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Rugby vs. Football: A Very Blonde Perspective

October 14, 2011
Yes, I admit I was in a pub at 8:30am last Saturday, watching Rugby World Cup fans devour full English breakfasts when they weren’t busy screaming at the television. This is quite a feat, considering I’ve only ever watched the Superbowl for the commercials and the halftime show – neither of which are worth getting out of bed for early in my opinion! The SF 49ers may be crushing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in California, but here in London everyone is focused on what went wrong with England as they got massacred by France last weekend and whether Wales will dominate the French this weekend in the Rugby World Cup Semi Finals.
I’m not claiming to be a sports buff at all (serious disclaimer), but here are some very basic differences between American football and rugby that I picked up on – Cliff Notes for those of you who haven’t spent much time on the rugby sidelines .. or at the pub.

Scrum Caps vs. Helmets
Unlike American football where massive helmets are required, only some rugby players wear scrum caps, to protect them from “cauliflower ear”.. a condition I’ve decided not to picture so as not to gross you out! Do a quick Google image search and you will see what I mean.

Padding vs. Spandex
Wouldn’t Tom Brady look cute in this fitter?
I’m far more informed about Lululemon’s latest line of spandex workout pants than about American football gear, but a quick look at a rugby player will make you realise that American Football uniforms include oodles more padding. Again, I’m not a pro when it comes to the rules and regulations of USA football or rugby, but both sports seem to require a lot of body contact so why are rugby uniforms so much slinkier? Does a less padded uniform make it easier for a rugby player to score a “try” (the equivalent of a touchdown)?

Nudity & French Rugby Go Hand in Hand (“main dans la main”)?
Prior to my 8:30am rugby viewing at the pub, my only real rugby knowledge was based on the French rugby team’s annual erotic rugby calendar and coffee book, Dieux du Stade (Gods of the Stadium). Keep in mind that the French rugby team is the only rugby team that does this annual pin up calendar. Maybe it’s just me but I cannot imagine the SF 49ers or any NFL team dropping their pants (or “trousers” as we say in the UK), grabbing a football, and posing with the team quarterback for a steamy photo shoot knowing it would be published.

I realise I haven’t gone into detail on the principle and strategic differences between the two sports (and that this could be the blondest blog post to date), but if you’re American and find yourself in Europe during the Rugby World Cup, it is definitely worth missing some beauty sleep and dragging yourself to the pub to watch. Likewise, if you’re a Briton in the States, try to go to a NFL or college football game. Football tailgate parties are a fantastic American tradition that you cannot help but love! Now how do we get Tom Brady to pose in the buff for a New England Patriots calendar?
Gisele, it’s time to share the wealth!

Riotous Evenings in London Town

August 17, 2011
Marie Antoinette was guillotined after rioting in Paris, and famously quoted as saying about the French revolutionaries, “let them eat cake.” In light of last week’s riots in our nation’s capital, it may seem trivial for Blondon to focus on recently visited London watering holes. I’m not officially a Queen, and I certainly don’t want to lose my head, but these hot spots are definitely worth going to while Summer is still here. And judging by the crowded bar scenes, the rioters seem to be a very slim minority of Londoners. 

Gilgamesh Bar & Lounge, Camden: Best eye candy hot spot as you sip through your next credit card statement
Even though Camden is covered with “minging” (UK slang for unattractive) Amy Winehouse memorabilia right now, Gilgamesh is definitely worth the trek to North London. Like an over the top Vegas night club, Gilgamesh is an over-priced (albeit delicious) restaurant & bar, with an intricate wooden hand carved interior. All you geology buffs prepare to salivate, as the bar is apparently made out of lapis stone in the ancient Babylon style and is the “longest bar in the world,” or so the bartender told me… The crowd is a funny mixture of uber hip and right off a cruise ship, but the cocktails are amazing, the interior is incredible, and the pan-asian food isn’t too shabby either if you feel like going all out! Try: The Anu martini, named after the Sky God for good reason, as a couple of these will leave you looking up at the sky from the floor.

The Churchill Arms, Notting Hill: Where I take my American friends for a “OMG this is like suuuuch a British pub”

Covered with great Churchill memorabilia and other knickknacks, this quintessentially English pub is over 200 years old and is a drinking establishment you can always count on for a pint or four. It is worth noting that the restaurant in back of the pub serves amazing Thai food, and my advice is to arrive later in the evening to miss the crowds. The outdoor area can get overly packed and you don’t want to be pushed into one of the pub’s flower beds – which look really nice until you are sitting in one of them (trust me!). 

Kensington Roof Gardens, Kensington: Why go to the zoo when you can party with flamingos in Kensington?! 
Recently visited with fellow PA native, Megan Zozo, the Kensington Roof Gardens is a massive one and a half acres of garden on the 6th floor above Kensington High Street. An exclusive hospitality venue cleverly laid out in 1938, this stunning rooftop is home to over 500 species of plant and is even cooler than my SF hometown favourite, the Medjool Sky Terrace…We cannot really speak for the drinks as we were there to taste champagne (and the vodka out of our flasks) but this spot is definitely worth checking out!  

Bart’s Bar, Chelsea: A fun & quirky speakeasy filled with gap yah teens and the occasional celeb
Set within the Chelsea Cloistures, which looks like the type of hotel you would take a prostie to, lies Bart’s Bar – literally a black door that says Bart’s on it. After a few knocks, a pair of eyes are suddenly staring at you through a slit on the door. I gave Bart’s a go per my colleague’s recommendation and ended up sitting smack next to Mick Jagger. The main difference between us, other than the slight difference in age, was my annoyance at paying £10 for a gin and tonic as Mick Jaggs cooly ordered £1,200 worth of champagne to get the night started! 
The Botanist, Sloane Square: Fruit Martini to die for. Nuff said. 
Not going to lie, this bar is pretentious with a capitol P, but it has the best fruit martini I have ever tasted. Made fresh from their fruit bar, this is how we should all be getting our daily vitamin C! This venue seems to always be packed by cougars and cogs (creepy old guys) so get your elbows out against the sloaney ponies and order yourself an alcoholic Jamba Juice stat! 

So my advice: raise a glass, not a brick, and keep the mood merry in London. I bet the French revolutionaries went for a few drinks after storming the barricades!