Top Ten UK Moments (10-6)
I meant to post this blog entry immediately upon returning to the U.S. (Tuesday, January 13). Actually, I wanted to do that prior to leaving Leeds – but in a weekend that saw me complete my final ParkRun (the Hollywood-like script which featured me winning didn’t take place), pack, discard travel brochures, etc., there was no time to complete another blog entry.
This will likely be one of my final blog entries as I’m unsure if my life will be interesting enough to warrant a blog devoted to it (When it is, I will definitely launch another blog). But as Getting Pounded was created to document my life in the UK and I am not in land of fish of chips (I really should find a better nickname than “the land of fish and chips” since I’ve stopped eating fish) anymore, I might as well retire this blog. But it’s only fitting that I devote one of my two final blog entries to my 10 most memorable moments in the UK.
As enjoyable as doing the ParkRun was every Saturday, there came a point when I thought… I could use some variety to spice up my running life. Fortunately, I learned that Leeds hosts a 10km race every November named the Abbey Dash that starts in the city centre and takes runners past Kirkstall Abbey. Always worried about the price of seemingly fun activities (a necessity being a broke university student), I figured why not register when I read it cost £20.
As for the actual race, it served as a precursor of sorts as it was the first time I saw a large crowd gather in the Leeds City Centre for a sporting event. And it happened to be a good race for me as I was quite pleased with my chip time – 34:01 – on a very pleasant day for running.
While the above mentioned race took place on a pleasant day for running despite being relatively close to Christmas, the Leeds 10km race might as well have been contested in a sauna. I probably shouldn’t complain about that – considering the summer saw me wear sweatshirts and trousers more often than shorts. However, due to the heat that day, the 10km race on July 20 didn’t seem enjoyable…
But it was memorable. Usually, I have a feeling early in a race if I’m going to run well or not. I didn’t blast out from the start, opting to conserve energy – which actually allowed me to gradually leapfrog runners. I can’t say I had a clear idea what place I was at any point of the race but runners weren’t overlapping me once I passed them. Well, except one in the last 100 meters. Anyway, I finished twelfth out of roughly 7,000 competitors. Or more precisely, 12th out of 7,215 runners (3,821 were male).
To many around the world, the United Kingdom (or England, for that matter) is quite simply London. Not surprisingly, the first place in the country I ever visited was London, where I spent two-and-a half days in September 2004. But I hadn’t returned to the capital until November 2013 (not counting being in Heathrow in transit two months prior), when I attended the World Travel Market…
Which is absolutely heaven for travel industry professionals and others passionate about travel (Unfortunately, unlike the New York Times Travel Show, the World Travel Market seems solely reserved for travel industry professionals. However, there is a way of attending the extravaganza if you aren’t part of that elusive group 🙂 ). The World Travel Market is a major networking event (A Responsible Tourism Networking reception is part of the fun) and a great setting to learn about trends in the travel industry. The event also features numerous panel discussions that delve further into those major trends.
But the World Travel Market does include fun and games. A few of the DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) in attendance organize musical performances (like Taiwan pictured above). And better yet, most – if not all – of the DMOs present bring travel brochures to promote their product(s). Amazingly enticing travel brochures.
I was really looking forward to spending a summer in England – in large part because it would be exciting to be in a country passionate about the sport during the World Cup. Well, unsurprisingly (because they weren’t expected to do much), England was eliminated after two matches, which seemed to kill a lot of the enthusiasm for the tournament in the country.
But not at a bar named the Faversham. One morning, when I was walking in Headingley, I saw a poster advertising some sort of party there to celebrate the kickoff of the World Cup. I figured “Why Not?” since it might be a more enjoyable setting to watch the match than my room.
And boy, was it ever! I went to watch a football match – only to attend a party. Just prior to Brazil and Croatia kicking off, Samba dancers took the stage and started shaking it (Well, the posters certainly weren’t lying when they said a party would kick off the World Cup). Brazil won 3-1 and afterwards, the Faversham transformed into a club. Subsequent Brazilian victories brought out similar scenes of jubilation.
I actually wasn’t a fan of that Brazilian team and I only wanted them to advance so I could have more fun at the Faversham (As pictured above, a samba drumming troupe performed during the match against Chile). But the thought of a World Cup final party was tantalizing. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Brazil to defend against Germany. But at least, I have the memories of samba heating up Leeds for a bit.
I attended several gigs during my time in the UK. Some could be described as hits – such as the Jimmy Cliff show in August. Others – if not exactly misses (Public Enemy, I’m talking to you!) – left a little something to be desired. Anyway, there are no shortage of gigs in Leeds and just down the road in Manchester. While super huge performers don’t frequently come to Leeds (Springsteen and Pearl Jam have performed in West Yorkshire’s finest city), major American acts touring the UK might hit up Manchester.
And one of those acts was my favourites, Michael Franti and Spearhead (I’m not sure how major they are but they have a decent-sized following). They just so happened to perform in Manchester just after all of my lectures and seminars had finished. Better yet, a ticket was only £19.
The setting – one of the Manchester Academy concert venues – felt as big as a phone booth, which made it a very comfortable venue for live music. So comfortable in fact that Mr. Franti once jumped off stage and performed one song standing among audience members. The set included a mix of old and relatively recent songs, which good for me because I’m not too familiar with the latter. Anyway, I love going to MFSH shows because they bring out such a friendly atmosphere. And because the Manchester gig was rather low key and attracted a small audience (I don’t mean that in a negative way at all), fans could comfortably approach band members for autographs and pictures. I even got my picture with Michael Franti 🙂