Sunday, May 29, 2005

England Vs the Barbarians at Twickenham

After planning a very relaxed and quiet Saturday, doing the shopping at the markets and laying low around the house, our good mate Dan came up with the goods with two free tickets from his work, to watch the England versus The Barbarians Rugby Union game, being played at Twickenham Rugby Stadium south-west of London.


Me and Dan down on the sideline

We only got a very late call up for the tickets (30 minutes before kick-off!!), so we dashed home from the North End Rd fruit & veg markets where we were at the time, quickly got changed and grabbed the camera, and raced out on the Richmond District Line branch and then an overland train from Richmond to Twickenham.. 15 minutes later we were seated in the monstrous stadium watching a one-sided match, with the game coinciding with the Lions tour of New Zealand and the majority of the top English players (such as Johnny Wilkinson) away.. It was still an entertaining game, with Wendall Sailor (formerly of Brisbane Broncos Rugby League fame) scoring two tries for the Baa-Baa's and running the poms ragged (he received the man of the match award), and Carlos Spencer, the NZ fly-half having a great game.. and the poms went down 52 -39.. despite this they still managed a very sad rendition of bloody 'Sweet Chariot' - i guess they are so used to losing that they have to sing it irrelevant of what the scoreboard is showing!


Full-time and the Barbarians have won this years challenge match; the English players head up the tunnel


A series of shots of the field from the stands

-shane

Currently listening to: New Order - Jetstream (this great New Order track features vocals from 'Anamatronic' , a member of the Scissor Sisters, and adds to the other great songs on New Order's "Waiting For The Sirens' Call" album)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

An English Heatwave! The temperature hits 30 degrees for the day!

Today was the first time that we have actually felt like something resembling a summer might actually arrive! As predicted, the end of the week and this Bank Holiday weekend has seen temperatures in London rise into the 20's, and the poms are melting! As for me and cs, this is a perfect excuse to get on the short sleeve shirts and singlets, grab the plugga's out of the cupboard, open the apartment windows all the way up, and relish what is just like a warmish Brisbane winters day..

This afternoon, with the air-conditioning not working in my work office, I finished the day early (known as an taking an "early mark", and you can be assured I wasn't the only one!), and cs had been out and about shopping for food for a picnic in the Eel Brook Common near Fulham Broadway, for an early picnic dinner with friends Willow and Chris..

I'm still not done with raving about how good it is to have daylight-saving, because we all got to the park by 7pm, and still had 2 solid hours of sunlight to lounge around, kick the football, have a few drinks and a picnic dinner, and watch the world go by.

-shane

Friday, May 27, 2005

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the bad guys

I am only writing this post to stir younger brother Jay back in Brisbane, who hasn't seen the movie yet!

Last night, instead of watching the UEFA Cup Final between Liverpool and AC Milan live from Istanbul (Liverpool won in a penalty shoot-out, so I am convincing myself I didn't miss much!!!), we went to see the final and missing installment of the Star Wars prelude - Revenge of the Sith..

As the media had hyped it up, it was a dark movie, owing to the necessary transformation of suspiciously good guy Anakin Skywalker, into very bad guy Darth Vader.

We both liked it, and felt that it was easily the best out of the first three movies and an excellent link into the original three movies.. As you walk out of the cinema, you really want to go and hire out the final three episodes, just so you can watch Luke, Han, Chewy, and Leia beat the bad guys who were so very bad in this one..

Go see it, it is good -

-shane

Currently listening to: Cabin Crew - Waiting for a Star to Fall (a remix of the 80's original by Boy Meets Girl, I first heard this track while back in Brisbane a month ago and its finally doing the rounds in clubs over here - a great re-mix!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Football in the park instead of Gym?

For the last 2 weeks, I've been joining a group of kiwi guys for a 6-a-side game of football (Soccer), after work on Tuesdays in Hyde Park.. Former work collegue Chris got me involved, and its proving to be a great after-work event, and with daylight saving really kicking in its proving to be a great way to spend the early evening as the sun goes down and all of the suits around the Mayfair area stroll home through the park, and all the joggers, walkers and bladers kill themselves running around the enourmous open space.

But we're not the only group making the most of it - as I walk down from the Marble Arch station along the Broad Walk next to Park Lane to where we play, the open mowed areas of the park are filled with similar after work matches, some not as serious as others! I'm enjoying kicking the round ball around so much that last weekend we dropped into Lillywhites again in Piccadilly to get me a pair of Adidas football boots so at least I look the part....

Since starting back at work at Ealing Council, I just haven't been bothered with returning to the in-office gym, so a weekly run around the park should do the trick instead..

Summer in London is looking great!

-shane

Currently listening to: Max Graham Vs Yes - Owner of a Lonely Heart (just released last week, this track is a fantastic re-mix of the original Yes song from the 80's, 'Owner of a lonely heart' .. a must have)

Monday, May 16, 2005

A beautiful Spring day in London, so we visit Hyde Park

I had been waiting all winter to go into the Lillywhites Sports Store on Piccadilly Circus and buy a new football (soccer ball), and then go into Hyde Park on a sunny day and kick it as hard and as far as I could - well today was the day!!

We woke up to an amazing morning outside our big lounge room windows, and the forecast on our laptop's Weather Widget told us that it was already 12 degrees at 9am, and that we were headed for 18 degrees!!! So after talking about it last night at the Engagement Party we went to, we called some of our friends and pulled together a crowd, packed a backpack, and headed to the Lillywhites store and then back to Hyde Park on the bus so we could make the most of the beautiful day in London..

As we approached the park along Kensington Road and the Albert Memorial, we could see the massive crowds already there who were doing the same - I have always remembered my mate Brett telling me about these summery days when he was here, and how he would try and explain to me that in a park as huge as this one (140 hectares or 350 acres), you can have so many people there enjoying the sunshine that is is often difficult to get an area to kick a ball around etc. Well, I've now seen it for myself and how right he was! People absolutely everywhere as far as you could see, and we could only see a very small part of this massive open space.. Only people who have been here and walked through it can really fathom how big the park is!

We stayed there with our friends until past 5:30pm, having a few exhausting 4-a-side football games and also kicking a Sherrin aussie rules ball that someone brought along, - and as we packed up there were still people coming into the park with bottles of wine, cooler bags, blankets and picnic dinners, with the sunlight now lasting until past 8pm because of daylight saving.

We will definitely be doing it as often as we can over what is shaping up to be a warm summer.. (the media is predicting 'heatwave' condition in August - i.e. the temperature will get over 30 degrees!!!!)

-shane

Currently listening to: Coldplay - Speed of Sound (the first release off of their highly-anticipated upcoming album, X & Y - I expect this CD will be a must-have summer 2005 album in the UK)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Renee and Shane's Engagement Party

last night we went up to Essex Road at Islington and a little funky bar called the Warwick, for Shane Wilke & Renee Workman's Engagement Party gathering..

what started as a few bottles of champagne between the 4 of us to celebrate, turned into a big fun night as all of their London friends rolled in and we all got stuck into the surprisingly cheap drinks.. in no-time the bar was full with a great crowd of people, and the DJ there was fantastic, playing heaps of old stuff, some great jazz that i was chatting to him about, and some mixed-in rock anthems, as we all got around catching up with everyone there, some people we hadn't seen since Guy Fawkes back last year - such is the crazy life over here with everyone moving around and travelling etc..


me & my beautiful fiancé


karen & andy; karen & recently betrothed renee


alison & darren; john, alison, & darren

but, as you get when people have to head home before the last tube/train etc over here, the crowd wittled away and it was just the original 4 left behind: me & smith, and shane & renee... but after a big night on thursday night when I went out with my Recruitement Agency, I couldn't carry on.. so we made our way on a succession of night buses across town, and home to Barons Court via the ever-faithful N28!

we then find out this morning that shane dragged renee on to his local club, Turnmills, to continue their celebrations...! good work Wilke!

Congrats guys, and as i said in the card, our best wishes for all the exciting times to come..

-shane

Currently listening to: Oasis - Lyla (the first release off of their upcoming album, Don't Beleive The Truth)

Monday, May 09, 2005

the spargoblog finally gets Broadband ADSL

Virgin.net ADSL Broadband has arrived at Barons Court Road!

We've now got 'always-on' internet now at home, and we can receive calls on our land-line while on-line via the same phone line - great news for all those at home who have grown sick of leaving answer machine messages for us over the past 6 months!! (this means you Mum and Jen..)

This also means that the last 2+ months worth of photos and stories from what has been a very slack spargoblog of late, can be uploaded very soon from home.. check back shortly for the "filling of the gaps!!!!"

-shane

Currently listening to: The Coral - In the morning (this is a great single getting plenty of air-play on commercial radio over here.. i love it!)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Waifs concert at The Forum, Kentish Town

We'd always said that when the Waif's played in the UK while we were here, we'd be there!! So of course, while we were in back in Brisbane, they announced the tour dates for London and tickets went on sale straight away.. luckily our friend Willow back here in London came up with the goods and volunteered to buy our tickets for us so we wouldn't miss out..

So we've just returned from their Wednesday night show at the Forum up at Kentish Town, just past Camden, and they were as good as ever live!! We got there far too early, but it meant we were able to get right up in the second row of the standing floor area, and after a very energetic and talented warm-up act, we were in the perfect spot to hear them play most of our favorites, especially Love Serenade, Bridal Train, and a very loudly backed rendition of London Still which made it feel like every aussie in London was in the room with us.. There were also a few new tracks so we're looking forward to the next album.

Strangely, considering England's lack of passive smoking laws, the Forum was ruled to be a non-smoking venue for the night - a bit strange, but we realised why when it was noticed that Vikki Simpson (dark-haired one of the Simpson sisters) had a small noticible bump showing from under her loose-fitting top, and that with a baby on the way the band had decided that she shouldn't have to choke on other peoples smoke..

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One of our tickets, and that pick I scored from Mr Cunningham

As a bonus at the end of the show we were treated to two encore's, and as he left the stage for the last time, Josh Cunningham threw a guitar pick towards the crowd which with the help of a roadie I was able to retrieve from the edge of the stage..!

They never disappoint live!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

the Kylie concert at Earls Court

I recall that this was one of our first major expenses when we arrived in London - the Showgirl tour had just been announced and so I had to go to one of the concernts at Earls Court!!! since the tickets were brought, it has been a long wait since then for the show to come to town

When the day finally arrrived today, we had only just got our new place organised, so we had our friends who were coming with us, over for a few drinks to loosen up those dancing feet before we walked up Lille Road to the Earls Court Exhibition Hall for the concert.


Kylie and some of her dancers; and the best view of her, on the huge screens next to the stage

As you can see from the photos, our seats were quite good, and Kylie and her troupe put on a fantastic show, playing some new tracks from an up-coming album, all her latest and greatest from the recent albums, and surprisingly also many classics from her Ultimate Kylie Best Of.. album including I should be so lucky, her part of the Jason Donovan duet song Especially for you, and the best of her new songs.. While the performances of the newer songs had the crowd dancing, it was the old songs that had everyone singing along the most, which is great because she'd probably rather forget some of those tracks, but its obvious that people aren't going to let her!!


Me, Karen, & Andy (isn't he concentrating hard on Kylie on-stage!)


Carly & Renee W.

-shane

Monday, May 02, 2005

the Spargo/Smith's move into Barons Court

Today we awoke to our first morning in our new home!

Yesterday was the first day of hopefully the next 18 months here as we moved everything into our new flat/apartment in Barons Court, W14. We hired an Easy Car for the day, as we had to move all of our belongings from 3 different locations around South-West London, where we had stored them while we travelled back to Australia via France and Spain while we didn't have a place of our own here..

We picked up the car from Mayfair at 8am, and drove straight out to the biggest IKEA store I think i'll ever see (you would never find your way out Jenny!), just near Wembley Stadium in North-West London. We joined the queue of some 50 people waiting for the store doors to open sharply at 9am, and raced inside for what seemed like a special 'Sale' day at the store - oh no, we were told it's like that every weekend at IKEA's in London as the poms go there to get their regular fix of flat-packed boxes, allen keys, and meatballs & chips in the cheap restuarant/cafeteria - anyway, we headed straight for the kitchenware as we had checked out the flat the day before and noticed we had to buy plates and cutlery amongst other things - pretty damn annoying when we've got a storage bin in Brisbane full of the stuff, but anyway, I soon got over it as we dashed through the store on our tight schedule to get everything moved in from our friends houses, and get the car back to the depot.

One issue that did come up while at the store was the purchase of a desk for our Notebook computer - it seemed that I was destined to have my electronic pride and joy sitting on the shittiest desk i've ever seen in my life, as Carly had spotted the perfect flat-packed cheap-arse desk for me, at just £14 pounds!!! I nearly died, but she insisted, I lost the argument for a nicer desk, and I was forced to carry (yes, it is so crap I could pick it up and carry it under my arm!!) it all the way through the store - oh the shame!!

We raced through the chekouts with all our new utensils and house accessories and headed towards where we had all our belongings holed up in friends under-stair storage places, their hallway cupboards, and even just sitting in the middle of their bedrooms (thanks Dan!).

We got everything moved in here in under 3 loads of our Opel (Holden) Corsa (Barina), and after returning the car we began setting the new place up.. On the way back to the hire place with the car I got a call from brother Mike and Bec, who were over here from Ireland for the long weekend, and were just up the road at Hammersmith, so after filling up the car I drove just around the corner, picked them up off of Hammersmith Road and they joined me for the trip into the West End in the car. They were heading out that night to see the Lion King musical..

(Edit: The following day, with the house still coming together, we had them over to visit us for a few hours on their way to visit Bec's sister, so it was great to have them be our first visitors to our new home. They dropped in again the next day to visit on their way out to Stanstead and back to Cork.)


Brother Michael and Bec visit Barons Court - our first visitors!

The new place is fantastic..! My crappy new desk acually fits perfectly, and doesn't look half bad considering the price.. the bathroom is great - it is rare to find a good shower in this town according to our friends who've been here for a while, and it seems that we've got one of them! The lounge/dining room is a reasonable size, and has a large 3 seater sofa, and another Futon sofa-bed which folds out to the visitors double-bed which we're very excited about having for out towners and friends crashing overnight.. The dining table folds out to easily seat 4, maybe more, and its right next to the windows which means breakfasts overlooking the street in the morning sun..



The lounge room - with my crappy £14 desk, and the couches etc; you can see the kitchen just off to the side


The one and only bedroom; the kitchen in the background, with the front door off to the left

The kitchen, with the addition of our new IKEA goodies, is nice and new which is great to have. the bedroom is huge for a one bedroom place (according to our friends), and the built-ins fit all our stuff in (just!).. and just as I described before the big front windows are invaluable - you could just lie on the couches on a sunny morning and bask in the warmth of the english summer.. we're looking forward to that in Winter as we face southwards just like our last flat on the Thames - very important!! and our street is so nice and the shops at either end have everything you need, short of having to go to the grocery store and weekend fruit & veg markets just down North End Road.


Carly sitting at the dining table, on the phone to home (If you click on the left picture, when it opens you can see the name above the pub on the building in the background across the street - that's how close it is!!)

And to top it off, we can see our local pub, 'The Curtain's Up' across the street and around a corner - its is attached to a Theatre restuarant of some sorts - we visited for a quick pint last night, and it was full of young locals on their way out to clubs etc once it closed at 11pm - 30 seconds walk from our front door to the Bar, you can't complain with that, and it even has Super Chilled Fosters on tap, and tables outside in the sun on the footpath - a lethal summer combination!

I'm sure there'll be plenty of other posts down the track as we have plenty of parties and visitors over the next 18 months..

-shane

(Note: The photos above have all been taken with a wide-angle lens, which makes the rooms appear bigger than they really are - you have been warned!!!)