Friday, 30 April 2010

The word of the night was HEAVY...


And a GREAT evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. It's official - WE PAID EVERYONE!!!! 18 months of work culminated in a last big milestone today. Granted, we've still got a lot of work to do, but there is no denying we just accomplished a MAJOR milestone.

Okay - NEWS FLASH - there will be NO BLOGS between now and Tuesday, as the Taylors are HEADIN' TO KRAKOW, BABY!!!!! OH, YEAH!!!! We are SO excited. Krakow is meant to be stunning, and the rumor is that it is the "new Prague." Stay tuned for (hopefully) some great photos and several good stories at the hands of "white spirits." And can someone say blood sausage? Yummyyyyyyyyyyy.....

Also, I feel I must mention that Tom/Mike/Smokey/Borat continues to elude me. I'll get you, my pretty, and your little Azimat, too...

So tonight was great. After work, we rolled over to the Music Factory for celebratory pints. I am currently on quite the Grolsch kick, and so I downed for of those whilst sitting by the water at a great table. The weather is supposed to nose dive next week, but today was perfect.

After the Cat, the 6-8 Mafia (it's hard out here, bein' a pimp) rolled over to Limehouse, where we had a FANTABULOUS feast at La Figa. It was Brother Morgan, Sir Rob, Hitman, Shantan, Eagle Scout, Muffin, Puffin, and myself, and we KILLED some food. We also killed some wine, and by the time we left I was starting to feel a bit tipsy. Clearly the girls were as well - check out the photo.
Hitman, however, was NOT feeling tipsy, and so we rolled over to the Narrow for a nightcap. And by nightcap, I mean SEVEN PERCENT BEER. Let's just say that I will be HURTING tomorrow.
The good news is that I logged another day in the gym today - I'm pretty sure I'm only 2 or 3 weeks away from being a contender in the Mr. Universe competition. And then there's world's strongest man...

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Everyone have a GREAT weekend. Chat Tuesday!

Sam and Jenny

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

8km in the books, baby!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. The Tom/Mike saga took another twist tonight, when "Smokey" appeared on the list of followers. Steve Markham, is that you? Given your Gator roots, I doubt it - but since I'm clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, perhaps you felt the need to offer me a softball.

So today was big - I RAN 5 MILES THIS MORNING!!! Technically it's 4.97, but hey - an 8k is an 8k. I was SO excited! I felt ZERO pain in my foot, and I'm feeling really good about the prospects of getting on the road and running my first road race in over a year.

Work was busy again today, but I still managed to make it to the Music Factory for a pint (or 3)with the Eagle Scout himself - that's right, boys and girls, I was chillin' with Brother Johnson.

I took down 3 Grolsch before heading back to Marylebone, where I picked up a pizza (and chorizo, of course) before heading back to my flat. Dinner, however, was NOT quite that simple.

So a couple of days ago, there was a power outage at my flat. Whilst power throughout the flat has returned, for some RIDICULOUS reason, the time on the oven has NOT returned. Now granted, in the states, this would be less than a minor inconvenience. You'd simply RESET THE CLOCK. But OH NO - not in Britain.

So for the past couple of weeks, JT and I have passively tried to figure out HOW IN THE HELL to reset the clock. I mean, there are just 4 buttons and a dial, and so one would reason that it simply CAN'T BE THAT COMPLICATED TO RESET. However, to date we've been unable to "crack the code," and you can't use the oven until it's reset. Tonight, 3 beers deep and a frozen pizza in hand, I was CONVINCED I could figure out how to work it. But alas, despite pushing (and pressing) every combination of buttons, I was still staring at 0:00 on the screen.

And so, being a man's man, I did the only sensible thing - I called the front desk. And a scant 5 minutes later, I was cooking (for the record - you have to push the first TWO buttons out of the 4 whilst twisting the dial forward. Yeah, because THAT'S intuitive. But I digress...).

The pizza was good, and now I"m sitting here watching Highlander on TV and realizing that,'s really NOT a good movie. I mean, don't get me wrong - I LOVE saying "I'm Conner Macleod of the Clan Macleod" with the best of 'em, but WOW - talk about some shoddy effects.

Muffin Puffin is currently bowling and bonding with the Finance team, and so I'm about to call it a night. She's got the camera, so hopefully tomorrow you'll see some classic pics of JT with a Jaegerbomb.

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


Sam and Jenny

Monday, 26 April 2010

Weekend Update Part 2 - Hangin' with the Warfs...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. Sunny skies and warmer weather is still here, and that translates to more smiles for this guy!

Okay, so first and foremost, I simply must ask this question - who on earth is Tom/Mike? I mean, when I saw the picture of Tom (as in Tom & Jerry), I just assumed that Price had a wild hair (no pun intended) after a particularly religious leg shaving session, but today I saw Mike Ditka in its place. Come forth silent rogue, and claim thy prize.

Also, my fun story for today. So I wake up and am getting ready to leave the flat when the fire alarm goes off. Because they've been obsessed with flame containment since the Great Fire of 1666, the fire door closed and wouldn't let me to the elevator (which was a good thing) or the stairwell beyond it. That meant that I had to take the other stairwell, which I know only as "the place I leave any excess trash that our cleaning lady doesn't collect." Well, I go down 4 flights of stairs and suddenly realize that there is NO WAY OUT EXCEPT FURTHER DOWN BELOW THE BASEMENT. Thinking either a) I'm about to be an extra in a weird remake of "The Road," b) this was a deleted scene from "Hostel, or c) this is the stairway to hell, I notice a door with a keypad to my left. I push, and sure enough it opens.

Voila - I have magically (and inadvertently) entered the Office of the Royal Architects of London, and NO ONE NOTICES ME. So I tap a bloke on the shoulder and ask him where the exit is, only to get the (fairly appropriate) question: "How the bloody hell did you get in here?"

I politely explained to him that I a) lived above and b) walked through his highly secure keypad protected door, at which point he chuckled and said, "Yes, we should probably lock that." Good times.

Okay, next up - as promised, it's time to catch you guys up on the weekend. And so I present round 2 of the weekend in review - this time covering Saturday and Sunday.

So Jenny and I got in bed at a reasonable hour on Friday night, and I set my alarm for 8:45 AM on Saturday morning. Good thing, because at 8:47, our doorbell rang. The Warfs were here!!! Despite having only slept about 45 minutes, they were in good spirits and rarin' for a wander around the city. And so, after a cup of coffee and some showers, we were out the door.

We started the tour in Regent's Park, which is GORGEOUS now that things are starting to bloom. The Queen's Rose Garden is just leaves at the moment, but the tulips were out in full force, and it was JUST FANTASTIC.

We wandered around the park for about an hour before I took us on a wrong turn, resulting in us wandering around St. John's Wood and Maida Vale (yeah...OOPS). But hey, at least this way we saw Lord's Cricket Ground!

We wandered down Edgeware road for a bit before finally finding the tube, which we then hopped down to Gloucester Road. Once there, it was time to wet our whistles with some brewski and enjoy what was a GLORIOUS DAY (as evidenced by the photos).

We then hopped back on the Tube and made our way down to Parliament, where we did a very similar tour to last weekend, including hitting up our (now favorite) phone booth! I'm pretty sure it's the secret gateway to the Men in Black HQ, but so far I've been unable to crack the code.

After Parliament, we wandered up to Trafalgar Square, where a St. George's Day celebration was in full swing (Batten was pissed because she didn't see a dragon anywhere). We spent about 11 and a half seconds in the square before realizing that we did NOT enjoy St. George's Day celebrations, and 5 minutes later we were up at the Bear and Staff, sipping on some fine cask ales (I'm sure you can guess which one - actually, Muffin Puffin went rogue and got the "Dutch Wink," but I held fast to my beliefs). Notice that we made a friend whilst there...SO photogenic.

After that, we took the Tube to St. Christopher's Place, where we were treated to a DELICIOUS meal at a local Italian joint. And best of all, our guests picked up the check - THANKS, GUYS!

We passed out early that night, but I had to stay up and watch the ending of Borat (again). I'm happy to report that it ended the same way, which was niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. High Five!

Sunday we got up around 10 and were out the door around 11:30. First stop - the Prince Regent. There we absolutely DEVOURED our full English breakfasts, and I made out like a BANDIT because no one wanted their Black Pudding. Check out the Tower of Power (and King Bean)!

After that, we wandered down to Piccadilly Circus, where we caught the Piccadilly Line to Hyde Park corner. Once there, we walked down past the monuments and into Green Park before arriving at Buckingham Palace. Why was this special for me as well? BECAUSE SUNDAY WAS THE LONDON MARATHON, BABY!!!

So, oddly enough, this is the FOURTH CONSECUTIVE London Marathon I've seen, and it is ALWAYS a GREAT day out. The runners finish at the Palace (actually on the mall), and we saw the folks who were just under 4 hours rolling in. We then wandered down to Monument, where we caught some more of the race (about mile 24 - folks were DEFINITELY laboring) before walking over to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. We then watched a little more of the race before turning for what I assured Martin and Sara was a "short walk" to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

As fate would have it, it wasn't so short, but we did get into St. Pauls for free! Counter-balancing that coolness was the fact that we did NOT get into Cheshire Cheese, as apparently they close at 4 PM on Sundays (WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?). However, we were able to squeeze in an "emergency beer" at the Tipperary, just across the street.

From there, we wandered past Somerset House and checked out the courtyard before popping in for another pint at the Coal Hole (Yes, KJ, I am afraid that you still "gotta pay the toll troll, to get into the Coal Hole") - Timmy T, of course.

We then walked through the Victoria Embankment Gardens, where we were treated to a BEAUTIFUL display of flowers. We then hopped the tube and made about 14,679 changes before FINALLY arriving at Limehouse out in the Docklands.

Once there, we grabbed a last pint at the Narrow (no, NOT the ghetto from "Batman Begins" - this is Gordon Ramsay's British Gastropub). I have heard that the food here leaves much to be desired, but the beer selection and the view of the Docklands is EXTRA AWESOME. And so we had pints of Leffe and contemplated the meaning of life.

Dinner that evening was La Figa, where I returned to the old staple of Mushroom Ravioli, the leftovers of which we finished last night. It was a GREAT meal, and it capped off two GREAT days with GREAT friends in the UK.

We sacked out around 11, and we got up early on Monday to say bye before we rolled to work and they rolled to Ireland. Here's hoping they are having a great time!

Guys - we had SO MUCH FUN with you here. Thanks so much for coming. Can't wait to see you again soon!!!

On the "today front," I was back in the gym, pumping iron and giving British bankers everywhere a preview of who the next "Nature Boy" will be. Good times.

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


Sam and Jenny

Weekend Update (NOT the Dennis Miller version) Part 1 - LaSalle Reunion...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. I gotta tell you - the sun is out, I FINALLY have (a very, very little) color on my face, the skies are blue, the beer is cold, the weather is PERFECT, and all is right with the world.

I realize that I am delinquent in catching you up on weekend festivities, and so I propose breaking it up over the course of two nights. This evening's installment will feature the Friday night escapades of that legendary team whom Norse Angels still mention in their warrior's lullabies - the GSTS Transition Team.

So back story - in 2008 I ran a project over here as part of the Bank of America acquisition of LaSalle. There was an international wing called ABN Amro, with a small group of associates in the UK, Ireland, and Spain. Knowing that we didn't have much time to complete the implementation, we assembled a team of "assassins" to complete the work. Among those fearsome resources:

1. Ray "Old School Cool" Tavares - who, due to an Ash Cloud, was with us only in Spirit

2. Debbie "Q" Martin - yes, she's the one with the cutest kid in the British Isles

3. Cyrus "The Puma" David - this guy and I have seen the WARS together, with tours of duty in London, Madrid, and Chester

4. Shivani "The Goddess" Ruparelia - fresh off her year abroad traveling the world and visiting Cuba just to SPITE ME!
5. Perfect Puffin - who is always part of the family

We all met up on Friday to remember our exploits, have a few laughs, and get caught up on what everyone was doing now - talk about good times.

We hit up the Smithfield Market area (the old Butcher Market), where we found a pub called the Smithfield grill. There were some cats rockin' out with some good acoustic tunes (they were REALLY good - LOVED their Jack Johnson cover), and we had a drink there for a bit before rolling over to Paternoster Square, where we dined at the Paternoster Chop House (selection made possible by Urban Spoon and Shiv's i-Phone).

I am happy to report that Perfect Pumpkin and I tried Tartare for the first time ever! It was actually better than I thought it would be, but I think I'll only ever order it one more time - in France (as apparently, they rock it OUT). That being said, I am DEFINITELY glad I gave it a go.

For the main course, we had some VERY tasty lamb, which we washed down with a tankard of Forty-Niner (a Scottish beer which is, oddly enough, 4.9% -clever, huh) and a nice Kiwi Pino Noir. However, next time, we will not be letting the "Wife of the Destroyer" pick out the bottle, since we later discovered it was 36 QUID A POP (luckily we only had 2). All the same, NO complaints, as it was a GREAT dinner.

After the meal, Debbie (being the responsible parent that she is) headed off, whilst the rest of us thugs went for a nightcap at the Paternoster. Staropramen was the drink of choice, which I guess in retrospect was a slap in the face to Englishmen everywhere since it was St. George's Day. However, I did capture a great "thug life" picture beside the flag to commemorate the day.

Today (flipping forward in time past Sat & Sun - we'll cover those tomorrow) was a GREAT day in the office. I ran 6km on the treadmill, and there was NO pain. Granted, I now have a TOTALLY BIZARRE pain in my right armpit, but I'm gonna assume that's from throwing up all the iron last week (can someone say GUN SHOW? Cause I got 2 tickets right here...). It's funny, I start running again, and my feet and legs are the ONLY things that seem to be holding up.

The good news (I think) is that my metabolism is officially back to raging. I was an eating MACHINE today, taking down a lunch at 11:30 and then another one at 1:45. Yeah - this could become an expensive proposition.

And now here I am, passing on an AFD so I can enjoy a beer and watch the evening sun set, and all is good and right with the world. Muffin Puffin is currently at water aerobics, but when she comes back, it's DINNER TIME!

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

Sam and Jenny

Thursday, 22 April 2010



And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. BIG NEWS - WE PAID PEOPLE TODAY!!!!!! Now I realize this is the point where most you say "What the hell is Sam talking about?" Allow me to explain...

I realize that most of the folks reading this (my family and, well, probably half the project team included) have NO IDEA what I do for a living. The good news is - most of the time, neither do I. Seriously - my big job is putting in payrolls. We buy a company, and I have to make sure the new company and Bank of America get paid on the same payroll.

That has basically been my job for the last 16 months, and it was the reason they moved us over here. Today was truly D-Day, and I am happy to report that we paid cats in the UK and Ireland!!! Talk about a weight off my mind!
To celebrate, Muffin Puffin and I each had a Fat Tire! That's right - courtesy of AC and Jeebs, we've had the nectar of the gods sitting in our fridge for about 2 weeks in anticipation of this very moment. All I have to say is DAMN - I forgot how good that beer was. Nothing like a taste of home in the heart of the Commonwealth.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Muffin got a run in, and I lifted weights (GUN SHOW). We had takeout for dinner from (where else?) the Rajdoot, and we ended the meal with some Swiss Chocolate and a HoneyDew (Cyborg, Hitman, and all you other donkeys - NOT A WORD - THAT BEER HAS MERIT).

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


Sam and Jenny

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane!'s...actually, it really IS a plane!


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. Important news from London - I think I found the culprit for the stress fracture.

So I am getting dressed this morning, and in the midst of perusing my uber-stylish wardrobe, I realize that all of my khaki's (ranging in age from 2-13 years) are dirty! I contemplate fishing the latest member of the dirty clothes pile out and shaking it off, but the food stains are simply too much for even me too bear. Consequently, we go to the oldest staple in the group - the JCPenny's Black Slacks.

Time tested after 18 years in the battle field, these puppies are more svelt than ever. However, donning the black slacks means that my normal "Let's go hike an ice field in Greenland" shoes won't work. Consequently, I move to the famous "Cap Toe because I want to look like Price" shoes.

Once I arrive at work, I notice a pain on the old break. Sure enough, the memories come flooding back to me of the feet REALLY hurting after walking and standing in these shoes. And then it hits me: these sons a @#$@#$@#$ were the primary cause in the break! You'll be happy to know that I rocked trainers the rest of the day, and the Cap Toes are now officially in the rubbish bin. I can't even give them to charity - I can't risk breaking other people's feet.

The day was a good one - VERY busy in the office, but we got through it. Tomorrow is truly D-Day, so let's hope everyone gets paid! I logged a 5K this evening in 26:20, and it felt really good. Tomorrow I'll show off my massive guns again in the weight room, and then Friday it's back to the treadmill. And then, after April, I am setting my sights on the next great hurdle - runnig outdoors. D-Day is 10 May, and it will be on grass (Regent's Park). I just want a few more test runs.

So the biggest news today was, of course, the lifting of the flying ban in Britain. It was HILARIOUS - I showed up at work and said, "I still haven't seen any planes." 10 seconds later, a group of 6 of us are talking about where they were when they saw their first plane in the sky that morning. All I could think was: "Is this how the townfolk of Kittyhawk were in 1903? Cause if so - we really haven't made much progress as a society."

Dinner tonight was a GREAT salad, courtesy of Muffin Puffin. Also, we rocked AFD #4! That's where the good train ends, I'm afraid, as I AM having that Fat Tire tomorrow. Whether it's celebratory or to drown my sorrows is TBD - so tune in tomorrow for confirmation.

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


Sam and Jenny

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

In case you wanted to see what that "Icelandic ash" looks like...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. Today was Day 6 of Britain being a No Fly Zone, and I've received a lot of questions about what things look like over here. Most of the questions revolve around how dark the skies look and how much ash can we actually see falling on the ground. Well, I'm here to tell you - IT'S GORGEOUS IN BRITAIN.

The last 6 days have been NOTHING BUT BLUE SKIES, 3 of which didn't have a single cloud overhead. We have been treated to some spectacular sunsets, but every day since the eruption has been BEAUTIFUL. I took a few photos today so that you guys could see how the skies currently look - just insane!

So the last 2 days have been great. I clocked 4 miles on Monday and lifted weights today, and JT did water aerobics last night and then swam 2K tonight. The foot felt great (knock on wood), so we'll log a 5K tomorrow at (hopefully) a slightly quicker pace and see how it goes.

On the "flank pain" front, I felt better today. I'm not sure if it's too much booze, crashing into something, or sitting too long in my chair at work, but I've definitely been stiff the last couple of days. Here's hoping that I'm all healed up come the weekend (if not sooner). It didn't hurt me at all running, so hopefully I'm on the mend.

Today was another evening of salads, cheese, and AFDs - 3 in a row! We'll make 4 tomorrow, but no promises about Thursday. After all - that is TRULY D-Day for us, as it's pay day in the UK and Ireland.

And speaking of milestones, who saw payslips viewable online today? THIS GUY! YEAH, BABY!!!!! A huge hurdle out of the way. Now all we have to do is pay folks correctly on Thursday...

Lastly (and a bit late), kudos to Pattie for winning both her games as a starting pitcher in last week's Greenville Tournament. Way to go, girl!

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


Sam and Jenny

Monday, 19 April 2010

New Post from Wife Muffin :)

Hi all - I posted "Slovenia Part 2" but since I had it saved as a draft it won't show automatically on top. So look to the right and it's a few down...Slovenia Part 2. Enjoy!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

36 hours of immortality...

And a good evening to you from across the Pond on a GORGEOUS Sunday in the Mother Country. I mean, seriously - there might be some ash in the Stratusphere, but down at this altitude we're being treated to the MOST PERFECT 3 DAYS OF 2010. Blue skies and no planes - both VERY weird for London. And when you consider I'm writing this blog with our balcony door open and a Mountain Dew in my hand (courtesy of CP1!), life is good (despite the fact that I currently feel as though I've been shot in the face repeatedly with an Elephant gun). But we'll come to all that soon enough...

So when I last left you, we had spent the evening with Ryan and Shannon, and we were waiting for the imminent arrival of the Powell clan. They were due to arrive at 7 PM into Victoria Coach Station, and I am happy to report that they were on time. They rolled up to the flat about 8, at which point we started a WHIRLWIND of activity.

Given that it was already so late, we had a beer at the flat and then walked over to...where else - THE RAJDOOT, BABY! CP had been asking for Indian, and since he'd just presented me with a 24 ounce Mountain Dew (NECTAR OF THE GODS!!!!! Man, have I missed this stuff), I wanted to make the man happy.

The Raj was bumpin', but we got complementary pints while we waited for a table (we're talking 3 minutes wait TOPS). We then descended upon this food like it was our last meal on earth, and I am happy to report that I had my best Phall EVER. I think everyone quite enjoyed their meals, and it was a BLAST just hanging out and catching up. To be honest, it was just so surreal to have everyone there, especially in light of everything going on! Check out Ryan making friends with our boy from the restaurant.

We hung out back at home until about 2, at which point we sacked out, rising up at 9:15 Saturday morning for what could only be described as "the single most action-packed day in the history of London tourism").
We bounced out of the flat at 10:30, destination: EVERYTHING. We started on Carnaby Street, where the Fearsome Foursome were introduced to that truly British institution - Pret a Manger. A ham, cheese, and tomato roll later, we were good to go and en route to Piccadilly Circus. And so began a sight-seeing day of GALCIAN proportions.

For starters, we rolled through Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square (partially shut down due to some "Holland Party" to celebrate the tulip festival in the Netherlands - EVERYONE was dressed in Orange), and then down past 10 Downing Street and to Parliament. We had GREAT weather, and so we got some GREAT photos of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. We even found time for the much coveted "London Phone Booth" shot (I LOVE being a tourist our own city! - so much fun).

We crossed the river at the Lambeth bridge, walking along the Southbank and taking in the spectacular view of Parliament from the other side of the Thames. Whilst walking, we snapped this CUTE photo of the girls.

We then wandered back up through Westminster and into St. James Park, where we stopped to check out the flowers and the tulips around Buckingham Palace - SO GORGEOUS! We then wandered up to Hyde Park Corner before jumping the Tube and heading over to Monument, where JT and I crossed off a monument that we hadn't yet seen - the Monument to the Great Fire of 1666 by Christopher Wren - SUCH a neat monument! I was afraid that we wouldn't be able to find it, but I'm happy to report that it is RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU when you exit the station - VERY impressive.

We then wandered down to the Tower of London, stopping for some GREAT photos in front of Tower Bridge. And then one of the day's highlights - oysters and bubbly in front of the Tower Bridge! It was SO neat - we each got an oyster and a glass of prosecca, and it was just SO COOL.

After that, we walked across the Tower Bridge and then past City Hall before arriving in Borough Market, where we began a gluttonous day. I took down a Bratwurst, whilst JT followed in AC's footsteps and had the lamb/halloumi burger. We also bought some olives, caerphilly, and Ubriaco (drunk) cheese before settling down for the first of (too) many beers at the Brew Wharf.

We got lucky enough to find a table outside, and 5 minutes later we were drinking Bruges Zot on draft! We were so excited, as this was a brewery we visited in 2007 when in Bruges, and we didn't think it was ever shipped outside of Belgium. I switched to a Stout for my next pint, and we nibbled on some starters while there.

We then hopped the tube and rolled over to Leicester Square, where we walked to the Porterhouse. There, we had a pair of pints whilst watching Tottenham edge Chelsea 2-1 (Go Hot Spurs!). It was so much fun, and the crowd was GREAT. We then wandered over to the Bear and Staff, at which point I think we wandered into the "we probably shouldn't do that" category.
Whilst having Timmy Taylors, Ryan walked back to the table with 6 Jaegerbombs. We all took ours down, but I think this is the point where the wheels started to fall off. However, they REALLY fell off when we rolled into Chinatown for dinner.

So we hit Kom Tang, and we continued the boozefest with a bottle of red wine and Tiger beers. We ordered some GREAT food, but it took FOREVER to get served, and at one point the entire wait staff sat down and had their dinner whilst we were still waiting for our crispy duck! Ryan actually got up and walked over to their table (which was beside us) with his chopsticks, asking if he could try a bite of the flounder. HILARIOUS! Hitman - I think these cats are now dead to me.
After that, we rolled back home, where the partied continued until about 3 AM, including a drunk dial on Skype to the Rice household. HILARIOUS! Rice - I'm pretty sure Sam cried every time you held her up because there were 4 drunk people yelling at her. Here's hoping we didn't scar our goddaughter for life.

We went to sleep after 3 AM and rose at 10. You could tell that everyone was HURTING. JT has made a miraculous recovery, whilst I continue to struggle mightily. We walked them to the Eurostar Terminal at King's Cross, and it was CRAZY - I mean, we are talking "last helicopter out of Saigon" crazy. They have completely closed the ticket office, and people were just sitting around EVERYWHERE waiting to be helped. We got them on board, but just barely.
Today was the hottest day of the year in the UK, and we wandered over to Costa for some coffee. We sat there for about an hour, just enjoying the weather and, more importantly, enjoying not moving. In addition to feeling really rough, I've also done something to my back, and every single breath and step hurt. We'll see what that means come tomorrow when I'm on the treadmill...
After the coffee, we walked over to Baker Street, where we had two DELICIOUS pizzas at Pizza Express in the outdoor sitting area before heading home to relax. Both perfect pumpkin and I napped a bit, and it will be an EARLY night for us (and, needless to say, an AFD).
I have said this before, but I think today I have offically realized my limits. I'm not a kid anymore, and the recovery ain't as speedy as it used to be. That being said, it was an absolute, PERFECT, happy day, and I wouldn't have traded a second of it for anything.
And in case anyone's scoring, there are no flights into the UK for the next 24 hours. Best case right now is AM Tuesday - this is just INSANE.

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


(A hurting) Sam and Jenny

Friday, 16 April 2010

And then...a volcano Iceland...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT (but super busy!) day in the Mother Country. So today was, well, about as random as it gets.

So have my normal walk to work, and when I get to the Tube, I notice a sign that reads: "Flying from a UK airport today?" Knowing full well that I'm not (but I've got peeps coming in), I decide to stop and read the message.

As fate would have it, a volcano that hasn't erupted in TWO HUNDRED YEARS blew it's top on Wednesday morning. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. However, since this volcano is sitting UNDER AN ICE CAP and the JET STREAM IS BLOWING OUR DIRECTION, EVERY SINGLE AIRPORT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM CLOSED AT NOON. That's right - I can't make this stuff up.

So I had 4 friends flying in, and I didn't have flight info for either set of them. I basically guessed on CP's flight, and all it told us was "diverted." Thanks for that! Very descriptive and helpful.

I called my flat at 2:15 PM local time, and Ryan (other buddy) said he'd just arrived (flight was about 2 hours late). Apparently he caught the LAST FLIGHT INTO THE UK. And tell me this isn't a "cryptic message" that you NEVER want to hear a pilot say (Ryan's pilot broadcast this to the cabin) "Due to an incident, the UK is officially restricted air space and will become a No Fly Zone after we touch down. " Then that's it - he signs off. Really? REALLY? Cause that wouldn't cause a panic AT ALL...

All that aside, we found out that CP was diverted to Brussels and will arrive in the UK at 7 PM on Friday. I got out of work a little after 8 and headed home, where I met Ryan, Shannon, and Muffin Puffin at the Mason's Arms for some Timmy T and Thai. We had a great chat and hung out until about 11, at which point we both went home and crashed.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Fingers crossed that the winds in the Stratosphere change today!


Sam and Jenny

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A tale of two evenings...

And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. First pay rapidly approaches - can you feel the energy? Can you taste the electricity? Can you see the wage types moving through time and space? Processing Week, baby! But enough of the project talk, I know that I have 2 nights to catch you up on. Let's start with yesterday...

Tuesday: A love affair with a lamb shank

I woke up this morning to find my foot slightly sore. I feared initially as though I might have gone too hard yesterday, but I still have no complaints. There's no pain there - just a bizarre "feeling" that seems somewhat out of place. Price - you'll be happy to know that I've traded my Livestrong shirt for a skin tight running shirt. Let me tell you - it looks AWESOME wrapped around my tummy. "Get in my belly! I'm bigger'n you!!!!! I'm higher on the food chain!!!!!"

That "trade" also has the consequence of meaning I sweat like a BANSHEE when running (cause I'm basically on a treadmill in a parka inside an igloo. Let me tell you - my bag? Yeah, it ain't smellin' too good these days.

Due to the injury, I opted for lifting some weights instead of cardio. CP - I hope you're ready for the GUN SHOW when you come into town. 24 hours away - how is that even possible! Can't wait!!!

The work day was good - steadily busy, which I had no complaints about. The hours have obviously been longer this week, but that's always been expected for the run-up to first pay - no complaints here!

This is the point at which the story divides along gender lines. Mufifn Puffin had a Girl's Night with Shantan, Ash, and Beth, whilst I went with the Donkey Convention. The ladies hit Thai Tho for some DELICIOUS Thai cuisine, and we rolled into Limehouse for some FANTASTIC Italian at La Figa. Lord and Hitman - I'm happy to report that the Lamb Shank is still guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud. That being said, I didn't realize that it must have been a slaughter of "Silence of the Lambs" proportions to put those 2 slabs of meat on my plate. HOLY MOLY! Today I felt like I was carrying a brick around in my stomach. Not the easiest way to log a 5k.

I am told that the ladies had fun as well, even if the rice portions left something to be desired. Also, kudos to my wife for engineering a post dinner trip to the Bear and Staff for some Timmy - that's my mufin puffin!!!!

We both sacked out around midnight and would have slept GREAT if not for a letter from Energie Croydon STALKING my wife about payment that ISN'T DUE. She did set them straight today (knock on wood), but it was a major buzzkill last night (yes - the run of 4 straight AFD's did NOT happen).

Wednesday: Back on the treadmill and feelin' the burn

So today was a blur. I logged a 5k in the morning, but I was HURTING from that damn lamb shank. Goodyer - you NEVER eat, so how in the WORLD can you get that thing down a dinner?

I will say that, on the way into the office, I stopped to capture this photo outside the Polish Embassy. It is actually RIGHT BESIDE our building, and those flowers and candles have been there all week. On Sunday, there was a massive vigil on the street - it was a somber moment, and there were plenty of folks crying. Not the happiest paragraph I've ever written, I know, but it is obviously an important moment historically, and I did feel it important to record it.

The work day was, well, BUSY. Some days you just know it's gonna be chaos. Yep, it was one of those days. However, I did get out of the office by 9 PM, and that's honestly one of the longest days I've had te entire Transition, so I am NOT complaining.

JT fixed me a great salad this evening, and it's about time for bed. I've got a weird burning pain in my foot at the moment, but I'm hoping a little sleep will cure that right up. After all, tomorrow is back to the gun show, which I'm REALLY not looking forward too given how sore I am already.
CP and company - SAFE TRAVELS!!!! Can't wait to see you guys! Pray for no Sev 1's!!!

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


Sam and Jenny

Monday, 12 April 2010

Slovenia Part 2

Hello and good evening! I left off on Friday, which found us up at 9 not feeling so hot and down for breakfast at our B&B. Then we took a taxi up to the castle perched on the edge of the cliff overlooking Bled. The views were spectacular and there was fresh snow on the mountains, but other than that there wasn't too much to this castle. So after wandering around we walked back into town and along the lake. We popped into the church that you see in the photos and we saw the largest chandelier of all time. It was very pretty esp since it was Good Friday.

We then walked to our 2pm meeting point for our main activity of the day - white water rafting. It wasn't the warmest of days that's for sure, and it was raining so the conditions were not ideal. We actually were the 1st group out on the river this season (they started in April but didn't go on the 1st) so that was cool. We turn up to change into our gear and 1 of the girls says "Where do we change?" The guides response was "Nature" as he pointed to some trees across the way. Nice. So 6 girls are struggling to get into semi-damp wetsuits in 50 degree weather while it rains. Not the most fun I'd ever had but quite a story. The river itself wasn't that rough at all, only 2s and 3s, but we did manage to lose a Canadian as we hit full force into a rock. I think our guide did it on purpose, as he seemed to be steering straight toward rocks and telling us to paddle with all our might. It was definitely memorable! Given we were chilled to the bone and had a big night last night, we decided to take it easy tonight and rest up after dinner. So we turned in early on Good Friday night in Bled.

Saturday saw us refreshed and down for breakfast before checking out at 10. We caught the bus back to Ljubljana and had planned to go to the Skocjanske caves, but didn't do our homework on the bus schedule. The next bus down there didn't leave early enough for us to make the last tour. So instead we had a sunny day in Ljubljana and explored some areas we hadn't seen before including Tivoli Park. Not sure what to do next we both suddenly had a great idea - the Casino! We hadn't been to this one yet. So we popped in for a bit and 2.5 hours later we are still going strong. We played the slots forever and noticed a new strategy around us as we heard loud banging. We realized the man and woman on either side of us are literally banging and rubbing the slot machine screen. I am not exaggerating at all when I say they were attacking it with all their might. At one point an attendant came over and told this old woman to "be gentle." Yazz and I couldn't contain our laughter, then we thought we'd give it a go to see if it worked. I can report it did not. We both ended up down 40 euro but we played forever! It was a lot of fun!

Realizing it was time for dinner, we headed out and ended up back at the place we ate on Wed night. We felt kind of lame but we had seen this cuttlefish come out on Wed that looked amazing. So we went back and I had cuttlefish for the 1st time. For those that don't know (like me) cuttlefish is the fish they use for calamari. When you cut it you get the rings, and ours was stuffed with baby shrimp and zucchini. It was religious!
Next up was this club that we'd heard was the place to go, but we turn up and there are multiple Stag Dos (bachelor parties) going on, so not really our scene. We did however see a smurf (Steve Smith look-a-like) and the Village People, so that was entertaining. We hung there a bit before heading home after a very fun, unplanned day in Ljubljana.

We popped up early on Sunday for our 10am bus down to Skocjanske caves. We did the 1pm tour and it was a really neat experience. It was about 1.5 hours and they led you through these amazing underground caves with stalactites and stalagmites everywhere (no photos allowed.) We also saw the 3rd largest underground canyon (not sure where 1 and 2 are.) We were back in the city for dinner and did try a different place I am happy to report. It was a typical Slovenian restaurant with lots of delicious food. I opted for the venison steak with a cherry sauce and gnocchi, along with some cheese dumpling/pastry things. They were so good! Feeling too full for dessert, we popped into this trendy bar and had a Bailey's on the rocks for our farewell drink. We turned in early as we had a 3:30 alarm the next morning for our 7:30am flight.

Yazz - I had such a fantastic time, it was so nice to get away. You are a great mate & travel companion, and I look forward to the Lakes and hopefully a few more trips before we head home. Oh yeah, and there is always VEGAS 2011 BABY!!!!!! Start saving for Dean Martin - C'mon and dance with me - GO GO GO GO!

The joys of sleep, salad, and sun...

And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT (but busy!) day in the Mother Country. I can definitely feel the Transition machine ratcheting up, as today was wicked busy. That being said, another one is in the books, and I still feel really good about where we are.

Okay, so first off - NICE WORK MUFFIN PUFFIN!!!! Full marks for giving you the first run of Slovenia. There is another installment coming (fret not), as I know that she left you with a cliffhanger ending (hey - gotta keep ratings high!). Secondly, I'l give you the recap of yesterday and today.

For starters, we slept in until 2 PM yesterday. That's right - 2 PM. That's just how we roll. We finally left the house around 4:50, determined to see the fresh flowers and have a wander through Regent's Park. Before walking out the door, I had that moment of "Should I bring a heavy fleece or my ear warmers?" Seeing those beautiful blue skies and remembering the 60 degree "heat wave" from Saturday, I decided no. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, was a serious mistake.

We had a GREAT walk through the park, and the flowers were GORGEOUS. However, there was no escaping the wind that absolutely RIPPED THROUGH YOUR INSIDES. Seriously, it had to have been 40 with the wind chill, and all I had was a Life is Good t-shirt and the thin fleece I stole from Jesse (possession is 9/10th's, baby!!!). Talk about CHILLY! That being said, it was a BEAUTIFUL day, and the light was simply fantastic for photography.

After the park, we rolled over to Sainsbury's for a night in. After the schedule we'd been keeping, we wanted salad and an AFD. We accomplished both, and we even treated ourselves to a truffle cheese from Borough Market (AC - it was EVEN BETTER than I remembered- SO GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD). Check out our spread!

After that, I was feeling a bit funny (can't imagine why), and so I threw back some Nite Nurse (it still counts as an AFD, damn it!) and passed out at 8:30 PM. That's right, sports fans - I was awake 6.5 hours yesterday - that's it.

I popped out of bed this morning at 6:24, and I am happy to report that, after a 6 month lull, Taylor COMPLETED A 5k, BABY!!! It wasn't poetry, and yes, I did have to slow the pace toward the end, but I FINALLY got through 3.1 miles in a go. It felt SO GOOD to have a burn in the lungs finally. And best of all - NO PAIN!!!

The work day was crazy busy, but it worked out good, as I got home at the same time as Muffin Puffin (she'd been rockin' the pool). And now we are about to sit down to an evening of salad (again), complete with the truffle cheese and NO Booze ANYWHERE to be seen.

And for those among you who are praying people, I would ask you to keep Sandra Clark and the Shaw family in your thoughts and prayers. They are friends of mine, and they are going through tough times at the moment. Thanks to all.

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


Sam and Jenny

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Slovenia Part 1

Hello all! So as promised, here is a recap of Slovenia Part 1. It began on Wednesday at 5:30am for our 9:45 flight. Despite catching the 7am Gatwick Express and arriving over 2 hours before our flight, we found ourselves running to our gate as they announced that all passengers report to gate 103 as the flight to Ljubljana is ready to depart. Whoever heard of a flight leaving early?!? Certainly not in the States! But we made it, and after 2 hours in the air we landed in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana and were greeted with a torrential downpour. Yes, the weather was not pleasant at first but did get better thank goodness. We checked into our hostel and were out the door about 3 to explore the cute, quaint and virtually deserted old town. Yasna had a bit of an issue getting money out of her 2 blocked accounts, but luckily we got that taken care of and then had our 1st burek of the trip. Imagine a flaky pastry made with about a block of butter filled with either a ricotta/cottage cheese type filling or minced meat. Yasna was very familiar with these because they are very popular around this region and her mom used to make them. But this was my 1st taste of the artery clogging decadent treats. And they were delicious!!!

The center of town was very cute and had about 5 bridges over the river in 1 spot. We walked up to the castle overlooking the city and had some great views. We took the "thrilling" funicular down and explored one of the gorgeous churches, then walked the length of the river before finding a cafe for a cold beverage or 2. I tried one of the local beers Union which was pretty good. We then found a dinner spot (after several attempts because everything had pretty much shut down by 9) and ended up at a great restaurant called Goldfish. I tried a traditional dish of turkey in a cream sauce and for dessert we split this ridiculous 10 layer cake which included cottage cheese, walnut, raisins and probably another pound of butter. We couldn't finish it. We decided to call it a night and head to bed because we were exhausted and it was still pouring and now lightning out. We had a very fun but wet 1st day!

We checked out Thursday morning and hit up the local markets where we got some fresh fruit and saw the 4 dragons that guard the city. We then took a bus up to Bled in the mountains about an hour north of Ljubljana. We checked into our Alp Pension and had a great room with huge bathroom and balcony! We headed into town and took a boat into the center of Lake Bled to the little picturesque island with a church on it. We had 30 minutes to walk around and explore and had some great views of the snow-covered mountains and castle perched on the edge of the cliff. Back into town we tried the famous Bled cream cake which was actually invented at the Park Hotel in Bled. Very good!

Dinner that night was included in our room and our 5 course meal was excellent. They served us a starter of little toasts with various toppings such as egg & anchovies (actually really good), soup, beef & dumplings, apple strudel and then schnapps. Yazz was a bit put off by the boiled meat that was used to make the soup ("a bit cheeky") but I thought it was fine for my unrefined pallet. :) We also shared a liter of red wine. :)

The night's main event was hitting up the Bled casino. We walked into town in the rain and wandered in hoping to find some lively, fun atmosphere. Now quick backstory on Yazz...she went to Vegas over Christmas last year and LOVED it! She's obsessed just like Sam and I, so we both had high hopes for this casino. But alas, we were a bit let down when we discovered it was silent like the grave and everyone playing roulette had paper surrounding them where they were keeping track of what had hit and looking for patterns, trying to beat the game I assume. We rolled up with our red wine and laughter and after about an hour or so were told by this rude German or Russian dude to "SHUT YOUR MOUTHS!" Which of course made us laugh even more. Did he really just say that? So after our 2nd glass of wine was gone we decided it was time to blow this joint, only down 10 euro so not bad. We found the only other life in town at the Bled Pub. We were happy to find some music and noise and then realized everyone in the joint was under the age of 20. Haha. Well, we had a few drinks and talked, then couldn't take the dj anymore so walked home in wait for it, wait for it...more rain. Yes, it's still raining. Back in our room we thought it would be a good idea to eat a whole bag of crisps (chips) before turning in. UGH! Got into bed about 3:30 after another wet but incredibly fun day in Bled. More to come tomorrow...