Thursday, 9 September 2010

Fuana, Funniness, Festivals, & Farewells.

So, unfortunately, as you can see, its taken me ages to get around to updating my blog. It may come across piecemeal in places, but more substantial in the important bits. As I'm writing this, I have the entries ready to write to cover the 7 months up until the current day - hopefully, then, I will have most, if not of them all published in about a week.

Anyhow since last time...

On the following Tuesday I went to one of the STA travel buzz meet ups that I often went to - this one was on Australia, and had a guy talking about didgeridoos - which we got to try out at the end, or more accurately, got to try out on vacuum cleaner pipes. Beforehand however, straight after work I went to a thing in Covent Garden, where X-box was launching and creating awareness of its new Kinect system - which is basically movement sensing cameras etc, so you can play games interactively. It was quite fun, but hot work, jumping around in work clothes.

The next day I went and watched Toy Story 3 3D at the cinema in Bayswater. It was alright, but not spectacular.

On the Saturday I went to watch the - Rugby (New Zealand vs. South Africa) at the Temple Walkabout, (however I did stop at the Redback to watch the Anthem and Haka first before leaving Acton, otherwise I would've missed them). When I first got there, South Africa was leading, but we came back with a couple of tries to win the game. My friend Merinda came and meet me just as the game ended. We nipped down and had some dinner at Opal - a club (although it was empty, being about 6pm and light outside) next to the Embankment station, then we headed back to the Walkabout for some free drinks that Merinda was entitled to thanks to some function. Shortly after we headed to Suzanne & Bevan's leaving do in Hammersmith at the Ruby Grande - which was quite a nice place.
Merinda headed home, I stayed, and once pretty much everyone else had left, Suzanne, Bevan, our cousin Maria, Suzanne's workmate, and me, headed back to Putney and went to a club called the Fez bar - which I had actually wanted to go to - (as I had previously lived in Putney). We ended up staying out until about 4am, but it was a great night.

The next day - Sunday - Merinda and I had planned to see Kew Gardens (hence the photos). It was rather huge, but after looking around for a couple of hours we left, and walked along the river to Richmond, which we thought was quite close, however still took about an hour to walk to, and finished up with dinner.
This bird here came and checked me out, as I was lying under a tree (resting after the night before) while Merinda was checking out the red house in the background. Anyhow, the bird got cockier and cockier, ending in taking a nip at a leaf that was stuck to my t-shirt.
On the Monday Suzanne left in the evening after work. Heathrow wasn't too far on the tube from Acton (where I lived) so on the way back, me and Bevan decided to get off at Hammersmith and have a hot chocolate at McDonalds.

Either that day, or late the week before, I got frustrated with myself and things, and organised with my boss that I would have the Thursday and Friday off, so I could head up to Edinburgh and catch the Fringe/Comedy Festival (which was totally on the to do list). So with last minute organisation, I sorted out a bed in a hostel and a Megabus up there.
The Megabus was reasonably cheap, and I travelled through Wednesday night to save on time and money. I was quite lucky as I got the seat at the back to myself, which was 3 seats long. Unfortunately the seats aren't designed for people to lie across them, so I had to put up with belt mechanisms in my back, but I got a few hours sleep, and woke up at about 5 or 6am to an amazing sunrise, just after we had crossed the border into Scotland (I recognised where we were from last time). We got into Edinburgh about 8am, and then in a half daze had to find out where my hostel was. I thought I had got a hostel near to the bus station, but turns out it was actually quite a way away (about 25 minutes walk) - I hadn't had much time to deliberate when I was booking a hostel, as I was doing it at work - however after a bus ride and a short walk, I remembered why I had picked this hostel - it was in an old church. I sorted myself out, and then went looking for brunch, which ended up being Haggis, Neeps and tatties (Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes) after which I then went up to the Royal Mile to get a feel for the festival and see what was going on. After a little look around I headed back to the hostel and had a two hour nap, before heading out again to do a pub crawl (that was done by the same people who did the walking tour I did the last time). On the pub crawl I met a girl who happened to also live in Acton (in fact in a later conversation we worked out that we shared the same landlord- who was also her flatmate). I managed to catch some late night stand-ups at the last pub, which was good. After the pub crawl I walked the long walk home, but was lucky and had the room to myself that night.Friday morning I woke up - fairly quickly realised that you could hear people going at it - as there was no ceilings to the rooms, literally they were just wooden walls. After getting up, walking, and eating something on the way I made it to my first official gig - I think it was also one I paid for, which was OK. After that I went and sat down in the sun with the festival booklets and flyers (that I had managed to accumulate a million of in such a short time) and worked out my plan of attack for the remaining day and a half. I worked out that there was some cheap and free (donation at the end) shows - and it turns out those were the ones I actually enjoyed the most - late on the Friday night I went to a couple more I had paid for, but didn't enjoy them as much. On Saturday I decided I needed to tick a couple of other things off - so after checking out I went for a big walk - first to the museum just up the road from the hostel, and then to Carlton hill, and then up the Royal mile - on my way up I had a power walk through a free museum (by now I was a little over museums) and then managed to chance upon a show playing in the basement of a pub which was my favourite of the festival. Later on I caught up with Michelle - my new friend from the pub crawl for a drink, before marching back to the hostel to pick up my bag, and then subsequently marching to the bus station to catch my bus back to London. The bus ride back wasn't too bad, although I didn't get a lot of sleep because I ended up talking to the girl sitting next to me about all sorts of things. So, I got back to London Sunday morning, the plan was I was going to get a couple of hours sleep once I got back, but that didn't end up happening, so I headed out to the Nottinghill Carnival where I met up with Merinda, and later Bevan and another mate. I stuck around for a while, got a bit wet when it poured down with rain, but with all the music it really wasn't the place to be after virtually nil sleep. I headed home and slept for about 3 hours, before heading to Scott's place for a bit of a farewell for him.Monday (which was also a public holiday, so no work) I got up early and went to Heathrow to see Scott off to Kuwait, returning to try and get some more sleep, which wasn't to be, however I could chill for the rest of the day.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

From Shakespeare to Dudes in Dresses.

The following week was uneventful until Thursday, when I caught up with my old friend from Japan times, Anandia. We had limited time, as I was working until 5pm, she was in Knightsbridge, and I had to be back at Southwark at the Globe by 7.30 to watch 'The Comedy of Errors'. I ended up leaving work at about 4.45, got to Knightsbridge about 5.30, and we decided the quickest way back was to walk to Sloane Square, and tube it to Mansion House, and walk across. That plan actually worked quite well, got to spend time with her, so it was awesome.I figured I would do what I did in an earlier entry with Peter, and have some Now, and then photos... above is July 2010, below November 2006. Also featuring in the photos below are Eita, Noriyoshi, and Anandia's flatmate who's name escapes me - in Kyoto.The Comedy of Errors was good too - the awesome thing was standing watching it in the open air on a Mid-Summer's Night (see what I did there)and thinking that it would have been just same 4 centuries ago, except of course when a jumbo jet flies overhead.

The next morning I had an interview with the Wandsworth Council, which I think went well, however I didn't get it, mainly I believe because I had to give my current job a weeks notice.

I caught up with Anandia & her boyfriend Pat and some more of their friends that night at High Street Kensington at a Piano bar - where you would request a song, and the guy would play and sing it. It was a good night, just a bit of a mission getting back to Acton. Saturday was spent sleeping it off, and perfecting the tidyness of my room (which has returned to its default state unfortunately). That night I went and had some drinks with Scott and his flatmates, ending back in Acton at the Redback. Sunday I went and had a BBQ at my friend Sharon's, who lives just up the road from here.

The following week, I had an interview at Price Waterhouse Coopers, I didn't get it, and am yet to get feedback on it - I have asked several times already.

Friday I worked a little late, then walked to Cannon Street, as I remembered as it was the last Friday of the month, there would be a Couchsurfing language exchange meeting- which there was, so I chatted to a bunch of randoms. Afterwards I convinced several people to walk with me down to Temple to the Southerner (as it was closing the following night). I did add a disclaimer that it may not be open, and, it wasn't.

Saturday, I got up, and headed back to the scene of the crime - the Southerner, and watched New Zealand beat Australia 49-28, while chowing down on pies. After the game I went home, and later went out, up to my workmate Tara's, had a few drinks, and then we all went to a club in town, which was kinda cool. I called it a night however, while it was early enough to get the tube home, otherwise it would have been a real mission.

The following week was very quiet - self-imposed, due to not knowing when my job is finishing up, and mainly because most of the people I would hang out with were away. However on Thursday I went to a Topdeck evening to inquire about some trips, but it was a little depressing, as I was too poor to take it seriously, and my job is ending on a unspecified date. Friday I had some drinks with my workmates Tara & Charisma, Saturday night was Scott's birthday, once again concluding at the Redback. Sunday I went back to the Redback and had some of their pig on a spit - it was going to be lunch, but ended up being dinner, by the time it was served.

So finally we get up to the current week. Fairly similar to other weeks, Wednesday went to an all-you-can-eat pizza thing at Hell's pizza, awesome, got to have L&P, and gourmet pizza, any day involving that's gotta be good. Today, Sunday, We had our last game of touch at Acton. Virtually none of our team could make it, so I managed to gather a bunch of friends to play, and then also some random substitutes as well (including some half-drunk dudes in a dress and shark suit respectively). We lost by a ridiculous margin, and I probably shouldn't have bothered, but I was determined on getting a try at Acton before the end of the season. Oh well some things aren't to be.

Friday, 6 August 2010

The House of Windsor, a park of Deer, and a Very Long Walk

So Saturday morning, (17th July) I got up reasonably early and got a Overground train to Richmond, to catch the train to Windsor, that Suzanne and Bevan would also be on. Because I was about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, I popped into a pub to catch the score of the NZ vs South Africa rugby game just after half-time, we were winning, and ultimately we won it (although by that stage I was on the train). Suzanne let me know which carriage they were on, so I got on that carriage, but for the first few stops we were at opposite ends as it was a bit crowded.We got off the train at Windsor and Eton Riverside, and walked to the castle, and had a bit of a look around it, luckily we timed it well to catch the changing of the guard. Because it's actually the Queen's official residence, there are limits to where you can go, however, I thought it was alright, a lot better than Buckingham Palace - more castle-like and less pretentious. There was Queen Alexandra's doll's house, which was quite interesting - essentially a realistic model of a house/mansion, complete with lights on -not made to be ever played with of course. I don't have a photo of it - well because you're not allowed to take photos of it, as the light would damage it apparently. The other interesting thing at the Palace was the St George's chapel, which houses the banners and seats of the Knights of the Order of the Garter.
So after looking around the castle, we went out and found our friends Christine (who we grew up with) and Chris - had a small wander - past Eton (the posh prep school where the likes of Princes William & Harry went, and ultimately to a pub for lunch. I had a Chicken Jalfrezi curry for lunch, awesome.After lunch we did the 'Long Walk' - which is it's actual name. Basically its 2.65 miles long, in a straight line through Windsor Great Park from Windsor castle to the statue of King George III. From my understanding, the Park is probably where the Queen rides her horse and walks her corgis, although I saw neither. At the castle there was a picture of the Queen with her scarf over her head (as old ladies do), me and Bev made a couple of jokes along the lines of 'who's the homeless/Gypsy lady?'Anyhow, the next few photos are to give you an idea of the length of the walk (in modern language its 4.26km.)Apparently at the end of it, while we were resting, I dozed off for a bit. We then proceeded back (another 4.26km walk) had a drink at the pub, and then went on our ways.The Following day, Suzanne, Bevan, & I, met up with our cousin Maria & her kids at Richmond (where I had worked at the call centre for the best part of 6 months) and had a nice picnic lunch in the Deer Park (hence the photo). Afterwards, I walked back to the station, went and spent some time at my mate Scott's, and then walked back from his house to mine - which actually didn't take too long to walk.

Carry On... London

Well, its hardly a 'Carry On...' movie - not enough innuendo for a start.

Anyhow... So, Thursday, went to another STA Travel thing, enjoyed the free beer and nibbles, and intend going to the next one too.

On the Friday, went along to a pub in Chiswick to watch England play Algeria - I was secretly backing Algeria - the end result was 0-0, which I was happy with, as the English were mighty peeved.

Saturday - birthday BBQ for Luke, Suzanne & Bev's old flatmate.
Sunday - caught up with some of the people I went to Normandy with - whilst watching the NZ vs Italy game. The end result was a draw, which was very pleasing, as Italy should be quite good at Football. To celebrate (3 of the 4 of us were Kiwi's and the other was an Australian - or as they liked to ride our band wagon - an 'Australasian') we went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen - which was originally Kiwi (apparently one of Bev's cousins knows the guy or something like that).

The following week started with a couple of interviews, and ended with 3 nights of hanging out with Merinda (the previously mentioned partner in crime), having drinks, attending the Proms, and then a BBQ at our mutual friend's on Saturday followed by a comedy show.

The following Wednesday I went along to a taster evening for a language course provider - learnt a bit of French - enjoyed the free nibbles & wine, and then went out for a beer with 3 of the classmates. I caught up with the same guy on Friday night for a beer as well.
On the Saturday, Merinda and I went out to Greenwich on the Ferry, which was cool, walked around etc, checked out the observatory, and then went through the tunnel under the river, and proceeded to walk back into town, however decided a bus was required for part of the trip. However we did walk a decent way along the river from Aldgate to Temple, and rewarded ourselves with a a pint and an L&P.The next day I went to a Ceroc Beginners class, which was kind of fun.

The following week - Touch rugby at Wandsworth park on Monday (this is the casual game with predominantly South Africans, rather than the competition I play in Acton), Dinner with Merinda Tuesday (it was supposed to be a run), Thursday I caught up with Peter, a guy I used to teach with in Japan, 3.5 years ago.
Peter & I October/November 2006
Peter & I July 2010.

On the Friday, one of my workmates was leaving, so we had lunch and leaving drinks for her, and afterwards Merinda and I went and had Sushi at a place she recommended, which was good.

And the next week... Drinks with Merinda again, with some friends of hers, and then Korean for dinner. That weekend I went to Windsor & Richmond Park, but I'll leave that for the next one...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Unpacked, after 15 months

And so, I was back at Abercorn house - I had avoided it for a month, but there was no escaping it this time. The room I had been in wasn't available, which wasn't too bad - as I got the bottom bunk straight away, and this room had a sink, and ample storage (floor) space for my multiple bags of possessions gathered in the previous 15 months. Unfortunately my roommate - Attila the Hungarian (that's his real name) had just left that day to go back home. Which was a real shame, as he was a good guy, and I didn't get to get his details.

I had been looking for flats ever since I started my new job, but my motivation was renewed with a passion, especially when I came home the following Sunday afternoon and my roommate was doing coke (cocaine - not the drink) off the top of the fridge. It seems over here coke is pretty common place, for you non-NZers, if someone told you they had coke in NZ, they are probably full of it as it would require being up someone's bum on a plane for over 10 hours. A very good reason kids, not to do drugs.

Anyhow, I checked out Little Venice, and walked along the canal for ages, but turns out it was not the branch I intended going along. Might explain why I haven't seen that date again either.

That Tuesday was the first game of touch for the new season - I had so been hanging out for it to start again, for enjoyment, but also as a form of exercise. Following my game, I went and checked out a flat again - to meet the flatmates before I agreed to move in. I said yes, and subsequently moved in the following Sunday - which was euphoric - finally emptying some of my bags after 15 months, and knowing I didn't have to move them again.

On the Friday (prior to the Sunday) I went out to my cousin's, as my Auntie was over visiting, so figured it was a good opportunity to catch up.

The next Tuesday I went to Wembley Arena with Suzanne & Bevan to see Flight of the Conchords. It was awesome. Admittedly I'm a little bit addicted to them, and seem to consult videos of them on YouTube for application to my life - which might sound a little weird, but considering most of what they sing about is girls, and the show is about them being Kiwi's in New York - it's easily transferable.

The following Saturday I went and watched the Rugby 7's at Twickenham, which was a good day out, but because NZ didn't play a whole lot, it was slightly boring.

The following weekend was a long weekend. I didn't have anything planned, and if I did, I wouldn't really have been able to afford it. On the Friday night, it ended up that I drinks with my workmates, which lead to dinner as well, I called it a night however while I still had time to catch the tube home.

On the Saturday, I went to farewell a friend who essentially was my flatmate for a good part of last year (albeit I was on the living room floor) which was nice, but also naturally sad.

On the Sunday, I went down to the Redback - the local Kiwi/Aussie pub near me, as they do free BBQs on Sundays - so I figured a free lunch is a good lunch. Turns out a friend from my Turkey trip lives just up the road from me, and she was there with another friend, and her friends, so I joined them, and later we carried on to the Shepherd's Bush Walkabout (another hangout). Since then, my friend's friend has become my newest partner in crime, sightseeing and drinking around London.

On the Monday I went to Brick lane for a curry festival - where there was supposed to be free curry tasting. You had to line up for ages, and then they closed the tasting an hour early, so I was suitably not impressed, and was rearing to rip someones ear's off, especially because I had skipped breakfast in anticipation.

The following week Saturday, my friend from Kaitaia had her leaving party, and on the Sunday I went to an Antique map fair by Hyde park, for about 10 minutes. After that my friend and I walked back to Shepherd's bush, which didn't really take all that long.

The week after that... Watched the All Blacks play Ireland at the pub, then went to an information session (complete with free Sangria) on teaching English in Spain, which is probably what I'll do when I finish here.

The following Tuesday was the All Whites first game - against Slovakia - I managed to time my lunch to catch the last half an hour - which included seeing our goal in the last half a minute. Priceless. That night after touch I went and saw the Feelers (one of my favourite NZ bands) play for free at the Walkabout.

To be continued... but enjoy for now. Currently this is up to mid-June.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Geordies & Scotties: Bev, Jam, & JT do the North

So on the Wednesday night, after work, I got changed, left some of my clothes at work, and headed to Kings Cross to catch a train to Newcastle with Suzanne and Bevan. They got a little held up due to tube issues, but in the end made it in time, which is just as well as they had my ticket.Once we got to Newcastle we found our Travel lodge, Suzanne went to bed, and Bevan & I went out to take a few photos before bedtime.
The next day I got up reasonably early to have a look around before we had to leave Newcastle - checking out the bridges and Castle Garth. Once I got back to the room, Suzanne & Bevan went and got the car from the hire place, we then jumped in and went and had a McDonald's breakfast (being Suzanne's Birthday).We then headed North to a place called Seahouses - where we boarded a ferry that took us around, and to one of the Farne Islands. These islands were teaming with birds, including puffins - something Suzanne and Bevan had been hanging out to see for ages. There were also seals resting on the rocks nearby. All-in-all it was pretty cool. Once we had finished the trip we drove back to Newcastle to check out the 'Angel of the North'. After that he headed back north, and had a pub meal in Bamburgh.The next day we checked out Bamburgh castle, and then headed to Holy Island - an Island that you have to time it right, as when the tide comes in there is no access - there we looked at Linsfarne castle and Priory before heading on up to Edinburgh.Once we got to Edinburgh, I got a bus from our motel to the Royal mile and had a look around, mainly looking in souvenir shops and stuff, later being joined by Suzanne and Bevan - where we took a walk to the New Town, got a bit of dinner from the supermarket - tried to go to somewhere in Holyrood park to eat it, but the park was closed for a Fire festival - as it was some pagan festival (the following day was May Day - 1st of May). Anyhow, we ate our food near the train station, near the Scott Monument, looking up at the Castle. We then headed back to the motel, and jumped in the car and made a trip out to the Firth of Forth - so I could see famous Rail Bridge - a big red steel construction.
The next day we got up, and went and had a traditional Scottish breakfast, and for once, I'm not using that as a euphemism for McDonald's. This was the real thing - Black Pudding, Haggis, sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, beans, and toast. Totally awesome, the things I would've thought I would have found gross, were actually OK, especially Haggis, in fact after completing a free walking tour, I had Haggis again for lunch, accompanied by 'Neeps & Tatties' - Parsnips and Potatoes. The walking tour was awesome - one of the best I've been on, probably only second to Berlin. It was all about the Convenanters, the Stone of Destiny, and a wee dog called Bobby.
Once that was done, I meet up with Suzanne & Bevan, and their friend Colin who they'd met on their Italy tour, and we headed to Glasgow, and had a pub meal there - I had chicken in a white wine sauce with roast potatoes etc, totally awesome, especially since things seem to be so much cheaper in Scotland, or even outside of London. We then went on to Carlisle, which is just back within England again, for the night.
Once waking up, we promptly headed to our first destination of the day - Hadrian's wall - a wall constructed by the Romans back in the day to protect their territory. It was pretty cool.From there we went to the Lake district, and looked around a town called Hawkshead, and had lunch there, as well as some high tea - I had a piece of sponge cake (which they call Victoria cake here) and a hot chocolate. On the way out I insisted we have a quick stop at Wray castle.
From there we headed to Blackpool - which to be honest didn't inspire us much after a quick toilet stop and walk on the beach, so we soldiered on to Liverpool.The things that look like people on the shoreline, are in fact statues, such as the one below. Something like that wouldn't fly in New Zealand, as people would think someone is drowning.We got some Fish & Chips and ate them on the beach, had a bit of a walk and photo shoot near the docks, and then retired to our motel, somewhere between Liverpool and Chester. I did try to convince Suzanne & Bevan that if we made a small trip we could also cross into Wales, and then could have said we went to 3 countries in our travels, but they didn't have a bar of it.
Anyhow, the following day, we nipped back into Liverpool, walked around the docks, went to the Maritime Museum, which included an exhibition on slavery, and also emigration, which was interesting. After that we went to the Beatles Story - museum, which was also quite interesting, despite the fact I think the BeeGees were bigger than the Beatles... The above photo is of 'Superlambananas' art in Liverpool. (Recently near my work at Tower Bridge, there were something similar - but elephants).
So, from there we high-tailed it out of there to Coventry - to drop off the rental car, and catch the train back to London. The reason we dropped it at Coventry was because Suzanne works there, and therefore already has a train pass to and from there to London, as well as the fact that it saved driving it through London as well. Once back in London, I went back to Abercorn house -the Hostel in Hammersmith.