Saturday, June 14, 2008

London music and decisions made

I just ticked off #2 last night! ( Apparently the bar (and Camden) is the origin of Madness (of "our house, in the middle of the street.... our house......") judging by all the posters on the wall....

So when is help coming to check out the other venues? Pretty sure I've been to the Hope & Anchor, but didn't see any music. And the Windmill (Brixton) is minutes from my flat.

And speaking of my flat, I just got my transfer offer yesterday and looks like I''m a Londoner. And I think I've swung some deals (with work & landlord) so that I don't have to move out of my flat even though I'll be in US/Canada till Aug 1 (serious considerations at $1700/month). Anyone want to sublet for the next month? Or need a vacation flat in London this July? I'm leaving tomorrow for a week in Milan to "get to know the team" there, then Phillie for a meeting on the June 25-26th, then back Canada to get my Visa and relax (road trip out west for sure). And almost certain that I'll be rolling through SF on my way to London (late July / early August).

I'm kind of unwinding at the moment. Could be travelling to Italy today and enjoying a new city, but I've decided to take my time getting out of London (i.e., leaving tomorrow). Was all kind of stressful this week including balancing two jobs (Olympics and "normal" CH2M are in different offices, so it's almost like 2 jobs) and me rejecting the first transfer offer and having people freak out that I'd go home (which I contemplated, via Africa of course), but worked out in the end. Sort of. Even with a good raise, I'm sure my standard of living will be lower (my latte while writing this email was £2 / $4). Though 25 days of vacation, 8 statutory holidays and a seemingly weeks of sick time (which Brits do flagrantly abuse) will be nice. Not to mention my flight to Italy tomorrow, which I still haven't booked, will be $120 last minute - can't complain about that!!

I babble with my latte induced whir... so... I'll be back in US/Canada all of July and mid-late August till early September I'll be working in Northern Ireland, but besides that (and assuming I don't move, which isn't looking likely) I will have a 1 bedroom London flat with futon in the living room!! And there's lots of good live music! Hint hint :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Leaving London, but just for a bit...

Hey folks. Just another quick update. I’ve been busy working in London the last month and a bit since Thailand. Mostly working on the Olympics project, but slowly working more on the DuPont projects (Ireland, Netherlands stuff). But only have another week here in London and then need to get out of the country to get my work visa and such. So I’ve given up my flat as of this coming Friday and I’ll be living and working out of our Milan office until flying to Philadelphia for a June 26th meeting. With all this said, I still don’t have my transfer offer, and if it really sucks, I won’t be coming back (my way of ensuring I get my 25% raise to adjust for $6 beer).

Life here has been quite good. I haven’t been travelling at all, mostly because I’ve been content spending time in my own flat and working. It’s been a while since I’ve been this settled in a place I call my own and just as long since I’ve really felt engaged and excited about work (field projects have a different excitement). I must admit that working on the Olympics is a bit energizing. I’m putting together quite a significant presentation for this Monday (dry run) and then Wednesday (to our client) that summarizes most of what I’ve been working on (and the entire team) for the last few months. The presentation will then continue forward (in some form) for a multitude of things (contractor initiations, other client meetings, etc.). So I’m heading into the office momentarily (yes, it’s Sunday) to finish off the presentation. Kind of sad, but since I’m not going to be around for the next month, I’m trying to NOT give the presentation, though it’s looking like I know the information too well and can’t delegate it all. But not much use getting my face up front with the client if I won’t be here to follow through.

And looking forward, I’m hoping to be back in Canada for the July long weekend. Yes I know, apparently this is not the best time to come home with other guests and such in town, but it seems that when you start making work commitments you have a little less say on things. Well, actually, it’s only the June 26th meeting in Philly that has really tied my hands. I could still end up being in Canada till the end of July depending on how long the work visa takes. And when I get back to the UK in late July / early August, I’ll only be here a week or two before heading to Northern Ireland for about a month. That’s it in Ireland though as I’ve kind of insisted on making London my home base for now. After making friends and getting to know the place, I just couldn’t bring myself to moving to Dublin right now. Especially since my company has a much bigger presence in London and isolating myself in Dublin just isn’t the right thing to do.

So hopefully I’ll have a flat in London again by September 1st? (important info for you travelling & likely-to-visit types) Though feel free to come and visit before then if you’d like, but I’ll probably be staying in hotels in either London or Dublin (could be worse). I thought about keeping the flat, and still a chance that I will if work pays for it (which they currently are, but until transfer letter gets in my hands and terms get settled...). Just keeping the flat seems the easiest, but flats seem easy enough to come by and at $1700/month, I don’t think I’ll be here enough in the next two months to justify me paying for it! But then again, moving my crap this week sure seems like a lot of effort too never mind having to look for a place in the future and the idea of hotels again… sigh…

Trying to think if there’s anything else somewhat exciting that I’ve forgotten... hmmm... I've seen a few shows lately including The Weakerthans this past week – a really good indie band from Winnipeg of all places (so had to go). I was supposed to go up to Inverness / Aberdeen this weekend to visit Pat & Stef and Pat’s brother Graham from Victoria (I knew Graham from elementry school / Camp Stephens), but work just got too nuts and I couldn’t take the days off (sheesh – I’m working Sunday!). But next weekend in Italy with my friend Jen from Amsterdam should be loads of fun, so I’ll quit my bitching. And I’ve made a few new friends in France, Spain, etc. that will all make wonderful visits sometime in the near future!!

But that’s it for now, must get to work!! Hope to see many of you in the coming month or so. Definitely those in Winnipeg & Calgary. Maybe those in Victoria? Maybe those in San Francisco / LA (not sure how the US visits might work as I will be passport-less while my visa application is in progress and the US has just put passport requirements in place - maybe on my way back to London, though not exactly on the way, are some work justifications i.e., ways to get work to pay for stop off).

If I had to vent right now... how come Europe is become less restrictive on passports and travel, work, etc. (I travelled from Poland to Germany without a passport!!) while North America is going the other way. Just a thought for the day...