Cambridge And London

Cambridge And London

The River Cam

After a fantastic 10 days I’m back from my business trip to London. The good news is that it was both highly successful and productive. Of course I have to open with the line in case anyone from the office actually reads this blog.

I left Durban on Friday afternoon with a short hop to Joburg, where I spent a few hours before heading for the UK. The flight there was not fantastic…firstly we were in a smaller Boeing which meant no TV screens, and secondly because I sat next to a woman who looked 105 in the shade. Other than successfully completing 200 crosswords, she decided she needed to converse with me regarding both her, and my, entire lives. On the up side she did manage to amuse me by returning to the wrong seat every time she went to the bathroom. She’d simply find an empty seat next to a young man, and sit down, much to their confusion.

Day 1…After a long trip I landed at Heathrow and was chauffeured to my B&B in Cambridge. This turned into a interesting trip when I spotted the words “love” and “hate” tattooed onto my drivers knuckles. Hmmmm… This did mean that I took his advice of not visiting a nearby pub seriously. If its too rough for him, I didn’t fancy my chances.

Cambridge Footbridge

I got to my B&B at about 11am, dropped off my bags, and walked into the Cambridge city centre  where I spent the next few hours wandering the streets, browsing the local shops, and taking in the scenery. Cambridge itself is a lovely place that I’d certainly recommend to anyone, for a short time.

Then it was back to my room where I relaxed for the afternoon. While lying there hoping for an early night, I received an sms from some work colleagues. So it was up again, and back into Cambridge for a few beers at a cosy pub. This was followed by a fantastic dinner at a Chinese restaurant overlooking the local market. After dinner Sylvain headed home, and Dan and I hit another pub for a “few” more pints. After a few hours Dan’s wife picked us up and took us home. I suppose I should mention here that she had to circle the pub for 20 minutes while we fished our last beers…so thank you very much. Not a great first impression, so I’m going to blame Dan.

Day 2…Dan and his wife picked me up and took me into Cambridge to look at some of the Universities. This was, as I’m sure you all know, a truly impressive sight. Another first for me was lunch at a small greek kebab shop. I’m still not sure why they call it a kebab shop, since the meat had never so much as seen a skewer, but it tasted fantastic so who cares. This was followed by a squash game at Dan’s gym. It was good to get onto a court, and do some exercise, while out in another country. Normally this is a good excuse to drink lots of beer and do no exercise. So thumbs up to me.

Day 3…After a good breakfast I hit the road and began the 2.5km walk to Cambridge. This was of course relying on the fact that I would remember where the office was in Milton, and that I could find it on foot. Luckily I managed this without having to backtrack or phone a friend. I won’t bore you here with all the work details, least to say it involved a lot of meetings. It was great getting to the meet the guys, gain a better understanding of the platform, and learn where the project was headed, and why. So the first day of work was very successful from a project point of view. The down side was that my laptop wasn’t working, so I spent a fair amount of time setting up a temporary one. After work I bought some dinner from the local supermarket, relaxed in my room and watched a movie.

Pi Shurlok Offices In Cambridge

Day 4…More meetings…More success. Other than work I joined some of the Pi boys for a soccer game during lunch. Apparently the do it every week against a few of the Pi Research guys. We played 5 a side for an hour or so, most of which I spent lying on my back in the mud. I learnt a few things from this experience:

  • I suck at soccer.
  • You can’t play soccer in the UK (or the mudbowl) without boots.

I did however manage to score a few goals. Although I think these may have been pity goals for the poor South African who can’t play soccer. Who cares…I scored…WOOHOO!!

The London Eye

Day 5…And not much news from the office. This was however the day that I would experience Englands national food. And no, its not fish and chips; Believe it or not its curry. You know your local cooking is shyte when you have to outsource your national dish. Anyway, after work we headed down to a local curry restaurant and I had a fantastic curry…spicy, not too hot, and a great amount of flavour. The naan bread was also fantastic.

In fact, I even enjoyed the rice, and that’s saying a lot. Of course this was all washed down with a few Indian beers, which were great. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I preferred them to the English beers. Although that’s not hard.

Day 6…The good news is that my laptop was back up and running. The bad news…my ass paining. Why is it that the food that makes your ass burn, also makes you need to crap more? Grrr. After some contemplation I also ordered a new camera. I was getting sick and tired of not being able to take pictures during some of my more adventurous outings and fishing trips, so I invested in an Olympus 1030. Its waterproof to depths of 10 meters, drop proof to 2 meters, and can withstand weights of 100kgs. Oooh, aaah. You can read the review of it on my fly fishing page.

Day 7…There are some things that amaze me about first world countries. The camera I ordered yesterday beat me to the office. It took just slightly over 12 hours, from when I ordered it, until when it arrived at 8:30 the next morning, and most of that was night. WOW, impressive. New camera baby!! Now I just had to wait for it to charge. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. My bum had finally recovered from Wednesday nights curry, so to celebrate we all went out for a curry. Again it was fantastic. and there’s a lot to be said for having a beer at lunch time on a work day. Mmmm… I then said my good-byes to all in the office. It had been a successful trip, and as I said earlier, it was great to meet all the guys.

Pavement Entertainment In London

After work I went back to Dan’s place for some Sushi. It was great fun. Carolyn chopped up all the ingredients, and then we all sat around a table and made our own. A great idea that I must remember for future dinner parties at my place. After the sushi, things started to go downhill. A couple of beers, and then my first Martini (or 5). News flash, vodka martinis are fantastic. James bond certainly knew what he was talking about. And thanks to Scott for the great Martini preparation. Respect.

Day 8…After 3 hours sleep it was time to pack up and catch a train into London. Dan (read Dan’s wife) once again saved the day by offering to drive me to the bus stop. This saved me from a 10 minute walk carrying 3 bags, followed by 2 bus rides. The train ride was good. I probably should’ve got some sleep, but instead I played with my new camera. I’ll say it again…WOOHOO!! After arriving at Kings Cross I took a tube to Covent Garden and then wandered around looking for my hotel.

The hotel itself was fantastic! The highlight of course was the pay-per-view porn in my room. Sadly I couldn’t take advantage of this since I don’t think the company would’ve liked it on my bill.

Big Ben And The Houses Of Parliament

I spent the rest of the day wondering the streets, taking in the sights, enjoying the street performers and doing a bit of shopping. What a girl!! Sadly my mates, and sister, were all out of town so I didn’t get to see any of them. Evening arrived, I had a few beers and then hit the sack.

Day 9…And what was my last day. I spent the morning trying to fit my purchases, and a few boxes from the office, into my bag. Then I wondered around for the morning, said my goodbyes to London, and headed for the airport. The trip back was for better than the trip there. I sat next to an ex South Africa who was living in the US. And hey, we had proper in flight entertainment. The only down side was that I struggled to sleep.

After a short stop in Joburg, I was back on the plane to Durban, and in no time at all I was home. All in all a very successful trip from all aspects. Work was a big success, I had fun, I had beers, and I got new toys. One last time…WOOHOO!!