The problem, once I’ve passed a month of not blogging, becomes finding a way to get back into the habit with an overwhelming backlog of things to write about. But pushing 8 weeks of no content, I’ve got to bite the bullet and see what I can cover in an epic recap post. Here we go….
On 12 May, not long after my mother got to experience the amazing Fulham win against Hamburg at the wonderful Craven Cottage, Fulham travelled to Germany to play Atletico Madrid in the Europa finals. The momentum of the team, the belief of the fans, the absolute impossibility that they would make it to the finals at all left Fulham fans with every assurance of a win at the end… but it was not to be. In a pub in east London, I felt a true sportsfan’s despair as Fulham played a fantastic match but couldn’t overcome Madrid to take the final trophy.
On 20 May, I attended the first tech event for a long while and made up for lost time with the very well organised Social Entertainment and Tech Breakfast at the Edelman PR firm offices in London. A great lineup of speakers talked about the role social media is playing in the entertainment space, particular in broadcast entertainment.
26 May saw my rather impromptu decision to apply for the UK Apprentice (the show made famous by Donald Trump in the States) and with the help of my Top Floor Flatmate, I whisked off an application, under the vain delusions that I am clearly better than any of the other applicants in the country (that’s the California optimism coming through!)
I’ve been keeping busy at the gym throughout the last two months with 29 May marking the date that I smashed the girls’ record for the indoor triathalon at my gym, shaving about 1/3 off the previous top time. Was quite proud of myself and got to enjoy the rest of the day of an international food celebration with Ann in honour of Eurovision, a strange European tradition where representatives from a variety of European and non-European (but nearby) countries sing terrible songs while viewers from each country vote for the countries that would probably end up on their side in a war. It’s all very strange.
By 30 May I had decided that I would have to start seriously applying myself to GMAT studies if my vague plans for “oh business school someday” were to ever become a reality – more to ensure I don’t forget any more math than because I wanted to get going on the application. I took a break on 1 June to celebrate and panic at the fact that date marked two years since I arrived in England – and to fully embrace my new-found Britishness, I spent the evening on a rainy football pitch, trying out for an 11-a-side girls’ team (translation, I tried out for a girls soccer team).
Not to make myself out to be too healthy and cultured the last couple months, as 2 June saw me indulging in the sin of gambling at a PokerStars tournament where I was seated at a table with Victoria Coren, one of the premiere female poker players in the world (who in addition to robbing us all blind is a gorgeous, talented writer of both a fantastic autobiography and a weekly column in The Guardian). Despite my competition I still ended up placing 5th overall and picked up a bit of a poker bug. Fortunately there was no buy in and no cash winnings otherwise I would have been totally hooked.
To atone for my gambling sins, I surrounded myself with incredibly talented, driven and entrepreneurial women at the Women 2.0 dinner on 4 June where I met some fantastical ladies and had a chance to catch up with a few old friends.
My terror at realizing I had been in the UK for two years was only equaled on 7 June, the date that marked 24 years since I arrived in the world. I had a low-key birthday and the opposite of a low-key cake created by the incredible Top Floor Flatmate Ann.
Although my birthday day was quiet, I was going to make up for it on 12 June with a little celebration in honour of my birth and, more importantly, the USA vs England match in the World Cup. From then on out, the World Cup and work began to dominate my life. Group rounds proved an emotional challenge as the USA was robbed of goals, saddled with horrendous refs and still managed to pull through at the last minute. England was causing heartache for their fans as well with dismal performances against the USA and Algeria.
On 15 June I got to squeeze in a visit with a friend of mine from Colby. Chris was stopping off in London on his way back to America from Austria. He had joined us for my birthday celebration and we managed to catch another World Cup match in a classic British pub for dinner on a gorgeous sunny day. I can’t for the life of me remember what match we saw but it was great to spend the evening with a friend from Colby and his lovely girlfriend in a traditional, riverside pub.
I had a slight break from football on 21 June when Wimbledon kicked off in earnest with Roger Federer coming dangerously close to losing in the first round but fortunately he hung in long enough for me to turn my attention back to USA and England’s performances and on 23 June they both eeked through to the next round of the World Cup, USA amazingly leading the group and set to play Ghana in the match ahead. Landon Donovan’s goal with less than four minutes left to play was probably one of the top 10 sporting moments I’ve ever experiences, right up there with Fulham beating Hamburg and the Red Sox winning the 2004 playoff series against the Yankees.
Poor England was stuck with Germany and not even the loyal fans, generally ready to forgive them early performances, had much hope for the outcome of that pairing. The day wasn’t over yet as this also marked arguably the most epic Wimbledon match in history, the 10+ hour marathon of Mahut and Isner which began before the football and, as I incredulously followed on my phone, continued during my commute, through my walk home, until I got back to my television and so late that they had to postpone the match into the next day (the third day of play).
Sports continued to play a dominate theme in the month. While I was looking forward to the USA v Ghana match, I got some bad news about Fulham – it seemed their manager, Roy Hodgson, had performed so well with the team the season before, and so well as a pundit during the world cup, he was getting eyed by the bigger, and wealthier teams in the league. Rumours were flying that he’d soon be off to Liverpool, leaving us Cottagers behind.
Rumours were still unconfirmed heading into the weekend of the USA v Ghana match but before I could focus on football, I first had a visit from Nina, a close friend from high school who was in London for a few days between Oxford and Cambridge jaunts. Selecting some favourites from my London in 48 Hours tour, we raced around the city on her first day, then took advantage of the sunny weather to head out to Greenwich on 26 June. That evening, while Nina opted for a different kind of British culture (she was off to the Globe for a production of Macbeth) I returned to my local pub for an evening of white-knuckled USA supporting.
The eventual defeat of the Americans shouldn’t have come as a surprise but I was devastated when their World Cup trip ended. My only consolation was that, less than 24 hours later, on 27 June, Englanders would feel my pain (times four) as Germany beat the England team 4-1. A weekend of rubbish refs, the crippling confirmation that Fulham was to lose Roy, and too much pub food was balanced with how fantastic it was to have Nina visiting, and the glorious California weather she brought with her.
With all of the sports of June, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I had done very little work but despite my sports fixation, in fact 90% of my mental capacity was focused solely on Spoonfed and the upcoming product launch for Bullseyehub, our fantastic new bit of software which allows companies in the entertainment space to better communicate with their customers. My role at the company transformed into full-time bug tester as we barreled our way through June and to the looming launch party date, by which we needed to have tested, perfected and released Bullseyehub to the world.
I needn’t have worried as our incredible team pulled it off without a hitch and on 30 June, we got to show friends, family and London press what we’d been working on for the last 12 months. The launch night was incredible and something I’ll never forget – one of my proudest moments. I was so rewarding to have been involved in the project from start to finish and to be able to share that with the Spoonfed team as well as the attendees of our launch event.
The good news at Spoonfed didn’t end there. On 1 July, New Media Age, one of the top trade publications for marketing and advertising, published an article about listings websites that heavily featured Spoonfed and some of the great work we’d done with advertisers in the past.
The whole team was ready to celebrate and as a reward for all of our hard work, on 3 July the company directors had arranged a special day out at the horse races (yes, more gambling!). Ladies dressed to the nines (with hats that looked more like small allotment gardens than headwear) strolled through the green paddock while the nation’s top horses prepped for their sprints. The Spoonfed team, of course, celebrated in a private box overlooking the finish line, quaffing champagne, losing unfortunate amounts of money and generally having a wonderful time.
The 4th of July didn’t register on my American holiday radar until I got a text in the morning wishing me a happy Independence Day. I was more distracted by the Sunday Times, which featured Spoonfed once again – a whole article on grads making good with a big picture of our Spoonfed offices. The weather seemed to be celebrating as well and I got to take advantage of the sun with a tennis match on a clay court (the first time I’d played on anything other than a hard court) with Spoonfed director Alex before we gave up our own attempts at tennis greatness to watch the end of the Wimbledon final.
Whew! I knew I’d get there in the end! I’m all up to date with the exciting things that have been happening lately. While I hope to get a full commentary on World Cup mayhem from an England perspective, my most lasting and proudest memories from the last 8 weeks will be related to Bullseyehub, the Spoonfed Media team and our successes as a company. I’m so excited for what the next six months will bring us and am looking forward to the rest of my British summer.
Hopefully there’ll be quite a bit more time to keep my blog up to date.
Last night was the heartbreaking second overtime defeat of Fulham FC by Atletico Madrid in the finals of the Europa League. The feeling when that Atletico ball hit the back of the net with less than four minutes left in the second overtime – minutes away from a penalty shoot out – was absolutely devastating. But now, having given away the unhappy ending, I can focus on what was, without question, the greatest sports experience of my life and my mother’s last full day in the UK.
It was already set to be a very sporty day. We had plans to visit the Wimbledon grounds and museum to get a taste of the famous tennis venue, even if we couldn’t see any matches, and that evening we were off to see Fulham play a home match against Hamburg in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
The Wimbledon grounds had a great little museum, outlining the history of the club and the game of tennis however much more exciting was the tour. Although the Championships are still almost two months away, there was already a lot of activity underway to get the grass prepared, the facilities in top shape and the tournament going. In fact, both Court 1 and Centre Court had 24 hour guard staff and guard dogs to protect the grass. Our tour guide claimed it was to keep the foxes off but the speed of the guards’ reaction when someone on the tour got too close to the grassy courts suggested they were prepared to tackle bigger threats to the greenery.
The highlights of the tour were, of course, Court 1 and Centre Court but also, a surprise as I hadn’t expected this to be part of the tour, the briefing room. Mom and I got to spend a happy few moments pretending we were winning Wimbledon players in the press room, chatting with reporters about our successful match.
We ended the tour at Centre Court and it was probably the closest I will ever be to that lawn but even with empty seats, no players and guards watching the grass, the atmosphere was electric and I can only imagine how exciting it must be to watch the finals in that stadium.
The afternoon allowed us some time to shop around Wimbledon. While Wimbledon is considered part of greater London, it has a completely unique feel to the rest of the city. It is significantly more rural, the Wimbledon golf course adding some open space between the residential area and some of the busier parts of London, and the pace is a bit less frantic. Wimbledon Village still retains a village feel – and has some great shopping.
A long morning in Wimbledon left us just enough time for a quick tour through the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington before heading back to Fulham for dinner and pregame drinks. We found a perfect riverside pub, The Blue Anchor, for a last plate of fish and chips while I caught my mother up on Fulham’s incredible journey through the Europa League which had brought them to the semi-finals, briefed her on our key players, and generally talked soccer until she tuned out completely.
Finally it was game time. The whole Fulham riverside was buzzing and we definitely weren’t the only people heading from the Blue Anchor to the game. Fulham had to win tonight – a draw or a loss would see them removed from the tournament and the crowd was ready for a show.
Things got off to a rough start when Hamburg scored just before the end of the first half and my mother began to wonder how she would deal with a distraught daughter on the last night before her flight home should things continue to spiral downward.
She needn’t have worried. With 20 minutes left in the match, Fulham pulled ahead 2-1 and the Cottage exploded. Known for being one of the most calm, family-friendly and sedate stadiums and set of fans in the league, the Cottage and Cottagers were all in unison screaming their heads off – and the noise didn’t let up until the final whistle, sending Fulham through to the Europa finals. It was, without question, one of the greatest nights of my life and I’m so glad I got to share that with my mother (who didn’t entirely understand the significance of the event but was happy we won – even if just so as not to put up with me the next day).
And that officially ends my mother’s one week in England. I’ll try to do a recap post with all of the places we visited and links to attractions we saw. It was a crazy, busy, exciting, whirlwind of a week and although I may have tired her out immensely, I think we both enjoyed the whole experience.
Before I break my record for longest amount of time ever without updating my blog, and at the same time get massively behind in all of the amazing things that have been happening here in London and at The Top Floor Flat, I’ll try to get caught up with an event from last Monday.
In what was perhaps the second-most quintessentially British evening of my stay in London to date (following last year’s last night of the BBC Proms), last Monday Alex took me to see the Fulham Football Club’s premier league match against northerner team Hull.
Although I would call myself a football fan, I can’t say I had done much about following the sport. But I knew enough to support Fulham (my local team) and had walked or jogged past their stadium a couple of times so I was quite excited to see the inside of the grounds and support my team. Although they haven’t been performing particularly well this season, they promised to be fairly evenly matched against Hull.
The stadium is a fantastic old pitch right alongside the river. The south side of the grounds opens out onto a walkway along the Thames which must be fantastic in the summer and spring, especially for afternoon games. Although it was already dark by the time we arrived, and getting a bit chilly, the crowd was well up for it with both Fulham and Hull supporters turning out in force – especially considering it was a Monday night.
It ended up being a fantastic match, with Fulham taking the lead right at the end of the first half and scoring a second halfway through the second half to beat Hull 2-0. I was so excited to have the opportunity to see a match and really look forward to going again soon.
A fun bit of sports trivia that I happened to discover the same day – Fulham Football Club and the Boston Red Sox will be pairing up to do some cross promotional marketing. I knew I had picked the right footie club to support ;-).