Pretty Blue Lights Friday, Dec 26 2008 

26 December 2008
We decadently slept in this morning as we had nothing specific planned for the day. After we did emerge from slumber, we took a stroll down to the Pheasant – a local pub that I’d been in on a previous trip – where we had wonderful jacket potatoes (mine with salmon & cream cheese, Marita Beth’s with avocado and prawns) and I had a Greenman IPA which I heartily endorse as a fine CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) beer. On our way out the door, we checked with the publican who confirmed that to get to Piccadilly/Trafalgar/Leicester we needed to take the local bus to the tube station and hop the tube to Charing Cross station. Off we set to do just that. I should point out here, that the city in which we live has NO public transportation system, and neither MB nor I are walkers. We’re not in bad shape, we just don’t walk nearly enough. The Pheasant is an 8 minute walk from the Radisson and the bus stop is an 8 minute walk from the Pheasant. We will most certainly get our walking in on this trip.
We got to Hatton Cross, purchased our travel cards and loaded up. 40 minutes later, we emerged at Piccadilly Circus – which for lack of a better description seems to be London’s equivalent of Times Square. We walked and walked and walked. Up and down Regent Street, St. James’ Street, Pall Mall and more.
Sparkly Blue Lights
This photo was taken on Regent Street. I love it. It shows the delightful Christmas decorations still in full bloom here, and it plainly shows the childlike wonder on my wife’s face. Ask her sometime about “pretty blue lights” and you’ll discover another reason that this photo appeals to me.
Eventually I got hungry enough that I said, “we’re crossing here, I need to eat.” We crossed the heavy traffic on Regency and entered a walking area called Carnaby. I stood agog. I’d been in one pub so far on the trip (I don’t count the Polo Lounge in the hotel) and here I was facing another pub, The Clachan, that I’d been in on a different trip. What are the odds? My goal suddenly shifted: I needed to find a pub in which I had not already had a pint. We did enter the Clachan where I had two beers that I’d never previously had (Pudding Top & Cheswick) while MB had some mulled wine (did I mention it’s 30 degrees here?). We also ordered some Fish & Chips that had been battered in Fuller’s London Pride ale and were damned fine. After eating, we grudgingly began the trek back to a tube station to head to the hotel, but not before finding a pub I’d never been in. We did, eventually, find a delightful pub just off Charing Cross north of the Strand. The pub, The Welsh Harp (or just The Harp), was small, cozy and filled with locals – just what the Kyle needed. However, we did realize at this time that it was post 2100 and the tube does not run all night, especially on Boxing Day. We threw back our ales (another one I’d never had called Blacksheep) and near trotted to the Charing Cross station. After a brief heartache as we saw the iron gate barriers lowered, we found our way in, presented our Travel Cards and boarded the tube bound for Hatton Cross. Easy Peasy. Now, I’m sitting in the Polo Lounge with my wife watching Cricket on the telly, uploading the many photos I took to Flickr, savoring a Guinness and munching on a Ham and Mustard sandwich. Happy Boxing Day to me!

~KR (Written on 27 December 2008 )

Cricket (Australia vs South Africa)

Woman on a Red Couch Friday, Dec 26 2008 

25 December 2008
Merry Christmas, if Christmas is your thing. My Christmas present to my wife and to myself this year is this trip we are on. And, the first official post of the trip from me is not of a pub nor a pub sign. Not of a beer or a beer logo. Not of a building or some architectural detail. No, there will be plenty of all the above in the days to come. My first photo of this journey is a photo of my wife on a Red Velvet couch in the dimly lit Polo Lounge.
Woman on a Red Velvet Couch
The Polo Lounge is the bar of the Radisson Edwardian Hotel (one of two in London – this one is near the airport). Our first trip to the lounge was pleasant and was a wonderful welcome to London for us. The next trip was decidedly less enjoyable as apparently there is no age limit in here. We were absolutely overrun by families and their extraordinarily unruly – and very loud – children. We tried, we really did, but still a little jet-lagged, we were mostly interested in winding down before heading to bed. Instead we were simply wound up by the poor manners of the many children and the complete lack of caring by the inattentive parents.
Marita Beth is drinking a Magners Cider while I am having a Guinness. When the pubs open tomorrow, the drink menu will be different.

~KR (Written on 26 December 2008 )

Setanta Sports game recap in the Polo Lounge of the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in London

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.5 sec (1/2)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 320
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Early Morning at Heathrow, London Monday, Oct 29 2007 

21 October 2007
The day I’d been looking forward to and dreading simultaneously was here. Terrill, an excellent, travel companion, rang me up to make sure I was awake at about 0445. I’m hoping he went back to sleep. I was so tired, I can’t actually recall how I got to LHR, but I think it was by taxiservice. I checked in with the ticket agent, and asked her to make sure I was on the upgrade list, dropped my single bag of luggage and stumbled on. Got into the quick-moving, but very long security queue. Interestingly, I didn’t have to mostly undress; I didn’t even have to take off my shoes. After getting through that line, it was time for the (oh my gosh!) long walk to the gate. Finally, I arrived there, stopping once along the way to divest myself of the remaining coins in my pocket by purchasing a cup of Americano Coffee. Now, for the secondary queue. Finally, I got to the gate agent who verified my passport and ticket matched. She motioned me through into the waiting area, but before I left, I asked her what my upgrade options looked like. Apparently, the ticket agent had not entered me on the upgrade list, but this kind agent did so for me now. I wasn’t in the waiting area for more than 2 minutes, before my name was called and I was issued a new seat assignment. Seat 1J was now mine, and I was suddenly very thankful and very tired. Minutes later we boarded and I took my seat in a newly-configured, beautiful 777. What a wonderful bird she was. Outside, the day was dawing pink & pretty, but I wasn’t long for the world. I had two pictures left in the life of my battery, I took them and sat back to relax.
Early Morning at Heathrow
I’m not sure we were in the air three minutes ere I was asleep. With about two hours to arrival in ORD, I woke. The wonderful flight attendant brought me a delicious (radish-topped) lunch and I watched a movie. A decent end to a trip, if only it were the end. One of the worst things about flying for work is the class of ticket available. Yes, I do get lucky sometimes and get first class, bt more often than not, there are no employee class tickets available so, I have to fly standby. That happened in ORD. I rolled across three flights, but Chicago being what it is, it’s a little easier. I bought a beer and walked to my gate. When my gate changed, I moved to another gate and, if need be, bought another beer along the way. Finally, I did board and was landing in DFW before 1700 on Sunday evening. A long day, but made better when I went and picked up my pups. The only downside was that MB wouldn’t be home until the next day. Ah, yes, the joy of the working class couple and their travel schedules.

~KR (21 October 2007)

Listening to:
Calling Dr. Love by Kiss
on Alive II(Disc One)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 8.6 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Dieu et mon Droit Monday, Oct 29 2007 

18 October 2007
Goodness. Is it possible for Indian food to hurt more the day after? Unequivocally I can tell you, yes! Oh, my. Never again, I say.
This was a much longer day at the office. We finally had a little bit of speed to the network. Our constant complaining had finally gotten some food into the hamsters that drive the wheels that run the network. They were running a little faster today, thank goodness. We trained some more people, and this time we were actually able to transmit data successfully and look at the results on the website. Hooray!
We worked later into the evening and never really managed a lunch break either, due to the sheer amount of work left in comparison to the amount we hadn’t been able to get done. We finally met with the trainer and trained him for an hour and a half. Not long enough, but it’ll have to do for now. We also trained a batch of other folk that seemed eager to be trained – how refreshing. Finally, closing in on 7:30 p.m., we departed. We drove only slightly out of the way and had dinner at a quaint place called The King’s Arms. Nice enough, but unremarkable, really.
Dieu Et Mon Droit
Off to the hotel for an early night. I was knackered and still in a bit of distress from that Indian food. Never again. Really.

~KR (18 October 2007)

Listening to:
Snow Falls in November by Julie Doiron
on Okkervil River

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.1 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire