Monthly Archives: November 2011

Puttering along

Winter is just around the corner. Light is fading early in the day. I do a lot of cycling in the dark and near dark to

A bit of my daily commute over Waterloo Bridge

and from work.  And as of this week, I can feel myself going into winter hibernation mode. I want to stay in, wear 4 layers of clothing, drink tea and do a lot of reading. Given my lack of expendable income, it’s probably a good option. Now that I think about it, I’m always particularly skint in the month of December. It’s certainly not from buying Christmas gifts as I never do such a thing.  And this year it’s not even from buying Christmas cards, the 2nd year I won’t be sending any out, which really breaks my heart. This year I’m aiming to do something at least partially creative and get something out to family and close friends. We shall see how December progresses.

I’m in my 3rd week of work at the council. It’s a totally rad job and I still am in love with it. I’m getting a better feel for what I need to accomplish everyday.  The office is very laid back with everyone just taking care of their shit. I realize I am just a minion tree officer with not very many responsibilities, but it’s somewhere to start. And everyday I’m learning so much about trees and their managment. You wouldn’t believe the amount of time and resources that go into managing trees in a city. It is a significant undertaking. And I am happy to be working at a council who takes it seriously. Well up until at least March when their funding may get drastically cut. But let’s not think about that as it’s still November for a few more hours and March is ages away.

Onto something way more fun.  New bike!  My first new bike in over 4 years!  The new Pashley bicycle sitting in my room is my dream bike.  Don’t know if I could ever bring myself to buy another bicycle again after having a Pashley. A tricycle is another story. Still plenty of room (well maybe not really) for a tricycle in my room.  A tricycle with a cooler and umbrella specifically. For when I move to that California beach town in my retirement years and sell organic-free-range-locally-sourced-vegan ice cream.  Yeah, so the new bicycle is making my 22 mile round trip commute a bit easier than it was on the Schwinn. I still love Schwinn bike whole heartedly, but it will be resigned to  leisure rides, use when visitors come and riding to the pub. I think really that’s all it was designed to handle and I was pressing my luck with my insane commute on my white wall tires. So in the end we’re all happy.

Ok, I’ve been sitting in front of a computer for most of the day and I do not wish to continue this. I am retiring to my bed for a solid hour of reading before my 10 PM bed time rolls around.  Yeah, I really know how to party these days. I will leave you with a picture from inside Emirate Stadium on Saturday. I went to see Fulham play Arsenal in definitely the best premiership game I’ve so far seen.  There was even a glimmer of hope for about 15 minutes where Fulham looked like they were going to record their first victory against Arsenal in 63 years or something ridiculous. Alas, it was not meant to be and it ended in a 1-1 draw.  Still a great game and great atmosphere. Ok, peace out!

The Emirates...I got there a little bit earlier than I expected.

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Just a smidgen of an update

Lovely, relaxing weekend here in London. Well, if you consider a 25ish mile tour of London through the most

The only time I've ever felt safe cycling through Parliament Square.

dangerous junctions for cyclists with 200 other cyclists lovely and relaxing. I do. It’s good to be back on my bike after too long of hiatus. When Eric was here I was starting to go mad as he will probably be more happy to attest. Walking is fine and dandy, but I’m definitely a cyclist. I digress. I was speaking of the Tour du Danger on Saturday, which set about to highlight the perils of being a cyclist in London. They are many and they are great. On the eve of the tour a 15th person was killed on a bike this year in London. I’m hoping TfL and the Mayor will take serious note of the ride and make cyclist (and pedestrians!) safety the bigger priority. I know I keep my wits about me and I still get rather too close to serious accidents more than I like. I can’t imagine someone who is cycling with a child or less able bodied than myself wanting to take the risk to cycle in the city regularly. This is what the Mayor should be focusing on providing for the cyclists.

Tomorrow I start my new job. I’ll also be sending in my work visa stuff this week. Let’s hope the UK Home Office deems me OK to stay for (at least) the next two years or else my new job isn’t going to last very long. And I don’t want that. Besides that I’ll be looking to kick off some serious toning up and slimming down of my body. My multiple full

Bike Nation!

English and Full Scottish breakfasts on holiday coupled with some serious drinking in the last month and commuting by train and van has not had me feeling as good as I’d like. Getting fit should be easy with my 20 mile round trip commute via cycle and more free time in the evenings to get some running or exercising in after work. The goal is to get to my fighting weight by the new year (even though I don’t have a scale to take my weight. I’ll know.). I want to ring in 2012 feeling the best ever.

I’m off to sleep land. Want to look bright eyed and bushy tailed on my first day as an office worker!  TTYL

 

 

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Holiday from the holiday

Me watching a cat, watching a cat

Eric’s somewhere in the sky right now over the Atlantic flying back state side. I’m drinking tea, watching my cat, Piccadilly stare at another cat in the back yard. This is the kind of fun I have when no one is here to keep me busy with traveling and sightseeing.

My highlights for our time in London included the two Fulham matches we attended. One was Europa league matchvs. Wisla Krakow and the other was a Premiere leauge match against Tottenham.  The Tottenham one was heart wrenching as we outplayed them, but couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.  And we definitely got robbed of an obvious handball in the Tottenham box. Fulham are playing good football and I think by the end of the season, we’ll be in a spot in the league that shows our side’s strength.

Besides football, I really enjoyed our North London (to central London) pub crawl on Saturday. We were able to make it to some new pubs and efficiently found some nice hoppy beers, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  Our trip took us to the Southampton Armsin Hampstead, which was recently crowned CAMRA London pub of the year. I have to thoroughly agree with them as the pub had the best selection of ales and cider on tap I’ve seen and the pub itself was delightful.

First pint at Southampton Arms. It won't be my last.

The fireplace crackling and the records playing just made it oh so much better. It was a bit of a shame that it was our first stop as I could have spent all day there.  Our pub crawl continued to Stoke Newington to the Jolly Butchers.  I enjoy the Jolly Butchers and happy that if I ever get homesick for Oregon, I can go there. The place has either been airlifted from the city (including the hipsters) or every pub in Portland has used the Jolly Butchers as a template for it’s design. They do have an excellent collection of beer and cider available.  Plus the food (which I have yet to try outside of some chips) looks really yummy. From there we went down to Euston to the Euston Tap. This one is located right out front of Euston train station in a small building which manages to hold a lot of good beer and a lot of happy customers. It happened to be celebrating it’s 1 year anniversary that day and I do remember finding out about it shortly after Eric’s trip here last year. It was warm enough outside next to the heaters to enjoy our pint there and enjoy the loudness of the Bonfire Night fireworks. After this we made it all the way down to the Cittie of Yorke, a Samuel Smith’s pub.  We had our

Outside at the Euston Tap

final pint of the night there and went home.  We both had come down with a pretty bad cold the day before and we were both struggling to keep going after a full day of cold fighting and beer drinking.

It was a crazy, fun 2 weeks with Eric over here. We saw a good bit of Scotland and did some wonderful exploring of London. But now I have a hundred things to get back to working on. And a new job to start next Monday. The new job should be a real kick in the pants and a foray into the maintenance of trees where I need to do a lot of learning. I’ll be working for a council for the next 4 1/2 months and hoping to get a lot out of the job.  I’m very much looking forward to working with the people at the council and hoping I don’t make a fool of myself. On top of that, I have a few other side projects that you may be hearing more about at a later date.

The rest of this week I’ll be filling out the paperwork for my work visa so I can continue to stay in this country. I’m also predicting a lot of reading, writing and general taking it easy. It’s been so long since I’ve had some proper PROPER time off so I intend to use it wisely. Have a good week, folks!

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Back from the northern lands

Distillers at Laphroaig

Late last night, after 3 train rides, Eric and I got back into the SW16. Our 6 days in Scotland went by way too quickly and I think we’re both in agreement that a return trip is due in the near future.  For me the highlight was going to the Isle of Islay (pronounced eye-la) in the inner Hebrides. The weather was for the most part pleasant with only a few hours of heavy rain showers.  We stayed on the south coast of Islay in Port Ellen, where three whisky distilleries are.   These three, Laphroaig probably being the best known, are world renouned for their peat taste. And for me, they are renowned for me not being interested in drinking any of them ever again.  The peat taste is over powering and makes me think I’ve just stuck my head in a camp fire and attempted to chew on the smoke.  Try it for yourself.  We went on a tour of the Laphroaig distillery, which was very interesting as I’ve never known about the distillation process.  And no better place than Laphroaig which even goes as far as making their own malted barley.  In total Islay has 7 distilleries.  If you like scotch, I don’t believe you

Pretending to enjoy the smell of the peat sandwich in my glass and also attempting to keep my breakfast down.

can go anywhere better than Islay. And if you’re not into scotch (like Eric and I), I think Islay is still an amazing place to journey to and explore.  It’s a quick 2 hour and 15 minute ferry ride from the Kennacraig.  And only slightly nauseating on rough seas.

Our first four days we got to feast on full Scottish breakfast. If you haven’t yet experienced a “full breakfast” over here, well I think you’re missing out. I couldn’t get enough of it and cleaned my plat of all the food every morning.  Except for the mushrooms, which Eric gladly took off my plate.  Mary, our b&b host while on Islay, was satisfied with my ability to put away the food.  Eric left food on his plate both days (she even gave him one less egg the 2nd day!) and the disappoinment given off by Mary was palpable by every one in the room. I

It's not that much to handle, is it? Oh and we had a bowl of porridge before this.

think next time I stay at that b&b, I’ll be sure to not associate myself with anyone who is unable to complete the breakfast challenge.

After getting as much as we could in our limited time in Islay, we headed back to the Highlands.  This included a second stop at a pub in Inverary, which was a favorite of both of us.  They had the best salmon baguettes ever, chocked full of salmon and cream cheese on a soft and delicious baguette.  Plus they had Fyne Ales on tap.  We stumbled upon Fyne Ales on our way to Islay and stopped in and sampled their beers. We left with 4 bottles of the stuff, so obviously we were both impressed. I’m hoping I can get some of it down here in London.

We had a long day of driving where we drove all the way to Edinburgh. I knew Eric would love the city and

A view from the portcullis gate of Edinburgh castle

convinced him that we should spend our last two nights in the city. I have been to Edinburgh with Matt about 5 years ago and had a lovely time. He was happy I suggested it as I think he’s fallen head over heels in love with the place.  Who can blame him as it’s a beautiful city, especially at night.  We did the tour of the castle and did a ghost and ghouls night tour of the city since it was Halloween.  Both were great.  We found a couple of nice pubs as well and I look forward to going back to the city soon as well.

Our last day was a little crazy as we needed to take a pilgrimage up to St. Andrews so Eric could see the Old Course at St. Andrews (that’s golf for you non-golf people).  It was a really nice day and good to be on the East coast.  We walked around the golf course for a while and then into the city for a bit.  The castle was closed (at least I think it was) for renovations, but we were able to visit the ruins of the cathedral which were cool.  I’ve always wanted to go to a ruined cathedral as they seem to keep a certain kind of romance and magic to them.  St. Andrews did not disappoint.
From there we needed to get back to Edinburgh to catch our return train to London.  We made it in plenty of time.  Actually we enjoyed our 3rd Indian meal of the trip.  I’d say we’re both a little obsessed with Indian food at the moment.  And we’re prepared to fully exploit that obsession while on this 2 week holiday.

Our time in London should be fun.  We’ve got a couple of football matches to attend and of course the world famous pub quiz at the Ferrers.  No real set plans beyond that really! Just seeing how we feel in the morning.  It’s the way holidays should be.  Ok, I need to make some dinner before quiz, so I will sign off.  Let’s hope I get some more updates in from now on!  I’m seriously disappointed with my effort as of late!  Cheers guys.

Sitting on a pillar foundation at St. Andrews cathedral ruins. Pretending we like each other.

 

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