Life in London

Life in London for a not-quite-middle-aged gay Australian guy. Oh, the glamour of it all!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


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The excitement is all too much for me

Tony checks out - in the end he was devisive, but I think life in Britain is so much better than it was 10 years ago. Blair has cemented the politics of this country to the centre left, so hurrah for that. People here now believe in spending money on public sevices, equality and fairness is entrenched and even the Tories now realise they'll never get elected again by following right-wing policies. So I'm thankful at least for that.

And if it's June, then it must be time for Britain to go Tim crazy. Wimpleton won't be the same without him.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A weekend on the tiles

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's All About the Water 3

Part of last night was spent on a boat.
More on that next week - tonight we're off to Paris on Eurostar for an official Summer of Food tm reg event. Hopefully no water will be seen.

See you next week!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


So London is the second most expensive city on the planet after Moscow?

No way! Not with a one-way tube-ride costing a mere £4?

Next they'll be telling us the Earth revolves around the Sun.

After something free?

Try the free films at the Pool of London - take picnic (and some booze!) and watch a film - it's a great night out. (It could even be made a 'Summer of Food (tm reg)' official event. We've been the last couple of years (last year to see 'Caberet'). Red Ken is putting on some excellent films, like 'Volver', 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' . What's not to like about those?

See, I've saved you money already.......

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturdays mornings are for Breakfast

First get your brioche, eggs, strawberries and creme fraiche.

Beat the eggs and add some milk.

Cut the brioche, dip it in the mixture and fry it in some butter.

Add strawberries, some creme fraiche and some maple syrup. EAT.

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Friday, June 15, 2007


Whatever next??? Pretty in Pink the musical?

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lunchtime yesterday

I thought I was at the top end of Collins St.

Imagine my surprise when people spoke French to me!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

For Tomas



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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beautifully Provincial.

I am currently in Strasbourg for work. Again. I really like Strasbourg. Work not so much. This time I had to fly into Frankfurt. I don’t have much to say about Frankfurt. The plane was half empty on the way over, which perhaps is an indication of why I don’t have much to say about Frankfurt.

Instead of getting the plane back and spending all that time waiting around in airports, I've decided to get the train back. Carbon footprint and all that. I’m catching the TGV from Strasbourg to Paris, not just any TGV, but the fastest train on the planet (cue argument about which train is fastest). I am excited. I think that officially makes me a nerd. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make me a train spotter unless I write down the number of the train. I am also going business on Eurostar (cheaper to London than the airfare), so my boss is sortof happy too.

This is the first time I’ve been here in the summer and it’s very beautiful – lots of forests, and motorways. The motorways aren’t beautiful, but they are through the forest and the forests certainly are. I saw a deer gambolling through the fields on the way from Frankfurt to Strasbourg, too. I was hoping to eat venison for dinner, but had to make do with a healthy salad of foie gras, smoked cured duck, and ham.

I saw one of those brown tourist route signs for the Maginot Line on the way here. I wasn’t sure if it was part of a larger tourist route for great defence failures of the past 100 years or not, but I suppose it’s certainly one way of taking a negative and turning it into a positive.

Saturday I had to rise at the ungodly hour or 4:50am (that was 3:50 by my poor UK body clock) and be at work by 6:00am. I was back in Strasbourg by 15:00, but absolutely knackered. I even had a nap to compensate. I went out to have a good look around and do some shopping, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Today was a lot better, but the whole conversion process was running late, so our project lunch was cancelled. The upside of that wasn’t all that bad, was I didn’t have to spend an afternoon with techies with no personality. It's about as appealling as having your teeth pulled without anesthetic.

Last night I got to eat with a colleague form our client company. He’s quite good fun, but I feel I have to be a bit guarded around him, so it wasn’t a lot of fun for me. And we hadn’t booked anywhere, so we had to settle for an ok restaurant, which just about killed me. My steak was fine, but the frites and vegetables weren’t great. Sigh. And there is great food here, it seemed like such a missed opportunity.

Anyway, today I got to lie in the sun, which was pleasant. I had a conversation in pidgin French with the nice baguette lady at lunchtime (‘Tu American?’ ‘Je suis Australien’ ‘ D’accord. Much better’ – ouch!), it turned out she was from the town where our factory is, so she was on for a chat. Somehow she spotted my weak spot and got me to buy an éclair as well, but I wouldn’t buy a Tarte au fruit rouge.

I was turned away from the Cathedral today too, as they were ordaining priests, and I think they thought the boys might reconsider their vows or something if I went in. (Actually they had bouncers and no-one who wasn’t wearing a suit wasn’t getting in).

I called into what I thought was the new Gare (railway station) for the TGV. In fact it’s just a new façade for the old staion, but underneath the station has been redone as well. It’s quite beautiful and a lovely piece of contemporary architecture.

Of course Strasbourg is all about Europe as well, and I was glad to see there was some room left for expansion here, all that's required is to remove the European flags, and add the new members.

Strasbourg is all very nice, but I have been a bit bored. Friday night at the restaurant I ate at, the guy on the next table was Australian. He was phoning a friend and telling them he had had enough of Strasbourg. I though he was crazy, but after 3 day here, I feel a bit the same, it’s very beautiful, but it’s quite small and provincial, nothing seems to be going on. Maybe I just expect too much?

The Cathedral is amazing though. It absolutely dominates the city and you can see why medieveal peasants would have been astounded by it. I think sometimes we've lost the ability to be astounded.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

For Mia - A Pink Merry-go-round!!!!


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It still remains with me

Bad blogger. I think - not much of note happened last week - or did it? It all seems to be work at the moment. I'm trying hard to figure out who's on the side of the forces of good in the new office and trying to keep everyone one side. I'm not entirely sure how if it's working at all, but I seem to be keeping my new boss happy, and he's the one who hands out pay rises, so here's hoping.

Last week seemed to be full of emails exhanging photos from Iz's birthday weekend. Mine are here. It was a lovely weekend, full of good food, lots of beer and wine, and nice people. Sperlonga was an excellent choice. The old town is closed to traffic, and the hotel was right in the centre of it all. Paul and I hadn't seen Harold and Sophie and Jean for ages, so we had a good catch up and we finally got to see Steve's house in Gaeta. I seemed to spend a large proportion of the weekend playing beach tennis with H and Sophie's boys, which was good fun. They are really nice kids, no tantrums or whining at all.

Iz and I went shopping in the Rome's Centro Storico Monday morning , ostensibly to find me a birthday present from the Romans. I had decided on a man-bag, so we spent the morning checking out stores around the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti. We didn't have much luck though, as I wasn't able to find the bag I wanted. I was a bit worried that Iz might have thought I was the world's fussiest shopper, but she probably knew that already. And it was nice to have her all to myself for the morning.

A few observations about Rome (or things I'd forgotten since living there):

  • Unfeasibly attractive shop assistants!! But I still didn't buy anything.

  • They've cleaned the turtle fountain - it used to be so grotty and grey!!

  • If we ever go back to live, I'd stack on the weight again - the food is just too good.

  • I'd forgotten that heat and how nice it is to be able to go to the beach.

  • It's just so beautiful

The rest of the week was spent freezing in the cold snap - my winter coat even made a reappearance. Mitch and Susie arrived back from Scotland and Amsterdam on Saturday. Paul and I went shopping and managed to find a manbag that met all criteria in Selfridges. We then caught up with Damien and Mark to see Jindabyne. I love Laura Linney. And she and Gabriel Byrne were outstanding. And the movie was very good (as you asked, 8.8/10). But it made me (and Damien) homesick. The birdsong. The bush. The laconic humour. It was very haunting and beautiful.

While we were watching that Mitch and Susie were watching 'The Lady from Dubuque', with Dame Maggie Smith (insert comment about national treasure/living legend here). Paul and I had seen it couple of months ago. I found it difficult to engage with, but Maggie Smith was excellent. Mitch and Susie really enjoyed it and then met us afterwards for a drink at The Edge. Which now has gogo boys on a Saturday night. How embarassment. We also saw our first fight (well - a bit of agressiveness and pushing, that's a fight for gay men) in a gay bar ever. Imagine.

Sunday I pumped up the bike tyres (Paul had to go to the shop to do his) and we cycled over to the ponds at Highgate for swim. It was lovely lying in the sun, but I believe it gave me a mild dose of hayfever. And I still hate swimming in that brackish water. I always think I'm going to get some weird stomach bug and die from internal bleeding.

Monday night Michael and Susie took us around the corner for dinner. It was so much fun seeing them again. Michael is such a nice guy.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Saturday mornings are for coffee

With my new Gaggia coffee machine, my funky new coffee holder (courtesy of Louise and Jo for my birthday) adn my new coffe cups (from Stuie). Three of these and I'm able to face the world.

Look at that crema, I love my new machine.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Never Stand Between Me and Chocolate

This morning I got up at the ungodly hour 6:00 to make my world famous nice chocolate brownie cakes. I only had Radio 4's Today show and our new red toaster (you can see it in the background) for company.

First I had to beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. I did it until I could smell smoke coming from the beater. I don't think it was designed to handle industrial quantities.

Then I had to add the flour, eggs and cocoa.

And mix all that in.

Throw the mixture into cake moulds and then in the muffinesque tray.

And 12 minutes later you have gooey chocolate muffin cakey things that you sell for charity at work. Easy!!

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