Richard and Weez Excellent Adventure - August 1998...

2nd August 1998:

I feel sick.  My throat is sore and I am going to die soon!  I haven't been sleeping particularly well and am waking up in the weekend now at the usual time for when I would go to work!

The week days are very busy now with Louise and I both working.  We see each other between 8pm and 10pm where we cook tea, wash the dishes and fall into bed.  It doesn't surprise us that 1 in 3 people here are divorced!  At least we can come home (NZ) when we feel like it - ya!  Weez comment on all of this.... "I wish you didn't have to work Richie" - after the realisation set in that there will be no more prepared breakfasts, lunches and teas!  We are thinking about buying a Microwave with a grill in it so we can set the timer and have things cooked when we walk in the door at night.  With the lifestyle here, every saved minute is extremely valuable.

The cupboards have been bare for the last couple of days so Louise came with me to the supermarket so we could try and shop for two weeks worth of groceries.  We both had full heavy packs and walked home because we couldn't be bothered waiting for the bus.   Louise has decided that it is all too much effort so we will now try shopping from Tesco Internet Superstore.  You order online, choose an available time slot for the goodies to be delivered and wait.   Will let you know how this goes.

We saw "Buddy" the musical last night.  We both totally enjoyed it and it ended with lots of people dancing out of their seats at the end of the show.  It covered a lot of his music as well as some from the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.   If you are in London, then this is one of the shows worth seeing.  After the show we went to Bella Pasta for tea, received some incredibly slow service then caught a Black Cab home and fell asleep exhausted.

Well, we are just off to grab tea at McDonalds and catch The Gingerbread Man at the Marble Arch movie theatre before our hectic week starts again.  More next week.........


7th August 1998:

It is 10.51pm and I am just about asleep on my feet.  The long work days are taking their toll.  I have now mastered the art of sleeping standing up on the escalators in the tube station in the mornings.  I can tell I am near the top because they make a clunking noise at a certain time!  I enjoy watching all the planes lining up on the approach to Heathrow on the train trip between Charring Cross and Maze Hill in the mornings - there are always at least 8 in the 20 minute journey. 

The weather has been beautiful since Wednesday.  Blue sky all around.  It is the first time I have been able to see the pollution visibly hanging over London.  We always knew it was there because of the black snot you get up your nose everyday!.... great stuff!

I am enjoying work not for the work particularly, but for the many interesting people and cultures I am meeting.  I chat with people from South Africa, Australia, Pakistan, India.  It is nice to hear about where they come from.

We have just been issued with a new compulsory shift roster roughly shown below.

Week Days Worked Hours Worked Shift
1 6 12 Days
2 6 12 Days
3 6 12 Nights
4 6 12 Nights
5 7 12 Days
6 6 12 Days

As you can see we have been given a most generous one day a week to ourselves (more than likely spent sleeping!!) with the exception of one week where we get nothing!   Stay tuned to see what happens.

Well, the clothes have finished washing so we will hang them up and fade into unconsciousness.  Hopefully I don't wake up at 5am when I usually get up for work.   Maybe off to Cambridge tomorrow.  Perhaps I'll run into Stephen Hawking at the University - wouldn't that be great!


15th August 1998:

We didn't make it to Cambridge last weekend.  Louise and I were both so tired we ended up staying in bed half of Saturday and just doing odd things in the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday.

Last night after work I went to the Cutty Sark pub just down the road from work with 7 others to say goodbye to Trudy and Heinreich (spelling?).  They are heading off around Europe for a while and then back home to South Africa.  Like Arnie though - They Will Be Back.  I was only going to stay for a quick pint, but 5 pints later we all left so we could catch our trains home on time.  I finally got home at midnight and collapsed into bed - I had to get up at 7am to catch a train to Wickford in the morning.

I was feeling a bit crook when I woke up!  I managed to drag myself around the place and get to Liverpool Street for the connecting train to Wickford.  Louise found the Great Eastern Railway web site for me while I was at the pub and found out when the train was leaving in the morning which was great.  What a fantastic information tool the Web is.  I visited Amraf in Wickford which is a training school where I am considering going on a two week course to start the wheels rolling toward gaining an MCSE.  After the two week course I will sit two exams and if I pass them I will have an MCP qualification which I hope will give me the edge I need to get my foot in the door to an IT position.  I will then work towards completing everything required for the MCSE.  We had to do a 10 minute multi choice / short answer test while we were there to see if we were capable of going straight into the course.  I only got 96%.  I think I lost the other 4% because I was still feeling dodgy from the night before!

I headed back into London afterwards and met Louise at the Sports Cafe near New Zealand House to watch the Tri Nations Rugby between New Zealand and South Africa being played in Durban.  If you don't know what happened,  I don't want to talk about it!  There was a large crowd of South Africans and probably half as many Kiwis.  The SA's in the corner we were in were quite friendly and the atmosphere was electric.

Weez has been working for 3 and a half months now without a real holiday.  She is tired as well so we are thinking of going to Greece for a holiday at the end of September.   Anyone who knows me knows how great my geography is!  I bought an Atlas last weekend and I now know that Greece is nowhere near Belgium!  We hope the trip will be relaxing and exciting. 

I can't help feeling how lucky we are being here in another country experiencing their culture and meeting new friends from all over the world.  Sure, the way of life here is hectic - sometimes it just plain sucks and other times it is great.  We complain and get down now and again but I don't think I would trade this experience for anything - Except perhaps  a nice Sw<script error> <!-- link not recognised --!>ts!


16th August 1998 - 5.10am:

I'm awake :-(

I normally get up at 5am to go to work and the habit seems to continue into the weekends.  I've decided to go into work for 5 hours.  Alcatel expect you to work at least one day in the weekend - and since I haven't worked at all in any of the previous weekends I thought I would try and make it look like I was doing my bit for the company!   The extra money will pay for a book I bought yesterday on Applied Cryptography.   While I was unemployed I would often go into a book shop in Charing Cross and read a few pages in this book.  I just didn't buy it at the time because I felt I couldn't justify the cost.  So it was a treat.  Great bedtime reading!  Louise is still asleep.   I'm lucky she sleeps with the light on in the room.  She would sleep upside down from a tree with no problems!

Well, it's now 6am - better get my act together....

Well, I'm back from work and its 3.51pm.  3 hours of the day lost to travelling!  I spoke to Trudy and Heinreich at work and they weren't feeling too flash on Saturday morning either - it was a good night.  

Well, (a hole in the ground) I had better get all these changes uploaded and get to bed early - I'm knackered.  Till the next exciting episode.......!

Oh yes - Fionna finally popped and they now have a new addition to the family. Travis Rhys Clarkson weighed in at 8lbs 8oz and was born on the 5 August 1998 at 5:20pm.  Thank goodness they didn't call him Hanley!  You'll have to ask Roger about that one.


24th August 1998

Well, yet another week has rolled around.  Where are they all going to.  Some mornings when I wake up, it feels just like Groundhog day!

Last Tuesday we went to a Charity Quiz fund-raising event at a pub for a girl at Weez work who is raising sponsorship for a cycle trek across India.  We were the 'Legal Aliens' team consisting of four Kiwis and one Australian.  All of the questions seemed to have a definite British slant to them so we had to enrol the help of a couple of British latecomers to save us from coming last.  We came second to last equal!   It was a fun night and I paid for it for the rest of the week through the lost sleep.  I was totally mashed don't ya know (I'm picking up some Jamaican slang now!)

Saturday finally came and we slept in till 9am, got up and went to McDonalds for breakfast, bought some sandwiches for lunch, came home and went back to bed till 3pm!  Still didn't feel like enough sleep to catch up.  Anyway after we got up we headed down to the Sports Cafe again to catch the end of the South Africa / Australia Tri-Nations game where we had arranged to meet Markie and her husband Jacos (Johannesburg) and two of their friends Gerrit (Johannesburg) and Zilke (Otjiwarango, Namibia).   I met Markie at Alcatel where we found out we had similar career ambitions but were both facing the same problems.

After the Rugby they took us to a great Belgian restaurant called Belgo Central in Covent Garden.  We enjoyed half kg pots of beautiful mussels with plenty of frites and sampled a couple of Belgian beers. To be lazy, I have cut a review for the restaurant from another page on the net........ 

Belgo Central
50 Earlham Street
0171-813 2233
Potent beer, mussels any way you want them and heaping plates of frites ensure that you will not leave Belgo hungry. There are other things on the menu, but mussels make for an easy meal whilst you watch the waiters dressed as monks wend their way around a restaurant that looks like a bomb shelter -- highly recommended just for the experience.

The toilets were worth a visit (Sounds a bit dodgy doesn't it!).  Hard to describe really, but when you came out, some soap was squirted in your hands and then you rinsed them under a silver fountain of warm water.  Very cool!  We all had a very enjoyable time.

So, that was our last gripping week.  It's 9.50pm now so I had better upload this quickly and get to bed.  Don't want to be mashed tomorrow.........


28th August 1998 5.38pm

Have you ever had one of those days where everything goes right and you feel great about everything?  Well, that's the way I've been feeling for most of the week.  I just feel so lucky to be here at the moment.  I am really going to miss work when I leave at the end of next week because I am enjoying the people so much and what I am learning about them, the countries they come from, their beliefs (I know I shouldn't discuss religion at work, but I seem to get away with it and I am learning a lot - especially about some countries involved in religious wars).  However, in saying this I have made the decision to pursue further training so that is the deal that comes with it.

We both left work at 3.00pm today to catch the 5.00pm train to Cromer where we will be visiting rellies.  So here we are, on the train just passing through Colchester.   Weez has just finished eating a muffin she bought from the service trolley.  I   bet the cleaning staff are going to gather around her seat at the end of the journey to try and figure out how anyone can lose so much of their muffin to the train seat!  The countryside seems very dry at the moment - not dissimilar to Christchurch in the middle of a dry summer.  I find this a bit hard to figure because it hasn't exactly been particularly warm here for anything but the last two weeks.  Things are back to normal now.  Cool and overcast!

Louise is off to Paris to 'Visit !' Lucas Varity on Tuesday.  She will be back on Friday night so we can go to the Bee Gees concert at Wembley stadium.  Then, early Sunday, both of us are travelling back so we can catch the rest of the afternoon there together and we will be coming back on the Tuesday again.  I have to pay for my train ticket there and back and just the little extra for my stay in the motel.  200 pounds for the train ticket -  Criminal!  It is only 100 pounds if you go over a Saturday but we couldn't arrange that........

Well, we arrived at Cromer on time and Aunty Mary and Uncle David where at the train station to meet us.  They took us back to the Parsons Pleasure (a small motel which they own) where we ate and drank like kings and queens.  Mary bought us home at about 10.30pm and we fell into bed once again exhausted after the long week......


29th August 1998

We slept in as usual for a Saturday morning.  After we finally got up and sorted out I telephoned Uncle Ralph.  I didn't need to introduce myself - he recognised the Kiwi voice on the end of the line!   He came round not long after and we caught up with things and talked about his time in the Air Force during the war.  David came home from the Parsons Pleasure around 2pm and Mary not long after.  David made us beautiful salad sandwiches and again we ate like royalty.

It was a dull drizzly day but we made the most of it and went for a walk up to the Cromer lighthouse, along the Cromer Beach & Piercliff top to the pier, back through the town and after getting a little lost, back to the house.  Mary was there to meet us and take us back to the Parsons Pleasure.  Once again we enjoyed a beautiful meal and then made the mistake of offering to help since it was one of the busier nights!  We became the chief dish washers.  We saw more dishes in that hour and a half than we'd seen all year!  It was a neat experience though as one of the kitchen staff and was interesting to see what goes on out the back.  After finishing we had a drink at the bar before heading back home to bed.  An early morning was to follow.


30th August 1998

Northway Family & UsWe crawled out of bed at 7.30am so we could get to the Parson's Pleasure by 8.30am where the rest of the family were meeting for a 'Full English Breakfast' which Peter was cooking for everyone.  We met our cousins James and Diane and their children Elly & Daisy and also Mark and Diane and their Building Sandcastleschildren Rachel, Andy & Pippa.  Breakfast was once again beautiful.   After breakfast we headed off to the boating lake (more like a paddling pool!) near the pier where the kids sailed their toy yachts.  Later we sat on the beach willing the sun to come out and skimmed stones, built sand castles and dug holes with the kids and ate a nice picnic lunch.  Mark bought us some Cockles and Whelks which we did try - and that will be about as far as we ever go with these bits of sea food!  Even the cats weren't too keen to sample them when we took them home later that night!   Louise, Rachel and I went for a walk down the promenade to the amusement arcade where we probably spent an hour loosing all of our 2p coins to the sliding shelf machines - all good fun!  While we were there, Blickling Hallthe other mad fools went for a swim with the kids in the icy water.  It was fascinating to watch the old ladies paddling in the water with hankies on their heads - just like we would see in a movie at home!

Around about 4pm we all headed back to Mark and Dianes place in Aylsham where Rachel showed us around including three chickens and a ginger rabbit running freely around the back lawn.   We borrowed push bikes and our tour guides Andy and Rachel took us on a two mile The Boating Lake! (Louise took this photograph)ride to Blickling Hall.  Blickling Hall dates from the early 17th century and is filled with Georgian furniture, pictures and tapestries.  Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's unfortunate wives lived in the original Blickling Hall.  It is said that on the anniversary of her execution, a coach drives up to the house - drawn by headless horses, driven by headless coachmen and containing the queen with her head on her lap!  We wanted a photo of us in front of the Hall so Rachel rushed up the path towards some tourists to ask them to take it.  In her eagerness she crashed her bike right in front of them, grazing her knees and hands.  She quickly hopped up, brushed herself off and continued with her request.  How could they refuse!  She was very brave.

We got home in time for another fantastic meal complete with lager, red wine and port.    We hadn't eaten so well in weeks - we even ate vegetables!  After an enjoyable evening chatting, James drove us back to Cromer and we retired.


31st August 1998

We slept in today.  Louise prepared some work in preparation for going to France and we left at 3pm.  We had a wonderful time this weekend and we were shown tremendous hospitality by everyone.   When we were home, Louise unpacked and then worked until 2am, slept till 4am and caught a black cab to Waterloo Station where she caught the Eurostar to Paris to work for the week at Lucas Varity.  I haven't heard from her tonight so I presume she has gone to bed early.

So, that is really about it.  Oh yes....  I resigned today.  I didn't get sacked on the spot but I don't think the big boss has found out yet.  I was the second one in our section to resign today!  Life goes on.... till next week...   Pictures will follow when I get them developed and scanned.