Doing the tourist thing, Les Miserables

Ricky came down to visit Rik and me last night. We all went for some dinner (with Cheryl and Nicole too) at Smollensky’s in Canary Wharf. It was really nice in there, and not massively expensive considering where it is.

We came back to the apartment and had some more drinks and put Jarheads on (muted) to keep Ricky entertained. After several hours of deep conversations about why nobody else thinks how we do, and how we could make the world better the three non-residents caught a taxi back to Riks and Cheryl and I went to bed.

This morning I got up and went out to meet Nicole, Ricky, and Rik again at Teapod. I took a quick walk there and it started to turn nice and sunny on the way. We ate some brunch and then headed off along the south bank towards Westminster so Ricky could take lots of tourist pictures. The rest of us did the same. 🙂

Just past the London Eye we heard some screaming. I looked ahead and saw a whole bunch of purple balloons and a troop of people marching. The crowd parted to let them through and it turned out to be a march of Justin Bieber fans chanting about how much they love him and then screaming. It was mental.

We had to get to St. Pancras so that Ricky could get his train home, but we stopped by Starbucks first for a quick farewell drink. After we watched Ricky board the train we decided to go along to Stratford because Rik and Nicole needed some stuff. I picked up some sushi for me and Cheryl and headed back home.

Cheryl and I ate quickly and then headed off to the tube to travel to Leicester Square. Unfortunately we got off at London Bridge instead of Waterloo for the other Northern line branch. After we walked back we had a 5 minute wait for the train. Once we got to the Northern line a train was at the platform, but there was a paramedic and someone was talking about the passenger alarm.

We walked to the other end of the platform and got on the less-busy end of the train. Apparently the alarm had been pulled in 3 carriages, somehow. Nothing happened for a long time and then we finally set off. The journey was crap, the stations were packed, and when we finally got off at Leicester Square we had 5 minutes to get to the theatre to see Les Miserables.

We ran through the square and through part of Chinatown and made it to the theatre 2 minutes before the show was due to start. We found our seats, took off our coats, sat down, and the show started seconds later. We were incredibly lucky to make it. 🙂

The performance was absolutely amazing. I’m so glad I finally went to see a full and proper production.

Rik, snow, Android

Rik moved down to London not so long ago and he’s been staying with Cheryl and me since then. It’s been kind of weird having someone else in the house again, not in a horrible way, just different. I’d forgotten what it was like. Anyway, glad to help him out in what is normally a very difficult and expensive thing to do.

It’s cool having him at work too, especially since Dan is abandoning me for Australia in a matter of weeks now.

It snowed in London for the first time this winter over the weekend. Cheryl, Charlotte, Aron, and I spent a good hour or two on the roof terrace in the middle of the night throwing snowballs and building snowmen. It was a lot of fun. I was soaking wet when I got back into the apartment, but it was enjoyable.

I’ve been working on one of my Android apps quite a bit recently. It’s really frustrating me at the moment though because things aren’t working how I’d expect them to. I think it’s just the dimension definitions that are making it look so horrible, but I can’t be sure. It also seems that there’s no font anti-aliasing on my phone. It could just be the dimensions and some horrible scaling though. Oh well.

The Morning From Heck

This morning was quite annoying. It wasn’t the worst morning ever, but it was quite bad so I am calling it The Morning From Heck!

It started when I got to Canada Water station and saw that the Jubilee Line had severe delays. I figured I’d check it out because it’s not always as bad as they say. Well, I’ve never seen so many people in that station. The trains were about 10 minutes apart and their arrival estimates kept getting further and further into the future. One train arrived while I waited there and it was so jammed full of people that I immediately turned around and went up the escalators and headed to the Overground.

The Gherkin from Whitechapel Station

The Gherkin from Whitechapel Station

When I got to Whitechapel I had to wait for 3 westbound District Line trains to go through before the Hammersmith & City line train I needed pulled up just past me on the platform. I walked along to the end of the train and got on. When the doors opened at Liverpool Street I was greeted by about 6 million people all wanting to get on the train. I pushed through and made it to the stairs. I crossed the busy crossing area where people are heading in 4 separate directions and trying not to bump into each other. It reminded me of watching traffic in India.

I got to the Central Line and the train that was there was too full to let me on, so I walked down to the other end of the platform. The arrivals board said that the next 3 trains were arriving in 1 minute, 1 minute, and 2 minutes. 5 minutes later the train (that I could see in the tunnel the entire time) crawled into the station, stopped short of the end, waited for a minute, then pulled the rest of the way in. I squeezed on and got shoved further in the guy in front of me by the retard behind me.

As we went through central London the train gradually emptied. I managed to get a seat by the time we reached Bond Street where I would normally have boarded the train, only 20 minutes later than usual.

The journey went well for several minutes and I was glad. Then the driver started speaking. He informed us that this westbound train would be pulling into the eastbound platform at Queensway. We all had to get off the train, get by the perplexed people on the platform, and get to the westbound platform to continue our journeys.

The rest of the journey was uneventful and I was very pleased about that when I got to North Acton.

I called into Tesco Express to pick up 5 porridge cups for £4 only to find that they had run out. Instead I bought some nice porridge sachets with apple and blueberry in them. I got to work, settled down, and then went downstairs to sort out my breakfast. I followed the instructions on the sachet and then put the sachet inside a cup to prevent it from falling over in the microwave. I set the timer and then went about making myself some coffee.

Less than 2 minutes later I looked into the microwave and found a delightful sight awaiting me.

Quaker Oats explosion

Quaker Oats explosion


That was The Morning From Heck!



Just noticed it’s Friday the 13th. Hmmph.

Transformers, Harry Potter, Submarine, Zookeeper

I watch a lot of films. If you don’t already know that about me then you probably don’t know me very well at all and I wonder why you’re reading my blog. 😛

Cheryl and I used to go to the cinema between 4 and 10 times a month when we were in Nottingham so it’s been a bit strange not to go very often while we’ve been in London. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had quite a few visits to various cinemas though and it’s been quite nice.

We went to see Transformers 3 at Paramount’s office in Chiswick and they gave us free drinks and pizza before the film. That was pretty awesome. The film wasn’t too bad either, if you forget about the acting of a certain member of the cast.

Earlier this week we went to Cineworld in the O2 to watch the final instalment of Harry Potter with Dan, Fran, and Hannah. Most of the film was pretty good. A few bits seemed a bit lame, or funny, or just awkward, and then at the end it flashed up with “19 years later” and Dan I looked at each other with a look that said “what the hell?” The last few minutes basically made me come away with a worse impression of the film. it was completely unnecessary.

Yesterday Cheryl and I went to see a screening of Submarine at the Charlotte Street hotel near Tottenham Court Road. After the film–which is brilliant–we took part in a Q&A with the writer/director Richard Ayoade. That was really cool. I’d never taken part in something like that before so it was pretty exciting to be there. Richard Ayoade was very self-deprecating during the whole thing, which is how I think I would be if I ever became famous. I spent the entire Q&A session thinking whether I should ask him the stupid question I’d come up with or not. I went with it for the last question of the night: “how deep is the ocean?” If you’ve not seen the film then you won’t get why that’s funny. Everyone in the room laughed though, so my worries about nobody getting it were baseless. 🙂

Next week we’re going to Sony’s cinema to watch Zookeeper. I’ve not heard a great deal about it, but I’m hoping it’s good. Definitely looking forward to the refreshments. 🙂

Tube Tales

One of the best and worst things about living in London is the massive underground system. Developed during the Cambrian age to transport the smaller dinosaurs to their offices palaeontologists maintain that the tunnels of the London underground system hold significant scientific value and are currently excavating several sites during the weekends.

But seriously, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the tube. It’s usually very impressive; there are frequent trains running on time to basically everywhere I could possibly want to go. It’s only when it goes wrong that I hate it. It’s not often, but when it happens it has a huge impact on everything because it’s only then that I realise how much I rely on it.

The people I encounter on the tube are a constant source of, well, mostly fear, but sometimes also amusement. I got on the District Line at Ealing Broadway yesterday with my colleague Rob. We got on and saw that the carriage was almost full, but there were 3 empty seats with a man sitting on the fourth by himself. We sat opposite him suspecting nothing. I looked up and noticed that the girl behind him and the guy opposite her were looking at me and laughing. At first I thought I had something on my face, or my hair sticking up or something like that. It’s quite disconcerting having strangers laughing at you and not knowing why. A few seconds later I learned the source of their delight. The guy we’d sat opposite started moving his head closer and closer to me, staring, trying to make eye contact. He kept repeating “Hello…. Hello…” and I avoided his uncomfortable attention. I ended up closing my eyes and resting my head in my hand. I could hear him still saying hello every few seconds for the rest of the journey, and when I dared to open my eyes I could see the people behind him laughing at me. I’ve never been so pleased to get off a train in my entire life.

This morning I got on the train with Cheryl as usual. I got all the way to Green Park without a hitch and then the driver announced that Bond Street was closed due to overcrowding. I got off at Green Park and waited for the next train after it was announced that Bond Street was open again. There wasn’t enough room to get on, so I waited another couple of minutes for the next train. I got on and the driver announced that the train was only going as far as White City. I decided to get off at Queensway rather than White City so that I could get on the train behind before everyone else did at White City. That plan went well enough and I got a seat before the train got crowded, but then the driver announced that the train was terminating at North Acton. That’s not a huge problem because that’s where I work, but it means that the train had to wait 5 minutes for another train to pull out of the middle platform and then I had to walk up the stairs and over the bridge to get out. I was 15 minutes later to work than usual. Not impressed.

4 days to go, London so far

In 4 days we’ll be moving into the new apartment. Everything’s still on target. The flooring and furniture stuff should all be sorted by now. The payment is going through in the next 2 days, and come Friday at 4pm we will be getting keys! 😀

It seems like a good time to reflect on how the move to London has been so far.

I’ve complained a lot about sleeping on an inflatable mattress for the last month and a bit. It hasn’t really been too bad, but I am definitely looking forward to a nice comfortable bed!

We’ve been to quite a lot of places. Most of them have been fairly cheap or free, thankfully. There’s so much going on in London that we can’t come close to seeing everything we want to. I’m really looking forward to having nice reliable weather (come on global warming!) so that it’s easier to plan more stuff.

Work has been going pretty well, and I finally feel a bit more like I’m settling in with everything. I feel more comfortable saying I’ve finished code, and I don’t worry so much when it’s being reviewed. I think that will help me write better code in the long run. There are big differences in going from a small development team to a very large one, and from one system to another, but it’s nothing I can’t handle and get on with after some experience.

It’s been really nice to get a chance to hang out with JonP and Emma a bunch more than usual. It’s good to do some proper hanging out with old friends, and I’ve known Emma and JonP for longer than anyone I’m not related to. Longer than most of the people I am related to, in fact.

Of course I miss having my family and other friends around a bit, but they’re not that far away and I should be able to go up and visit fairly easily when I’m completely settled. Of course, they will be able to come down to stay then too. 😀

Getting settled

I’m starting to get things together at work now.

I’ve got a computer to call my own and I’ve taken in my keyboard, a new mouse, and my headphones. I’ve started to set up my environment so my keyboard shortcuts work. I’ve switched the Caps Lock and Escape keys so I can use vim comfortably again. It messes everything up for other people who try to use my computer though.

I am looking forward to getting to work tomorrow and getting some proper code written. I haven’t written any for a while and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll be able to remember how to do it.

There’s a barbecue at work tomorrow afternoon after an all-hands meeting. It’ll be quite nice to see people ever-so-slightly out of the work environment, even if it is just in the car park. 🙂

I’ve started reading on the tube so it’s making the journey seem faster, and helping me get through my massive reading list. I’m looking forward to making some serious progress over the next few months. For now I’ll just be quite pleased to finish A Room With a View and then maybe renew my efforts of defeating Ulysses.

So yeah, basically things are going well. 😀

Tim Curry and a ten pound note

Yesterday was the day of the royal wedding. Emma and JonP had organised a bit of an event at their house to celebrate. Cheryl and I headed over there between 10 and 11 in the morning. When we got on the train at Stratford two girls got on behind us and we heard them ask “does this train go to Pudding Mill Lane (nearest stop to Emma and JonP).

We got off the train at that stop, and so did the girls. We all walked along Pudding Mill Lane alongside the Olympic entrance. A guy walked by us on the way.

We got to the entrance of the building and the girls and the guy were at the entrance too. We heard the guy asking the girls if it was George Hudson Tower, but they didn’t know, so we told him that it was and then we all went through the gate together. We all got in the front door together and then all got in the lift together. When we were all in one of the girls pressed the button for the 19th floor. It was at that point that I decided to ask “are we all going to the same place?” Quite surprisingly we were! 🙂

It turned out that we’d briefly met the girls, Vicky and Florence, at a club in London for Florence’s birthday a few weeks before. The guy, Mikey, was a friend of Emma’s but we’d apparently not met before.

JonP had prepared scones with clotted cream and jam for everyone, and there were several bottles of champagne. It felt a bit weird to be drinking before 11am, but it was a celebration.

Another couple of Emma’s friends turned up (Ellie and Jo) a little bit after the rest of us and we had a little wedding party thing going. I wasn’t planning on having anything to do with the royal wedding, so I was quite surprised to find myself watching it on TV all the time. I guess it’s just the kind of spectacle that it’s hard to ignore.

After Prince William and Kate Middleton-William-Arthur-Philip-Louis-Windsor had kissed they were waiting for the flyover by the RAF. JonP kept saying to look out to see if we could see the planes going by the building. A minute or so later JonP spotted them and we all went outside to watch them fly past on their way to the palace. A few seconds later a second set of planes flew by. We went back inside as they reached the palace. It was so weird to see stuff happening knowing how close we were to it. 🙂

People started to leave Emma and JonP’s apartment after a little while and Emma went for a nap. JonP kept drinking the champagne, enjoying the bubbles. He was quite drunk after a while, so we had a rather interesting conversation about politics, immigrations, and various other things (including his “well-fed” girlfriend).

When Emma got up we decided we would go to Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Canary Wharf. We met back up with Ellie and went in. The food there is really delicious and I am sure we will go again.

After dinner we headed to SoHo to enjoy the street party atmosphere. On the way to one of Emma and Ellie’s friends’ houses we walked right past Tim Curry! I made eye contact and realised it was him, but I didn’t want to bother him, so I just walked past and then Cheryl and I turned to each other with a look that said “holy crap, that was Tim Curry leaning on a wall!” He’s the first famous person I’ve seen in London. 😀

Literally about a minute later I was stepping from the pavement into the road and I spotted a £10 note folded up in the road. It was basically the best 60 seconds of the entire day. 😀

The rest of the night was spent drinking in various places around SoHo. The last place we went to was this little basement bar about the size of the cellar at my mum’s house. It had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier walking around the place and lots of posters of boxers, members of the mafia (mafiosa?), and musicians. The music was mostly from the 1950s to the 1970s and it was a really cool place. It cost £1 to get in and 4 drinks came to less than £15 (good compared to everywhere else I’ve been in London).

We managed to catch one of the last tube trains back to St. Paul’s tube station and walked back the rest of the way from there. It was a really good day. 🙂

Moved to London

Blimey, I’ve had a busy few days!

Cheryl came up to Nottingham last weekend to help me get the last of our things packed so that it was clear for me to move down with her. We spent a bunch of time sorting out our things and putting them in boxes and suitcases. I also had to sort out a whole bunch of things for the house I’m renting out on Crown Street because of a bunch of annoying plumbing stuff. I also spent a while seeing friends and family, and a few of my (now former) colleagues.

I didn’t really feel the same sense of everything being done for the last time that I felt before I moved to California, but I was a bit sad to see things for the last time out of a taxi window on the way to the train station.

The first day in London was Tuesday. It was fairly late when we got to St. Pancras so we just caught a taxi to the apartment and spent the night unpacking and getting ready to sleep in the lovely single bed.

On Wednesday we decided to go out and be tourists for a day. We needed a destination so I randomly picked Little Ben and we set off for a walk. We walked for about 3 hours or so and managed to see St. Paul’s Cathedral (about 5 minutes from the apartment), walk along the Thames, see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey complete with idiots in tents for the royal wedding, and then finally Little Ben! 🙂 It was a really nice day, and I believe I got a bit sunburned.

St. Paul's Cathedral

Little Ben

We went back out a little bit after getting back from the walk to pick up some pillows, pillow cases, and a blanket for the inflatable mattress I brought along with me.

I inflated the mattress when I got back and sorted out all the other bedding stuff. The blanket turned out to be a bit too small, and the fricking mattress decided to deflate during the night. I woke up at least 3 times and gave up on “camping” at about 5am. I got into the single bed with Cheryl and a short while later she got out and slept on the mostly-deflated mattress. I told her not to, but a single bed is not a comfortable place for two people.

A short while later we woke up and started to make plans for the day. Cheryl wanted to make sure that we got a drying rack for the laundry, so we reserved one from Argos near Old Street. They offered to deliver it within 90 minutes for about £5 or so. As tempting and awesome as that was we decided to go and pick it up ourselves. Before we could pick that up from Argos we had to go and look at some furniture in a show home so that we could pick things for the new apartment (currently expected to be complete in June).

When we found the Argos on Old Street we were both pretty hungry, so we went to a pub and grabbed some lovely food. While we were sitting there a NAVTEQ car stopped at the lights beside us with a camera mounted on the top and this weird bit revolving constantly. So I assume that means Google Maps for London will be updated soon. Cheryl and I were sitting in the pub by the side of Bunhill Row near Old Street. 🙂

We bought the drying rack from Argos, and I also bought a new blanket and cover for it so that I could sleep better. Then we headed home and watched Stargate SG-1 for a couple of hours. 😀

Cheryl’s gone to London, 1700th post

Cheryl set off for London earlier this afternoon. It seems quite strange. So far I’ve spent most of the time at my mum’s house so it’s not really had much chance to sink in, but I’m sure it will when I wake up tomorrow, and when I get back from work and stuff.

I guess all that’s left now is a few more weeks of work, and a whole bunch of packing/moving and I’ll be off to London too. Then only a few weeks after that we’ll get to move everything once again and end up in the new house in Canada Water. I really can’t wait for that.

This is the 1700th post to my blog since I started it back in January 2003. That’s quite a lot of writing. A fairly big history to be able to go back and read. It’s mostly only interesting to me though. 🙂

I’ve been aiming to blog a bit more over the last week or so. I kinda got out of the habit some time in the last couple of years. I seem to have written a bunch of entries about programming and stuff. Those will probably carry on, but I would also quite like to go back to using my blog how I used to when it started.