Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Goodbye, London. One of our last dinners here -- at the Holly Bush pub in Hampstead. Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I'm back in London for about a week to help Diane and Jay pack up our apartment before they join me in Bangalore.

Now, that I'm about to leave, I can write about some of the things I didn't like about London.

-- It's incredibly expensive to live here.

-- It can take forever to get something fixed in your apartment. Repair people often don't show up for days.

-- The people can be very hard to get to know. British reserve is no stereotype. You DON'T start conversations with people in a checkout line that you don't know (the way we do back in the States).

-- People put up with far more pain and suffering than we would. For example, a subway line will be out for months. In New York, there would be rioting after a week.

But these are quibbles. On balance, I like London. A lot.

-- This is a GOOD place to live. I love British food. Just about all of it (except Marmite). I really love British beer.

-- The level of discourse is high here. The television can be very intelligent. The newspapers are lively and fun to read.

-- The museums are wonderful -- and often free.

-- Once you do get to know someone well, they are your friend for life.

This was my London. If I am lucky, someday it will be my London again.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

This may be my last post from London for a while. I am at Heathrow, waitiing for my flight to Bangalore, India.

Dawn is breaking over England after a fittingly stormy night (I thought I'd get soaked in the wind and rain. Fortunately, the storm abated not long before I started loading my bags in the car that took me to the airport).

Yesterday was bittersweet. I saw one of my closest friends, Jonathan Engel, for lunch, then went for drinks with my new colleagues in the London polling unit. I finished the day with a quick drink at one of my favorite pubs, the Calthorpe, with Mike Roddy, whom I've know since we both worked for The Associated Press in the mid-80's.

I went home and finished packing. In between, Diane cooked me a wonderful farewell dinner: bangers and mash (I'd asked for it).

The bangers were Cumberland sausages bought at Borough Market, London's foodie magnet. They were great. Where I'm going, pork sausages will almost certainly not be on the menu.

Diane and Jay also bought me a surprise treat: a rich piece of chocolate cake from Konditor & Cook (we love Konditor & Cook).

As I said, this may be my last post from London for some time. I hope to get back here to help Diane and Jay pack up our apartment in late March. We'll see.

"Last Post" has a double meaning in Britain. In addition to the webbie implications, it is the name of the bugle call that is the equivalent of America's "Taps" and is played at funerals and memorial services. In a way, I am sounding "Last Post" today on my time in Britain (But who knows? I may come back some day).

Anyway, thanks for reading This Is My London. I hope you have enjoyed it.

If you want to follow my Indian adventures, check out Bangalore Torpedo, my India blog, already in progress.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

On New Year's Day, Jay and I went hiking with my friend David, his daughters Frances and Fiona, and our friend Ian. We walked around part of the Ardingly Reservoir in West Sussex.

It would have been fine but for the rain. But the rain -- and the mud -- were fitting for a goodbye walk in Britain. And it didn't REALLY rain buckets until the last 10-15 minutes of the walk (which was good). We had a nice lunch in a duck blind (ducks optional).

Today, I took two double-decker buses from Picadilly Circus to my home. I knew it was probably the last time for a while, making it a sad yet happy ride. The Christmas lights are still up on Regent's Street (they are a promotion for "The Incredibles" but they look nice).

Monday, December 27, 2004

We have celebrated what may be our last Christmas -- and Boxing Day -- in London. I say "may" because Reuters being Reuters there is always the chance that we will return some day.

On Christmas Eve, we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Maggie Jones's, for dinner. Maggie's has tables on the ground floor and in the basement. Go for the basement and ask for a booth. It's got a very cozy feeling.

Diane had rack of lamb with rosemary and garlic, Jay had pheasant and I had medallions of venison. Delicious. For dessert, we had things like apple crumble (think apple brown betty) and bread-and-butter pudding.

The Christmas Eve strike on the Picadilly Line caused minimal disruption, as far as I was concerned. The other lines were running normally, and I was able to get around without any problems.

On Christmas Day, we went to our friend Ann's house for a fine Christmas lunch. We had turkey, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts (a holiday tradition in Britain), carrots, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Followed by desserts that included trifle and a cake baked by Ann's stepson with a wonderful marzipan layer. Yum.

I love London at Christmastime. A lot of people leave town, so getting around is easy and it's quiet. It's like New York City in August.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

We've been warned to brace ourselves for a partial strike on the Tube (subway) tomorrow, Christmas Eve.

The Picadilly Line, one of the most crucial lines in London, is expected to be hit by the strike. This will ball things up for travelers who depend on the line as a low-cost way to get into central London from Heathrow. The alternatives are the Heathrow Express, which is fast and efficient but more expensive; buses and cabs. Cabs are extremely expensive.

The whole system and buses will be shut down on Christmas Day. But that's not a strike. That's normal. As a long-time New Yorker, I still have a hard time comprehending the shutdown of a transit system in a major city. The New York system never shuts down, aside from the occasional blackout.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Back at the Apple Store, this time with Jay. We're having fun playing with Apple gear.

Well, This is My London is about to become This is My Bangalore. I leave in about two to three weeks to help set up a new economic polling and forecasting unit. I am very excited, especially since it means I still have a job :-)