Posts from December 2014

A Look Back

Here’s a visual look back at the stories I’ve shared with you so far this year. I know Four by Three hasn’t been going for an entire year yet but I’ve been shooting for it for much longer than that. Anyway, thanks you much for letting me share these things with you and here’s to even more to come in 2015!

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Three Peaks Challenge

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Back in June, on the longest day of the year, Reid and I embarked (along with 12 other people) on what is known as the Three Peaks Challenge. The Challenge involves climbing the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales within 24 hours. I like to think of myself as a someone who stays in shape (I like to run quite a bit and try and do various races throughout the year- 5k’s, 10k’s, sprint triathlons) but this was not only the most physically challenging things I have ever done but possibly also the most mentally challenging.

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We began our trip the day before by flying from London to Glasgow (barely an hour flight) and meeting up with the rest of the group and the van that would be home for the next day or so. From the airport we drove further up north to the town of Fort William which is only a five minute drive to the base of Ben Nevis, our first peak to conquer the following morning. That night I didn’t sleep very well, mostly going over lists of things in my head making sure we had enough water, food and the right clothes. That morning we had an early wake up call followed by a hearty breakfast and then hit the trail!

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Ben Nevis is the highest of the three peaks and begins closest to sea level meaning it has the greatest vertical ascent of the three. We had pretty good weather ranging from sun to light showers and saw all types of people competing in the challenge. We even saw a group of who looked to be in the military carrying a tub up and down the mountain! The most incredible thing happened just as we reached the summit when the clouds parted to reveal the most beautiful view of the valley below. Seeing as you are against the clock, we had only a few minutes at the top before we headed back down. Partly due to the size of our group and a few injuries that happened on the way down, once everyone completed Ben Nevis we found ourselves behind schedule as well as loosing 8 people from our group who could not continue on. At this point, Reid, myself and the two others still ready to go had to make a decision if we wanted to keep going- something we all really wanted to do- so we decided to continue on our own.

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After we dropped the part of our group that could not continue off at the airport, the four of us plus our two guides continued on our roughly six hour road trip south to Scafell Pike in England’s Lake District. This next climb was going to be a bit of a challenge since we would have to climb in complete darkness due to the fact that we were significantly behind schedule. Luckily one of our guides was from the Lake District and knew Scafell Pike like the back of his hand. I almost think that climbing in the dark made it better for me mentally because I couldn’t see exactly how steep the climb was beyond the few feet that was visible from my headlamp. Our climb started around 11 pm and once we summited we were the only six people at the very top, a big difference from the busy trails of Ben Nevis. It was pretty amazing to sit under the stars surrounded by the quiet but once again, we couldn’t linger too long and began our descent. I hope to return to Scafell Pike one day during the daylight so I can see the trail that we actually climbed.

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After Scafell Pike and another five hour drive later we found ourselves at the base of the final peak of the challenge, Snowdon in Wales. We were greeted with the most glorious blue skies during this hike and I think that really brought everyone’s mood up. I’ll admit, that my legs were pretty creaky when we first started- I think I was walking about the pace of a ninety year old. Even though I was in the most pain physically during this climb (my knees were giving me trouble) I still found this peak to be my favorite of the three. The landscape was insanely picturesque and it also helped knowing that we were so close to the end though this was the only hike where we summited and descended via different routes (which meant that on the way down you weren’t really sure how much further you had to go because there weren’t any familiar markers). All in all, when we made those final steps to the finish, I had never been so happy to see the such a smelly van in all of my life. Having 6 boys (2 guides, one driver and three hikers) plus myself traveling in a small space for over 24 hours did not make for a clean vehicle.

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From there, we were driven to the nearest train station and hopped on to the next train to London (boy did I feel bad for the other passengers in our car as I’m sure we did not smell of roses). I spent most of the trip staring out the window at the passing landscape and dreaming of soaking in a nice warm bath and eating something other than nuts, dried fruit or beef jerky. The memories of the previous two days washed over me and I basked in the accomplishment of having climbed all three peaks. I couldn’t believe we did it and I’m so glad that we did. If you are ever thinking of trying this out, please drop me a line! I am more than happy to act as a sounding board or give advice for your adventure!

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Gerald / NW1

A portrait series of people who call London home.

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How long have you lived in London?

As K-Ci and JoJo once put it ‘all my life’.

What makes someone a Londoner?

Someone who understands the North, South divide and has a genuine hatred of our public transport system. You get those two things down, you’re a Londoner alright.

North London or South London?

See previous answer. The south is dead to me.

Favorite thing about living in London?

It’s beauty lies in the juxtaposition. Only in this city will you find quaint period houses with well kept gardens sitting a stones throw away from an urban jungle council estate kitted with it’s very own chicken shop.

Least favorite thing about living in London?

Public transport (even though I don’t use it) and parking restrictions.

Favorite spot to grab a drink?

I’m not much of a drinker so I’ll opt for Granger & Co. It’s the only place I know that knows and does a good lemon lime bitters this side of the planet.

Favorite spot to grab a bite?

Probably the Charlotte Street hotel. Brunch there is always a treat, but it’s the memories of our engagement dinner that make this place particularly special.

Taxi, Tube, Bus, Bike or Walk?

Vespa? Vespa.

Where do you go to get away from the city?

Paris. It’s another city yes, but we live right next to St Pancras International, and what can I say? Once a city boy always a city boy.

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Thanksgiving

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Ever since we moved to London almost three years ago, we’ve made a point to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends since it’s a bit too far to travel all of the way back to Tennessee for only a few days.The longer we are here I find that more and more stores are stocking those typical American items that are key around this time of year (Crisco, Graham crakers, canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie, cornbread mix, etc) and make the day feel almost like home. This year we had the biggest group we’ve ever had (21 people!) and I think it turned out to be our best gathering yet. I’ll admit it was a bit like a game of Tetris setting up the tables and chairs to fit in our place.

This year’s spread included Turkey, mac n cheese (always a crowd favorite), mashed potatoes, twice baked potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, southern style green beans, roasted veggies (carrots, parsnips and brussel sprouts), cranberry sauce, rolls, apple pie, berry pie, pumpkin cheesecake and fudge cookies. Whew! I wish I had gotten a few shots of my friend Kate’s pies before we dug into them- they looked straight out of a magazine spread from Martha Stewart and tasted even better.

This is definitely one of my favorite holidays and it has been so fun to be able to share it with friends even though we do miss our families dearly. I’m pretty sad it has already come and gone this year, but that just means I’ll need to start planning for next year’s! Below are a few shots I grabbed of the table set up before guests arrived and some polaroids throughout the evening. Enjoy!

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