Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Round Up

Been busy busy busy lately and haven't updated this since Xmas.

Right in a sentence: Over Xmas we went to Slovenia which was awesome and cheap, but bloody cold. We then went to stay in a cottage near Bristol but had to come home after a night because Madison got sick.

After that I got a job in London where I had a hell commute - 1 hour to Euston station and then 30 minutes across town to Hammersmith. Work was good though. MOney was ok.

That finished a couple of weeks ago and have been tripping around with my brother Greg and sister in law Melissa. We say a lot of the South East of England and crammed a lot of London into their stay so that was good.

I start a new job on Monday so all on again.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Xmas

And it's bloody freezing. Massive frost this morning as I walked to the train. I think it is supposed to get to a massive high of 2C today. Glad I'm inside most of the day.

Still taking a bit of getting used to it being dusk at 4pm, and pitch black by the time I walk to the train at 4:30ish.

New job is ok, but will be happy to move on at the end of the contract. Still, keeps the wolf from the door and all that.

Kim's brother Andy and his GF are over from Oz and staying with us at the moment. They are really struggling with the cold I think. Was in the 30's when they left.

Kims parents arrive tomorrow, and it's my last day of work for the year so will be in a festive mood. Can't wait.

We are going to London on Sunday to enjoy the madness, and see the Xmas lights which are fantastic apparently, then we have Xmas with all of Kims family at Steve and Pennys place in Market Harborough. Should be good, and Kim is loving having all her family in the same place. First time for a few years.

On boxing day we are probably going to a football match in Coventry - weather permitting. They don't have a covered stand! Coventry City are a pretty big club, and have only just dropped out of the premier league after being in the top flight for 26 years I think it was, so should be a good experience. We have been trying to get to Anfield, but tickets are hard to come by and the way Liverpool are playing at the moment, not sure I want to see a loss!

We fly out to Slovenia for S + P's wedding on the 27th - strike action permitting. The BAA staff are threatening to strike so that has caused a few headaches for all involved. Plan B is to fly from Birmingham or Leicester to Venice and train from Venice to Slovenia. Hopefully it won't come to that.

No real other news at this stage. We are all well, Madison is growing up really fast. Her vocabulary is really improving, she can say almost 100 words at last count. Favorite ones are cool, wow and more!

Anyway Merry Xmas to all and we will see you all next year (sometime)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Week, Another Job

Started a new contract this week, this one will see me through the dead Dec-Feb time in the contracting world over here, so that's good.

Can't really go into specifics of who or what doing (NDA's etc), but it's based in Northampton which is about 25 minutes by train from Rugby.

Decided to take the train because it allows Kim to have the car, and it's fairly painless for me - I work in Central Northampton so parking would be an issue. It also means I have about a 20 minute walk to and from the train station and 10 minutes either way from train station to work. Gotta be good. Except on day 1 with the train it was 45minutes late! Not a great way to start a new job, worrying about being late. Luckily I took the earlier train so just got to work on time.

Northampton itself is a pretty nondescript place from what I can tell.

Nothing much else happening at the moment. We did go to the MPH show in Birmingham a few weeks ago which was awesome. Photos Here

Winter is definitely just around the corner. Was dark today by 4:30 which is a bit of a shock! Not too cold yet and the house has double glazing and central heating so that's all good. Don't know why this isn't more prevalent in NZ to be honest.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tower of London

Spent last weekend in London, the highlight was going to the tower of London.

For some reason I thought the tower was one of the "Tower" buildings on the Tower of London bridge. It turns out that it is a castle and surrounding buildings, some of which date back to the 10th Century.

The ToL is a cool place to visit, because there is so much to see. Each tower/building has separate displays such as Armory, Torture devices, centuries old graffiti, the actual cells they used o hold the prisoners, including the one that Walter Raleigh was held in for ten years - which was pretty luxurious considering. The highlight of the trip though would have to be the Crown Jewels. They are amazing - kept in a walk in Vault with 2 foot thick steel doors - there was more gold and diamonds in than I could imagine existed in one place. Including the second largest diamond in the world at 560 carats!

Oh and they keep Ravens on site which,as legend says, if they ever left the Empire would crumble. I don't know about that, but I do know I wouldn't want to be swooped by one on my bike - about twice the size of a Magpie and looked twice as mean.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ireland Day 2: Derry, Giants Causeway

Today we drove to the Giants Causeway to view the magnificent natural structures. It also gave us an opportunity to try out Madison's back pack. The cause way is to rocky to take a buggy.

The drive to the Giants Causeway is about an hour from where we were staying, so we got a pretty good look at the countryside which was very like New Zealand. The two things about Ireland that have struck us so far:

1) There are bloody tractors everywhere - even on the motorway
2) Once off the beaten track, the roading is terrible. Very narrow and in ill repair as a rule. Probably because of 1)...

Driving through little villages and hamlets in Northern Ireland is strange too. They are very patriotic as in British and English flags flying proudly. Way more so than on the mainland. I guess after such a struggle they want to something to show for it.

Oh and a little history. Derry is also know as Londonderry. In the North the road signs all say Londonderry and in the Republic they say Derry. Also some signs have been vandalised to remove the London part. The original name was Derry, but when a bunch of London landowners paid for the city walls the name was changed to Londonderry in respect to them. History here

Anyway, we arrived at the Giants Causeway about 10:30 which was a good time. It was a public holiday in NI, so I think it was a little busier than normal, but not too bad. There is a bit of a walk from the carpark, but not too bad. There is even a bus for the lardy americans.

The causeway itself is formed from lava flows cooling or something. It is awesome and quite un-worldy. The pictures on the net etc, don't do it justice. Not much point trying to explain in words, but suffice to say it's well worth going to if you are ever in Ireland.

On the way back we stopped off at the Bushmills Whisky Distillery which would let Madison do the tour so stuff them. Jamisons is way better anyway.

Ireland - Day 1

Early start as we flew out of Birmingham at about 7:20am. Quick flight to Dublin - around 50 minutes and off to find our rental car.

We ordered a VW Golf (I thought) but was a little disappointed when car was Kia Cee'd. Had to go to other part to pick up a car seat for Madison. The seat wasn't there so had to wait for it to show up, and when it did it was unsafe. They gave us a new one and about 90 minutes after we got there we were on our way.

From Dublin we drove to Belfast City Centre. Since the "troubles" have ceased, Belfast has a new lease on life and has new buildings going up everywhere. It's not what you would call a pretty city, but given the history, that's understandable.

We did the "bombs and bullets" taxi tour. This is a tour around the trouble spots of the cities bad old days, including the incredible murals that you have no doubt seen before. The town is divided into two sections, the Catholic side and the Protestant side. It is divided by a 20ft high "peace" wall, as in keep the peace rather than create peace. The wall is still standing today. Both sides are almost mirror opposites, with the bunting (little flags etc) on the Unionist side being red, white and blue and flags of England Scotland and Wales, and the Ulster unionist flags, and on the Republican side the colours are Green, White and Orange.

It's all very surreal and I'm glad we went, but I really can't get my head around the level of hatred, death and I guess courage that was prevalent at the time. Personally, I don't have a view one way or the other, I prefer to think about the needless tit for tat killings and the innocent people that were caught up in the middle of it all, just trying to go about their lives. These people are the real heroes in conflicts such as this, and are the people we should be remembering.

Anyway, it had a profound effect on both of us, and I guess it drives home how good most of our lives are, and that perhaps we take it all for granted. Food for thought perhaps.

After the tour we had a bite to eat, and drove to Derry for our first night.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

August Round-Up

Not had much free time recently, in fact didn't get to finish up posting about the Paris trip.

Anyway, we are off to Ireland early Sunday morning. We are flying into Dublin then collecting a rental. We are driving to Belfast, and then on to Derry the first day. Then going to the Giants Causeway and back to Derry the second night. On to Galway for the third night, then on to Killarney for two more nights and then back to Dublin to fly home Friday night.

Should get to see a lot of Ireland an really looking forward to it.

We have been reasonably quiet since the Paris trip, just knocking around home and seeing a few more local sights. Kim and Madison had a "girls weekend" away with friends in London one weekend. I went to the Transformers movie which was cool, although the cartoon was better.

I also finished my contract early at Alstec and moved on to NFU Mutual . Joined a team of 5 other contractors and one permanent staff member on a project to convert an old insurance app into newer technologies. So far, so good. The team is awesome, we all get on really well and outside of Google, you would struggle to get a team of better developers. Two of the guys have written books! It is a 3 month contract which will take me through to November.

NFU is situated just out of Stratford, where William Shakespeare is from. We went there after the interview for a quick look and was really really cool, and will definitely go back for a decent look.

Anyway that's all for now.