I have been most impressed with Nicola’s dedication at updating the website since we changed it to a blog (apart from the last month, but she can blame a persistent cold for that). So, shamefacedly, I am making my first post since October last year.
Well we have been back in the UK for two and a half years now and I think it would be fair to say that we are well and truly settled back in. We live in a little terraced house in Greenwich (Grinitch, sarf eas’ londin to the locals) and we have found that the area really suits us. It is close to work, there are a large number of restaurants and there always seems to be something going on somewhere around us lately. We have walked through a number of movie set, being sorely tempted to sneak into the funeral scene in Skyfall (they cut it if you don’t remember it) and I spent a few pleasant evenings in summer in the Naval College college watching the filming of Les Miserables, though due to the incompetence of their security team there is an editor out there cursing my suited presence in the charge of the barricade scene. Another nice thing about where we live is that we know our neighbors, which is unusual for London, and pub quiz with them on a semi-regular basis.
Both Nicola and I continue to work in banking which has been a hard slog over here. Banker bashing remains very fashionable and there is a general feeling that nobody can do anything right. We are both feeling a little bit like what’s our next step but haven’t reached the point where we are going to do anything about it.
Outside of work we have been pretty busy, as Nicola has already posted we have been to a plethora of sporting events and I (who was definitely in the minority) enjoyed the run-up to the Olympic games and the feeling of expectation that comes over a place when it is about to host a major event. We really enjoyed the Olympic events we went to, the people working there made it a pretty cool environment and the brits went nuts if there was anyone remotely british involved, which created quite an exciting environment. Surprisingly the thing I enjoyed the most was probably the handball, it’s a game I would love to have given a go about 10 years ago and I found quite fun to watch. One of the games we saw was Britain versus Iceland and Britain was supposed to lose by about 30, which they eventually did, but at half time the scores were about equal and this meant that the crowd spent the whole first half going nuts and one of the British keepers was quite an extrovert (in a good way) which kept us nicely amused.
Even the media managed to appeal to my sense of humor as in the run-up to the Olympics there were 10-20 articles in each UK paper every day about how the Olympic preparations were an absolute, world ending, suicide inducing, disaster. However when Mitt Romney, who was touring the UK, had the temerity to suggest that the games preparation might not be going too well all the UK papers threw an absolute hissy fit about how could he think such a ridiculous thing…. The only thing we were both a little sad about the Olympics was that the equestrian was being held about 200 meters from our house and we had absolutely no luck getting a ticket to any of the events (despite the stands being half full – I know because we could see them). It didn’t help our disappointment that we could hear the dressage music or the cheers of the crowd whenever we went into the garden.
We have done a little bit of travelling this year, we went to Honfleur in France for Nicola’s birthday, then Sicily with my parents in September and next was Latvia and Estonia as part of going to Kashi and Viv’s wedding. My favorite memory from these trips is probably the first night in Riga. We arrived in the evening and after a pleasant drive through fading eastern European wooden architecture and modern American strip malls we bumped into a few of the other wedding guests in the foyer of our hotel. After the obligatory dumping of suitcases we headed off to dinner as a group. Being new to a city, and being led around by people who know where they are heading, it becomes about soaking up impressions and we seemed to walk from large square to large square, each one covered in open air bars and restaurants with live bands strumming away. We then settled down in the balmy heat (it was in the high twenties all evening), got to know each other, drank local beer or in Nicola’s case Black Balsalm and watched Latvian life pass us by (there were lots of very nicely dressed people and also about every 2nd woman who passed us was carrying flowers which was good fodder for many hours of pointless speculation).
Finally, and most importantly, the cats continue to keep us entertained. After doing psychology in the first half of the year I have started to train Buu (I’ve written Cara off as a lost cause) with a reasonable degree of success and they are both enjoying having a back garden to eat grass in (and then throw up again later) during summer and Cara, in particular, is loving having radiators during winter.