July 25th, 2005

This weekend I attended a social gathering for men only. No, I have not become a Mason, I went to Mark’s stag. This stag is going to seem fairly tame, but I have spared you the details to prevent embrassement for all (Mark especially). I set off after work on Friday and got on the tube to head up to Greenford to meet the guys for the canal boat trip down to Camden via the Regents Canal, which was opened in 1801.

We hit the pub by the canal and we all had to down a bottle of smirnoff ice, we all did it but felt very sick (I’m never doing that again), Mark had to do it twice and I was impressed it did not make him sick!! We then drank more beer and then had some tequila and then some more beer and then some cocktail type drinks.

Here’s Mark with the bill from the night -


Who’s Paying?

The next day we got the boat going and I spent most of it laying on the roof letting the gentle rain hit my face and hopefully using the same trick as used on the boat trip in Australia to prevent myself from being sick. The ‘scenery’ from Greenford to Camden is like nothing you’ll ever see. It’s basically mostly industrial, we went past power generator buildings, graffitii covered falling down buildings and such and noticed an incredibly large number of coconuts floating in the river. When we finally started to make our way into Little Venice and Camden I took over driving the 12 man (long) canal boat. For some reason this coinceded with us passing two police boats and about ten police officers on the canal walkway, of course I almost crashed into the police boats and narrowly avoided hitting a tree. The police were giving us funny looks so we waved at them. Is Edwardo going to be sick? -


Light at the end of the tunnel

We then headed up Primrose Hill for a couple of drinks and some chillout time. We had a game of baseball and ultimate frisbee, which I’ve never played before but was really cool!! I wouldn’t mind playing it again, might look to see if there’s a team I can join.


London

After wearing ourselves out playing games in the park, Ed, Si and myself headed into Camden to get something to eat and ultimately end up having another beer, which didn’t go down very well!! I was going to leave some of my drink in the glass that Si bought for me, when he offered to give me 20p to see how far I could throw it. So I drank the rest of the drink.

We headed back to the barge and got ready for the evening of entertainment that was ahead of us. The destination was Jongleurs Camden, it was a comedy night followed by a disco. Obviously the stag had to wear something stupid (undisclosed) and we all wore gangster hats that made us look more like family butchers or cricket umpires. We had two spare tickets for people that didn’t show up, so we recruited some girls to take them off our hands, shame for them they had to sit with us for the entire night and wear the cricket umpire hats!

Anyway to cut a long story short this is how that night ended for Mark -


Still got the hat on!!

On the way back to the boat I snapped this photo with some exposure under one of the bridges down the side of the Regent’s Canal. In an attempt to stop heroin users from shooting up but also do something artistic they have installed UV lights under the bridge which reflect off the water but give this kind of crazy effect as if the water wasn’t even there or that the lights were actually on the bottom of the canal. It was very cool, especially after a load of alcohol -


Crazy

The next morning and the first thing Mark said when he woke up was “That keg of beer should have exploded more when we opened it, that girl would have got more beer on her top then” but that is another story!

July 20th, 2005

I doubt I’ll have as much fun in this bad boy as I had in the Vitara (see here, here, here and here), but then again getting a Ferrari wouldn’t have beaten that car. Here is my new car though, it’s a lovely Audi A3 1.8 Sport with 2 axle rigid body and a petrol engine in brilliant red, I just took it on a little spin to Piccadilly Circus and back. It has a really nice sound system and a CD player. Matt at work also owns a car like this but it is silver, I am hoping now we can both meet up on Sunday afternoons and go for drives around the countryside in tandem and then stop in Tea shops and discuss the merits of different brands of engine lubricant.

Audi A3 1.8 Sport
Not available in USA or Canada

This will no doubt see a lot of trips to the beach, I’m going to keep this car clean though, not like the Vitara which was practically falling apart when I sold it!

July 18th, 2005

A nice load of weather we have been having here! It has been blue skies and high twenties for the past couple of days. As I am in London this weekend looking for cars (which I am having pretty bad luck with). I phoned one car dealer and said “do you have the black blah blah car? I’d like to come and have a look at it.” and he said “yes sure come down”. When I got I said “where’s the car?” and he replied “we sold that months ago. Our website isn’t up to date”. Great!

So we went to Clapham Common and had a nice little picnic on Saturday, on the way there we saw some guys catch a very big fish. It was pretty funny watching them try and haul it in through all the junk in the pond they caught it in.

London at its finest. We played some frisbee and generally had a nice little time. Check out the black box bag that I picked up at M&S the best buy of the summer so far -

Then that evening we had a BBQ that didn’t quite live up to the BBQ’s that we used to have in Australia but it was still a nice little time and we had some lovely steak to put on, shame about the sugar buns that we had to eat them in -


TAKE THE DISPOSABLE BBQ OUT THE BOX!!

Sunday was even a nicer day than Saturday so another day spent in the park. Here is London at Sunset, the building by the sun is the City of London and the buildings to the right are Canary Wharf -

Here is Mr Squirrel in the park try to camouflage himself with the tree -

He didn’t seem to mind being out in the open when fed honey roasted cashew nuts -


Mmmm… Cashews

Monday and its back to trying to find a car, I went all the way to Sydenham to look at a nice little car over there. When I got their the dealer said it was over at Tower Bridge and I would be able to see it tomorrow. Nice, another wasted journey!! These car dealers are amateurs.

July 11th, 2005

To get away from all the doom and gloom that has been hitting the site recently, I made a little trip today to the Design Museum on the Riverfront about 20 seconds walk from my house. It had just about everything I was interested in inside. F1 Cars, Computers and Surfboards!!! The Design Museum is about 20 seconds walk from my flat and I’ve never been further inside than the gift shop. That was all to change as their outside display was of a surfboard.

First off was the McLaren F1. You are allowed to feel the weight of all the components composite materials such as the carbon fibre body, the steel drive shaft etc.. etc..

THE HAÇIENDA, a famous night club in Manchester featured in the cool film with Steve Coogan ’24 Hour Party People’ which I watched in Canada was featured in the Design Museum, concentrating on its traffic sign style design -

Then there was the surfboards! This was the coolest part, it is like having a surf shop 20 seconds from my house -

There were surf boards from the 1950ies to 2004 from the old fashioned wooden boards to current day epoxy models. The wooden ones look beautiful but they are so slow in the water (unless your surfing 40ft Jaws). Here are some more boards -


Left to Right 2000 – 1969

The ‘Shape and Shapers – The Evolution of the Surboard’ at the Design Museum closes on the 9th October.

July 10th, 2005

I went back to the ‘scene of the accident’ where I ended up having to have five staples in my head. They do have the ‘Caution – Mind your Head’ sign over the metal box which I believe I hit my head on but it is obscured because its behind the metal box. The metal box also has no padding -

Here is a view of it looking up the last four steps -

They will probably just say ‘why didn’t you read the other one?’ though-

Because the wound is too gruesome to be shown on g2007, here’s the blood stained underground ticket from that night which I never got to use -

On a separate note, I sent my picture of Aldgate taken at 09h14 in the London incident post to the Metropolitan Police today as asked for on their website you never know it might be useful.

July 9th, 2005

I went to my buddies house to help him lay his new flooring and ended up in the Emergency Room of St Thomas’ hospital in London. Two days in a row that have been pretty bad. I initially woke up and headed for the office as their was nothing on the internet that said not to go. I really should have checked my work emails because that is where the information was, I got so used to have an inbox of zero that I didn’t check it.

When I got to Aldgate the area was still closed off and no one was going to work, so I had a coffee and went back home. Matt and Mark picked me up a few hours later and we headed off to Mark’s flat to lay some flooring. I stayed for a nice little BBQ and went to Clapham North tube to catch the train back. The esculator was out at the tube so I had to take the spiral staircase to the train. I teared down this just like I always do (which will probably ruin my chances of compensation after telling the Ambulance I had had two cold beers that night) and when I got to the last four straight steps to the underground jumped them. This is not unusual for me as I live a pretty extreme to the max surfer lifestyle and like to keep healthy and fit by exercising and errr.. jumping.

This was obviously the biggest mistake of my life as the next thing I new I was laying on my back on the floor. I got up straight away and picked up my ticket for the tube which was in my hand and proceeded to walk towards the platform. I put my hand on my head to feel if I had a bruise but when I took my hand away and looked at it it was covered in blood. I didn’t actually feel too bad and wasn’t really freaking out much. Rather than getting on the tube I went back up the stairs to tell the staff I had just had an accident. By the time I got up the 71 stairs or so blood was trickerling down my face. The staff let me sit in the control room where I noticed two large bags of video tapes that were to be collected by the police in their terrorism investigation. I then realised that it was probably not a good time to have an emergency.

I asked the train master to have a look and if it wasn’t too bad I would go back to my friends house and ask them to put some savalon on it or something. He said it looked pretty bad and phoned for an ambulance. Two came for some reason but I only got to have a ride in one of them. We headed to St Thomas’ hospital where I did a lot of waiting. The nurse had a look at it and said all it would need is stitching or maybe even glueing. Then another nurse came along and disagreed. This was the downfall because now they had to ask the doctors what they thought. The doctor said because it was a head wound I would have to see him. They were pretty stretched so after waiting for 3.5 hours I saw the doctor. He said it was a 2.5cm laceration that would require stapling. I was feeling fine and thought, ok a couple of staples and its all over. The nurse came to put the staples in and it was the worse pain I have ever felt. It was so painful in fact that the room started to go black. The nurse gave me a glass of water and I had to walk up and down the ER to make myself feel better. This was more painful than hitting my head in the first place!! To take the pain away I went back to this place in my mind, the best holiday sub-holiday I’ve ever been on. Beautiful waves, beautiful weather and great company -


Yamba, NSW. Easter 2005

The worse thing of all is that I have to have them taken out again on Wednesday, I really hope it will be less painful!!


Artist Impression of my Injury

When I feel up to it and am allowed to have a shower I will go back to Clapham North tube and take a few photos of the offending roof, especially to see if there’s any sharp sections of it. Any legal advice would be appreciated :) The worse thing about it is that if the terrorists hadn’t have put bombs in London I would have been at work rather than at Mark’s and would not have 5 metal staples in my head that when I touch make me feel like a damaged robot. The red streaks in my hair is a new style thought that I might go with. Annoyingly all I can do now is stay at home at look at ‘Stuff on Cats‘ and check the progress of the Infinite Cat Project, I had a full weekend of London plans as well and that rarely happens.

July 7th, 2005

Picture from Sky News

All other pictures in this post are my own using my mobile phone.

The morning of 7th July was no different from any other. I headed out of the door at my flat at approximately 08h20 for the 15 minute walk to work over Tower Bridge, down Minories, across Aldgate High Street and into the office (see route here). I stopped off at Starbucks on Minories for a coffee and a raisin French pastry thing (nothing new).

I arrived at the office at approximately 08h45 and sat down, drank some coffee and began enjoying the pastry I had bought. I checked my work inbox (zero emails as per usual) and began running through the ‘todo’ list that I created the day before. The office was pretty quiet at this time, people normally arrive around 09h00 or just after, today was a bit different because the London Underground had major disruptions to some of its services, namely the Northern Line (not terrorism related but also not unusual).

I was sitting in relative silence when the entire building started to shake for approximately 2 seconds. A girl behind me looked out of the window which faces Aldgate High Street, thinking maybe a truck had run into the foundations. I looked up at the roof because it sounded like someone on the 2nd floor had pushed over a filing cabinet or something very heavy had been dropped. I ignored it and went back to work.

Five minutes later and a fire engine arrives outside the building and parks up outside Aldgate Station. Our interest in the office begins to build, I started to hypothesize that maybe a train at Aldgate Station had derailed or had hit the train wall. Another fire engine arrives, then another and another until it reaches six. I took this photo at 09h18 from the window of my office looking down at the Aldgate station -


Looking down at Aldgate Station from my office at 09h14

A single ambulance arrives a few minutes later and a women runs towards it wearing plastic gloves looking a bit paniced. This raised my and the people around me concerns.

Minutes later the alarm rang in the building and we evacuated to the street. The general flow of people was flowing around to Aldgate Station. This did not appear to be a good idea because this is where the incident appeared to be happening. A few of us decided to walk against the flow. Aldgate station is an open air station sunk into the ground. I looked over the wall into the station from the road and two underground trains were stopped at the station and nothing else seemed to be happening which lowered my concerns.

We headed to a street called Houndsditch, away from the incident. Many people were saying it was a power surge that caused two trains to crash at Aldgate, which may have caused the shaking we felt in the office.

We arrived at a Starbucks on the corner of St. Mary Axe and Houndsditch and had a coffee. We connected to the Internet in Starbucks and all made a couple of phone calls with the limited connectivity we were getting to people who were unaccounted for as well as friends and family. We were all speculating what had happened, police, fire engines and ambulances were still firing down the streets all around us (we were located inbetween Liverpool Street and Aldgate).

My parents were at home and had BBC News 24 on and told me that a bomb had gone off on a bus and on the underground, it seemed pretty unbelievable at the time. Whilst I was on the phone an undercover Police/Government Agent came up to us, flashed her badge FBI style and told us to get out of the area. We walked South through the heart of the City of London, which was scarey but no other way around, Liverpool Street and Aldgate were both sealed off. All buses in zone one were closed down because of the threat they carried bombs, here they are all parked on Leadenhall Street -


Possible bomb threats

We headed through the back streets of London and tried to keep away from big buildings such as the Swiss Re tower which we had just had to walk past. Here are a couple of people in the street watching a television through a pub window -


What’s going on?

We headed into a JD Wheatherspoon pub on Bishopsgate where the television was showing BBC News 24, it was saying a bomb had possibly exploded on Houndsditch, the street we had just been on drinking coffees at Starbucks, we were very thankful to the undercover agent that told us to leave the area. It turns out nothing happened on Houndsditch.

We watched Tony Blair at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles give an announcement along with a lot of other people in the pub at 12h00 -


Blair: Terrorists won’t win

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told everyone in London to stay where they were, so we set up camp in the pub and had a few beers and some nachos. After a while we decided to head South of the River and out of the City of London. We looked out the door and saw this -


Police Dogs Search for Bombs in Bishopsgate

Finally the road cleared and I headed over London Bridge with a couple of buddies from work, along with a lot of other people heading out of the city to overline trains to get them home. I met up with Mark who gave me a spare front door key for my flat (I left the front door key in my bag which is in the office in Aldgate) and I headed home, which is where I am now six hours later and I can still hear sirens in the distance. I admire the British public for the calmness in the situation. The video shots from America in Washington DC recently when a light aircraft was heading towards the capitol showed people running aimlessly in all directions, I did not see anything like that today, just a lot of calm people. Terrorists won’t defeat us that’s for sure. See you at work tomorrow. More news here.

July 6th, 2005

London has the 2012 Olympics! Maybe we will get a pointless monorail that doesn’t actually go anywhere just like Sydney. I have to make a small complaint to the UK Olympic committee already though -

Please do not fly the ‘red arrows’ over the city of London at low altitude. I was walking back from the post office right next to the Swiss Re tower when myself and the other hundreds of people on the street froze in our tracks and looked up to the sky in horror as the sound of jet engines approached at low altitude. I imagine I was not the only one not thinking ‘oooooo I hope its the red arrows’ but rather ‘OH MY GOD TERRORIST ATTACK TAKE COVER TAKE COVER!!‘.

July 4th, 2005

I woke up at 07h30 in the morning, jumped into my jeans and t-shirt and bombed out of the door to go to the tube and pickup my hired Ford Fusion or similar motor. After getting off at the wrong tube (Kings Cross) although the sixt rental is called ‘Sixt Kings Cross’ it was actually a different tube stop. So after walking to Angel and still not finding the road I wanted I got into a cab which took me there (and cost about £5). When I got there the guy behind the counter asked for my ‘counterpart’ for my driving license. This is the green piece of paper that everyone loses when they get their photo driving license and is a big error for the UK transport department to make people not lose this flimsy piece of paper (they replaced the old licence with a photo card but expect you to carry this green piece of paper with you as well). The couple in front of me forgot their counterpart as well and she almost started crying because their home was not within a sensible distance of the rental place. So when I got to the desk and was asked for the counterpart I told him that it doesn’t ask for it in the ‘things to bring with you’ section of the sixt rental agreement print out. He circled the line that says ‘driving licence and notices’ or something similar. If it had said ‘driving license and counterpart’ maybe we all would have remembered it!! What was more annoying is that some guy with a Korean driving licence hired a car no problems, he didn’t have to bring any green pieces of paper with him! So I got back on the tube (the one right next to the sixt depot) and made my way across London (£2.30 return) to get my counterpart. By the time I got back to the sixt depot it was 10h30, 2 hours later than I wanted to leave. I could just picture Marcus down in Bournemouth rodeo clowning on some 4ft glassy sets off the pier and it was making me more and more frustrated with the car hire going all wrong.

So I got back to the depot and there was a girl in front of me, I was secretly hoping she had not brought her counterpart to make myself feel better, this was not the case. The guy behind the desk asked her how old she was “27″ she replied, he then asked me and I said “24″ and I gave a smug look to the girl as I was younger than her. He then asked the women what colour car she would like “blue or red”, she replied “ummmm…blue”. “OH GREAT I GET THE RED ONE” was the thought running through my mind, which looking back at it was silly because I couldn’t care less what colour the car was, the chemicals in my mind were just in anger mode at the time. He then asked how many people were travelling in the car, “4″ she said, “1 and a surf board” I said, “A SURFBOARD?” he replied and the girl laughed. “Yeah, I’m going surfing so something big enough to fit it in” I demanded. The girl got given the keys to her blue car and she went off smiling. I went to the desk and gave the guy my driving licence, counterpart, passport and two VISA cards, a little bit overkill but I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have to go home again. I was staring at the posters behind him, one was of a Mercedes E Class and the other a Mercedes C Class “Only £139 a Day!” the poster boasted (an absolute rip off in 98% of the populations mind). He then said “what sort of car will fit a surfboard in”, jokingly I said “one of those C Classes should do it” and he said “ok you can have it if you want” and I was like “for the same price” and he said sure. So I went from angry to ‘cool a Mercedes’ mode pretty quickly. The sixt guy said to enjoy the surf and I was like “yeah thanks cheers buddy” he went from evil counterpart demanding man to my best friend in the space of 2 hours.


Yes it ruled

So I got into my Brilliant Silver C180 Kompressor Limited Edition Merc and drove back to my flat to get the surf gear. I was then on the way to Bournemouth. I printed out a travel plan from Kings Cross to Bournemouth which was not the route I was going but I thought it would all work out. I just wanted to make sure I avoided Hyde Park as this was where Live 8 was happening. Anyway I got completely lost from my weird direction print out and ended up driving around Hyde Park corner. After spending about 1.5 hours in traffic jams in Knightsbridge and seeing police motorbike escorts for black landrovers (which probably contain Madonna, Paul McCartney and all the other heros of Live 8 in) I was on the open road to Bournemouth. I rocked up to Marcus’ house and dumped my stuff there and went to check out the surf to see how much swell was pumping through -


Triple Overhead (for mice)

So there was nothing going down in Bournemouth, after all the delays it wasn’t a big deal after all. In a park in Bournemouth they were playing Live 8 out on big screens so Marcus, Tracey, Nancy and myself headed down there and met up with a couple of Marcus’ buddies, here we are in the park having a great time watching Live 8 on the big TV screen courtesy of BBC Dorset. You could TXT messages to a number and they would appear on the screen, I sent “MARCUS, I LEFT THE CASH UNDER THE ICE CREAM VAN. GARY” but it never got showed on the screen :(


Friend A, Friend B, Nancy, Tracey, Marcus, Myself

Marcus was big-ing up the next days surfing trip to a secret spot a little West of Bournemouth that is a left hand reef break (a nice jagged rock bottom) that works with a bit of swell and no wind. I was excited but also a bit nervous, the predictions for swell at the weekend were great and I wasn’t looking forward to coming off a 3ft wave head first into cold water with a rock bottom. We had a lovely pizza express dinner and then headed back, watched a bit of Yield surf DVD and went to sleep. The next morning Marcus and myself headed off to the secret spot which was down all these little windy roads, I was wondering if I would need to know a secret handshake for when we got there (entry to the location it is at was £3 no secret handshake needed). When we got there it was F L A T -


Flat Reef Secret Spot

I love that we went to a ‘secret spot’ or a spot that is only talked about in hushed whispers, its like joining a special club of elite people. So I said goodbye to Marcus (visit his blog) and headed off on the 4 hour A road drive to Newquay.

The road that takes you to Newquay from the South coast is pretty terrible but has some fantastic scenery. You go around a corner and the ocean appears in front of you, its beautiful scenery in the South West. I eventually hit some dual carriageway and was seeing what my C180 Kompressor could do. When I came to some straights with a large field of vision and not many cars around, I checked the mirrors for the police and then double tapped the Kompressor turbo on the accelerator and hit a cool speed of 120mph 70mph. Brilliant, the fastest, nicest and newest car I’ll probably ever drive. When I arrived in Newquay I noticed a grinding sound coming from the left front wheel – oh great, bearings I thought, the wheel was falling off, which kind of worried me considering the ‘tests’ I was doing on the DC to Newquay. Even more worrying was that the car was a 2005 model and only had 5500miles on the clock. So after getting some weird looks as I drove around Newquay in a knackered brand new Merc I found the hotel and phoned the RAC -


Whoops broke it

After getting the car up on the jack it wasn’t bearings just part of the car’s underbody hanging off. No idea how it happened, but not what you’d expect from such a new car. Oh well, at least it was working and the RAC man turned up within 10 minutes of the phone call which was great. Now onto the surfing. This is Towan beach outside of the hotel and it was huge -


Gold Coast, Australia South West Coast, England

There were some real big sets coming in, some hitting 4ft and the surf report was talking about some 6fts at Fistral beach! The period was too short for me and didn’t fancy going out in that surf, so I met up with Fizzer (who is down in SW doing pharmacy stuff) and we headed to Hayle. It’s 10 miles up the coast from Newquay and by the time we got there it was around 18h00. That was ok because its not dark until 22h30 or so, it was just a bit colder. Hayle is a slightly protected beach (recommended by Marcus) and it didn’t have the messyness of the other beaches we drove past. Actually Hayle was just about perfect, perfect sets coming in at 3ft with nice periods between them and a nice break. Fitness in surfing is so important and after the paddle out I was already tired, I am glad I had the extra bit of training the weekend before as I don’t know if I’d even had made it out. After waiting around for a wave and trying to catch a few and failing (offshore winds and a gentle break were making it hard) I managed to launch into a beautiful wave. I checked the left and it would let me go, so I popped up and carved left the board was flying and was one of the first ‘proper’ waves it had been on, I went up the wave and then back down it again before it broke, it was absolutely beautiful. I reckon if I had bottom turned a little harder I could have boosted off the top. All the girls watching from the beach (not sure if there were any) would have loved that for sure!! I was claiming it to Faisel “DID YOU SEE THAT FIZZER????” and he was like “No, sorry” ALWAYS the way. After two hours in the water and a deteriorating body strength and cold setting in (couldn’t hold my fingers together after a while) we got out, it was a good little afternoon surf and made the trip completely worthwhile!!! I went back to the hotel and after having fish and chips I fell asleep. The next day I woke up and went outside to check the surf -


Learner City

There was a lot of people heading out and the waves didn’t look that good so I headed up the coast. Watergate Bay looked beautiful, but the waves were breaking all over the place and there was no quality to be had -


Watergate Bay with Headland Hotel, Fistral in the Distance

So I went back to Learner City and had a little bit of fun, but was still thinking about the perfect waves we had the day before and if it wasn’t for the on set of hypothermia and exhaustion I would have stayed their longer and got some more quality waves. So I drove back to London at 14h00 and found out the London Congestion Charge has increased from £5 to £8. So I will have to pay that for driving the car (that is now full of sand) back to the depot tomorrow morning, as well as having to buy a underground ticket to get to work, £10 before the day has even started.

A nice little weekend but TOO EXPENSIVE!!! It appears that you can’t even park your car in a field in a middle of nowhere at a secret surf location without paying at least £3!!