How Did it Get to be May 2012?

Mea culpa.  Mea culpa.  Somehow, the calendar has been forwarded to May 2012 (and nearly half of that is already gone!), causing a severe lack of blog posts, pictures, and other contacts.  So, to all family and friends out there, my apologies.  I also can’t say that it will get a lot better in the short-term, unfortunately, as Astrid and I continue to labour (and thrive, luckily!) at positions somewhere in between workhorse and middle-management that seem to come with the pay and recognition of the former with the stress and time commitments of both combined (doesn’t that sound appealing?).  I had to actually count up all working hours during April, and I calculated that I worked a total of 36 eight-hour equivalent days (when there was supposed to be 19 working days in the month).

So, all I can really offer is a quick update.  You know that we’ve had what seems like a quiet few months travel-wise, since Japan in December, and we’ve both spent a couple of weeks over the last two months sick.  While I haven’t had any big business trips, we did enjoy that great weekend in Paris following a work week there, and I spent a week away from home in the UK late in April, first in Newcastle and then in London.

Newcastle is a great city in the Northeast of England; it is quite reminiscent of Pittsburgh and the Rust Belt in the US, with a strong industrial heritage, hearty but perhaps gritty people, and a pretty lively social and cultural scene. This is a view of the Tyne Bridge, which opened in 1928 and was based on the Hell Gate Bridge in New York. Just a couple of years later, the now much-more-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge was built by the same engineers with a similar design. The picture is taken from the Sage Gateshead, our group’s dinner location for the night – it is a very modern concert venue with excellent acoustics designed by Sir Norman Foster.

It was weird staying in a hotel in London; at first I thought it was nuts, but after really thinking it through I realized that the combination of late nights, early mornings, and work with my boss (who was also staying in the hotel) meant that coming home would be an inconvenience and not offer anything to the other folks at home.  For the record, London hotels suck – they are ridiculously expensive for what you get, just like Manhattan.

Aside from the fact that the wifi was broken on the first night of my stay, I couldn’t really fit at the desk! Here you can see the tall chair and the bed right there, with no room for actually sitting and working. This for US$250/night!

It was also odd, of course, having a meeting at home in London, doing things that normally happen in far-away hotel conference centers just steps from my office, and taking tours of transit in London!

Our tour of the Victoria Line took us to the depot, which is the only part of the line that is not in a tunnel. Normal passengers never see the light of day in this train, but we got to ride it out of the portal to the very end of the line!

Of course, we were also hosting Astrid’s mom during this time, and she became quite an expert getting around London too!

Now, for a look ahead – I’m heading to Barcelona for a couple of days at the start of next week, then to Oslo at the end of the month.  Astrid is going to join me in Oslo for a long weekend, which should be nice.  We will have to brave what is by most standards the most expensive city in the world, but hopefully enjoy some quieter time together and the long hours of daylight.  The summer is really filling up with visitors and guests, and we’re hoping to plan at least a couple of short long-weekend trips over that time.  Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, and beyond all remain essentially unexplored!  September-December then again promises a very busy work travel schedule.

We hope you are all well and hope to catch up with you sometime soon or over the summer.  In the meantime, we’ll hang in there and you do the same.  Cheers!



Posted on 10/05/2012, in Exploring the UK, Logistics, Transit, travel, Within London. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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