Saturday, 29 May 2010

Friday Transportation

On our way to Islington for 'post-longest day at work ever' drinks - a friend and I had a new experience. We got to ride a 'number 4' bus.

Now, in some cities that might not be so unusual but in London, it is obviously quite unique for them to get this low. I still remember the time I saw the number 1 drive past me at Elephant & Castle. Was very exciting.

So here we were on the lowest numbered bus either of us had been on, when the bus driver announced a detour. The guy sitting in front of us turned around and asked if we knew where the new route would take us. "I don't know" said my bus buddy. "We've never taken a single figure bus before", as if to explain our ignorance.

Yesterday also found me in the back of a taxi with a driver who felt he should share his 'largest fares ever' stories with us. Our entire journey from Euston Station back to work in the City. There was the time he drove someone to Cardiff for £330; to Ipswich for £200; To Gatwick for £150... "And the geezer didn't even ask for a receipt!".

I'm always amused at taxi drivers (including this one) who feel they must outline the finer details of the route they are about to take me on, as if I'm going to argue with someone who has probably spent about 34 months studying for a London navigational exam called 'The Knowledge'.

Interesting, studies have shown that cabbies in London tend to develop an especially large hippocampus, which is a region of the brain implicated in navigational ability.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Some places I've been recently

I'm not usually one for holiday snaps, but I thought I'd throw in a few nice shots of a couple of beautiful places I went to recently.

Complete opposite ends of the spectrum, with one being wild and ruggedly stunning; the other traditionally grand and awe-inspiring. Trains got me some, or all of the way each time, so no battling with Icelandic ash.

In Wales we stayed the weekend in a renovated church run by a slightly mad London woman while roaming the great outdoors, climbing a mountain, and drinking the local ales.

A couple of weekends later and the air was altogether more cosmopolitan. 36 hours in Paris with just a handbag and a fabulous friend for company. We sat in the sunshine and ate light and delicate pastries, drinking silky smooth espresso;

we visited the resting place of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and thousands of other grand Parisians, resting in a green oasis still within the city limits.

We saw garden sculptures, took the metro all over, ate escargot, drank carafes of cheap red wine and got laughed at by a rude French waiter. All the things you should do on a trip to Paris.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A sweet education

Quote of the day:

"Emma generally seems to know quite a bit if you ask her about things, but if you ask her anything about English sweets or crisps, it is like talking to a three year old. She knows nothing and has never tried anything."

And so began my education.

Today it was a 'Twister'. Best described as an iced lolly on a stick, with a twist of ice cream through it, it is apparently pineapple, lemon and lime flavoured,with strawberry on the inside. Wikipedia tells me the Twister was first produced in 1982.

I have to say it went down quite nicely as a 3pm snack. Particularly as the usual Arctic-like office air conditioning was having an Amazon rainforest day. We sat there, as a team, trying to look serious at our desks, diligently doing our work, all sucking on traffic light coloured ice creams.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Tribulations of academia

It is interesting being a student again. Not in an "oh learning is so interesting" kind of way, although that is the case. No, I mean that it is interesting seeing how I do things differently to the last three times I've studied for a qualification.

I have such vivid memories of sitting in front of a computer, not even being able to bare looking at the essay anymore. I'd just print it, breathe a sigh of relief and go celebrate. These days I do like I did tonight, which was to sit in front of my computer, and dither terribly for about half an hour. Reading it again and again, checking three times all the attachments are there and I've spelled my last name correctly. Then eventually I muster the courage to send it off, after which the only feeling I get is an impending sense of doom. Not more waves of immense relief. Just fear that I've done something idiotic.

Anyway, in an attempt to feel some relief prior to the goblins of exam study moving on in, I'm off to Paris for the night. 36 hours avec fabulous friend and one small (well packed) handbag. C'est merveilleux.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Love & Marriage

I used to be a complete cynic, and whilst not all of that has washed away, I've come to realise there is something quite lovely about the institution of marriage.

This year I have been fortunate enough to witness the marriages of four wonderful people who each wanted to stand up in front of a bunch of friends and relatives and exclaim their feelings for the other. The rest of us were lucky enough to dress up nice, drink the champagne, and share the day.

The papers tell me that marriage is more unpopular now than almost ever before, but no one has told that to my friends. And my friends' friends. Which is a good thing.

As I contemplate missing another special wedding this weekend, on the other side of the world, I am pleased that some are still bucking the trend by dressing up, hiring a venue, inviting loved ones, and standing up in front of a crowd to say 'I choose you'.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

That old democratic right

Just now, mid-Wednesday evening, I sat on my bedroom floor and decided who I want to represent me in the next parliament.

It is the first time I have voted under a 'first-past-the-post' system, so felt slightly ripped off at only getting one vote, but considering I'm an immigrant, it was pretty nice of the country to let me contribute all the same.

Tomorrow is a big day here. Just about anything could happen. No more do we have to watch the terrible Conservative billboards go past the bus window; there wont be the hideous Gordon Brown election gaffs to wince at; and the amount of junk mail the Franconia ladies get will reduce right back down to Indian takeaway flyers and dodgy taxi cab business cards.

Who knows what the result will be tomorrow, but I plan on staying up all hours watching it roll in; probably until my head eventually tips back and sleep overcomes me on the sofa. My life is wild. But I love it.