Tuesday, 22 June 2010

My Love Lee

One of my favourite sounds in the world is to hear Lee laugh. It cheers me through. Whether he's breaking out the Goofy "Hyuk"s, or he's pounding out some loud "Ha Ha"s, or he's projecting staccato "Heh heh heh", or when he's overcome with mirth to the point of high-pitched giggling. It warms my heart. (I have been hearing plenty of it since Aussies Daz and Allira came to visit.)

It is easy to forget and take things for granted about your partner. Recently, I have been reminded that my husband is incredibly intelligent. You may be excused for believing I am a slow learner.
- When I first arrived in London, Lee demonstrated his comprehension, summing up all the raised points from a 30min meeting with no notes. This I admire.
- While I was in Boston, Lee attended a Microsoft coding workshop. The Friday was to learn the technique, and Saturday to implement it in teams with ideas pitched on the day. Lee and his team created the winning site. I am very proud of him.
- Lee has been passionately promoting opposition for the Rudd government's proposed web filtering, and now on-line tracking. After reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (download here free), I'm on that passionate train too, as well as becoming a Cory Doctorow fan (someone Lee has been recommending for a while).
- Lee believes in efficiency. Daz and Lee rediscovered a shared motto Thursday night, "Code re-use and optimal lane choice". For those confused: why recreate the wheel (code) when someone else has already done it and when driving, use all your faculties to choose
the best lane to get there first. Lee is very passionate about developing automated cars, so that the optimum number of cars can get through lights without being limited by human reaction times.
- Lee reads constantly. My inbox is filled with a steady stream of interesting and thought-provoking articles that have passed the Lee Filter. I struggle to keep up with him, but am taking up the challenge to read, digest, think, argue and think some more. To really engage
with the world around me. Growing up, Dad used to start stories with, "I heard an interesting thing on the radio the other day..". I may have married a version of my father as Lee's stories start with "I read an interesting thing on the Internet..".

Research suggests (as pointed out in an article forwarded by Lee) that people are often happiest and stay in long term relationships with people that are similar to themselves, have the same core values, extroversion and sense of humour. People in long term relationships start to resmble one another, after years of mimicking facial expressions. I hope that Lee doesn't pick up my confused/concentrating frown, but I'll be happy to pick up his laugh.

Airport staff

I feel sorry for airport staff. So often they must be asked the most basic of questions fifty times a day.

"Where is gate 12?"
"Follow that gigantic sign over there that indicates all gates between 1 and 20."
"Is this the way to gate 12?"
"Yes. Keep following those big signs."
"Is this gate 12?"
"Yes. Do I need it stamped on my forehead?"

On my return flight from Boston, I checked on to my international flight myself. Both my passport and my luggage was confirmed/tagged by a floating staff member. This approach was much faster and staff efficient compared to the current Australian setup for domestic flights. Perhaps it is just a matter of time.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Iceni and Boston

Quite out of the blue and a welcome surprise was an invitation to join the London-based team, Iceni, for worlds in Prague and a tournament in Boston the following weekend. After my initial surprise I jumped at the chance to join a local team heading to worlds. We pulled out the
stops and although we won't have the TV we wanted for a while, I went to Boston for 4 days.
This was an amazing experience and my first US tournament with UPA rules.

I found Boston very clean, open and safe. I spent most of Friday wandering along the Freedom Trail, a tourist route of historic sites, and nowhere along the line did I feel at risk, even when I left the trail. It may be the city, it may be just where I went, but my impression is that Americans (or at least Bostonians) are very patriotic. Everywhere there are American flags and one guy, after asking where I was from said, "We showed those Brits". Admittedly, he was one of the costumed tour guides along the Freedom Trail and the comment was probably in character.

Photos of Freedom Trail coming soon.

On top of that, the Americans I came across were also very friendly and courteous. I chatted to one couple at the airport gate, as well as a 16 year old heading to be a leader at a summer camp. On the plane I sat next to a friendly Bostonian who liked to be out on the water - a keen fisherman who had just been on a European cruise. He described how the GFC had resulted in a massive reduction in his work as a painter/ wallpaperer and meant he had to sell his house. There were also moments I witnessed such as, a guy scanned a train ticket for an elderly woman. It was just nice and people were comfortable talking to strangers.

The tournament was on Saturday and Sunday. Iceni did not win a game. However, our purpose was to gel as a team and practise our plays against multiple, tough oppostion in preparation for worlds, which we achieved.
My personal perspective for the team is:
- we need to work to set our own intensity and standard of play independent of the opposition
- we are struggling to find the balance between structure and organic play
- the idea of each player taking responsibility on the field is used, but I'm not sure that people understand what that means
- our initiation of pull play can and should be much faster and could use the opportunity to make ground
Although I was disappointed with how I personally finished the tournament, with unforced throwing errors, I believe I played well overall. I'm really excited to be joining a really fun group of players and look forward to getting to know them more both on and off the pitch.

Observations and Commentary

Rush Rush
I have commented previously about the prevalence of "sorry" comments. The balance of f
rustrations and impatience do seem to manifest in public arenas, where it is semi-anonymous. Do not expect a Londoner to wait half a second at the supermarket to let you through. The same goes on the roads: for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. One is more important at that time than any other One.

Bike helmets
It is quite weird that there is no compulsory helmets for bike riders here - so i think 50% of Londoners don't wear one. Lee has noticed that probably 80% of commuters do wear one (which is good, especially in this traffic) and ride faster than Melbournians so he's picked up his pace to work.

We've noticed that it is not just an accent with words, but also inflections and emphasis in whole sentences that is different to Australia. To take questions as an example. Where I would ask, "Did you go to the beach?" with rising pitch, a local will start with high pitch and end on low pitch. Another example is, "Did you find what you were looking for?" Here the high pitch lasts to "look". I am used to the reverse, with the start of the sentence being "Didjya". Lee and I feel like we are picking up the speech already.
I am definitely pronouncing my T's, otherwise I'd go thirsty - they don't know what "war-dar" means. Coming across Aussies is a bit weird to hear them talk already.

The water is dehydrating. I don't know how it manages to do it, but everytime I wash, I need moisturiser. Perhaps it has something to do with the calcium build up we're seeing on all the taps, sink and shower. When I first arrived, I noticed that it felt slimy in my mouth, but I don't notice that now.

There is so much pre-prepared food in the supermarket. Less so, now that we're living further out of town, but pre-prepared meals and sandwiches make up a large section of the fridge aisles.
There is also a large selection of curries, but a relatively limited section for noodles, stir-fry sauce and other Asian dishes. I guess it's a reflection of proximity and population immigration?
(Don't bother buying sushi here, it's expensive and poor quality.)

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A bunch at once

Please excuse our limited posting for the last little while. We moved into our new place in Clapham on the 1st, and have not have internet access at home all that time, despite our best efforts with a telecommunications company here. Although the post office can deliver the equipment, it seems the company can not find where we live and cancel the order to connect us - despite being the same company supplying the previous tenant.

To follow, will be a mish-mash of posts that I have written on my phone over the last few weeks - so not necessarily in order.

Much like when I first arrived in Melbourne I am intrigued with every suburb that I first knew existed through football. There it was Carlton, Fitzroy, St Kilda, Collingwood. Here it is Arsenal, ... and that's the only team I recognise on the Tube map, but I am sure to be enlightened by other people (including Lee) soon.

After visiting the London museum today, I wonder whether archaeology in 500 years time will be Internet recovery. Whether they will pick up a feel for our daily lives through
- Our blogs, leading to a misrepresentation of the number of people who travel
- Facebook statuses, which are fast becoming advertisements to the cause of the day
- Ads that are featured, giving the impression that everyone has too much stomach fat and wants to work from home
- Browser histories

At this stage of technological revolution, will it be a complete misrepresentation as there are fewer elder people who are literate with social networking and not all people blog? In time, will abbreviations like ppl and lol be new words/spellings?

I was one of those people who didn't see the value of spending my time blogging. I have since been surprised by the people reading this - although their ongoing readership is not guaranteed. I believe the most interesting parts to read would be social commentary. While I do promise that will continue, you will know when our integration is complete when that stops. What we see developing for this blog is more of a diary of events and places we go...

With that said, I am going to show you some more of where I have been, what I have seen and what interests me there.

End of May..

Today I visited both the Fashion and Textile museum and the London Museum.

Fashion and Textile Museum
The Fashion and Textile museum were featuring an exhibit called 'Very Sanderson, 150 Years of English Decoration'. It was clear that it was put together by an arts-type person rather than a science-type person as events were not exactly recorded chronologically. Once I grew accustomed to the style, I found it really interesting.

Sanderson is a design and print company which brings quality designs and print to the everyday person as well as commissioned works for the elite. They are well known for their floral-print wallpaper which became the epitomy of English countryside.

The company was first started by Arthur Sanderson who took advantage of (lack of) tax laws to import French wallpapers. He grew the business to be known as the biggest importer of foreign goods, before opening his own factory to produce wallpaper block printed by hand. In time, 3 sons came on board and double the firm's trade from 1882 to 1890. The Sanderson brand still exists today and its continued success can be attributed to:
- innovation in production efficiency (roller printers) and quality (up to 20 colours),
- continuing to acquire competitors (increasing both their production and the number of blocks/designs in their catalogue)
- making quality products available to the masses in range of designs - a commercially sensible pitch
- having a showroom and matching groups of 3 designs together to help designers and the Average Joe style their home.
- printing designs on wallpaper and fabric and offering paint too - so the entire home can match. Some of the ads and style guides available from the 70s where the same giant floral is on walls, curtains, chairs and cushions - it's just a bit much!

While browsing through the museum, I was reminded again of Libby's designs - her version of crochus for example (unfortunately, no photos allowed, so I can't compare here). It's all just so clever - and how then the designs are separated into colour components and printed separately onto the material. It's interesting too how our tastes have both changed and stayed the same. Sanderson offers reprints of old designs in contemporary colours and it's new again! The only problem with this is that if no new designs are required, then excellent designers like Libby find it really hard to find work.

British museum
I went at the end of May and this will be a story told in pictures, once we have internet access at home - so I can upload photos. Primarily, I went to see the Egyption mummies and other plunder, which I saw, but once again I was drawn to the earliest records and writing from Mesopotamia.

I have since visited the London Museum, and for those who plan to visit I have the following advice:

If you want genuine artefacts, go to the British Museum. If you want a feel for what living in London was like from 4000BC, go to the London Museum. At first I felt like the London Museum was the poor little brother of the British Museum, as everywhere there were reproductions of artefacts rather than the real thing. As I progressed further in, I found that more and more I was getting an understanding of daily life - something that is often hard to replicate in a museum and often hard to prove/gauge as an archaeologist.

Photos to be posted soon.


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Information for Visitors


I thought I would post this here so I wasn't sending the same email to everyone who is coming to visit.

Our Address: Flat 2, Crescent Court, Park Hill, London, SW4 8HR (Map)
Information for people not used to UK addressing: Crescent Court is the name of the building not the street. The street you enter our place off is Rodenhurst Road and its on the corner of Park Hill and Rodenhurst Rd

Travel in London
I have been here for a while now and have used the public transport system almost entirely to get around. The first thing to get to make travel on the tube and buses easy is to get an Oyster card (http://www.visitlondon.com/travel/oyster/), you will be able to buy this at the airport, and it seems that you might be able to buy it online before you arrive.

On the tube you need to touch on and off and the fare is calculated based on where you have travelled. On the bus it is a flat 1.20 fare. There is also a National Rail, which goes all round England, but it also has to be used to get to some areas of London, the Oyster card works the same as on the tube on the National Rail.

Travel to our place from Heathrow

The closest tube station is Clapham Common and the bus that will get you the closest is the 137.

There are a bunch of different ways to get to my place from the airport. The easiest and cheapest way is to take the tube, here are the steps.

Tube Only

Heathrow - Take the Picadilly Line towards Cockfosters, change at Green Park
Green Park - Take the Victoria Line towards Brixton, change at Stockwell
Stockwell - Take the Northern Line towards Mordon, get off at Clapham Common

Walk from Clapham common to our place (Clapham Common to Our place Map) Bout 15 mins

National Rail, Tube and Bus

Heathrow - Take the National Rail Heathrow Express towards Paddington
Paddington - Walk from the Paddington National Rail Station to the Paddington Tube Station, take the Circle Line towards High Street Kensington, get off at Sloane Square
Sloane Square - Take the Bus 137 from stop C, get off at Clarence Avenue/Kins Avenue Stop

Walk from the bus stop to our place (Bus Stop to our Place Map) bout 3 minutes

Tube and Bus

Heathrow - Take the Picadilly Line towards Cockfosters, get off at Knightsbridge Station
Knightsbridge - Take the Bus 137 from stop KK, get off at Clarence Avenue/Kins Avenue Stop


Take a taxi to our place

That is all I am going to post for now, put in the comments any other information you want us to provide.


Thursday, 3 June 2010

We have a place to live

We just moved into our sweet new pad in Clapham

View Larger Map

Its close to the tube (0.6 miles: 1km), training (0.7 miles: 1.2km), league (0.7 miles) and work (a nice 5.5 mile ride: 8.8km)

Some pics of the place below.

Our House in London

We got a 2 bedroom place because we know that lots of you will be coming to visit, make sure you get your dates in early to reserve a bed.

Ill put up some info on how to get here from the airport soon.