I've moved house for the fifth time this year, and am now in a 'cosy' 1 br flat on the top floor of a row of Georgian houses. That's not a particularly precise location in Bath, I know. By cosy, I mean it's designed with dwarves in mind. My head hurts.
So far, I've managed to annoy my downstairs neighbours twice in less than a day. That's gotta be a record. I could annoy them more by having a house warming. I'm seriously considering doing that because the space heater in my front room doesn't work, and it's winter. If I burn my brand new DVD player, I should be able to keep warm for a few more hours, but I'll probably drop ash on my neighbours' carpet.
It's either that or the subwoofer. Maybe I could burn that too. I won't burn my newly acquired coffee maker though. That would be foolish.
The handy thing about this flat is that it's right opposite Bath CC's meeting point on Sunday morning. I went out with them today and it wasn't quite as disorganised as usual. We went to a cafe in Calne that opened especially for us. Nice, although they didn't know what raisin toast was, so I had a tea cake. It started raining on the way back, which made it extra fun. I'm now enjoying the descents with sticky tyres on. Whee!
It has to be said that I've seen better weather in my time. A tornado wiped out a bit of NW London the other day, for example. Most days, it's not actually raining in the morning, but the roads are always wet from the night before. Then we get violent showers during the day, followed by sunny breaks. It's similar to Belgian weather, but it seems even windier and more variable if that's possible.
On the plus side (there's always a plus side), I've found a second place that serves good coffee in Bath. Fopp, which is conviently situated almost directly below Westgate House, where we seem to be spending a lot of time. It's just the thing for a debrief. It's hard to spot, because it's a book/CD shop at street level. You have to go downstairs to a semi-art gallery where the coffee shop is, and you can browse the semi-art. It's a bit spacious, in a semi-art gallery sort of way, but the cappucino has a nice, creamy froth.
I also survived Future's company forum. That was no mean feat, because after the rah-rah and Q&A, there were free drinks at the Slug and Lettuce. It was only until 8:30pm, but we managed to 'order' enough rounds to see us through until midnight. Quite easily, in fact. Kudos to Andrew Doddy from MBUK for his prescience.
Times are tough. I still haven't got the internet at home, or even a phone. But things aren't all grim, because the space heater in the front room started working, even though I turned it off at the wall and turned all the settings down to minimum. Very spooky. That means I can stop burning DVD players, because they are not very warming. The neighbours will be happier.
I've started reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson. I can say that doing the Tour de France as a journalist isn't quite like that, but some things come close. Next time I go, I'll get an attorney.
Weather still poor. I can't believe I set out for a 40 km ride this morning in the dark and the rain. It was just a cruise up and down the bike path to Bristol, so at least I didn't have to deal with traffic or hills. I'm beginning to think I have lost the plot. If indeed I ever had it.
I had an 'espresso' from the free vending machine on our floor today. Bad idea, and proof of the above observation.
Random thought, but not a particularly deep one: There's still a cultural difference here compared to Oz, but I don't actually feel like a foreigner any more. One in ten Brits supposedly lives abroad, with most of them moving to Australia. What do I count as? Ah, it's in the fine print at the bottom of the contract for my soul: "Certified loony".
Progress has been made, although one shouldn't use the passive voice. I have a phone line, but the internet is still tantalisingly out of reach while I search for a rock bottom deal. I'm not going with TalkTalk though. Once I am connected, the blog is mine to control.
Tonight, I can't face the thought of watching three cooking programs in a row, so I'll give Rick Stein and Heston Blumenthal a miss. Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is good enough to sate my appetite for this genre. He really brings out the best in people.
My bike works again. I had headset issues, which were confirmed by the local bike shop. They took out the old one, and it could be termed a 'disintegrated headset'. Ho ho ho. They also replaced my new Shimano gear cable with a proper Campagnolo one, so that the gears actually work again now. Joy!
In other riveting news, I've started the lengthy process to get a national insurance number. That involved a trip to Bristol on a train that was delayed by half an hour. When we got on, we were told that it had to make a couple of extra stops as a result, and the back engine had broken down so we could only go at half speed. Now I see why Brits are so good at complaining. Just remember, if you've been inconvenienced while using the trains in Oz, it could be worse and you'll pay triple for the privilege. I will, however, give Bristol Temple Meads station a positive rating.
The cricket has not exactly been taking the country by storm either. The gallant English lads managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of a draw in Adelaide, and most people around here weren't surprised. Even when England scored 6-551 in their first innings and had Australia on the ropes for a short time in their first innings, I heard exactly one person sounding vaguely optimistic. And he was in a very crowded London bus at 2am. Come to think of it, all the vocal English supporters are probably in Australia.
It goes without saying that I do not count myself among the English cricket team's supporters. I also didn't follow cricket much after Australia started winning everything, everywhere. The Aussies didn't need any more support! Then I come back to find out that Shane Warne has more than 650 wickets and is still as gormless as ever. I say ooh aah Glen McGrath.
I'd better get the internet on soon, otherwise this will become an endless journal of pessimism and hate.
The day after
The internet could take a while to arrive, as the Christmas post is slow at this time of the year. So much for the speed of light.
Weather better. I rode up the most ridiculously steep hill I've found since I've been here. It's comparable in steepness to Attunga St in Sydney, but without the flat bits. To get to it, you (well, I) climb up the first part of Kingsdown, which is 1 km at 7%. Then turn right and make sure you're in the lowest gear, because the next 300m is 22% average. Thankfully, it's smooth. 39x23 is insufficient, and there were times when I nearly put a foot down. It felt even harder than the Koppenberg done in dry conditions. After you've done that middle bit, it's another 300-400m at 10%, which feels quite easy.
Later on in the ride, I found another silly muddy and bumpy descent down into Slaughterford, followed by a steep climb that was like riding up a creek. At the time, I noted I didn't have a paddle. It's very easy to do 500-600m of climbing in a 30-40 km ride here.
I'm not getting Torchwood at all. I know it's cop/sci-fi, but it always seems so contrived. Too much hype.
Gearing up for at least four Christmas dos in the upcoming week, including "Christmas in December" in London with members of The Family. Back to reading Fear and Loathing...