March 30, 2009

London: Monday wandering

On monday I went out on my own again, since Alison had to work. I first set course for the Forbidden Planet again. This time they were open. Browsed through the store but found nothing that I wanted, so I left without getting anything. More money not spent.

Since the weather was lovely though, I decided to go to Hyde Park and just relax a little, and finally write some post cards. Really wished I had my roller blades with me there. The road through the middle of the park seemed wonderful for blading, and there were quite a few people doing so there. But this being London, the weather clouded over again, and sitting in the park soon became too cold. So I left by the Marble Arch gate in the north east of the park and went looking for a pint.

After having a pint at Tudor Rose I started wandering back to Leicester square to meet with Alison. This took some time, since I really like just wandering through the various small back alley streets just looking around. Finally ended up at the Bear and Staff just by Leicester square to wait for Alison. We stayed there for dinner as well, before taking an evening walk along the south bank of the river, stopping for another pint here and there.

March 29, 2009

London: Sunday boating

Since I booked my Qantas flights to Brisbane back in 2006 through British Airways, they keep sending me spamemails with offers and stuff to do at various destinations. Because of this I was aware that this sunday was the date of the annual Cambridge vs. Oxford boat race. Known simply as The Boat Race. Alison needed to do some work, so I set out on my own down to Hammersmith.

Arriving at Hammersmith station I realized I wasn't quite prepared for the amount of people that show up for this event. I think this is the only time I've ever seen people queue up for a zebra crossing. According to the TV coverage, a quarter of a million people were gathered along the banks for the race. So even though I arrived a good hour before the event, it was clear that I was at least an hour late already. I caught a bit of the warm-up race 45 minutes before the main event, and then went to see if I could find a better spot. I didn't so I ended up in Furnival Gardens where there was a big screen set up. And lots of people. So I watched the main race from there.

After the race I decided to go to Kensington to visit the Science Museum. Arriving half an hour before closing time, so I didn't really have the time to visit any of the most interesting exhibitions, such as the new Cracking Ideas exhibit and the IMAX theatre. The pictures show a large circle in the center that I think was supposed to simulate the Large Hadron Collider and occasionally merged the particles into texts.

From the Science Museum I went to look for the Forbidden Planet Megastore. Finally found it after walking along most of the Shaftesbury Avenu - should have taken the tube stop further - and realized it had closed 15 minutes before. So I went looking for a pub and a pint, before going back to Alison's place.

March 28, 2009

London: Saturday at Leyton

You can't go to England and not catch a football match. Since my trip was during a Fifa break there were no matches in the Premier League or Championship. Which was just as well, since they'd probably be too expensive for me anyway. So instead I searched through the fixtures to find a match in League One. Turned out there was a match just a few stops further out on the tube, at Leyton, where Leyton Orient was receiving Oldham Athletics.

I used buses to Leyton since it is in zone 3 on the tube, and my Oyster card was only charged for travel within zone 2. A short trip and a failed bus later, I was at Leyton station, and walking to the arena at Brisbane Road. I had checked the stands the night before, and decided to get tickets on the south stand. This turned out to be a good choice, since it seemed the most entusiastic home supporters also uses this stand. According to the website, the northern part of the east stand should have housed the home supporters, but there were not much sound coming from that end.

The southern end of the east stand however had lots of Oldham supporters cramped together. And it was clearly the away supporters were the more enthusiastic side this day. Particularly when Oldham took the lead after 34 minutes. 0-1 at half time, and the weather was cold and rainy. In the second half the O's came back though. A penalty equalizer in the 60. minute got the crowd warming a bit, and when Demetriou put the 2-1 goal with 6 minutes left all was good.

After the match I went for the public transports again, trying to find my way to Kilburn where I was to meet up with Alison and some of her friends. Because the tube station was packed and a bus was going back to Stratford already, I decided to catch that bus. Do note that not all buses labelled "Stratford" and similar actually go by the bus terminal by the same name. Second failed bus catch of the day. This didn't delay me that much though, and after getting back on the tube, I was in Kilburn 45 minutes before rendesvouz time. 45 minutes well spent with a pint.

After having a quite nice curry, we went to The good ship to see the Grave Architects. The venue was kinda weird, with the band playing in a sunken pit in the middle, where you basically had to stand in the stairs around to see anything. Not all that unlike another place I know after all. The bands playing here were a lot better than the ones at Hoxton a few days earlier and The Grave Architects in particular was actually quite good.

March 27, 2009

London: Shopping Friday

Even though I was on a budget, I realized that I had to go back to Camden Town again. When we were there on wednesday quite a few stalls were closing already. First though we went out for a late breakfast. Alison knew a place down in Bethnal Green called "Pellicci". Wonderful place with an atmosphere that put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

From Bethnal Green we went down to Leicester Sq to get tickets for the evening's performance of Les Miserables. Got some rather cheap tickets out on the side of the upper gallery. Since we were using a double decker to get around this time, I got to snap a few pics in traffic as well.

Back in Camden I ended up with only a few t-shirts and a new trolley-backpack-bag to stuff things in for the return trip. Though this was mostly through strict "don't buy stuff you don't really need" attitude on my part.

In the evening we went back downtown for Les Miserables. As you can see from the pic on the left, the theater is a lot higher than deep, so we ended up watching from above. But the play is still good. And the theater completely full, but mostly tourists though.

March 26, 2009

London: Thursday War

Thursday we decided to follow Kjella's advice and went to the Imperial War Museum. Some interesting stuff to see there, in particular old WW1 and WW2 fighter planes. The exhibition on The Secret War, with spies and stuff was quite interesting as well. From there we moved on to the holocaust exhibition which was generally so depressing we decided to leave after that. Thus skipping the exhibition on crimes against humanity. I'm still quite amazed at what human beings are capable of doing to one another.

In the evening it was time for the first gig of the trip, a 4-band setup at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. I rather liked the venue, with a rather large stage room in the back and two bars up front. The bands were mostly disappointing though, so we ended up listening to a couple of tunes from each before going out to the main bar to wait for the next band to come on.

PS: As you can see, pictures are now up. Click an image to go to the Picasa web album for more.

March 25, 2009

London: Wandering Wednesday

Wednesday started with Alison's power supply failing. So it was decided to start the day with a trip downtown to get a new one. This suited me fine since I wanted to look for a high power battery for my Aspire One as well. The original battery doesn't seem to last even 2 hours with Ubuntu.

After charging up the Oyster card Alison lent me, we set course for Shopping Hell (or Heaven depending on your point of view): Oxford Street. Luckily we weren't shopping on the main street, but a bit up Tottenham Court Road instead. There are quite a few electronics shops up there of various sizes. I forgot to actually look for an Acer battery, but at least we got a decent PSU for Alison's laptop.

From TCRd we went to a small rather hidden pub for an english lunch, Pie and Ale. Wonderful little pub with wonderfully low prices. £8 for a large meal and a pint is rather good. 

After letting the food sink in properly we decided to go to the hill in Regents Park for a good view across London. Which it surely was. From there we took the wrong exit from the park and ended up strolling in a circle through a posh area, before we got back to the canal. We walked along the canal through the London Zoo and up to Camden Town.

Camden Town turned out to be more my kind of shopping heaven. Lots and lots of tiny stalls selling all manners of weird stuff. Gothwear, vintage stuff, anime wear, etc. As well as the seriously spaced out Cyberdog store. I could easily burn a lot of money up there.

March 24, 2009

London Trip: Leaving home

As some are aware of, I'm currently on a weeks holiday in London. Yeayh! Going to London on a budget (means no major shopping) and without any real plan on what to do. Here's a slightly delayed travel report.

PS: The SD reader on my laptop isn't working after a recent Ubuntu update, so no pictures until I get home.

Leaving Tromsø

I left Tromsø on tuesday afternoon. Norwegian's flight directly to Stansted is rather practical. And cheap. I realised a few days before leaving that I would only have half an hour between landing at Stansted and catching the bus to London that would stop at Bow. If I missed it, I would have to wait another 110 minutes for the next bus. So I decided to travel only with hand luggage. It is fully possible to pack all you need on a trip in a single backpack small enough for carry-on. It did not however leave much room for buying anything in London. So my plan was to buy a bag in London for the return.

Already while waiting for the bus to Langnes I found out that the flight was delayed, so I would miss the Stansted bus anyhow, but it was too late to run back in and repack at that point.

The flight to Stansted was as eventful as flights can be. Which means nothing at all. Read a good portion of "Snow White and the seven samurai" by Tom Holt. Quite good light reading, but a bit jumpy storyline. Mind you, still only half done with it. Landed at Stansted the same 40 minutes late that we left Tromsø. Which was just as well, since I had forgotten how much hassle immigration can be. Turned out however that it was really smooth, but then I wasn't stressing either.

Had a burger at the airport Burger King. Apparently whoppers here are called "Angus" since they got scottish meat. :) Then 20 minutes before the bus was to leave, I went down to the bus station. Bad idea. Should have gone down there earlier, as the Terravision buses are apparently very popular. Might be something about a £9 price... The queue was already quite long. Result: I was one of the last 5-6 people to get on that bus. Phew! And the only one who needed the bus to stop at Bromley-by-Bow.

I'm staying at my friend Alison's place, and she met me at the bus stop with a helpful umbrella to hide from the inevitable London rain. The flat was just a few minute walk from the bus stop anyway, but a little shelter from the rain is helpful. Some plans were laid over a cup of tea as to what to do the next days, before it was time for sleep.

March 1, 2009

Blogging is dead

I've finally started a blog. That should officially end the age of blogging.

I'm going to use this blog for commenting about the things happening on my end of the planet. This might and might not interest the rest of the planet, but that's beside the point. Topics will include software projects I'm working on, tips for tools I'm using, football related stuff, gaming and generic stuff. I don't expect to have a steady schedule for posting though, so if you for some reason plans to follow my rants, you better just subscribe it in your favourite feed reader.

Also note that the blog will probably be bilingual. Most of the stuff regarding computers and games will be in english, but football and generic stuff about Tromsø will probably be written in norwegian.