Thursday, August 31, 2006

On the fringe

As alluded to in my previous post, I took a day trip to Edinburgh on Saturday. Since it was a day trip, it was a really fast tour of the city (for example, we saw, but did not visit, Edinburgh Castle):

but we got to see a little bit, and we absorbed lots and lots of culture while we were at it.

We went to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art,

where we walked around on this award-winning piece of artwork:

And then we saw two performances, both international and fringeful. We saw this Shakespearean production, where all the men walked around with no shirts and in hot pants. And we saw this comedian performing with her daughter. It was very very Scottish.

And then we had a glass of Scotch and went home.

Also, there are a few new links on the sidebar, thanks to Marcy’s stylish new web presence.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day trip

On Saturday I took what was—I think—the longest day trip I’ve ever done. I need to go to work early this morning, so I’ll post more later, but check it out—they totally have their own money:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bank holiday

Today’s a bank holiday in England, so this is just a short post. But I’m going to try to start using the phrase cock-up all the time.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bright drinks, bright outlook

This is a picture from a while ago, but I think it’s a cheery picture to put up before the weekend (we have a long weekend here, even). We went out to a place the other evening for drinks and snacks. The drinks were all very colorful and cheery, and some were decorated with delightful and beloved cartoon characters. Here you can see Dan enjoying his Hallo Kitty:

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More sports

I finally went to see a Premiership soccer match last night: Fulham played against Bolton. As much as I was hoping for soft rock interludes, it turns out the main entertainment was actually the match.

The game moved a little slowly, the only scoring resulted from penalty shots, and it ended in a tie, but it picked up significantly at the end. And I had fun—it’s one of the advantages of not knowing the sport that well.

We also had great seats, which afforded Matt the opportunity to throw an occasional barb at the Bolton team (my favorite: “Who are you going to spit at now, Diouf?”)

Here’s an action shot of the first penalty kick:

(Also, Nir and Martin called me last night after the match. I promised them I would post that here.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pub quiz snacks

I went to a pub quiz last night (the same one I’ve mentioned here before). Occasionally we do well. Usually—like last night—we don’t.

One of the usual participants had a friend in town for a week who joined us. Before the quiz began, she wanted a snack. She went to the bar and got pickled mussels.

I didn’t know that mussels were something that were commonly pickled. I definitely didn’t know that they could then be purchased in a pub.

In sports news, there is a huge controversy raging over the England-Pakistan cricket match last weekend. It’s been one of the leading stories on the radio for the last two mornings (and it was the subject of one of the quiz questions last night). A brief quote from the article: “The Pakistani side refused to come out of their dressing room after tea in protest at the umpires’ ruling.”

Monday, August 21, 2006


On Sunday, a friend and I went to Cambridge, home to both a famous university and lots of little flat-bottomed boats. We took a guided tour of the university, of course, this time led by Stephen:

On the tour, we went by a number of the colleges and got a brief description, a history, and other assorted colorful facts. We stopped outside Trinity College, founded by King Henry VIII. Trinity College had many famous students, including Isaac Newton. As a nod to this famous alumnus, outside Trinity College is a tree grown from a cutting from a tree that might’ve been the one that dropped the apple that bonked Newton on the head, which led to our current understanding of gravity. Pretty impressive, huh?

Trinity College was also the college of Prince Charles.

King’s College is another large college. It was founded by King Henry VI, and is home to the striking Chapel. King’s College Chapel is an example of late English gothic style, and has the largest fan vault ceiling in the world. No pictures are allowed inside, but this is the outside of the Chapel:

The quintessential Cambridge activity (aside from going to school, I imagine) is punting on the River Cam. You can rent a boat and give punting a try yourself, as some of the people here did. It generally leads to poor piloting, traffic jams, minor collisions, and occasionally, people falling in the water:

So instead, we took a trip led by a more experienced punter:

From the boats, you can see the backs of many of the colleges and other attractive places and things along the river. This is the Bridge of Sighs. The guy punting our boat said that it was named that because it’s a replica of the bridge in Venice (and also because students cross it to get to their exams). We heard the guide on another boat passing by say it was named that because it’s really big.

You can make your own judgment about that.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vanilla ice

When you live in as cultured a place as London, you have access to a rich variety of art and entertainment. Like, for example, a bar made entirely of ice.

This is the bartender who made us our drinks,

which were served in ice mugs:

Jaynna and her colleague Andy (in from California) model the look that’s all the rage at the ice bar:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More home maintenance

As I’ve complained here in the past, my living room window broke in March—that’s been fixed now. In April, I noticed a slow leak in my bathroom. Someone came out to look at it, he said he was stumped, and then nothing happened. The leak continued, and I sent periodic updates to the estate agents (who act for the landlord) until the building management finally called them when the damage started hitting other areas.

A man came last week, looked at the leak and told me he was befuddled. And then... a different man came this Monday, and now the leak is fixed. But to figure out where the leak was coming from, he had to take off the tile in the bathroom wall. He found the problem and fixed it, but now I have big holes above the toilet and on the floor. They’ll stay open for the next week, so the walls can dry out a little, and then he’s scheduled to return on Monday to fix it completely.

It’s pretty exciting stuff.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Do you need a bath?

On Sunday, some of us took a day trip to Bath, a town located to the west of London and on the site of natural hot springs. The Romans put a temple and bathhouse there, the town was home to one of the pilgrims of the Canterbury Tales, and it was also a very fashionable place to go during the Georgian period (and most of the architecture there now is Georgian). It’s a lovely place to walk around, and has a number of things to see.

First, we went to the Museum of Costume, where Dan enjoyed the interactive corset exhibit:

We took a walking tour of the town. Roy, our guide, gave us interesting commentary about the town’s history and architecture:

And of course, we went to see the Roman baths. The site is immense, with lots of rooms and drains and pipes and pools. There are archaeological artifacts and displays, with a helpful (if very wordy) audioguide to take you through.

The central focus of the place is the main bath area itself, which you can see in these pictures. Unfortunately, when I started heading for it with my bottle of shampoo, I was stopped by one of the museum’s employees, who very politely explained to me that the bath is no longer in use. What a pity.

After leaving the baths, we went next door to the Pump Room, which is now a fancy restaurant and a place where you can get a glass of the naturally warm spring water to drink. Although it smelled and tasted just like South Carolina beach water, I could feel those minerals coursing through me, making me healthier and healthier with every drop.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer activities

The summer program at work—when the law students come work for the summer between their second and third years—is coming to a close. Which is a little sad, because not only does it mark the end of summer, but it marks the end of fun activities thrown into our usual schedules. This one was a while ago, but since nothing’s been going on at work, really, and the news is filled with nothing but terrifying stories, I thought I’d post a nice picture of one of our summer diversions. I did not do well on the go-karts, but I improved considerably between my first and second tries, and the racing was, without question, awesome.

In keeping with international stereotypes, the three people who placed were, of course, all European, and the winner was Italian.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

GAA fever

While we were in Dublin, Orla and I went to a Gaelic football match, which was put on by the Gaelic Athletic Association and played in Croke Park. In the first match, Kerry played Armagh, and in the second, Cork played Donegal. The security guard was kind enough to give us his program, so we could read up on the teams.

At the beginning of each match, both teams paraded around the stadium with a marching band. Here’s the Cork team heading off to play, while someone waves a Cork flag in the foreground:

Here’s a shot of the scoreboard. You can see what a surprising match it was: 22 and a half minutes into the match, the score was Cork, 1-0 (3), and Donegal, 1-3 (6). I mean... whoa!

Cork pulled ahead in the second half and won.

Here are two guys we met later at the hotel. They’re wearing their Armagh jerseys:

After talking about where they were from for a while, they recited to us the entire plot of Top Gun.

This is an aside, but while I was scanning the program cover, I also scanned the stamp in my passport from this trip. Most of the E.U. stamps are small, nearly identical stamps with just a letter in one corner indicating the country. Check out the full-page pair of stamps you get in Ireland. It was very clear (although perhaps not in this picture)—I could stay there only 30 days, and I had no recourse to public funds:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Turas go Éire*

I spent this past weekend in Dublin. As with all these weekend trips, it was a quick one. But here are a few of the things I saw.

Our first meal was at Quays Restaurant, in Temple Bar square, which is in the center of town and in the middle of lots of touristy (and local) activity.

The restaurant advertised its menu as “A feast of true Irish traditional food.”

And it seemed to be, mostly. Although I might’ve chosen to list the dishes in a slightly different order:

Later, we walked around the campus of Trinity College.

We went shopping. Here’s the European equivalent of a dollar store:

And we saw some traditional music Saturday night:

We also went to a sports match. More on that in my next post.

*Title changed based on the suggestion that the name “Éire” by itself looked too much like a UK official document.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

144 days

I won’t make as broad a statement as to say that 144 days is how long it takes to get a window fixed in England. But... 144 days is how long it took to fix my window in England. But this morning—45 minutes ahead of schedule, even—the window fitters showed up and, zowie!, I have a new window:

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Music on the road

This past Friday, I went on a pub crawl with people from work. One of the places we went had a big crowd spilling out onto the street. When I arrived, the crowd was being treated to some fine traveling entertainment. After a couple songs, they drove away.