With the coming of morning, the three of us were up and going again. We had about a 30 min drive to the school where our clinic was being held. Chris shared some breakfast bars on the way, which was nice. Once we were there we stood outside, and it was a little chilly. Chris and Axel started tossing a disc back and forth. A brand new disc might I add, as we were specifically instructed not to bring crap discs to this. At one point, Chris' toss went right next to me. Easily catchable by me if I'd stuck my hand out. But I didn't. The disc sailed past me... and into the parking lot. Wah wah. No more new disc. I laughed and said sorry to Axel. If I'd known it was going to end up on pavement, I definitely would've mustered the energy to actually catch the disc.
We got corralled after a bit into the gym where we were given the intro and the scoop on the day. The clinic would be run by two of the top Clapham Players. For those in the US who follow Disc, Clapham is the reigning UK champion team and this year at Worlds they took Revolver to double game point. So they are GOOD. Sion "Brummie" Scone and Dom Clark were our coaches for the day. Once we went outside, I was excited for the day. They had told us to plan for/pack for wind and rain, letting us know the only reason they'd stop the clinic would be for lightning. Well, it was gorgeous. Sunny as all get out. And no one had prepared for that. I definitely didn't have sunscreen. Ha. So we all went home a little burnt. I struggled at the beginning of the clinic especially when it came to my flick hucks. I kept shorting them, and blading them, and then I got in my head about it. I know how to throw these! I was frustrated. In the next drills, we learned how to play better defense, which was very helpful for me. There were throwers in these drills as well, and at first I made my partner (who kept switching as we tried to match up against different people we didn't know) throw anytime we were on the left side of the field. Eventually though I said to myself, avoiding this throw that you are having trouble with isn't going to help you. It's just going to make it worse. So I swallowed my worries and started throwing from that side. If anything I should be throwing MORE from that side, not less. I pulled myself out of the funk and fixed my throw (though I still don't have the distance I want). As the day continued, they split us into two groups one to learn a vertical stack defensive play, and the other to learn a horizontal. Chris and Axel went to the horizontal group, which left me to go learn vertical. The defense they were teaching us is called "Frankie" and when it's done right, it works REALLY well. The offense had a super hard time getting throws off. The other group took a super long time so we were done long before them. Long enough, that Dom taught us what they were learning as well. Then we all came together to play a huge scrimmage. We named our team "Stein" as a play on words from Frankie. The other team named themselves "Sion Scone" as if he didn't already have a big enough ego (shaking my head). The game went well. I knew that I was playing with top tier Uni players and yes, some people were extremely hard to guard. I had my share of mistakes, and see that, but I stayed out of my head and contributed 3 points for my team. Team Stein took the win on universe point 11-10, so I was very pleased to not only have won, but to have contributed significantly to the scoring. That was the most important thing for me to get out the clinic: make sure I feel valuable and am contributing not taking away from the team. All in all a successful clinic.
Afterwards, we went to find showers (which were locked and had to be opened for us), then of course they were ICE COLD and showed 0 indication they were going to get warm anytime in the future. So it was more a rinse than an actual shower. Because I just couldn't tolerate how freezing it was. After that Chris and Axel wanted to stick around for the afternoon discussions on Uni Ultimate being led by Benji Heywood, so I was game to hang out as well. The talks didn't all apply to me, as some of them were geared toward Women's Ultimate; but they were all interesting none-the-less, especially in light of comparing them to Ultimate in the states. Some significant differences here, some good, some bad.
After that Chris and Axel were set to head to Manchester where they would be staying the night. Since I was already 3/4 of the way to London, I was just going to continue on my way down there. I wasn't sure where I'd be sleeping, figuring I'd find a place in Leicestershire or down in London. As we were headed out, an Italian guy asked for a ride to the train station as well. I found out he was going to Notting Hill, very close to where my hotel would be sunday night, so I got to know him and we went together. We got dropped off, then he wanted to find some food, but we struck out so we ended up just waiting at the train platform getting to know each other. Gaby offered to let me stay the night at his place. This is one of the reasons I absolutely love Ultimate players. They are so kind and giving and this happens ALL the time. Anytime someone is traveling for a tournament it's almost always guaranteed they can find somewhere to stay with another, local, player. I was very grateful as this would save me at least £60. On the train we talked more and Gaby let me know about some hat tournaments that would be happening throughout the year in neighboring countries. May as well play disc in as many places as I can while I'm here, right?! We alternated between chatting and dozing for the hour ride. When we got there we switched to the tube, and it was almost midnight. Gaby missed his stop and we had to backtrack, ha. We were both exhausted. But finally we got to his place and we crashed out.
Next morning we woke up around 9 or 930 and went to scavenge some breakfast. I just said we could go to a grocer, where I got some pecan sticky buns, some pepperoni, some pineapple chunks, and an OJ for around £3. Then we needed to get a bus over to Regent's Park. When we got on though, the driver told us he didn't take cash, so I couldn't ride. We ended up getting back off and I felt bad because I'd messed up Gaby's morning. He was very nice about not being upset and we set off to find me an oyster card so I could ride the bus. We wandered the streets looking for a shop that sold them. The first was closed, the second sold out, but finally we found one. By this time though we were close to a subway so Gaby opted for that instead. The oyster card was fine because it let me ride the rest of the weekend without having to pay anything else. We eventually got to Regent's Park, and had to walk almost the length of the park to get to where Gaby was going. More Ultimate :) Nothing I'll complain about. So what if I played for 8 hours straight yesterday? MORE! So I cleated up and started meeting people. This was the Camden Ultimate team. Some of them were pretty good, others not as much. I lost myself in the game and just played. It was frustrating that their players had set things they did, like one of the cutters told me that my position ALWAYS cut deep first, then breakside under. Fine by me, but this shouldn't always be a rote, specific cut. It should be an option, but you shouldn't always have to immediately cut deep if the under is clear. I wasn't going to argue though as it wasn't my team and I didn't really care. I had some drops, but some good plays as well. I could tell after we were done that I was going to be sore and my hamstrings hurt. When we were de-cleating and cooling down I asked someone what time it was and she told me 1:48pm. O_O Yikes. I had a meeting at 3 on the other side of the city!
I quickly gathered my things and set off back across the park to the subway station I'd come from, which was the closest one. I had completely lost track of time (worth it). So I no longer had time to check in at my hotel, get showered, and head over without all my stuff. So back to the Tube lugging all my stuff (though it was cakewalk compared to last weekend) and then navigating to the other side of the city. When I got to the restaurant where we were meeting, I changed my clothes into some fresh stuff, and used my gross tshirt to try and get some of the sweat off. >.> Since I had everything I could re-deodorant and apply cologne so I would smell clean, even if I wasn't :P
Then I went inside to meet my new bosses. They had set out a SADS UK bag so they would be easy to find, and I had donned my SADS Tshirt so I would be easy to find. We sat down and introduced ourselves and got to know each other. They are a quaint couple and I quite enjoyed them. Anne had tea, John had coffee, and I sipped a coke. We talked about work and what they wanted me to do (which wouldn't be too hard at all) and I took copious notes. As the meeting continued we ordered lunch and I got an open-faced steak sandwich which was quite good.
After we were done eating and had gotten everything hashed out about the work I'd be doing for them, John wanted to have a jaunt through Covent Gardens. I wasn't going to say no. So I shouldered my bags and away we went again. Covent Garden was basically a huge outdoor mall, known for its street performers. There was a girl singing opera, a mime eating balloons, guitar players everywhere; it was quite the scene. We watched some of the performances a bit, then moved on. Anne and John said goodbye to me as they wanted to get some groceries, and I was free to go find my hotel. So back to the Tube. It took some extra time to pin down the extra location of the hotel as the streets had different names on either side, and my hotel address ended up not matching the street it was actually on. Oh well. Found it eventually. I was on the 4th floor. Joy. 83 steps up later and my legs were killing me. I was finally able to drop my stuff though. I considered a shower, but decided that was better saved for a night-time activity. As there was still sun, I wanted to see some stuffs. This was my only chance to not have to carry everything with me. I grabbed my camera and went back out (down 83 steps).
Now that I didn't have bags, and a camera, I went full-out tourist. Just down the street I started snapping pictures.
Not long after I was in Kensington Gardens. There was a pond and SO many people. I was quite pleased to see how many people were out and about.
I stopped by Kensington Palace because it was on the way across the park.
Kensington Gardens connect to Hyde Park, so I kept walking and ended up on the Princess Diana Memorial walk.
Not long after, I found this really bright, beautiful monument. And they were having a game of street hockey in front of it! Fun.
As I continued walking, I saw some really elegant buildings.
When I got to the edge of Hyde Park, Wellington Arch was right across the street, so I kept going.
After going through the arch, I was at Buckingham Palace.
So I said hey to this guy. He didn't answer.
After spending some time at the Palace and Victoria Memorial, there was more park, so I kept going. This was the view from a bridge that I found quite breath-taking. I stayed to enjoy it for a few minutes.
On the other side of the bridge, I saw signs for Parliament Square, so I decided to keep going and stumbled upon Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.
It made me want to be Peter Pan so much. And play Kingdom Hearts.
After getting a number of shots of the famous clock, I said what's up to Winston Churchill. He's important too, you know.
After that, it was starting to get dark and I wasn't finding what I was looking for: London Bridge. I asked someone for directions, and she told me how to get there (take the Tube). So I popped underground and soon was looking at the river Thames and this riveting view.
I'm glad I went because my trip was educational as well. Would you believe that the bridge in the last picture isn't London Bridge? I'm pretty sure my whole life I thought that was London Bridge. But it's actually called Tower Bridge. London Bridge is just a bridge. Who knew?
I decided I needed to explore the Tower Bridge for myself, and they conveniently had a walkway right along the water connecting London and Tower bridges.
The sun was setting and I couldn't have imagined a better way to end my day. Strolling along the river Thames as the sun went down.
I decided to treat myself and stopped at a pub to have my first meal-out (paid for by me) (not counting the necessary breakfast the first morning I was here (and traumatized)). I ordered a pulled pork burger with chips (fries) and coleslaw on the side. It was quite good.
When I was done, the sun was pretty much gone and it was time to go home.
I tubed back to my hotel and after climbing 83 steps had the shower I needed. Afterwards, I tried to get online to post pictures and talk about my day, but couldn't find an internet connection. And the phone in my room didn't work. Down 83 steps. Internet only works in the lobby. Of course it does (ugh). Back up 83 steps. After all my walking and Ultimate and 83 steps 100 times, my legs hurt and I couldn't muster the energy to go down again. So I played video games and went to sleep.
What a weekend!
PS - if you want to see more London photos (there are tons more), pop over to my facebook page. I'm making all my significant trip albums public so that you don't even have to actually be friends with me to see them. That's easier for me than uploading them in 2 different places. :)