Saturday, July 26, 2008

when is early too early?

OK, I know I have talked before about the inefficiencies of the Royal Mail with the caveat that I have only limited experience as of yet with the institution. One thing I can say for of packages that are too big to go through a mail slot can be redelivered within 7 days just by going on to the website and requesting it. Like that concept...

However, today, Saturday morning, we had a postal delivery at 7:30 am. I think that is just sinful...what happened to the "never call or come by before 8 am" rule? I mean, it's Saturday...surely we can sleep in one morning a week!

Apparently, not this week. At least the item being delivered was worth getting up and signing for.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's the problem with a little strike?

For one thing, no garbage pick-up. Or as they say in the UK, no rubbish collection. Technically it was only a national two-day strike on July 16th and 17th of last week; however, when "your" pick-up day is the day that the workers are striking, well...that's just a load of trash (excuse the pun).

So, I am ever hopeful that trash pick-up will occur this week, as it is becoming a bit insightly on the west side of Chiswick. Thankfully, not too smelly yet!

And for those of you asking, "Why are the workers striking"? For a 2.45% pay increase.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Always good to see you...

One of the lovely things about living in London that I did not have the luxury of when living in Seoul, Taipei, or Dusseldorf is that the Budman and I have access to all sorts of visitors…friends and family who come to London just to see us as well as people passing through the city on business or enroute to other vacation destinations.

Sometimes the duration of the visit can only last a few hours over a dinner or a beverage, to perhaps a bit longer such as a day of London sightseeing I enjoyed with some Waxahachie pals earlier this week. True, I’d seen all of their targeted sightseeing spots before but I always learn something new or see something different each time I visit one so I never mind.

Thanks, Judy and Patti (as well as Ben and Beth) for letting me visit with you during the day, and especially for the sack of Wal-Mart goodies. My box of “Dots” tasted divine. Most of all, it was great to see some homefolk and catch up on the news from the Big Hachie.

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Moral of the story: we would love to see YOU if ever your journey brings you to London…if nothing more than to see you, share a cup of coffee and hug your neck!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Return to Nuremberg

Although the triathlon was on a Sunday in Roth, we did get a day or so in Nuremberg…just a bit of lazy walking about and of course, those fabulous little sausages. Even though we had visited the town before, we enjoyed being back in Germany. Oddly, it felt like we had come home (smile - can't believe I am saying that).

Streets of Nuremberg, its churches, and the Altstadt.

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The Imperial Castle of Nuremberg.

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Paulster, Budman, Hachie Gal, Stefan, and Martin in Nuremberg.

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Martin buying sweets.

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Stefan is not too sure about his meal; Martin looks on as if to say, “hmmm, I'd pass”.

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Team EDS voting whether to get up early or not for the Roth Triathlon next morning for the start of the 6:20 a.m. swim.

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Budman and Paulster at dinner.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In a sleepy little town called Roth...

...Team EDS showed up to cheer for our gal, Jennifer, as she competed in the Ironman Triathlon last Sunday. All I can say is that she must be bionic - an impressive feat to be sure, Jen! A few sights and sounds from the day as we gladly braved the rain and an early morning to cheer Jen and 3000 other participants along the way.

And for those of you who are not in the know, the ironman triathlon consists of three segments: a 2 mile swim, a 100 mile bicycle ride, and a full 26.2 mile marathon. Exactly...not for the faint of heart or spirit.

PS - I have finally taken the time to crack the video loading and posting task, so you can check out the videos (just make sure your sound is on) as well as the photos. The start of the triathlon and the start of the swimming portion.

Team EDS awaits for Jennifer to emerge from the swim and pick up her bike at the start of the second phase.

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Jennifer transitions from the swimming to the cycling phase.

An elite contestant at transition #1.

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Team EDS "breakfasts" during the biking stage. Sorry, Jennifer, we know you were not having too much fun at the same time we were.

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Team EDS waiting at Transition #2: the end of the biking stage and the start of the marathon.

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Scenes along the marathon course.

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Jennifer at the halfway mark in the marathon.

Jennifer...a few steps away from completion of the triathlon.

The triathlon finish.

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Jennifer nears the finish line.

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We celebrate together for breakfast the next morning.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

First race in London

Running has been a part of my life…well…for most of my life. It started as simple neighbourhood running here and there and grew into track and field in high school. As the years progressed it was merely an exercise vehicle; however, I quickly learned that it could possess very satisfying social aspects. Some of my best friends and some of my best running memories include my buddies (including the Budman), whether as a runner themselves or as my road crew.

I later learned that running could be a source of personal pride in achievement of objectives and goals, whether it is a race of a certain distance, a PR, or I simply wanted the T-shirt. I would never have thought I would have completed 1 marathon let alone 11 marathons. The Hachie friends still remember the Texas Challenge… “5 marathons in 5 months”. Yes, I know it sounds crazy to me now but it was a rush at the time.

Then, there is “destination running” where I pick a place to race that I have always wanted to visit. A great way to see a city, and a guiltless way to enjoy eating your way through the town when you know you have a race to run off those extra calories. It never matters whether it is a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or full marathon…destination running can be enjoyable no matter the distance.

So, how has the UK running been going? Sadly, it has been non existent but that all changed last month as the Hachie Gal broke the running shoes back out and reclaimed this part of her life. It is also with great appreciation that Cyn booked us into the London JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge to keep us on our training path. Nothing like a race staring you in the face to kick the training schedule into high gear. Sadly, Cyn had to drop out due to an injury (we’ll get you there next time, sister!) but the Hachie Gal and 15,000 other people last night enjoyed a beautiful, sunny, and pleasantly cool summer evening in Battersea Park running a 5.6 mile race.

One question, though: Why the .6 tacked on to the end of the distance? Why not just a 5K?

So, without further ado, I give you “the race”.

Entrance to Battersea Park.

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Humorous side note for those of you who are runners…these were the portable toilets! I was personally a bit confused as I thought they were horse trailers originally. Really…LOL.

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The starting line.

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Team EDS.

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PS - I like those company T-shirts...what gives? Where's mine? (Short answer: there were none...these guys invested in their own).

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Picking up T-shirts, Gatorade, and bananas.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Days 5- 7 of R&R...the story continues

I'd like to say I had ventured into London to entertain myself now that I had all this free time in my hands this week. It was not for a lack of planning or desire on my is just that I found myself amazingly happy to just be at home.

It occurred to me that for the last 5 months I have not actually been able to enjoy being in the London house. For months, it was simply this place that I slept and showered in. Sadly, there is more truth to that statement than I care to admit. There are still a few unopened moving boxes, a few closets and cabinets to organize, and a few pictures, draperies, and chandeliers still left to hang. Sure, these types of small projects did in fact find their way onto my project list for these 2 weeks but in actuality, I have been quite content to just putter about and "be".

Could the Hachie Gal be evolving into a person who actually schedules downtime into her routine? Not totally, but I am a self admitted plan-aholic. Isn't that the first step on the road to recovery and full R&R?

And isn't step 2 about planning the 2 week vacation in September? Definitely.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Day 4 of the Hachie Gal R&R Plan

Well, it did include a few home projects (could not help myself) as well as 2 new suits for the Budman. After all, retail therapy and home improvement were a part of the bigger recuperation strategy.

Day 3 of the Hachie Gal's R&R Plan

Day 3 of the Hachie Gal’s R&R plan included something London is best known for: its theatre (OK, you will notice that I have given up fighting my UK spell-checker).

A gorgeous day awaited the Budman and I as we set off by train to a local theatre in London, which is in the western part of the city known as Richmond. Actually, we looked at a few places to live in Richmond but sadly none of the prospects panned out. Apologies for my digression…back to the main point of my story….

Built in 1899 as the Theatre Royal and Opera House by the famous UK theatre architect, Frank Matcham, its first production was a performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Of the 24 Matcham designed theatres remaining, the Richmond Theatre is considered one of the finest examples of Victorian theatre architecture in existence today, having just undergone a significant refurbishment. Actors who have graced its stage have included Charlie Chaplin, Ana Pavlova, Ralph Richardson, Alec Guiness, John Gielgud, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench, Diana Rigg…just to name a few.

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Saturday’s outing brought us face to face with THE woman…the one and only “lady of the house” Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced BOO-kay, not BUC-keht) and the savvy detective Hetty Wainthrop herself….Patricia Routledge.

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The show was a very entertaining production of Royce Ryton’s, Crown Matrimonial, the story of the abdication of King Edward in order to marry Wallis Simpson, and the aftermath and effect on the monarchy…mainly seen through the eyes of the family matriarch, Queen Mary, mother of Kings Edward VII and George VI.

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Theatre in London is truly an embarrassment of riches!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Day 2 of the Hachie Gal's R&R Plan

Basically involved a couple of movies, a leisurely paced shopping trip through my local grocery store, long put off errands, and some birthday, not for me, but that is coming up.

In other words, pleasantly and utterly boring.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July

It was not the most exciting 4th of July we've ever experienced, but the Hachie Gal is certainly enjoying her "independence" from work for the next 2 weeks. A day of putzing about in Chiswick with no timetable or schedule ...perfect.

On the other hand, the Budman had to put in a full day's work, although he did share a July 4th breakfast with a fellow Texan who we have had the pleasure of knowing/working with in the last 4 countries we have lived in. It is a small world indeed....

So, from us to you...coming to you live from the country where we declared our independence from to the one that we remember fondly on this day....

Happy 4th of July, America!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Day 1 of the Hachie Gal's R&R Plan

So... when faced with how to spend two weeks of R&R/comp time, how does one fill the time when the pace of life over the last 18 months has been so manic? By its sheer definition, the term "rest" has a series of meanings, all of which I can personally subscribe to:

* repose, sleep - I can get behind any concept that involves a nap.

* freedom from activity or labor, a state of motionlessness or inactivity - check, check.

* a place for resting or lodging - well, the house is not quite perfectly set up to meet this criteria, but if does qualify as a diversion as noted on. Nesting is definitely on the list.

* a peace of mind and spirit, free of, we're talkin'!

while the term "relaxation" conjurs up the following:

* a relaxing or recreative state, activity, pastime, or diversion - yes, today's pedicure and manicure qualifies

Thus, as Day 1 of the Hachie Gal's R&R Plan comes to a close, I can report that aeven the few personal emails, furniture delivery, and of course, the spa treatment noted above, as well as of today's activities fell into the rest and relaxation category.

The trick for this Type A gal will be how not to cram a year and half worth of R&R into two weeks, which in fact, would not be the freedom of activity or labor as noted above...the antithesis of a peaceful mind and spirit... in short, too much activity. Will keep you posted on exactly how successful I have been...

Texans...for dinner

It is not often I get to say this, but we met Texans for dinner last night (and no, it was not Cyn as lovely a dinner companion as she well as being a Texan).

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No, these were the real McCoys...Sandra and David...who are living in the rockin' small town of Waxahachie where we are all from. On their way back from a 12-day bus tour of central Europe, we were lucky enough to see them for dinner on their way in and out of London.

David and Sandra - thanks for the home stories, updates on church, friends, and the growing metropolis of the Hachie. It was a real treat.

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THE day is here

The long awaited date of my project's completion at the office is here: my project is over! I can truly say it was a rewarding experience, one in which I learned alot from, met some outstandingly nice and bright people, including my client, and learned alot about myself in the process.

Let me be clear, though: my life is once again my own!

And, it is so nice to be back in the land of the bloggers...I missed my people.