John's little corner of teh interweb pipes thingy.

A bit of a catch up

Hey there, must apologise for the long time no post. A lot's been happening, and my net access has been very limited, so here's a quick catch up, to be followed by posts on individual events later.

For a start, I finally have a flat of my own! Its located south of the river in London Bridge, about 3 minutes walk from Tower Bridge, 10 minutes walk from the trendy areas of London Bridge and Borough, 20 minutes walk to work, and 30 minutes by bus or tube from anywhere I'd want to go. So instead of wasting all my time flat hunting, I'll be able to have more fun. I'll e-mail an address and post more details later, just as soon as BT works out how to connect a phone line...

I've been to a few concerts, lots of museums and galleries, and frequented more pubs than I can remember. Again, more to come later. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to escape to Europe yet, but there have been several day-trips out to the countryside, like Winchester and Oxford.

The one big weekend away I have had was this one just passed when I went to... Glasgow! Yep, left London doing it's best to ignore the car bombs, only to end up at the centre of all. Luckily I choose to take the train :-) Not that I was up there to enjoy the cultural highlights or outstanding scenary (yes, its as grim looking as the reputation, but the people are friendlier), I was attending a Linux conference and letting my inner geek run wild. Very strange to meet in the flesh people you've know for years only by their net nickname.

We've just had Glastonbury and are in the middle of Wimbledon (neither of which I was able to get tickets to), so you can guess what the weathers like. After the warmest April ever, we're now on track to have the wettest June ever. So it's mostly indoors activies for now.

Times flying, must go home and nuke dinner :-)

Another bulk update

Yeah, more offline blogs posted, scroll down first to catch them in order written. Hopefully I'll have more regular net access now, so regular postings should be expected. Photos may even follow soon!

First week of work

I've had one week at work now, and I know that's a little early to be drawing conclusions, but I think i can say it will be very different to the BNZ. I'd hate to call it boring, but power bills don't exactly get me fired up in the morning, nor do I think I'll be carrying too much responsibility. This is A Good Thing, as it means I won't be there all hours of the day and night and weekends too like at the BNZ. I'll do my 8 hours, then go home and have a life, just like real people do :-)

The guys at work seem a decent bunch, but there's no mistaking they're English. No rugby debates Monday morning here, it's all soccer, sorry Football, here :-) One of the guys had his birthday on Wednesday, so we had breakfast at a pub (read heart attack on a plate) starting at 7am, accompanied by 2-4 pints, on to work at 9, then at 12 it was off to the pub again, with only a couple of people actually making it back afterwards :-) Kind of reminds me of the old days at the bank!

Couple of vaguely interesting points. Our building is right next door to the Ministry of Sound nightclub, but somehow I don't see myself rolling directly from one to the other come Friday night. We have the usual fully catered staff cafeteria, more heart attack material but with some good salads, but they serve Starbucks coffee made using one of those automated machines, not exactly my ideal choice, but it's the only choice between home and work. The immediate neighbourhood, Elephant and Castle, is not the best area in London and lacking in amenities, so there won't be much cause to venture out from work, but there's good transport to anywhere you need to go. There's a roof terrace next to the cafeteria which has a decent view of London, including the London Eye, Big Ben, St Pauls, and the Gerkin. Oh, and no internet access, that should ensure I leave work on time :-)

GBK, a little slice of home

Craving a little red meat in my diet (too many Tesco instant cardboard meals) I stopped in at GBK, the Gormet Burger Kitchen. The first clue were the classic big red tomato-shaped sauce bottles, the second the Kiwiburger on the menu complete with beetroot and egg, and the choice of Steinlager and Macs Gold beer was the final giveaway: a genuine little corner of NZ in London. Guess I'm going to be a regular here :-) Now to locate this cafe I've heard of called Flat White run by Kiwi's and serving real coffee just like from home...

Headline of the week

Ah, English tabloids, gotta love their loose relationship with the truth and the English language:

London Swelters Under Record Breaking Heatwave

Yes folks, London had it's warmest April on record (since 1850-something), the usual average is 11 degrees, but this year it was a stunning... 13 degrees! With a high of 23 degrees, I think it's pushing it to call it a heatwave or sweltering (unless you count the tube where the temps did soar into the 30's and it felt like a giant sauna).

I think I'm allergic to London...

Or at least to pollen from some variety of local plant: itching eyes and sneezing seems to start every time I venture outside. All of which makes one of my favourite parts of London, chilling down the park, rather hard to do as my nose switches into overdrive as soon as I get close :-(

In London

Hey, so I made it to London, been here 2 weeks now, and it's been a mixed bag of feelings. Excitement at being back in London, yet all too familiar, home-sickness for all the good things back home, missing friends and family, uncertainty about where this all will lead... Some days I just want that plane back home, but then I do some of my fave things (British Museum, National Gallery, markets, etc) that I can't do at home and I couldn't think of a better place to be. This really is my last chance to have a crack at this, so I better make the most of it. Things should get better once I have a flat, then I'll be locked in and feeling more settled. Seems I need a space to call my own these days, and some stability, bit of a change from not so long ago when I was happy wherever I just pitched up, so long as it wasn't home. Ah well, even if London doesn't work out, I know I can return home at the end of the year with a healthy bank balance and start house hunting (hey, haven't I been there before???). I'm really glad I didn't have to look for a job once I got here, that would have been almost depressing dragging myself around the place watching my bank balance decline at a horrific rate. Getting to know a few people should help too.

A few random thoughts.

Missing:

  • Friends to talk to...
  • Mojo/l'Affaire/Havana coffee and all those wonderful chilled-out Wellington cafes that serve them up
  • Cheap and cheerful but good Asian restaurants
  • Wishbone/Kopi pre-made meals (Not even M&S come close for quality)
  • Dislikes:

  • Characterless coffee chains that can't make a decent latte and all the atmosphere of a supermarket (so close to France/Italy, and they can't get this right???)
  • One hour each way commutes, and the stifling heat of the tube
  • Tube rage: I'm already getting frustrated by the tourists who can't read the signs. Stand on the right, people, and let me pass!!!!
  • Flat-hunting, overpriced hovels, and Del-boy estate agents pushing them
  • Not always knowing where to find what I need
  • Noise, crowds, pollution...
  • Looking forward to:

  • Concerts, concerts, and more concerts
  • Getting out from London
  • I Hate SAS

    SAS is now my least favourite airline, beating even cattle class on Air Pacific. My flight leg from Copenhagen to London was for some reason separately e-ticketed from the rest of the flight, so SAS insisted that my luggage allowance had shrunk from 2 bags at 23kg's each to 20kg's total. No amount of waving itineraries and pointing out that they were the ones who advertised NZ -> USA -> Copenhagen -> London as a single fare could sway them. So $200 later they let me on the plane: I could have paid for a second seat or upgraded to Business Class for less than that.

    The Americas Cup: Value for Money?

    If any of you Kiwi's are wondering if all those millions our government is pumping into the Americas Cup challenge is worth it, consider this. In the 2 weeks I was traveling from NZ through the USA, Denmark and now in the UK, there have been only 2 reasons New Zealand has made the local news: the Cricket World Cup and the Americas Cup. In the USA, the cricket was a one line mention of NZ making the semi's (in the UK obviously rather more coverage of that fiasco), but the Americas Cup pulled 2 major stories in the New York Times and their syndicates while I was there, that is 3/4 page articles in the sports section, one solely on the NZ team, the second on how virtually every other team is dominated by Kiwi's. These were stories alongside the NBA play-offs and other major items, and were the sole time NZ even impinges on the American consciousness. Compare that to here in the UK where the local rugby and league competitions have reasonable full-page coverage alongside the soccer, but Super 14 and NRL doesn't even rate a mention in the results listings, and you soon realise that perhaps that investment is a bargain for the coverage we're getting.

    Bulk Update

    Hey, just uploaded all my offline blogs, so you may want to scroll down and read them in order...

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