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Michael’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 15 Mar 2008

Location: London / Cowes, England

MapIt’s been a while, I know... sorry for all you avid readers that seem to live vicariously through my (mis)adventures! Again, it has been nothing but work and the football club to report on really.

Work has been still going flat out with the projects reaching critical design review. Essentially it means everything is supposed to be fully completed, which of course means HEAP AND HEAPS of overtime trying to get it all done… hahaha, yeah, well, things never seem to go to schedule! Plus things aren’t exactly going to plan at work… flex-time has been cancelled, so the working day is now a rigid 800-430 pm, and overtime can no longer be taken as time in lieu. That quickly translates into a huge reduction in available overtime. So along with the masses of work and the abandoning of the flex-time agreement, they also didn’t pay me my overtime in my last pay packet (after complaining they finally got it into my account 10 days later) and the work ferry discounts were slashed… so safe to say I haven’t been to impressed with all things work of late.

And the football team, once again that is taking up waaaayyyy to much time. We are in the middle of organizing a pre-season lightening premiership to be played between the Southampton Titans, Bournemouth, Brighton, Chippenham, and Reading. I can’t believe how much time it is taking, especially when I was assured that I wouldn’t have to do anything as I was against the idea originally given how much time I spent running the club last year. Anyway, the work seems like it might be paying off, and with any luck, it might be a bit of extra money into the club – thus back into my pocket paying off what the club owes me. And with any luck we will walk away with the inaugural Titanic Cup!

About the only other thing that has really happened since then was the trip to London that I made the weekend before last. On the Thursday night I headed to the mainland and met up with Nat, Cari and Reynor for all you can eat sushi at Zen restaurant. Man it was tasty. It really was all you can eat too; it was all about patience though waiting for the bite size sushi pieces to come out of the kitchen… but then again, sushi is all about bite size pieces. Damn tasty, great price, but next time I’d go on a Monday to Wednesday night when it wouldn’t be as busy!

So the next morning at 4:30 am Nat and I were on the way to the train station (thanks for the lift Cari) and headed into London. Nat had to get to the US Embassy so that she could get her work permit and I headed on in as well to get my US Social Security Number – never know how long it will be before I start applying for jobs in the USA, only have till September 2009 in England left.

After our business at the embassy (and yes, flashing the US passport did move things along a whole quicker, and despite entering the embassy half an hour after Nat I was out half an hour earlier!) we wandered around London for a while and Nat shopped. Eventually we cut out for lunch and ate in Covent Garden. Trying to kill time until the evening for the Alicia Keys concert, we went to the movies. We ended up in a small theatre watching The Assassination of Jesse James… I think the title is longer than that, but we both managed to fall asleep pretty quickly and missed it, along with most of the movie. I occasionally woke myself up snoring so saw bits and pieces of the movie from time to time, but not much… Nat was curled up in the corner, shoes off, and head tucked under my coat, aiming for nothing more than shut-eye.

After sleeping through the movie, I knew Nat was in no state to be up for the rest of the evening and then for the concert, so I sent her packing and she jumped on the train and headed home. Admittedly she had just been up for 33 hours flying a Russian family from South Korea back to Russia and then getting back home to England… apparently the jet lag hadn’t warn off just yet!

So I caught up with Any and Jaq’s for dinner at an Italian joint near Waterloo before heading to The O2 to meet up with Jo who was coming to the concert with me in place of Nat. My God, what a venue! The old Millennium Dome sat dormant for 7 years and now it is a HUGE entertainment complex. Imagine a stadium the size of Rod Laver Arena, with 2 MASSIVE nightclubs outside (one had the Tiesto DVD launch the same night as the Alicia Keys concert and there must have been 1000 people lining up to get in at 8 pm), a dozen restaurants, half a dozen pubs, an eleven screen cinema, ice skating rink, theatre, and is also hosting the Tutankhamen exhibition in London! What an amazing place, all under one roof. The concert itself was pretty good too. I still think that she was better when I saw her in Melbourne back in 2002-03 or there abouts, she tried to rock out a bit too hard in London and I reckon she is better playing the slower song son the piano… oh and she still can’t dance!

I spent the weekend crashed on Andy and Jaq’s couch, and on Saturday I slept until 10:30 am. The couch was in the lounge room, so I figured I’d be woken up when they got up. Instead they stayed in the kitchen saw me sleeping with my mouth open so they “figured you must be tired!” Eventually we got up and headed out for a lovely day in London, visiting a bunch of touristy sights – check the photos – and having a lovely Greek lunch on the Themes.

In the afternoon, after plenty of walking, we headed up to Camden Market, and it was apparent that the fire they had there had done much to slow the Saturday crowds. It is a weird place, and despite never having bought anything there, I still find it a very strange but enjoyable place to walk around.

Eventually we ended up back at Andy and Jaq’s in Putney and met up with Alyshia who I hadn’t seen in over a year. We also met the next door neighbors for the first time who were having a mini-house party and I found myself bouncing between the two apartment drinks in hand. Eventually we pushed off into Putney and found everything closing (man midnight hits England hard everywhere) and jumped into a cab and headed for Tiger Tiger nightclub near Piccadilly Circus. Good club, pretty good night too. At 3 am when it shut we jumped on the night bus, after finally finding it, and headed back to Putney. On the Sunday Andy and I headed out for a cheeky beer down in Hammersmith before I pushed off and headed home to the island. Thanks for the hospitality guys.

So that about sums everything up to date. Oh, and the horrific weather in Cowes (well all of England) on Monday which saw half of Cowes wash away. The tide was officially high enough that Isle of Wight for a brief period became the smallest of all the counties in England. It is like third smallest at low tide!

Tomorrow (well, at 2 past midnight now, technically today) I fly out to Vilnius for a few days chasing family in Lithuania (thanks for everyone who has helped get info so far… fingers crossed I find some small piece of evidence that we were once there!). I will be away for 10 days in total, seeing Lithuania, Latvia and finishing in Estonia for Easter. Wait for a big surprise in Latvia – let’s just say Potter and I are gonna do something I have been wanting to do PROPERLY for a while now… and it involves a former Soviet training ground…

Anyway, hope to update a couple times over the next 10 days, so stay in touch.

Love you all!