A Dina Birthday in Brighton

August 9th, 2008 by matt

So, mingled with our cultural and tourist outings in Brighton when we visited with Gerry and Ben, there was cause for celebration. For, yea, on this week in 1977, a Dina was born. Naturally, we needed to do some celebrating. We began the celebrations with a tasty meal at what has been called the finest vegetarian restaurant in England, Terre a Terre. We arrived to a modern, slick restaurant with some interesting organic beer and wine choices. While some of the choices were of the “make meat dishes but out of vegetarian fare”, they mostly had true vegetarian dishes done well. Take this nice one for example:


It was a Thai-inspired dish. We particularly enjoyed the sampler starter which allowed us to have a taste of all the wonderful food they had to offer. We had a seat by the windows and, an amusing sight kept walking by. In the UK, a bachelorette party is known as a Hen Party. This typically involves decorating the bride-to-be in embarassing clothes and going off to get very very drunk. We saw at least four of these groups wandering (or shall I say stumbling) past. A very amusing side note. 🙂
After dinner, we retired to Dina and Adrian’s flat for a little rest before the next phase of the outing. We also met up with their friend Heather met us. Here would be the whole happy crew at this point:


Alas, at this point, I developed a horrible, horrible headache. Since our next part of the birthday night was to be dancing at a club, I took a little time to rest. Our plan was to go to a special club night called Stick it On, in which people can submit their own playlists for a 15 minute set and be a DJ for a few moments. The idea was intriguing, so we made our way there. I shall spare you any photos of the revelers (alas, there are some thanks for Gerry 🙂 ), but it was a fun time out.  Obviously, when the DJ changes every three or four songs, you’ll get a few songs you don’t like, but there were some excellent choices of music. My headache subsided, which allowed me to enjoy ourselves and I think, when we took our leave at whatever hour it was, we were tired and content.

The following day, besides going to the Brighton Pavilion, we also enjoyed a Brighton favourite of ours, cream tea at the Mock Turtle. While we devoured scones and tea, Dina bought a Meringue. It was ginormous. See for yourself:


With a little help, it did get eaten :). We also wandered Brighton some more so Gerry and Ben could see some of the other sights of this fun little city. For those aware, on the side of a coffee shop near the train station, the graffiti artist Banksey put up one of his more famous pieces of art, two male police officers kissing:


Now, you might notice that this one actually has protective plastic over it. While most Banksey’s have a bit of a temporary aspect to them and could be removed if and when the owner of the property of the government decides to remove it (although I think now that they are quite valuable, this is increasingly less likely), this one has become quite famous and infamous. Apparently, the original was defaced by someone finding it “immoral”. It’s been fixed up and made “permenant”.

Anyhoo, we had some tasty beers, good food, and saw tons of fun things. But it was time to go backto London. Good times were had by all.

Summer in Brighton

August 5th, 2008 by matt

Now, I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Brighton, mooching off Dina and Adrian, trashing their place and generally making myself as unwelcome as possible. But, each time I go, there’s generally always some fun experience or time to be had. Amazingly enough, I didn’t go down there last year during the “summer” at all. It probably didn’t help that last summer was literally three months of cold and rain. But I was also working many many hours or in the US for a couple of reasons. Well, this summer has been quite pleasant and our friends Gerry and Ben had never seen Brighton while living in England for three years. To top it off, it was Dina’s birthday which seemed like the perfect time to go down, see Brighton and celebrate Dina being a year older.

The weather could not have been more perfect. The sun was shining and it was actually kind of hot. I even managed to get a sunburn (although that now only seems to take about 5 minutes of sunshine). And, this being the coast, we decided to take a little tour along the water. Weather permitting, there was to be a paddle around Brighton Pier on Sunday, and Saturday they had a little festival in advance. We wandered around the festival, seeing some beach cars and playing with some toys. This brought us to the West Pier. Brighton, for many years had two piers. The West pier eventually closed and fell into disuse. The council was debating for a while what to do with it, rather than letting it remain in ruins, until 2003. At that point, someone apparently set fire to it and the thing was burned beyond any reasonable repair. Here’s what it looks like today:


I hope they do something with it. Even in it’s current form, it’s still pretty cool looking but could use some tender loving care. Let’s compare it to the other pier, which is still in use. It’s full of arcade games and even has amusement park rides. It’s a great big festival:


Quite a bit different, no? Well, the weather on the land was lovely, but the English Channel was anything but calm:


Check out them waves and the lovely city behind it. We eventually got a little tired after about a 2.5 walk along the water and exploring the crazy beach scenes and the crowds of people enjoying a summer day along the coast. We needed a little bit of a pick-us-up. So we hit a local coffee shop with some pretty cool art painted on coffee sacks:


Once we were properly caffeinated, it was time to stop being tourists and celebrate Dina’s years of life. However, I’ll skip ahead to the following day for now and focus on the celebrating later. On Sunday, since it wasn’t nearly as nice out, we decided to soak in some cultute. The Brighton Pavilion is the iconic center of the city. When George IV was still a decadent prince, he set himself up down in Brighton to flee his creditors. In a truly modest style, he had the following built on top of the original “farmhouse” he was initially living in:


The main part of the palace has been restored to its original decadence. On both ends of it, are the magnificent music room and banquet room. They really do blow your mind. They achieve it by having a very low, almost claustrophobic entry hallway which opens into each of these enormous rooms. The banquet room has a 2-ton chandelier hanging from the center. Photos aren’t allowed in there so we (or rather Ben, who took all these lovely photos) couldn’t capture it on film. It was very impressive.

Next up: fancy vegetarian dinner and dancing!

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. 🙂

More Flashbacks: London with my parents

August 28th, 2010 by carolyn

We have also been lucky to have my parents visit several times during our time in London.  But it seems we never got a chance to properly document all these trips.  So here are a few flashbacks to the adventures we have had on their visits.

My mom first came over in April 2008 and we had a girls weekend in London.  Shopping at Harrods, Liberty and street markets, enjoying high tea at Browns and the Kensington Orangery, taking in a show at the Victoria Palace and partaking in some culture at the V&A and the Royal Academy of the Arts.

billyelliot.jpg liberty.jpg

arts.jpg pic.jpg

browns.jpg  orangery.jpg
Both my parents next visited in February/March 2009 for a ski trip in Zermatt, previously mentioned here, and some more time in London.  This time around we experienced the amazing train journey the Glacier Express in Switzerland (well until a mini-avalanche cut the journey a bit short).


This trip was when we finally made it to the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London with my parents.  We also explored some new places including the re-opened Monument and the London Eye, saw an Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, enjoyed a few pubs and visited Dina and Adrian in Brighton.  My mom and dad also kept themselves busy without us visiting other friends, museums and taking long walks on the Thames.
narrowboats.jpg monument.jpg

royalalbert.jpg brighton.jpg

bigbeneye.jpg eye.jpg

My parents returned to London with a side trip to Scotland in October 2009.  We weren’t able to join them in Scotland but we kept pretty busy in London taking a narrow boat ride on regent’s canal, visiting Winchester Cathedral, taking a Halloween walk in Hampstead and visiting Somerset House.  And as usual we fit in some good pubs, food and tea.

winchester.jpg  somersethouse.jpg

halloween.jpg  routemaster.jpg
The last time my parents were here was at Christmas time last year when we met up in Madrid, Spain to celebrate.  It was great fun to go back to the city again and remember my semester studying there in 1998.  That trip was previously documented on the blog here and here =).  We didn’t mention the fact that we took a day trip to Avila, a beautiful walled city, and to Segovia, which was where I had my orientation for my semester in Madrid, while we were in Spain.  It was great to go back with Matt and my parents and see the city decorated for Christmas.

avila.jpg   segovia.jpg

Most of these photos are courtesy of my dad so he is strangely missing from the recap.  I promise he was there.  Thanks for joining us on some great adventures!

Happy New Year 2009

January 3rd, 2009 by carolyn

New Year’s is not usually one of my favourite holidays.  It really bothers me that everywhere jack up their prices for the same thing they provide every other day of the year and any bar/pub/restaurant is packed full.  We started looking around for a place to go to ring in the new year that had 1)no cover charge and 2)a generally relaxed atmosphere.  Dina and Adrian decided to come up from Brighton to celebrate with us and we considered a few options.  We finally settled on heading over to the Salisbury Hotel on Green Lanes which has become one of my favourite London pubs.  It is an old Victorian pub that has been restored nicely.  It is always welcoming and relaxed and for New Years it met the requirements.  It was pretty full but we managed to snatch a table for the four of us and enjoyed some pints, good music and general merry making.  Great way to ring in the New Year with great friends!


Random Biking Fun

July 14th, 2008 by matt

So, my lovely bike, the wonderful Apollo Jalapeno, has been called a disgrace to all other bikes by my coworker with the obscenely expensive carbon fiber road bike. I think that means it’s pretty good then! 🙂 And I’ve getting to be a pro with navigating the streets of London. I have pretty much all the routes around North London down pat. They’re basically the back routes that the cab drivers with “The Knowledge” use. That means that there are few traffic lights or buses. I’ve also noticed the pains the English goverment goes through to keep cars on specific roads. They will randomly make a road shrink down so the largest thing that car fit through it is a smallish SUV. Roads suddenly have barriers across them. And best of all, roads that would be an alley way in the US get cut in half with dedicated bike rights-of-way. That is very cool. A bike road. Oh yeah, there are also one-way roads that have bike lanes for going against the traffic.

Anyway, two fun things I’ve found. First, at least for now, if you search for “Apollo Jalapeno” on google, one of my pages is the top choice! Second, I figured that my bike, not being the finest in all the land, was probably not that popular. However, two weekends ago, we were down in Brighton for the weekend (more on that later), and we stumbled upon its doppelganger:


If you look closely, you’ll notice the back tire (or tyre, if you will) is totally flat and the chain is rusted up, so mine is sooo much cooler. But it was funny to just walk into one sitting on the street. I also saw someone up north selling a smaller, childs version of it on eBay. So clearly, I have a pretty hip bike! Long live bright yellow!

Adur Beer Festival and Whatnot

March 23rd, 2008 by matt

While we get less bank/federal holidays in England than the US, we do get a 4 day weekend for Easter. In honor of this, Carolyn and I took a trip down to see Dina and Adrian in Brighton. As it were, there’s a beer festival in Adrian’s hometown of Shoreham, which is a nice short trip from their flat. Naturally, we needed to partake of the fun and games that a beer festival has to offer.


Those of you with exceptional memory might recall my trip along the River Adur. This picture is near where it empties into the Channel in Shoreham. The cool-ass buildings in the distance make up a private school. This as a meandering route to the festival so people could take in some natural beauty.


Here stands a solitary figure guarding Britain from the Germans. I’m standing next to the Shoreham International (really) Airport on the remains of, I think, an old WWII anti-aircraft defensive thing. It was very very windy that day.

The festival was in the Red Lion which I’d been to previously. For those of you unaware of beer festivals, it’s basically where a vast number of good beers are set out for people to buy samples of (half or full pints — ok, so more than a sample). This festival had about 70 different beers on tap. Take a look see:


Lots of choices! Well, because it was a very cold March day, seating in the protected areas of the pub were highly prized. After moving tables about 4 times in the first hours, we managed to score a coveted indoor table. Here are Dina, Carolyn and Adrian soaking in some afternoon sun and beer:


It wasn’t just the four of us. We ended up with a jolly old crew consisting of Heather (former coworker of Adrian), Ben, Lou, and Heather’s brother, David. Alas, I managed to snap nothing but shit pictures of all of them, so I figure I should spare them the embarrassment of posting them online. 🙂 We spent a good 3 hours there enjoying ourselves and the nice setting. Now, this being a pretty small town in southern England, it wasn’t just a lot of beer snobs/geeks sampling beer. We had the good fortune to meet what might be described as a cross between white trash and frat boys if this weren’t England. I guess it would chavs here. Anyway, they are harmless, but it can be a little annoying when the rain and hail comes down and 100 people who all know each other come rushing into a room that normally fits about 20. And, each time one of them walks in, there’s a big “HEY!!” that goes around the room. Eventually, the sheer number of people got to be a bit too much, so we moved on to other pubs. We met up with Adrian’s parents in a pub called the Amsterdam and then went on to a pub called the Sovereign:

It was a nice local pub with a good friendly vibe. We all did what you usually do at a pub: socializing, getting to know new people and drinking. Here’s another picture of some of the happy crew:


As always happens the night winds down and everyone goes their separate ways. The four of us went back to Dina and Adrians. Alas, the next day, Carolyn was having all sorts of problems with her leg which, coupled with it being cold and snowy (yeah, it’s snowed a little for the last 3 days) meant the next day was just a nice lazy weekend kind of day. It did give us a chance to a have a freshly baked Guinness cake. Here’s the cake with the chef:


Carolyn and I are back in London now. We’ll post about our actual Easter Sunday tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2007 by matt

For those of you reading this today (you shouldnt be! 🙂 ), I just wanted to wish you a merry christmas. I managed to get down to Brighton before the entire UK shut down (it really does), but I’ve got a nasty flu which made for an unpleasant time but Dina and Adrian have been very nice and helpful. So it’s been a nice relaxing Christmas. Hope you’re all having the same.

A Trip Along the River Adur

November 13th, 2007 by matt

It was a dark and stormy night. The fellowship of Froddo, Bilbo, myself, Dina and Adrian were in a tight spot. Do we take a hike in the woods, unprotected with no hope of a beer at the, or do we journey to the town of Adrian’s birth, where his kinsman still live and the pubs are a plentiful?

In this case, we chose to check out Shoreham-by-Sea, which happens to be where Adrian grew up and much of his family still lives. After my very very quick trip to Stockholm, I landed at Gatwick Airport which is about halfway to Brighton. So I decided to take a little overnight trip down to say hello. After a festive evening, we figured it was a lovely Saturday to take a little walk and get some exercise. Our choices were many, but the walk from Bramber to Shoreham sounded pretty and gave me a chance to see some English towns I’d not yet seen. The walk began in Bramber and meandered along the River Adur which, as Anne pointed out, sounds like it’s right out of Tolkien. The walk itself was about 5 miles and allowed us to see a number of cute villages, a gently flowing river, an old cement factory/chalk quarry and a few churches. Come hither and I shall show thee:


Bramber used to be home to a large Norman castle. During the English Civil War, Cromwell had a number of these castles torn down. Only the one wall you see in the distance remains (as well as some of the foundation). It must have been very impressive when it was in one piece.


After soaking in a little history, we decided to hit the local pub. It’s a cute old pub/inn.


Here is the River that traverses Middle Earth. At its widest, it was about double this length. Near Shoreham, we even got to cross the remnants of a very rickety bridge that apparently still had car traffic over it into the 1970s. After a nice walk along the river with a detour to Botolphs, we reached our destination.


No not the Red Lion Inn. Shoreham! This pub used to be where coaches would stop for the night. The wooden beams make the ceiling so low, I couldn’t stand up straight near the bar. Good selection ales, happy vibe.

Once we reached Shoreham, we met up with Adrian’s mum and made merry until it was time for me to return to the land of London and my cute kitties. As always, it was a pleasure to spend a little time out of the city and see the beauty that is the English countryside.

Sabbatical Anniversary

October 13th, 2007 by matt

While my adventure in London didn’t offically start until January or February 2007, the fun really began on 13 October 2006. This was the first day of my sabbatical. Carolyn and I spent the first two weeks exploring southern Italy. However, we book-ended this part of the trip with a day or two in England. In a moment of irony, while visiting Dina and Adrian in Brighton during this original European trip, Dina asked Carolyn and I if we could see ourselves living in England. We laughed and said ‘sure’, but pointed out that it was more likely that they’d move to the US before we moved to Europe. Little did we know that would be very very untrue 🙂

Our last day of the sabbatical trip was spent in London. In honor of that (and in light of the fact that Carolyn is here right now), Dina came up to visit from Brighton and we did a little re-enactment of our fun there. We checked out the Tate Modern and wandered over the Millennium bridge again. Adrian wasn’t present, but it was a good time, nonetheless. I’ll post pictures and more fun about our day tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you feel like learning more about my sabbatical, check out my original blog.

The Map! It improves!!

June 14th, 2007 by matt

So I’ve really been enjoying messing around with this whole google map hack I’ve thrown together. Kind of an intellectual exercise that people seem to enjoy. Anyhoo, this post is just to remind people that it’s a work in progress, so every day or so, something (either more points or a feature or two) is added. The most recent additions would be non-London locations: Brighton and Leeds (Stockholm is coming soon!). So hop over to the map if you wanna see how things lay out and play around with it!

Matt’s Life in Map Form

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!

American Visitors

April 21st, 2007 by matt

So my first month in London could be easily summed up as a tad stressful. But there have been some wonderful moments. And, due to the lack of free time and internet access at home, here’s my first chance to give you a nicer view of life in London. I have many entries to catch up on, and I’m putting them in a completely random order.

After a week living in an flat in London, I had my first visitors. Dave and Melissa had a trip to Barcelona planned and decided to spend the weekend prior to that in merry ol’ England. Now, my initial plan had been to have had a nice long weekend and then some in my apartment before my arrival. Instead, I moved in on the that long weekend and then spent a couple of days in Brighton (more on that next entry!) . So I was not really moved in in any meaningful way. I had a bed, a couch and enough to cook for a single person and that was all. Yes, it’s not much different from life in Chicago where I never cooked, but I’m trying to turn over a new leaf.

Anyhoo, my preparation for my visitors required a trip Argos. It’s a department store without the store. You either go online and choose what you with to purchase or you go to the store and look through a catalog. when you see what you want, you just select the item number, pay for it and a few minutes later, you pick it up at a counter. I believe things like these used to exist in the US, but I’ve not seen them. My first trip there involved picking up a nice comfy air mattress for my guests.

Dave and Melissa live in Chicago, so they knew they’d see me again when I left for good a month ago. But, this was my last chance to see them for a while (which is sad). They had done a lot of the touristy stuff, so they were happy to be dragged along to see some of ‘real’ London. This mostly consisted of wandering my neighborhood (which includes a very very large Football stadium. In the end, the big events of that part of their trip involved checking out nice cafes nearby and seeing about the local pubs. We checked out three pubs, all within 5 minutes of my flat, and they were all nice in their own ways. I think, if I had to pick my ‘local’, it would be The Nobody Inn. Good choice of beers and they even have decent burgers (not easy to find in England).

Aside from that, we checked out some of the things that London has to offer. We wandered the Saturday market in Notting Hill, we did a quick tour of the National Gallery and we looked around Covent Garden. They did tons of other things without me (what with my having a job and needing to do my US taxes 🙂 ), but they can comment in this entry with all of that fun. In the meantime, here are a select few pictures for a visual reference taken from a pub called The Cock (no fooling!):

I told you it was called the Cock!!


Dave and Matt enjoying a pint


Dave and Melissa looking happy on vacation

Comment Spam

April 5th, 2007 by matt

Time for a little random post not related to the unpleasantness from yesterday. I’m sure all of you are aware of spam. Well, since spammers are the essense of evil, they try to find anywhere they can to post crap for viagra and cialis and so on. Now, I have a pretty good system to keep myself pretty immune from spam in email (my personal email addresses get maybe 3 a week), but the spammers managed to implicate me in one form of it: comment spam. This is where they post comments to any blog they can find (blog software is pretty dumb in that the install usually ends up in a similar URL so they can find them easily) with either those weird psuedo-philosophical/gibberish comments or with links to pr0n or discounted drugs. Well, for a long while, if you searched for my name on google, you would find that some spammer decided to use my name as a spam commenter. Very odd!

Anyway, now I have my own blog and I guess it’s out in the open now because I have some comment spam. Now, you might be asking yourself ‘where is this so called comment spam? I’m on the site right now and all the comments appear to be from people like God (thanks Dina!) and my mom.’ Well, the blog software has a sweet piece of spam catching and the 20 or so pieces of spam that have been posted have been swallowed whole! Thank you wordpress!

Thus endeth my random naval gazing for the day. We’ll be back to regular programming (hopefully with a new apartment, photos of my funky hotel, as well as trips to Cambridge, Brighton and Stockholm) shortly.