Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Workaday images

The office last week was in chaos. Work backed up on Friday as we packed crates to be moved a short walk down the road over the weekend, to the new office in America Square (I know, a positive omen?). Monday, further business and more jeans-wearing as we unpacked and got dusty again. Tuesday I got some work done but wasted lots of time looking for things. I am still faffing about with the printers which don't work properly. I think that tomorrow, though, I will be able to catch up all the way.

Ibex House, an original 1937 Art Deco office building on The Minories. I post this for comparison with our new office:

America Square, our new office building just off The Minories. I like to call it modern Art Deco. Even in the fact that no detail is overlooked. The lifts are shiny, with lots of blue LED lights. I will have to try to take more photos. You enter the spacious lobby through revolving doors, and pass your card over what looks like the barcode reader at a checkout, set into stainless steel posts, and then "beep, whoosh" the little frosted glass gates slide open and you can enter.
Also the bathrooms - floor to ceiling frosted glass doors. Modern sinks sitting on the countertop. Bright clinical light so you can see the speck in your eye, yet not unkind to your complexion like the old fluorescents.

In the shiny lift, where you have to present your card in order to ascend to a floor
I look so serious! I am not sure I am allowed to take photos in this building, but I'm probably making that up.

Just outside Tower Hill tube station is this sundial
In the background you see part of the Tower of London

Wembley Stadium in the distance, left


Today I was hot in my coat for the first time! I have a sneaking suspicion we might be approaching spring!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Is it spring yet?

When I left the house yesterday to go to work, I kept getting whiffs of manure. I thought someone had mulched their garden, but that's not really done around here. Walking up the street I kept glancing backwards and into the distance over the hill, as if I were expecting to see a giant stinky airship, I don't know! In addition to the usual grey sky, cold wind and dampness there was a light fog, which is forecast to last all week.

I was right to trust my instinct as I read in the paper that evening that this is the time of year when French and Belgian farmers usually do one big fertilisation of their fields. The smell had built up over the Continent for days during still conditions before a brisk wind came up and moved it to southern England.

Londoners spent all morning thinking they'd stepped in something, and the radio switchboards were alight with people wondering what on earth was going on.

Pepe le Pew, that's what!


Anyway, it will rain for the rest of the weekend so the whiffy air is gone. But it's so cold, so grey, so damp, so windy! I'm still in layers, and my tired wool coat, and my tired cashmere scarf, and my tired 4 paris of black boots... :(
I'm thinking the extra daylight was a trick and it's still January.


The Union Jack flies at the Ritz

These boys are guaranteed to light up my day! Two legends on one stage!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Marathon Birthday

Of course it's a great day for the London Marathon: grey, rainy, some hail, some sun, 8C (46F) with a possible high of 12C (53F). Good temps for running.

Those poor Maasai warriors have probably never felt anything like it though. They have never been outside their village in Tanzania before, but this year they opened the marathon and are running to raise money so that their village can obtain fresh drinking water. They will be in traditional clothing, carrying their shields and spears, wearing sandals made of rubber tires, and chanting - just as they do at home - and hope to complete the marathon in 4 hours.

They can run for days at a time hunting food and water and herding cattle, so this little marathon will be a walk in the park.

Near London Bridge

On the Tube

Because London is a completely alien experience, they were given a four-page cultural briefing that included info such as:
"Even though some may look like they have a frown on their face, they are very friendly people - many of them just work in offices, jobs they don't enjoy, and so they do not smile as much as they should."

"You cannot rely on the sun to tell the time accurately and will have to rely on clocks and watches. The sun will rise and set at different times." [Me. If they see the sun at all.]

"Whereas at home for you it is acceptable to spit, in England it is not but, if you have to, you must do so in a sink or in some trees when no one is looking." [Me. Then they'll be the only people not spitting on the street.]

"You will see many people who are wearing only small clothes and you will wonder why they are cold and may think they are being disrespectful....This is normal for England, especially when it is sunny or in the evening. However, it is illegal to show certain parts of the body and for this reason it is important that you wear underpants if you are wearing your blankets."

To read more, visit the article in the Daily Mail.

This just in:
Unsurprisingly, the first six men across the line were Kenyan with one American coming fifth. A Brit came in 5 minutes later.

The rest will be straggling in until well after sunset. Some people in costumes, raising money for various charities, may take a few more days!


And now on to my birthday on Thursday.

I took the day off and my mother came along since she had the day off. This may be our last birthday together in a long time, and I wanted to spend the day in town appreciating London before I leave it.

1) Lunch with Lydia

Lydia is my oldest friend. We have known each other for over 27 years. We don't even remember meeting.

After lunch at Cumin Indian restaurant

2) Chores and banking

3) Wandering around Carnaby Street

One of three handbag flowerpots on a ledge outside a shop in funky Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street

The signed card that greeted me back at work thenext morning! It made my day.

As fine a sunset as you will get in London


I've just received a final comment on my previous post.

Mark said: Some nice pics there. I think you secretly like living in London (despite the tales of travel delays)!! You'll miss it if you move away!?

No, Mark, I won't miss it enough to regret leaving and I didn't miss it before I came back.
And I can take nice pics anywhere, you'll see!

What I will miss are little things like perhaps some favourite foods and products. (I will make a list soon.) Also I might experience those split second sensory flashbacks, just as I do now with memories of Texas which come unbidden as I sit at my desk in the office. That's life.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

First week of April

Except that I do want to complain about the 2.5 hour commute I endured on Tuesday morning. There were no eastbound services on the Tube, and I work at the eastern end of the Metropolitan Line. And it had taken 45 minutes southbound, stuck in a tunnel for half of it, to find that out! Followed by 3 buses and then a 15 minute walk.

Oh, not to mention a power outage on the entirety of the line I live along, on Thursday evening. Some people were stuck underground for 3 hours.
Fortunately it started before I left the office and so I took the Met line and a bus.


My suburban street (spacious Edwardian houses) on a typical grey day. Once upon a time it was probably tree-lined with these huge trees, but they have been lopped to halt the damage caused to the house foundations.

I went for a little ramble last week because it was still light when I left the office!
Here you see Spitalfield's old shops.

Spitalfield's new shopping street next to the shiny ABN Amro building (see top left corner), Spitalfields Church, and the old shops opposite all span centuries

Christ Church Spitalfields, 300 years old, restored in 2004 not as a church but a venue

Lincoln, the life of the party, taking a nap whilst trying not to miss a thing.

With my honorary nephew, taking a guess as to where the phonecam was pointing, hence all the empty space.

Alicia and me covered in grins.

Snow on Saturday, my early birthday present.

Very wet clumpy snow which fell off soon after and melted.