Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Winter's coming

A new season, a new look for our blog.

On waking up early this morning, i've realised that we are well and truly on our way into our second winter. As I sit here at 7am, out the window looking east towards the City, the sun is hardly making an impact on the cloudy overcast sky, and the Autumn winds (gales) and showers are already here and making summer feel like it was so long ago. Our winter coats have been dry-cleaned, and and hanging in the cupboard waiting for their first use this season. The media is already beating it up, saying it will be the coldest winter in 40 years - is it de-ja-vu? Didn't I hear the Evening Standard say that this time last year?

To keep spirits up as the days shorten and the temperatures drop, we've been planning plenty of travel and things to do after work and on the weekends. We're off to Berlin this weekend, and Carly's brother James (who is in Europe at the moment) is returning to the UK next week, so we'll be busy with him. And I've begun looking into this seasons snow skiing trip for early 2006.

And you may have noticed there has been a long list of updated journal entries in our blog - scroll down until you get to our trip to Ireland way back in February to see them all. Hopefully we'll be caught up by weeks end.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Run London Nike 10km run - Eye of the Tiger!!

Today, we would become running gods - well, at least that was the plan!

This was the Nike Run London 10km fun run event, which a group of us had been in training for over the past 8 weeks. Of varied abilities and levels of motivation, our running team of Andy, Shane W, Andy's mate Ben, Andy's workmate Jessica, and myself, had been attending a 5km Nike-organised training run every Wednesday after work around Regents Park (followed by a warm-down at a local pub), with a few of us sneaking in a few other runs in between. Karen W., the other one of our friends registered for the race preferred to train in private.

Together we had been rallying around the cry of 'Eye of the Tiger', the nominated theme song for the event (sung by 80's rock group Survivor). This wasn't just any other fun run. It was all about the 'Eye of the Fucking Tiger!!' Whenever we needed a pick me up, the call would go out - 'Eye of the Tiger..!!' - the song would always get you home..

We arrived at the race, after nowhere near enough sleep following drinks at the London leg of my 10 year School Reunion in a pub at Piccadilly the night before - and to make matters worse for my lack of preparation over the last two weeks, I'd been out at the pub for one reason or another for the previous two nights before that, and we'd spent last weekend eating and drinking our way around Paris - not good... I felt like crap, and as much as I was talking up my prospects to the rest of the 'Tigers' running team, things weren't looking good.

We warmed up and stretched together and left behind our outer layers with the support team before heading over to the start line in our provided bright RED Nike race shirts. Of course, with the testosterone flowing we pushed through to the front of our phase, which was the first of three phases at our venue - Hyde Park - while there were another two venues doing the same thing over the course of the morning.

As we waitted for the clock to tick down to start time, who else but Lord Sebastian Coe gets up onto the starting stage right next to me, to give a motivational pre-race pep talk to the crowd, and then give the countdown and blow the horn for the start of the run. Away we went!!!

Our phase was led out by English Marathon champion Paula Radcliffe who tore off at a cracking pace, with only our running team member Ben anywhere near her. After the race he said he only stayed with her and her running partners for the first 500m, at which time he decided it was just a rediculous pace and dropped back to his normal speed.

I took off with only one goal, to get under my recent best for 10km of 42:00. I had Shane W. just in front of me at the start and I was trying to keep him in sight, and to my surprise after my preparation of boozing, I had stayed on my target time for the first 5km (20:00).. but that was when it began to fall apart. By the 7km mark I had slowed to the point of wanting to stop, I was out of stride, and felt as if I was about to be overtaken by Andy P. at any moment (this would have been a disaster!). By the 8km mark, I had sped back up, but my best time was all but gone as I approached the 9km mark and the final turn before the long haul up a slight incline from Hyde Park Corner, along the South Carriage Drive to the finish just inside the park adjacent to Knightsbridge. It was over.

My finish was less than spectacular. I hardly sprinted to the finish, and if you watch the video of me crossing the line (link below - look for green shorts & sunglasses), you can almost see my disapointment through the grainy video as I stop my watch as I stop right on the finish line. I had had enough.

Here are the links to the finishing video's of our running team. All you need to do is click on the name, and a window should open on the Run London website with the persons time, their finishing placing, and a short video of the time they crossed the line - some are easy to pick out, others are less obvious:

Shane S.
Andy P.
Karen W.
Shane W.
Ben H.

As you can see on each of our finishing pages, the times weren't all that bad - out of the group I was the only one who didn't improve their time, or hit their goal for the run.. Shane W. came in at a very quick 39:10, Andy P. got a 47:49 which was well-deserved, Karen W. got in under an hour which she was very very happy with, Andy's mate Ben did a cracking 36 minutes, and me - a pityful 43:40 - very disapointed..

Carly gets a shot of me as I approach the line (you can see me, I have the whitest legs in the race!); and me after i've crossed the line

Andy & Ben enjoying a John Smith's post-race - Get in!!!

The picnic in Hyde Park for the non-runners/support team, complete with champagne and food

Running Gods in Red Nike Shirts
(left) Shane & Karen; Karen, Andy, Shane W., Spargo, & Ben

But, the day was not over yet - it was off to the pub!!! We'd picked out a boozer in Mayfair which had a good menu to fill us up, and Ales on tap to try and drown out our pain with. The pictures below say it all - it got messy, but it didn't matter..

Andy summed up the day as he does best, with a simply cry of 'av it!!!

We had become running gods - just ask us!!

Workman & Payne; Karen, Workman, and Carly

Karen, me, & Renee W; Jess & Andy P.

Karen and Andy head home from the pub


Friday, October 14, 2005

JC & Spargo catch up in London

This post might be a bit out of sync, as we've been doing plenty in the past few weeks. But I thought i'd better log an entry straight away to mark the visit of my old boss JC, during his visit to Europe and London..

I met JC and his wife Bronwyn at their apartment in the tourist-hotel district of Earls Court, which is not far from where I live here, and it was fantastic to catch up on all that had been happening with us here in London, and all the news from home, QR Property, and Brisbane in general.

John and I then headed to Notting Hill, to a fantastic local traditional pub which I love called the Churchill Arms, just down Kensington Church Street from Notting Hill Gate. I love this pub, and JC and I quickly hit the cosy bar and began sampling each of the Lagers along the taps. Plenty of old stories were ressurected, and without the Churchill memorabilia, hundreds of bed pans, and copper milking cans hanging from the ceiling of this ornate and very traditional establishment, it almost felt like Brisbane again... well, honestly, not really...

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It was great to catch up with an old work mate, and no doubt we'll see him when we return home eventually, and also the rest of 3's Company at my wedding..!


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My gadget collection grows again

As much as we've been doing plenty more interesting things lately to blog about (umm, trip to Paris, etc), I wanted to post a brag about our new mobile phones.. Carly has always been subject to my gadget hand-me-downs, but not this time! We both got new V3 Motorola handsets this week, and they are simply beautiful.

I can justify the purchase of anything when I set my mind to it.. With our time in London clocking over into the second year, I figured we may as well start new contracts, and these 'little beauties' became the weapon of choice.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Paris on the Eurostar

More coming soon


Monday, October 03, 2005

Brighton on a sunny day!

This was one day trip we had been waiting all summer to make, and whether it was other travels or simply life in London, we'd never managed to make it down to the very English seaside town of Brighton.

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Carly down by the seaside, with the pier in the background

Instead of the train we took the bus from London Victoria on a crisp early Sunday morning, and with the sun beating down when we arrived we headed straight over to the famous Brighton Pier to see the amusement park rides at the end, all of the stalls and vendors set up for the tourist trade, and the deckchairs available for visitors to take in some rays. It was exactly how it looks in any of the many movies and television productions or commercials you might have seen it in.

We then went and walked along the stoney beach, which was the first one we'd seen over here.. It was very strange not worrying about taking of your shoes or being concerned about lying down and getting sand all over your clothes. Of course we tried some obligatory stone skipping into the sea, much to the amusement of those watching, and took with us our traditional piece of souvinear rock (so far we've got some rock of Gibraltar, some White Cliff from Dover, and now Brighton Beach). This beach was also the scene of the famous Fat Boy Slim Brighton Beach Boutique concert days, the last one of the two that were held was attended by over 250,000 people stretching southwards along the beach watching the DJ's and performers on stage (some of them in the water!!). Being there and seeing the scene in person you could really appreciate that it must have been an amazing event to be at by the sea.

We continued north along the beach and completely by coincidence came across a Land Rover club rally day, where there was every imaginable model of Land Rover and specialist variant, including plenty of Defenders young and old.

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(above) The old Defenders lined up on display; and (below) the view over the Land Rover Rally towards the beach and pier

After a walk through all of the trucks and a look inside some of the Defenders on display, I was dragged away for breakfast at a disapointing local greasy spoon caff. We then headed into the main part of town to see the famouse lanes and alleys, where there is a fantastic range of shops, restuarants, art galleries, jewellers, and homeware stores to keep us ammused for hours. As the day wound up for the retailers, we started what was a very long pub crawl around the lanes, stopping off for at least one drink at almost every pub we could find. This made the bus trip home more interesting than it might have otherwise been.

It was only the clock and our return ticket on the bus back to London that kept us from staying there the night - the bars and live music venues were just getting lively as the day-trippers went home and the locals started to come out. We will definitely have to get back down here next summer with a group of friends to try out the bars on the beachfront, and the rest of the bars and clubs we didn't get a chance to see in our day at the seaside.