I can’t believe it’s less than two weeks until Christmas. It doesn’t seem like a year since we were last sitting down and opening presents etc. I’m not feeling particularly christmassy though. I spent some time wrapping presents on Friday, and these are now under our lovely pretty tree. However, work is so manic and Christmas involves so much travelling that I find it hard to get excited about it. Sad huh!?!
The weather is pretty grotty at the moment too. After almost a week of solid rain, last week got bitterly cold and icey. It’s about 3 / 4 degrees C today, which isn’t that much fun. I’m hoping the weather will improve somewhat in the next couple of weeks, else we’ll spend a fortune on heating. Jenny got back from her round the world trip on Thursday and bought Sam an Alpaca hat to keep is head warm – lucky!
Anyhoo, having successfully syncronised my new phone, which is why I was on here, I am going to make a cuppa and have a scone. Ta-ra…
On Saturday, for the first time in almost 3 years, I went rowing. It was really fun! After my wonderful return to the gym routine in July, I have since lapsed back into mediocre gym attendance with half-hearted effort when I am actually there! Following a quick trip to the ARA website, which I thought would achieve nothing, I discovered there is actually a rowing club in Broxbourne, only 11ish miles from us! In fact, it’s one of the only clubs in Herts really.
Anyway, they do two outings on Saturday mornings (8am and 9.45am) and an outing at 7pm on Monday nights. On Saturdays they have a tea break between outings and breakfast butties afterwards. Everyone was really friendly and they have quite a realistic attitude to the sport, appreciating that people have other things in their life as well. I went out on their second outing of the day and it was tough. I got back into the swing of things but have managed to pick-up all my bad habits again! Oh well. As of Jan though I am going to join up I think – gives me something to do and Sam the occasional bit bit of peace!
I just went to the website for the Golden Compass to get a wall paper and there is a ‘get your daemon’ option!!! Anyway, this is my daemon; say hello but don’t touch:
We may have been back for a week, but fear not, the second (and final) installment of my Brussels blog is finally here. It also conincides nicely with the implementation of my ‘tags’ feature on my website. Using the ‘tags’ tab on the blog page you can now search for entries relating to a specific category, such as Brussels!
So, on the Sunday we got up at about 9 am and after another in-room breakfast of Pain au Chocolate, we decided to go on one of the ’90 minute walking tours’ in the DK Brussels Guide book. The weather had taken a turn for the chillier and whilst the sky was clear as anything it had also got windier. However, we pursevered and on our travels we got to see the Mannekin Pis, as well as some cool Tintin art of the side of a building (which I personally found more interesting than a random little statue of a child peeing). The tour then took us up some cute little Belgian streets and part two different sections of the old city wall. We had a little trip into a fancy cake shop which also sold nice chocolate and things. We resisted the cakes though – well done us!
The next stop on our tour was the Parque du Sablon, right next to the Notre-Dame du Sablon. It was really pretty little park and the church looked very lovely in the sunshine. We then popped round the corner by-passing the Art Museum and instead visiting the Music Museum which was much more fun. Not only did we get young person entry (4 euros instead of 5 for under 26’s) but they gave you a set of headphones so that, as you walked round, you could hear the different instruments playing a tune! It was a really extensive collection of instruments too – 4 floors.
After a sandwich and cookie lunch, we headed back to the hotel for a rest from the cold. By this time it was already about 3 pm so we didn’t feel too guilty! We watched a bit of bbc 1 and attempted to get a photo of us in our hotel room using the self-timer. This is our best attempt (the first one no less) and it’s a bit lop-sided, but oh well!
At about 6pm we went out for dinner at the Grand Place. After three nights of looking at menus we realised that, whilst the food was good, all the menus were the same. So, we settled for a fairly quiet place and had dinner there. I say quiet, but true to form there was a random druken guy in there who was, of course, English. Luckily he departed half way through our main course! I had Salmon with mustard sauce and vegetables and Sam had lamb chops. We then both had a waffler mikado (with chocolate and vanilla ice cream) for pudding – naughty I know but we resisted the cakes earlier! After dinner we ventured to the UGC across the road from our hotel and caught an original version showing of Michael Clayton. Sam is supposed to be reviewing it for Revado (since he hasn’t reviewed anything in years) but hasn’t done it as of yet…
On Monday morning we packed up all of our bits and bobs, took some pics of the room and then checked out. Being a swanky 5 star we were able to leave our bags there, so we took the metro back out the Heysel (near the Atomium) to go to Domaine du Laeken,a big park. Unfortunately we got a bit lost and it was windy and drizzling. Morale was going slowly downhil as we couldn’t find the park but eventually got there. We trooped around for a while and were on the verge of turning back when we finally found the Monument Léopold which is really impressive (aside from the silly fence they’ve put round it). Right down the drive was the Château Royal which was rather grand, although much less guarded then any British royal palace! We wandered past there and back towards the town until we finally found a metro to go back into town.
After our expedition we treated ourselves to a tasty pizza lunch and then went to buy some fancy chocs (for us) and biscuits (to take to work). I then had a small shopping spree in Zara and Mango and bought myself some nice clothes. By this time it was about 4pm, so we headed back to Café Metropole and had a tea and cake (cherry pie), which I was determined to do since we stayed at the hotel. At about 5.45pm we jumped on a tram to the Gare Midi; the trams are not as nice as the metro. We bought some sarnies, checked in, got on the train and 1hr 50 later, bob’s your uncle, we were back in St Pancras. I shall not bore you with the remainder of the journey but that ends our trip to Brussels! As always, all pictures are on Revado!
Sam and I went on a ‘mini-break’ to Brussels on Friday and came home yesterday. I tried to keep a blog whilst we were there but having no internet access meant I was doing it on my phone. Here is part 1 of our adventures. Part two will follow when I have time to write it! I have included some pics. The rest are on Revado:
Saturday 17 17:21
So, this weekend, for a small change, we have taken a long weekend and gone a small trip to Brussels. The Eurostar moved from Waterloo to St Pancras, which is far more convenient for us. We got the train quite early; in fact we had to get up earlier than a normal work day! However, it was nice and easy to get checked in for the train. St Pancras is quite nice now they’ve revamped it. It’s not quite as wonderful as they made it out to be though. Half of the shops weren’t occupied and the world’s longest champagne bar (or whatever they claim it is) isn’t a complete straight bar like I thought – there are seating booths and stuff!!
Sunday 18 21:14
I had to abandon my blog yesterday because I had a headache. However, I shall pick up where I left off which was Friday on the Eurostar. It all seems so long ago now so I shan’t go on too much, but the journey was brilliantly quick, only 1 hr 50 minutes total. The most amazing bit was the new channel tunnel rail link from St Pancras to the tunnel – 30 minutes!! The equivalent trip from Waterloo was over twice that.
We arrived in Brussels just before 11am (local time) and decided to walk to the hotel from the station. It was cold, but not as bad as we expected and the walk took us about half an hour. We had a reservation at the 5 star Hotel Metropol, but we weren’t able to check in until 3pm. We left our bags and wandered off towards the Parque Bontanique. It was quite a pretty park, but the trees were all bare because it’s winter. We went into the big glass house expecting a proper botanical garden, but it was actually a concert venue! We did, however, find a café where we got a yummy panini for lunch. After lunch we went to the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee (the Belgium Comic Museum). Belgium is the home of Tin Tin so there various displays of Tin Tin related material. The Smurfs are also Belgian so there were sketches of the Smurfs through the ages.
From there we checked into the hotel and the inside was very fancy and old. There is one of those old fashioned lifts with the consertiner door. The room was very nice, quite spacious. However, the thing that made the room was the bathroom – very luxurious with a cubical shower, a bath with a shower over and two sinks! We chilled out for a while and then mosied out at about 5.30pm for an early dinner. We went to this cool cellar restaurant off the Grand Place. I had Moulle Marinere and Sam had beef in beer, what seems to be a traditional Belgian dish. It was very tasty!
On Saturday we got up at about 9am and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of Pain au Chocolate bought the night before from a little supermarket. We headed out about 10.30am and went to get the 1A metro line out to Heysel where the Atomium is. The Atomium is a atom shaped building built for the 1958 World Fair. We went into the Atomium and up to the top where there is an observation deck. It as a bit cloudy though so we couldn’t see much.
We then went into some of the other spheres of the atom which had random exhibitions in them. They were only vaguely interesting, but it was exciting traveling between the spheres. We also got a nice waffle snack in the café!
After the Atomium, we headed across the road to “Mini Europe”. It was 12 euros each to get in so we were a little reluctant to go in, but decided to give it a bash because we were only going to be there once. I’m really glad we did because it was really good fun. We spent about an hour or so going around the park which was divided up by country. At the start of each country there was a button you could press to play the countries national anthem. Then there was an array of models miniature models for famous sights in each country, such as The Houses of Parliament in England and the Eiffel Tower for France. The park had a very pro-Europe feel and the little booklet they gave free had lots of interesting facts about each of the European countries listed!
On our way back into town from we stopped off at Simonís to look at the Sacré Coeur. It was by no means as beautiful as its Paris counterpart, but it was a very impressive building with a small part leading up to the front. We then jumped back on the metro and headed over to the other end of Brussels to look at the European Commission. The building is huge and, despite being a moderately dull looking building, very imposing and impressive. Across the road from the European Commission is the Parc du Cinquantenaire so we headed over there for a looksie. It was fairly nippy by this point and we were getting a bit tired so we just walked through the park and had a look at the buildings down the far end. There was a rather impressive archway which looked very similar to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
As I say, after that we were quite tired so we headed back to the hotel for a rest. We went out about 6pm for dinner and went for a really lovely Italian – I had pasta with broccoli! We didn’t stay out long after that because it was chilly and much busier than the night before. I didn’t mind going back though because it gave me the opportunity to try out the massive bath!
Sat here quitely in our spare bedroom / study / dumping ground, you can clearly tell it is the weekend before Bonfire Night. Every other second the peace and quiet of my computer time is shattered by a ‘weeeeeeeeeee, bang’ of a firework going off. To be perfectly honest, I have no problem with fireworks. In fact, I am quite a fan. However, this year everyone seems to have gone one step too far and have bough ”weeeeeeeeeee, BOOM’ fireworks – the kind that make it feel like your house is going to crumble beneath you. After an hour of listening to them I am quite fed-up! I hope I get over this though as next week we are having a belated house-warming with the very theme being ‘Fireworks party’. We have also already purchase said fireworks and they are sat, safely I hope, downstairs. My parents raising me to be almost overly cautious with fire means that I am nervous of gas hobs (despite having one in Spain and in our last flat), so fireworks are too much for me. Sam’s parents came over yesterday though and brought with them a little box of fireworks. There weren’t any rockets, just little fountains and stuff. They were quite fun though and re-assured me that home fireworks could be used safely!
Aside from the fireworks, we also went out for a little walk yesterday and I have to say this weekend has been excellent for Autumn colours. The trees outside our house are a lovely array of golden yellows, auburn oranges and deep reds. Then when we were in the park, the view over the boating lake was wonderful.
Sadly, I know all of the leaves will drop in the next fews days and from then on the streets will be covered in leaf-mulch and the trees bare until spring comes. So, I shall endeavour to enjoy them until that happens!
Anyway, Sam is making curry and it will be ready soon so I am going to head off and help clear the table! Curry – yummmmmm!
Dear oh dear, almost two weeks since my last blog entry. I fear I am starting to slip into old habits! In my defence however, the last two weeks have been fairly hectic and have not always left me that much time to blog. At work I have been getting up to speed with my new project, which I move to a week tomorrow. (I am also adjusting to the fact I will have to leave my current team in a mere 5 working days which is sad and something I shall not go on about here!). On the social front, last weekend was quite good fun. On Friday night Sam and I went out for drinks with some of his work friends. We then went for dinner with his friend Phil and Phil’s wife Anna. Despite a fairly late one for us and a few glasses of wine, I felt full of energy on Saturday and Sunday so the weekend turned into a mega cleaning fest!
Last week was slightly more subdued because from Tuesday to Friday I was on a residential course (systems analysis – wooooo). The course was quite interesting actually and I also got to drive there for the first time ever because it was actually more convenient! Unfortunately the traffic was awful on the way there on Tuesday (it was raining) but it meant on Friday I was able to leave, do some food shopping and get in before 4.30pm! Yesterday we had a fairly faffy day buying a few bits in town, including fabric for me to make curtains for the french doors in the lounge. Unfortunately I was having a fairly emotional day and after having to go back to the shop because the guy had measured the fabric wrong and a fight with the sewing machine, I didn’t get much done. In the evening we were both feeling fairly deflated so we had a slap-up meal at Nando’s in the Galleria and then went to the cinema – Stardust.
Today I had a successful curtain day, and they are now up and helping to keep the lounge warm. Sam also airaited the lawn! I spent a lot of the afternoon watching the Grand Prix (whilst making curtains) and as I almost perfectly predicted, Lewis Hamilton did not only not win, but also failed to get points. Alonso was also held off second place which meant Riakonnen won the championship. I said weeks ago at work that would happen – everyone was so sure Hamilton would win, the most unlikely scenario had to happen. He did some damn good driving though, so I’m sure next year we’ll see him winning in the end!
Anyway, I’m off to write a review of Stardust for Revado. Be sure to check it out, as well as my one for Ratatouille!
We were watching Enemy of the State on Saturday and there is this brilliant scene where John Voight’s character wants to see if Will Smith’s character has been ‘passed’ some encriminating material by an aquaintence. His technical lacky, Jack Black, takes the security camera footage and ‘rotates’ it by 180 degrees and give a ‘hypothesised’ version of what Will Smith’s bag may have looked like. I really like that film, but that one scene is so far fetched, it’s laughable (Sam and I did enjoy a little chuckle!). Ironically, following in the same vein, there is an article on the bbc homepage today which is about the reality of the cyber-crime seen in the movies – specifically The Bourne Ultimatum – click here to read BBC article on "The facts behind big screen hacks". It’s quite an intesting little read. I did always think that the Waterloo scene in The Bourne Ultimatum was a tad excessive – cool, but a tad excessive.
It’s suddenly got a bit chilly down here in the South; not freezing (I would be insulting the Northerner within me by claiming that already) but the temperature has definitely dropped. For the first time in the last few weeks I bearly got hot at all on the walk to the station this morning. I also advised Sam didn’t take his coat with him too, which I felt a bit guilty about when we got outside and he was cold!
It’s been a rather manic week this week, not aided by the fact I have had a cough (again!) which occasionally reduces me to a small wreck of a person trying to just breathe! Fortunately it seems to be clearing up and so far today it hasn’t been too bad. I had a bath last night and I think that may have helped. Of course, coupling the cough with the busy week means I am really quite tired and am looking forward to a bit of a lie-in (8.30 am) tomorrow! I’m then going to get my hair cut tomorrow morning, thank goodness. It has reached that point where if I wear even just a portion of it down, it goes insanely frizzy – well enough to annoy me anyway.
It’s also been a busy week in the news with the new enquiry into the death of Princess Diana starting. It has meant that every morning the headlines have been to do with some ‘new’ footage of her last movements before the car crash. I find the whole situation infuriating, not least because it is such a ‘senstive’ topic and you never know who you might offend if you say anything even slighty against her or something involving her. It does seem this time though that more people are openly sharing the same opinion as me; whilst it is terrible that she died, an inquest has already been held and ruled accidental death, so why are they spending public money on a second investigation?! It sounds a bit harsh to say that, but I can’t help but feel certain involved parties are just pushing for it to be re-investigated purely because the verdict was not to his liking. What will happen if they reach the same verdict this time?! You wouldn’t believe it was 10 years since the whole event happened…
The Diana stories have, at least, taken the headlines away from the Madelaine McCann story. Given how little information we (the public) actually know about the whole event, the rumours and theories were getting more and more far fetched. What is perhaps worse is that the papers were starting to word them so they almost sounded like fact! Hopefully now they can go back to focussing on what has happened to the poor little girl at the centre of the whole event.
Anyway, enough of my views on the world, there is work to be done!
Yet again, it’s Sunday afternoon – the weekends always go so fast. It’s probably because we spent all of yesterday cutting down a rouge ash tree in our garden. We started at about 12 noon and finished at about 6 with a brief lunch break. We were successful though and even managed to dig in and plant up a flower bed – yay!
It’s chilly in our spare room today! I’m sat in here downloading random songs from iTunes. It’s really annoying because there are no other decent music stores to download from – well that I know of. Things is, I am one of the minority of the population that has an mp3 player which isn’t an ipod. Consequently I have to burn them to CD and the rip them back for my mp3 player… Oh well!
I think my copying has finished so will go and pop the tracks on my player. Then I’m going downstairs to seek warmth and to iron – woohoo!