Tuesday, July 13, 2010

To Manchester / Dublin

So, some adventures so far, if i can figure this keyboard out.

James, my room mate dropped me at the airport on Saturday with plenty of time to spare before my 725pm flight. I got through security with no problems and got to the gate to ask how it looked for me getting on. The gate agent informed me I was 6th on the list for Standby and there were two seats on the plane. Waited around nervously until the flight boarded and apparently some people didn't show up because I got on.

The flight was uneventful, I was in coach, and they had no movies. I tried to sleep most of the time, probably got an hour. Midway through the flight there was some commotion among the flight attendants and they called over the intercom asking for a Doctor, Nurse or EMT... apparently some guy had passed out. We landed extremely early in Manchester, and had to bring on the EMT to get the guy off. Also they didn't have a gate ready so they brought a ramp and we deboarded onto a bus that took us to the terminal.

I got through customs no problem, jumped on a train to Manchester Picadilly and then proceeded to walk around town for a while, hoping to find a church to go to since it was Sunday morning. I almost immediately ran into some guys doing street evangelism and talking to people about Jesus. I asked them if they knew of any good churches, and they suggested a couple, but we ended up hanging out for a while and I went to a Methodist church with them. It wasn't brilliant but I felt somewhat encouraged. Tony and Rob were the two guys and were clearly pretty evangelical and perhaps slightly pentacostal, but were nice and we had some good discussions.

After church I went back up to the train station to meet Billy who I hadn't been in contact with but who I had arranged to meet at the train station after he arrived. I was afraid I had not emphasized enough that we were to meet at Manchester Picadilly, but I couldn't get in touch with him because my American phone is CDMA and doesnt work in England, and my English phone had no charge. However, after a couple of hours of waiting, we bumped into each other.

Then we proceeded to find a hostel to stay at, ended up going to the Hilton Chambers. Then we figured out our phone situation by putting some more money on my Virgin Sim which I was surprised still worked, and then Jason Perrin, the coach of the Wales team and one of the organizers of Gin and Juice, the team we're playing for picked us up and we went to a barbeque with the wales team at the club they practice at. The food and company were good. I like the way the English set up club sports, having a club house and lots of different sports there, along with all the developmental teams.

After that one of the guys who is playing for Gin and Juice took us home and we found a pub to watch the game at. We were both insanely tired so we stayed for a half and then headed back to the hostel where we watched the second half. I fell asleep a couple of times but watched overtime and Spain win it all. Then I went to bed and was woken up a number of times by having to urinate badly and also the guy next to us snoring loudly. Also it was loud outside.

The next morning we got up at 5 or so to try to catch our plane. We got all our luggage and walked to the train station expecting to be able to use the left luggage lockers to store our luggage, but were dismayed to find it not open! So we decided to walk back and see if the hostel would let us store the luggage for a few days, which the guy there was kind enough to allow. At this time though we were running low on time, so headed back to the station and found the quickest train to the airport... which left at 645. Our board time was 725, and the plane was supposed to leave at 755... once getting there we ran to the terminal, and had major faff getting through security since first Bill had to get his international passport checked, then he had to put his liquids in a bag. Also, his ipad and bag both had to be put through the scanner twice. We didn't get through security until at least 740, at which point we pretty much sprinted to the gate. Thankfully the plane was massively delayed and so no one had boarded at all, which was a massive relief. I realised though that running there I had dropped my boarding pass and so would be forced to board last? So I walked back through the terminal and managed to find it, sitting on the ground. Anyway we got on the plane and made it to Dublin.

Upon arriving we took a 6 euro bus into town, found our hostel, showered, etc, and made our way out and about. The theme was that we were unable to do more than one thing at a time away from the hostel because we kept losing/forgetting the map and having to go back. More later.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Been in England a little over a month now! There really isn't a terribly huge amount to report, to all my faithful (or not) readers.

The primary concern is that I still do not have a job. That is both good and bad. Mostly bad, although it could be good, if I looked at it that way, and actually used that. See, it's bad obviously because I have no money, and most of my time is spent looking for jobs, or fretting over the fact that I don't have one. Although if I'd allow it to be, it would be good, because I don't have anything to do, and I'm in LONDON and one doesn't really have to spent money to have fun here (there are lots of free museums, most of which I still have not seen). As far a job leads, I have one fairly definite lead. I am going for a trial this Sunday at a little restaurant around the corner in Exmouth market called The Ambassador. The guy didn't sound to excited that I am only here until December 9th, but he said he'd give me a shot, which is more than anyone else has done. Any waitering tips (advice, or actual money) would be greatly appreciated at this point.

So what HAVE I been doing you ask? Well, I went to St. Ives in Cornwall for a week, which I have not yet fully reported on. That was a good experience over all, being somewhat cold and rainy, but with spots of sun peeking through every so often. It actually was out enough to burn my nose! I went surfing in a wet suit! I also had a near death experience. There are these flags that one is supposed to stay between while surfing, which is understandable because this beach is basically a beach between two cliffs and a large number of jagged rocks. So the flags keep you away from the rocks. And the lifeguards are pretty good at whistling at you if you get out of the flag area, but not so good at the actual saving part if you're about to be dashed against rocks, as I unfortunately found out. Anyway, so the surf carries you to one side of the beach, which I was aware of, but unfortunately by the time that I thought it would be appropriate to correct for the surf it was way to late. I was pummelled by wave after wave of raging sea and found myself pecariously close to a huge sharp rock. At this point I had been so innundated by huge waves that my feet were all tangled in the surf board cord, and I was fighting to keep my head above water long enough to take a breath, all the while trying frantically to paddle away from the rocks. Eventually, I just let the surf carry me to the other side of the rocks and found a little spot to swim to shore. The lifeguards were apparently totally oblivious to the fact that I was about to die. But I don't really blame them. Anyway, I took a short break of about 2 minutes, and then jumped back in the water for more! I managed to stay in the flagged region after that, and actually stood up a couple of times!

Other activites in St. Ives included, but were definitely not limited to: eating lots of cornish pasties, cornish fudge, fish and chips, a good amount of drinking (or maybe too much...); an utterly pointless farce of a boat ride, some swimming in the freezing sea (as little of that as possible), lots of reading a book called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, which I highly recommend, lots of walking, some by myself, some with the Hollands. As far as other people staying there: we had two houses next to each other. In our house, we had: Catherine, Jonathan, Jonathan's friends Rhiannon, Lizzie, Will, Ben, and some of the time Ed and some others, along with Jerry, Lizzie's mum. In the other house, the Hollands stayed: Peter, Margaret, Martin, and some of the time Kate. It was fun to see them again, as although I saw Margaret at Richard's wedding a couple of years ago, it's been like 8 years since I saw any of the others.

I left St. Ives on Friday afternoon to go to Bath to compete in the Bath 8's annual tournament. I met up with Ken and Giles, some members of my team Hillcroft at the train station, and we proceeded back to Ken's house to drop our stuff. Then we went out in the center of town, where I met lots of lacrosse players from all over, most notably a guy from Santa Clara (I played them 3 or 4 times over the last few years at A&M). We went to a fairly lame night club where the Irish guy I was with amused me greatly by bouncing from group of girls to group of girls getting flatly rejected because he'd just start dancing in, on and among them freely. Eventually he danced into the wrong group of girls, and onto this intense looking guy's girlfriend. He then proceeded to get very angry, and wouldn't stop staring at the Irish guy. I don't know if that led to a fight or not, but the Irish guy got kicked out of the club, amusingly. I slept on the couch at Ken's house, in a room full of random lacrosse guys from all over the place. I think I had one of the best spots, and I allowed the pillows to be used as someone else's bed on the floor. Although I wouldn't allow the random guy next to me to steal the blanket I was using... that was going to far. We all woke up unreasonably early (at perhaps 7am) and began preparing for the tournament. I left at around 8:30 or 9 with some Bath Uni guys who actually knew where they were going (a group of London guys had set out earlier without a clue as to where to go). We got breakfast at a pastry shop, and walked to the fields.

The format for the tournament is: each team plays perhaps 8 or 10 very short 10 minute games (5 minute halfs) agianst most of the other teams in their division. The field is shorter, and each team plays with 8 players (2 attack, 2 defense, 3 middies, and a goalie). I think I played the entire time, minus time minutes at the end of the last game which we were winning like 5-1 (a lot for such short games), which was fun, except that my ankle quickly deteriorated. I had to buy some tape and tape it up mid way through the day. But our team did not do well, and the only game we won was the last one. We tied one other, and lost the others by like 1 or 2 points each. Strangely we played a wide range of team skill levels and seemed to do equally well (or badly) against all of them. Anyway, Hillcroft were quite glad to have me I think, and I did pretty well, scoring maybe 10-15 goals for the day. The other unfortunate thing about the day was that it rained steadily and heavily for the last half, which meant we ( and all out stuff ) got really wet and the fields became really slick, and it made losing that much worse. I left before most other people, at like 6pm, because I needed to get my stuff from Ken's house and make a train that was leaving sometime in the evening, but I couldn't remember when, and the ticket was at Ken's house with my stuff. So I took a taxi from the city to Ken's house, and grabbed my stuff, got back in the taxi, and went straight to the train station, not realizing that my train was not until 10pm. So, without anywhere to put my stuff (believe me, I looked), I finished my book, and waited in the station for the next few hours. Quite annoying. But I made it home eventually.

So what have I done since then? Not a lot. Lot's of job searching online and in person, many CV revisions. I went to Camden town church the next Sunday, which again was cool, and spent the entire day hanging out with some people from Church. We went to an open mic in a pub called The Green Note, at which one of the pastors of the church, Bruce, played. It was fairly folky and really good actually. After that a couple of us went to evening service at Grace Church Hackney, and then had some dinner, and went to the pub! So I got home from church at like 9pm. Basically I did the same thing this Sunday, but most of the day I was helping Bruce and PJ (his wife) move house for most of the day.

Other than that, there is not much of note, so I'll stop boring you, or rather, stop feeding your boredom, whichever may be the case, and leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Well, now I'm in London. Have been for about two weeks. I am staying with my mum's cousin Catherine and her son (my second cousin) Jonathan, along with various other people who come and go... a couple of move permanent fixtures are Will Fisher, Jonnie's friend who is working as an architect at a nearby architecture firm, and who is in between his 1st and 2nd year or University, and then I think his name is Dave, an older guy who is lodging here on a permanent basis, but I don't see much of him at all. Through the last 2 weeks we've had a number of Jonnie's friends and relatives come and go.

Anyway, I've been walking around a lot, getting to know this area. It's Islington, north of the Thames, and very central in London. There are a million restaurants and pubs nearby, which is sweet. That's one thing we've been doing a lot of, is going to the pub. There may have been 2 days that I have NOT gone to the pub.... which is why I recently bought some running shoes.

First weekend I was here we went to Camden a couple of times, which is an incredibly trendy area of town fairly close to here just sort of north west. I really enjoyed it, and met some Australian girls, although two of them went back to Australia the next day, and the other refused to return text messages. Oh well.

On Sunday I went to Catherine's local church. I had planned to go to a new church plant in Camden, but the pastor did not get back to me in time for that to happen, so I went this past week instead. I liked the emphasis that Catherine's church put on the unity of the church, although I don't know that the gospel was that clearly presented. I really enjoyed the Camden church last Sunday though, the leader, Peter Harris, made a very useful defense of why the Church should take social action by helping those in need, which although I have obviously heard some of before, he made some new points, such as the fact that people learn by doing, not only by hearing, so in serving others we more acutely learn of Christ's love and service to us.

Not too much of else of note has happened. Notable experiences include: going to the british museum, having a really bad headache and going on a hunt for painkillers at 4:30am, going to watch a midsummer night's dream at the globe theatre and then having a couple of pints with the guy who played Oberon afterwards, taking a 3 hour bus ride to go to somewhere that should have taken 30 minutes (due to some misdirection by Henry's friends. Henry is a friend of Jonnie's.)

Also, lots of job applications, and no responses, applying for an NI number (National Insurance number, like a Social Security number, needed to work.) Eating lots of salt and vinegar crisps.

Oh, went to the Carnival on Monday of this week, that was crazy and awesome. It is apparently the 2nd biggest street party in the world, biggest in Europe. There are like a million stands with people selling jerk chicken, rice, corn, etc.. along with some massive DJ stations with incredible sound systems. Favorite quote: "BEER! ICE COLD! GET IT HERE! (and hasheesh)", along with "SKY JUICE!!! (with rum.)" There I met (not on accident) Nadia my first cousin on my mum's side and her boyfriend, which was really cool. I haven't seen her for at least 4 years! We got out of there pretty quick though when it started to get dark because apparently thats when the stabbings start happening. And its a good thing we did, there was a small scale war between the police and some 'youths' who were throwing bricks and stuff later that night.

I also met up with a lacrosse team last Wednesday (and will again tonight) to practice a little. They are a premier club team here in London, so hopefully I'll be playing with them come October when the season starts. The level of play was perhaps slightly lower than at A&M, and they were very glad to have me out there, which was nice. They practice on Clapham common, a huge park in South London. I think they commonly come in 4th or 5th out of 8 to 10 clubs in the area.

Right, well there probably isn't too much else to note. A day to day exposition of what I have done would be over the top, but you got the highlights.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


spain was awesome, although we didnt have enough time and we spent way too much money.  we spent most of the time in valencia.  scott lived with a family there actually from columbia.  he lived maybe 30 minutes walk from the center of town, which was busy most of the time.  people tend to eat late, and generally do everything late.   we spent a lot of time walking actually... but it was still fun.  when i got there on thursday i was extremely tired, having been awake for like 40 hours or something... but scott wanted to go out anyway, so we did.  we went to check out the center of town and some of the plazas there.  bars usually stay open til 2am, and then the discotecas open after that, til like 5am or later sometimes.   we stayed out until like 3 but then i was just way too tired, so we went home and slept.  we woke up at like 10 and then went to the center and checked out some of the shops and stuff.

scott had been dating this slovakian girl there for the last 3 weeks, interestingly.  so we ended up hanging out with her and her friends/relatives quite a lot ( a group of like 7 or 8 slovaks living in a single flat with one bathroom!  they're crazy but fun. ).  scott tends to leave stuff everywhere, and he left a cd that he bought from a shop earlier in the day at a cafe, and so we spent much of the late afternoon on friday looking for that....  then we went out again in the evening with the slovakians again.  they spoke good english and really good spanish, so we got a long pretty well.

one of the central squares that most of the cafes are around and that is sort of the center of the night life was really cool.  people go there to skateboard and roller blade and blow fire, and juggle, and sing etc.. late into the night.  so we'd sit for hours outside a cafe and just watch people and talk, which was really nice.  

i think on saturday lucia, scott's girl, went to london, so we didnt see her any more, but all the rest of the slovakians were staying in madrid and working for another month or so.  anyway, saturday afternoon we went to the beach and sat under a big umbrella for like 6 hours.  so i didn't get sunburned or really even tanned at all, which was good.  the sun says up really late there, so we left the beach at like 8pm still before sunset.  then we went out agaaiin.

our plan was go to church on sunday, and then catch a train at 2:20 to madrid, where we would stay until tuesday when we were leaving.  

so we got up at like 9, packed up, and went to the catholic cathedral down in the center (scott had been going there for his time there) for mass at like 11.  the service was in spanish, so i didn't catch any of it, but it was fairly short and seemed quite traditionally catholic.  then we went to the train station at like 12:30 i guess.  thennn we misread the sign that had train times, and saw MADRID 14:53 blinking, and both assumed that it meant our train was delayed until then.  so we went off to sit in a cafe for a while since the train station was like 7000 kelvin (as were most indoor places).  and then at like 2:15 we decided to walk back to the station to be in good time for our train.  well as we walked into the station, we saw one of the trains with a sign labeled MADRID 14:20 blinking.  and so we were like CRAP and ran up and then the train started pulling away and the guy standing there was like "bye bye".  arg so we missed our train on sunday.  that was the last train of the day.  sooo we could either take a bus at 1am, or take a train the next day at like 11:25.  fortunately we were able to transfer our tickets to the next day for only 8 euros, so we did that.  annd then we didnt want to go back to where we were staying because it cost 20 euros a night, and we were already going to have to pay for the hotel we'd arranged in madrid (which was expensive because all the cheaper places were booked up), so we called up the slovakians and they had some space on their couch for us to stay, so we spent another night in valencia. 

then the next day we made our train to madrid, and got in around 3pm i guess, and got to our hotel fine.  my friend daniela who lived in spain for like 6 months was nice enough to email a huge list of stuff that must be done in madrid, so we tried to knock out a lot of it, but unfortunately we weren't very good at navigating, although we did manage to eat at this really good calimari sandwich place in one of the plazas.  madrid was more touristy than valencia, and we couldn't figure out where everyone went after like 1am.  daniela had told us about this one club that apparently has 7 floors with different music on each floor, but we couldn't find it despite walking around for like 3 hours.

anyway, then the next day we woke up at 9 and went to the airport where we parted ways to head home.  the rest of the trip was very uneventful, and i got back here fine.