Olive Us: Ralph in London

January 9, 2014

By Gabrielle. Image by Ben Blair.

Do you remember Betty in Paris? Fun fact: it’s the most viewed episode of Olive Us! And I can’t say I’m surprised. Paris is a magical place, and Betty in Paris is a magical video.

We enjoyed making it so much, that we thought it would be fun to make episodes showing each of our kids exploring a famous city somewhere in the world — a mini-video-series within the larger Olive Us series. We like the idea of pairing up each child with a city that fits their personality. For example, (pretending we could somehow film anywhere) if we were making an episode for Maude, we picture Tokyo. For Olive, it would be New York.

And today, I’m sharing video #2 in this mini-series: Ralph in London!

Ralph in London

This video definitely feels more teenager-y than our other Olive Us episodes — including the music! So your youngest viewers may not be drawn to it as much as our other videos. (I’m actually really curious about this, so please feel free to let me know what your kids think of it if you decide to have them watch it.)

For this episode, Ben Blair and Ralph took a weekend trip to London last May (we were still living in France then, so it was easy as can be). Then they spent the weekend running all over town from morning till night, while Tiger in a Jar filmed. We had been to London a couple of times as a family at that point and Ralph had really fallen in love with it. He feels a connection with that city. So it’s a treat for me to see the city through his eyes in this video.

In Betty in Paris, we show a 6 year old’s simple and sweet view of the city, but in Ralph in London, we show a grittier version of a day spent exploring. It’s interesting to me, because cities really do tend to have multiple personalities — so if we had filmed Betty in London, instead of Ralph in London, it would have been an entirely different video, while still staying true to a London experience. I love that! I love that the same city can mean something entirely different to different people.

Have you ever been to London? If yes, did we capture any of your favorite spots in the city? And if we were filming a “You in Any City” episode, is there a particular city in the world you are most drawn to? (I can’t decide which city I would choose! Amsterdam? New York?)

P.S. — Speaking of Betty in Paris, it just turned One! Join in the celebration here!! Would you like to know more about Olive Us? Here you go:

- Find the official Olive Us website here, and subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter here.
- Find all the posts I’ve written about Olive Us — including every episode — here.
- We’ve made 44 episodes so far and collaborated with ulive on 20 of them! You can find the Olive Us page on ulive here.

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Olive Us: Ralph in London | Jerbelle Lau
January 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth Aquino January 10, 2014 at 12:13 am

I LOVE it. This one has an energy and power to it that is electrical! I love the idea of matching a city to a child/teenager. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

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2 Lisa January 10, 2014 at 12:45 am

I love how he seems worldly, but not too grown up. I’m curious how much input Ralph had in the film itself as far as the art direction, since he’s a filmmaker? Excited to see the rest of the kids in their kindred cities. Lovely!

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3 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:24 am

Good question, Lisa! I know Ralph did lots of brainstorming with the team about what should be included in the video before they went to London, and he helped concept and choose wardrobe as well. I’ve asked Ben Blair to chime in about how involved he was with behind-the-scenes ideas on the actual shoot days.

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4 Ben January 10, 2014 at 10:42 am

Thanks for the question, Lisa! Tiger in a Jar had scouted several locations and had drawn up a story board (based on conversations we had had about what we had in mind for this episode–and Ralph contributed to those conversations). On shoot days, there is always some creative/interpretive work. So Ralph would contribute to what we wanted to do in a particular shot. And just off the top of my head, I know he came up with the pull ups on the underground, sliding down the banister, and I believe high fives to the super heroes…

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5 Jess. January 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Those were my three favorite parts! They felt so familiar, as I’m raising boys in NYC, and they made me smile. I’m excited to show this to them and maybe even work on making some of our own. Thanks, Ralph et al. for this fun, inspiring video! xox

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6 Aimee January 10, 2014 at 3:31 am

Wow! That brought tears to my eyes for some reason, but happy ones! I was born in Detroit, but have lived in London since I was 10, so I grew into myself here and seeing it again through Ralph’s eyes was like reading a love letter to my adopted city. It really shows London as it is: a quirky, individual, wonderfully varied place where the old and new bump along happily together. Thank you, Ralph!

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7 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

“seeing it again through Ralph’s eyes was like reading a love letter to my adopted city”

Oh. I love that so much. Made me really happy to hear your response.

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8 Holly January 10, 2014 at 3:49 am

Great video! I love when he’s at the Tower of London. That area is a wonderful mix of very, very old and very, very new. Ralph’s video shows that London is a great city for any age!

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9 Zoe Royall January 10, 2014 at 4:04 am

Holy wow! The art direction on that video is fantastic! Also, I would be Copenhagen!

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10 Sarah :) January 10, 2014 at 6:01 am

Oh my! This totally made my morning :) Thank you so much for this wonderful little video tour through London. I have to say Ralph looks like a very cool and self-confident kid – I love that! I guess I’d pick Lisbon for my personal video trip – not sure though, so many nice places to choose from!

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11 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:14 am

Lisbon in on my travel wishlist! I think I would really like Portugal.

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12 Claudia Martins Dietrich January 10, 2014 at 6:43 am

Dear Gabrielle: I’ve recently discovered your blog and the Olive Us videos. Whenever I feel the need for a breath of fresh air, I watch one of the videos. They are sweet, fun, visually appealing. Congratulations on your crew! They’re fantastic! Betty in Paris is lyrical and Ralph in London is so cool! I loved he selected a Leonard Cohen album!

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13 Kathleen January 10, 2014 at 7:04 am

Wow, I really loved this video. It has such a great energy to it and seems to show off some of Ralph’s personality (I say “seems” because of course I have no idea!). I love his dancing and interacting with people on the street. I’m also curious, like one of the other commenters, how much Ralph contributed to the filmmaking aspect of the video. It has some really unique shots and angles. Well done!

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14 Ben January 10, 2014 at 10:44 am

On the day of a shoot, everyone contributes, but the brilliant shots and angles are a tribute to the genius of Tiger in a Jar.

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15 Sally January 10, 2014 at 7:04 am

Very teenager-ish and I love it (now have 2 of my own). From the cities I know and have been to, I would pick Vienna, but I think I might like Oslo or Stockholm as well.

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16 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:15 am

I was thinking Ben Blair would probably pick Oslo or Stockholm as well. Or maybe Bern, Switzerland!

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17 Sally January 10, 2014 at 10:55 am

Oh…Bern, I forgot that. That might come after Vienna. I guess I would probably pick German speaking because I can speak it. After I tried to explain my answer to my daughter, I remembered that when I went to be an exchange student Sweden was my first choice, but they sent me to Germany instead…which forever changed my life (met my husband in a German class:). I guess I still would love to see Scandinavia though.

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18 Fiona January 10, 2014 at 7:25 am

Ralph in my favourite city would already have made this my favourite video but that video was perfection, the pigeon flying past as he dances on the Trafalgar Square statues !
What is most enchanting in this and very much in “Betty in Paris” – is the sense that these kids are on these huge cities all on their own discovering the environment. I think that appeals to my 7 year old very much.

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19 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:17 am

I think the Trafalgar Square part is my favorite snippet. So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the kind words. And I fully agree about your last sentence — the idea of a child spending a day alone in a city feels like some sort of fairy tale.

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20 Tina January 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I agree, Trafalgar Square lions is my favorite part too! Such a great video…might be my new fave!

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21 Catty January 10, 2014 at 8:03 am

Wow, some of those shots were practically on my street- to think I could easily have been there whilst you were filming..!

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22 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:18 am

Too fun!

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23 o!suzanna January 10, 2014 at 8:08 am

Oh my! This is fabulous! I loved the dancing across the bridge and down the sidewalk sequences. I often wonder what it would be like if people danced their way everywhere, with a song in their heart, wouldn’t the world be such a happier place? Thanks for having such awesome kiddos who are willing to ham it up for the camera to share with all of (olive) us :)

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24 Missweb January 10, 2014 at 8:24 am

Love the music! Who is it by? Really cool (and cute) video!

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25 Ben January 10, 2014 at 10:51 am

Thank you, Missweb! On most of the Olive Us videos, we license music from music libraries. This track, we got from a library called Megatrax, and the title of the song is “UK Underground”, composed by Richard Mouser, published by Fulton Avenue Music.

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26 Jane January 10, 2014 at 8:25 am

I fell in love with London when I was there for the first time at the age of 12. I’ve gone back twice, and it’s magical every time. Love the video! Captures London perfectly!

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27 Erin S. January 10, 2014 at 8:27 am

Love it! I’ve been to London twice: Most recently with my husband and then infant, but the first time, I was 19. Until I saw this video, every time I “remembered” London, I remembered it more with the eyes of an adult traveling with her family (clean, busy, but calm, orderly) . . . but, oh my, that video instantly transported me back to my first time in London when I was 19 and had crazy times exploring the city with my cousin. It definitely felt much grittier and wild that time. Thank you (and Ralph!) for helping me remember that side of London!

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28 Karen January 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

I love videos geared toward a slightly older crowd, obviously because my boys are almost 10 and 12. It’s hard to find media geared toward these ages that isn’t too childish bit also not too advanced. I’ll show this to my boys when they get home today.
PS: I’d love to see a post about your older kids and social media….do they do Instagram/Facebook? When did they get phones? We are approaching the age when my older son is asking about getting an iPhone but we are holding off for a while. Would love to hear more about this topic from other moms of middle school age kids.

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29 Mika January 10, 2014 at 8:54 am

LOVE that Ralph feels confident enough to dance in random places while being filmed :) I certainly couldn’t have done that at his age (or now! ha!) Go Ralph!

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30 Jocelyn January 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

I was going to say the same thing! I was so impressed with his confidence to dance everywhere. Definitely not in my comfort zone! Loved this view of London and your idea to make this a series.

It’s funny you asked what little ones thought of it because my 3 year old daughter said, “Mom, that music is intense!” Too funny.

I think my city would be Edinburgh.

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31 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:19 am

Hah! Honestly, I was a confident teen, but I can’t imagine being brave enough to dance while being filmed. Ralph’s a champ.

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32 Rosie January 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

Loved this! Was just in London this summer and now feel like I have just revisited!

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33 susan January 10, 2014 at 9:06 am

A great way to see London with a cool teen as our guide. It made me smile:)

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34 Jules January 10, 2014 at 9:08 am

Ralph is RAD! This is my new favorite Olive Us episode…can’t wait to see the rest of your kids and their cities. Austin is the city that best fits my personality…laid back, friendly, and a little weird ;)

I like Karen’s suggestion of a post about older kids, social media, and phones. My daughter just turned 10 (and is not getting a phone or participating in social media anytime soon), but I’d like to be well prepared when the time comes. I’d love to read your opinions on these topics.

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35 Stephanie January 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

Adored this! I lived in London for a semester while in college and this brought back so many fond memories. I’m especially glad you included the taxi cab scene. I hailed my first ever cab in that city!

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36 Megan M. January 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

I love this video! Ralph always seems effortlessly cool. Please do more!

I’ve never been to Paris but I’ve always felt like I would love it… maybe because I’m such a romantic?

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37 Micah January 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

I’m really enjoying the episodes with Ralph. Betty in Paris is still my favorite as I love Paris, but Ralph made this one fun, cool, hip, and all that a teenager should enjoy.

My husband is from the north of England and he hates London! But I have always loved it, and I’ve dragged him there numerous times. The best part of that city is that you can always tour a new part of it!! There are many treasures to be found, and I love how international it is. But I also love Edinburgh, Bangkok, New York City, San Francisco, . . . and Paris. :) It would be great to see an episode with each of your kids in a new city. Such a good experience it would be for them too. Well done!!

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38 Amy January 10, 2014 at 9:56 am

I love the Olive Us series! Thank you making such great entertainment. I share these videos with my family. My 50+ year old mom loves it down to my 2 year old nephew. At first he was resistant (because it wasn’t a dinosaur/rocket ship cartoon) but after he watched the nursery rhyme video he was hooked and wanted to watch other episodes. He kept saying, “Again! Again! Again!”

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39 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:23 am

Yay! So glad your nephew is enjoying the videos, Amy. Love that hearing that!

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40 leslie January 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

2 thumbs up to Ralph for picking London! I fall in his camp too. London is my fave city! Confession: I had been there many times as a child; when I was a nanny in Brussels I wanted to go there so bad but didn’t have means to get there, so a friend and I hitch-hiked to London. I recently told my mom after 25 years, yikes! But it was worth it.
Best parts of the video: starts in morning/ends at night; Ralph stops twice to enjoy herb tea/hot choc? while taking it all in, he sees the new and old, using the cell phone by the phone booth, familiar London sites/not so familiar and edgier places.
Thank you for showing more teen views. Hope more of that is to come.
I have 3 teens at home and 2 adult children- whole new world. Plus I teach part time at my high school. I love teens. I will show them these videos.

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41 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

So glad you noted the phone booth/cell phone shot. I thought that was particularly charming! And yes on the tea! They carried a cup and saucer around town all day and would shoot with it in random spots — I need to watch again, I think there might be 3 shots of the tea cup that made the final cut of the video.

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42 Design Mom January 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

Also, hitchhiked to London? Dying!

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43 leslie @simplymusicwise.blogspot.com January 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Just was able to show this video to a class as today is a ‘down’ day. The whole H.S. is making a LIP DUB. It’s the 3rd one. Last year we won for western wash. schools See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRQI53te28U. It’s a little like Ralph’s adventure- but with 1800 kids. It’s very fun!
The kids in class really liked Ralph’s video. We had a good discussion about having freedom in the city, what they liked best about the video, and what it means to them to travel and explore now that they’ve learned a more about history.

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44 Amy3 January 10, 2014 at 10:19 am

This was great! I’ll add my voice to those who are impressed at Ralph’s confidence to not only be filmed all over the city (I wouldn’t have done that at his age) but also to dance all over the city (I definitely woudln’t have done that!).

I love London. My husband and I first visited almost 13 years ago. We were just back for one lightning fast day in November with our daughter (it was her first visit). Since we had only one day we did the Big Bus Tour, which let our daughter see the iconic sites. It was neat to see a different view of the city in this video.

The idea of choosing a city for each kid is awesome. I can’t wait to see the rest of them!

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45 Kelly January 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

Our family just got back from a trip to London and this video makes me want to go back even more! Bravo! What a fun trip through a fantastic city. The art direction is really great in this video. Your son is soooo cool! I agree with the ladies above and hope that you will continue to write more blogs about teens. I am looking forward to the next city video.

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46 Melissa S. January 10, 2014 at 10:31 am

I loved, loved, loved this episode (and was slightly jealous as I’ve yet to visit London). Your older children are such a shining example for young people today, and I so enjoy glimpses like this into their personalities, interests, and senses of style (as if anyone with a Napoleon Dynamite wall could ever be uncool!) If I may offer up a compliment, directed as much at the obviously wonderful job of parenting done by yourself and Ben Blair as toward the young Mr. Blair himself…how I wish my (older) teenage daughter would find a “Ralph”, as opposed to the polar opposites we’ve encountered so far (the DRAMA!). I know there have to be more young men like him out there, but we’ve yet to be so lucky. All my best.

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47 heather January 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

Love it! It’s hard to pick a favorite episode but this one’s up there. The shot of the lady taking a picture (of Ralph?) is hilarious!
My family has a love/love relationship with London. In my teenage-hood, when we had newly emigrated from South Africa to the US, my very British parents were afraid we children would become uncultured :), so they regularly shipped my teenage brother and me to London to stay with a series of eccentric relatives. It was heaven, we got to explore the city by ourselves…such freedom! My brother ended up moving there with his family a few years ago. All my teenage children now love London, my oldest just returned from his first “parent-free” trip there and the bug has bitten! I can’t wait to show him Ralph’s brilliant movie!

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48 Lucie January 10, 2014 at 11:14 am

Wow, I really like it! The scene with the vinyl records is so funny! :)

I would pick Glasgow!

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49 Diana January 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

So Fun!! That was so great. I loved seeing little bits of London that get overlooked in most travel pics. I really love the record store and dancing around town. Fun!

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50 Caitlin Mallery January 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

My son is 2 1/2 and he enjoyed this video (he loves watching “the kids”). My daughter (she’s about 15 months) actually watched all through the “Betty in Paris” episode. I was quite surprised by how it fascinated her.

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51 Ellie January 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I have a soft spot for Rome! And many other italian cities.

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52 Jeanette January 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I LOVE London! I decided one day that I HAD to go, and I made it happen. It was so fun to see London through Ralph’s eyes and reminisce. I believe that travelling is such an important part of growing up. Such a great video!

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53 Jessie January 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Nice dancing, Ralph! London would definitely be my city. Not sure you can film in the Tate Modern, but I’d sure be tempted to try if I made something like this. I enjoyed the “grungier” spots mixed in with the more iconic ones, and I’m glad a fair bit of food was consumed on camera–yum!

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54 Robin January 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

So fun! Looks like Ralph had a blast in London. It is one of my favorite cities. My husband is from Northamptonshire, and my sister-in-law lives in London. Love going there whenever we travel to England. I could get lost in the Tate and the V & A. :-) And don’t get me started on Liberty of London! Probably not a favorite haunt for a teen-aged boy ;-) but I was so tickled to finally go there on my last trip to London. It would definitely be a city pick for me. Or maybe Venice :-)

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55 TracieMcOB January 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Love, love it!! Such fun to see Ralph enjoying the city. Love London. I love that Ralph is truly himself – dancing along to his music, not self-conscious at all. Can’t wait to see the other cities you picked for the rest of the bunch :)
Keep ‘em coming

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56 TracieMcOB January 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

oh P.S. – I don’t have any little ones anymore – my 2 boys are 22 and 19 – I watch them for myself for the sheer joy of life!!

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57 Jess. January 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm

This is great, & I can’t wait to show my boys. I really love all the things he eats. And the beginning, with the album covers. It’s just all so clever.

I live in NYC now, and I love love it so much, but I think I would pick Barcelona as “my” city. So gorgeous and magically charming, that city by the sea.

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58 mg January 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Loved it! The music almost sounded like the song “London Calling.” Ralph should check out a guy named Storyboard P. The New Yorker wrote about him last week. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/12/video-storyboard-p-at-the-brooklyn-bridge.html

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59 Tina January 11, 2014 at 9:45 am

From a very infrequent commenter :) – I really liked this video! I’ve sent it on to the young teens I know. And though my kids are nearer Betty’s age, they love to watch older kids do cool things!

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60 Carrie January 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

My 2 year old loves this video! She chooses “the older boy” every time I show her the list of videos on ulive. She also loves the cooking videos (Snoballs, guacamole, etc.), but for some reason, Ralph in London is her favorite.

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61 Beth January 11, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Love it!!

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62 Jordana @WhiteCabana January 12, 2014 at 7:19 am

FANTASTIC! I hope the London Tourism Board sees this…and uses it?!

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63 Stoich91 January 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Love it, and love Baker street reference! Now I want to go….turkish delighhtt…oh me…

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64 Elisabeth January 12, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Gabrielle, I just saw this post and had to tell you that my six and a half year old son discovered Ralph in London on the ulive site about two weeks ago and has decided it’s his favorite Olive Us of all (and he’s a big fan). After watching it, he was so desperate to get his own pair of black Chuck Taylors that he committed to earn the money by doing math practice! I think it’s safe to say that he thinks of Ralph as both a major celeb and a hero:). I’m so grateful to you all for providing media that is inspiring, interesting, and educational–our whole family loves it!

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65 Kirsten January 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Very sweet. My husband was born and raised in London (we live in Portland, OR now) so I always hope one of our girls will have more of a connection there. But as we go there to see the grandparents quite a bit it must be too familiar. I think that the older daughter is more into Paris and the younger is very much drawn to Tokyo. I am going to have to figure out how to get us to Tokyo!

Very brave that he danced in crowds. Although as a girl raised in a small town in Idaho that is what I love about cities. It is easier to be anonymous. At least for me!

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66 maryann January 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Great video! My kids LOVE Olive Us. My son (age 7) and daughter (4) ask to watch them on Friday afternoons, and re-watch them over and over. My son particularly loved this one of Ralph in London (he also really liked the clockmaker episode); likewise, my daughter really loved Betty in Paris. I really appreciate that the videos show confidant, curious kids exploring new places, telling stories and just doing kid stuff (tongue twisters!). So refreshing. Thank you for making these videos. We look forward to new episodes!!

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67 macarena January 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Bueno bueno buenisimo!! excellent video. I really love London, I visited the first time when I was 18 and fell in love immediately. I really like Ralph’s move, great dancer and that shot on Trafalgar square is impeccable!!!
Beside really big cities like NY and London, I think my city will be Barcelona or Edinburgh.

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68 Meredith January 13, 2014 at 6:43 pm

I have been wanting to write you and let you know that my kids ages 7 and 3 LOVE your OliveUs videos! Their favorite is probably the one about getting ready to go on a road trip. They watch that one over and over, but they love all of them. They liked the Ralph in London video too. Thank you for making these.

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69 Stephanie January 13, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Love it Gabby! My kids thought it was cool too, and their comment was, “Man, he sure eats a lot.” To which I responded, “He is a teenage boy after all–like your brother.”

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70 Meghan January 18, 2014 at 3:44 am

I love this so much! Especially the beginning when he slides down the banister and is being silly with the album covers in front of his face. You’re so cool Ralph…and you’ve got good moves too.

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71 kristi January 21, 2014 at 10:44 am

Oh, I love this! Ralph seems so sure of who he is, which is nice to see, particularly in a teen. High-five to Ralph!

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72 Tere January 31, 2014 at 8:41 am

this one is amazing!!! Ralph is the man.

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73 julia g blair February 7, 2014 at 9:28 am

I wanted to dance with him! Loved the vitality!

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