Wednesday, September 27, 2006

UK Trip! Sat Sept 2/06

Ah, Sowerby Bridge...

O had to get the car looked at in the morning, so he got up 8ish (on a Saturday, that's just nuts, surely) and took it in. They repaired it quite quickly actually, but then closed up the shop without calling him, so it took him quite a lot of tracking down to get someone to come and open the garage for him so he could get it again! Meanwhile, I slept in and missed the first half of the Rush Bearing Festival, which is something they do up here every year - a bunch of guys get together and drag a cart covered in rushes up and down and around all the twisty turny streets, replacing the rushes on the floors of all the area churches and stopping at every pub on the way.

L made me some breakfast (ooh, bacon & eggs, what a treat - no seriously, it is, I never eat that stuff!) and we relaxed until O came home around 2ish FINALLY with a car that wouldn't kill us, and then we were off to York, a longish drive in the rain, but pleasant.

We parked right beside York Castle - basically a short, squat cylinder - and started wandering the town. We got to the abbey eventually - where they LET YOU take pictures inside, see my Flickr page! - and got our tickets.

Before going around the cathedral itself, we decided to go down to the crypts - not long ago it was discovered that the whole place was in danger or imminent collapse, so they dug down around the foundations to attach these monstrously huge buttresses around the base of each wall with enormously long nut-and-bolt arrangements piercing through the walls, very cool - but while they were doing that, they unearthed all the old walls from the original Roman structures and stuff, so that was great. And of course, no photos allowed in the crypt. Damn. I mean, I could have snuck some photos, but you all know my guilt complex.

So we came back up and meandered around the interior of the church. Except for the lack of murals on the ceiling, it was just as impressive as St Paul's - AND I got to use my camera! I think I took about 150 or so shots just inside the cathedral. Can anyone tell me what's the deal with the headless chicks with the plates doing semaphore? We wanted to climb it too, would have been something like 200 steps, but they were closing soon-ish and we wouldn't have had a good view because of the rain, so we decided against it. So when we DID go outside, once they kicked us all out, of course the weather cleared immediately. Gah. But that's okay, we enjoyed it anyway.

Wandered the streets again for an hour or so, stopped at a café in a teeny little alley for lunch/dinner, got lost trying to find the castle, found it again, and drove back to Sowerby Bridge. Took some photos of the night view above Halifax, but it was really windy so they all turned out somewhat blurry. They still look good though!

When we got back we went to a couple of pubs - the first one was too tiny to move in, so we went to a second one, took quite some time to get something I'd want to drink (you all know I'm fussy) and then relaxed, very nice. Then a rapier dance troupe, complete with travelling musicians and an irish stepdancer, came in and shouted until we all stopped to watch, and they were pretty impressive actually so we all gave them money when the head of the troupe came around with a box on a stick. This never happens at home - if men come into a pub, shout, stomp on the floor and fling each other around, they don't get paid - they get bounced.

When we got home we watched a couple of DVDs and totally fell asleep to them *grin*. Ah, what a place...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

UK Trip! Fri Sept 1/06

Goodbye London! *sob*

I'd already told J* I'd take the train to Gatwick with her in the morning. I didn't want her to have to go all the way there by herself, but she kept telling me that it'd be too expensive for me to go out there only to come all the way back downtown, so she finally convinced me to just say goodbye at the station - which I did when the three of us left DK's in the morning. This left DK and I to go downtown together, and we parted ways rather swiftly when we got to Waterloo station, so I was then on my own.

L had told me that I should bring my luggage to her offices near Moorgate, so I hopped the Tube over there - and dragged my suitcase up fifty million steps until I thought I was going to pass out - and gave her a call, she came to meet me and walk me to her office, and I was off for my last day in London!

I went down to Soho and found an internet café to see if anyone was available to meet up, and I ended up with plans to meet EC for lunch, which was cool - we actually went to Fopp (where I bought a CD and a couple of books, gah) and then to a pub for a drink (where I had to settle two bets for a couple of guys, fun!) and we talked about his upcoming visit - that's right, he's coming to visit, he'll stay at the Bowlie Hotel (i.e., my house) for the week after Thanksgiving, how fun! Anyway, we had our hugs and then I wandered some more.

I ended up buying some touristy stuff and a DVD at Forbidden Planet before MMM called me and said he'd meet with me to wait for L to be done work, yay! I was, of course, about 15 minutes late to meet him (sorry!) which I HATE to do, but he was understanding. We got a couple of drinks and sat in a park chatting - and avoiding the eyes of a local freak of nature who was amusing himself fondling the local flora - before meeting L when she came out of her office with my suitcase. He came to the rail station with us too, and dragged my case up and down all those stairs, what a sweetheart (he's my new hero by the way, he should have a fluttery cape magic boots or something). We were a bit early for the train, so the three of us sat in a pub and had a drink, and talked about movies, and then L and I had to get on the train, so I hugged MMM and we boarded.

It was a long but scenic ride up to Leeds. L and I hadn't really had a chance to put our heads together and seriously talk for almost a year, so we spent the whole trip catching up, it was really nice. In Leeds we changed for Halifax (to a cruddier train, but oh well), and O met us at the station and drove us straight to a great restaurant so we could eat and relax. He's just as funny and sweet as I remembered him to be, and I relaxed around him quickly (good thing, as they had me for five days!) and we had a lovely time.

Then we went home, which is in Sowerby Bridge, just outside of Halifax proper. Tiny place from the outside, but very well planned inside - and their master bedroom, really, has to be seen to be believed, they've done fantastic things with that place!

I got settled in, checked messages and went to bed - long day!

There aren't too many photos from this day, but there are a few on my Flickr page...

UK Trip! Thurs Aug 31/06

Last day of August - last full day in London *sob*

We'd made plans to meet MMM for pastries before hooking up with SJ&ST, so we left DK's place nice and early to get some shopping in. Oh, we were bad in Next, I bought four - yes FOUR - tops, and J* and I ended up with one the same! Have I mentioned that we're always drawn to the same clothes?

We met MMM in Soho as planned and strolled over to Patisserie Valerie, went upstairs and chatted - Pah met up with us there, so we were four, and when we were done we all strolled along Carnaby Street and met up with SJ&ST for some more shopping (oh yes) - ooh, tall socks! Along the way we somehow lost Pah, but he knew where we were going later so we weren't too worried.

It started to get late, and I had made plans to meet a group of folks at Shakespeare's Head in Holborn, so we said our goodbyes and J* and I headed that way - and ran into our friend Waz on the way! He knew as well that we were going there and decided to meet us for an hour or so, how nice! And my very good friend L came too!

Of course, now here's the dilemma - the friends I'd made plans with (let's call them Group Tavern) were from a completely different circle then J* and Pah and Waz and L (and they'll be Group Bowlie), and I really didn't know that they'd all mesh, so what to do? Well, I'd seen J* for the whole trip, I'd seen Pah twice already this trip, and I was going to be spending five days with L up in Yorkshire after today, so it was easy really - meet with Group Tavern briefly, spend time with Group Bowlie until Waz had to be off (since I'd only met with him briefly at the All-Dayer), and then move back to the Group Tavern. Confusing? Well, only now that I'm writing it down *grin*

Anyway, that's what I did. Sat with Group Bowlie for an hour or so until Waz had to leave - got some nice chatting in with them all, but more with Waz since I knew our time was limited (and ooh, got a Gresham Flyers '45 from him!), and then when he had to leave I walked him out to say goodbye and then re-joined Group Tavern.

And before you ask, of course my guilt reflex was screaming over this. But what could I do? I told the others I was going to move back over there, and they should come join if they wanted to of course - and they did, sort of, they came over and hovered a wee bit, and then kind of regrouped around the corner from Group Tavern, but I could tell they didn't feel like they'd mesh, so I got up and chatted with them. L had to work in the morning, and J* wanted to have an earlier night than I knew I'd be having, so the two of them walked each other out to the Tube, and Pah left shortly after that.

So anyway, that left me in the hands of Group Tavern, who were all a lot of fun - I'd only met one of them before, when he was in Toronto a couple of weeks earlier (and of course I haven't blogged that at all, man this summer's been insane), and I'd been chatting with PK (who actually found a maple leaf under the table, how weird is that?) a bit and texting so we could meet up, but everyone else was completely new to me. What a fun bunch of people! We drank and caroused until quite late - R showed up later as well, which was really nice, I was hoping I'd get to see him again before I had to leave! I left there, somewhat reluctantly, at 11 (S walked me to the Tube, what a doll) and got the last train of the evening, getting back to DK's house quite late - he was still up, but going to bed soon so I just said goodnight and retired for the evening.

Some rather silly photos of this full day can be found on my Flickr page...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

UK Trip! Wed Aug 30/06

We're up to Wednesday!

J* and I learned our lesson from the previous day and got up much earlier so we could be in town quicker. We had decided this would be our day to hang out with personal friends while in London (as opposed to people we both knew) and give ourselves a break from each other. However, it turned out that J*'s friend couldn't come - cancelled at the last minute in fact, which was really annoying - so she and I went into London together to meet my friend R under Waterloo Bridge (where they were having a book sale, got a paperback copy of Mapp & Lucia, yay!) and the three of us decided to spend the day together.

First we went to the Tate Modern. Interesting. They have something at the entrance, 'living bridge' or something like that, which is supposed to make you feel like you're on a real bridge. Um, there's a real bridge right outside, why not do that? Anyway, we wandered around there for a while, then across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's Cathedral. The view from the bridge is interesting, since there's scaffolding all over the side of St Paul's right now so they've put up a tarp with a picture of St Paul's on it. Hrm.

So yes, St Paul's Cathedral. They don't let you take pictures in there, which is very annoying as it was absolutely breathtaking. It's one thing to paint in proper dimensions/trompe l'oeil on a flat canvas that you'll view from one perspective, it's another thing entirely to paint on a curved ceiling that is viewed from all over and still achieve that realism, really awe-inspiring. We wandered and sat for a while, then we climbed. 540 steps. I'm so proud of myself for doing that! I only had to stop a couple of times on the way up for a little breather. There are three levels, one is inside and the other two are outside, so I took pix from the outside stops. Very nice view - about as good as we would have had from the London Eye, but more fulfilling.

Okay, from there we walked along High Holborn/New Oxford (I think), past the courts, towards the National Gallery and Nelson's Column, and then over to St James Park, through to Green Park past Buckingham Palace, did some shopping at the BBC Shop (ooh, three seasons of Alexei Sayle's Stuff!) then out to Picadilly... and by this time we were getting pretty hungry, so we found a nice restaurant to sit in and relax with a really nice meal.

After dinner we walked back towards Waterloo Station - J* was going to go back to DK's house to let R and I have some time together, bless her - she didn't have to do that of course, we were all having a fantastic day together. So, of course, I broke out in hives. Gah. Every time I'm having a day that just seems perfect, something like that has to happen. But it's okay, J*'s seen it happen enough times that it doesn't freak her out, and it turns out R gets hives too so he was very calm about everything. We got J* on the train, I went into the washroom to splash water on myself and cool off, and R and I went outside and sat on a bench by the Thames for an hour or so, chatting and relaxing until I had to go back. That was really nice.

When I got back I realized that I was feeling slimmer in the waist - I think all the walking made me lose weight!

And, of course, some pictures of this fabulous day can be found on my Flickr page...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

UK Trip! Tues Aug 29/06


Yep, our first day in London. We got up a bit late - we left DK's place much later than we wanted to, and we had to walk to the tube station (about 15-20 minutes walk) due to the rail strike of course. J* knew where we were going though, so no problems. We rode downtown and came up right under Big Ben, what a great way to enter London!

London is just gorgeous. There's loads of history, just lying all around, you trip over it as you walk. And there's lots of great places to eat - just to grab sandwiches and walk. Pret a Manger, that place was fantastic, and they're everywhere - damn, we need those here!

Anyway, we walked all over, along the Thames to Cleopatra's Needle, which was really great (yep, it's that love of old architecture thing again), then back through some gardens and along curvy windy streets (they all are here, btw), ducking in and out of stores and through Covent Gardens, did lots of shopping (a top & sweater, a Tardis keyring and a magnet for my coworker, yay!), met K&G for a drink, and then went back to DK's place to unwind a bit. And, of course, I was taking pictures the whole time *grin*

After we were rested up, the three of us went out to a Pizza Express. I don't understand that name, really. You'd think it'd be a quick take-out place, when really it was a very nice sit-down place. Not very express-y. But such good food! mmm, pesto... we sat there, taking in the yummy food and chatting about our lives, for a couple of hours, and then got a double-decker bus back home - J* and I were determined to get an earlier start the next day!

London was fantastic - I've put some of the better pix up on my Flickr page...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

UK Trip! Mon Aug 28/06

Hey, we're in Windsor!

We slept in a bit, not too bad of course, and everyone had their showers and stuff, and then we hung out for a bit listening to music. Out for lunch then, to an Italian place in town - I had banoffee pie, mmm! Why don't we have that here?!?

So anyway, YSR had to go meet a friend, so the rest of us went on a bit of a walk and then into Windsor Castle - oh, and lucky E, she got in for free 'cos she lives in Windsor! Why don't we get perks like that here? *grin*

The castle was quite beautiful but crowded - we went through the cathedral, around the outside and then inside and saw the dollhouse, but there were always lots and lots of people around. I think if there were less people around, and if we had got there earlier, we could have taken our time a little more. But it was still cool. Ah well, I'll just have to go back!

We met up with YSR again and went home, and decided that it would be better if we went into London that night rather than the next day, since the rail line we'd take was going to have a one-day strike the next day! So we packed everything up, rushed out, practically ran to the station and made it with five minutes to spare! Said goodbye, had our hugs, and then J* and I were off to London!

Our trip was something like an hour, not bad. The doors on the train had buttons for the doors, so if the door didn't open you needed to press the button. So when we got to our stop, we were all set, pressed the button... and the doors didn't open! Gah! The train started off for the next stop! I left J* by the door with the cases and ran down the train two cars to find a conductor and tell him what happened, and he was so nice and apologetic, he came up and put the key in the door to make sure the door opened for us at the next stop, and called ahead to let the train know we were coming across for it, we were so grateful for that!

So off the train we got, ran up the 30 or so steps, across and down again, and then onto the train that was about to leave the station! Not the easiest thing with a case that weighs probably 40 pounds! I was shaking so bad when we got on the train, J* was worried for me I'm sure, but the conductor there was really sweet too, he had got the call and made sure that he was there for us to get us to our station. 'We don't see many people with luggage at this station,' he said *grin* DK was waiting for us when we finally got to the station and we walked back to his place, not very far and a pleasant night.

DK actually gave us his bed and bunked out in the living room for our stay, which was really sweet, and I feel guilty about it, but he was very cool about the whole thing. The three of us sat and chatted about all the new things going on, and then I talked to PK on the phone, making plans for Thursday night, for a while (which was really nice but I totally felt guilty - you know, when you visit someone, you shouldn't be on the phone to someone else, right?) and then we went off to bed, ready for our first day in London!

I took lots of pictures in Windsor, and there are a few up on my Flickr page...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

UK Trip! Sun Aug 27/06

J* and I had lots of fun trying to get checked out of our B&B - we couldn't find our room key! We didn't want to leave our stuff in the room unlocked, but eventually we thought, well, we'll just bring our stuff down to breakfast with us.

Then I said, 'J*, did you lock the door lastnight after we got in?' She said yes - so this meant we couldn't even get OUT unless we found the key! We found it eventually, though, and went down for breakfast. Ate relatively quickly, came back up and got our stuff, and then met MS&R outside. On to London!

We did want to stop at a Caerphilly Castle on the way, can't remember what one it was, but MS said we might be really late to the All-Dayer if we did that - so we decided not to. I was sad for that though, because J* really wanted to see it, and I had got to see Tintern Abbey. But she seemed okay with it, if a bit disappointed.

Anyway, the drive was long and uneventful, we made a long-ish stop for food (which is why we couldn't stop at the castle), which MS really needed, as he'd been chauffeuring us around since we landed *grin*.

London - we got to London in good time, but there was an enormous fair or something going on so it took us 45 minutes to move about two miles, after which we zoomed over the north end of the core and down again, and parked and got to the club in good time - around 5ish, when it started at 4, not bad! J* is quite proud of my mapreading skills. This is, of course, because she was napping during the kerfuffle going into Swansea *grin*

So it was held at Buffalo Bar in the basement of The Famous Cock (yep) and we drifted in and out of it all night - went to a restaurant a few doors down for dinner with some of the Bowlies, hung out outside the pub chatting, went in and watched some of the bands and met more folk, it was all good. I met so many people I hadn't met before! I can't remember half of them, actually, there was just too much. I doled out more hugs too, which is always good.

Anyway, at the end of it all, MS&R were going to have to drive us all the way out to YSR&E's place in Windsor before they could go home to Brighton, but YSR&E figured out how to fit all their stuff in the trunk along with our cases (they're both in one of the bands - Gresham Flyers, folks, snap 'em up!) so MS&R got to leave early, and I gave them lots of hugs and wished them well on their upcoming marriage, 'cos we weren't gonna see them again for the rest of the trip, aaaw!

When it was time for us to go to Windsor, we all piled in and started driving. Seemingly in circles, as there were tons of people out and lots of cars on the road, and YSR was getting pretty stressed out - but once we finally got out of the core we had no trouble getting home. And once there, we basically collapsed. End of day.

There are a few photos on my Flickr page from Sunday, but not too many...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

UK Trip! Sat Aug 26/06

Saturday! Saturday was a good day. J* and I got up early and went down for breakfast, which I finished pretty quickly, so I went back up and had a shower while she was still downstairs - you know, since the shower stall was BESIDE MY BED so we didn't have any privacy - and then when she came up I went outside for a bit of a walk so she could have the room to herself. That was nice, there weren't many people about yet, so I wandered a wee bit and sat on a bench in town, writing in my book a bit and soaking in the air outside a student club. I was worrying though, that maybe J* wasn't going to get enough sleep on this trip - having to share a room with me wasn't something she'd had to do before, and I have chronic rhinitis so I turn into a mouthbreather at night (yep, I'm a mouthbreather, but don't hold it against me!). Ah well, if I was dead by the end of this trip, then we'd know *grin*

After J* was ready, we walked to W's place, as it really wasn't that far. We ended up walking right past the venue for the meetup without even realizing it - in fact, we stopped at a store RIGHT BESIDE IT so I could get water!

Okay, so we got to W's house, and we all went into the downtown area of Swansea and did a bit of shopping. I got a new pair of shoes and some fun undies at TK Maxx (the US/UK equivalent to Winners) and J* got the cutest ever shirt with flying v guitars all over it, and I managed to get a new memory card for my camera (yay!), and then we all piled on a bus and went to Mumbles.

Mumbles. Named after a couple of islands, that look a bit like breasts. "Mammelles", as the French say. Oh my.

Mumbles. Sure, that's how we spell it. But how do the Welsh spell it? Mwmbwls. That's right. Apparently that's okay, though, as 'w' is a vowel. Or something. Hrm.

Right. So we went to a lovely place called Verdi's, which had a great view of Swansea Bay, and had the most fabulous hazelnut ice cream ever, and a really good chicken sandwich with sundried tomato and pesto and mozzarella - and TOO MUCH CHICKEN in it, who'd have thought? We were met there by some more Bowlies in for the meetup, and eventually there were 16 of us sitting around a few tables on the patio, just chatting away and generally getting to know each other. We dispersed finally, so we could all get back to our respective bases of operations in anticipation of the evening's festivities.

The original gang of us went back to W's house, where a couple more who hadn't made it to Verdi's met us, and eventually J* and I had to shift ourselves so we could get food and get changed. Of course, we took forever to figure out what the hell we were going to eat - in the end, settling for some less than inspiring falafel - and walked back to the bed & breakfast, got changed and all prettified, and then went out to the club - Inferno.

It should be said here that I had some misgivings about the venue - as we ate our falafel, we sat across from the club, and the people going in the doors did not appear to be indie-type folks. In fact, they were all black-leather-jacket types. So when we finally got there, we were happy to go through the leather-clad crowds, past the pool table, down a hall, around a corner - and into our own room, with our own music and our own silliness!

The evening turned into a smashing success, with 20 of us in the end, and a few different deejays over the course of the evening, plus some leather-types who wandered in and asked if we had any Megadeath (!) before realizing we weren't going to be able to help them and wandering out again. I'd thought we might be leaving early, but we ended up closing the place down, yay! Had a drink, chatted and danced with people I'd never met or only just met that afternoon, including a fella who wasn't yet a Bowlie - but was by the next night!

J* and I walked back to the bed & breakfast with Pah, who was staying just down the road - we knew Pah already, he'd come to stay with me for a week the previous summer, and he's a nice fella, if a little odd. We got to bed, wearily, around 2ish.

And, yes, there are some pix of Swansea, Mwmbwls and Inferno, and new friends, on my Flickr page, with updates coming soon...

UK Trip! Fri Aug 25/06

Gather 'round, children, as I tell you the tale of Going To Wales.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...

So we got up relatively early, maybe around 8:30, and packed up our luggage into the rented car and set off. Now, there were three ladies in the car, so T knew he'd have to make plenty of stops along the way.

Our first stop was a washroom break when we'd barely left Brighton - at a golf course! R felt no shyness about going through the lobby of this posh and exclusive place to get to the washroom (go you!) so she did that while MS was turning the car around. This, of course, took way longer than R's washroom trip, as it seems that people who frequent posh golf courses don't know how to park properly, and left such tiny spaces between cars that MS had to do something like a 40-point turn to get us out again! Serves 'em right to have people only there for the washrooms!

We made a stop or two more on our way, availing ourselves of the roadside Marks & Sparks outlets at the petrol stations. And, oh my, they have some fabulous sandwiches! Oh, and chocolate desserts too, of the most decadent kind. Man, when we had M&S in Toronto, they sucked! Why can't they have been like this!

So anyway, when we got to Tintern Abbey we got out and stretched, and I took Plushtoy Cthulhu and my camera and stand and headed into the site. Good lord, it was fantastic. Sooooo old - built in the early 1100s, we just don't get that over here. Huge arches and pillars, leafy imbellishments... I could just feel the age oozing out of the stonework. I spent over an hour I think, just moving around the space and taking photos. Cthulhu got in on the act of course, MS helped me there *grin* I bought the guide book for the place and a few postcards, so pretty.

Fair warning, lads: I think my love of old, crumbly places might be turning into a fetish. I'm not kidding, if there'd been any cute, available boys there, they'd have been in SERIOUS trouble! The vibe there was just so amazing.

So okay, we left there, and went on to Swansea. R and J* managed to nap, so I was helping MS by navigating from the back seat - we were fine until we actually got into Swansea, at which point we went the wrong way THREE TIMES! However, we got to the Bed & Breakfast on Mansel Street eventually, MS dragged my suitcase up the stairs for me, and J* and I went into our room... which was TINY. And, because we needed an ensuite room, there was a shower stall, right there, beside my bed, and a teeny room behind my bed containing the toilet and sink! But really, I suppose that was the only way to organize it, right? Anyway, we dropped our stuff, freshened up a bit, and then went on to W's house. And went way past it again. That's what, four times we went the wrong way in the same town? *grin*

We finally found W's place - after calling him a couple of times (his directions included "turn right when you get to the incredibly hideous protestant church" or something like that), and were welcomed in like old friends, aw, bless. He and Mrs W made us a wonderful dinner of homemade lasagna and bread from scratch, and W didn't stop bounding around the whole time we were there - I think he was just so excited to have talked people into visiting Swansea! We chatted and listened to music and played with Baby W until late in the evening, while W planned his deejay set for the following evening's meetup, and then W drove J* and I back to the bed & breakfast (MS&R stayed at W's place while we were in town) around midnight . So a long, full day!

pix from Tintern Abbey and Swansea can be found on my Flickr page...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

UK Trip! Thurs Aug 24/06

Right. So where was I? Oh yeah, Gatwick airport. No photos though, it was pretty overcast. Too bad.

So we landed just fine, and got off the plane. The lineup for customs was enormous - but we got through it in about 45 minutes, and we had the nicest customs officer on the planet, seriously! Luggage showed up pretty quickly too, and then we were out to the public area, where MS was waiting for us - aw, MS, bless you! He rented a car for our stay with him and R, so of course he had a bit of trouble finding it in the parking lot, but it wasn't so bad.

The drive to Brighton was uneventful, relaxing even. We got to their place, went in for a little bit to settle down and put our luggage in the bedroom, then the four of us went downtown to have lunch at a pub, wander through the streets, the shops and the seaside!

Started my shopping of course - bought a fun new wallet, black with white skull & crossbones, with the reverse inside, with a chain on it, so I look well 'ard *grin*, and I also got a polo-ish shirt that looked fun. Horizontal stripes, might not be the best idea, but I like it anyway, too bad. Also got an emergency rain poncho to keep in my bag, as I didn't have anything like that - and this was England after all!

Then we walked down to the seaside and sat for a coffee break before wandering along and taking pictures and such. The West Pier is just the coolest thing ever - I have a great love of falling-apart places, and that's definitely a place that's falling apart! Age, fire, and a badly-piloted speedboat have all taken its toll on it, and it's now a hulking skeleton, just gorgeous. We walked between the West Pier and Brighton Pier, just ambling and taking it all in, and I stopped to buy some postcards and a magnet, which were just gorgeous. Brighton Pier is huge and gaudy, in a great shiny way, such a summer seaside kind of place!

Anyway, we wandered for a while, and then we got a cab home - the cabs are so cool! Really, they're huge inside! We need those here. We had pizza and ice cream on a stick (MS is a doll), and then MS asked if I had my cable for my camera - I'd taken about 120 pictures or so - and I said no. This was an assumption, which I should have checked. Anyway, he had a card reader, so he said I should pop my memory card in and we could transfer the pix onto his computer.

Popped out my 1G card from my camera and slid it into the card reader. A program started on the computer, to read the card, and it tells me there are a bunch of folders on it, but no photos! NOOOOO!

So I pop the card out again and put it in my camera... which tells me it can't read the card! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Panic set in, wobbly chin, the whole bit! MS came and did some online research, went through my camera book, and after an hour declared that the pictures were still on my card - but my camera wouldn't be able to use the card. If I had the cable, I'd be able to get the pix off. So off to my suitcase I went... to find that I had, indeed, brought my cable. Damn, if I'd only thought to look first, this wouldn't have happened! So the pix were still there, and we downloaded them with the cable - but this still left me with an unusable 1G card and only an emergency 64M card, which would be good for maybe 100-150 shots, for the whole two weeks! No way! I decided that, once we got to Swansea, I'd need a new card. Damn, it was going to be expensive too. Unwound with a some episodes of Coupling and went to bed, to rest up for our drive to Wales...

Oh, btw, pix from Brighton are up on my Flickr page...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

UK Trip! Wed Aug 23/06

Alright, it's been a month - I've been on my UK trip and back again, so I'm going to try to backtrack. I'll post about the cottage trip later I think.

So the day before I left on my trip, I was chatting with my Mum and she gave me some VERY bad news. My Dad has been diagnosed with throat cancer. They've caught it early, and he's going to need radiation treatment, but both of my parents are very positive and so is the doctor - 95% treatable he says - so I'm not supposed to worry. He feels just fine, it's just his voice sounds funny. They don't need me to come home or be there for anything.

That's not stopping me from worrying, of course. I was an utter wreck for hours after that. Mum was saying oh, I shouldn't have told you - EXCUSE ME, of course you should have! And no, waiting until I was back wouldn't have been good either! I was shakey and had sore eyes for a day or so afterwards, but I think I blocked it off in my mind, there's just been too many bad things lately, there's only so much I can take.

And also, a minor annoyance - when I woke up Tuesday morning, I had a sore throat. Fine timing. Gah.

So that was Tuesday night, the 22nd. The 23rd was the day I was going on my trip. Convinced by Mum that I wasn't needed at home, the trip was still on. Of course, I worked a full day that day - and half of it was taken up by training a freelancer who was coming in and making sure I had full instructions written out for her. I knew I couldn't stay late as I had to catch the airport shuttle right after work, so I did my best to get it all sorted - and surprised myself with how quickly I got everything together - and I and my suitcase were off.

Got down to the shuttle area, outside the Royal York, and no one was there to sell me a ticket. I had another ten minutes before the bus came though, so no worries. Other people were milling around, waiting as well. When the girl finally showed up to sell me a ticket, the bus hadn't shown up - and was about five minutes late - but no worries. Got my ticket. Stood around, with everyone else.

Noticed there seemed to be a lot of construction right on that corner.

Checked to see if there were any notices about a change of service, there was none. Waited a little longer, then asked the girl, 'the bus still stops here, right?'

'Oh no,' she said brightly, 'you need to go across the street, over there, beside the hot dog vendor.' GAH! I told her that maybe she should tell the other people waiting for the bus, and rushed over to the corner. Got a red light. Watched the bus come. Got a green light, rushed across the street... and watched the bus pull away.

No problem, I thought, I'm frustrated, but I was planning on being super early for my flight anyway. Of course, a couple of other people had to get a cab to the airport because of this, as they were now going to be late for their flights.

So I waited on the corner, along with a bunch of other people. Cabs pulled up and parked, illegally, right in front of us, blocking us from boarding any bus that might want to pick us up. We all glared at the cabbies and motioned for them to move, and they all ignored us. When the bus did finally arrive - fifteen minutes late on the new run - the driver had to make one of the cabbies back up so we could fit between the cars to get on the bus. But then we were off, and got there in good time.

Got to the airport, found J* waiting for me in line right away, went quickly through the queue and checked our luggage, and then went in to wait for our flight. The family ahead of us at the security check had their carry-on stuff emptied, and we saw the mother lose her mascara and stuff, but we got waved on just fine - and we both had our lip balms with us, yay! I had an empty water bottle too, so I filled it a couple of times from a water fountain. I warned J* that I had a sore throat, but the way she saw it, we were going to be sharing a bed for nine days so if she was gonna get sick nothing would stop it, so we didn't worry about it. I did have some mint Halls with me though, good thing.

We boarded fine. J* had booked us bulkhead seats, thinking we'd have better knee room, great idea! Except of course, a) we don't have better FOOT room, unfortunately, and 2) beside us, in the third seat, was a woman with a baby - the baby wasn't bad, but the FUCKING GREAT BASSINET they attached to the wall directly in front of us was! No standing for the entire flight. J* almost couldn't put her tray down for the dinner. And the steward-folk were almost non-existent. Seven hour flight, ONE TINY GLASS of water, for the whole thing. Thank god I had the Halls or I'd have died!

We managed to sleep for about four hours on the flight though, so we were somewhat awake when we landed at Gatwick. Yep, Gatwick, in a whole different country!!!

More to come...