05 March 2007

Andrew's First Post!

Well, it has been nearly two weeks since we made an update; I have never written one, so I’m going to fill you in on what’s been going on here. First of all, our friends Brad and Jill Beard concluded their tour of London after three years, and they have returned to Birmingham before moving to New York. Let me say that the Beards are as fine a couple as we have ever met. Both are soft spoken but don’t let that fool you. Brad will start ribbing you before you blink, just ask Mrs. Nori; and I don’t mean Beth. Kelly and I will miss them immensely. They always seemed to have answers for all of our questions, and when you’ve only been here six months you still have plenty of questions. No doubt we will look forward to seeing them in the near future, and we wish them all the best in the future.

So with all of that said, on to our activities. Last Friday night (February 23) we went to a brand new Mexican restaurant, Margarita Loca, with the Triefenbachs and the Beards. The place was decorated like a typical dirty Mexican restaurant, so we think this is normal and are all excited. The food was really good for London Mexican food, and the margaritas were much better; at least the second pitcher was. Not only were they good, but they were cheap. Typically a margarita will cost from £6-£9 per drink. Can you imagine paying $12-$18 for a margarita? We do, and it’s disgusting. Don’t think for a moment that the cost keeps us from drinking five each, though. Generally on those nights, more than our heads hurt the next morning. Regardless, these margaritas were £3.95 each or £14 for a pitcher. It was awesome!

The problem was that Katy Triefenbach and I were both quite ill. I had been fighting a fever for two days, and Katy was really rough, too. I went home just after 10 and went to bed after taking the dogs out. The Beards and Kelly went to a pub down the street called the Eagle Point for pints and darts. I hear Jill is quite the dart shark, too.

Kelly said there was a beautiful dog named Ruby in the pub, so she now wants to take Hadley and Savannah for their first pub experience. We’ll keep you informed...

Saturday night, the Brocks, Triefenbach, Tiensvolds, Beards, and Noris, though much later, all met for drinks and dinner at a Bavarian Beerhouse in North London. This place is in a basement of some random building and is filled with large picnic tables and women dressed like the St. Pauli’s girl. We drank huge beer steins of German lager and ale and enjoyed eating bratwurst and pretzels with hot mustard. Gelwix, you'd have loved it. I attempted to get my picture with a group of the girls at once, but my charm must be wearing off, as I was only able to get my picture made with two of them, and neither was very "busty." See the picture for a good laugh. Also, Tim Tiensvold can really put the steins down! They quit serving us steins because they said it would cause them to go through their beer way too quickly. Instead, they kept giving us glasses that were 1.5 pints. Tim poured his pints into his stein glass and kept going, but not before watching his huge head die down. Anyway, we really had a good time, but again, I was ill, and so was Katy. I went home early again, and Kelly went out with the Noris, Tiensvolds, and Beards.

On Sunday, Kelly attended the first meeting for her new book club. They are reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I think the book club was the brainchild of Katy Triefenbach, but Kelly hijacked it and has kind of run with it. Anyway, they met for breakfast at the Chelsea Bun to talk about the book, and I guess lay down the rules for their double secret book club. Meanwhile, I awoke with another fever and, after making breakfast and napping, dragged myself to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. After paying £60 to see a general practitioner, I was told I had an upper respiratory infection, and I was provided with a prescription for some real antibiotics. Finally! So I went home and started eating some pills, along with the homemade chicken noodle soup Kelly made on Friday. Her soup is always so good. I called my manager and informed him of my illness and that I would not be flying to Amsterdam the next day. On Monday I took my first sick day of my career. Five years without a sick day. I am sad to see that run come to an end, but oh well. After returning to the office on Tuesday, we decided it would be best for me to work from London for the week. It was really nice to be home again every night and see more of Kelly and the dogs.

Kelly had a great week on the job front. She had an interview on Tuesday with British Airports Authority (BAA), but she wasn’t really excited about it. It’s work with an airport company. Seriously, how exciting can it be? Kelly said the place was depressing, which isn’t that shocking. She had another interview on Wednesday with Direct Line insurance company. Kelly didn’t like that job very much either, but on Thursday she had her much anticipated second interview with Nestlé. Kelly felt like it went really well, and now we are just waiting to hear if she got it or not. At the end of the week she applied for a position with PwC and an alcohol company. One of her job perks with the alcohol company was £250 of alcohol per year. That sounded outstanding to us! Who needs a 401(k) when you’ve got free booze?!

London has been terribly chilly and rainy all week, and it looks like it will continue this way for another month or two. We’re all pretty tired of the cold, grey weather, and we can’t wait for spring. The trees are showing buds, and the sun is coming up earlier and going down later. I checked last week, and sunrise was at nearly 6:00. So when we actually see the sun, we see it for quite a while. Being home really makes the week go faster. So after a good week at home, we decided to take in some good ol’ barbeque at Bodean’s in Fulham on Friday night. Dinner at Bodean’s was outstanding. I had a barbeque plate, and Kelly had a barbeque sandwich. To make things even better, Bodean’s was showing the Braves vs. Pirates spring training game. Baseball and barbeque in London? Can’t beat it. Guess what? It was raining again Friday night, so we decided to get a bottle of wine and a couple of movies and call it a night. The wine was terrible, and the movie wasn’t much better.

Saturday we stayed around the flat most of the day watching movies and being lazy. That night we met up with Jeremy and Katy up in Leicester (pronounced "lester") Square. To explain to you the travelling nightmare that was this weekend, you have to know first that London closed the Circle and District underground lines. These are two of the most-used routes in London, serving Central London and areas like Chelsea, Kensington, Fulham, and Westminster. Kelly and I take them almost exclusively. Now, I’m not sure which rocket scientist decided to close them both on the same weekend, but he should be shot numerous times.

The Circle Line is the yellow line in the above map, and the District Line is the green one. Click to enlarge the map. Our stop is Sloane Square, which, as you can see, is serviced only by the Circle and District lines, which meant that our entire tube site was closed.

We took the bus to Knightsbridge to catch the Piccadilly line. The Piccadilly line is usually filled with tourists heading to Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, and the Westside theatre district. Add all of those people, plus those of us without any other options, and you have a ticking time bomb. Kelly and I saw two trains go by before getting on one because the others were too crowded for us to get on. When the third came, I was really frustrated. I looked through the train windows and saw that a bunch of passengers were not filing down into the cabin of the train car. You all know me; I can’t deal with that. So I started banging on the window and telling them to file down, which they began doing. Kelly and I got a running start and shoved our way onto the train, and off we went like a can of sardines. As the stops kept coming, we would tell people to continue to file down into the car. British people are not vocal. When someone takes initiative to help others, they are generally very responsive. Saturday night was no different. After a stop or two, I had Kelly a seat and a comfy spot for me to stand. We finally met the Triefs half an hour late. We wandered around Soho looking for a place to eat. That is one of the wonderful things about London. You can just wander around and fall into the most magnificent places to eat and hang out. We do it all the time, and Saturday was no different. We fell into this little Italian restaurant called Topo Gigio.

The restaurant is named after a famous cartoon / Muppet mouse from Italy, who appeared on the Ed Sullivan show a long time ago. They are very proud of the mouse and its appearance on the show. We enjoyed the food a great deal, but the wine and the company were much better. Afterward, we took the underground to South Kensington and walked over to Cactus Blue for a couple more beers before walking to the bus station and going home.

Sunday morning was cold and rainy… Again. As a result, we did what smart Southerners do; stayed inside in our robes for most of the day. Dennis, you would have been proud. I didn’t get out of mine until around six o’clock. We cooked our normal Sunday breakfast, but we added some made-from-scratch biscuits this weekend, and it was wonderful. I have become the Sunday morning chef. I can cook Kelly’s eggs the way she likes them, sunny-side-up, better than she can. I like cooking Sunday morning breakfast for us. Kelly does so much around the house each week; it’s a nice way for me to help out. Tonight we are watching Grey’s Anatomy. They are now showing two episodes back to back at 8:00 (starting mid-Season Two), and we love it. As I write this, Kelly is laying on the couch crying while the first episode finishes up.

As a closing remark, I’ll note that Kelly cooked some fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and biscuits one night this week. It was like having dinner with all of you back home, and she did a fabulous job. We can’t wait to eat that again one warm summer day. This week we will find out about Nestlé, and Kelly will be coming to Amsterdam to spend the weekend with me and the rest of the group coming over. We are very much looking forward to travelling again and having a little bit of fun outside of London. Kelly is just dying to get over to the red light district and look at some hookers. Oh wait, that’s me! Never mind. Next week’s entry should be interesting, but don’t look for any pictures. It’s kind of like Las Vegas; you leave the cameras at home! We are hoping our friend Jodi Caughron will still be coming to join us from Belgium. For those of you who don’t know Jodi, she is with the firm on a nine-month tour in Brussels. I believe she is heading home in April, and she wishes she were staying longer. It will be good to see her.

Remember that we miss all of you a tremendous amount. We are having an amazing adventure, but we think of you all often. I hope you all stayed safe through the storms this week. I know it’s bad when the storms make the newspaper here in London. We are beginning to identify some trips home in the near future. I have my 10-year high school reunion this summer, and I will have to come home for some training in September. It just so happens that Bama will be playing Georgia at home that weekend, so you may find Kelly and me celebrating our one-year anniversary on the Quad before a huge game. Until next time, lots of love, and cheers!


Lauren said...

Andrew~Great first post! I love reading about all your adventures in London.

Anonymous said...

That was an excellent post, I ran late for work reading it! Love you guys, laura

Stacey said...

Good luck with your interviews, Kel! Miss you!

Brad said...

Nice work Andrew - Kelly, you've got competition now! You both do so well with your blog - it's a lot of fun to read them from this side of the fence!

Keep the updates coming - good luck with your job search Kelly. We miss you guys and hopefully we'll see you in NYC soon!

Brad & Jill

Anonymous said...

Wow! I didn't know you were such the writer, Andrew. VERY impressive!

So glad you guys are taking advantage of the big city life. Sounds like you are having loads of fun.

Write me, Kelly, when you can!
Susan K.

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