Monday, October 17, 2011


I played the part of bad-son this weekend past & went off up to Colchester to distract Mum from her university studies. It took me a few trains & hours to get there, but it was a nice day on Friday to stroll through the City. Another bonus of living in London - in a short time I'd strolled past St Paul's, the Royal Exchange, Bank of England, the Lloyd's Building & the Gherkin, all architectural masterpieces in their own way, before eventually finding Liverpool St station.

Colchester was the Romans' first capital in England (before they moved to the more central Londinium) & is the oldest settled town in the country. Later on Friday afternoon we had a pleasant wander, checking out the Hollytrees Museum which gave a good outline of the last few centuries in Colchester, then enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine in the extensive gardens nearby, crossing the old Roman wall (also the oldest in the country) & checking out a large water-tower which could only be Victorian in its splendour.

The water-tower, Jumbo, through the old Roman wall (first century AD)

Colchester Town Hall

After a surprisingly good sleep on the floor of Mum's room, I settled for watching the first Rugby World Cup semifinal online - Wales vs France. A game that had a lot of the occasion taken out of it by that careless & dangerous tackle. I'm not completely surprised that the French made such hard work of it, but I was disappointed that the Welsh didn't have the nous or skill to put at least one more kick over - they missed so many penalty & drop-goal opportunities. We popped over to campus in the afternoon for Mum to get some books out of the library. Most importantly, this was my first opportunity to see & ride a Paternoster Lift - I had not know that they existed until the previous day when Mum told me about this example. Basically, it's a continuously moving chain of small boxes (two person) that you can hop on & hop off at any floor you want (there are no doors - so watch you don't have a go at self-amputation of an unwanted limb). All good fun - especially when you go in to the dark & over the top through the loft.

Mum about to disappear in to the unknown

Late afternoon was spent in the charming little riverside village of Wivenhoe, a short bus ride away. With little winding streets, houses & shops doing their utmost to stay close to upright, plenty of small yachts & boats docked & more bright autumn sunlight slowly sinking away it was nice pottering around.

More rugby on Sunday morning with All Blacks playing very well indeed in an intense semi-final to end up utterly outplaying & dominating the Wallabies. Once again, many missed kicks - but enough went through that it was a comfortable margin in the end. I might have to find some Kiwis to watch the final with next week - shouldn't be too hard in London. We had a good long visit to the Colchester Castle (a Norman one built on the remains of an old Roman fortification). Curiously, the castle has been a museum for eighty-odd years & a visit there is more about the museum than the castle itself. The museum mostly dealt with the Roman period of Colchester's history & was very good. After that I endured the perils of travelling by rail in the UK during the weekend, on my way home three separate rail journeys were disrupted by that scourge - Planned Engineering Works. Great to spend the weekend with Mum - hopefully she can now not be disrupted for a little while & settle down to the study at hand.

And Now For Something Completely Different - I've had to choose between two different process engineering jobs last week. In the end I went for the role just out of Southampton at a good [£5K+better benefits] less as Hereford is really so much further from an airport & London & all its travel options - travel is the main motivator for being here, after all. Also, I wasn't too keen on being told when to take three of my five weeks of annual leave a year (mandatory plant shutdowns). I feel like a bit of a wally turning down a much-better paying job from people that were really keen to employ me - but there you go. At this stage, I should be at work at the start of November - I'm looking forward to settling down to life for a while & having some money coming in so I can plan brief & not so brief trips to Europe & north Africa. The biking will be a lot flatter around Hampshire, but I might just have to build up a single-speed, come touring machine, & satisfy myself with mid-week rides in the New Forest & so on.

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