take a typing class was there. He was pressing every key with one finger. Yikes. Thursday night we went to Sports for the second to last time. It was nice seeing the group of doorkeepers in the corner chatting. They are all older men, who are so stern during their workdays but come the end of the day they are a socializing and entertaining bunch. Sports & Social is such a great social gathering place in Parliament especially because I get to meet up with Parliament friends after work and also make more friends from being there.
Last night after work, I met up with one of David’s constituents, Julian, who I had met when I did my visit to Southend-West. He recently, this week actually, started a new job near Westminster. We talked back and forth this week and planned to meet after work on Friday outside Westminster. After meeting up there we headed off to Covent Garden for dinner at Carluccio’s. Since Covent Garden, Leichester Square and Piccadilly Circus are all so close to one another, we walked around and popped into O’Neills for a little bit. Chatting with a constituent of David’s, who is not one of the staff in my office, over dinner and drinks was really incredible. It shows me how when you take full advantage of positive networking and opportunities and you are respectful towards others, great friendships can emerge.
Hard to believe that this time next week I will be sitting in my hotel room near Heathrow Airport waiting for Sunday to come when I fly back to the States.
Got my dream, got my life, got my love
Got my friends, got the sunshine above
Why am I making this hard on myself
When there's so many reasons I have to be happy
Natasha Bedingfield, "Happy"