This March blog is all about Guess Who?
An American Woman, namely Jessica Lynn Young, 26 from San Jose, California USA.
Jessica may be a US citizen and not a Kent resident but she has a very special tie in Maidstone which has made her visit our beautiful county at least twice a year for the last two years.
I am that said special tie (If I do say so myself).
Jess has spent the past 3 months in Maidstone with me and asked if I would interview her. I know that she is not a citizen of our county but I thought it would be a very interesting twist to see what an outsider would think. It's good English - American relations as well.
Despite spending the previous two years studying towards her California Teaching Degree, Jess thought that taking time out to reconsider her options was a good idea. An idea I totally support. I believe and always will believe that you need to follow what you know is right and do what makes you happy. That is why I write this blog, it enables me to do something I love.
Although Jess has not ventured out of Maidstone as much as she would like to discover more in our county, she is still extremely complimentary of Kent and it's people.
"I can say that I find Kent a very charming place compared to various areas in America. While my country has its own history and beauty, Kent's history goes much farther back and with that comes a unique feeling and appearance. I adore the old buildings: the churches, the castles and the roads made from cobblestones."
But her appraisal of Kent doesn't stop there and why should it. Kent rocks!
"Of course, there is also the beauty of the countryside and gardens and of course the proximity to London but everyone seems to say that so I don't want to make anyone have to read that again. Although I suppose I just did make everyone read it again." She laughs.
For 2011, I have added a new part to my blog which helps Kent's reputation grow and gives the interviewee a chance to boast about all things Kentish. I want to know as many facts or specific pieces of information that are interesting about the county.
"I don't live here so I think I would benefit more from others telling me facts or information about Kent as opposed to the vice-versa. Off the top of my head though, I know that Kent is named 'The Garden of England' and I know some of the history surrounding the White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury. I also love Leeds Castle and the cool fact the Henry VIII visited there."
She would love to know more about Kent and has specific parts she would like to learn about.
"I would love to learn more about the history of the county but more specifically, I would love to find out why Maidstone is called Maidstone because no one seems to know!"
A very good question. I will try to find out and post it on the blog as part of my new: Interesting fact about Kent of the week! Don't worry, it is not replacing the random question of the week.
I try to take Jess to as many nice places for food as I can and of the ones I have taken her to for meals, she prefers our snack spot.
"I am a big fan of the Cornish Kitchen on Week Street, Maidstone. I don't pretend to be a great fan of traditional English food but once I was introduced to pasties, I was immediately hooked. I am perfectly happy sitting eating a pasty. They are warm and filling which is good for something that is relatively cheap."
That would be pastry! It's so good.
When I have time off work, Jess and I like to travel and Jess explained to me what she loved doing in our free time together.
"During my time in England I have been lucky enough to visit London and Old Trafford, Manchester, Hastings, Bath, Cambridge and Stonehenge. In Kent I have been to Canterbury, Dover, Leeds Castle and Tunbridge Wells. Outside of England, I have travelled to Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Greece and Egypt. At home, I have been all over California and other parts of the US."
Lucky lady, her boyfriend must really love her!
"On a more everyday basis, I like to watch movies and go on walks. Additionally, I like spending time with my family and friends."
Now for a story that sums Jess up, this one is perfect. Yet at the same time, it was a shared experience with moi that will stay with me until I die. It was the moment in my life that I have been the most terrified and I think Jess handled herself much better than I did.
In Jess' words "This story shows how unlucky yet comical events seem to follow me around. In 2009, I went to Yosemite National Park with my boyfriend. We stayed in a tent cabin which is basically a simple, wooden frame covered in a canvas. Reviews on a website said that bears were frequent visitors to the camp site but that information really didn't bother me because I had seen bears before."
I pretended not too be either but I was bricking it.
"Our first night we almost walked straight into an approaching bear." As the bloggist, I would like to correct my girlfriend by saying she was walking obliviously into a bear as I pulled her away.
"We were told to keep anything scented in our bear proof locker [a green steel box that is used to store all food, scented items and anything a bear may want]. We had to put everything in there down to my cherry chapstick."
I kiss a girl and I liked it! Couldn't resist.
"I am very well organised and I was sure nothing with a scent would be left in our tent cabin. Our last night turned out very differently than expected. I was fast asleep in the early hours of the morning when I woke to the sound of something plastic crunching outside. I thought nothing of it then heard something brush against the canvas starting to tear it."
"I convinced myself that it was just someone out late walking by our tent cabin but then it happened... a loud grunting noise and I immediately knew that it was a bear. I started poking my boyfriend and told him there was a bear outside just before it got even worse. The wooden frame supporting the edge of the cabin began to break open under force and the canvas ripped louder than previously."
"The bear was breaking into our tent cabin! I have never been so scared in my entire life. Despite him being scared, my boyfriend is a quick thinker and grabbed our flashlight with a siren on it."
Note to all Yosemite Campers - A siren or loud noise will scare a bear away
"We stood in our tent cabin in fear and I frantically looked around for a reason why a bear would want to get in. I knew everything was locked away in the locker. Then I saw it... the day before I had bought a magazine from the general store and guess what was in the magazine - a perfume sample! I couldn't believe it."
"I know that was the reason but i'm mystified why the people working at the general store did not warn us about perfume samples possibly attracting bears."
"I think what was more terrifying was that the ranger told us that the bear was waiting outside when we ran out to their office after the attack in the middle of the night. By morning, we saw the damage which was a huge hole. It was frightening at the time but when I think back on it, I find it a very funny story to tell people."
"I will never live down that it was my fault that the bear tried to kill us and this is probably just another reason why I have been nicknamed 'The Jinx'."
Hearing the story again... I just can't bear it!
Besides praising Kent, Jess can see like everyone where there is room for improvement.
"While I love Maidstone, I am used to living in a big city. I think Maidstone would benefit more from shops staying open late as The Mall closes early here. People could have time to come home from work then go out shopping late if they wanted to. Maidstone could use more ethnic restaurants aside from Chinese and Indian. This would create a wider variety of food options. Options such as Persian, Japanese, Vietnamese and especially Mexican food, my favourite! I really think people in Kent would come to appreciate and enjoy this food."
Since visiting America, I have been fortunate enough to try to these foods and I must say, I would love to have them here with us in Kent!
Jess had expressed herself for long enough so I thought I would relieve her quickly and ask my random question of the week:
If money was not an issue, what would be your ideal purchase and why?
"My ideal purchase would be my own private jet with an unlimited and free supply of fuel."
Oh god think of the Ozone Layer Jess, although she does have good reasons!
"It is very difficult to be in a long distance relationship and very expensive too. Buying plane tickets constantly is very costly so it would be lovely to be able to hop on my own jet whenever I wanted to fly back and forth between California and England. Just think how great it would be to hop on a jet anytime I wanted and to be with this great bloggist [Sorry, could not resist] within 10 hours. It would also be nice to be able to fly family and friends back and forth so no one is ever missed."
A very nice purchase Jess but my ideal purchase would be a green card. Much cheaper than a jet and we could be together all the time!
I would like to give a very special thank you to my wonderful and supportive girlfriend this week for assisting me with another Kent blog. She always gives me positive opinions on my work and without her, I would not have a reason for pursuing my dream of becoming a respected writer.
2011 is going to be a great year so I hope you can share it with me by becoming my next interviewee.
If you live in Kent, let's talk!
If you would like to appear on my blog, all I ask is that you live in Kent and that you are willing to talk to me for 10 - 15 minutes about yourself.
If you think you'd like to give it a try, drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see what we can do!