Archive for January, 2006

Well, it’s taken me a little while to get these photos edited, but I’ve finally managed to find a few spare minutes. Faouzia, one of our friends who used to work with Aude, has decided to move back to France with her boyfriend. So we all had a big celebratory dinner to say farewell.

Faouzia's Leaving Party

Les gonsesses

Faouzia's Leaving Party

Aude & Matt

Faouzia's Leaving Party

Vinka & Aude

Faouzia's Leaving Party

Marjo, shy as ever

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It was a beautiful Saturday yesterday, so we decided to spend the day in London. We took a ride on the London Eye, because neither Anne-Laure nor Aude had been on it yet. The weather was clear and sunny, the perfect day to ride toe Eye. I’ve only ridden the Eye once before and it was cloudy — not nearly as nice.

Matt and Aude on the London Eye

Matt and Aude on the London Eye

After riding the London Eye, we took a long walk down the South Bank of the Thames and stopped at Borough Market for some lunch. I can’t believe how big Borough Market has become — after years of neglecting food, it seems the British have finally adopted the food culture and are taking what they eat much more serious these days.

Later in the afternoon, we headed over to Olympia to see the Vive La France exhibition. There were loads of vendors there — French language courses, French holidays, French wine and cheese, French restaurants — basically, if it was French and you could buy it in Britain, the vendor was at the show.

The girls managed to find a stall that interested them:

Chocolate fondue

The resulting photographs are shocking. I advice viewer discretion:

Aude with chocolate fondue

Anne-Laure with chocolate fondue

We finished the afternoon with a bottle of a rose Beaujolais Nouveau, something I’ve never tried before, then headed over to RSJ Restaurant on the South Bank before catching our train back to London.

All in all, a very nice way to spend a Saturday!

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I realise that I haven’t written much on the blog in recent days. That’s partly because there isn’t much to write about, and partly because I’ve been working very hard over the past few weeks. It’s a grey and miserable day right now, and somehow that’s reflected in my client. There’s something grey and miserable about working at this site. My office doesn’t look out onto a window and there’s no chance to get outside during the day — two luxuries I had down at Pfizer that I really miss.

Grey day

The commute is growing tiresome — there was a big accident on the M25 last night which meant my journey home took nearly four hours. GPS to the rescue — I set the satellite navigation to guide me around the accident and set off into the countryside.

Roads all look the same to GPS. So instead of taking me down the main roads, GPS had me racing through the countryside, down single-lane roads in the middle of fields. I had absolutely no concept of where I was, and couldn’t find the roads again if you paid me. Still, it got me around the traffic, so I guess there’s something to be said for it.

One thing that constantly amazes me is how close the city and country are in England. It’s not unusual (as is the case with Xerox) to find a big office building next to an agricultural field (and remember, we’re only 5 miles from Heathrow Airport and 15 miles from downtown London).


Also note that the cow field is right next door to a McDonalds (where I took the photo — Xerox is the grey building in the background). I’m all for knowing the source of my food, but putting the food chain right outside the window of McDonalds seems a little cruel — to the diners and to the cows!

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Well, it’s taken some time but I’ve finally gotten around to editing the pictures I took at New Years, which we spent with Aude’s family and friends in the south of France.

Matt and Aude

Matt & Aude

Aude and Minouche

Aude & (the sadly now missing) Minouche)

The boys!

The boys

Aude's parents

Aude’s parents

And I can now say that I’ve eaten capon. Guess what — it tastes just like chicken!

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I finally moved the car into my new garage today, which is just as well. I washed it and have now tucked it up for the winter.

In protest at the British climate, the car has developed a leak (actually, a number of leaks — like from every opening and through the roof) which means that leaving it outside in the rain simply isn’t an option. The Corvette wasn’t watertight when it was new, and 40 years haven’t made it any better.

One small problem. European garages are made for European cars. Which means that they’re tiny. This one is a little bigger than the first one I looked at (where I couldn’t even open the door) but it’s still tricky to get it parked, then to squeeze out.

68 Corvette in a European Garage
It’s a tight squeeze!

Now that the car’s indoors, it’ll have a good chance to dry out. Provided the weather stays nice, my task next weekend is to clean out the entire inside of the car with Lysol or something similar to prevent mold & mildew from growing. Not exactly my idea of a fun weekend.

The car will be off the road for the next few months — I’ll wait until spring to wash it, wax it, service it, and have it inspected. But I will visit it from time to time between now and then — just to say “hello”.

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Creatine monohydrate

There’s always been little doubt that exercise is good for you, though the jury’s out on the safety of supplementing your diet with creatine. While researching the safety of supplementing an exercise regime with creatine, I discovered this article. Not only can creatine improve your strength gains over time, but apparently it can make you smarter as well:

The dietary supplement creatine – known to improve athletic performance – can also boost memory and intelligence, researchers claim.

It’s all very interesting stuff. But I think this proves less about creatine’s ability to make you smart than it does about vegetarians being inherently dim.

I’m pleased to see that the BBC has maintained it’s high journalistic standards, ensuring the article remains accessible to everyone, even the dim vegetarians. Rather than use a tricky word like ‘placebo’, which would frankly leave the vegetarians baffled for weeks, they described their experiments like this:

The volunteers were split up and given either creatine or a “dummy” pill for periods of six weeks.

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