Gone Travellin’

September 12th, 2008 by matt


Uncle Traveling Matt and his traveling wife are off for our first true vacation together in 2 years. Technically, it’s honeymoon III. We’ll be spending a fun filled week touring some of the wonders Scotland has to offer. Full blogging (and pictures, of course!) will resume when we return. Have a lovely week! 🙂

Public Service Announcement on the Tube

September 9th, 2008 by matt


People are very much about being courteous in England. So, when people behave like asses on public transport, everyone else gets pissed off. Seems like the biggest issue involves school kids taking the bus to school and being annoying. So, the transport authority in London came up with an ad campaign of cartoon people like the one above. There’s actually been talk about trying to ban “Smelly food”. How they would determine that (usually, it involves kebabs), I don’t know. Among the others are “remembering what it’s like to be 13” and giving up your seat for pregnant people (the pregnant cartoon character thanks you when you give it up). Hee hee!

Ooo. Here’s the website with all the characters!

A Day at a Second-class University :)

September 7th, 2008 by matt


Welcome to Cambridge. Home of — what?? Yep, that’s the sign on the train platform of Cambridge, home to one of the more famous university’s in the world, and not the one advertised on that sign. From King’s Cross (a 15 minute bus ride from our flat), it’s a fast-ass direct train to Cambridge. So Carolyn and I took our bikes and, an hour later, found ourselves there. Cambridge is an extremely bike friendly town. All the students have them and there are tons of bike lanes and good signage for getting around town.


That’s just one of the many bike parking areas around town. Bikes can be found locked up (many of them left forever). Though I must say, my crappy bike looks good compared to many of these. 🙂

The towns stretches along the River Cam and, particularly as hoards of tourists have begun to fill the town, one of the more popular activities is punting. This is a long boat with a person in the back guiding it along the river with a long pole. Think of gondolas in Venice.


Carolyn and I did not go on one. We found it more amusing to sit on the banks of the river and watch people banging into each other as they tried to maneuver between each other.

Now Cambridge is really a collection of colleges. You apply to study at a specific one of them and each of them have a certain character and many have specific fields they are best known for. They all have the feeling of an exclusive club. For example, even though they dominate the banks (both sides) of the river, the property they own is walled off, to each other and to the public. There is no way to simply wander along the river without going in and out the main entrance of each college. However, inside the colleges themselves, it’s quite impressive.


This is the courtyard to Trinity College. It’s been around since Henry VIII and has produced some obscene number of Nobel Laureates as well as where Issac Newton got his start. Needless to say, it’s got a lot of history and some beautiful buildings. The courtyard itself was where a legendary race immortalized in Chariots of Fire took place (they needed to run around it four times before the clock finished the 12 bells at noon time).


(Love that sky!)

King’s College is another one of the major historic colleges of Cambridge. It was started by Henry VI but not finished until Henry VIII (him again!). It’s obviously dominated by its chapel (all the colleges have a chapel), although a chapel would suggest to me a small church. 🙂 It is also home to the King’s College Choir, one of the more famous choirs in the world. As it were, we were there on a Sunday and they were giving their last performance before the summer break. I say performance, but it was technically a church service, open to all. In the end, it was really a performance of the choir wrapped with some religion. They were quite impressive and it was a treat to be sitting in this beautiful ancient church, listening to a talented and enjoyable choir.

Now, Cambridge, in the English speaking world, is only preceded by Oxford. So there have to be some older colleges at the university (King’s and Trinity only being around since the 16th Century or so), right? Well, that would be Peterhouse, the oldest of the colleges of Cambridge, although it was not the first.


Notice a pattern? Amazing courtyards with absurdly manicured lawns. Now, since school was out when we visited, I couldn’t tell you what student life is like, but I know I would just live on those lawns (I doubt they’d let me if I had the good fortune to go to any of these!). We really liked Peterhouse as it felt more intimate and less imposing and exclusive. We managed to actually get sort of lost in it and found some of the more modern parts of the school as well.

A couple of random thoughts. The pubs seemed to be almost entirely owned by Greene King, a large British brewer, which I thought was interesting. It makes sense since Cambridge is the closest city to the town where the brewery is based (Bury St. Edmunds). We did have a lovely lunch in one of their pubs along the river, giggling at the punters.

Let me throw in two negatives: first, too many freaking tourists. I realize that we were one, but tour and school groups of over 100 people is absurd and it made the town feel like a museum and not a place where people work, study and play. And second, the schools, while beautiful, felt so inaccessible with their impressive, but imposing architecture and the well-maintained lawns. Oh yeah, I wonder what it would be like to be a student at a school teeming with tourists. 🙂

Friday Cat Blogging

September 5th, 2008 by matt

Out in the blog world that I roam in, there’s a time-honored tradition of Friday Cat Blogging. This is exactly what it sounds like: pictures of cats. Since I’m a silly cat owner, I thought I would add this to my currently infrequent blogging. Let’s give it a try:


We bought Chewy a cat tree a couple of weeks ago. He’d started gaining weight when Anna wasn’t eating (I guess he decided all the food was for him since she wasn’t interested). We figured this might give him some new perspectives on the flat and make him excercise a little more. So far, with a special diet of food as well, it seems to be working. He likes to hop up and lounge on it.


OMG!!! He’s got frickin’ laser beams in his eyes! That’s just a nice full on view of his cat tree.

Coming up, I have tons of trips to fill you in on. Ludlow, the Lake District, Dublin, Cambridge and a parental visit!