Thursday, 27 August 2009

Introducing...NEW JOB JENNY!!!!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. VACATION TOMORROW!!!!!! We are SO EXCITED we simply CANNOT wait. Our flight is at 7:50 AM tomorrow on BA (British Airways), arriving in Munich at 10:55 AM. Reminder – NO BLOG FOR THE NEXT TEN DAYS! But don’t worry, we’ll resume with a fury upon our return. We even got a great deal on a cab all the way there, so the vacation is starting off with a bang!

So today was a CRAZY day. Trying to get out of the office before vacation is almost impossible, so kudos to Ray Tavares (that’s right, Dinger – "Old School Cool") for taking on 99% of the work I left behind. Ray I would say I owe you a beer, but since you know I’m NEVER good for it, I’ll just say thanks instead and ask that Rev give you a Bombardier on my behalf next time you're over (and we need to hang with Knockout next go around).

I met Mark and Liz for two pints at the Cat and Canary (Honey Dew in a “manly glass” – (which I have now officially abandoned unless it’s in a bottle – sorry muffin) and Peroni – which I’m now an uber-big fan of) before heading home for the final packing touches and the moment of truth…the HAIR CUT.

So let’s start with the "before" pick. Notice the stylish points in the hair (much like da debbil), the weaves, the curls, the waves, the straight lines – all in all, my head is the blueprint of Darwin’s map of evolution. Style beyond style, which is EXACTLY how all of you define Sam “The K is for tact” Taylor (Dings - that one was for you).
And now, the “after” shot: I mean, tell me my wife isn’t a surgeon. Personally, I’m just glad the clippers didn’t explode, but I am now officially a space monkey, ready to be shot into orbit. I feel ten pounds lighter. And for the record, Bob and Jan, your daughter is still the hottest woman in the UK, and your son-in-law has actually LOST 2 pounds since arriving!
However, the following differences between a UK clipper and a US clipper are:
1. There is no left ear/right ear in the UK. You have 8 speeds - that's it (Chuck, I got a #2 or a #4 Clipper guard, what do you want...ah, the memories).
2. Unlike the US, the blades on a guard here will impale you like a citizen of Tyre after Alexander the Great's invasion.
3. Whether it's plugged up or not, the thing runs on a battery. What that means is that, if you buy it 20 minutes before cutting, you will have to stop 47 times to let it recharge before continuing, EVEN IF IT'S PLUGGED INTO THE WALL.

So, the biggest news before departure: introducing…New Job Jenny (version 6.0 – batteries included)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Today was muffin’s last day in her current job, but eComm Team – you’ll be happy to know that she was VERY diligent and was still on line at 10:30 PM (Linda can verify - and she was not boracha!)!
When she returns from vacation, she’ll be part of the International E T & D Finance Team (sorry Tait – I don’t think there are many pink slips in her future, but I’ll tell her you said Daunte still sucks), working down in exotic and tropical Zone 5 Croydon. Way to go, Territorial Muffin Puffin!!!

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Sorry so short (and C-Web, sorry if you were bored again tonight), but we have packing to do and miles to go before we sleep before our 5 AM taxi tomorrow!!! Can someone say Costa Coffee?
Mark - safe flight home.
Liz - enjoy the QC -safe travels to you as well.


Sam and Jenny

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen...WE HAVE HANGERS!!!!!!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. First and foremost – NOTICE!!!! After tomorrow’s installment of the blog (that would be 27 August), the Taylors will take a break from their nightly postings due to their planned vacation. However, the blog will return to life on 7 September (viva Argentinean independence) with a special “double issue,” detailing the exploits of the Taylors and giving you the 5-10 best photos from our trip. Apologies in advance to all the faithful out there, but the missus and I are unplugging from everything.

So, next big item – pictures! Tonight my lovely wife went to a goodbye shin-dig for Carolyn Parnell, an expat who’s been here for 2 years and is repatriating soon (you'll remember her from the "celebrity sighting at the cheese shop" incident). In addition to farewells and vino, tonight was a “please take whatever you want out of my house free so I don’t have to throw it away or watch Sam blow something up because he doesn’t know how to work converters” party, and we are now the proud owners of a stylish new clock radio (if only I were Rod Roddy).

Also - we have more hangars!!!! We continue to move every closer to that lofty yet slightly unattainable goal of hanging up all of our clothing to avoid constant ironing. Hey, when life is this good, something’s gotta be tricky, right? Actually, JT, thinks we might actually have achieved the pinnacle - we have found the Holy Grail!!!
As for me, after 3 days on the wagon, I eased my body back into what it can expect in Germany by meeting the one and only Mark Johnson for a beer and dinner in Canary Wharf (Price – since you are now just skimming for new beers – it was a Kirin on draft). A pint and a green curry later, I felt fat and happy. And hey, I worked out today, so no complaints.

All that’s left to do now is empty the washer/dryer unit and hang up all the clothes on the rack because THE DRYER DOES NOT DRY AT ALL – NOT A BIT – NOT A WINK – NOT AN IOTA. I actually took the last batch out after 40 minutes of drying and was about to WRING OUT MY BOXERS (not a pleasant thought really, I know…).

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat with you guys tomorrow before the hiatus!


(A soon to be very relaxed) Sam and Jenny

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Krispy Kremes and Christmas Dreams...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Honestly, nothing of interest to report tonight, so we just wanted to tell our friends and families that we love and miss them, and that we're already looking forward to the following:

1. Bob Tacy challenging his wife, daughters, and son-in-law to an "Oh, Hell" death match.

2. The Cheese Sampler at the Opryland Hotel - 'nuff said.

3. Meeting the newest edition to the Rice family.

4. Eating Hawthorne's with T-Rowe and company (and celebrating the fact that Carolina is undefeated whilst Duke is unrated - sorry, Mandy - couldn't resist).

5. Getting the Taylor clan together again, this time under happier circumstances.


7. Fat Tire on draft.

8 Watching Bowl games with dad (as he falls asleep at 7 PM).

9. Jenny's mom blowing a gasket when Copernium Cable fails.

10. Playing craps and Pai Gow with EVERYONE we know.

We are in the countdown mode to vacation - just two days to go!!!! Honestly, I have tried to keep it at bay, but it's chasing me like a banshee now. Tomorrow we'll start packing, ensure we've got everything printed out, and (hopefully) cut my hair. Fret not - provided it happens, we'll ensure we get a "before & after" photo to commemorate the occasion.

It should be noted that, despite my best efforts to be a healthy chubby bunny, the lovely Lynda Grimshaw sabotaged me today by bringing in KRISPY KREME FOR LUNCH! I fought with all the will power I could muster, which lasted all of 3.8 seconds. Two donuts later, all I could think of was that I should sign up for my next marathon, injured foot or not...and for the record, some tightness but no real pain to speak of today!

Last bit - my wife wants the Iron Chef in mortal combat - he names the secret ingredient. Tonight was veggie Madras and Quiche - I'm tellin' you - she will run Johnson & Wales within a year of our return. :-)

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. I promise we'll have a picture tomorrow (Warf, CP - don't give up on me yet!).


Sam and Jenny

Monday, 24 August 2009

The Quest to beat Kannouchi resumes...and a REALLY good dinner...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was another great (albeit) quiet day in the Smoke. I skipped the workout this morning (I can’t believe how well I slept last night!), choosing instead to get some exercise after work. The good news – the foot held up under the pressure of actual strides!

I shattered all personal records in the “injury era,” including the following notable highlights:

1. Longest continuous period of cardio exercise: 37 minutes

2. Longest continuous run without screaming in pain and begging for morphine: 7 minutes

3. Farthest distance traveled: 4 km

4. Fastest pace achieved: 10.8 km/hr

5. Longest total time running: 12 minutes

6. Most calories burned: 286

Honestly, while I know it’s still a LONG way back, it really did feel like an actual workout, and it felt guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud.

I got home to the smell of a stir-fry. That’s right – my wife is the next Rachael Ray – period. She whipped up a vegetable medley with sweet & sour sauce all over a bed of rice – it was delish!

Tonight will be uber low key, with just some reading and relaxing (I picked Red Dragon, in case anyone had a bet either way, and I’m happy to report that it’s pretty solid a quarter of the way through). We’ll see whether or not we favor the morning or the evening workout, but I’d like to slide in some weights (if you can call it that) as well.

I realize that this was less than exciting, so I offer up the fact that the hospital Florence Nightingale’s (I’m everywhere Fokker – play some defense!) left to go to Crimea is in my neighborhood . That’s a pretty neat thing to walk past every morning on your way to work, eh?

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow (as we chase the 7:30 barrier in my quest to become a knight of the Royal Kenyan Order).


Sam and Jenny

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A solid rest period, a chapter of a friend's life closes, and another incredible carb fest at Limehouse...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today’s weather was absolutely AMAZING – I hope we get another month or so of this! It was absolutely perfect – no humidity, sunny skies, that “just right” temp, a light breeze – Jenny was right when she compared it to Florida in October. All I could think was "IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!!"

First off, we slept in today, and I mean SLEPT. 13 hours of sleep later, however, we were fit as fiddles and rarin’ to go. Actually, that’s a lie, because Saturday had absolutely wrecked us and we were in no mode to seize the day too quickly. So my cute little muffin puffin whipped up a great little lunch (which was perfect since I was craving the Fromagerie down the street) of cheese, crackers, apples, and coffee.

In addition, I tried a new food called Bovril, courtesy of the lovely Lynda Grimshaw. All I really have to say is “GRIMSHAW – ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL US?” A few points on Bovril:

1. It’s a beef extract (that’s right – BEEF EXTRACT). Picture melting Slim Jim beef jerkey into something you could drink.

2. It’s 42% beef extract, 24% yeast extract, 6% salt, and 100% DONKEY TRASH. WOW…

3. A lot of people mix it with milk and drink it as a beef broth. If you are one of the people who do this, I bet you also swallow nails for breakfast to clean your teeth.

4. I’ll be trying it again in 2 weeks time to see if, like Marmite, it just takes time. That’s assuming the amount I’ve ingested to date hasn’t burned a hole through my esophagus.

After brekkie, we headed out to Hammersmith (West London), where we attended Lisa’s going away party. Yep, it’s real this time – she leaves on Thursday at 10 AM. Money – best of luck out there. Dan – you take care of that girl now, you hear? :-)

The place was called the Ruby Grand, and it was a great little spot with outdoor seating. It should be noted that Jenny and I resisted the temptation and managed an AFD!!! Yep, I’ve never been happier to order “two orange juices and a water” from the bar – LIFE CHANGING.

We left there around six and traveled 18 stops across 3 tube lines to meet Johnson, Mirza, and Goodyer at…wait for it…wait for it…La Figa. Does anyone want to guess what I ordered? And does anyone want to guess how GOOD it was again (as always)?

Now we’re back at the flat after a very short day. The only drama left is figuring out which book in the arsenal I am going to start on tonight. The 3 finalists are "Hannibal", "Red Dragon", and "The Hab Theory." I’ll let you know tomorrow how it all turned out.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow! Have a productive week!


Sam and Jenny

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Shakespearian and Blue Jack keep the Taylors alive...


And a GREAT evening to you from across the Pond. Today…well, WOW – it was AMAZING. Okay, for starters, I had ten WONDERFUL hours of sleep, popping up around 9:10 for a shower. After that, it was off to Waterloo Station, where we met the gang and I had a GREAT Costa Vanilla Latte (the St. Peter drink? Yeah, that’s two days in a row…).

We caught the 11:20 train (Liz – no worries on the wardrobe malfunction – you looked HOT) out to Esher, arriving around noon for drinks and lunch at Chez Branca. Talk about a Malibu flat in the midst of England! This place was AWESOME, and the spread/drinks were even better! I made the girls Bloody Mary’s (and no, GC – it wasn’t quite like the Meineke Car Care Bowl), while I tried my first ever Pimm’s (50 proof) and Lemonade.

Okay, I’ve heard about this stuff for ages, but I’d never actually tried it. DUDE – talk about the party that rocks the piñata – SO GOOD (peppy cheekies). The girls had some as well, but they were pretty big on the Bloody Mary's (including the horseradish sauce - Cat - you would have been so proud).

We hung out at Casa de Branca for about 2 hours, where I had two sandwiches that could have fed the Indian National Railway for a week and even tried a new beer: Circle Master. This beer, ladies and gentleman, is important, as it’s the last of the Wychewood Brewery beers on my list. That’s right – I have now completed the Quadrivium (Hobgoblin, Fiddler’s Elbow, Scarecrow, Circle Master)!

Also, the Branca clan is fantastic – Liz (Mike’s wife, who is the dude we work with) was great, and the kids were wonderful. Also, Buddy (the family Golden Retriever) had just arrived a week before, and he was SO CUTE. All in all, this is a good gang. I mean, check them out! And I can say with 100% certainty that Andrew (Mike's son) could take ANY of my boys in Grand Theft Auto. Warf - if he were playing "Driver - you are the Wheelman," I guarantee you he could find a way to "get the President out of there." That's all I'm sayin'...

After that, it was off to the track (after Liz re-applied make-up, of course), where we had an absolute BLAST. We drank champagne, beer, and Pimm’s & Lemonade, enjoyed the sunshine, and successfully used every voucher and free/value bet offered to us. Talk about a blast!

How did I do, you ask? Well, I managed to walk away down only 11 quid (18 USD) through 7 races, including 2 victories (Go Shakespearian and Blue Jack!) and several other places. Key points from the races:

1. In England, you can do a “swinger bet,” where you pick any 2 horses that have to finish in the top 3. Dad – this has your name written ALL OVER IT.

2. They don’t have a Superfecta in the UK.

3. You don’t bet “across the board” in the UK. Instead, you bet “each way,” meaning you’re betting the horse to win or to “place.” However, “placing” is different in each race depending on a) the number of horses running and b) whether or not a handicap is in effect.

4. They DO NOT sell Mint Julips in the UK.

5. Women DO NOT wear redonkulous hats in the UK.

6. There is no "one place to bet" in the UK. You've got the Track bookies, the national chains (OTB's), and all the little "wildcat" gambling houses (dudes down by the track who'll just take bets - note that they tend to give you slightly better odds).

7. ALL races in the UK are on grass.

8. They divide races between furlongs around a track (like we have) and flat out sprints in a straight line (Usain Bolt style). I much prefer (and fare better in) the races around the track.


And in case anyone’s scoring, JT finished down 30 pounds. No worries, pumpkin – I love you and you were the hottest girl there!

After the races, we caught the train to Victoria Station, where we walked to an old haunt – The Bag O’ Nails. Once there, I had a Becks Vier and Stella. Best of all, Megs showed up (the bar was RIGHT ACROSS from her hotel – LITERALLY). She had a pint with us before we all sauntered to a truly old haunt – the Buckingham Balti House. I had a Vindaloo and a Balti Very Hot, both of which I shared with Mark Johnson (who, for the record, a) is an Eagle Scout, b) plays the Trumpet, c) sang at the 1980 Olympics, and d) is a really cool guy).

I must confess that we did con Megs into trying the Vindaloo, after which point she shot me 187 birds and said that she was never speaking to me again. Irene – 131 days! But we’re having a good ride until then!!!

We’re now back at the flat, where JT and I are going to sleep until about 5 PM tomorrow, as I am EXHAUSTED. It was a GREAT day at Sandown Park, and I am SO GLAD that we hit the races. That being said, I simply CANNOT WAIT to hit the hay.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Megs – safe travels tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

Friday, 21 August 2009

An early but fantastic night with T Dot's finest...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond – IT’S THE WEEKEND!!!! Today was a great (but quiet) day in the Smoke. Work was good – I treated myself to a Costa Vanilla Latte (yeah, St. Peter will greet me with one of those in Heaven – it’s pretty much the greatest thing on earth) and a Ham & Brie Panini. I was STARVING this morning, which is crazy when you consider that I ate about a third of the Red Army’s month rations last night at the Chinese joint. All that being said, that Panini was guuuuuuuuuud.

After work, I went for a workout (my fourth in five days), where I was about to exercise for 35 minutes, nine of which were running! I did a five minute stint and a four minute stint. The good news is that I was actually able to do more than just a slight shuffle. The bad news is that it did start hurting again during both sessions. However, I’ve now found the breaking point – the 8.6 km speed on the treadmill. 8.6 is the point where I go from a shuffle to a jog, and that’s when the pain instantly starts. But hey, still making progress! In fact, today we had the walk to and from the Tube stop (a mile each way), the time in the gym, and a walk to and from Covent Garden (about a mile and a quarter). This is exactly why you carry your trainers (aka tennis shoes) everywhere you go over here in your backpack. Case in point - JT and I changing our shoes out last night for the walk home.
After the workout, I went home, met JT, changed my clothes, and headed to Covent Garden to meet Megs. We passed on going to the Porterhouse (RAMMED) and The Maple Leaf (I just couldn’t let her go in out of principle – Muise – you’re with me on this, right?) in favor of a pint at the Coal Hole (Timmy T for me, of course). We then wandered over to a Thai joint called Manoram, where they were about as friendly as Pol Pot but did serve some delicious green curry. Megan – we forgot to get a picture – we must make amends tomorrow.

Now we’re back at the flat, where it’s bed time for this crew. After the week we’ve had, we are absolutely EXHAUSTED. Tomorrow we’ll get up about 9, at which point we’ll head out for the day’s adventures. However, you’ll have to check back in 24 hours from now to see what the adventure of the day is.

Last note – I finished reading “The Exorcist” today. HOLY MOLY that book is scary. I honestly think the first 250 pages are better than the last 150, but it’s still worth taking the plunge, as it’s a fantastic book. That being said, if you are easily offended – STEER CLEAR. Not sure what the next book will be. I’ve made the executive decision to NOT start book 3 of the Twilight Series until after we return from vacation in September.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Another integration session in the books...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Wow – what a GREAT final day for the Integration Sessions! Again, I’ll spare you the details of work, but suffice it to say it was a GREAT day and an even better week – We really knocked some stuff out. After 4 days of very hard work, I am all smiles…

So key point: Congrats to Dinger’s idol, Ray Tavares, as tomorrow he’ll hit 15 years (and 14 Transitions, for the record) with Bank of America. So today, as a tribute, we recognized him during our Leadership Report Out. First off, Mike Ferone said a few congratulatory words, including referencing big ticket news events from the year Ray started work at B of A (they were CLASSIC). Also, I wrote a poem to commemorate the occasion. Now some of you have asked if I’ll post it on the blog. The answer, unfortunately, is no. That being said, I am happy to give you a rendition the next time I see you (since I will be in Charlotte at SOME point).

After the sessions, we hit our usual (aka the Cat and Canary) before rolling to Leicester Square for a pint of Timmy Taylor (still the reigning champ as my fave beer in the UK). After that, we rolled to our favorite Chinese restaurant (Fung Sheng), where Andrew Riegel held court and was truly in the zone.

As a bit of back story, Andrew (also known as the Brewmaster - he's the one on the right) is better traveled than ANYONE ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME. Marco Polo WISHES he had this cat’s resume. He’s lived 5 years in Germany, 3 in Amsterdam, 3 in Shanghai, went to college in Ireland, and is now working on our project, where he’s got regular stops in London, Singapore, Toronto, Madrid, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

Tonight he went from Brewmaster to Shogun, ordering in Chinese and serving up the FINEST CHINESE EXPERIENCE WE’VE EVER HAD. Dude – both the crispy and aromatic duck were off the chain, as were the other 789 dishes he ordered.

Incidentally, the other cat in the photo is Matt "The King Donkapotamus" Miller, a great guy and good buddy of mine. Matt adopted two Guatemalan girls about 2 years ago - how cool is that? But Matt - Penn State sucks. That being said, I hope they absolutely SMASH GREG PAULUS IN THE FACE 800 TIMES THIS SEASON.

We then tried to say goodbye to folks, but I caved to the peer pressure and ended up at the Empire Casino. The good news? I made 31 pounds (about 53 USD) playing electronic roulette! The big winners were a) Andrew Riegel (yep, he was the MAN tonight), who played 4 hands of Blackjack, doubling his bet every time. He walked away 6 minutes later and 500 USD richer. The other was b) the Cyborg, who let all his money ride for his last two hands of Blackjack and made 500 USD as well (it was AWESOME to watch).

And in case anyone is curious, Muffin Puffin rolled home at 2 AM last night. Apparently, she was the LIFE OF THE PARTY back at the hotel bar, and now she is fully 100% of the Transition family. Tonight I didn’t let her out of my sight, but hopefully she had just as much fun as last time. (P.S. for Team Maple Leaf – she LOVES you guys. Megs – we are ALL ABOUT skiing during Go Live.)

Okay, that’s about all the news that’s fit to print. I am exhausted, but there’s nothing like a good Integration Session to get you back on the right track. American peeps – safe travels back to the colonies. See you in a month!


Sam and Jenny

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

12 hours of meetings and a wife AWOL...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was a super busy day, but man did we accomplish a lot. Again, I am really proud of what we’ve rolled through this week – 1 more day to go. SPARTANS!!!!! Prepare for glory…

So we didn’t get out of the office until 8:30 today. Why you ask? Well, maybe because, according to some, I am a tyrannical ogre who works people like Grand Canyon donkeys. For proof, please check out the agenda we created for the week (thanks to Margaret for killing the sequoia necessary to print that thing off). Yes, basically it's "Sammy and the Amazin' Technicolor Spreadsheet (but thanks to the X-Factor, Cody Schwob-Nelson, for pulling it all together).

That agenda is now on version 22 (a version for every shot in a Jack Daniels bottle plus 1 – fitting, eh?), and I am SO GLAD that we won’t be making any more updates after tomorrow. However, probably not as excited as Cody, who probably now owns stock in the local ABC store. And yes, to confirm - that schedule represents only 3.5 days of work. THAT'S HOW WE ROLL ON INTERNATIONAL, BABY!!!

After work, we walked over to the Cat and Canary (see – more proof of the “any two words” theory) for a pint. Jenny actually beat me there by about ninety minutes, where she was able to sample and confirm that Honeydew is fresh again! It was good to chat with some of the guys I hadn't caught up with all week, like the Bristol Pistol Duncan Hollyman (who I'll be locked in a darts death match with tomorrow). We then sauntered over to GBK (well, most of us, but I'll get to that in the next paragraph), where I tried the Bleu Cheese burger (medium rare), which was OFF THE CHAIN. That place is SO GOOD. Check out the gang in action (and Dinger, since he's your hero, notice Ray "Old School Cool" to the right).

Noticeably absent in this photo, however, is my wife. Why, you ask? Was she hard at work? Nope. Was she busy making us money in the stock market? Nope. Instead, she really wanted Thai (she said this when she went to bed last night, for the record) and convinced some of the other members of the project team to go there for dinner. The result is that my wife is probably consuming Green Thai curry as I type this, basking in the joys of mint leaves and bamboo shoots. I love you, pumpkin! Come home to husband bear!

On the (not so) athletic front, I did 25 minutes on the treadmill today, but it was a humbling experience. I ran for 2 consecutive minutes, but at the ninety second mark, I accelerated to reach a “full stride.” The result was a pain after one step that’s still with me 15 hours later. Needless to say, I’ll be visiting a GP (general practitioner) when I return from vacation.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and (somewhere out there) Jenny

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

OriEEEEEEENT!!!!!! Orieeeeeeeeeent!!!!!!!!!!!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was a GREAT day all around. First off, we had an uber-productive day in the office – it absolutely FLEW by, and I felt like we turned the dial again. Couple that with some sushi (thanks, Donkapotamus – but you are still a CNN Doctor who plays golf in Fiji), a freshly cleaned water bottle (long story, but my Nalgene was basically gray from lack of santitation…mmmm…tasty), and a latte, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Also, continuing on the road to recovery, I ran for 75 seconds today! I then tried another 30, but I started to feel some light pressure in the foot, so I wound it back down. Today was 2.5 km (down from 3 km yesterday), but I am still feeling good about things. The best part was that I was up at 6 to knock it out. Tomorrow I’m getting up at 6 again. That means Price is only being my start time by about 2 hours (but who really wants to bike 187 miles every morning, anyway?).

Third – AFD!!!! Legit this time…whistles and bells, please. And a gin & tonic to celebrate.

Fourth-and most important – we caught a footy match! So Lord G (aka Mark Goodyer) was able to “negotiate” 20 quid seats in the home stands for Leyton Orient vs. Charlton. So a few points on this:

1. In England, there are more soccer leagues than there are sheep in New Zealand.

2. The top league is called the Premiership, which consists of 20 teams (like Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United, etc.). The top 4 teams from this league play in the Champions League, which encapsulates the best teams of the top divisions in each country.

3. The team we saw tonight was in the First Division, which is 2 levels down from the Premiership (the level between them is called the Championship – NOT to be confused with the Champions League).

4. I still honestly DO NOT GET the offsides rule.

5. When in doubt on the soccer field (over here called the pitch), just throw yourself to the ground, act like you’ve been stabbed, and then scream at the ref whenever he doesn’t give you the call. That happens about 6,000 times a match.

6. At footy matches – if you are ever in doubt as to what to say, just repeat the “f-bomb” over and over. This includes children under the age of ten. Hey, start ‘em young, I guess…

Twenty of us from work went, and talk about a hoot. It was SO MUCH fun! The crowd was really into it, chanting constantly. An interesting side note is that the AWAY fans are always much rowdier, as they are the die hards willing to travel into enemy territory. This is the part where Americans say, “Come on, it’s not inner city Baltimore!” And this is the part where I say, “Wow – I’ve never seen a sporting event where there are more police than spectators (all in riot gear) and where they are checking the equipment (including the gurney lifter) in all EIGHT ambulances parked outside. Sean’s advice to me, “You can’t stop them – just cover your internal organs.”

We ate like kings, throwing down a meat pie (I got meat and potato – JT had steak and kidney – she won), a massive hot dog (the bread was like a baguette), and a bag of Malteasers (their version of Whoppers). It is worth noting that, right now, my stomach feels like I ate an expandable brick – I won’t need food for about another 6 years (that’s right, T-Rowe – CHUUUUUBBBBBBBY BUUUUUNNNNYYYY).

And even though the home team lost, there were some great shots, all the while chanting with the crowd (the cheer was really complicated – you basically just yelled “Orient” over and over in different octaves. That being said, it is pretty cool – and easy to remember).

Best off all, at the end of the night, we actually got onto the pitch for a photo!
The train back was crazy – we waited for about 20 minutes just to get into the Tube station. That being said, it was actually quite orderly and much less in the way of hooligan shenanigans than I expected.

Dad, Pattie – How 'bout those scrimmage updates?

Dinger – you KNOW the update we want from you. Let’s go, Kyle – we want details…

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat with you tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny (aka Beckham and Posh)

Monday, 17 August 2009

The invasion of the colonists - and a (semi) AFD with GREAT Italian...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. This morning started rough. So as you might have been able to ascertain from the photos of last night’s blog, pub crawling with the Hitman, Mark Johnson, and Sister Mirza took it’s toll on the Taylors. In fact, after Chinese, we rolled home, and I was asleep at 10:30. The odd part was that I was WIDE AWAKE AT 1 AM, never to fall back asleep.

So I popped up at 6 and went to the office, where…wait for it…wait for it…I FINALLY did some cardio! I walked 3 km, including a full minute of uninterrupted running. It was nothing fancy, but I certainly breathed a sigh of relief. I’m hitting it again tomorrow, to see if I can run for 1:05. Hey – baby steps, but this way I at least find out, right?

Today was another GREAT day in London, as we formally kicked off some big sessions in the office. We got a lot done, and we even got out of there at a reasonable hour to go and enjoy some fine Italian (okay – THE BEST ITALIAN OUTSIDE OF ITALY). Mom – when you and Steve come, this is restaurant #1 on our list to take you (and promptly make you pay, of course…).

The apps were great – mozzarella, mushrooms doused in butter and garlic, and bruschetta. Add in some vino (yes, yes, it was ALMOST an AFD – a little glass of wine does NOT count – I just drink that for the anti-oxidants…) and mushroom Ravioli, and you’ve got a recipe for a fabulous meal.
Photos of the gang are attached. And while I don’t want to talk work, I will say that, if you have to work crazy hours on a stressful project, these are the folks you want to be in a foxhole with – some great folks (and friends) in these pics.
And parents – just to show you that Jenny and I do clean up well and are presentable from time to time, here’s a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Assignee 47:

Dad or Pattie – someone shoot me a note and tell me how the scrimmage went.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow, after Jenny and I have a truly unique and “grass roots” experience – a First Division (3rd from the top) soccer match. Can’t wait – GOOOOOOO Leyton Orient!!!


Sam and Jenny

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The return of the colonists to the Mother Country - amidst several busted Tube lines...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was another GREAT day in London, featuring some of the cast of characters I work with.

First off, we had a good “lie-in” as the Brits would say, sleeping until about 11 or so. We popped up for some brekkie of Museli and coffee before venturing to a pub I’ve been DYING to visit since arrived: The Hog in the Pound. It was great – Sean, Mark, Liz, JT, and I drinking and enjoying a glorious British summer day.

I had 3 Kronie’s and a “ploughman’s lunch,” which is code for cheese, apples, salad, and chutney (but we are talking an absolute SLAB of Brie and Cheddar, so no worries about my manhood).

After that, we wandered down to the Bear and Staff (Cy – not quite the Goddess and Puma, but a fun joint nonetheless – and Matt, I am sorry to report there was no feet ale this go around), where we had some Timmy Taylor and a new brewski – Mt. Snowdon Pale Ale (Brother Morgan – Yakeda). And while there were no great stories (because, after all, we are HR), at least we confirmed who has that Boom-boom-pow (sorry Liz, I had no choice).

We then wandered into Chinatown, where we met brother Narveson and then hit an old favorite – the Golden Dragon restaurant, where we took care of some crispy aromatic duck and several other plates. It’s worth noting that I requested permission to walk away after too many brewskis (the world was spinning more than a little). Yes, yes, I know, I know… however, I am happy to confirm that I was a class act all the way until the bill came -see?
After bidding farewell to that crowd, we rolled home, where I am now composing the last blog before what promises to be a LONG week in the Smoke. Lots of Americans, lots of meetings, lots to accomplish. But hey – bring it on!
Okay, sorry so short tonight, but there is some ironing and sleeping to get in before tomorrow.
Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Hop on-Hop Off Tour of Richmond - courtesy of the Lovely Lynda Grimshaw...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another FABULOUS day in the Smoke.

First off - CONGRATS TO TAIT "T-BONE" ROBINSON ON THE NEW JOB. For those of you who haven't heard, T-Bone is now the Senior Manager of Program Management and Financial Engineering for a Denver software start-up. That's right...he's the man with the plan. Way to go, brother!

We popped up (well, relatively speaking) around 8:15 this morning and were out the door by 9, catching the Bakerloo line down to Embankment. There we boarded a West bound ferry for Richmond and a fun filled day at the last remaining spot we had on our list of day trips: Kew Gardens.

The cruise on the river was amazing. Dad – you’ll remember how much fun the trip to Greenwich via boat was. This was just as fabulous. We saw the old haunts of Margaret Thatcher, Mick Jagger, and others, were treated to a great history lesson on the Thames tidal variations, Battersea Park, the hidden/”lost” seven rivers of London (including the one that feeds the Serpentine in Kensington Gardens), and some of the history of Chelsea. Also, we even got to pass through a lock on the Thames! Dad – I couldn’t help but think of Sau-St. Marie (and the gal who kept pronouncing Lake Huron funny).

The cruise was great for so many reasons. First, it was a perfect day, and Jenny and I got to relax whilst drinking our coffees and eating our Ham and Brie sandwich from Café Nero (SO GOOD PEPPY CHEEKIES!!!) and seeing some amazing sites. I'm sure everyone recognizes Parliament, but the second photo is of Battersea Power Plant, mine and Jenny's favorite building in London. Second, as a sucker for history, I now know where to find the remains of Captain William Blithe. Third, it was honestly a good chance to relax and let the pressure of work (which feels as though it’s mounted slightly as of late) slide away.
But the biggest reason...I WAS ON A BOAT!!!! Check me out, lookin' like I'm Leo. If you on da shore, than you ain't me-O!!!!


Ray - I wasn't wearing my flippy floppies.

Sean - I wasn't wearing a nautical-themed pashmina afghan.

Megs - There was no dolphin.

The good news (for Kimmy) - this wasn't SeaWorld - this is a REAL AS IT GETS.

P.S. - If you are not understanding a word I'm saying right now, there are probably a few good reasons:

1. You haven't been on a conference call with me in the last 5 months.

2. You aren't trying to implement a payroll in Canada.

3. You didn't ride home with Kim Tacy in May.

4. You have better things to do with your time than listen to a RIDICULOUS SONG on YouTube.

Fun historical note: the route we sailed covered the 4.5 mile length of the Thames that hosts the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat races. This year was the 155th running (Oxford apparently won handily – sorry Carter!).

We landed in Richmond and met friend and co-worker Lynda Grimshaw (who has some wicked cool Oakley prescription sunnies, for the record) for what can best be described as the “Lynda Hop on-Hop off tour of Richmond and Kew.” So much fun!

We started with a drive through Richmond, taking in a view from Richmond hill of the river and the preserved land. Whilst we were taking in the scenery, Jerry Hall (that’s right – Sir Mic’s gal) walked in front of Lynda and hopped a cab. How cool!

After that, we drove through Richmond Park, an ENORMOUS park with great views of the city, wonderful countryside, and wait for it…wait for it…three enormous herds of deer! Yep, it used to be a king’s hunting grounds, and the deer are still around.

This park is simply beautiful – tons of places to walk, run, and bike, as well as spread your blanket and have a bottle of wine. If we ever move back to London (don’t panic mom), this would definitely be a spot we look at.

After that, we popped over to Lynda’s flat and met Barry (her fella). Then we walked over to Kew Gardens, celebrating its 250th year. But not, however, before getting an ENORMOUS meat pie and pasty. Seriously – JT’s meat pie was a solid slab of pork, and my pasty was basically a 12 ounce hamburger wrapped in buttered bread. Remind me – why am I fat again?

Kew Gardens was, simply put, fantastic. Lynda got us in FREE (so glad she had that annual pass!), and we walked around some simply breathtaking gardens. We saw the old pagoda (build in 1761, at the time it was the most authentic Chinese building in Europe – Jon Brisson – that fact is for you, much like Dublin’s Phoenix park being the largest walled park in Europe – you’re welcome for that), the Palm conservatory, some really cute fish (mom – they had a BLUE lobster – just like the one in the Seattle Aquarium), an awesome exhibition on water lillies (I know, I know…VERY manly), and a great arbor section.

Also, we saw the palace where King George III was imprisoned during his bouts with “madness.” Yep – the movie was set in that building (but not actually filmed there – it was just reopened to the public 3 years ago.

The highlight, however, was this spectacular tree walk through hazel trees (and plenty of others that I can’t remember).

What I will say is that, being near Heathrow, planes fly overhead EVERY FIVE MINUTES. It is shocking how busy that place really is. That being said, the place is a very nice sanctuary.
It should be noted that Jenny was blown away by the vegetable garden display - seeing all the peppers, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes fascinated her. Yes, my Tennessee family, despite this, I'm happy to report that she's still "a good 'ole gal."

We left the gardens around 6 and took the district and bakerloo lines back. Now, we’re finally back at home, looking forward to a veggie dinner and an AFD.

As I prepare to post, my perfect pumpkin is sitting across from me right now blazing through book 3 of “Twilight”, and I’m about a quarter of the way through “The Exorcist,” which is so far WAY better than the movie (but isn’t that always the case?).

Okay – a slightly better performance tonight with the blog. That’s all the news that’s fit to print. Americans – safe travels over to the mother country – we’ll see you tomorrow. Chat then!


Sam and Jenny

Friday, 14 August 2009

Introducing...Sergey Petrov...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was another great, uber-productive day, but I apologize in advance for any poor spelling, as JT and I have had way too much tonight. It's really amazing how the UK brewski's creep up on you...however, no complaints, as we were all smiles and laughs. Case in point, check out my beautiful bride with Liz (sorry Mirza - you made the cut again tonight).

So after work, we rolled home and dropped off our bags before rolling over to Baker Street, where we met Sergey Petrov, the man responsible for getting both JT and I our visas to emigrate to the UK. Sergey hails from Russia, and we had an absolute blast. This guy was hilarious, especially with the description of how London was "boring." I'm sorry, what did he just say? In truth, we later found that he meant it as a compliment to the city, as Moscow was just too hectic, be it the Kremlin or the burbs.

We drank at the Volunteer (can you tell that I am ready for football season?) , which is the bar right beside 221-b Baker St (yes, there were about 10,000,000 tourists who took photos as we watched and chatted from the outside seating).

Dinner tonight was Indian (imagine that, Tom Price…) at our new favorite local curry house – Ranjoot. I went for the Vindaloo again, and it absolutely cooked me this time around. MAN, that is one hot dish. That being said, they do it perfectly. Jenny went with the Ceylon, which was quite tasty (and made for a jealous husband). Plus we were the only cats in there, which means that service was, for a change, fantastic.

Okay, sorry so short tonight, but I drank everyone else at the table (including the Russian) under the table, and I’m feeling it now. Plus we have to board a ferry in 9.5 hours, so I have to get to bed.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

P.S. If you are reading this as of Saturday morning, you are getting a slightly longer (and better) version. For those of you who read this late last night, sorry that it was like reading a four year old's "What I did this summer" essay. But hey, it just shows I love you guys and am committed to daily blogging!!!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The joys of curry, Covergirl, and staying afloat in a sea of estrogen…


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was another great one, but before I describe it, it’s worth noting what my good buddy Tom (T-Rowe) Price said about the nightly Taylor family blog. Tom basically said that, rather than retyping the blog every night, I could drop the highlights into the following template:

1. Here’s how poorly I performed in the gym and how out of shape I am

2. Here’s what food I ate that’s so spicy I no longer have an esophagus

3. Here is the new pub I went to

4. Here are the new beers I tried (notice the plural)

5. Here’s how much weight I’ve gained

6. Here’s now my 18 year old plaid shirts are holding up in the Mother Country.

I found this quite amusing until I sat down to type tonight, when I realized what the day had been:

1. I skipped the gym today because I drank too much last night

2. I went to a Thai place and had a curry

3. I tried a new pub (we’ll get to that)

4. I drank 2 different kinds of beer

5. I am fat as a damn bear

6. My clothes reek before I refuse to wash them until I get 3-6 wears out of them…even if I occasionally forget deodorant.

So looking up at #1, we hit a Thai joint called Srinam with Madeha Qureshi and Liz. So Madeha has turned my wife onto this 8 dollar mascara called “Lash Blash” (gotta love the Volunteer orange tube - the stuff she's holding is a bit fancier, but you get the picture - LITERALLY), and that was the starting point of the conversation.
After that, it was a steady wade through estrogen throughout dinner, during which time I could only locate the waitress for a single beer (Becks Vier – very tasty). I had the wok-fried duck, which was tasty but no Golden Dragon in ChinaTown. Newcomb – get over here and feed me some crispy aromatic duck and fish flavored air.

After that, I was in desperate need for a pint, so we found a new pub called the “Cock and Lion,” where we both threw back a Kronie (aka Kronenbourg 1664) – very tasty. We sat outside and enjoyed the people watching on Wigmore street, listening to a pair of Canadians, a pair of Brits, and a South African talk about life and working in America (which, for the record, NONE of them had done).

After that, we rolled back home, where I looked at how round my face is and wondered how my cheek bones were coping with the excess weight.

Random side note – in the UK, every citizen pays something called “Council Tax,” which is the cost for maintenance of your neighborhood. It covers sewage, trash pickup, cleaning, and…wait for it…wait for it…all the flowers you can handle hanging from street lights. Yes, they are beautiful – but are they really worth 4,000 USD a household per year? Do they rain gold on Thursdays or something? Medidate on this, I will…

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow. Happy Friday!!!!!!!


Sam and Jenny

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A great night at SCUK...and an inevitable loss...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was a mixture of highs and lows, but let’s definitely start with the highs first.

So after a GREAT and uber-productive day at work, I shuffled off the island that is Canary Wharf with Lord G (aka Mark Goodyer) and Liz Mirza (you might recognize both names from the Great British Beer Festival) to meet Governor Harwood (aka Andrew Harwood – a mate from Chester) at the MOST AMERICAN (for you, Deano) place in the UK – Sports Café United Kingdom (aka SCUK).

Honestly, I’ve never really liked this place. It sells (typically) bad beer (meaning there are no cask ales), it’s always crowded, I find it to be a bit kitchy American, and there’s a dude in the bathroom handling out paper towels for tips (which, for the record, normally means I just walk about without washing my hands – bring on the Swine Flu). However, knowing that I won’t taste Wild Wings, Hooters, or Picasso’s for another year, tonight I rediscovered this place as a lowly expat searching for a taste of home.

Yes – England got throttled by Holland in a footy friendly. Yes – it was so hot in there (because who needs air conditioning when it’s a BILLION degrees ouside – I was sweating like an absolute BANSHEE). The wings, however, were FANTASTIC. Mix that with a GREAT burger (I asked for Medium rare, and she actually LAUGHED IN MY FACE – CLASSY…) and 3 pints of Beck’s Vier (I’d never tried, and let me tell you – quality on draft), and you’ve got a recipe for a great night out.

The classic bit – in the UK you sit at tables like it’s Roxy’s Delicatessen, meaning that you are sitting beside cats you don’t know who talk as if it’s the last speech they’ll give before Armageddon. Tonight, an African and an American were talking American politics for 2.5 hours. Honestly, listening to them was hilarious. They couldn’t remember Karl Rove’s name, so he was just “that White Devil that worked for Bush,” they couldn’t remember what state Bush was from and called it “The big one where they all wear cowboy hats,” and they yelled about Obama for 2 straight hours, explaining how he was going to fix EVERYTHING (Sean and Ray – if you are reading this, I was tempted to lean over and ask if he’d painted any fences or mowed any lawns lately, as I know that’s the precursor to socialized medicine – where’s Kevin Woest when you need him?).

All in all, a great night. Also, we can now finally call out from our balcony! That is GREAT news, and it means a few more random phone calls, friends and family, so beware.

But I must take a moment for the low as well. Family, after 18 wonderful years by both mine and my father’s side, the last of the “gap animals” passed away this morning. Dad found Useless in the grass in the rain just before leaving for school. The good news – she passed quietly (she ate a full dinner last night). The bad news – it’s the end of an era for dad and I, as “Uley” was a great companion for 18 years, be it in the trailer or back on Cain Mill. Gal, you will be missed – here’s hoping you find an England Stove in Heaven that keeps you every bit as warm as the one at dad’s…

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Tomorrow will end happier – I promise (knock on wood)!


Sam and Jenny

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Birthday Bevies...and a heapin' help of San Isidro...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today was another great day – first off, we sawed through many a “to-do” at work, which always makes me feel good. Secondly, we went for “birthday bevies” for Lisa Placks (aka Money Penny, whom you’ve all met before) at a place called the Young Vic.

This is a neat spot – it’s a theater that’s just down the way from the “Old Vic,” a theater owned by Kevin Spacey (who happens to be the artistic director as well, by the way). There’s a bar and a restaurant, and Lisa booked out the Patio. So we had a Bitburger (very tasty brew) and chatted with her and her fella Dan for a bit. I also got a chance to catch up with Laura, her old roommate whom I met on the night of the famous “Lisa burned a hole in the carpet with a sheesha pipe and then lost her wallet and jacket and walked home in the snow” incident. The fella in the picture? Her boyfriend Dan, whom she'll soon be living with (in 14 days time, actually!) in the British Virgin Islands. Best of luck, guys.

I will say that Laura has quite intrigued me, as she pronounced the cheese spelled “gruyere” as “grur.” And so I ask the masses – is this correct? If not, now in the WORLD do you spell that cheese? I only ask because I order it all the time and would like to say it correctly¸even if my TN accent usually earns me a pass no matter what I say.

After that, we hopped back on the tube and headed home, where we had our second installment of “La Tasca,” the Spanish tapas place. Okay, Okay, I know, I know…I have protested over and over again about how I simply cannot stand Spanish food. But cats, this is NOT Spanish food – this place ROCKS. Add in some tasty (and fresh!) San Miguel and a 50% off coupon (thanks, Money Penny for the discount voucher web site!), and you’ve got a recipe for a good night. We sampled (of course) a plate of Jamon Serrano, some Patatas Bravas (with cheese!), Mushroom croquettes, chorizo, bread with garlic dipping sauces, and a small Paella. It should be noted at this point that Brits pronounce the last dish as “Pi-Ela,” which causes no end of amusement for me and JT.

Other than that, not a whole lot else to report. I’m 35 pages from the end of “Freakonomics,” which I have enjoyed. I will say, however, that this book has shown me I am no longer a man of academic only tastes. Going forward, anytime I read something “intellectual,” I am going to ensure there’s some Fiction along for the ride as well (to keep me balanced).

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

Monday, 10 August 2009

I guess I just needed a good cry…


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Okay, so last night, after the blog, I started “For One More Day,” by Mitch Albom. It’s a small book, around 190 pages, and I read it in a sitting. It’s about a guy who’s basically made a mess of his life and really wants one more day with his mom, as he knows she can help fix everything. Halfway through, I was not terribly impressed. In fact, compared to “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet In Heaven,” I felt like Brother Mitch was really off his game.

One hour later, Jenny looks up as I finish, and I am SOBBING. I mean, someone call this guy a prescription of valium…the last 5 pages more than totally made up for the rest of it. I’m not saying it’s his best story, but the ending was right in line with his other works. As for me, all I could think of was: “Sometimes you just need a good cry.” So for all my dude friends out there reading this, I still love basketball and think Kate Beckinsale is hot; For my dad – I am still tough and can “gut-divorce it;” and for my work peeps, don’t worry – tomorrow I’ll be the tyrannical ogre I always am. For mom, however – I love you.

So today was another great day – nothing exciting happened, but I realized today that some days you don’t WANT things to happen. Today was just a normal, average day…and it was absolutely perfect.

JT and I ate a veritable smorgasboard (Is that really how you spell it? Is that some form of Medieval Teutonic German?) of food tonight, ranging from a quiche to a microwave pasta dish to carrots to Red Leicester Cheese to a bottle of 3 pound wine (half of which we enjoyed on our balcony), all of it tasty. And now, as I sit here blogging and preparing to read some of the new book I’ve taken off the shelf (“Freakonomics”), I can’t help but think about how I love the new normal.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A much needed (and very Productive) lie in...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today has been fantastic. We started off by sleeping until noon (insert the Chuck and Cat Powell comment “and that would be different from any other day how, exactly?” here), which was much needed for two reasons. First, we’ve been going pretty hard each weekend so far, and secondly – some recovery time was required after yesterday’s “festivities.”

We spent the early part of the afternoon handling travel arrangments and researching some stops for our upcoming Germany/Switzerland trip. I should throw the public service announcement out there right now – if folks have got “must do’s” and travel tips for Bavaria and Switzerland, please shoot those over to us. The first 5 days are pretty well scheduled. The last half, however, is a bit more fluid at the moment.

After 3 hours, we could no longer stare at the PC, so we stepped out for a walk through Regent Park. Talk about a best kept secret! This place was gorgeous, and we had a terrific two hour stroll across some beautiful landscaping. The weather couldn’t have been any better, and so there were cricketers out all over the place. Check out these “batting cages.” I was mesmorized…I mean, observe the stylish shin guards!
The park was beautiful today, and there were TONS of folks out, laying on blankets, drinking wine, throwing frisbee, and just taking it easy.

Early on we came across "Tango al Fresco," where two folks were demonstrating the different versions of Tango - REALLY cool, and the music was awesome (straight out of a movie). We walked through the Queen’s Rose Garden, as well as through a mini-Japanese tea garden in the midst of the park (there was a wedding going on just on the other side of this waterfall).

We also walked up to Primrose Hill, where we were treated to a SPECTACULAR view of the city. From that spot, you can see the Eye, the Wharf, the Gerkin, Westminster Abbey, St. Pauls, you name it – we sat on a bench at the summit for about 20 minutes, just chilling out.

Dinner tonight was uber- tasty: a mixture of British blackberries, hummous and carrots, spinach and ricotta pizza, and cheese and crackers. And the best part – we have returned to our AFD ways.

I’m starting a new book tonight whilst waiting for Jenny to finish book 3 of Twilight. It’s really, really sad how much I’m looking forward to the third installment of this series…

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow! Back to work, everyone!


Sam and Jenny

Saturday, 8 August 2009

I have found my Mecca...the Great British Beer Festival...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond. Today, dear family¸I had a religious experience. Today I spent six hours in what is, pretty much, my vision of Heaven. Today I found my own personal Mecca. Today – I attended the Great British Beer Festival.

Imagine 450 ales, many of them room temperature casks (could there be anything better), spread throughout a space the size of Neyland Stadium. Picture 1/3 pint pours (which were actually half pint pours) for 90 pence (around $1.50 USD), followed by hearty Bangers and Mash (aka Sausages wedged into a three pound plate of potatoes, COMPLETELY covered in gravy). Imagine Sam Taylor ordering beers in Welsh and practicing the phrases he learned from Owain Morgan all week. What do you have? A recipe for one of the BEST DAYS since I joined Bank of America.

So I kept a running talley of all the beers that JT and I drank. I had 14 one-third pint drinks from various ales around the region (although they usually ended up as half pints, but we didn't argue). Some of the key ones:

1. Landslide – this was, simply put, THE BEST brewski we had at the festival – talk about LIFE CHANGING.

2. Criffel – Welsh, and so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud.

3. Celtica – Same thing

4. About 10 billion other Welsh brews

5. BOONDOGGLE – Ray – I couldn’t resist. I had to order a 1/3 pint and drink it in your honor. After all, we are livin’ the dream – SHAKE AND BAKE!!!!

This place was great. We spent most of our time hanging around the Welsh cask ale section (check the dragon and the two ladies enjoying the finest ales the Western nation of Britain has to offer), but we did wander about over the course of our 6 hours (best 8 pounds I’ve EVER spent), hitting lots of different spots. Each “section” of England had a set of tables, and the funniest bit was the section entitled “USA and the Rest of the World.” The beers of choice from the US? Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and…wait for it…wait for it…Terrapin Rye! How ‘bout those boys from Athens! Go Dawgs!

After we left the GBBF, we had a pint at some pub near the station (I had Staropramen from Prague). We then crossed off a spot that’s been on my list for ages – Kare Kare (Southern Indian). Kare Kare was on the original map that JT and I used to maneuver around London, as we’ve still got it (and look at the advert for Kare Kare every time we open it). Let this be a public service announcement – this place is AMAZING. TONS of sauce, tons of meat, cooked perfectly – if you like Indian – put this on your list.

Other highlights from the day:

1. We saw Liz’s flat – talk about the bomb diggity. This place absolutely rocks the party that rocks the pinata.

2. I met Katy Rowland, who is da bomb and was great company.

3. I finished Twilight book 2 (“New Moon”), which was WAY better than I expected and WAY better than the first book. I will admit – I’m addicted now and cannot WAIT to read the third installment. Muffin Puffin – hurry up.

Now we’re back at the flat and preparing for bed at 10:30 (yep, another romantic night in the Taylor household). Tomorrow will be a QUIET day, but hopefully we’ll get a lot of stuff booked and crossed off the list.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny