Sunday, 7 October 2012

Mustangs Mania.

Finally, on Friday, I had my first day in the city, or at least the Museum District (take note London, all our museums should be in super close proximity to minimise walking for us lazy tourists) and Rice Village in the morning. Now, part of me taking my Gap Year is to extend my learning and cultural experiences (or at least that's what it says on my UCAS...right?) and I do adore museums and especially art galleries, several of which Houston has. Meg, kindly, dropped me into the city and I decided to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and it was quite impressive.

I suppose that being a regular visitor to the Tate Modern I've come to appreciate contemporary and modern art a little bit more, but the classic art housed in the Audrey Jones Beck and the Caroline Wiress Law Buildings is really fantastic. Gris and Picasso were common (as in Washington), but also Rembrandt and Monet too. There were collections of international art too: Latin American, Indian (I couldn't help but smile as my trip to India draws ever nearer as my time here ticks too quickly by), Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

Being mid-week, the gallery was incredibly quiet and it was a perfect place to gather my thoughts. The buildings, as in Washington, were connected by an underground tunnel which James Turrell had created a small installation piece inside and just before entering the tunnel I started laughing (and received some confused looks from passers by for doing so...) because there, amongst all this classically fine art, was Damien Hirst's 'End Game'. As if Hirst has followed me from his exhibition that I went to see in April, all the way to Houston. From MFAH I walked to the Contemporary Arts museum which, in levels of need-to-squint-to-understand-the-meaning-ness, matched the Saatchi almost exactly. There was also a great Election 2012 installation piece which was interesting. Once again, I was greeted by the most friendly staff; everyone was so welcoming and entry is free.

Damien Hirst - End Game
James Turrell - Tunnel of Light

Sculpture Garden; American art galleries seem to love these.
MFAH from the oustide (beaut)

Don't worry, I don't understand it either.
My Texan art experience was fantastic so I greeted the sunshine (and 30+ degrees heat again) and walked down Sunset Boulevard (yes, its actual name) to Rice Village and through the university campus. Stowing my map in my trusty Daunt Books tote bag, I didn't get two glances from the students as I tried my hardest to blend in, strutting through the campus like one of the students. I continued to walk down to Rice Village for a wee bit of shopping and a rejected-date-request from a Rice student and half an hour later, I sought refuge in a Starbucks.

My British stereotypical tendencies led to a brilliant conversation with the Baristas after it turns out they don't have English Breakfast tea. I know, I know. And breathe British readers. He gave me the next best thing and checked it was right. I did a tiny bit of shopping (cheeky Urban Outfitters purchase and of course, some half price books from a half price book shop including Salinger's Franny and Zooey for $2.98) then returned home where the boys' Grandparents had arrived from Iowa. It was lovely to meet them and get to know them as it gives me an insight into another part of American life again, I am always learning!

Red Velvet cake!
Saturday was all-systems-go as per usual, and I accompanied Meg to Ben's Soccer game in the sunshine. The afternoon I spent reading and baking the eldest a Red Velvet birthday cake as he turns 13 today! Happy birthday! Being a teenager is brilliant, trust me. After having vanilla cream cheese frosting left over, Meg tried it on Rich Tea biscuits and it was a-mazing. Sounds...gross, but it was surprisingly yummy.

In the evening, I experienced probably my highlight of the trip so far - an all american High School Football game. For those of you who aren't familiar with American Football, it's sort of like Rugby. Touch downs are like tries, Hikes are like Scrums, and kicking the ball is like...kicking the ball. And for those of you who are familiar with American Football, I'm sorry I described it in such an English way. The stadium was electric as the Mustangs placed St Jesuit Private High School and we were supporting the Memorial Mustangs - our local Houston High School. I have only ever seen Football games played in cheesiest American films so based my expectations on that, and boy was I not disappointed.

Marching bands. Half-time shows. Cheerleaders (so many cheerleaders) and Mascots galore. It was perfect.

The sun set during the game and it became cooler, and the pitch was lit brilliantly. The atmosphere was just so great! I've never seen so many beautiful football players in one place, I didn't know what to do with myself. We won 40 - 10 (thrashed them) and I can't wait to go to my next game, especially as I'm thinking of investing in a Memorial Mustangs t shirt. Today has been quiet and I've just been to get my hair cut ($13, not bad not bad) and we're doing the eldest's birthday cake soon - hopefully it'll taste alright, my first American baking. Tomorrow I'm going to the Museum of Natural Science which I've been looking forward to since I got into Houston and am super excited! Photos to follow.

Looking like a true American..

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