And a GREAT morning to you on this cloudy yet perfect English Saturday in the Mother Country. It's actually a touch warmer today, which means that (hopefully) we won't be freezing to death once it gets dark (which is much later now - FINALLY - than it was 2 months ago!).
So yesterday was GREAT. For starters, the work day was really good (despite someone - perhaps an SAP guru turned Oracle Finance person from South Africa - trying to "Gaga-fy" my fair trade banana - CLASSIC).
Also, I got my salmon and cream cheese bagel! Now, I realize that the "salmon and cream cheese ritual" doesn't sound very exciting, but when 1.75 buys you all the salmon you can wedge between 2 slices of bread, you've simply got to rejoice. And when you find that you can double the amount to feed both you and your spouse for no additional charge, you've got a recipe for making the cheapest bastard in the UK VERY happy.
Besides the bagel (which again was FAAAAAAABULOUS!), We got a ton of work done, and it was also a good day to take a breath after a manic week. Hitman - just to prove my value to you as an expat - check out muffin puffin helping Kat with some ridiculous excel query. See - it's a 2-for-1 deal! Not that this changes my opinions on formulas or V-lookups in any way, shape, or form, for the record, but isn't she cute building all those nested "sum if" statements. Yes, I know, I know...we are disgusting.
I didn't make the gym (because I didn't get in bed on Thursday until 1:30 AM), but I still got 4 workouts in this week. I'm definitely not lighter yet, but I've at least figured out that, if I have my photo taken straight on vs. turning my head to the side, I at least look thinner. Plus, the foot was a bit tender yesterday. Today, however, I rocked the Baffins to Sainsbury's, and I was okay.
So for those of you who don't know - due to being a woman in high demand (apparently US projects have a desperate need for someone who can properly exhibit the right amount of "boom-boom-pow"), yesterday was Fizzy's last night in the UK. She's repatriating back to the US, and the news was pretty sudden. Knowing that we simply had to see her before she bounced, we met up in South Kensington for farewell drinks and a final meal before watching her fly into the Wild Blue Yonder and back to the colonies.
Liz - first off, we are very excited for your new gig, but we are REALLY gonna miss you. We have had SO MUCH fun with you here, and trying to sum up what your friendship has meant to us here (and meant to us since meeting you back in '07) is just impossible on a public blog or on a hug/farewell on Gloucester Road on a freezing night after Vindaloo and Cobras. Suffice it to say that we love you and can't wait to see you again - be it in the Queen City or the Mother Country.
Second - safe travels today. Here's hoping they allowed all 24,000 pounds of your excess baggage (23K of that being products, shoes, and bags, of course) onto the plane.
Third - for posterity, I had to take a last photo of your office. I think the caption to it should read "The witch is out." For those who have never been in Liz's office, chances are you won't get that joke.
As fate would have it, Liz wasn't the only person that we said goodbye to last night, as we were able to squeeze in some time with Dean before he boarded his flight home for Oz. We met him for a pint (I had 2, of course - calories don't count if you drink cask ale - hello Spitfire!) at the Stanhope Arms, right by his hotel and the Gloucester Road tube stop. It was just so great to hang out a final time. Dommie - I know that we have to send him back to you, but we didn't want to see him go!
Poor Dean's flight was 9:45 PM from Heathrow, connecting via Bangkok and finally arriving in Sydney at 6:00 AM on Sunday morning. That's right, folks - it's a LONG WAY down there.
Dean - it was SO GREAT seeing you, brother, and I agree - let's not leave it 3.5 years before we do this again. After all, a) I will need to continue stocking my library with Matthew Reilly first edition hardbacks from Down Under, b) I need to sit with a fellow socialist from time to time to recharge my batteries, c) you and the missus are truly two of THE MOST wonderful and genuine people I've ever met, and d) hearing that accent reminds Jenny and I just HOW MUCH we love your homeland (our "island home"). Safe travels, and we WILL see you again soon.
We said farewell to Dean about 7:10, and then we (meaning Fizzy, Muffin, and me) finished a final pint before rolling to Kare Kare, one of THE BEST Indian joints in London. Seriously, this food was DELICIOUS. I went with the Chicken Hyderabadi (but, surprisingly enough, not a biryani - sorry Gautam), and it did NOT disappoint. And once the owner (who delivers food to Liz on a weekly basis -it's her local curry house) found out that it was her last night, he gave us a free bottle of GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD house red - very tasty!
After that, it was back to Liz's place, where we raided her fridge for beer, her cabinets for spirits, and her pantry for chips. Hitman - don't worry - we left you all the John Smith's Courage and Peroni. But if you could just bring a keg of Fat Tire over for the NCCAA Tournament party, that would be great...
We then said goodbye to Liz ( actually, "until next time" was the preferred phrase of the evening) before hopping back on the tube with a billion pounds of booze stuffed into Little Black Bear. Mom - when you bought me that tiny roller suitcase, I bet you NEVER THOUGHT it would see action on 4 continents and eventually serve as an instrument of bootlegging.
So, as you can tell, it was a truly special (yet truly emotional) night. Farewell to two good friends, deep conversations at the bar and dinner, and a stroll down memory lane across 3 continents. All in all, it will be one of those nights I'll remember for a long time.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. The sun is shining, so as Tait or any Shotover River jetboat driver would say, "It's time to get amongst it!" Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny