Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Age-Old Dispute of the Long Commute

Ah yes, always one of the most crucial factors when accepting a new job or finding a new place to call long is the commute to work? Now, I've traveled anywhere from 5-45minutes each way to work, none of which I thought were particularly far. I now live (according to Google Maps) 14.9 miles from my place of employment, and it takes me around 15-20 minutes to get t work. I think that's just right and pretty average, right? You would not believe how many people are SHOCKED when I tell them how far I drive. The comments are usually something to the effect of 'Wow, that's far!' or 'How do you deal with the commute?' Seriously? There were coworkers of mine in LA that traveled 2 hours EACH WAY to that's crazy!

You know how when you're talking to someone and you would like them to call you to give you information about something? Well generally, I would say 'Gimme a call'. Over here, the common phrase is 'Give US a call' or 'Give us a bell'. Does 'us' no longer refer to the plural, indicating more than one person? Very strange indeed.

More to come. Be sure to leave us a comment.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Traffic and Ghosts

Sixteen weeks into my life in the UK, and I've come to understand what it means when someone says that there's 'traffic on the M6'. In my time here, I've made at least 8 trips up and down the aorta of England, which is known as the M6 Motorway, not one of those times have I had anything that I would remotely refer to as traffic. Now, I will admit, I have just moved here from the LA area, where 12 lanes of traffic can be stopped for up to 30 minutes and it still won't be called 'traffic', but this was ridiculous.

Last Tuesday, I was setting off with a coworker around 1:30pm to head down South to an equipment supplier. After dropping off his car, taking my dog to the kennel, and filling up with petrol, we were on the road by 3:30pm. The drive should be around 4hours maximum. Things were going splendidly until we listened to my GPS when we should've listened to our gut. Near Birmingham, my GPS said to take the M6, while my coworker suggested we take the M6 Toll (which is like 4 pounds!!). So, we take the toll and wait for Emma 2 (that's what I named my GPS) to re-route us. But Emma seems confused and can't find an alternate route, so after paying 4pounds to get on, then 4pounds to get off the toll (thank goodness for expense reporting), we turn to get back onto the M6. About halfway onto the ramp, we realise this was the worst decision we could've made.

No joke, the motorway was a parking lot. People were out of their cars chatting, smoking, etc. Some were even walking up into the bushes to go to the bathroom. I think the lorry driver next to us had a kettle and was making tea!! No one else seemed to think this was odd. FOUR HOURS LATER...we started to move, it was another 2 hours before we saw the cause of the accident...a lorry had self combusted.

THat was bad, but it seriously gets worse. A trusting individual that I am, I let my coworker program the destination into the GPS. So, around 1130pm when we expect to be nearing our hotel for the night...just around the next corner....hmmm that doesnt look right. We are out in the middle of nowhere and ol' Emma is screaming ' You have arrived at your destination'!!! My inclination says, um no we haven't, but I check the program to find that somehow my coworker had entered the following destination '002, England'. Now, in case you're wondering '002 England' is somewhere about 15 miles from our destination of Newbury. Lovely place, you should visit.

And so we found ourselves driving through scary country roads to cut over to our true destination. Oh no, that's not it. In that 15 miles thru the country, exactly 1 deer, 1 fox, and 4 bunnies jumped in front of my vehicle. Around 12:30 am (yes 11 hours post departure), we arrive out our 4 star accomodation to find the bar closed. Thank goodness the owner agreed to let us in for a beer before we went to bed. Argh.

Funnily enough, our trip got better. The 2nd night we were in another town, Royston. In preparation for the trip, the vendor had recommended 2 hotels: The Old Bull Inn and The Banyers Hotel. The Old Bull Inn was full, so I booked 2 rooms at the Banyers. It seemed nice enough, though odd that there was no reception and you had to check in at the pub. The hotel appeared to have been recently renovated, comfy beds, nice bathroom fixtures, etc. Fine. Long story shorter, we get up in the morning and head to the vendors headquarters. As we're walking in the vendor says 'Did you see any ghosts in the night?' I laugh, uncomfortably, saying 'No, just slept really well'. To which he replies, 'oh well you know the Banyers is haunted'.

YOu know those cartoons where the character gets so mad he turns red like a thermometer and then explodes. That's kind of what I felt like.

So check out this website: or and search for the Banyers Hotel in Royston. They have a nice full English breakfast.

And so, my friends, that was my week. May yours be full of safe driving and no ghostly encounters.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

A Walk in the Park...or NOT

So, I couldn't spend the 4th of July sans celebratory drinking and bbq-ing....but I didn't know what I was getting into. I was invited by a few lads from work to join for a 'Walk in the Park', or so the Outlook invite said. Ended up that they wanted to take the day off of work and go hiking in the mountains down in Wales. Sounds great, right?

I wake up in the morning, pull out the ol' hiking gear, pumped up for a good day the way it was the first sunny day in awhile. In fact, I was so excited that it seems that my hiking boots got stuck on the steps as I was running down with my arms full and I sort of toppled and rolled down to the bottom of the steps in agony. No joke, I haven't felt this much pain on my bum and neck in a LOOONG time. I laid there moaning for about 30 minutes, with Buster staring at me with a concerned look. But I figured, hey, Susan, pull yourself together. YOu can't miss a good day outside and waste your holiday at home.

And there you have it, I sucked it up and jumped in the car and headed off to Snowdon. May I just tell you that I was about 75 minutes from discovering that my tumble was the least of my worries for the day. We arrive at the location of our 'walk in the park' to discover that it's basically a nearly vertical bouldering/ rock climbing adventure up the side of a mountain. Frickin' sweet (note the sarcasm).

I have to admit, my thighs were burning, my bum aching, and my neck kinked, but the views were amazing. At the top of Triffin there are two stones called Adam and Eve. You're supposed to stand on top of them and jump from one to the other. They're only about 1 meter apart, but it's really scary because there's a steep drop off to one side (see the picture).
If the views weren't enough motivation, there was one thing driving back down the mountain....the PUB! No 4th is complete without at least 1 beer, or several....and then 1-2 more once we got back to Chester.
I woke up the next day, quite sore I might add, and decided that I would invest in a little TLC. I booked a massage at a spa I'd been eyeballing for awhile. I only had about 25 minutes to get there, so I showered, threw on some clothes and ran over to the spa. It that my bum was aching because I have a bruise the size and shape of Australia on my bum and I didn't know until the masseuse told me! How embarassing! I think I've officially earned the title of 'Clumsiest Person EVER'. Outstanding.