Reflection #3: Audacity in London

Nothing screams Denton like Audacity. Founded by a UNT grad, Audacity has UNT and Denton totally ingrained in its brand. But how do you make a brand like Audacity, based on its locality and Denton pride, successful in London? I have a few ideas.

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First off, Audacity should stay local. Its originality and uniqueness will appeal to hipsters all across London. Having an IPA from a small brewery in Denton would appeal to people. Many people in London have probably never heard of Denton, and being a town of only 40,000, it makes the brand exceptionally exclusive. I could see bars in Shoreditch selling Bullet Proof Ale and putting a big “Texas” in front of it.

Texas is one of the most recognizable shapes, even abroad. Texas is huge and a southern-most point on the map and automatically recognizable. Some of the locals say are fascinated by my heritage, and some, yes, think we still ride horses to school and wear cowboy hats, but most importantly are exceedingly interested in Texas culture. A beer from Texas would be ultra-rare, therefore exclusive.

To market Audacity, I think the owner, Scott Lindsey, would have to come to London to build relationships. People in pubs are very friendly, I’m sure pub owners would be happy to chat up a Texan brewer. Getting it here would not be an issue, but I have visited Audacity and interviewed Lindsay before. While Audacity is a growing brewery, they just recently came out of the red. They are not looking to totally overwhelm the London market, but remain on tap in only a small number of very hip pubs in London. This way, Audacity not only stays exclusive, being a beer that you can only get in Texas and London, the brewery also doesn’t stretch itself too thin.

I think that only including one beer to export, the Bullet Proof Pale Ale is a great choice. Even places like BrewDog would be interested in having such a neutral, but totally different, beer on its tap. Audacity could consider any hip European city as a place to slowly start expanding internationally, but after seeing London’s love for craft beers, I think this is a great market for Audacity.

London with Mom: My first weekend

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I’ve been in London for a while, so I am sorry I haven’t updated anything sooner than this. London is a busy city, and people here don’t stop for anything, except maybe a pint. I’ve been having so much fun here, and I promise I’ll fill you in on the rest of my trip so far soon. For now, here’s what my mom and I did while we were here!

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We might have had a little bit too much fun in the EuroTunnel…

We arrived Saturday from Paris via Eurostar, which I highly recommend. At about 1:30  we got to our hotel, and tried, but failed to get some very very last minute matinee tickets. After discovering how expensive the few Book of Mormon tickets that were left were, we settled on Matilda for our Covent Garden theatre experience of the evening. We were both so glad that we did! Not only was the musical quintessentially British, the book and movie are two of my all-time childhood favorites. We loved it! From the set to the cast, everything was fun, colorful, and high-energy. I could not recommend this play enough to anyone visiting London. We felt we could have even gotten worse seats than we had (our seats were very decent) but every seat in the Cambridge theater is a good seat. It’s very intimate, if not a little cramped, but absolutely worth it. I highly HIGHLY recommend Matilda.

The set of Matilda could not have been cuter! We had fun making out the words spelled in the many blocks that make up the surrounding set while waiting for the play to start.
The set of Matilda could not have been cuter! We had fun making out the words spelled in the many blocks that make up the surrounding set while waiting for the play to start.

Before the show, we went to a local chippy (Fish and Chips shop) which was meh. We did this only after discovering Dishoom had an hour and twenty minute wait for two people. Ain’t nobody got time for that, Dishoom, we will see you tomorrow.

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The fish was better than the chips, and overall this shop was way too expensive. Not worth your time, but still a fun experience for us!

We don’t remember the name of this chippy, and I don’t really even think it’s worth noting. We didn’t fancy the curry sauce or mushy peas, and the chips were just ok. We both agreed that the fish was delicious, but not entirely worth coming back to. It was quite expensive, probably because of its proximity to Covent Garden. Since this chippy experience, I have found a great place nearby where I am staying in Farringdon called Kerbishers. For six quid you can get a small piece of cod, a massive box of some of the best chips you have ever had, and a sauce of your choice. It has become a staple among the UNT students in my neighborhood. I highly, highly recommend it.

The next day we woke up and enjoyed breakfast in a pub on the Jack Horner corner. It was mediocre, but nice to sit with my mom in a quiet spot. We had just enough time to make it for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It was cool to see the soldiers at first, but afterwards, the soldiers disappeared from site. The whole thing takes a long time, so we didn’t stay for all of it.

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From the changing of the guard we walked through St. James Park and throughly enjoyed the weather and the water fowl. It’s a beautiful park and due to its proximity to Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. From there, we walked around Trafalgar square and saw Big Ben, which was very fun. We then went back to our hotel and freshened up for our tea at Fortunum and Mason, which was absolutely amazing. It could not have been a more perfect mother-daughter outing. Everything from our tea to our service was absolutely perfect. The finger sandwiches were straight-up phenomenal, and I can never say no to a good scone. I could not have been more happy with that experience, and though it was expensive, it was very special. I would recommend that everyone who goes to London splurges on their tea. There are places that do teas for much cheaper, but the fancy hotels and other upscale places like F&M really step up their game. It’s so fun and unlike anything we have in America, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

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SO EXCITED for the tea! Look at those towers… we are in mommy/daughter heaven!

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After our tea, we went shopping around Piccadilly Circus, where Fortunum and Mason is located. We then finally, though we were already very full, got to try Dishoom. We split two dishes, the lamb samosas (amazing) and the chicken ruby, also amazing, with a side of roti. We also both had a cocktail, and they were both very delicious as well.

After Dishoom, we were totally full, and thoroughly exhausted. Walking around London is no joke. Throughly worn out, that was about the end of our time in London together. We had so much fun and we really wished that we had booked more time in the UK. One day, I’ll have to bring her and the rest of my loved ones back and be a tour guide, I’ve already learned and experienced so much here!

I miss you Mom! I can’t wait to share all my other adventures with you when I get back.

?Maddie

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Reflection #2: Brits are pretty funny

I didn’t know how much I would like British humor, but I love it. In the UK they aren’t afraid to offend anybody. I gather that Brits aren’t easily offended, especially when someone’s making a joke. They are blunt, brands say what they mean and people eat it up. I don’t always get British humor, just a couple of TV ads have gone over my head. There are some TV ads that really crack me up though, especially this JUST EAT one. If you’re a Backstreet Boys fan, or just want a good laugh, you’ll definitely want to click that link. Other ads really miss the mark when it comes to humor, and that might be because I don’t get it. Making a Peri-Peri wrap sexy? I don’t know if this ad is supposed to be funny, but it really just made me very uncomfortable. I cringe every time it comes on during my favorite TV program here, Dinner Date.

If you haven’t seen Dinner Date yet, it’s a show where one lucky dater gets a choice of five menus, all arranged by potential suitors, be them women or male. From these menus, they pick three, and those three potential suitors make dinner for her or him at their home. Afterwards, and this is definitely the best part, the chosen “dater” picks one of the three for a real date, while others receive a fancy tablecloth set-up, complete with an atrocious looking microwavable meal. If that’s not enough for you, Dinner Date seems to have a very interesting way of showing off British humor in the presenter. We never see her, but there is a very sassy, if not a little too sassy, narrator who talks viewers through the show, making quips about both the daters and their potential suitors. Commenting on everything from the food to their appearance, this narrator is not afraid to throw shade, which is absolutely hilarious at times, but other times, the slang, or her accent, or both, go entirely over my head. If you’ve decided you have to see an episode of this fascinating program but don’t get ITV, you can watch this one guy’s episode, which he so kindly uploaded to YouTube, here.

Other TV I find sometimes misses the mark. I don’t really like British news here, and while I am a huge fan of the BBC World Service and BBC America, BBC One London isn’t the best station here in my opinion. The content can be awkward at times. Especially BBC Breakfast, I find to be totally cringe-worthy sometimes.

Other than that, I feel like the ads here appeal more to my sense of humor here. One thing is for certain, Brits are not afraid to make a statement or go for it when trying to win at a humor appeal. Some commercials and ads are quite bold, but they pay off. I love the ads here, especially the funny ones, and I will continue to watch them and look out for them with fervor until I leave.

Reflection #1: Thoughts so far

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First off, I absolutely love it here in London. The weather is amazing, not too hot, I can deal with a little rain. But rain or shine, the city never ceases to amaze me. As soon as I got here, I couldn’t believe how nice people were. Still not as friendly as they are in Texas, but close. People are overly apologetic, even when you bump into them, they apologize. Also, they are very happy to tell you any information you would want to know. I’ve been to Lush twice, and spent a lot of money there, but both times I’ve been I have been able to squeeze a lot of vital information about neighborhoods and the culture in London out of them.

Personal space isn’t really a thing here. Whether it’s the tube or Primark, people have no problem being right on top of you, politely pushing and shoving. People move fast here. There’s not much time for a lackadaisical pace in the center of the city, but when we went to Notting Hill, we felt out of place even talking and walking in a group. While only a short tube journey away, it was a very stark difference from busy central London.

I love the food here, which really shocked me. Also, beans for breakfast is seriously revolutionary. America needs to get on that. I love takeaway, and I love it when the weather is nice and people eat their takeaway in parks. It’s such a cool mid-day vibe like I’ve never seen before. I think living here would be a dream, because takeaway. Why don’t we do this in America? If we had Pret A Manger, maybe Americans would all be a little happier.

From what I have noticed, Londoners seem to be go-getters for the most part. From the way they dress-walking in trainers and pantyhose to and from work-to the way they play. Conventional busy work life takes a backseat to pretty weather, it’s absolutely acceptable to enjoy a pretty day here, probably because they get so few of them. People turn in early, but also start earlier too. They value their careers, but they also value their pubs and their free time.

After almost two weeks here, I can say that I think I’ve figured out how to navigate and I have figured out that thirty pounds isn’t thirty dollars, it’s more like forty-five. Despite everything being pricey, I’m having so much fun here. Walking and using my oyster card for the tube and busses has become a breeze. I feel like more of a local than a tourist, and I love it! Having an American accent here isn’t necessarily a dead-giveaway, so I feel like I’ll be totally blending in before I know it. I even got asked directions yesterday.

I can’t wait to explore more!

?Maddie

 

Paris, France

Eh…

Overall, we were not impressed with Paris. This is for a lot of reasons, and none of them are anybody’s fault. It was a beautiful city, and the people aren’t necessarily friendly, but they are nice enough. There definitely was a language barrier, but it’s not difficult to break down. Many servers at restaurants are willing to speak english to you, but they aren’t always happy about it. There were many parts of our trip we enjoyed, so let’s talk about that first.

Monday and Tuesday:

Before my mom took ill, (I’ll explain later) we went on a tour of Montmartre, on a private tour with an absolutely lovely guide named Helene. She was very knowledgable about even the smallest details in the neighborhood, and we really loved her tour. Montmartre, which Parisians refer to as “The Village,” is the highest neighborhood in Paris. The weather was pretty miserable, but bearable. Carrying around umbrellas and wearing windbreakers made it better, but the real bummer was the view. Montmartre, on a normal, sunny day in Paris, provides beautiful views of the city. We missed out on much of the view because of the fog and rain, which really did stink. Montmartre is still a lovely part of the city, and was probably my favorite neighborhood we saw! We really enjoyed the history of the city and the Sacre Cœur.

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Mommy n’ me in Monmartre! This trip broke that pink umbrella, may it rest in pieces.
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The Sacre Cœur basilica, which was absolutely beautiful! A great example of the city’s gothic architecture.
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A picturesque view of Montmartre. Even through the rain and fog, this part of the city was so charming!
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Another great view of Montmartre!

Halfway through our tour, my mom started to feel bad. We later learned that what we ate on our flight made me sick. My mom spent the rest of Monday evening and all of Tuesday feeling awful, because she had one of the worst bouts of food poisoning I have ever seen. Thankfully, I got sick on the plane, and ended up avoiding food poisoning for the most part. We ate at Laduree on Tuesday, which we really liked. My mom didn’t really get to enjoy anything but toast, but my meal was fabulous and so was my green tea. The macaroons we got there were disappointing, bordering gross. The texture was all wrong and the flavors were a little off. Mom didn’t try them because she was sick, but for me, I’ve had a better macaroon at home. Also, I ate snails, which tasted just like herbs and butter ~YUM~.

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Our meal at Laduree, a Croque Monsiuer and french toast. Definitely one of the best meals we ate in Paris, including the divine green tea.

 

Wednesday:

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A selfie stick fail, taken in front of the Louvre, which we never got to visit. Are we tourists yet?

We took a tour of the center of the city. We booked another private tour with a cityfreetour guide named Chris that we really enjoyed. Chris, like Helene, was really knowledgable about the city’s architecture and history. He made sure to tell us about stuff that locals found unimportant, and took us to a lot of really cool off-the-beaten path places. We spent five hours with Chris, and saw the outside of the Louvre, the royal garden, Notre Dame, Marais and some other random areas.

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Our cute little tour guide, Chris, in front of the Notre Dame. We loved hanging out with Chris and touring the city!
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Inside Notre Dame

Below are pics of the inside of a Greek church that is rarely open to the public, Chris was so excited we could get inside, it was stunning and very quaint. One of my favorite buildings by far.

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I really felt this tour gave us a good feel for the city. The neighborhoods we walked through were very different than Montmartre, so I’m really glad we saw both sides. After our tour, we ate at a very famous and very popular place called La Relais de l’Entrecôte. They only serve one menu, steak and frites with a green mystery sauce that is spoken about very highly. My mother and I found the sauce to be good, but the overall meal was bland and really just okay. The steak was really underwhelming, maybe because we hail from Texas, but I think many people would have found it the same way. Our creme brûlée though, really was delicious. This was one of the first meals my mother kept down, and we were so happy she was back on track! I was quite worried she wouldn’t be able to make it to our wine tour the next day, but she is a trooper.

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Thursday:

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We took a wine tour! This was by far my favorite day. Maybe because we left Paris? The countryside was much more kind to us, despite the still rainy and quite dreary weather. We loved our tour guide, JB (Jean-Bernard), who had a great sense of humor and a lot of wine know-how. Our first stop was a cheese shop and farm, where they make goat milk cheese. My favorite stop on the tour, probably because I spent so much time taking selfies with goats. I mean, can you really blame me though? GOAT SELFIES.

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Our guide, JB, was so knowledgable about wine and cheese! We loved touring the countryside with JB!

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On this tour, we learned that the French consider the soil more important than the grape varietals. The three types of soil: clay, flint, and gravel are considered more important than the grapes themselves. The wines are not categorized by the type of grape as they are in America, but by the regions they are grown in. The regions we visited were the Liore Valley and the east part of Burgundy, around areas called Sancerre and Coteaux de Giennois. In these regions, they make Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-Loire Valley, and some other kinds of wine that I can’t remember, probably because I drank way too much wine. It was mostly white wine, which really isn’t my thing, but I still really enjoyed the tour. I wouldn’t say I agree with all the French ideals when it comes to wine, but I did really like learning from JB’s perspective. JB is a native who grew up around the regions we traveled in, and he had a lot of inherent knowledge, and knows all the vineyard owners and the cheese maker we visited very well. I think his life-long familiarity with the region made him the ultimate Liore-Valley/Burgundy expert.

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All-in-all, we visited a total of one cheese maker, where we tasted cheese and took selfies with the goats, two different vineyards, one in the Pouilly-Fumé region and another in Sancerre, a small and a little bit kitschy wine museum, where we watched a very odd 4D film and played with a vine-shearing machine, stopped for lunch and had more frites (french fries, of which we were entirely fed up with at this point,) and got to tour some really pretty parts of the french countryside. I had a lot of fun on this tour with my mom and a salt lake native named David, who JB for some reason referred to as Greg. Either way, I had a great time reviewing the wines on snapchat, rating them out of 5 wine glasses. No wine was deemed worthy of a five, but it was all good in the end, and my mom and I were so glad we went on the tour.

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What else was cool was that at the last vineyard we visited, the winemaker signed the two bottles we bought for us! We loved that she felt so proud of her product and wanted to share her process and her wine with us. She was so much fun! I would highly recommend this to anyone who goes to France, and I really do wish we would have spent more time outside of Paris.

Friday:

The Louvre and the D’Orsay closed, due to the potential that the Siene river would crest. Being from Texas, land of springtime floods, we thought this was a laughable end to our very mediocre vacation to France. On Friday we saw the Eiffel Tower and went to the Arc de Triomph, but couldn’t go up to it due to a presidential ceremony. Of course. That’s pretty much all we did. I’ve put a picture of what the Siene’s water level was, maybe Texans will be able to back me up on this one?

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Saturday:

As the Eurostar was maybe the best decision we made the whole trip. Since just about every other transportation company was striking, including the employees at Charles de Gaulle airport and the National Railway, we consider ourselves lucky to have even gotten to London. Spoiler alert: We had a much better time there.

Honestly, I was thinking about splitting this post up because it’s so long, but it’s been hard to write. We had a pretty miserable time in Paris for a myriad of unavoidable reasons, and none of them were France’s fault, but I have really wanted to move on and start focusing on my London study abroad and courses here. Between the bad weather, transportation strikes, and the food poisoning my mother was stricken with, I’m just happy to get it off my mind! I am so glad I was with my mom, we always have fun together no matter what the circumstances, and Paris was no exception. Either way, I am grateful for the time my mom and I spent together, even though it wasn’t what we expected. I don’t want to discourage people from visiting Paris just because of my bad experience, and I hope all future travelers don’t get stuck in the same situations we did. Hopefully one day, when I am much less salty, I will want to go back to Paris and visit all the museums and Versailles.

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Thanks for the memories and the crazy stories, Paris, it’s definitely one for the books!