Monday, September 26, 2005
I'm trying to to think too hard today. If I do, I start to remember things that happened on Saturday night.
Why, oh why must I become a dancing machine after a few drinks *sigh*
I'm distracting my mind by thinking of happier things such as there being under three weeks until I go to Peru.
I'm slowly working myself through my guide book reading about all the places I'm headed.
Just one minor hassle at the moment is that I still need to sort out anti-malarial tablets. I have a horrible feeling that I'll have to go and see the (not so friendly) nurse at my local health clinic just so that I can get some on a private prescription rather than buying it outright which apparently costs a fortune.
I can't remember what it's called but I have to take tablets for a week before I go and then two weeks afterwards too....With lots of possible side-effects. Oh joy!
I also need to get a holdall to bung all my stuff in. We're traveling around in a mini-bus and my current suitcase (which is American but bought cheaply in a French supermarket in Beijing) is about the size of a mini-bus! I need to buy something a bit smaller.
I got a bit annoyed after work popping into a few luggage shops in Oxford Street when their idea of customer service is to ignore you when you want to talk to them and then ask if you need any help as you're walking out.
"No thank you, I'm just walking out," I mutter under my breath.
I figure that I need a trolley holdall so that I can drag it around most of the time and carry it like a regular bag when that's not possible.
I may pop into Millets on Kensington High Street over the weekend to see if they have anything cheaper than the nice but hugely over priced one that I spotted in Selfridges.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
For the 13th time anyway :(
The bowling went well. We had a great time though I hadn't realised just how busy the SuperBowl in Park Royal gets on a weekend. I guess that it must be one of the few things for families with kids to do locally.
We gorged ourselves at Chiqitoes afterwards and then met up again in the evening and went on a mini pub crawl. Well, okay two pubs isn't really a crawl. So more of a pub hop.
My friends had been kind enough to get me the badge (pictured) to wear for the night!
Things started to get hazy around the time of the second pub anyway. Apparently we started making some bizarre toasts to various things before we headed off to Camden and went to the Electric Ballroom through until the early hours of the morning.
I remember dancing with a wooly hat on at one point but have now idea how or why!?
We came out to find loads of police and their cars blocking off Camden High Street. Apparently there'd been a fight earlier. I had no idea what they were still doing there though as we couldn't see anything happening at that moment in time.
The downside was that all of the mini-cabs had been cleared out of the area, so we had to walk around looking for what was probably an unlicensed cab in the end. We managed to haggle one down to 30 pounds for 2 stops and 30 minutes later I was happy and fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Okay, so having popped along to the Natural History museum the other day (however brief), I decided that the V&A would be next. I haven't been there since I was small but I wasn't really sure if there'd be anything worth seeing.
So, I googled it and found its web site.
Hey, they've got an exhibition on called 'Between Past And Future: New Photography And Video From China.' Well, that might seem boring to some but I went to China last year and thought that this might be interesting.
Look, they've got a photo competition on. There're only a few entries so far. Hmmmm, I took a picture when I was in Shanghai from the old part of Chinatown (yes, they even have Chinatown areas in Chinese towns, go figure!) looking back along a street at a brand new, shiny high rise building (lots of those in Shanghai).
I liked the contrast. Between past and future. Get it?
So I uploaded the image and now I wait....
As it is, I don't stand a chance of winning. Even I like some of the other pictures there more, I even voted for someone else's, although some of them don't really appear to have anything whatsoever to do with the theme.
Stuff like, here's a picture of my son/daughter laughing. Duh?!
Well, have a look... See if you like anything there...Nudge nudge, wink wink :) (picture 25!)
I walked down to Gloucester Road from work today. It took about an hour but I had to do it because:
(a) I had stuffed my face at lunchtime with truffles that I had bought for everyone in my building as it's my birthday tomorrow (an office tradition for us). I bought them from the Godiva shop in Selfridges and asked the assistant to just give me nine of each of the twelve varieties.
I of course, had to try each variety, so twelve truffles!
(b) As a result of stuffing my face, I was on a chocolate high. It was totally bizarre. Whilst I might normally feel a bit sleepy after lunch, this time, all afternoon I had a definite chocolate buzz.
I had to burn that energy off somehow and since all my birthday stuff was planned for tomorrow and nothing for tonight, I had the energy to walk it off easily. It's not as if I was going to go to the gym, was it!
I walked past the London Fashion Week 'tents' in front of the Natural History Museum. Too early to see any models unfortunately though :( No early birthday presents for me!
One of my best mates is coming down from up North with his family for my birthday and I thought that we could do something that could involve everyone so we're off for a spot of bowling in the afternoon. Given that my form was inconsitent, to say the least, when I was in Hungary, I have no idea how I'll do tomorrow.
To be honest, so long as we all have a laugh...
Then much later, we're off clubbing at the Electric Ballroom in Camden. It's retro 70's, 80's and 90's tunes on a Saturday night, so just right for us 30-something old timers :)
Thursday, September 22, 2005
So, two days ago I received an interesting letter from the Local Government Association (No, I have no idea who they are either) saying that they were doing a survey on my block of flats today (yes, two days notice is great) and could I fill in a form detailing my journeys to and from my flat over the course of the day!?
So, stuff like times, where you were going, where you were coming from, mode of transportation, that sort of thing.
No explanation over why they're doing the survey, so I filed it under "recyclable paper."
To top it all off they have people at each of the exits noting down as people come and go. I gave them a stare as I left this morning.
It's freaky! Big Brother eat your heart out! I feel like I'm a specimen being analysed under a microscope.
They're supposed to be coming by tonight to pick up the completed forms.
They'll be knocking at my door for a while then....
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
They've never left but just when I thought that the bait was kicking in and their numbers were going down, my small flat mates have returned in numbers.
If I look at the wall behind by oven hob I can count over thirty, right now, walking up and down the grout between my tiles.
It's hard to resist wiping them out but I have to allow them to carry on in the vague hope that some of them will take the slow poison (too slow!) bait back to their queen.
Darn camera wouldn't focus on one of their larger gatherings but here's a picture nonetheless of a few of them to creep anyone looking at this out.
It's weird. They appear from under the extractor hood that I have over my oven, walk down and then head back up again. There's no food or drink for them (I even have to keep my box of cereal in the fridge to make sure!) , so I hope that they're taking the bait instead.
But I'm starting to have my doubts. *sigh* Perhaps they're just working out?
Oh well, at least they're quiet flat mates!
Monday, September 19, 2005
Work raced by today. It was weird working with a monitor with a lower resolution than my home one. Hardly anything fits on the page now!
It was going to be a boring evening until I decided to join in a company sponsored "Evening Of Go Karting." As I write this right now, my arms ache, my back has pains where the G-forces pushed me into my seat and the contents of my stomach have been shaken, rattled and rolled all over the place!
I feel like I've been boxing all evening but f**k it I had a f**king great time!
There were over 50 of us and so we had the whole place booked just for us. No riff-raff! :)
(PS:I have to blank out swear words or my own blog gets blocked at work!)
We managed to get through the evening without any casualties and I was pleased with my times, even if they were almost 3 seconds off the best ones I managed to improve by 16 seconds as I got more confident/reckless and floored the kart through all the bits that I should have been flooring it on all along. Not bad for my second time karting ever.
And we all got a great laugh out of the fact that we had to wear bright red hair nets before we put on our helmets. So fetching ! LOL! I hope that it becomes an annual event.
Well, I should sleep well tonight. *YAWN*
Recommended for insomniacs everywhere!
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Watched football - no goals :(
Finished watching Lost - Season One - damn season ending cliff-hangers!
Ate, drank and chilled out.
Oh and played Fahrenheit on my PC to fill in the bits in between. Too early to say whether or not it'll be good but it certainly looks nice running at 1600x1200 on my new monitor. Woo hoo!
My Hungarian nephew has sent me a few e-mails over the weekend asking if I can send over some 'Magic The Gathering' cards for him. I had no idea that he was into them (I didn't see any when I was over there though he was massively into Lord Of The Rings) and I'm not sure how he'd do given that they'll all be written in English. I think that perhaps he hasn't really thought it through.
I did a bit of searching around on the internet and there are loads of cards, booster packs, sets etc. I wouldn't know the first place to start. Oh well. I've dropped him a reply to see how serious he is.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Well my monitor finally arrived at 4pm. So much for morning delivery *sigh*
I was planning on going into work but 4pm was a wee bit too late to even bother. Nevertheless I was a good boy and worked through to my usual time and then instead of traveling home on an overcrowded tube train was there instantly. Cool!
The monitor is excellent. It's not just 21 inches but 21.3! Well that's what it says on the box.
Who says that .3 of an inch doesn't count, eh?! Obviously to someone in marketing, it does! I wonder what that says about them :)
Today was nice weather-wise so I dragged myself off my ass and walked into London. It's just a few miles. Straight down the Uxbridge Road to Shepherd's Bush and then down Holland Park Road, past Notting Hill and into Hyde Park, down to the other end by Kensington Palace and then up the path that runs behind the Albert Memorial and Albert Hall (where the photo here was taken.)
I cooled my heels (literally) in the Princess Di memorial pool. Funnily enough I was the only person doing this but I didn't think that it was that cold; just a bit cool but with warm sunshine offsetting the chill; for me anyway. (Hmmm, I probably used semi-colons incorrectly there but I don't care.)
Then down to Piccadilly Circus. I went to see 'Wolf Creek' at the flicks. It was okay. A bit overhyped perhaps but if you like your horror sick-style then you'll love it but I thought that the one hour character building, setting the scene bit for a 90 minute film was over long. Not enough horror for a horror flick really. I saw 'The Descent' earlier in the year and preferred that to this. It was as I said not bad just not as good as critic comments seem to make it out to be.
6/10 for me
However, if you ever plan to travel across Australia, don't see this film! Or you may appreciate the horror more perhaps. Who knows!? Guy Ritchie's new film, Revolver is out next week so that'll be next on my 'hit list.'
Chilled out in the evening with a curry and a drink with a friend. Pretty boring day really.
Friday, September 16, 2005
I'm stuck at home today waiting for a delivery. The only thing that I had on my "to buy" list for the past two years has been a new monitor. So with a bit of spare cash coming my way soon, I looked around and took the plunge and went for a huge 21 inch flatscreen one!
The downside is that I'm now stuck in delivery-limbo.
They told me that I would get the delivery in the morning but have now changed their tune and are saying. "We would never have said that. Standard delivery hours are from 9 until 6!"
"Arggggghhh! But somebody did tell me that!"
I am actually working from home, for the first official time, (hence I'm writing this in my lunch break!) but I've given up trying to watch the last few episodes of 'Lost' as it was just too distracting.
Knowing my luck, the monitor will either not arrive or will come at 17:59 at this rate!
View from my window. It's overcast in London, though the sun does pop up every now and then.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I'm starting to feel almost 100% now and would have liked to go for a stroll through Hyde Park on the way home but not in the pouring rain!
One good thing about the mixed Summer in London is that the parks are so green. They did a comparison in the paper yesterday with how Kensington Palace Gardens (The grounds by which Princess Di used to live, next to Hyde Park) with a few years ago when we had a dry summer and things look so much greener this year.
If only it would rain overnight and then stay sunny during daylight hours!
I'm starting to get to the point where it's dark by the time I get home as well, so I may end up posting a few more London at night type pictures though def. not in the park!
All sorts of strange people inhabit London's parks at night, so I'll stay well away and will be walking around them instead.
Although it's not as if life in Acton, where I live, is all that safe. Over the past two weeks we've had two people stabbed and killed within a block of me and four break-ins over the weekend in my block of flats!
I'm seriously starting to ponder about moving somewhere 'nicer.'
Acton itself isn't so bad but there seem to be a lot of people with a lot of time on their hands hanging around the town nowadays. I rarely see any police walking around and although I make a point of never looking like a victim and have never been one, thank God, I can see how others could be a lot more afraid living here nowadays.
Acton is just so darned convenient travel-wise for someone like me (that doesn't drive) to get into the city, go to work, go out etc.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
It also means that I feel that I can justify grabbing a seat on the tube on the way in in the morning.
Generally I'll try to get one if one's available. I've noticed however that subconsciously I've applied a set of rules as to whether or not I'll go for a seat.
First I'll wait a second or two and will never go for a seat if a women or someone else much older is already heading towards it.
Then, only if nobody budges, I'll head for the seat, regardless of if there is someone older. If at any point someone else goes for it, I won't bother 'rushing' as that's just sad. You do get situations when sad people rush in and jump on any seat that they can regardless of anyone around them.
I generally close my eyes and listen to music or read a book on the way but at each stop have a quick shifty around to see if someone elderly or pregnant has got on that I should give me seat up for. Well, I was brought up that way!
Sometimes though I find myself thinking,
"Hmmmm, that person isn't really all that old and definitely not at all frail looking" and won't give up my seat. "They'll probably get offended if I offer my seat, anyway" That has happened to me in the past.
Then again sometimes I end up thinking "Is that a pregnant women or a large woman?!" Without trying to stare too much, obviously!
Despite them being complete strangers that I probably will never see again, I get embarrassed if I've not realised that there is someone standing nearby that I haven't given up my seat for, that perhaps I should have.
Hmmmm, I have been well programmed, no?
But not feeling too well at the moment, I find myself talking quicker less detailed notice of my surroundings and just closing my eyes and trying to stay cool.
Even walking up stairs has me feeling boiling at the moment. *sigh*
Hopefully my temperature will break soon so life can go back to normal.
Monday, September 12, 2005
I dragged myself out of bed and into work this morning.
Well....After having gone to my local clinic to get the final jab that I needed before heading off to Peru.
I've pretty much had all the jabs you can get over the past years but £45 for a frigging Yellow Fever jab!
The nurse was in a funny mood. She made me wait for 30 minutes and then when I started asking questions about whether I would need malarial prevention...
Nurse: "Oh, you've got plenty of time to find that out before you go. We only have 15 minutes for this appointment to give you the jab and fill in the paperwork."
Me: "But I've been waiting half an hour and will have had to take half the day off for this appointment already!"
I shut up about that point as I realised that she hadn't given me the jab yet and it was best if I left her in a better frame of mind before she did!
Anyway, I'll find out from my mate who's travelling from me and has a nicer nurse to deal with and get the same tablets as him.
I still feel that I have a bit of a temperature today, (I lied to the nurse and told her that I was fine as I didn't want to come back to see her lovely temperament again) but I have felt better as the day went on.
My office is wonderfully air conditioned and cool so is much better than my 29 degrees flat. I think that that and the fact that the weather in general is much cooler helps. Phew! I didn't really want any more time off.
Although, ironically, my copy of Lost - Season 1 arrived in the post today, so if I was off, at least I would have lots to watch.
It's brilliant but here in the UK we're only on episode 7 this week and the UK DVD is being released in half season chunks. The one I bought off E-Bay costs the same as half a season in the UK but has the whole season plus an extra bonus DVD. It's a no-brainer deal really!
Although colder, we did get some blue sky today. I took this photo in Regent's Park. Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is caught from the bite of an infected mosquito. An
international certificate for yellow fever is required for travel to several
countries in Central and West Africa, and the northern part of South
America. The certificate comes into effect ten days after vaccination and
lasts for ten years. Certificates after subsequent doses are valid
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Today I got to get up close with a tiger, see the huge bones of a blue whale and meet a moving, growling teenage T-Rex (or should that be Teen-Rex!?) *groan*
I needed a nice easy day today. The weather was a mixed bag and I'm still not feeling as well as I'd like to be. So walking around a museum seemed a good weather-averse option.
So I popped down to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington to see how much it had changed since I was last there pre-puberty.
It was a bit of a nostalgia-fest really. I was amazed by how much I could remember about the building and the layout of the exhibits. You walk in and a huge skeleton of a diplodocus greets you. It's been at the museum for 100 years now.
Kids run around and are fascinated by the exhibits in the same way that I remember being. Unfortunately, for me, the museum doesn't really have air-con, so I started to struggle after about 80 minutes with my temperature soaring. Nevertheless I managed to cover most of the ground floor.
There really is just so much to see!
It's probably done best in two or three visits, something that I might try when I'm feeling better.
Outside a giant marquis was being erected for London Fashion Week.
I headed off content but tired. I'll chill tomorrow to try and get better before going back to work on Monday.
Hmmm, I have my pre-Peru Yellow Fever jab to get on Monday morning too.
Well okay, so I wasn't struck by lightning but something certainly knocked me sideways on Wednesday evening as I headed home.
The blood drained from my face and my temperature shot up. By the time I'd got home I was soaked through with sweat.
I've spent the last two days off work trying to keep anything I eat down for more than 5 minutes and trying to keep cool which isn't as easy as it should be in a flat that is currently 29 degrees!
However if laughter is the best medicine then a show on Challenge TV that was recommended by someone at work has definitely been a great cure for me. It's called Takeshi's Castle.
It's one of those 80's Japanese challenge shows where contestants line up to do stupid stunts that invariably end up with them getting injured or humiliated. It starts off with 100 contestants who undergo a serious of challenges and are eventually whittled down to a few who get to storm the castle at the end (though I've yet to see anyone succeed at the last stage.)
Each challenge is brilliant and watching the contestants fail is soooo funny. I've not laughed so much in a long time....
So I'm starting to feel a bit better today, though still too hot.
I took the photo above in Hyde Park as I walked home on Wednesday evening. (I felt fine at the time.) It's of a tree (or what's left of a tree) that was stuck by lightning back in the 90's (I can't remember the exact year but it's is on a plague attached lower down the trunk.)
Oh the irony!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Hey, the sun came back today. Blue skies, nice warm sunny weather and where am I....?
In the office :( *sigh*
Oh well, c'est la vie.
I'm kind of counting the weeks now until my next holiday. I watched a programme on the Discovery channel last night called 'When Expeditions Go Wrong' about a bunch of guys who get the distance wrong about a site they were heading for in the Peruvian Amazon jungle and ended up taking a month when they only had food for a fortnight.
I was looking for a few survival tips but these guys just seemed to be more lucky than clever to survive.
Number 1 rule seemed to be: Don't do anything stupid like wander off into the jungle.
Okay, so my trip is an organised tour but I like to be prepared for anything!
I've set up my Tivo to highlight anything with 'Peru' or 'Amazon' in the programme description.
My one reservation about my trip to Peru is that it may be too touristy. It's quite hard to find places 'off the beaten track' nowadays and I'm dreading the fact that Machu Picchu may be a bit disappointing. I'm sure that there are other older and more interesting ruins around but this is the one that the Peruvian government had some money to excavate. Heh, maybe not. I'm sure that it'll be fascinating. Why else would I be going after all!
Future possible holiday destinations (in no particular order):
Japan, S Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, Morocco, Moscow, Vietnam
So I'm always on the lookout for info about these places. Where next.....????
The photo is of Sherlock's bronze cast statue in front of Baker Street Station (where else!)
I walk past him every day. He sometimes says hello.
Monday, September 05, 2005
I'd planned to walk through Hyde Park on the way home and snap a few things with a nice blue sky behind but unfortunately it clouded over.
Despite this everything feels back to normal in London now. Well at least 95 percent.
Tourist numbers are down but not as much as had been a fortnight ago. Londoners at least are back in numbers. The brilliant weather has cheered us all up and prompted us out of the dark places we inhabit and into the light. The parks were packed over the weekend.
I still avoid travelling at the front end of tube trains though everyone else around me seems to be getting on as normal.
There was a survey in a local paper that tried to measure how people are feeling after the attacks. Most say that whilst they are more cautious and more aware of their surroundings now (discarded bags etc) they are generally just getting on with it. Life carries on...
I got myself some free One London badges from here. It feels a bit corporate logo-ish but I'll wear it nonetheless. Perhaps our Mayor should get London school kids to design 'One London' badges and use their designs instead of the corporate one?
Hmmm, should I send in that suggestion? Who knows maybe someone is listening?
Sunday, September 04, 2005
It was a busy weekend for me. I had to get up at 8am on Saturday to fit everything in.
And 8am on a Saturday is toooo early!
I had to go along to the local sorting office to pick up what turned out to be gig tickets (BLack Eyed Peas in December)
They arrived when I was on holiday so I had to go down to pick them up before they got sent back.
Then I had to go into work for what, thank God, just turned out to be just 30 minutes.
Then off to see "Me And You And Everyone We Know." It's not the kind of film I know anyone else would be interested in, so off on my own. There were only about a dozen people in the screen too.
The film was weird but in a cool way. Not too demanding but just right for a hot Summer's day really.
Then home to watch what turned out to be an ultra boring Wales Vs. England football game.
After this, off to a friend's dad's house to feed his cat whilst he is away for the weekend. The house is so run down though. My friend's dad leaves the keys inside the window ledge. If someone did break in there wouldn't be a lot for them to take, really.
The front door hasn't been painted in my lifetime, so is made up of half peeling paint, half plain weather-worn wood. The tap in their kitchen runs constantly (and has been for over 10 years!) as they have never fixed it. (Doesn't it just need a new washer?!)
And all so that the landlord can't put up his rent. I could never live in a place like that, or rather I could never allow a place to get to that state. It was a favour for a friend so I don't mind doing it. It's only 30 minutes away anyway. Their fat cat, Charlie, must have been pleased to see me as he didn't stop meowing from when he first spotted me. We had a long, in-depth conversation.
Then off to meet my other best friend to celebrate him turning 30 down in Richmond. Well, not really celebrate. More kind of sit by the river watching the world go by and drinking beer bought in the local Tesco. I wouldn't have minded going out to a club for the night but it was a pretty cool chilled out evening nonetheless.
I got home early at 11pm and fell asleep through until 10 the next morning! That is long for me! Usually I can only manage 6-7 hours sleep, so 11 was a recent record.
I'm still shocked that we do actually appear to have had a Summer in London this year. It's a pity that most of the nice days have been during the week though, so I try to make the most of the weekend Sun when I can.
Sunday was a more chilled out affair. I grabbed an early 11am lunch and then as the weather was gorgeous (yet again) I walked into London. I cooled my (now hot) feet in the Princesss Diana Memorial Water faeture thingie and then strolled up to Piccadilly Circus and then down Regent Street.
Regent Street is one of the main shopping streets in London and today was a rare occasion as the street had been closed to traffic for a street festival.
It's to let everyone know that despite the incidents of the last few weeks, everything is business-as-usual in London.
I only strolled through but it looked like a great event. There was a carousel, ferris wheel, dodgems, lots of local shop-based promotions, two Formula1 teams showing off their cars (Renault & Williams), vintage cars, a stage with various performances and loads of food and drink stalls.
I didn't have my proper camera with me but got the snap above of the ferris wheel in the middle of Regent Street with my mobile.
I think that it may just be the heat, or I'm just getting old (NO!) but I could do with another two days to recover from my weekend!
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Hmmm. I've been feeling really lazy this week.
It's been: Wake up, go to work, come home, waste time doing nothing special, go to sleep....
When I got back last Sunday night I was curious to see whether the ants that I share my flat with have multiplied, died, taken over the leasehold or whatever...
The pest control people arrived about an hour before I set off on holiday and put down two sets of bait; one in my kitchen, the other in the bathroom. The bait (ironically made in Hungary) is stored in a little stick-on plastic container with two long openings at the top for the ants to get in.
Initially at least, my hopes where buoyed as there were loads of dead ants in my bathroom around where the bait was stowed (behind the toiler brush!) and no sign of any ants near the one in the kitchen although the level of the bait (tiny, brownish capsules, like little lumps of dirt) had gone down.
*sigh* However the ants have returned. I guess that their water source dried up but now that I'm back they are back in bigger numbers than before but in different places.
I've moved the bait to put it directly next to where I see their new trails are, so I hope it'll have some effect in the new places as it did in the old. God knows how many nests there must be in the block.
Could be hundreds!? = Thousands of ants! ARGH!!!!!!
As I type this one strolls past above my keyboard. It's like having my own 24hr nature programme. Doobrie's Discovery Channel!
Luckily there are no food or water sources in my bedroom, so that's my safe haven for now!
I'm off down London tomorrow to see 'Me and You and Everyone We Know' at the cinema, generally wander around and get back in time to watch the footie. It's my best friends birthday on Sunday so I'll have to wait and see if he plans on doing anything tomorrow night.
Well, must stop thinking too hard...It's time for bed.
I took this picture today as I headed off home down Baker Street. It's the signage outside the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.