A Fun Weekend

Last weekend was excellent if I can be completely honest.  For starters there was no 10 mile walk (see previous post for details). Friday evening consisted of me meeting up with several of my second cousins (and one first cousin once removed if you’re keen on genealogical pedantry) who all live near/in SW London, along with their various partners.  It was a hugely enjoyable evening, and great to catch up with them all again.

Saturday I had a work social with some of my colleagues.  This involved going on a steam train that had two real ale breweries on board, selling various beers that they’d made.  Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty golden combination.  Steam trains and beer?  Hard to go wrong.

Sunday concluded the weekend with a visit to my parents and grandparents back on the other side of Surrey (where I originate from).  A delicious Sunday roast lamb kicked off proceedings, followed by various other goodies.

All in all, pretty successful!

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Ticking Over

It’s been a while since my last post (partly due to the fact that the internet was down in my flat – not ideal), but what a lot has happened!

First of all, I had a delightful week or so in Devon with my family, which was a great chance to relax a while away from work.  We were staying in a small town near Kingsbridge, and basically just enjoyed the scenery.  The house we rented had brilliant sea views, and my father and I went on a long hike along the coast one day.  We also went to several pubs, one of which has beams nabbed from a wreck of one of the ships from the Spanish Armada in 1588.  We also planned to go sea fishing with some family friends who were holidaying in the same village at the same time on their fishing boat, but unfortunately the sea was too rough (due to the wind).  Ah well, such is life.

Back in Surrey, things have been going well.  A couple of other new grads started two weeks ago, so they’ve been settling in.  I’ve spent a lot of my free weekends in London seeing various friends, and it’s been a lot of fun catching up with them all.

RS and I built our new computers last Tuesday which was enormous fun.  Quite tense at some stages (mainly the installation of the cpu and cpu cooler), but luckily it all works well.

Work wise, everything’s great.  The job is still really interesting and enjoyable, so that’s rather lucky.  I should be going on a business trip soon, so that should be rather exciting!

Moving On

Well, that’s it, I’ve left the company flat, and am now nice and settled in my new room.  It’s located in a much leafier part of town, and it’s much quieter than previously (which was adjacent to a train line).  Out of my window I can see a large patch of grass and the bus stop (and the corner shop/mini supermarket that’s next door which is super handy if I can’t be bothered/forget to go to the main one).  When I moved in yesterday (around 15:00) there was some random bloke asleep on the pavement outside the front.  I’m not sure if he’s still there, haven’t checked yet.

It’s a glorious day, and I’m sitting at my desk reading.  The desk belongs to my parents, but they kindly loaned it to me as it was just gathering dust/spiders’ nests in the garage at home – cleaning it up was a rather entertaining exercise I can tell you.

So what’s up this week?  Well, work obviously.  It’s still super busy and there’s a lot to learn still (of course), but I am still enjoying it.  I’ll also be getting a new computer (hopefully) this week, which is definitely needed (my current one is very old, slow and has a major problem with its fans resulting in it shutting down due to dangerously high cpu temperatures quite a lot).  I’m buying the parts separately, and building it myself as a: It’s cheaper, b: You know exactly what you’re getting, and c: I’m super geeky and it’ll be a lot of fun.  I might even do a special post about building it because I’m that cool :P!

The Edenbridge and Oxted Agricultural Show

So, I’ve just come back from a very enjoyable Bank Holiday with my family at home on the other side of Surrey (I know, I go to such exotic places nowadays).  In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to the agricultural show that is held every August bank holiday in one of the adjacent villages to my own, so I thought it might be fun to write a bit about it.

Traditionally my family goes every year, but due to my being in Chile last summer, I had to miss it, so this year I fully intended to go.  It’s a fun day out, with all the typical events one might expect from a country show, including a vegetable contest, gun dog displays, an on site farrier, etc.  

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Personally my favourite would be the vegetable and flower displays, as they are always very inventive and spectacular. One rather fun spectacle was a sheep (called Amy) wandering around with her owner. Apparently she’s been on various television programmes and is something of a star.  

Amy the sheep

Amy the sheep

There was also an owl show, because who doesn’t love an owl?!

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Anyway, the day usually starts with an amble round the whole show to see what’s on offer, followed by a picnic (with smoked salmon sandwiches naturally)!  After lunch, we all split up to go and see the stalls we’re particularly keen on.  

This was a good stall!

This was a good stall!

This year we were very lucky with the weather, which is unusual for a Bank Holiday.

Apologies if this isn’t the most scintillating post to date!  I’m still having internet troubles in the company flat, so I’m writing this just before I go to work (as it seems to work* in the mornings, but not in the evenings for some reason), so I’m not really on top writing form right now alas! *By “work” I mean “connects at almost dial-up speeds rather than not at all”…

Edit (30/8/14):  Updated with photos!

The Latest Update

Good news everyone, the internet in the flat I’m staying in has somehow fixed itself, so I am now able to write my blog again.  I’ve not really had time to do one until now, as everything’s been rather busy regarding my new job in Woking (of The War of the Worlds and Town Called Malice fame)!  I’ve now done it for around 4 weeks, and it’s slowly beginning to make sense which is good!  It’s interesting and fun, so I’m rather lucky, as I definitely am of the mindset that a job you don’t enjoy is a pointless waste of your life.

I’ve spent the last month in the company flat, while looking for a more permanent place to stay.  Fortunately that is now sorted, and I’ll be joining a flatshare with some people who work at McLaren above an architect’s studio.  I’ve not met them yet, but the signing and deposit paying etc. stuff is happening next week, so I’ll meet them then.  It’s a 20 minute walk from the office, but I think there’s a bus for when it rains.  Handy, as being ripped off for a daily train ride isn’t really appealing to be honest.

So aside from my new job as a geophysicist, what have I been doing? Well, for those of you who know me, the answer is fairly obvious I should imagine (spending time with friends in bars for those of you who don’t).  The office also has a weekly pub lunch on Fridays (so that’s something to look forward to tomorrow), which is a good chance to get to know more of my colleagues.  The company is quite small, with only around 50 people in the office in total, so everyone knows everyone.  It certainly makes the transition from the Cambridge Geology Department less stressful although I do miss it a lot (and I’m not just saying that because I know Fabio and SP amongst others read this), as that was more or less a similar size (my year and the year below was around 45 people ish, and we often had pub lunches too).

This weekend it’s back to the other side of Surrey to see my family for the Bank Holiday weekend.  As is traditional for my family (presumably due to us having grown up in rural Surrey), we’ll be attending a local annual agricultural show.  If I remember I’ll write a post about it with some photos.

One More Day

The final whole day in the UK has come and gone (although I spent most of it in bed).  I got up, and ran some errands in town, before popping off for my last lesson with Hobbit.  It was a hot day today, and there were lots of horseflies bothering him, so I did feel quite sorry for him.  I had to deal with large numbers of the blighters whilst up in Scotland for 7 weeks last summer, so I was very sympathetic.  It was pretty sunny, and I ended up being aggressively sunburned (looking good for the next few months in the desert then)!

I sorted out packing my hand luggage, and had a lovely supper with the family outside in the garden.  After the sun set, we stayed outside for a while, watching the bats fly around eating all the insects as night fell.

Until Next Time London!

Another grey day dawns over the Home Counties in South East England, the terraced inter-war houses of the London boroughs streak past as the train rushes to Victoria.  Thousands of homes, thousands of lives, each going about their own business, each with hopes and dreams, and worries and fears, and each trapped in their own small world, a harbour, an oasis from the vast stormy oceans, and baking arid deserts of the real world.

A large sweaty man in a blue vest cracks open a can of energy drink, the strong stench permeates the carriage, reminds me of unpleasant nights out, and ruins the imagery I’ve just constructed (aided by a bloke with a broken arm and a Big Mac who enters stage right).  This is London, the real London, not the London that is polished and made presentable to tourist boards and foreigners the world over.

The train arrives, the crowd surges towards the ticket barrier like some frenzied swarm of hornets.  A sudden thought strikes me, is my ticket valid before 10am?  I put it into the machine. And hope.  “Take ticket, seek assistance”, are the words that greet my eyes.  Ah.  I frantically scour my pockets for my railcard and show the inspector.  He waves me through.  I breathe a sigh of relief, and descend into the labyrinthine abyss of the tube.  That venerable underground rail network, keeping London moving for a century and a half beneath the streets, like arteries throughout the body.  Two stops, two lines, and I’m out, out of the baking heat, the stale air, and the cramped, crowded trains.

I emerge in St. James.  The tall Georgian buildings standing proud, built as a testament to the wealth and power of a long forgotten and hushed up era, when this tiny island really did rule the waves.  The only reminder of the past that dares to show that chapter of history today.  British embarrassment and awkwardness have taken hold, making the subject seldom spoken about in the 21st century.  War memorials and statues of famous leaders greet me as I pass them on the way to the office, a monument to Crimea, and a Viceroy of India.

Looking towards Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus.  Note statue of Britannia above the clock, and generic fancy looking buildings (click to enlarge).  Fun fact: Britannia featured somewhere on all British coins made between 1672-2008.

Looking towards Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus. Note statue of Britannia above the clock, and generic fancy looking buildings (click to enlarge). Fun fact: Britannia featured somewhere on all British coins made between 1672-2008.

The medical is over, and once more I’m spat out, back into the sprawling metropolis.  I sit in a café and nurse a cup of tea, waiting for my friend XYL.  She, like TKC, is returning home after university. However, she is from Shenzhen.  The result?  Much greater difficulty to meet up if she stays in Mainland China.  We both require visas to visit one another’s country.  Great expense and hassle for all parties. A good friendship put at risk by two powerful governments with an obsession, reverence, and adoration of the gods of bureaucracy. Modern life is fraught with complications.

We elected for 火锅 for lunch, and it was a feast for both eyes and stomach.  Lots of food, with plenty of variety were boiled in the bubbling soup, and we lunched and chatted for around 3 hours.

火锅

火锅 in London – Yum yum yum! (Click to enlarge)

Time now for the return journey, back through the warren of the underground, followed by the slow journey through the suburbs, back to the verdant Surrey Hills.

All in all, a good day!