Sunday, November 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Quarterly Roundup: The Return
As my few remaining readers (as in, Joie and Daorcey) have pointed out, it's been a while. So here's more words to read, tho I warn ya, it's essentially a repeat of last round... as in, places I've been. What else is there, really?
So when we left off, I was about to head off to Spain for Christmas there with my parents. It's the first time since I moved out to London-land that I haven't gone home for Christmas, so it was good they came out. Otherwise, I probably would have drunken myself near-death out of sheer depression. So yay for that.
We stayed near a town called Estepona on the Costa del Sol. It's all very lovely, but it is dead over the holidays. Our resort was beautiful, and the only other person we saw there was the security guard. On top of that, we had hella shitty weather -- note the name. Costa del Sol. It's supposed to be sunny 330 days of the year. It rained pretty well every day we were there. It's not supposed to do that.
That said, we still got out and saw a lot of stuff and it was wonderful to spend so much time with them, even if it did bring out the grumpy teenager-like side of me. Seville was beautiful, tho we didn't visit the barbers. Rhonda and the pueblo blancos were super cool. The bullfight we saw, not so much. My mom and I actually walked out after the second fight -- my mom felt sick, and I wanted to punch someone. Cheering wankers on for torturing animals to death, not really my kind of thing, you'll not be surprised to learn.
We also took a day trip to Gibraltar, where the highway runs across the airport landing strip, and I nearly got bitten by a monkey. I would say that Gibraltar is like Britain, but warmer; however, it rained.
I also managed to talk my parents into a trip to Morroco. Neither seemed too keen on it, but then we were standing on the Rock (aka Gibraltar) looking out toward Africa, and that seemed to convince my dad. I loved Tangier, and would go back anytime. It's dirty and colourful and lots of fun. We did touristy stuff like ride a camel -- harder than it looks -- and my mom got hassled by a rug salesman. He actually followed her around the market. And I had as much mint tea as I could... I love that stuff.
Back in London, in February, it snowed. I mean, proper snowed. This doesn't happen often here; a light dusting is enough to shut the airports down, and we got several inches. Even better, it was the wet stuff -- perfect for snowballs and snowmen.
I worked from home that day, but managed to sneak out of the house for an hour to go for a walk. So much fun! There were snowmen built everywhere, like they were invading. And in a few places there's be three big snowballs feet high lined up -- people had clearly tried to make massive ones, not realising it's rather hard to stack them when they're that big...
At the end of the month, I had a work trip to Cannes, so stayed up for the weekend to tour around. On a friend's advice, I checked out a chateau a few miles out of Cannes called La Napoule. It sits right on the sea, and was rebuilt by an American artist and his wife. They filled the garden with crazy-ass statues and carved faces and animals into the walls. Everywhere I looked, there was something random to surprise me -- a weird statue, a face above a window, and above the main door, they carved the fairytale phrase "once upon a time...". Very sweet and beautiful.
From there, I wandered down to Nice, which had a cool carnival going on, and was a good base to visit Monaco and Monte Carlo. On the way to that tax haven, I stopped off at a village called Eze, which is set up on top of a cliff overlooking the Med. Again, perfect views. I want a house overlooking the sea...
In March, I managed to travel for FUN not work -- crazy times, I know. Kris is living out in Berlin for a few months this summer, so went to see him. Berlin was pretty cool, and it's always good to have a tour guide. And, a free place to stay. Did all the usual touristy stuff -- saw the Brandenburg Gate, bits of the wall, Checkpoint Charlie -- but also wandered into the Turkish district, where we had some damn fine Shwarmas and mint tea... noticing a trend here?
Berlin's weirdly cheap for a capital city. Kris and Tina have a two bedroom apartment for less than I pay to live in a five-person houseshare, and the beer and food and transport is all well cheaper than London. Time to learn German, then?
And that's it for travel... for ten days at least. (Noticing another trend here?) I'm back home in Calgary for a week -- need to visit my preggers sisters. (Yes, plural, they've synchronised.)
In May, I've got DarNat visiting, and we're heading out to Stockholm -- mostly because it was cheap -- for a weekend, and who knows what else we'll get up to. I predict pubs and beer will feature rather frequently...
Pictures are all up on Facebook and a few random London ones are on Flickr.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This week, I'm going to have to spend a large portion of my Time At Work doing end-of-year roundups -- effectively rehashed stories reminding people what happened over the past 12 months. On one hand, they're a useful review and I don't mind writing them, on the other hand, they're hit-whoring spacefiller (not unlike this blog???).
Anyway, I've been nagged in the comments (Hi Joie!) that I haven't posted in a while, and that is indeed true -- not since the beginning of August, it would seem. As Joie asks, surely something's happened since then??
The past few weeks, not really, as I've been struck down by the cold/flu/-itis to end them all, and have barely left my room this weekend -- or the past few weekends. But I'm starting to feel better, a bit, and as such am OHMYGOD so bored.
Bored enough to blog, it would seem. Bored enough to blog a roundup.
So. Right. August. Went up to Edinburgh in August, for the World's Largest Fringe Festival (tm) -- and damn, it is big. Saw a ton of good comedy, a couple decent plays, and a totally mental and hilariously crap puppet show. And, drank a lot. Didn't see as much of the city as I would have liked, but it looks beautiful, albeit through drunken and bleary eyes. Need to go back when a billion and a half other people aren't there, so I can see the rest of it, and more of Scotland.
A couple weeks after that, flew to Calgary on a hilariously shit airline called Globespan, which never arrives on time. Strangely, Mary -- who came to Scotland with us -- was on the same flight as me, one seat away from me. Weird. The flight was delayed several hours, so we hung out watching the Olympics at a pub in Gatwick Airport, which is exactly as fun as it sounds. Horribly, the delay was not communicated to Calgary, so our families were standing around wondering WTF was going on. (On the upside, unlike Zoom, Globespan remained in business over the next few weeks, so I was able to get back to London... albeit several hours late.)
From Calgary, my family drove to somewhere in Montana, and caught a plane to Vegas for my little sister's wedding, which was a fantastic day, despite me delivering a speech. (DarNat, you know how good I'm not at that...)
Then, back to London. From where I went back to Vegas for work. My life is retarded, and entirely environmentally unfriendly.
When I got back from Vegas (the second time) it was off to a town called Truro, in a southwestern bit of the UK called Cornwall. I've always wanted to go to Cornwall, but Truro is a dump. There is nothing to do there except drink, and they even make that difficult. The hotel we stayed in was like an old folks' home -- the breakfasts included prunes, if you wanted. Still, given the company and the drinking, I had a fantastic time. I didn't, however, have any prunes.
Then, I stayed in the country for a month. It was weird. The Saints and Chargers played at Wembley Stadium in London, so went to see my first NFL came ever... in London.
After that, went to New York for work -- the day after Obama's Historic and Hope-Bringing (tm) election. I'm already planning a trip back -- to New York, not Obama, but if he wants to hang out, that's cool with me.
A couple weeks after that, took a quick weekend break to Shannon, Ireland, with my friend Shannon. She's the master of cheap flights, and found some seriously almost-free ones to the west coast of Ireland, which is one of the prettiest places in the world. Everything is green and cliffy. And have the best pub nights ever. You make friends with everyone in the bar because, why not? They're drinking, you're drinking, you have lots in common...
And that's it for travel... until tenish days from now, when I'm off to Spain to spend Christmas with my parents there. It's my first time not going home for Christmas since I foolishly moved out here, but at least I'm still spending it with family. If I was entirely alone, I'd be entirely drunk -- though how that's different from most Kobie Christmases, I'm not entirely sure...
Now this pretty well reads like a list of places I've travelled to over the past nearly-half year. Between all this, I did lots of stuff, alright. Namely, drinking at parties, drinking at pubs, drinking at people's houses, drinking at shows, and drinking for the sake of drinking, with the odd movie thrown in when I run out of drinking money. My lifestyle, it is retarded.
New year, new leaf, maybe?
Sunday, August 03, 2008
The Truth is on the Red Carpet
I've gotten to do some pretty cool things while out here in Bizzaro World, but my night out on Wednesday would make the top five. I got to go to the X-Files premiere in Leicester Square.
The actual premiere bit is lame -- read all the details here -- but getting to see Mulder and Scully was awesome, and it was a pretty cool experience to get to do the whole red carpet thing.
The movie itself wasn't great, just a sort of alright episode (would not put it in a top five, that's for sure) but I loved that show so much I'd pay to see a shit episode, just to see it again. But given how poorly it's done -- I'd say more because of TDK competition than anything else -- I doubt there'll be a third...
At the moment, I'm waiting for Mary to show up. We're doing a shitload of theatre-y goodness while she's out here, and heading up to Edinburgh for Fringe Fest on the weekend. This post is boring me, so I'm going to go back to playing Classic Sim City online. Why? I don't really know.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I had a ridiculous morning yesterday, mostly because I'm a ridiculous person.
I woke up a bit uh, shall we say thirsty, after a few too many pints the night before. After chugging a glass of water, I went online — y'know, the usual facebooking, emailing, etc — and then saw a news headline that Obama was at Number 10 right now.
Leaping into action, I threw some clothes on, pulled my greasy hair into a pony tail, threw my camera into my bike bag, and hopped on my bike. Pedaling like a lunatic (well, one that needs to get somewhere fast), I was heaving by the time I crossed the river — Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far (hit a whole 29 degrees!) and I was still recovering from a cold and was well, hungover. Sweating like a retard, breathing with difficulty, I hit Trafalgar Square — but where to go? Should I go wait behind the gates of Number 10 by the park, and get a shot of him leaving, or round to the front/side of the Foreign Office on Whitehall?
I figured the doors by the park. He'd go in and out that way for sure. It's more photogenic. Right? He needs the shot of the '10' on the door.
I get there. No one's there. It's still a quarter to 11. He's probably still in there. So I wait. And wait. And wait. A few other people are standing around with cameras, but not many. And they eventually wander off. A Getty photographer goes and asks one family if there's anyone about with, y'know, placards. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be. Is this one more example of media trying to force an angle? Shouldn't the story be that no one turned out? I'm considering this, when I hear chanting.
Obama, O-Ba-Ma! Could it be? It's something else. Maybe it is tho! Maybe I'm in the wrong spot! Of course there must be other people, I'm an idiot! As if the Democratic party would let him have an event without rounding up their expat members! Argh! So stupid!!
So I hope on my bike, and pedal (frantically, again) around the corner to the Whitehall side. Oh, there's hundreds of people. Maybe a thousand! Chanting his name, and something like "We can Change!" or something. That sounds a bit odd to me, but this must be the place. These people have professional Obama signs — with logos and everything — they must know what they're doing.
I lean my bike against the metal rail barrier which is keeping the hordes back from the road our saviour is sure to come out on. A big black guy asks me, 'what's going on' and I tell him, 'Obama's in there.' He looks happily shocked and pulls out his phone to take photos. "Who would you vote for? I'd vote for him," he rambles, clearly very excited.
I decided I should get my camera out too, to be ready. I open my bike bag, jarring my bike against the rail. The handlebars slip through the top bit of the rail, and my helmet goes crashing over to the cement... on the other side of the barrier. Whoops. How do I get it back, without getting shot?
My Obama-loving new-friend Ken laughs, and we both try to get the attention of the police on the far side. They look right at us, and ignore us. A few people around us jokingly(?) suggest I chucked it over there to get closer to the chosen one when he passes, and I say yeah, I've always wanted to get shot in front of Obama...
We keep waving, and eventually one cop slowly... slowly... slowly meanders over. I've never seen anyone walk so slowly in my life. One step. Then another. Pause. Then another. Like dude, what if it were a bomb we were pointing at? (Maybe that's why he walks so slow...?)
He hands it back to me, and rather than chastize me for being a retard, says: "At least you wear one. Not enough people do." Then ambles back to his post.
Ken and I decide to get closer to the action. His camera phone isn't gonna get any good pictures from way back where we are. I leave my bike — unlocked, such is the feeling of comradeship and urgency here — leaning against a short balustrade on which tourists are standing.
People start cheering and chanting again — nope, not him; just some press with cameras. We quiet down. And then again; the door opens... but it's not him. This repeats several times over ten or so minutes. Oh the tension! The excitement! Thank god I left the empty area by 10 Downing Street! Look at what I was missing!
Directing my camera between two women's heads, I've got a clean line for a shot right at the door. It opens... and a series of dark SUVs with tinted windows speed out, make the turn, and jet past us. None slow. No wave of the hand out the window. Not even a honk. Nothing. Nothing.
The deflated crowd disperses quickly.
Still, I rationalise, I was part of something here. I saw how it really is, when the news shows footage of chanting adorers. How they wait for ages for just a glimpse of a shape through a darkened window.
Oh well. What did I expect, anyway? At least I saw something, right?
Cut to this morning. Flip onto Google News, and there's coverage of his London visit, including one headline reading: Passersby get a shock as Brown and Obama take a turn in the park
Wha?! They left from the main Downing Street doors ― where I was ― took a walk through the horse guards parade ― right by where I was ― and then wandered into Green Park ― right by where I was. Obama then gave a short press conference from the steps of Number 10 ― right where I had been waiting.
So, to sum: ARGH!!1!
I gotta stop second guessing myself.