Archive for the 'England' Category

More reminiscence, more closures, and the swan mafia

The Wandering Nerd August 21st, 2007

‘Oh Noble Fool! A worthy fool’
-william shakespeare

I spent the day in Stratford Upon of Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare. Actually, this makes the second visit for me. I was here long ago when I had just graduated high school. Strangely, I remember more than I expected to. The Royal Shakespeare Company is based here, I strongly suspect if I was resident somewhere in England I’d be making more than the occasional trip out here to see things. There are so many fantastic theatres and shows here, how could you not? Sadly, the RSC Theatre proper is closed for remodeling, and the Courtyard is closed pending rehearsals so I wasn’t able to do more than just wander around the city.

It was also some really shitty light, thin clouds but fully overcast so I couldn’t get a decent meter off of that little camera. Which is, I think, in the process of dying off. Gonna’ start looking for a replacement. I may require some assistance stateside on getting it shipped or brought over here, I’ll be in touch with my ‘peeps’ in the states.

Pretty short post really, it was a site seeing excursion, very little happened. Upon my return to Oxford I wandered about the streets late at night, but that will be in rolled into the Oxford post.



welcome to a new kind of tension.
all across the alien nation.
everything isn’t meant to be okay.
-green day

An anniversary of sorts, a sad note, and a revisit of something I’ve missed.

The Wandering Nerd August 20th, 2007

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
-Ferris Bueller

I’ve been on the road for one month officially today. Time has seemed to fly by, but I’ve been making sure to stop often and realize the magnitude of what I’m doing; to smell the roses as it were. I keep explaining to people, as I go, how invigorating and, quite honestly, easy it was to divest myself of everything and just go. Seriously, do it, do it now.

For my part, I have to admit to feeling strangely on edge and I have for a while, even well before I left the states. Not ‘edgy’ per se, but more like…well like you’re in a vehicle and you come to a stop from a pretty decent speed. You know that feeling as the force of your deceleration pinnacles momentarily before the vehicle rocks back? Now take that one moment, and stretch it out…for months…Yeah, like that. Not a bad thing, nor a good thing, just unsettling. That’s sort of the point of the whole excursion I suppose. There’s your brief glimpse into the inner workings of your humble host. Don’t get used to it.

While I’m being all serious-like, one of the kinda’ crap things about doing this is not being able to be around when something bad happens. I had an aunt die on the 18th of cancer. For what it’s worth it was a pretty quick transition from finding out to her passing. She was one of the good ones, and as is so often the case, they seem to get the raw deal. She lost her eldest son to cancer only a month ago and then found out she had it, passing a month and a day after her son. In any event, here’s to her:

Mary Ruth (Green) Cua
Born February 10 1936
Died August 18 2007

So it goes.

Moving on, I’m getting used to how the game goes, how to buy the right tickets, or find the right place to stay. Doing Europe on a shoestring is going to be much easier after cutting my teeth on doing it in England, where things are rampantly expensive. To point out, an average pint here is £3, which is $6. The upside for the USA, cigarettes are much cheaper, and gas is way cheaper. Here it’s ~£1 per liter! - let me help the slower kids in the class: £1 per liter is $2 per liter, and 1 Gallon is roughly equal to 3.8 liters. Yup, $7.60 a gallon for gas, so…..quitcherbitchin’.

On to Cambridge. Someone told me recently that Cambridge is a university that a town sprang up around while Oxford is the other way around. I’m heading to Oxford next so it should make an interesting thing to observe. I have to admit to an affection for Cambridge for a number of reasons. I know folks there that I’ve known for years and care a lot about, and the city itself has this natural aura of intellectualism that fascinates me. Walking down the street you can hear the most interesting conversations. Architecturally there exists a fantastic array of historical buildings. I can’t even begin to touch on the many things you can see here. I only wish the weather hadn’t been such pants the whole time I was there. Maybe I’ll get a chance to go back and get some more, better….or at least warmer, shots.

I was in Cambridge years ago, having a number of strange and surreal misadventures. Someday I may recount them, for now though let me just say it was well worth the visit despite, and precisely because of some of the marks - and mild concussions - it left upon me.

DSC02930.jpg

Speaking of tasty beverages, Pimm’s and Lemonade, oh! how I’ve missed you… I feel that in some ways this blog may be turning into the Alcoholics Tour of Western Europe, which I’m okay with. :) There are pictures of this ambrosia as you’ll see in the gallery. It is tasty goodness, if you can find a bottle in your local spirits shop, get it, and mix up a pitcher, especially where it’s hot - i.e. not here. Though, for a country that has such an abundance of water/island/rain and cold, you’d expect them to be more free with the ice, but you’re lucky if you get two pieces in a full sized glass.

Completely unrelated note here, but while I’m thinking about it: Atholl Brose. If someone wants to make that and tell me how it is, I’d appreciate it. By ‘whisky’ they mean Scotch. I’ve heard about it, but can’t seem to find any one to make it here in the south of England. Had I known about it in Edinburgh, I would have tried to find it there, now you get to be my research team. Call it more of the home game.

One final note, more of nerdliness than anything. The gallery that you enjoy each time - hopefully - is NextGen Gallery for Wordpress. I’d mentioned the small problem I was having with the descriptions showing up. I finally got around to sending an email to the author. Honestly, I expected no real response. You’ll understand my surprise when he responded, said I was right and sent me a patch all in one email. So I shall be able to use the gallery a bit more than I have been. Look for more content going along with the images. That’s why I’m lovin’ the open source model.

Nerd on friends, nerd on as I wander on…


there’s nothing I can do about it
because the dream is out of my command
-shout out louds

Bus, bus, BUS! AA is for quiters, and the marks continue to be left.

The Wandering Nerd August 18th, 2007

Manchestah! I’m actually slowly coming to a point where I can discern different accents. Where, in the States, we have to go hundreds of miles away before the accents really get that different, here they change over the course of about a county. It’s much more subtle than in the states, but it’s there.

I kind of screwed up and spent almost 5 hours on a bus again. I had laid down that rule about no more than 3 hours, but the difference of £30 and only saving an hour led me onto the bus…again. I’ll tell ya’, I can think of a long long list of things that are better to do than ride in a bus for that long with a goodly sized hangover. ‘I’m never drinking again.’ may have been uttered once or twice on the trip. Everyone can relax though, I’m having a beer as I write this, so crisis averted. Though I had intended to at least not drink that much anytime soon. I was forced to use the non-definitive past tense there for reasons that shall become apparent.

Traveling around England is, in and of itself, an ever changing tableau of lush imagery. Rolling hills punctuated with picturesque hamlets or even simple farmhouses, give way abruptly to a quiet lake, dark and still. Then the bus/train whisks you along to another landscape. Pulling through an actual town brings on a heavy sense of anachronism, ‘Look, there’s a castle ruin right by that Spar…huh…’

When I was initially looking at giving up my life, I stumbled upon a series of ‘documentaries’ - I have to put that in quotes because of what they are. Basically it was ‘Great British Rail Trips,’ and yes, literally, they would put a camera facing perpendicular to the direction of travel and film the whole thing. The only thing I can see enjoyable in that would be a drinking game involving fence posts. But to actually be sitting on the train, exhilarated by the prospect of whatever new experience awaits, does make for a good way to pass the time. Plus you can bring booze onto the train, which is totally the business.

I finished up the book I was reading on “The Troubles” - yeah, I know, about two countries late, but I was busy collecting experiences for your spiritual consumption, and consuming spirits for my experience.

In the end, I’m glad the whole situation seems to be involved in the process of peace, but I gotta’ take a moment to say that, for me, personally, Ian Paisley is something of an ass. Imagine if Jerry Falwell started a political party, now imagine that he started that party in an environment not unlike the civil war, or Baghdad now. Really helpful.

I also read Ian Rankin’s first book, Knots and Crosses. I’m assuming the series gets better. I’m no writer…uhm…well, I’m certainly not a paid writer, but the booked seemed really sophomoric even to me. Not bad, just not enough to really grab me. If you like mystery/thrillers you may wanna’ give him a shot. If I see another of his in a used shop I’ll probably pick it up just to see how he develops it. To be fair, he’s been writing for 20 years, and many of them became best sellers so he’s clearly got something I don’t. One thing is millions of people willing to give £5 for his writing, but that’s just a fluke really.

Now I’m onto Kidnapped! by Stephenson - I got the Edinburgh author bug while I was there I guess. The other choice at the shop I was into were War and Peace or the Odyssey….yeah. I keep leaving the books, when I’m done with them, containing a card, sitting innocuously around places. I’m curious to see if anyone ever finds the site from that.

‘Enough praddle!’ I hear you cry. You just want the lurid tales of party central UK right? Well, boys and girls, I hate to let you down, but there isn’t much really going down here without the students influence on the city. I went out walking - in the rain - last night, and stopped in a few places that Damo suggested. They were all cool venues, just also very dead venues.

One more drink at the Kro Bar, actually turned into me meeting a Manchester couple, Rob and Lorna - and yeah, I did remember to get a photo this time. Good kids. We ended up sitting out in front of the closed bar, and eventually grabbed some more beer - remember the whole not drink that much anymore thing from earlier - and hung out at their flat. We exchanged music suggestions and generally just had a great time. Music people should check out The Stone Roses. You’ll like them, down tempo and apparently classic Manchurian rock.

Which brings us to this areas almost nationalistic view of itself. There’s a massive sense of civic pride in being from Manchester. There are numerous works of public art that relate to it, you’ll see it in the gallery and I saw it when I was walking to the Curry Mile.

DSC02772.jpg

That’s right kids, a whole mile of curry/indian/kebab/takeaway places. This unholy concoction you see is the Chicken Tikka Kebab on Garlic Naan with everything - I’m talking 6 sauces, salad, onion chutney, pickled chilis - from Camel One in Manchester. I liked it when I had it, but I think the must have laced it with some high power camel derived addiction drug cause I’m somewhat craving another one. Thank you Damian…you ass.

Spent the rest of the day walking around the different museums/galleries/sites. There are a lot of pics this time that are pretty much just straight fan service. I’m missing my pro-grade camera a bit now, I’d kill to be able to put a filter on that lens and just a simple diffuser - so you don’t get the flash reflected when taking pictures of things behind glass, though that’s an extra 6 lbs that I’m glad that doesn’t need to fit in my pack.

Damian put me in contact with some of his friends - one of which is apparently his clone, or verse-visa - in Manchester and we all met up for drinks and some jazz at this little venue.  So there are actually shots of some real live English people in this post.  For the most part they are well mannered and groomed, though they react strangely to my picture box, I think perhaps fearing it may in some way steal their souls.  They have developed numerous ritualistic countenances to stave off the perceived effect.  I think this shall require more study.

Finally there’s a pic or three of me in there as well, looking a little rougher for the wear.  Cheers!

well, he ain’t no website wonder, the guru just went under,
you can keep your California Sunshine.
-alabama 3

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