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It's an Exciting World

The life and times of David Geisert

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London Weekly

London, Week 9

Steph and I started this week well with going to a castle. This castle also happened to be a climbing gym, and we went with Nancy and Punit. It was an amazing place with so many bouldering walls. They had the towers as the top roping and lead climbing, and maybe if we get good enough we’ll make it to the top of one of them. It looked amazing. I stayed on the bouldering and was able to do some V2’s, which is good for as long as I’ve been away from climbing. My forearms are sore and I tore some skin off a finger, but nothing too bad. We went out with them afterwards to a restaurant called Bean, which is a chain in London.

We walked around the parks in the area, since we didn’t know when we would next be there on a nice sunny day. It was sunny but cold, as the lake was almost entirely frozen over. The park was mostly a big field, but was still nice to walk through.

Monday we went to a neon live drawing event at the Old Queen’s Head. The bar was amazing, being both incredibly intricate, fancy, and cozy. We had a drink downstairs before heading up to draw the model. They had a series of art styles they walked us through for the event, and then we had time to do freeform drawing. I had a few that turned out ok. Steph had a few that turned out great.

After the drawing event we were just in time to go to the comedy night at Camden Head. We saw eight acts, but my favorite part was the MC playing the audience. We were in the front row so she picked us out to make jokes about. She had a really hard time making jokes about me, but she was able to play Steph off some of the other audience members.

On Wednesday we went to the Canary Wharf lights installations. It was an interesting time, and we got to have some delicious ramen at Ippudo. The lights were mixed in quality and didn’t have too much of a unifying theme. I especially liked the giant globe, the hanging fiber optics, and the misty fountains with colored lights.

Thursday evening I participated in a MTG draft at work. I did pretty well, winning two of my three matches. We have been making the apartment more homey with some pictures hanging, and the kitties have been so cuddly.

London, Week 7

Sunday we went to the British Museum for some of the rooms we hadn’t really gone through yet. We focussed on the Native American, Fertile Crescent, and Islamic sections on this trip. We wanted to go to the Assyrian Gates section, but the rooms were closed. We could still look at the large gate guards, just not the rooms behind them. We also took a peak in the library, but will have to go back to go through that room a bit more.

We then wen to a restaurant in SOHO called Brasserie Zédel. It was French art deco, and was one of those places with a seemingly secret entrance that was through a cafe, down a hall, down some stairs and through a movie theater like lobby. The windows were probably just frosted glass with lights behind them.

We relaxed at home for a bit, and tried to go to Camden Head in Angel for a comedy night, but showed up too late and they were full. We then headed to Laki Kane, a tropical themed restaurant and bar. It was amusing how they styled themselves as Thai in some places, Southeast Asian in others, and had things that were vaguely tropical all over the place no matter where from (Cuba, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, Thailand). The vibe was great, and the food was good.

I had a nice walk along the canal and made it down to two more big basins. I can’t wait to get a SUP on the canal. I also saw a few more canal side places to have dinner, but definitely not in the winter.

We cooked dinner for Nancy and Punit. The carrot ginger soup turned out amazing. We played some Drawful and had a great conversation over dinner. Nancy made a burnt cheesecake that was delicious, and Steph’s egg and tofu dish was tasty. They were so nice and will be taking care of Archer and Lana when we are in Florence.

London, Week 6

This week started out slow with New Years. I did the audio tour of King’s Cross, which was a nice walk and good info. Steph and I relaxed for most of the rest of the day. I was sad when Michelle was the only one to call in for book club, but not too surprised. The book wasn’t the best for a discussion anyway, so I’ll let it slide instead of rescheduling. The next book, Cloud Cuckoo Land, should be a great discussion, as it has all sorts of interesting social and political commentary.

We played a game of Wingspan on BGA with Nancy and Punit. It went pretty slow as they were learning. Steph won with a set of really valuable birds. Punit had some powerful combos with the Corvids, but not the fully overpowered one as we’d turned those cards off. I had a great food combo, but couldn’t turn it into enough points without the eggs.

Steph and I went to an exhibit at the British Library the next day on Alexander the Great. I expected a few more non-book elements to it, but it is the British Library, so I suppose I was wrong to hope that. They had a nice suit of armor and a few paintings. The illuminated manuscripts were amazing. I also found it funny how so many of the texts on display tried to show Alexander as being Muslim or Christian, when neither of those religions existed at the time. The honest ones that didn’t try to claim Alexander were the Zoroastrianism texts that said how much they hated him for destroying their holy places and texts. After the exhibit we stopped by the Euston Tap, which is a unique bar in a monolithic building in front of Euston Station.

The next evening we went to a show at the Barbican, which was a live play with large puppets as an adaptation of My Neighbor Totoro. It was very well done and adorable. The first appearance of Totoro had it take up nearly the entire stage. It must have been 40 feet across and 20 ft high at the top of the belly.

The rest of the week was normal life, with lots of work and rain in the evenings keeping us in. Saturday we played some Terraforming Mars against Paul and Yutong. It was a close game, with one milestone being the difference. It was great to chat with them during the game, although it sounds like Yutong is having a hard time at work.

It was a slow week, but it good to feel like I’m getting a bit of a routine set up.

London, Week 5

We had a lazy Christmas Sunday. We played some Ship of Fools together, and the final round of Wildermyth with Michelle and Michael. We also, of course, had calls with family. That, plus cleaning up the place took up the day. Steph got me some socks and warm leggings. I got so many kitty cuddles, with them both snuggling up to me when we were playing games. After vacuuming Lana hid and wouldn’t come back out until pretty late. I think she hears it and it reminds her of the plane. If I start in the bedrooms she goes to Steph and starts shaking.

We also started planning more of our time in London with a restaurant list/map and museum list/map

For Boxing Day we went on a bit of a walk and did a little shopping in Islington. Most things were still closed, so it was pretty empty everywhere. We walked along the canal to the tunnel under Islington, then went up into the greenway path until we hit the high street. We went to an outdoors store Steph wanted to visit and grabbed some nice socks and shoe cleaner. Our shoes had been destroyed by the snow and wet, including all the salt and grit that went with that. I took about 20 minutes to clean them up, which I’ll need to do every few weeks going forward most likely.

We played some more ship of fools, and got much further. I decided to go for a nice long walk along the canal past Camden. As I got to Camden the market there was very busy, and it took a bit to squeeze through the crowd. Just past Camden the canal walk was closed, and I hopped on the surface streets to get to Regent’s Park. I walked along just the close corner, but could see into the zoo from the path. The camels looked super fluffy and smaller than I would have expected. I took surface streets back, to make a loop of the walk instead of an out and back.

We watched some Netflix series on London and Florence to get ideas of more things to do, and got some very nice additions to our lists.

The next day was Boxing Day (Observed) for the London offices, so I took it easy while still getting work done. I just focussed on writing the year end reviews for myself and others. Steph and I also did another boxfit class at Frame, which was better than the previous ones and more intense. Afterwards we decided to drop by Nando’s, since it is a must eat place in London. The piri piri sauce was tasty, but La Vic’s orange sauce is better we think. The heat was too forward in the sauce, with the flavor taking a back seat. I stopped by the grocery stores looking for after Christmas deals and picked a few up. I got a Christmas Cake, which was surprisingly good, but very dense. I also grabbed some more plants to add to my growing collection.

The kitties have been really eating up the plants, but I don’t mind as they haven’t been puking like they would with the lemongrass. We decided the ribbon on the Christmas cake would look good on Archer, and it did. But he didn’t like wearing. He did like playing with it.

Many things seemed closed this week. I went to the office, but they weren’t serving food, and the kitchens had been cleared out. They didn’t even have coffee, with the machines turned off. I tried to go to the crypt gallery, but when I showed up 30 minutes after the listed opening time online, it was still closed. I grabbed a pasty nearby for lunch, and then headed home a little early to work from there and eat Steph’s delicious cooking.

Steph and I took a quick trip to the British Library, which is less than a ten minute walk from our place. We went through the permanent collection, which has a lot of amazing books and documents. They have a lot of old bibles, with the oldest from 350-400CE. They also had a few copies of different Magna Cartas. A number of other documents from famous authors, inventors, artists, and musicians were on display; all of which were people I just recognized on reading the name. Most documents weren’t possible to read, even if they were ostensibly in English.

We took a day to go around to some museums in Kensington: The Design Museum, Japan House, and Kensington Palace. Getting there was interesting, as you take the Circle Line to the Circle Line, since it isn’t actually a circle, but a loop with a tail.

The first stop was the Design Museum, and I got tickets to both the exhibits there. I’d also picked up the National Art Pass, which was entirely worth it. We went to the Surrealism exhibit first, and parts of it were interesting, while others we thought were just odd. I was amused by some of the language describing the process where “he let his body take over from his mind” really means “he didn’t plan anything and was probably on drugs.” The Dali art was the stand out part of the exhibit. The second exhibit was on ASMR, but was pretty completely ruined by screaming children and children running around with noise making toys. We did enjoy the small room about Bob Ross and how his Joy of Painting was unintentional ASMR with the sound of the brush and the soft spoken positive voice. They had three paintings there that corresponded to the episodes being shown, and I think they were original Bob Ross paintings from those episodes, but I had a hard time confirming that. I did get a little bit of ASMR from the studio where you can mess with the mic setup yourself. We also went upstairs to the Designer Maker User exhibit, which was interesting but had a strange layout.

We then headed to Japan House where they had an exhibit on Japanese carpentry methods. It was a great exhibit, with better design than the design museum in our opinions. They had some hands on parts and a great set of videos of woodworking that I found pretty entrancing. Steph also enjoyed all the cute and well designed things in the shop while sipping a macha latte.

We walked through Hyde park to lunch at Pizza Pilgrims, where we got the top bunk seat. The pizza was pretty good, but had a really soggy bottom crust so it had to be eaten with fork and knife.

We then stopped by Kensington Palace. They had two main exhibits, the first on the young princess Victoria, and the second on the King and Queen’s apartments. The rooms were gorgeous, and with the National Art Pass it was free to visit. If we are in Hyde Park again we could just stop in if they have space.

Before and after the Palace we stopped by the Round Pond and watched all the birds. There were an amazing number and assortment. There was a swan that always had it’s head low, a black swan, several types of geese, ducks, coots, gulls, and pigeons. At the tube station the Piccadilly line was stopped due to a signal issue, so we walked to the next station and hopped on a different line. I cooked some soup while Steph went for a massage when we got home.

For New Years Eve we decided to do an escape room in the morning with Nancy and Punit. We had a great time in the escape room and did really well. We only needed two clues and we breezed through all the puzzles. They did a really good job of this one, and it was harder, but we had a better idea of what to expect. Nancy and Punit did a great job of figuring out the puzzles they were on, and we escaped with 13:30 to spare. Afterwards we went to Dishoom, which was of course, delicious.

We had a day of some chores and planning after that until a cheers of prosecco at midnight.

London, Week 4

We had our first rainy week, and at first the mix of rain and ice on the sidewalks made for a very slippery shopping trip on Sunday. I got soaked and it was a cold walk, despite the temperature being higher than the previous week.

That evening we decided to see Avatar 2, and it was a decent movie. The visuals were amazing, but the story was a bit convoluted and many of the decisions didn’t make all that much sense. We went to Everyman again, and it was a nice theater experience. I think I chose the right seats and we got dinner at the theater. The only thing that was a little annoying was I had a tray of glasses and plates and nowhere to put it after I was done without leaving the theater.

We were finally experience true British weather with the endless drizzles. It was grey and lightly raining for several days in a row.

Our air shipment from California arrived and we unpacked it all. It was mostly kitchen things, and all the rest of our clothes and blankets. The shipment had a strange smell to it, so we ended up washing everything. The kitties were happy to have the soft blankets. We were also happy to have our actual blankets we normally sleep with. I certainly slept better, although Steph was too warm. We will need to dial in the sleeping arrangement and temp.

We also finally got our bank account set up and I spent a while tracking down how to do direct deposits, and automatic transfers for all the utilities, rent, and getting paid.

The next morning we hopped the train for Luton, and on to Prague.

We got back from Prague and gave the kitties lots of cuddles. There was surprisingly nothing really to clean up beyond some scattered litter. The kitties were doing well and just a little hungry.

I ran a lot of errands the next day as they are serious about their holidays in the UK. Pretty much everything will be closed on Christmas and the day after, Boxing Day. We will be walking around the city a bit to see what is going on, but I expect it to be pretty quiet. The Christmas markets similarly don’t actually run on Christmas, and they were all being taken down on our way back from the airport.

Christmas Eve evening we went over to Nancy and Punit’s place, which is just on the other side of King’s Cross. We met their friends Alex and Jonathan. Nancy and Punit had made an amazing spread of food, and each other person brought a little something to start with. I really enjoyed the conversation and the people seem like they would be great to hang out with around London. They introduced us to the reduced ticket prices, and a few other local gems that we need to look up. We ended up playing Sushi Go Party, which is a version of the game we hadn’t played before. I had a great time and we look forward to seeing them again.

London, Week 3

For Irene’s last day in London we planned on going to her place for an afternoon tea. We stopped by the market and grabbed some pastries and fries. I brought over some pears, and Steph also grabbed some mochi. The food courts in Camden that had been closed most every time we walked by were open and we grabbed some mochi as well. Armed with that we met up at Irene’s. We had Dishoom recipe chai with some of her other local friends. These friends I think we got along with better, but they were somewhat jet lagged from getting back from Thailand.

I ate entirely too much as it was all so tasty, then I had to get back really fast as I was due to give some stuff away to clear up some space in our flat. This was stuff the previous tenant had left as part of us buying stuff off her as she left. Irene came to our place later and hung out while we finished our weekend chores. I called my parents, we finished filling out Christmas cards, and I delivered the bed to the guy who wanted it.

The day was cold and foggy, and that evening it began to snow. The next morning I braved the snow to go to a workout class and got some great pictures. I’d guess it was a little over 2 inches of snow.

I took some time the next morning to hang out with Steph and the kitties. I worked from home in the morning, not making it into work until after a noon yoga class. The kitties were so cute waiting to be fed, they self organized onto the shelves.

We tried a new yoga teacher from Better, and I liked the class much more. I also grabbed a number of plants from Waitrose, which we can use to cook, or to just have some more plants. I’m not sure how well they will grow, but it is worth a try.

Steph and I went to an escape room, Plan 52 by ClueQuest. We managed to escape with 5 minutes remaining, but needed 4 clues, mainly for where things were secreted away. Some of the items were very well hidden. The room manager said the typical number of clues needed was 12 and that we did very well. They have 3 other rooms and I think we’d want to do the rest of them. Two of the rooms require at least 3, so we’ll have to make some friends.

Thursday Steph and I had our first taste of Indian food since we’d gotten to London. It was amazing, and the breads we are used to being small bites were as big as my head. I got to the area a little early and walked around Covent Garden before dinner at Sagar.

We went to the Postal Museum which was much better than I’d expected. They had two buildings, one for the regular museum, and the other for the mail rail. It was really cool to see it all, and get a glimpse into how mail started to be sent and became a government agency. Most of the museums for things like this in the US start with an assumption of, “of course we need it to be like the other countries.” In this case they didn’t start with that assumption of “of course” but instead explained how everything started and the motivations behind each step of the mail system expanding.

Steph and I decided to head a little north on Saturday, to Hampstead Heath, a large nature park. The heath is the largest park near us, and we can easily get there on the norther line. It was gorgeous with the ice and snow, but also slippery. I was amazed runners were able to run up and down some of those hills because they were packed snow and ice. I only saw one person slip and fall, and I was expecting a lot more people to fall. Steph and I each had a few close calls. Once comically at the same time and we could have had a hallmark moment of slipping and falling together. We walked all over the heath then went to a small old pub, Old Bull and Bush. They had some decent drinks and a sticky toffee pudding that was really good.

After the bit of food we headed to Kenwood House for the Christmas lights display. They had a lot of interesting alternative light displays, but very few of the traditional string lights. It was about a 20 minute stroll around the grounds.

Then we headed back to our place to play the latest Demeo campaign with Adam and Tina. We got the boss down to 20 health, which we probably could have finished with another turn of attacks on him.

We had hoped to spend the weekend unpacking the air shipment, but unfortunately that won’t be coming until Monday. I’ll do some shopping today to get more things we’ll need long term. We’ll unpack Monday night and get more settled before jetting off to Prague.

London, Week 2

End of the day on Sunday we had our book club meeting. It was great to see the familiar faces and have that consistency. We discussed the book The Lost Alchemist and chose to read Napoleon’s Buttons for December.

Steph by the fountains in Granary Square, all lit up

Steph and I started out the week by trying to find some of the home items that we needed, especially for storage in our new place. We found some chains online, but they tended to be pretty far outside the city and/or expensive. I knew there would be places nearby, but the little shops with lots of different home goods were hard to find online. We managed to find a place on google that had a few pictures, and those showed that they had mostly what we needed.

Tuesday morning we headed to Better in King’s Cross for some yoga. It has a nice workout area, but I think I prefer the classes at Frame to the class at Better. I’ll probably continue to mix and match the two locations.

Steph and I went to the close by theatre, Everyman, to watch Wakanda Forever. I rather liked the film, although the plot and character actions were not as well thought through as some of the other Marvel films. There were too many instances where characters had strange motivations or did things that made no sense.

We had a lovely morning walk around the neighborhood hitting up the local parks. We stopped by the St. Pancras Old Church Yard, then headed to the Camley Street Natural Park. Despite it being winter the parks were still quite nice to walk through.

We also dropped into Coal Drop Yards and looked at what shops they had. There was an interesting tea place, and the plant shop didn’t seem to have as many plants as I’d expect. We were pretty early in the morning so nothing was really open yet.

We then dropped by the Canal Museum, which is just a 30 second walk from our apartment. It was cute and interesting, but the kind of place we only need to see once. That is done now and we’ll have to find all the other cute interesting museums to stop by on weekday mornings. One important thing I learned from the museum is that SUPs are allowed in the canals at some points at least. They had pictures of people paddle boarding in the canals.

I went into work for some of the end of year festivities, which were scheduled quite early due to people leaving on holiday soon. We played a beat saber tournament, but it only had a few entrants.

The kitties are also doing great. I noticed that Archer chipped a tooth, and I think it was from when he snuck under a mattress I was moving and got squashed down pretty hard. He found a hiding spot that was too good and we had to block it off with some tape and cardboard. They seem to be pretty comfortable and are doing well otherwise. They are also causing all sorts of trouble. I had a decent workday until Archer was getting hungry. He opened the office door which was fine, but then he jumped up onto the desk and knocked my cuppa onto the computer. I set it out to dry overnight, but it still wouldn’t start. He can be a bad kitty sometimes.

We had dinner with Irene again, and had a quick walk around Camden. It was late enough that the market was closed, but we got to see some of the more interesting buildings and walked along the canal for a bit. We brought over some food and she cooked some for us. We will miss her when she leaves.

Steph and I were getting cold on our walks so I decided it was time to get some more cold weather gear. The closest affordable place that had an online presence was H&M. The other stores in St. Pancras Station were very expensive. I got a nice hat, a scarf, and some gloves. I decided to go with an English look.

At work when I went down for dinner they had a small holiday part going on. I decided to stop for an extra 20 minutes and make an ice sculpture. It was supposed to be a polar bear, but I think mine looked more like a hippo. I don’t feel too bad about it as I made it a lot further than anyone else.

Steph and I finally got around to our celebratory welcome dinner at Coal Office. It was nice, but way too loud for me. After dinner I took a walk to St. Pancras to see the Christmas tree. It was pretty neat with all the London landmarks. Any other tree would have had the clock tower at the top be Big Ben, but this one had Big Ben halfway up and the St. Pancras clocktower at the top. They also had the birdcage at King’s Cross lit up, which it hadn’t been every time we’d walked by before. Unfortunately when we walked by the fountains they seem to have been drained, probably for winter.

We met Irene and some of her friends at the covered market by Waitrose, which was really nice. They are interesting people, and have done a lot. Some of their recommendations matched some I’ve gotten from coworkers as well. Then we tried to go to the Postal Museum, but they were full. Next time we’ll get a reservation.

We went over to Irene’s again for dinner/desert. We first walked around the Camden Market, and it was interesting. They had all sorts of goods and food crammed into narrow alleys. Much of it was unique and interesting, unlike many other tourist trappy areas I’ve been to. There seemed to be a small markup for being there, but nothing too bad. It was nice and quiet, as everyone was getting ready for the England – France world cup game. We watched over dinner and Irene and I watched some youtube together after Steph went back to do a martial arts Zoom class.

London, Week 1

On arriving and getting settled into London we had an amazing friend, Irene, who cooked for us as we unpacked, and showed us around the parts of the city that she knew. It was great having her here as we arrived. She also introduced us to some of her London friends.

The first week we visited her place in Camden, which is a half hour walk along the canal to get to. The walk itself is gorgeous, during the day and night. There are also lots of boats along the canal. Our apartment is right next to one of the major basins with many longer boats.

We went shopping at a few different grocery stores, just to see the neighborhood and what it had. We found a small, but well stocked pet store in Angle, the neighborhood east of King’s Cross. I spent some time working on immigration paperwork, and we both now have our long term permits.

Irene took us to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park one day. We met her there, although she was a little late as she misjudged the train routes and ended up going a few stops in the wrong direction. The Winter Wonderland was an interesting fairground. It had an absurd amount of Bavarian styled tents that looked like they were really meant for Oktoberfest. They had lots of shops, and even more food and drink. We did get a few spiced ciders, mulled wines, and hot chocolates. Looking around the fairgrounds there were a few tents that had regular prices, but you had to look hard for them, and they were a little tucked away.

We ended up in Thor’s Tipi, a large tent with viking themes and fireplaces. That was a nice place to relax before heading to high tea at The Beaumont. The high tea was delicious, and the atmosphere was excellent. The park just outside was also nice.

We took the tube to near the Tower Bridge, where the concert we were going to would be later. We walked by the water as I took some calls with people on the US West Coast. Then we walked over to the venue at All Hallows by the Tower. We were there for a Christmas Choir performance, that had a few sing alongs for the more well known songs. The church itself was amazing, and the choir was great. I especially liked the history and stories that went along with them, and the narrator that read out the stories was great.

The next day I worked while Steph redid the apartment to be more to our liking.That evening we met up with Irene and friend for drinks, and had a lovely conversation. We had an early night and I got a bit more done for move logistics.

The weekend was nice as we went shopping for more kitty things, then we joined Irene on the underground to head out to Woolwich to see The Burnt City. I’d seen it before and it blew my mind, so I had to take Steph and Irene. They both liked it, but it is hard to say if it blew their minds as much as it did mine when I first saw it. It was also great to explore the set more, as I missed a lot last time. I also got to see more of the story this time, as well as a different cast.

Sunday morning Steph and I tried out the Box Fit class at Frame and liked it. I also want to get over to the other workout gyms nearby and try out their classes and weight rooms, but that will have to be next week. We spent most of Sunday on logistics and planning for the apartment and our time in London.

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