Monday, 30 November 2009

Pic of the Week: 30 Nov - 6 Dec

Moon over Ossett

Moon over Ossett

Picture from xmas 2006 with S's family in Ossett, West Yorkshire.

Click on the photo for a larger version on flickr.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

November Abroad: Vienna

We spent a few days in Vienna for our annual go-abroad-in-November trip. The xmas markets were open all around town and we had a lovely time sampling the glühwein, punsch, wurst, kartoffelpuffers, and brezels.

Maria-Theresien-platz and the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Rathaus-platz, Vienna's largest xmas market





It was also my first real attempt to use my new Canon PowerShot G11 and overall I was very pleased with the results. It handled low light much better than I remember my old camera doing (and considering the shorter daylight hours, this was a good thing). For something different, I tried taking stealthy pictures of people.

Feeding ducks in the Stadtpark

Selling concert tickets to tourists in Stephansplatz

Chatting in the Hofburg

Mid-morning business meeting ... with Schnapps?

Horse carriage ride

Accordion player in Resselpark, Karlsplatz

Hungry (bored?) xmas market vendor

Awaiting others for a meeting in a smoky cafe

There were typical Viennese treats.





I can't help thinking that he looks like he has just been goosed...

We visited Karlskirche, which features a 'panorama-lift' to the dome. What looks like temporary scaffolding is actually a fairly permanent elevator. Being that high up allowed close-up views of details usually just seen from the ground.




To restore our sense of wonder at, and curiosity about, the amazing world/universe we live in, we also spent the better part of an afternoon exploring the Natural History Museum and exhibit on 'Darwin's rEvolution'.


Loved the elephant outside the Naturhistorisches Museum







As usual with these trips, it was over far too soon. Although we managed to see most of the inner city, it felt like we barely scratched the surface. Maybe we just needed more glühwein...

Monday, 23 November 2009

Pic of the Week: 23-29 Nov

Zurich at Sunset

Zurich, Switzerland, Dec 2003

Between May 2002 and August 2004, I worked for an event marketing company near San Francisco. I worked for nearly 18 months straight before I took any time off, so I had saved up enough vacation days to tour Europe for four weeks at the end of 2003. I started in Holland for about a week, then Belgium. On 23 December I left my B&B in Brussels and headed to the train station for the 8 hour ride to Zurich. I had some time to kill so I wandered around a bit. When I got on the train, I discovered that someone had managed to open my backpack, extract my brand new iPod, and leave everything else (thankfully) untouched. It was the longest train ride of my life.

When I finally reached Zurich, I was feeling pretty low. Despite being a seasoned traveler, I must have let my guard down just long enough to become a pickpocket victim. I was on my own, which didn't really bother me, but all of a sudden it hit me that I would be alone on xmas. Zurich felt colder, less friendly, more sterile than Brussels or Amsterdam - maybe it was just the time of year. Funnily enough, I was disappointed that it was not snowing. I had wanted to visit a winter wonderland, but instead I found grey buildings lining grey streets.

The lake, however, was beautiful. And as I wandered around over the next few days, Zurich grew on me. The museums and cinemas were open on xmas day - I watched the film Whale Rider and enjoyed the fact that I had access to entertainment in English. After Zurich, I went to Torino, Italy; then Venice for New Year's. I ended the trip with a few days in Bologna, and flew home via London.

By the time I got back to California, I decided that I was ready to make a change. Over the next few months I hatched my plan, and in September 2004 I moved to London to do my Master's. While I was on my trip I wasn't sure what the future held for me; a few months later, I decided to make my own future.

Click on the photo to see a larger version on flickr.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Pic of the Week: 16-22 Nov

London Eye

London Eye

I took my first London Eye flight in Dec 2005 when my sister came to visit for xmas. I had always thought it was just a tacky tourist attraction, but it's actually great fun - fantastic views and an incredibly smooth ride. A got a bit dizzy at the top but we still enjoyed it.

Click on the photo to see a larger version on flickr.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

tea biscuits


Mamasita emailed me this recipe for Earl Grey Tea Cookies in Real Simple. I substituted chai tea for earl grey and it added a nice spice flavour. Very simple, pleasant recipe.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Pic of the Week: 9-15 Nov

Cycling to Meissen, Germany

Cycling near Meissen in Germany

This is from the last day of our cycle trip last year. I managed to take a few pictures and even a video while riding in the back along a lovely, flat path.

Click on the photo to see a larger version on flickr.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

knitchicks looking out for each other

I was in Wimbledon yesterday, and was quite distressed to see that Books Etc is closing. Wandering around the sale racks, S spotted Knitchicks and started teasing (or should I say ribbing?) me about my lack of knitting activity.


No matter how much I knit lately, though (cough *not much!* cough), I had to buy it. I think there is an unwritten rule where:

a) if you know the author, and

b) the book is marked down, and

c) the store is closing, then

you have a responsibility to make sure that it doesn't get marked down even further and eventually (gasp!) get chucked out with all the remaining Dan Browns.

So acechick, this one's for you. I know I should have bought it earlier, but now it has a nice home and a rescue story. Maybe it will even inspire me to pick up my much-neglected needles again.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

new camera

been testing my new camera. here are some of the initial results.

tempura hand roll, macro

wimbledon common, 'foliage' setting and auto





bob, 'kids & pets' setting, continuous, and video



s, zoom and red eye reduction (sorry about the flash!)

self-portrait using the vari-angle lens

overall, i'm quite pleased. looking forward to our vienna trip later this month!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Pic of the Week: 2-8 Nov

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier, on our 2nd anniversary. I thought it was funny that they named the horses. As expected, they didn't have my name.

Click on the photo to see a larger version on flickr.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

fishy tokyo


I spent a week in Tokyo for work last month. Well, I say work. My company sent me over to accompany a customer whose basic mission was to eat as much sushi as possible.

Akihabara electronics district

Tokyo subway

We managed quite a bit of sightseeing, some shopping, and lots of eating.

View of Shinjuku from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building

Maid cafe in Akihabara




We also went to Tsukiji fish market and were given special access to the tuna auction. The other tourists were sooo jealous that we got to go inside.




Sushi for breakfast at 6:45 AM


Conveyor belt sushi in Tokyo Station

Takoyaki in Roppongi

Dinner at Ninja Akasaka



Doing the 'Lost in Translation': drinks on the 52nd floor at the Park Hyatt Shinjuku


It was a great trip. They treated us very well and most of our 'work' did not feel like work. It had been six years since my last trip to Japan; it was interesting to see how much has changed and how much is still the same. I have never spent much time in Tokyo (so I wasn't the best tour guide but don't tell!) Still I found it easy to get around and I think we hit the main targets. I was sad that I didn't have a chance to see any of my friends, and I missed the countryside, but it is nice to know that I can still go back.

My photos did not come out as well as I would have wanted. I broke my Canon PowerShot A620 on the last day of our Spain trip. S was good enough to let me borrow his Nikon Coolpix 4600 but I didn't get along very well with it, so I used my iPhone most of the time. I have just ordered a new Canon PowerShot G11. More camera than I need? Probably, but all the camera I want!