Sorry for the silence

July 30th, 2007 by matt

Howdy. It’s been a silent week for me. That would be because, since returning to the UK, I’ve essentially been working. I worked 30 hours this weekend alone. If I can make it Friday, then I can catch up on all the fun things in my life (my Chicago trip has been woefully under-reported). More later this week!

Back to London

July 25th, 2007 by matt

Well, I’m back in the UK now and only somewhat jetlagged. I had a wonderful time in Chicago and I’ll be trying to add entries about some of the more interesting things/days of the trip. For all the fine people I was able to see, it was tons of fun. Hopefully I’ll be back sooner rather than later! 🙂

A Very Carolyn Birthday – Part 1

July 22nd, 2007 by matt

Now, aside from wanting to propose to Carolyn, another reason for my visiting Chicago when I did was to celebrate her 30th birthday. It turned into more of a weekend long celebration, so I’ll write about each day separately. There might be a little overlap from other posts, but bear with me 🙂
The day started with a jet-lagged Matt, since he had just arrived the day before, waking up pretty much constantly from about 4am onward. Once I was up and about, it was time to begin a nice Chicago day. We first went off to Metropolis, which is home to the finest coffee in Chicago. I know it’s still an Intelligentsia town, but I much prefer Metropolis. They roast all their own beans in small batches and understand that making a coffee drink is an art. Once I was caffeined up, Carolyn and I did a little volunteer work. She has recently been spending her Saturday mornings at the Ginkgo Organic Garden near her apartment, so we went up there to help harvest vegetables (100lbs of it) and do some general weeding and maintenance of the garden. All the food grown there goes to local food banks.

After a little rest and cleaning, we began the first day of celebrations. We started by going to the Hopleaf. It’s an upscale bar with a wide selection of beers (on tap and in bottles). Their focus is on Belgian beer, but they have beer from all over the world. They also have food, but that wasn’t on the schedule this night. We met Dave and Melissa for a little pre-dinner drinks:


(That’s Carolyn and Melissa)

Eventually, we made our way a little further north to our dinner destination, Ethiopian Diamond where we also met up with Virginia and Carolyn W. We’d been there for Dan’s birthday the previous year and it was a fun group dinner. For those of you unaware, ethiopian food is typically eaten on a big platter with a sponge-like bread instead of utensils. This place is particularly tasty. We got a wide variety of food (chicken, lamb, beef, chickpea and okra dishes) and sampled the range of African beers they offer. Here would be the food:


And here is the birthday girl and her birthday ‘cake’:


After filling up on some good food, it was time to move down the street to Moody’s. It’s one of the more interesting bars in the city. The interior, unlike much of the city, is not air-conditioned, so in the summer, it’s very warm inside. On top of that, it’s got a very dark vibe and a fireplace which makes the inside a little scary. However, they have a gigantic beer garden (about twice the size of the inside bar) and is a great place for some beer and conversation. Their beer choices are limited but good (Anchor and Berghoffs on tap) and the price is ridiculously cheap ($9 for a pitcher of Anchor). On top of that, they have huge, cheap plates of fries and good burgers (people argue they’re the best in the city — I’m not convinced, but they are tasty). Anyway, we headed here for beer and conversation, as well as to meet up with some fine folks who couldn’t meet for dinner (Anne, Dan and Ryan). Here is an attempt at capturing the beer garden at night:


I personally started to crash after a few beers and fries and, thankfully, the night wound down. But, we all departed around midnight well fed and happy. For Carolyn, she still had more birthday fun to come the next day.

A Special Announcement

July 19th, 2007 by matt

Most of you who read this site have at least heard about Carolyn and many of you have had the pleasure of getting to know her. She’s the wonderful woman I’ve been dating for almost 3 years. We’ve been separated by my move to the UK, which has been very difficult. But it’s actually made our relationship stronger.

In the four months we’ve been apart, it’s become clear that no matter what our future holds, it will involve both of us. So, on Tuesday 17 July 2007, we went to a beach we visited on our first date, had a nice picnic brunch and I proposed to her. And, for some strange reason, she said yes! Woo Hoo!

Anyhoo, for those of you I haven’t been able to talk to, let it be known that Carolyn and I are engaged (chances are, you didn’t hear it directly because I lost all my US phone numbers. Doh!). Here’s a picture of the happy couple:


And here’s where it happened:


There’s not much more to add aside from the general happiness. Life is good and you’ll be able to hear plenty more about it as the details (when, where, ETC) develop. Joy!

I’m in Chicago!

July 14th, 2007 by matt

Just a quick hello from Chicago. I’m not too horribly jet-lagged. Since I got here, I’ve had dinner at the Heartland Cafe and Carolyn and I went and did some volunteer gardening and the Ginkgo Organic Garden. I also got some nice coffee at my favorite coffee shop in Chicago. And my apartment is unsold but still looks good. Everything feels very much normal, which is nice, but a little odd since I’ve been gone for 4 months now. I didn’t have my camera handy, so I’ll need to start taking pictures later! 🙂

Best of all, I’ve been able to see Carolyn! It’s very nice to see her again after all these months.

A Little Something Random

July 9th, 2007 by matt


I saw this on the bus on my way to work. Two things made me fumble for my camera to snap a photo of it. First of all, someone got really creative with finding parking. I don’t see a ticket, so that’s even cooler. Second of all, you have three cars, each facing in various direction. Which makes me think of the whole issue of which side of the road people drive on in the UK. It was one of those things guaranteed to confuse. I adapted pretty quickly, but the tricky part are side roads. Now, in the US, they are pretty anal about which direction you parallel park. It would be helpful in the UK because you could use it as a guide to see which way to look. I hope this picture proves that is not the case 🙂

Anyhoo, I’ve been very lazy with my posting. I have three or four stewing that I need to put down. But in the meantime, hope you enjoyed this meaningless and random post.

Attention All Chicago People

July 2nd, 2007 by matt

Hello all you lovely Chicago readers. Just a quick announcement before regular posting continues, but I wanted to make it be known that, barring an emergency at work, I’ve got a ticket to head to beautiful Chicago in less than two weeks. I’ll be in Chicago or visiting the family in Michigan from the 13th of July until the 23rd at which point I’ll be heading back to finish my marathon project at work.

Hopefully, you’ll all be around and I can see you and break bread and drink beer and enjoy a little bit of summer in Chicago with you. Exciting!!