i made it from the airport to the train station. we went bag to pick up a bag that didn’t quite make it on time, of course it was dark the entire two hour drive. we visited a store for work; that lasted about 30 minutes. when my hotel slipped an invoice under the door, a full 24 hours earlier than anticipated, my backup plan (if for some reason all of the rooms were booked) would have been to find a place in manchester to stay the night and shorten the trip to the airport in the morning. plan b did not happen, so we’ll be taking a train back from leeds tomorrow and connect straight into the airport. i almost feel like i’ve been to manchester. but not quite.
a quick guide to what you will hear in the uk:
cheers=thanks or goodbye
g=ground floor, cause hitting 1 doesn’t get you all the way down
check=bill, they still know to get money before you leave the restaraunt, regardless
whigwham=manual card carbon copy machine
dual carriageway=two lane road (same direction) with high speeds
mobile=cellphone (capital I sound)
pint=oh c’mon, it’s a pint. more beer, less problems
…and many, many more. if i wrote them all down you’d just miss out on discovering this “foreign” language for yourself.
saw a little more of the country today. we even ventured out of yorkshire to lancashire. suprisingly there are quite a few counties, most of which i will in no way have any connection to on this trip. the cities turn pastoral very quickly on departure and there are some amazing farmhouses and stone fencework everywhere. even passed by one old farm whose owner would not sell when they decided the motorway would cut directly through his homestead, so they just ran the road around him and built a tunnel to use for getting livestock and himself out of the middle.
quick note on the roads here. in town the names are posted, but not like the us. they are at the corner of the street, usually only about three feet above the ground and only the name of the street on to which you are turning. larger roads are numbered and begin with M (motorway), J (junction) or A or B (sized between the city roads and the motorway, A being bigger than B). oh, and the post codes. imagine zip codes that begin in the center of town and work their way out systematically so that you can actually tell how far away it is from the city centre and in which direction.
dinner was consumed at Loch Fyne. fantastic sea food with a scottish background. even had glenlivet water (presumably from the same spring used to make glenlivet scotch). still and tasty.
until the last member of our team joined us, i was well on the way to making reservations with hertz to get a rental car. had that happened, i might have given up and returned to the terminal to catch the train to leeds. just leaving the manchester airport is a task left for skilled motorists. driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the road is against every instinct that i have developed since i was sixteen. well, fifteen with a permit. okay, okay… fourteen with parental supervision. geez…twelve, but that was on dirt roads at our deer lease. anyways, after a few days of observation, i’m convinced that i need to give it a go. the pedals are in the correct alignment, the gear shift pattern is the same, and as long as i don’t panic, driving on the wrong side…sorry the left side isn’t that big of a difference. the roundabouts would challenge most americans, but understanding the rules and the flow of traffic, it seems more efficient than most intersections of a grid. the oneway roads seem to lead you away from where you need to go in the sake of conserving this sense of order, but many US downtowns can easily be just as confusing. i’m not convinced it’s a better system, only that were i to live here, i could enjoy driving as much as at home (especially if i could get my hands on a tasty audi s series or a vw tdi that can’t be imported).
enjoyed portuguese fare at a restaraunt called nando’s this evening. while i abhor the language, the food was very good and the wine delicious. olives for starters and a half chicken with corn on the cob and garlic bread filled the plate. nothing i haven’t made for myself, but a little treat of spices added that I hadn’t tasted before. as the cold weather moves in, it helps that the restaraunt is just around the corner from the marriott. now to connect to the internet and get some work done.
breakfast was a full plate affair. and being the most important meal of the day, i tried not to shy away. mostly familiar food and great coffee and juice. not a bad way to start the day.
after meeting up with my associates, we discussed the deficiencies of our hotel. it’s as if it was a hostel at 5 times the price. i’m a pretty easily accomadated traveler, especially with jet lag, but as we put the pieces together, it was tough to accept exactly what the hotel was missing. no clock in the room. small beds. no parking. outdated rooms. no exercise facility. small bathrooms. no trouser press.
no trouser press?
well, no iron. no ironing board. and no trouser press, a great little machine to ensure that the crease in your pants is crisp and the rest is flat. after transporting dress clothes across the atlantic, the last thing you want to do is get up early to get dressed and go up to the 8th floor to iron and press your clothes, just to return to your room to redress.
so we’re at the marriott now. similar price, much more accomodating environment. I spent more than 120 nights on the road last year (i will probably beat that easily this year) and the last thing that you want is to feel uncomfortable in your home away from home. done and done.
patronized a pub in the centre of town called whitelochs which had very traditional engilsh dishes and beers. sausage and mash was my order, but they were out of mash (potatoes). the fries were a good substitute and went well with the john smith cask and the duscher ipa. there’s more than enough to see around the town centre without work, so hopefully i can work in another visit or two before the end of the week.
after falling asleep on the plane and changing sleep positiions 18 times (even with two coach seats, there’s still not a semi-prone position that you can relax into for some decent sleep), i woke up watching the sun rise over the atlantic. from my 23j window seat, i could see the sunrise and moonset, the view from the cockpit must’ve been phenomenal. deboarding at gatwick, i started to wind through customs.
they must have been staring at me like i was crazy. or an idiot savant. or something. it wasn’t that i couldn’t understand them. it was the fact that for the first time in, well, maybe the first time ever i had a passport stamp and they were still speaking english. no spanish, no japanese, no portuguese (if you want to count portuguese as a language). now to be fair, it is the queen’s english. you know, lifts and queues and lorries, etc. you can just hear the u’s that webster painfully took out of words like color and favorite. the accent up in leeds and manchester is definitely thicker but not nearly as horrible as something out of snatch.
after navigating two flights, one train and a
I woke up to the sound of my hotel room’s air conditioner turning off. Abruptly. My hand reached out to find the remote, fancy AC’s have remotes (and you probably don’t refer to them as AC’s), and pushed the on/off switch futilely. Rolling over to see how much time I had left to sleep, I couldn’t find the alarm clock. Because it was turned off. Lights? Nope. Great. Awoken too early by a blackout in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
No alarms were sounding, so I figured this was a common occurence. I made sure my cell phone’s alarm was still on and the power outage wasn’t mysteriously affecting the treo. Good to go, time for a little additional shut-eye. Well, for about 20 more minutes. 5:45am used to be so much earlier.
Stumbling on the way to the shower, I found that two lights in the room worked; one directly over the door and one in the shower. I opened the hinged window in the shower and peered out into the illuminated street. “Not as widespread of a problem as I thought,” I thought, as I waited for the water to get hot.
The curtains usually serve as my morning insulation, but today they gave way to the light. It was the easiest way to make sure that my socks matched for the rest of the day. Still no progress returning to a state of electrocution as I exited my room more than an hour later, but the hallway lights were triggered when I stepped into the corridor. Now, do I risk the elevator?
Another 5AM wake up call, quick shower, throw the laptop in the backpack and double check that I have clean underwear in my carry-on. You know what mom always said, “If you’re not going to wear clean underwear, at least pack some in your carry-on.” What sage advice.
This morning, however, my radio alarm clock gently awoke me from my slumbering coma with a soft string melody that sounded vaguely familiar. Mind you, I don’t have the radio tuned to classical music, just not exactly the thing to get you moving in the morning. Then the lyrics began.
“I don’t know where I’m goin
but I sure know where I’ve been
hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday.”
This isn’t what I think it is, is it?
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
but here I go again, here I go again.
So I turned on the light and jumped in the shower singing.
Here I go again on my own
goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known.
Like a hobo I was born to walk alone.
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
but here I go again, here I go again,
here I go again, here I go.
They really shouldn’t play that song at 5AM in the morning, at least for the sake of those of us who thought they had finally escaped Whitesnake.
Just noticed an interesting stat: Out of all of my categories for this blog, only two have no entries after roughly a year and a half of semi-regular nonposting.
The first is work. Now I understand all of the liabilities surrounding commenting online about your workplace, but I have been pretty fortunate that most of my coworkers and bosses would not have had any qualms with any musings or observations. And then again, sometimes what happens at work, stays at work. That’s really more for my sanity than anything else.
The second category uncommented on is audio which, when this blog started, was work. Now it’s a little more pleasure. Well, it pretty much always was pleasure, which is what happens when you can pursue a career that you are tuly passionate about. But now I’m getting to follow another passion of mine and audio is set to become a professional hobby for the time-being.
I’m not completely sure that the fact that both of these categories remained uncommented on was a coincedence. What I do know is that I’m now in a position to continue to enjoy both of the categories independently and maybe I’ll have a little to say about both audio and work.