July 2008


Okay, you asked for it…

Advertisements

I turned 32 in jolly old England. Last time I was there I was 20, drinking hard cider in the northern lands with a crew or rowdy Manchester-ites. This time, Isabel and I stuck to Bath and Oxford.

Bath was great fun. It’s a good walking town, filled with remains from both Roman and Victorian times. The highlight was the Roman Baths museum—a relatively intact hot-spring bath from 2000 or so years ago. Part of the complex was a temple; the Romans apparently liked to combine the holy with the sensual. I wish I could have witnessed life back then. It’s interesting the way the whole museum was set up. Even in areas where most of a wall has been destroyed, they created a new wall and just stuck in the pieces where they would have been, so you can imagine how the whole thing would have looked.

Other highlights of Bath: wandering around the streets at night and checking out the lighted Bath Abbey, having clotted cream tea at tea time, and great Moroccan food, visiting this crazy cuckoo clock shop with a strudel shop downstairs. And Meatloaf, who performed outdoors not far from our hotel the first night.

One day we took a tour around the countryside. We saw Stonehenge, which contrary to warnings we heard, was pretty cool. You could get up much closer than we expected. The latest thinking is that it was either a forum-type meeting place, or a monument to the dead, with the monument to the living having been at Woodhenge not far away (but rotted away, of course). But this is probably all wrong. But I do know they druids had nothing to do with it, and the stones were dragged all the way from Wales. Then we saw Avebury, another mysterious stone circle, and the villages of Lacock and Castle Combe, where films such as Harry Potter and Dr. Doolittle (old version) were filmed. Good stuff.

Things regressed a bit from there, as the scattered rains grew more persistent, and the Brits grew more ornery. We were drenched as we headed for the train for Oxford, and we nearly came to blows with a chap on the train.

Oxford was nice, though I was generally off to work. I met a whole crew of people who I’d been emailing, calling, or conference calling for months but never met. They were most gracious. Then, surprise, I was asked to join in on a  meeting with the executives who are thinking of buying our company. Fortunately I wasn’t thrown too many difficult questions, and they appear still interested.

Meanwhile, Isa wandered the streets, and ventured to London one day, which proved quite the ordeal. One evening I reserved a punt, a boat that you push along with a pole, like a gondola. I struggled to get it out of the dock, and when we were a little ways out, another punt slammed into the side of our boat, knocking me into the water. Isabel was not happy, and my clothes were fairly ruined. But we recovered.

We also caught a little British TV. Ricky Gervais is just as awesome in stand-up. They also have their own reality TV. We saw a cooking reality show, but missed what is surely can’t miss TV—Last Choir Standing.

The last night we went to the company summer party. Everyone dressed as cowboys and Indians; our crew won first prize in the costume contest with an elaborate covered wagon. Isa and I went with a simple sheriff’s badge and bandanna, in addition to our authentic westerner’s garb.

Oh yes, and England is damn expensive! Fortunately my company was covering me for the time in Oxford, or else we would have needed a few more credit cards, and jobs. But all in all, jolly good fun.