London... OK Mostly Woking

Well, it's been a week since the last post, but it's been a busy week! Friday night last week I went with Katherine to see Wicked, at the Apollo Victoria, a west-end London theater.  I'm usually not much of a musical guy, but this was pretty good. loved the book, and the stage version was almost as good. The sets, costumes and lighting/effects were particularly good. After, we had a drink at the local pub, and wandered through downtown a bit. Buckingham Palace was lit up quite nice, and it was a clear, cool evening.

Saturday was a fun day as well. I started off by taking the train into Waterloo, then hopped the tube up town a bit, and wandered on Tottenham Court Road. There are a lot of electronics stores along that stretch. That's an interesting thing about London - it seems that similar types of stores are all congregated together in areas of town. If does make it convenient. Around lunch time I set myself down in a local pub and watched Liverpool thrash Newcastle. Good times. After the game,I met up with my friend Mark (I went to Ryerson with Mark) and his wife Rachel. We had a couple of drink at a local bar, walked along the South Bank of the Thames for a while; had wine at a wine bar where we met up with Rachel's sister. After strolling for a little longer, we had a great dinner at an Argentinian steak house, with great views of the Tower Bridge and the new City Hall. I once again barely made the last train back to Woking.

Sunday involved me sleeping in a lot! After getting up late, I headed back into the city. I stopped by Harrod's and wander around the maze of the department store for a couple of hours. Around dinner time, I met up with Katherine and two of her friends (fellow Canadians) for dinner at a very cool dim sum restaurant. Still wiped from the weekend, we called it a fairly early night.

Monday, after half a day in the office I drove with a co-worker up to Birmingham, a couple of hours north east of London. We had a user group meeting, being hosted by one of our customers. It was a good couple of days of meetings, but nothing worth going on about here. On the way home Wednesday, I stopped in Coventry, at the Coventry Cathedral. The original had been shelled by the Germans in WWII, and when they rebuilt it, they chose to leave the ruins of the original in place, and incorporate them into the design of the new. It's pretty cool - but the weather was poor, and the daylight was fading.

Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral

Tomorrow, I head for home. 

November 22, 2007

After working my but off for the past few days, I took yesterday to do some wandering, and spend some time trying to sort where I want to live. I also did some touristy stuff...

I started the day taking the train from Woking to Wimbledon. I thought it best to try and simulate the trip as much as possible.  It was good - 1/2 an hour, which I can live with. Actually in some ways I'm looking forward to it. It's nice to have some forced down-time, to read and whatnot. I spent the morning wandering around Wimbledon. My first impressions were very positive - it seems like a nice compromise - 1/2 hour to work; 1/2 hour into the heart of London; all the needed amenities; a good vibe; a huge park near by for running. All in all, I think it's my first choice. I need to wander around parts of east London, to see what that's like, but I'm afraid the commute becomes too much. 

I spent the morning in Wimbledon, then hopped on the Tube and went into the heart of the city. I made a stop at Hamley's a big toy store, looking for something for a friend. The store's been there since the 1760's - still can't get over that... After that, i grabbed some lunch, and wandered a bit more. I spent some time in the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. This was the underground bunker that Churchill and his staff ran the war effort during WWII. They basically closed it up after the war, with everything intact. The a few years ago they opened it back up, and turned it into a museum. It's pretty cool to see - especially the Churchill museum part of it - some pretty  innovative displays. I also stopped at the Photographers Gallery, which was OK, but in the middle of a display change, so there wasn't a lot to see. 

Pelicans in St. James park - who knew?

The rest of the evening was spent at a bar, watching the atrocity that was England's final attempt to qualify for Euro2008 - the second biggest soccer tournament on the planet, after the World Cup. All they need to do was tie Croatia at home, and they were through. Should have been a reasonably easy task, even with Croatia being a strong team. What a mess - they got down 2 goals early, on horrendous goal keeping and botched defensive play. They they clawed back to even, scoring twice in the second half, only to give up the heart-breaking goal late in the second half. For the first time in 14 years, England is out of a major tourney. It was a pretty subdued place after the game. 

November 20, 2007

Less than a month since my last post - not bad! So I am over in England for two weeks, doing some prep work for my move in February - pretty cool. I've got a week in the office here in Woking (see the post below for map details), then up to Birmingham for a couple of days next week, then back down to Woking later in the week before flying home on Friday the 30th. The goal is to try and make some decisions about where to live, and that sort of thing. I've only been in Woking for a couple of days, but let's just say I think I have made up my mind about living in Woking... But I get ahead of myself.

First off, this trip started about as well as I could have hoped - I got upgraded to business class on the way over. Happy days! On top of that, I was on a plane with the new, upgraded executive class cabin. Very funky design - rather than have the seats in traditional rows, with one seat behind the other, the seats are in three rows, with all seats at a 45 degree angle to each other. In effect, everyone gets a little "pod", that's self contained. And the best thing is that all the seats lie flat, so you can actually sleep. Even I could almost stretch out completely. I have to give them credit, Air Canada did well with this one.

Transient

It was a good flight - comfortable, great food and I got a lot of work done. Despite the ability to actually lie down in comfort, I only slept for a couple of hours. Even so, the flight passed in no time, and I got to London feeling good. After being whisked to Woking by the car service, I got checked into the hotel, unpacked, and had a shower. By 13:00, I was ready to go.

One of my co-workers, Katherine, had been kind enough to offer to give the tour of the town on Sunday afternoon. Katherine is from Vancouver, and had moved to Woking just under a year ago, similar to what I'm doing. So she's going to be my "go to" person for everything, seeing as how she's done the move already. 

We started off by walking over to the office. It was a very nice stroll - along a small canal - very quiet, very pretty. When it's not raining, it should make for a nice walk. After checking out the office, and getting my bearings for the morning, we walked back into the town center. I gotta say, there's not much to it - train station, mall, library, a few pubs and the usual high street stores. One point of note, as it was explained to me. Woking was the home of HG Wells, when we wrote War of the Worlds, and did his now-famous radio drama. Apparently he didn't like Woking all that much, and in the book it is the first place the aliens destroy. I think I let Alton off pretty easy...

Having exhausted all of what Woking seems to offer, we hoped on a train to Clapham Junction. It was a quick, 20 minute train ride, and voila, we were in the city. Clapham is one of the areas I'm considering, so it was good to do a bit of walking. We had a nice dinner, walked around the neighborhood, for a couple of hours, then stopped at a pub for a drink. Clapham is still in the running for sure. By that point, the long day had caught up with me and I was fading. So we called it a day and hopped back on the train. It was a good day.