Richard and Weez Excellent Adventure - March 1999...

Saturday 6th March

I crawled out of bed this morning, opened the curtains... aarrrggghh... bright light... hangover :-{

Last night I was going to meet Louise for a quick drink at the Punch Bowl with some of her work friends then we were going to go out for tea.  As it transpired, the quick drink turned into many drinks, tea turned into chips and Ketchup and the evening turned into Karaoke.  Pretty much everyone in our group sang something. I sang "I Am...I Said" by Neil Diamond.  The host thought I'd been stitched up with this song because he said it was a difficult one to sing.  I thought it was OK.  Claire later said to me "Loz couldn't believe that she was actually hearing you sing..."

So, back to this morning.  I had this craving for sweet pancakes and lemon juice.   Probably my body crying out to get my blood sugar levels back to a normal level.   What I needed now was an Edmonds cook book for my favourite pancake recipe but without it I had to resort to the Internet.  London Rebel...Half an hour later it was done... and I felt not much better!

Anyway, we had to get to Cambridge this afternoon for the Ballet - Yawn... so we had to get a move on.  We finally got to the train at 2.15pm and made Cambridge by 3.00pm.   Cambridge was extremely cold this weekend.  Angela met us at the train station and we walked for twenty minutes back to their flat.  We walked through a park and watched two teams playing lacrosse and took in the beauty of Cambridge even in the Cambridge Rebel... dull weather.  We went to the ballet in the evening which I enjoyed so much I nodded off at one stage!  I still wasn't feeling too flash.  After enduring what seemed like ten eternity's we emerged and found a nice pub with a no smoking area.  What a pleasant surprise.  Not wanting a repeat of the night before, I drank coke. How sad am I?

We got home about 11.30 and chatted till 1.30 before finally getting to sleep.  8am came and the phone started ringing... from New Zealand.  It was Harleys 30th birthday so since everyone was around at his place for a party, they gave us a call - thanks guys - Cambridge Locals... it was great to talk to you all.  After that we thought we'd better get up and get moving.

We wandered into town admiring the fantastic buildings and looked for something that was open... which wasn't much before lunch time.  So we killed time at a photography exhibition and ate lunch in a cafe.  After lunch we headed back to Kings College Chapel.  This chapel was magnificent.  I find it incredible that such huge beautiful buildings like Traditional Fudge Making... this were built in the 1500's with no modern lifting machinery or tools.  The quality of all the work from the stone masonry to the stained glass windows was superb.  I think it would be difficult to find workmanship of this quality in many modern buildings.

On the way home we stopped at a fudge shop to watch fudge being made in the traditional way on a very heavy marble table.  I was amazed at the way the fudge went off as it was worked on the table - the sheer mass of the table drawing the heat out of the fudge.   We sampled the fudge, bought some and then wandered home, had a hot drink to warm us up, caught a taxi to the train station, got transferred to a crowded double decker bus to take us to some other station and finally on the train and home.  The rest of the week was the usual for me... Work, tea, sleep, work, sleep... For Louise it has been work, work, work, work... She'll be glad when year end is over. So will I...

Monday 15th March

Well, it is just about home time so I thought I would just wrap up the weekends events before I upload this.  Saturday was rather uneventful. Louise spent her time trying to get the reams of documentation together that she needs to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom as the spouse of a person who is present and settled here.  What a mouthful! I t should only take them twenty weeks to process... that is if someone at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate Office ever answers the phone when you have a query.  We are going to Italy in less than twenty weeks and they want our passports.  This could be interesting! Great going guys.

I ran round town all day paying bills, running errands and forking out large sums of money for New Zealand marshmallow Easter Eggs... from Kiwi Fruits.  We haven't been able to find any of these here in "English shops"

Sunday saw us up reasonably early madly trying to tidy the house, clean the bathroom, Hoover the floors... do everything that hasn't been done in the last six months!   Markie and Jaco came round for tea before we went to the Neil Diamond concert at Wembley Arena.  I cooked Beef kababs with spicy peanut sauce... one of the first things I have cooked in recent months that hasn't emanated from a cardboard box.  We headed off early to the arena - as it turned out, we didn't need to.  The crowds at the arena are no where near as large as when there is a concert at the stadium (I think the stadium holds 80,000 people plus).  When we got to our seats, it turned out that Louise and I had seats 8 and -71.  Hmm... there wasn't even a seat 71 let alone -71.   After being taken back to the ticket office by seating officials it turned out that -71 was actually 9.. as it should be!  So we got seated 5 minutes before the show started.

The concert was great for the most part.  Neil Diamond sang for two and a half hours.   They really earnt their money.  The only slow bit of the night I felt was when he started singing other peoples songs like Frank Sinatra (Who?) rather than some of his own more popular songs.  The band was fantastic and they all played with   terrific passion.

After the concert, Louise came home and worked till 3.30am (mad woman!) and I slept like a log - Another  fantastic week of work beckoning the next morning.

Sunday 21st March

It has been an interesting week.  The Visa saga continues.   Louise came in last year on a spouses Visa.  One month before it expired she had to apply for permission to stay indefinitely.  Many phone calls later, many engaged tones later, she finally got through and got the form.  We gathered vast quantities of info to show we were legit... then more unanswered calls.  You see, they say on the form it will take 20 weeks to process.  As we're going to Italy in 8 weeks, the story goes something like this.  If we don't apply now, Louise could get kicked out for overstaying.  If we apply now we would have to request our passports back to go to Italy... at which point they would cancel the application... and we would need to re-apply when we get back... that is if they let Louise back into the country.   They did say that we could come down and join the queue in Croydon.  They may be able to deal with us on the day... then again... perhaps not!  They recommended getting there at 5am.  The office opens at 9am.  We have since heard that people are sleeping overnight there.  At 5am there are 200 queued and 5000 people queue each day!  So after a bit of ringing around, we have found a place that will guarantee that the Immigration Service will process our application on the 30th March and we will have it all back by the 31'st... for the small sum of 200 pounds... plus 290 pounds for the Immigration Department.  Is this place crooked or what?  Oh well, at least it is going to get done.  We couldn't refund our flights or trip to Italy.  We would have lost 1700 pounds down that route...  AAAArrrrggghhh

So, if any of you are coming over in the same situation... be prepared!

Last night we went round to Rob and Claire's place near the Hammersmith Bridge for tea.   Before tea we visited a couple of pubs just a stones throw from their house right on the river front.  The first one was the pub that was featured in the movie 'Sliding Doors'!  Rob cooked spaghetti bolognaise (of course Claire taught him everything he knows about cooking) and we drank plenty of red wine with it.  We had a great night and slept in today.  The weather has been cold today so we've both stayed in for the most part and Louise went to a Boxercise class tonight.

So, I had better upload this.  Hopefully when we go to Italy I will have something a bit more interesting to write about.  So till later, we hope everyone is well.

Loz and Rich