Tuesday, 21 April 2009

London - Innit!

As you can probably well guess, not all these photos are from London - the top two are from Wales. They looked cool so I thought I would put them in there.

So in between trips, what have I been up to? not so much fun stuff, I need money to do that, and I have come to learn how quickly it disappears. My days are generally spent job searching, and perfecting the technique of job searching. In saying that though, I have managed to catch up with several people, including a girl I met 2 years ago in Thailand, and friends from Japan, and a friend from Kaitaia, which has been fun.

Its not all drudgery though, when I have gotten totally bored with it I have gone AWOL and gone exploring - such as the bottom two photos- Hyde Park and Harrods respectively.

Other bits and pieces I have gotten up to include going to the Camden markets, also the Borough markets as well (food stalls - awesome as cheese, and tasty things.)
Following the trip to Wales, I had made an arrangement with Suzanne and Bevan's flatmate, who had just moved out, that I would pay him half his rent for his room, while he was finding someone else to fill it, as otherwise he was paying rent at two places - effectively solving both our problems.
The following weekend, on the Saturday was an "Ultimate Frisbee" tournament in our local park, which I participated in, my team ending up in the final and coming out at second place. It was quite fun, and I got to meet some more people. There was an after-party at a pub that night, which was also fun.
On the Sunday there was an open day at Shakespeare's Globe - in celebration of his birthday, and the 400th anniversary of his sonnets. That was pretty cool, the Globe theatre is pretty interesting - its a reconstruction of the original.
The following week I had several interviews with recruitment agents, and in the weekend I went to a Freedom day party at a pub (South African celebration of the end of Apartheid) as there was a free drink and boerewors roll on offer. From there me and my English friend went to Oxford street, and then I returned home and enjoyed a BBQ with the flatmates.
The next week - started off with a quiz night on Monday, and going to a sales evening with Suzanne and Bevan, as they were booking a trip. Following the presentation we checked out the Southerner - a Speights pub, although it wasn't as authentic as the original that had been shipped over from Dunedin. It was also the Colour conference on the Thursday & Friday - a Christian women's conference at the Royal Albert Hall. On the Wednesday I went on a reconnaissance mission to find out where it was, and what was the quickest route, and being right next to Kensington Gardens/Hyde park, I had a good look around there too.
The conference was pretty cool - I didn't get to hear any of the speakers, but made some contacts with guys I was working with. On the Saturday, I decided to go and check out the Portobello markets at Nottinghill gate. After that I ended up at another station - Westbourne Park, where I hopped on and went across to Brick lane - famous for it's Indian food, but also its markets. I then walked to Old street, and got off at London bridge. Took a bus to Elephant and Castle, and then another to Clapham, and finally one back to Putney. Sunday after church I had some dinner with some friends, and ended up catching a ride back with a guy in his car- which was cool, getting to see London at night in a car. other than that I didn't get up to much, I seemed to be quite worn out from standing for most of 13 hours for two days at the conference.
On Tuesday the Touch season kicked off, which I have joined. We play our games over in Acton Town, in west London. It was quite funny as half of my mixed team of randoms were Kiwis, and I think over 50% of the people playing touch were too - a bit of a little New Zealand going on.
Wednesday was our connect group Barbeque - which funnily enough is made up of 75% Kiwis.
Saturday the new flatmate moved in, which means I'm back on the couch. It also involved Bev and I fixing the toilet seat which had broken a couple of weeks ago, and several walks to the high street for a spot of shopping.
Today, Sunday, we did some grocery shopping, and then planned to go to Greenwich, but we got to Westminster, and canned that idea due to lack of convenient rail options to get there (due to London's rail maintenance is done in the weekends, resulting in closures), and the ferry (which would have been nice) being too time-consuming and expensive. So we went to St. James' park instead, and happened to see a marching procession with the red clothed guards with the Afro-mullet hats, and what I assume to be veterans, dressed in blue suits with their medals, bowler hats, and umbrellas. From there we went to church, and then went to Chinatown, to a cheap all-you-can-eat place that I had gone to with some friends. And then here I am.
Miscellaneous thoughts on London
If people ask how I am enjoying it, I usually tell them once I get a job, I'll love it - easy access to Europe, the delights of London, and joys of being in a metropolitan city for once in my life, not to mention the hoards of young, attractive, and cosmopolitan selection of women here. But until then, I'm spending most of my time job-hunting, watching my pennys, and keeping a low profile. Needless to say, not having work, and basically relying on Suzanne and Bevan for accommodation doesn't help the self esteem.
Suzanne was right - before I wondered where all the people, especially single girls were in New Zealand, and she said there are so few because they are all in London.
But before you go booking your ticket, I would hold off until the economy picks up.
Also related to the above, and what I said earlier - having so many Kiwis over here - its kind of cool, but also a little bit of a disappointment, because I guess I enjoyed being a bit of a novelty, which is the case anywhere else in the world.
Having to pay to use the toilets. If there is anything that really annoys me its this. The only place in NZ that I know where they charge is Taupo, and most people see it and say "yeah right" and go in the bushes. Unfortunately over here toilets are fewer and further between, and they charge. I believe some of the reason is to stop homeless people camping out of them, but mainly I think its exploitation of a basic human right, and bureaucratic nonsense.
People saying excuse me to go through you, rather than around you. This also annoys me. Just go around me. It makes you question your size - I know that I'm not huge enough for there to be no room for you. The effort could be used to make an extra step, rather than speaking.
The monarchy and class system. It's the Royal's fault my ancestors turned to crime and got shipped to New Zealand. Because the monarchy owned all the land that the peasants worked on. All men are equal. There should be no such thing as VIPs. All the royals do now are sell gossip magazines.
Similarly the latest fad is "British jobs for British workers". In my country that's called racism. Similarly I don't know why its so rigid about letting in people from the Southern Hemisphere, and yet terrorists don't seem to have much trouble getting in.
Anyway - that's my nags for the moment. However I will say this, I used to think it was a little arrogant how the Americans re-spelt words in the English language, for eg. colour/color. But then I realised, up until recently there was no standard way to spell (Shakespeare's name was spelt half a dozen different ways for eg.) Now I don't blame them, as they've made it simpler. There are names in London that are silly as letters aren't pronounced, or not logically - Southwark, is pronounced Southick. Leicester - Lester.
Wales on the other hand, just puts in Ws, Rs, Ls, and Ys where it feels like. Ll becomes a C sound, and w I believe is a u sound.
You can get served at our local supermarket without any eye contact at all.
They also use a non-English language over the intercom.
I was at the Pound store, and several times thought I was amongst non-British Europeans, because they weren't speaking English, but then I realised they were.
Despite my nags - I do enjoy it here. A good selection of food, thousands of beautiful women, and interesting scenery.
Something I find cool - is because of train bridges, they have had to utilise the space below them, and so there are shops, generally garages, in the arches.
For a while I was getting a little claustrophobic - which I thought was strange because I've been to Japan. But I guess its the difference between London and Kaitaia. Similarly I guess generally I'm at home by myself, but then I go out, and am surrounded by everything. Its weird seeing whole streets of houses, built/joined onto each other, and having a 747 overhead every 5 minutes got to me a bit.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Wales Rider

So a bit happened between Ireland and Wales, but not really enough to warrant it's own entry.

The Thursday before Good Friday we hopped on a train to Rhyll, stopping for about an hour at Chester which just so happens to be near where our (Thomas) ancestors came from (before being deported) arriving about midnight.
Day 1 - Good Friday
It was quite a good Friday, as we went for a drive and visited several towns in reasonable proximity to where we were. We started by visiting place called Llandudno, which had a big Limestone hill called the Big Orm, so we walked along t he beach, along the pier up the hill, and through town. FOR lunch I bought a thing called a Welsh oggie which was a kind of pie/pasty thing with mince and potatoes in it. Quite nice and reasonable value. Anyway, from there we checked out Conway - a walled city, with an awesome castle as well. What made the castle cool was he fact you could climb their turrets. From Conwy we checked out Anglesey Island, and Beaumaris castle. Beaumaris castle is apparently "a perfect example of a concentrically planned castle" basically it has an outer wall, and an inner wall as well.

Day 2 Saturday

We went to and climbed Mt Snowdon, in the Snowdonia National Park. What added to the achievement was the fact we couldn't park in the car park, essentially adding on another couple of kilometres to the walk. It was a bit of a mission, but once I got to the final part - the ridge to the summit I just powered it up there. I managed to keep my shoes dry for the duration of the walk too, until the very end, where we made a short-cut across a paddock- which in true British style was a bog in disguise. Needless to say we were pretty tired once we had finished it.

Day 3 - Easter Sunday

We drove down towards Cardiff, checking out a few things along the way, including a reconsructed Iron age village, and St David's Cathedral. Along the way we passed some of the coastline where a famous Pirate originated from - "Black Bart" - Bart Roberts. Ok, maybe not so famous that everyone knows him, but I'm a Pirate fan (surrounded by castles and Pirates - I was in near euphoria, all I needed was some Ninjas, women, and an unlimited supply of food). We ended up staying the night in a hostel that was once part of the Ministry of Defense.

Day 4 Easter Monday.

Once we got up we headed to Swansea, had a quick look, and then went to Tintern Abbey - which was pretty cool - ruins of an old Cistern Abbey. After that we headed to Cardiff, had a bit of a look, and then caught our train back to London.