Matt’s World In Google Maps Form

May 29th, 2007 by matt

Maybe you’ve seen some websites which use google maps to have a little more interactive feel to it. Well, I got an idea to jump on the bandwagon last night and whipped together a page that takes some of the places I’ve been and puts it into a map that you can click on and see pictures related to the location. It’s a work in progress and is only for a fraction of the places I’ve been (no restaurants yet and some sights haven’t been added either) and it’s only for London, but I think, as I add entries to this, I’ll also add it to the map to get some perspective of where I’ve been. Check it out and give me some feedback:

Matt’s Interactive Map


Leeds Castle

May 26th, 2007 by matt

I’ve been bad and haven’t done a whole lot of bloggy updating. It’s been busy and I’m fighting a cold. So let’s take a step back to last weekend when I took a little trip into the countryside and visited Leeds Castle.

It’s about an hour train ride to the nearest station and then a quick bus to the castle. I went with some coworkers, their roommates, nieces and wives. Here would be that group (forgive the uneven picture):


The castle has been around for about 700 years and it’s passed through many hands. Obviously most of these people were wealthy, or kings. It’s situated in the middle of some beautiful grounds, which is full of various birds. Among them are many peacocks. One of them (a white one!) was kind enough to do a little posing for some of the passer-bys:


Anyway, after a really nice stroll, you come upon the castle. It’s situated in a really cool spot in the middle of a lake/moat:


Now, it’s been a few years since anyone in England had a whole lot of use for a functioning castle, so the last occupants (who, when they died, set it up as a trust for people to visit and also for conferences of some sort) were not sitting around holed up from invaders. This was their home and they were clearly filthy rich. They’ve taken parts of the interior and tried to recreate what it might have looked like when various royalty lived there, but the interior parts that were most interesting were what the last occupants did with the place. There’s a gigantic library, 25 bedrooms and this very nice banquet hall:


Around the grounds, there are some other older buildings and, more recently, someone designed and set up a hedge maze. It was deceptively difficult. From the entrance to it, it seemed small and we figured we’ll pull it off in no time at all. Well, 15 minutes of wandering later and we eventually made it to the center where we could see that it might not look big but you can make a pretty complex path to get to the center with that much space:


Once you get to the center, you can take steps to an underground grotto which shoots you back under the maze to the beginning. A nice touch.

After a number of hours wandering around and taking in all the natural beauty, we headed back to the train station. Now, I’d been in the city for a while and I was curious what a smaller town (this one being a town called Bearstead) was like. In particular, I wanted to check out a smaller, non-London pub. The town had 2 or 3 pubs, but the town itself seemed to be more of an upscale commuter town for London, so the pubs were not as thrilling as I expected. We got a good cheap deal in one of them which had a funky modern vibe to it, so I wasn’t totally disappointed 🙂

After a couple of pints, we made our way on the train back to lovely London. Here’s a final shot of the front of the castle for you to enjoy:


Good Luck to the Cutty Sark

May 21st, 2007 by matt

I was going to post about my trip to Leed’s Castle yesterday, but then there’s newz we can usez today. This morning, probably shortly before I passed through Greenwich on my way to work (well, North Greenwich at least), a piece of British history went up in flames. The Cutty Sark, while sitting around being restored, caught on fire. It is one of the only remaining boats intact from the era before steam-engines took over the waters and this particular boat was one of the fastest ships from that era. This article from the BBC goes into good detail and has some pictures and diagrams of what happened. They’re investigating arson at the moment. Hopefully, the parts that caught on fire will be salvageable. The photos I’ve seen show a horrible fire.

Anyway, part of the reason I’m writing about it is that Morningstar recently bought the Funds division of Standard and Poor’s and, my first assignment in London is to get those newly bought people and technology out of their existing office. This is a multi-month affair which means i’m essentially doing a double-commute between offices. The plus side is that the S&P office is in one of those snazzy buildings in Canary Wharf (they took part of the run-down London docklands and created another financial center in London out of nothing). I don’t particularly like it down there (it’s like living in glass or underground), but the views are nice. So, while the Cutty Sark burned 2 miles from my office, here would be a typical view:


Greenwich would be to the right. It looks pretty. But it’s doubtful I’ll ever get to see the Cutty Sark while living in London.

Snipits from life

May 15th, 2007 by matt

This being the middle of a work week and all (no bank holidays this time around!), I thought I’d just throw a couple of pictures of things that are in my daily life.


Here’s the bus that took me home from the office today. I like riding on top of the doubledecker buses. It provides a nice perspective to take things in.

This is my local pub. Nice people behind the bar, the crowd seems nice enough, they have real ales and they even serve burgers. Never fear, I don’t live there, but it’s nice to go in fo a pint once in a while.


This is Newington Green. Believe it or not, it’s actually just a big ass traffic circle. But there’s this nice park in the middle.

Anyway, just a little something to show you what I see everyday. This is all within about 3 steps of my bus stop.

PS – I’m trying so hard not to make any comments on Jerry Falwells death. I’m trying to be a good boy, I swear!

Matt’s Flat In Movie Form

May 13th, 2007 by matt

I’ve wanted to show you my nice flat, but any pictures I take don’t seem to do it justice. So, here’s my flat in its current sparse layout. I have some decorations that nice people have sent/given me (thanks Dina and Anne!), but they are not framed, so there are these lovely, tall white walls.

FYI, as a geek, I decided to try my hand at setting up and hosting my own flash video player, so this isn’t youtube. It allows me to not have to deal with youtube and I can post higher quality video. If it’s running poorly or feels clunky, let me know. I’ve tested all the way from London and it seemed to load quick.

My Last US Roadtrip

May 11th, 2007 by matt

It’s been a long week of things not worth writing about. So I’d like to take a step back. Almost 2 months back to a time when I still lived in the US and it was winter. I had one week before my departure and was getting things together for storage and moving. My parents, about to enter the blissful world of retirement (or rather semi-retirement), were in the process of putting the finishing touches on what is now their home in Michigan (which they share with my Aunt Judy and Uncles Mark and Marvin — a jolly little sitcom could be made). As of St Patrick’s Day, the place was very near completion. The guy doing the work was a machine and had managed to go from complete demolition to a livable house in less than 6 months. Here I was moving to England just as my parents were about to finally be geographically close to me for the first time in 12 years. Well, I’d grown up visiting the old house that stood where the new house was and I really wanted check it out before I left. That, and I needed to store some things there 🙂

So Carolyn and I prepared for a road trip. I rented a mini-van and did a massive push to get all my computer crap and a bunch of boxes together and off we went! But not before a little side trip. While I had lived in Chicago for 5 years, I had yet to experience the wonders of the green Chicago River on St Patrick’s day. And the day of our road trip was in fact that very Irish of holidays. Here is what the Chicago River looks like in a bright shade of green:


This is in comparison to when it’s usually a murkier shade of green.

Anyway, the drive up to Michigan was nice and smooth. I believe it was the last time I’ve driven. My aunt and uncle were already there which meant I had a chance to wish them farewell before my trip. We got to the house and were thoroughly impressed. My family had managed to capture the essence of the old house, but enlarged it to house a lot more people and taken a crumbling place and made it suitable for many people to live in. There are some great colors on the walls and I love the big ass porch. This is what it looks like from the exterior (keep in mind they had literally just finished a lot of the big stuff so it was still a work in progress):


We spent a little time unpacking the mini-van as well as taking in all the nice rooms (ranging from the gi-normous downstairs rec room to the cute little office). However, since the plumbing wasn’t quite ready, we made our way to a hotel, the Bay Point Inn, a nice new-ish hotel on nearby Gun Lake which was the inspiration for many of the cool color schemes in the new house. After a dinner of Guiness and fish and chips, we retired for the night. We went back to the house to explore it some more and take some nice photos:


I miss Carolyn 🙁


Yep the Schroeder genes make us tall!

Although it was a short trip, I was happy to have made it. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to see the finished, completely furnished product in July. We said our goodbyes and Carolyn and I hopped back in the car for the return trip. But, before returning to Chicago, we decided to make a little detour. A fine gentleman by the name of Tony used to be in a running group with us in Chicago. He had finished his PhD and had moved to the far far outskirts of Kalamazoo for his Post-Doc. We decided to drop by and check out his life in Michigan. He surprised us with a very short hair cut (the previous week we’d seen him and he had long hair) and gave us a tour of his life in the rural Midwest. One of the Kelloggs had bequeathed a lot of land to MSU and it was now a great place to study ecology, which Tony studies. It was a very cool layout and he was living in an old farmhouse near campus. After a little tour and walk, we went into Kalamazoo to check out the Bell’s brew-pub. It had a cool hippie-vibe, which I hadn’t expected. Anyway, here’s Tony having I believe a Bell’s Porter:


After a quick beer, we hit the road. Since then, I’ve moved far away, the house is now completely furnished, Carolyn ran a marathon, my cats have moved from CT to Michigan and now get along with my parents cat and my parents are living a nice life in the cozy confines of their new house. A whole lot of change in 8 short weeks!

Hope you enjoyed a little trip in my time machine. I’d meant to add this a long ways back, but it’s been a little hectic. This weekend will be quiet and it looks like the London rain has arrived, so it might be a little uneventful. So chew on these pictures and this story for a bit.

Adventures in Pasta-making

May 7th, 2007 by matt

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Carolyn got me a pasta maker for my birthday. Today being a bank holiday and all, I had some time to do a little shopping. Alas, right around the time I had planned on taking a leisurely stroll through the park on my way to get some cooking items, it decided to rain. It hasn’t rained in the London in over 6 weeks. So this wasn’t a bad thing. Alas, it wasn’t the usual gentle drizzle I’ve been told about. Plus, I managed to buy and lose an umbrella in about 30 minutes (this is why I don’t even bother — fortunately, it only cost me a pound).

Anyhoo, now that I had some more things to make real food (a frying pan, a baking pan, measuring implements, ETC), I decided it was the perfect day to try out my new toy. In a nutshell, I am having trouble believing that people don’t just make their own pasta. Of all the things that are simple to make, pasta is braindead. It requires two ingredients and a little bit of money on something to make it look pretty.

As I had only made pasta once before so I didn’t need to spend a lot of time researching. All you do is take equal parts flour and egg (so 1 cup of flour and 1 egg), put the flour in a mound with a cup-shape in the middle, stick the egg in middle and make a mixture until it’s nice and dough-like. It is, however, easier said than done. The egg never sits in the flour happily and just wants to ooze all over the place. Since I’d seen it happen before, I was prepared and managed to sort of recover. But recovering meant the pasta was a little too dry so it didn’t ball up nicely. I set it aside and let it breath for a couple of hours (covered) and then it was time to break out the pasta maker. It’s basically a combination built-in rolling pin and cutter (this one has spaghetti and fettuccine shaped). I was nervous about the dough being too dry and not rolling well and it didn’t. But I decided that, even if this went into the trash, I should practice to get used to the past maker. The learning curve was about 10 minutes of trying and re-trying to flatten the pasta. It was really simple and wonderful and it managed to make my dry ball of dough look good. Once it was made, I let it sit whilst I boiled some water. It cooked in less than 5 minutes and, even with my lack of skills in dough-making, it tastes 10x better than the shit in a bag. It even tastes good using crappy store-bought sauce. Never again. I’ll just take an hour on the weekend and make enough pasta for the week.

Next up: I start making sauces again. Carolyn also got me a cooking book (Anne, you’ll recognize it!) called “How to Cook Everything” and it’s got a bunch of good looking sauce recipes. I’m starting to cook again. Baby steps.

In the meantime, here’s the pasta shortly after it was rolled and the implement that made it possible:


Brighton Festival — Well the Fringe

May 6th, 2007 by matt

Brighton, while also known as the home of Dina and Adrian, also had a thriving arts community. As a result, every year they put on a month-long festival called the Brighton Festival (how original!). It has evolved into a world-class place for plays, musicals, dance and all sorts of art to be shown. While this festival consists of a lot of high-brow type of art, a crazy cousin has shown up, calling itself the Brighton Fringe Festival. It consist of more of the alternative and experimental art and theater that England and the world have to offer. They co-exist at this point and just serve different audiences and tastes, thus expanding all that the month of May has to offer in Brighton.

Dina and Adrian are big fans of this festival. I believe Adrian has tickets to see 15 shows during the month of May (he’s got his own page of easy-to-digest reviews). Since I had a place to crash and some people with a lot of knowledge about the fun goings on down there, I’m trying to make a trip or two down there in May to see some shows. This weekend is a bank holiday (no work tomorrow!!), so I headed down on Saturday to see two shows. In this case, they were both Fringe Festival shows.

Now, the Fringe Festival has a mainstage in the middle of a square in Brighton. It’s called the UdderBelly:


It’s a lovely shade of purple and is actually in the form of a cow lying on its back, complete with udders (hence the pun). Here would be the head of the cow (you can enter through head or the ass — insert infantile jokes here):


Now, the UdderBelly, being the center of the Fringe Festival, has a sort of lively little center around it. There’s a pavilion that serves milkshakes, beer and a variety of food. As a result, it’s not just a big cow in the middle of a square. They’ve taken some pains to follow a theme. See if you can guess what it is:


(I totally nailed Dina about to attack the cow!)

Just in case you think it’s all about purple cows, note the beautiful fountain behind those two beautiful people:


They’ve got hippos and penguins and various other animals too. Never fear, they’ve only got a mild cow fetish.

OK, enough of the random remarks about the festival. Allow me to talk a little bit about the first show I saw: Bill Hicks: Slight Return. For those of you unaware of Bill Hicks, he was a comedian who died just as he was rising from cult status. His work had a anti-establishment slant and also had themes that focused on what might be considered vulgar to some people (ok, a lot of people). Anyway, he died in 1994 of cancer (as a heavy smoker, he managed not to die of lung cancer, but of pancreatic cancer). I first heard of him through a band I very much enjoy (Tool) and, more recently, found that Adrian loves him. As a result, I’ve also heard some of his old routines. Now, even in death, he’s achieved a heavy cult following. And a few years ago, a couple of people decided to write a play in which Bill Hicks came back from the dead to comment on all the fun things that have transpired since his death. The format is basically someone channeling Bill Hicks and giving one last stand-up performance. The actor playing him had his voice and mannerisms down very well. His material was quite good and alternatively funny and cringe-worthy, which was apt for Bill Hicks’ style. It was a little weird that someone had basically put together a show pretending to do someone else’s material but, if you got past that, it was quite enjoyable. One person in the audience, I believe with the help of quite a bit of beer, was not able to get past the premise, started heckling “Bill” and was escorted out. It actually made for a very funny ad-libbed moment (unless, of course, it was staged which would be a little odd). There were also a few other people in the audience who were not-quite-sober and that just added to the mood.

After the show, I experienced something that seems to be common in England. In the US, most bars serve some sort of food on top of their array of alcoholic beverages. In the UK, it seems as though tradition dictated that you ate food before going out binge drinking (so I’ve been told), so the need to serve food was not there. On the weekends, this tradition continues. On a Friday or Saturday, you pretty much expect to not find any food in any pub you enter. So we had to scour the area we were at for food before we hit the pubs. We hit one of two pubs, not really enjoying the vibe (mostly just too crowded with a few unpleasant folk) and stumbled into a pub that was also a time-warp. While all the other pubs consisted of 20 or 30 somethings, this pub, only block off the main strip we were on, had no one under 40 (well, maybe one or two). We opened the door and people sort of turned and stared. Meanwhile, a man with a guitar (which he played in only one song) was performing some version of karaoke and the decor was frozen in some long-forgotten time. We pondered leaving for a moment and then decided to at least have a pint. It was a good move. The people were a little odd, but pretty nice and it had the feel that everyone there had been coming to this pub every Saturday for years. Basically, it was a country pub in the middle of Brighton. Out of place, but fun to soak in. Oh yeah, Bass poured from a cask is much better than the US crap in a bottle.

Anyway, back to the culture. The next day (today actually!) dawned cold and overcast. But, we walked the sleep away by taking a stroll to a lovely little market that happens once a month around the corner from Dina and Adrian’s flat. It had a great variety of local produce, breads, juices, coffee, nuts, cheeses, beer and so on. I picked up some eggs and bread for the week (Carolyn got me a pasta maker for my birthday. Hopefully one of those eggs will go into my first batch!). After that it was on to our next show.

While the Bill Hicks show took place in the mainstage, there were venues all over the city hosting performances. Our next show was in a much more intimate setting, the Theatre Cella. It was basically a basement performance space that could hold 40-50 people under a nice cafe:


This performance was called Bite-Size: Short & Sweet. It’s basically a collection of 10 minute plays on a random array of themes and subjects. I believed it originates in Australia where the select/write/develop the plays and send it around to many arts festivals. It ranged from a romantic comedy to a sci-fi thriller with a whole lot of other ones in between. I found all 8 of the mini-shows to be excellent. They asked us to vote for our three favorite and I had trouble picking just three. It was also nice to see that, while I picked three, Dina and Adrian had their own three with almost no overlap. The writing was solid and the actors were very good (we were all impressed by the lead in the romantic comedy — it could have gone the way of a sappy Hollywood film, but he gave it a sense of believability that could be tough in a small venue). And, while it was a very minimal set, they did a lot with the space and lighting.

After my second helping of theatre, I headed back on a train to London. I have tomorrow off, which is very nice and I’m hoping to keep chipping away at the whole “I own nothing in London right now” problem. 🙂

Back in Time — Easter in England

May 3rd, 2007 by matt

Soooo, my lack of free time and internet connectivity means that I got a little behind on some posting here. So let’s take a step back to the time that man forgot — April. A time when I was born and, on some years, a time when some guy might have been nailed to a cross, thus proving something or other. Anyhoo, in England, it means a 4 day weekend. And, in my case, it meant moving day. For those of you who have been keeping up, I was supposed to move in a few days before Easter weekend, but forces beyond my control meant I moved in that Saturday. Thankfully, what I moved into was a small, but lovely flat that I’ve been enjoying ever since. So let me begin with some flat related photos:


This would be the kitchen on moving day. It is also the 4th wall of the living room. All the appliances are in good shape and behind one of those doors is even a washing machine (everyone owns a washing machine, few own dryers. I’ve learned the joys of a drying rack).


This is the view out my bedroom window. A nice British-like scene.

I spent a day getting adjusted to my new surroundings and woke up that easter to take a trip down to Brighton. This would be the home of Dina and Adrian and they’d been kind enough to invite me to join Adrian’s family for Easter celebrations. After arriving in Brighton and realizing that Adrian didn’t quite know where his aunt and uncle lived (despite going there on a regular basis for 35 years), we arrived at his aunt and uncles nice house in the suburbs of Brighton. I got to meet the entire Spottiswoode clan and drink beer and eat good food with them, as is their custom. I also used this time to prep myself for an event planned for the next day. Somehow, I’d been finding myself exposed to people who knew about the quaint English game known as cricket. And, the day after Easter was a friendly match between Sussex (the county where Brighton is) and Surrey (closer to London) and Dina and Adrian wanted to expose me to this sport. Since it was the Cricket World Cup (since then Australia has won, yet again), people were very into following the ups and downs and murders of the sport. England was playing Australia on Easter. Now, since I was about to go to a match, I decided to plop myself down and ask the people watching as many questions as possible since I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Thankfully, Adrian’s family seemed more than entertained to teach a silly Yank a thing or two about the game (all the while cursing at how the English National team sucked as usual). I was able to pick enough up so that, the next day, I wouldn’t be clueless. Again, thank you to the Spottiswoodes for being so kind and putting up with a stranger in their midst on a lovely Easter Sunday.
The following day dawned nice and sunny (in fact, it’s been a little bit too nice and sunny for rainy England — they’re in the middle of a drought). We made our way to the cricket grounds. I could try to explain the game, but it would take a while. It’s got a lot of interesting similarities to baseball (here I go again doing compare and contrasts), but plenty of strange differences. i want to say that the rules have an almost loose feel to it (you have a playing field but the area where the batter and bowlers stand shifts depending on the condition of the playing field, the positions apparently change name every few years and there are three or four different versions of an actual match — some last one day, others last 4 days). Now, while some might think 3-4 hours of baseball is a lot of sport for a day, cricket beats that by a long shot. A ‘short’ game will last a full day (8 hours, plus a break in between the teams batting). One team gets up and bats until it’s out of turn, they take a break and then the other team gets up and has a go at it. Whoever scores the mosts runs in the end of their turn wins. Technically, a turn could consist of only two of the players batting the whole time. Like I said, I could go into detail, but it’s complicated. The watching of the sport has a nice relaxing feel to it. At least for this exhibition match, you could roam the stands, taking in different viewpoints of the game and, at the halfway point, hit the nearby pub for a pint and some food. And, since you’re sitting in the midst of a large green space, it has the feel of a day at the park with something to watch. Here is my attempt at a sports action shot:


This is a more an attempt to get the whole field into the camera.

Anyway, all long weekends must come to an end and mine came to a close loaded down with lots of nice household needs that Dina kindly snuck off and bought me a housewarming/birthday gift and have proven to be most useful. I’ll be seeing them again this weekend for the annual Brighton festival. I’ll take lots of pictures and post about it much quicker than I did about Easter!

An English Football Match in Video

May 1st, 2007 by matt

After Carolyn took those excellent videos of our Napoli football match (see here, here or here), I realized I wanted to try to capture some of the spirit of my English football experience as well after going to an Arsenal vs Fulham match (Arsenal won 3-1). Alas, my camera isn’t as good, but here’s my attempt. This is right after Arsenal scored the second goal. After my initial celebration, I realized it was a great chance to get some of the fun going on so I managed to capture the tail end of the celebrating — at least in the stands. There’s a guy to my right who was really into it.

Hope you enjoy!

An English Football Match

May 1st, 2007 by matt

I have piping hot internet (4X what you slackers can get in the US) so it’s time for some blogging! For those of you with short attention spans, the photos are at the bottom 🙂

As I mentioned earlier, a coworker of mine was extraordinarily generous and gave me his season ticket to see a football match (yes, I’m going to call it football. When in Rome…), in this case Arsenal vs Fulham (Arsenal won 3-1). Now, the tricky part was getting the ticket. He was supposed to bring to work on Friday and events made that impossible. The eventual method of delivering me the ticket was through his brother-in-law, Gary. I was given a phone number and a time and place to meet him. So, at the appointed time, I was there and gave him a ring and had the season ticket (which is actually a smart-card that you just scan as you enter for each match). I was going to be sitting next to two people, one of whom I believe was Gary’s son, but they weren’t very chatty.

So, when describing an event like this, I can come at it from a number of ways. I can just report it straight up, but that’s boring. Or I can go the compare and contrast route. Those of you who read my sabbatical blog might recall some posts about a match Carolyn and i saw in Naples. So, I will end up doing some comparisons to that match as well. I can also try to compare it something my two readers will know more about and that’s an American sporting event. In the end, I would put a premier league match somewhere in between. All the elements of the second division Italian match were there, but in a more refined and genteel manner. However, this being a Big Business meant that the heavily corporate aspects of an American sporting event were there as well. And, the most important part of all, it was some very good football. All in all, I really enjoyed myself and really appreciate an opportunity to see something like this.

Now, to step back, I live in Highbur. This has been the home to Arsenal forever (1913-2006). Until this year, however, they played in a much smaller stadium. This season is their first season in Emirates Stadium (if you think corporate sponsorship is bad in the US, take a look at Europe). This increased the stadium capacity from 35,000 to 60,000(!). It also gives a different feel to the whole event. It had a feeling of an NFL game in a many ways, but all the wonderful elements of a football match (the chanting and the crazed fans are still there, they’re just more of them and they’re still figuring out the whole lay of the new land). The point is that there is a very large stadium about 15-20 minutes walking distance from me.

While I can walk to this gigantic stadium, when I left my house, the only indicator that there might be a football match nearby was the fact that every other person was wearing their Arsenal shirt. They might not be going to the match, but they still wore the team colors on game day. Even as I got nearby, there was never a sense of 60,000 people trying to enter the stadium. While I had some time to kill before I got my ticket, I decided to join in the local custom of drinking a beer in public before the match. This felt a little odd because I sitting out in the open with an open beer and drinking it, yet the heavy police presence could care less (it’s legal to do this in England and I’ve seen a lot of it in my month here).

Anyway, on to the game. Emirate stadium is a huge, very nice stadium. The seats are nice and comfortable and it’s very pleasing on the eye. But I don’t think anyone really cares about that. Like an American sporting event, they actually have things like jumbo-tron screens and concessions. This is in stark contrast to Italian matches which had minimal concessions and not even a scoreboard, let alone a huge screen to show select replays and the time elapsed. However, since football is a sport prone to inciting riots, the crowd control aspects were still there. Even though the area around the stadium had lots of open space to wander and explore, as you got near the stadium, there were tasteful concrete barriers to make people do a little zig-zag (and not in a big mass) before rushing the stadium. Then, to enter the actual stadium, you went through the most claustrophobic turnstiles (floor to ceiling) I’ve even been through. No way will hooligans rush the stadium in a drunken mass.

How about the crowd? Just as in Italian football, there’s a visitor section (look at the picture below–Fulham’s colors are black and white. Tell me if you can see the Fulham section). Unlike Italy, they are separated by a little buffer and not a whole lot else. It must be hard to be the visiting team when you’re outnumbered 5:1. But they tried to make up for it in a shitload of noise.
Now onto the match. First of all, the playing was a lot of fun to watch. These guys are all so good at what they do. Arsenal had a very quick goal. This was good because it meant the fans were happy. And Arsenal dominated in the first half. However, the second half was tough. They seemed to be holding out and hoping to just get the 1-0 win and Fulham started to take advantage of this. Finally, they scored a tying goal. Now, can you imagine 50,000 being completely silenced? It went absolutely dead on the Arsenal side of things and you could have heard a pin drop if now for the 10,000 Fulham fans going crazy. Finally Arsenal woke up and scored another 2 goals (one on a penalty shot on a very well-called tripping penalty). If you appreciate football, it’d be hard to have a bad time watching a English premier league match.

Let me close with a little bit about the chanting. When Dave and Melissa were here, we went through this nice British ‘phrasebook’. In it, there was something about a football chant that went “You’re going to get your fucking heads kicked in!”. Alas, that one was not used in the match. In general, they are pretty simple so anyone can pick them up and are based off a tune someone might already know. But here are a couple of choice ones:

  • Fuck you Fulham — used to drown out “Let’s go Fulham”
  • “You don’t know what you’re doing” — in response to the ref screwing something up. He was not a popular man today. He definitely missed a few calls.
  • Something ending “…and your mother’s a whore”. I wish I caught the rest of it. 🙂

So there’s a very long post going into rambling detail about my English football experience. I’ll have to check out a lower level match to see if I can’t find some drunken hooligans to mess with. In the meantime, here are a few photos:


The Arsenal logo with the new stadium’s name.


Here’s a very of the exterior of the stadium. Look at all the open space! It gets tighter once you try to get inside

The interior of the stadium. Looks almost like the Bears could be playing in here. Can you spot where the Fulham fans were sitting?