Category Archives: Travel

Roundhay Park 5

£8 Race registration
47p Postage to send in race registration
£9.85 Coach to/from Leeds
9 hours Time spent on a bus to/from Leeds
£35 Single room in rundown hotel
90p Bus ride to Roundhay Park
£10 Registering again because they never received the original
5 miles Of gentle hills down paved paths
2° C Air trying to suck the energy from my body
33:30 minutes Of mind numbing, body punishing running

But throwing up at the finish line and getting a t-shirt for my efforts made it all worth while. Gory Details

Random Particles in Motion

Just a few random notes before the weekend starts.

Happy New Year Ben, Graeme, Ayelet, Gilad and any other Jews lurking on my lj.
Happy 24th Wedding Anniversary Mom and Dad (it’s today in fact).
Happy first blizzard to everyone fortunate enough to be in Winnipeg. (Suckers)
Happy birthday supertree.

After a super productive week at work last week, this week was a bit slow. Hammered out a few test cases, fixed a few bugs, added a few small features, and generally zoned out while my cold died a slow death. Everyone at work is on call this weekend just in case Delphi busts. Since the traders we support sell Credit Default Swaps (think insurance on bonds), MS is set to make a ton of cash if Delphi declares bankruptcy (doesn’t make sense… but I’ve seen the figures…I guess we buy and sell the insurance) but it’s going to mean a ton of work for everyone recomputing positions. Enough about work though.

The only excitement this week was hanging out with Ariel last night. We grabbed dinner at a Caribbean restaurant in Brixton and then bought a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and spent 2 hours riding around on random buses, tubes, and trains – trying, but failing, to get lost. I think we were trying to be spontaneous, but the thought of really getting lost was to scary. It was fun anyway. Even though we always grabbed the first bus or train available, the end result was we went around in circles for a while never making it too far from Brixton.

Weekend of beaches and sight seeing

On Friday night, I met up with Steven Findlay. Most of you have probably met him. He went with Shad to me in Grade 11. Then he spent a year at the University of Waterloo on exchange, and spent Christmas and New Year’s in Winnipeg.

He’s in London for the weekend after a student conference on Thursday. After work I met Steven and his friend Tully. We went to a little Italian restaurant for dinner then to a bar for drinks – a Kronenberg beer for me.

My feet in the water

On Saturday Finday, his friend and his girlfriend drove down to Brighton, a small coastal resort on the English Channel (southern England). We met up with Tulley and two of her friends. The seven of us spent the day lounging on the beach and browsing the cute little shops nestled down little alleys that reminded me of Diagaon Alley. I paddled into the water (what Canadians would call wading). It was really cold. Then I decided to be a brave Canadian and dove in and swam around for a while. Tully was the only other once who went in the water. The salt water stung, especially on my face which was freshly shaved.

Brighton Gang 
For dinner we had fish and chips and beer lying on the beach – very English. I had another Strongbow. When we were leaving the beach and heading home, we noticed that Smirnoff Ice had set up an area that they were pumping full of snow for snow ball fights and giving away drinks to participants. If we weren’t on our way out, we would have lined up for a go.

On Sunday, Steven and I wandered from London Tower to St. Paul’s Cathedral, then through the British Museum, and walked through Regent’s Park. We had a good time enjoying the female scenery – with the beach on Saturday, it was a good weekend for “sight seeing”. Then we had a bit of a scare trying to get him to Liverpool Station to catch his train to the airport. We were a bit late leaving Regent’s Park, then the guy he was living with drove us to the train station, but traffic was bad, so we jumped out of the car and tried to take the tube. We just missed the subway, had to wait a bit, then finally got the the train station 20 minutes late. I got a text message as I got home, saying he made it to the airport with 30 seconds to got check in for his flight back to Edinburgh.

Long Weekend (Bank Holiday)

On Sunday morning I moved out of my dodgy hostel and into a classier hostel (International Student House). I’d recommend it to anyone staying in London. After the move I met up with Kersten. We should have went to see the Village Final at the Lord’s Cricket Oval (a free cricket match), but instead we went to see Carnival (a Caribbean festival on Notting Hill). I only say we should have went to the cricket match, because we could have caught Carnival after the match. Carnival was crazy. 1 million people jammed into a 10 streets in a small neighborhood with reggae blaring – the biggest street party in Europe. There were police officers everywhere. But what got me was the lax laws regarding food and alcohol. People were walking through the crowd selling their own beer and Jello shots; people were barbequing in their yards and selling burgers. Drinking is allowed in public here (I’ve seen people drinking on the tube). I got my first fish and chips meal from a little restaurant. Mmmm!

We tried to catch the end of the cricket match, but it was already over. So we headed over to Abbey Road and got pictures of us crossing the Zebra crossing just like the Beatles.

For dinner, we met up with Adam who had just been hired for a nanny job, so we went to Giraffe to celebrate. I had a Red Stripe beer (Jamaican) and a vegetable burrito. Afterwards we headed back to the hostel and had drinks. I had a Strongbow (a cider) and really enjoyed it.

Warwick Castle
Monday Adam, Ellen (Canadian girl), and I went to Warwick Castle and Royal Lemmington Baths. Lemmington is a little town with natural mineral spas. We just stopped there for lunch before the castle. I had a veggie burger and my first Guinness. It was like a meal on its own, but I didn’t really fancy it. I also found a little cookie shop that had peanut butter cookies.

The castle was lots of fun. I watched a jousting match, sword fights, the world’s largest trebuchet fire a lead shot 300 yards, and got a picture with a hot barmaid. For dinner the three of us, Ariel (a girl we met on the tour) and Kirsten went to an overpriced Mexican restaurant with small portions. I had a Corona.

London is a crazy, crazy city

Me and Big BenSo I arrived safely in London. I can’t believe I only arrived this morning. It’s been a crazy day. This city is wild. I just got back to the hostel, it’s 10 pm and the streets are packed with pedestrians, and I’m not in a clubbing district or anything. Ah, European culture.

I had written periodic updates on my laptop during the flight over, but I never found wireless access, so I’ll summarize it here.

I needed to use the SE Lounge as a base camp for moving my luggage from home to school. I definitely brought too much stuff, but I am here for 4 months and I’m stuck with it now.

I had 5 hours to kill at Pearson, which was filled with talking to friends and family in Winnipeg, watching Coyote Ugly on my laptop, and using all my letftover Canadian currency to buy as much maple syrup as a I possible (I think it will be a perfect Christmas present for my gracious hosts here).

The flight over was uneventful. I tried to sleep, but only managed to get 4 hours of sporadic sleep. I even had 2 seats to myself, 2 pillows, and 2 blankets (not sure why I’m always lucky with that).

When I went through immigration in the UK, the lady grilled me a bit about my work visa. Made it clear that it was meant to be a means to earn money while I traveled and not for furthering my career. I just smiled and nodded. I mean, even if I worked in a pub, wouldn’t it further my career? What if a pub manager was my career goal?

After the airport, I got a Underground pass and rode into town. I had lots of fun riding subways and buses today. I missed my first subway when I tried to transfer lines. The subway came in, I tried to run to the front where I noticed it was empty, and as I turned to pick up my suitcase, the doors closed and it zoomed away. Later in the day, I jumped on the wrong train (not realizing that multiple lines used the same platform). When I tried riding the bus, I stood waiting on the wrong side of the road for the bus, then watched my bus zoom by, confused as it was on the opposite side from me. Then when I finally got on a bus, I was totally confused by the driver on the wrong side of the bus and sitting behind a big plexi-glass screen. I couldn’t figure out how to show her my ticket and she got mad at me. I just laughed and sat down.

I visited the house with the attic roomshare today. Tricia and her husband John are really cool. I spent 3 1/2 hours over there this afternoon chatting with them and the students living there. It’s a like a big family. The 5 students there right now are from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Alberta. The Alberta girl and the NZ guy are leaving in the next few weeks. One of the Australia girls is leaving soon too. But I think an Ausia and NZ girl are looking at the place too. I think I’m going to move in next Tuesday when a spot opens up. I just need to tough it out in hostels until then. I got along really well with everyone. I chatted with John about cricket and baseball differences, London, and cryptography (when I’m done Cryptonomicon we’re going to swap books). Tricia is really nice., like a mother to the people living there (some of which have been there for over 2 years). And I sat and watched some cricket on tv and part of East Enders with the students upstairs. I even had my first cup of British tea. When I got there Tricia offered me a cup, and I couldn’t refuse. I even liked it – better than the latte in Seattle at least.

I did a bit of touring today. I walked around Westminster for an hour before I went down to visit Tricia. There are so many old, cool buildings down there. I saw the outside of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and a lot of other cool looking buildings. Tomorrow maybe I’ll get to see some more.

P.S. I love how Horde’s language setting now defaults to English – GB. So cool. and the keyboard I’m using has a pound and euro symbol on the number line.