I usually spend the day waiting around the flat for students to show up, but this year was a little different. For one thing, there are 19 of us. By far the biggest group I've had over here. For another thing, we're spread among two different buildings, 10 minutes away from each other. Gratefully my Program Assistant, his Royal Highness Topher Rasmussen, manned one building and I the other. And so they came, tramping down sidewalks with rolly bags and thumping wheels, some exhausted and some hyper and some just confused. It's the same every year; this year there's just more of it.
Miles and I took a little break from waiting - we had to get out of that flat. We met up with Shawn Saunders, who we can now call just Shaunders, and had a little Cafe Nero for lunch. Then Miles and I hopped on our bikes, yes we rented bikes, and rode through Hyde Park. You never know what Hyde Park will look like in the heat of summer; I've seen it lush and I've seen it yellow. I've seen fire and I've seen rain. London must have had a lot of rain recently, because it looked pretty green to me. Sounds like the good folks of the Hyde Park Ward are really going for it with their "thanks for the moisture" prayers.
We stopped by the Serpentine Gallery, which I love. It changes every year. They assign a new designer to completely reimagine the cafe out front. I've followed this every year now. This year....the cafe is...a greenish donut? With an intriguing tunnel cut out of it? It felt very Dr. Seuss to me. I didn't get it. But I appreciated it! How's that for art?
Finally, everyone made it and we did the neighborhood walk. This is a fun group. Lots of laughing and jokes, and they put on game faces as I tramped them around the neighborhood. I also gave out all my Costco zip fizzes to wake them all up. So I felt a little like a drug dealer. And a teacher. I've never watched Breaking Bad, but I imagine it looks like this. Professors dragging students all over South Kensington, doping them up with zip fizzes.
There was a tenuous mishap at the High Street Kensington tube stop. I told everyone to get on the crowded train, but oddly enough only Miles made it on. We made eye contact just as the doors shut and the train slipped away. Luckily Miles knows the tube by now, and he had a little adventure of his own. He got off at Earl's Court, switched to the Picadilly Line, and met us all back at South Kensington. I was so proud! He didn't seem fazed by it at all. He just laughed and shrugged it off. He's so London, you guys.
Later, I dragged everyone back out on the streets. We did a reverse of what we normally do: we started at Big Ben and headed toward the Globe. This was the make or break it walk, and I was proud of these kids. They kept going. And they were tired. Oh, by golly, they were tired. But the sunset was beautiful and the river was rolling and they all summoned enough energy to sing an impromptu number in the shadow of St. Paul's. Groups of people gathered to listen and take pictures. It sounded heavenly.