I guess I should continue the no-doubt-fascinating story of my life, starting back at the beginning of September where I left off. I got back from Spain on Sunday 4th September, and straight back into work as usual. The following weekend was the Thames Festival, which happens each year along the Southbank, with four zones of music, dancing, stalls, performances and all sorts of things from noon until midnight or so on both Saturday and Sunday. I went for some of the Saturday, which was enjoyable. Swing Patrol was running various things on an outdoor dancefloor with various DJs and bands, including some performances which were interesting to watch, and free beginners’ lessons for the public. I also managed to get a little bit of dancing in which was nice. And there was plenty of other things going on, making it a particularly good afternoon to just wander along the Southbank. That Saturday evening my flatmate Donna had her 40th birthday party in a bar near our flat, with an open mic night. She has quite a few talented friends who sang or played various songs, plus poetry readings which were not so much my thing.
I had a pizza and pancake party on the 18th, which was fun despite not that many people coming. We made all sorts of interesting flavoured pizzas, including a dessert pizza with custard and many different sorts of fruit, and so in the end everyone was too full for pancakes. Well, maybe next time?
|From Pizza & pancake party|
My birthday was rather uneventful, as I could not find any friends to hang out with in the end. This was partly my fault due to not planning anything very far in advance, as people are always busy and booked up here. My flatmates made me breakfast and gave me a card and some gifts though, which was unexpected and pleasant. And I went out by myself in the evening rather than staying at home by myself, which I guess is an improvement.
I went to Paris for the first weekend of October, which was enjoyable. My friend Matthew was going over that weekend to stay with his parents, and had invited me to join him, so we took the Eurostar over after work on the Friday night. I stayed for two nights as I had to get back for work on Monday, while he stayed a bit longer. Unfortunately he had an overdue report for his PhD which he ended up having to work on all weekend so I was mostly on my own exploring the city, but it was still fun to see a bit more of Paris, and to meet his parents and various siblings, who were all cool. The weather was perfect too, clear and sunny the whole time. It happened that the Saturday night I was there was the annual ‘Nuit Blanche’ (White Night), an all-night arts festival with various installations and performances running from 7:00 pm until 7:00 am on Sunday. Neither of us had the energy to stay up that late, and there were massive queues for many things, but we saw a few things after dinner until around midnight.
|Paris, take 2: The Petit Palais|
The following weekend (well, Friday 7th October) I flew over to Sweden for a week travelling around. I spent the first few nights in Uppsala staying with a kiwi friend of mine (Charlotte) who is over there on exchange at Uppsala University, and meeting a bunch of other international students there. Although I saw lots of interesting things around the place during the week, I think the evenings in Uppsala hanging out with a bunch of cool people from all over the world were my favourite. And I got to bake for them, which I do not get to do nearly enough of! I made the ever-popular chocolate fudge pudding, a giant muffin-cake for lack of muffin trays, and pancakes another night. One night we made pizza together, which is always fun and tasty. I am getting the impression that pizza is the Polish national dish, at least several of my Polish friends like making it. Around the dinner table we had a couple of Germans, a couple of Americans, a couple of Polish people, the two of us Kiwis, and later a Chinese girl. All good fun sorts.
|Uppsala: International pizza eaters|
While in staying in Uppsala I spent a couple of days down in Stockholm looking around, and went again to the Vasa museum where about 20 years previously (so my parents tell me) I set off an alarm by opening a door I was not supposed to. Oops. I managed to avoid that this time, I guess I have learnt something in the past 20 years. There were plenty of other things to see too, but my photos tell that story better than writing it all down so check them out if you have not already. Though unfortunately the batteries in my camera were flat for my first day in Stockholm so I did not get many photos then.
|Stockholm: The Vasa in its eponymous museum|
We then flew to Oslo, Norway, where we stayed a night in a big flat with a bunch of Christian students at one of the universities there, whom Charlotte had a contact with from the IFES conference she went to earlier in the year. That was cool; it happened that the night we were there they were having a dinner and games night with a bunch of the students living there and the adjacent houses, so we got to join in for that, and even sing some hymns in Norwegian which was cool. We also managed to see some of the main sights of the city, including the opera house (the roof of which slopes up from ground level, so you can walk up to the top and admire the view, and the famous sculpture park).
|Oslo: Sculptures in the park|
After that we took the bus down to Ljungskile to stay a night with an old family friend, a woman named Lena who stayed with my parents in NZ when I was about 8 or so I guess. It was interesting to catch up a little, before we headed on to Göteborg in the morning to continue the touristing. The highlight of Göteborg for me was the Maritiman, a maritime museum consisting of a collection of various military and civilian boats, barges and a submarine moored together in the harbour (19 in all plus a crane), most of which you are able to wander all through. The submarine was very cool, though also very cramped. Living in a submarine for any length of time must be rather uncomfortable. There was also a destroyer, which was enormous and mazelike with 8 different levels in total.
|Göteborg: Bunks and torpedoes in the submarine at the Maritiman|
After a night in Göteborg it was on to Lund to stay with another friend of Charlotte’s for a couple of nights, during which we explored Lund, Malmö and very briefly a bit of Copenhagen. They were all interesting, but now it is late and I cannot be bothered saying any more than I already have with the photos, so ask me if you want to know more.
|Planking in Malmö|
I flew back to London on the evening of Sunday 16th, ready for work on Monday. Since then I have not left the city again, and am not looking likely to until Christmas at the earliest. Though I do not have any firm plans for Christmas yet. One of the American guys I met in Uppsala is coming to stay for a week just before Christmas, which should be cool.
I have been sick with what I assume is the flu, which has been a pain. I took a day off work last week because of it, would have taken longer but could not because there is too much to do and I had already been working late. I spent much of last weekend in bed but am mostly better now, just a bit of a cough and stuffy nose remaining. Unfortunately I missed the Lord Mayor’s Show last weekend on account of being sick, but this weekend was great, the best in a while. The London Jazz Festival was on this past week, finishing today (Sunday), and I got to a couple of the free concerts at the Southbank Centre yesterday afternoon, and another this afternoon. Then there was church this evening, dancing on Friday and Saturday nights, various chores, all in all a full and fun weekend. So life is good at the moment despite work being a bit crazy busy just now! And I get to cook for people on Tuesday night next week, which I have not done for ages, so that should be good.