Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good times good times good times (Hard-Fi)

The last week of our London/Belgium trip was action packed and, consequently, I had no time to blog during this hectic time. It was mostly about spending some quality time with friends and family.

Here are the mugshots of the usual suspects.

First I'm with the junior kirkhams - Tom and Fran, then Lew. We're in a pub around the corner from Goodge St station - not far from the hurley burley of Oxford Street. We had a couple of brews (Tom and his Fosters is still haunting me - it's an aussie beer Tom!!) before heading off in our separate directions for a while. Thanks for the CD too Tom - much appreciated.

The next day we journeyed up to Manchester on the train to see Christine. We loved seeing the snow along the way and were hoping for more. The northwest of England did not let us down - it snowed as soon as we arrived. We had a terrific meal at The Shoulder Of Mutton (mushy peas with fish and chips for me, of course) where this picture of Christine and me was taken. From there we went to see Rochdale A.F.C. play at home. Unbelievably The Dale lead league two, and are looking good for automatic promotion. Sadly they lost this game in the snow 3 -1 but I loved the experience: the snow drifting in the lights, the hot cuppa at half time and the time spent with Christine and Allan. Jacky stayed home in Bury and was warm. She watched the Grizzlie Man video and now gets all the 'Mr Chocolate' voices the girls and I do! Sensible, but I had a great time freezing in Rochdale.

Day after that we went back to London on the train and spent time with Pat and Randy. We had a lovely meal in Soho's Chinatown and truffles and coffee afterwards where these stunning photos were taken. It was triffic to hear their news about their NZ purchase of prime 'Naki beach front and generally shoot the breeze.

And so..on to the next day and, sadly, it was time to leave the UK for a while. The trip had come to an end, but along the way we'd visited four different countries (The United Arab Emirates, England, France, Belgium) before getting back to Qatar. Quite an adventure.

Ka kite ano, inshallah. Love and peace - W

Monday, February 22, 2010

Go to a cash machine to get a ticket home (Hard Fi)

It’s been a busy old time lately and this is a bit of a catch up post.

Last week we went to see the promised west end musical (as in I promised when we returned to London I’d take Jacky to a show). We chose Billy Elliot and it was a terrific night out. I must admit though I’m not a huge fan of musicals and the Seinfeld parody ‘Rochelle Rochelle’ occurred to me a lot (Bette Midler singing ‘she’s come a long way – from Milan to Minsk – Rochelle Rochelle’ was on repeat in my head). We decided against Lion King – figuring we’d see that when Jade gets back over here with us. Billy had some spectacular bits for sure – notably a fantasy dance sequence with an older Billy that involved the use of a flying harness. Yes – I was impressed!

First some pics from last week: In St James' Park on our way to see the changing of the guards.

Some pictures for Jade of our squirrel adventure (that's Jacky's leg btw).

Thursday saw us on the way to Belgium. Not without incident though. The train accident during the week in Brussels meant that the Eurostar was suspended into Belgium, so we had to travel to Lille in northern France – then two other trains to Brugge. We had no clue when we alighted at Lille what our next move was so we asked people who spoke Dutch or French or who shrugged at us and eventually worked out we had to travel inland to Kortrijk, then go back to the coast to Brugges.

Brugges didn’t disappoint – a medieval town with outstanding 15th – 16th – 17th century buildings as the photos will show. It was blimmin cold though – even colder than England. We, of course, had to go on the horse and carriage ride around the streets. Carolyn was our driver and Otto was the lucky horse to get Jacky’s love and attention.

We had a terrific time looking around the churches (the Church of Our Lady boasts a magnificent Michelangelo sculpture of the Madonna), the museum (a fantastic display of Dutch and Flemish masters including a Memling portrait that I couldn’t drag my eyes away from), and to cap it off, we had a second tour of the city via the canals.

Brugges - a beautiful spot – with lashings of lace, chocolates, and yes Belgium beer all present and correct in the sampled category. The food was impressive too. Now I’m no foodie (Burger Fuel is a NZ favourite that I really miss) but we had three world class meals over the three nights – about three doors from our hotel by the canal where the horses rest (so Jacky could watch the horses natch). Warmed by the fire, with the swans swanning on the Lake Of Love, and the horses clip clopping on the paved pathways, we had a very romantic recipe (how’s the alliteration quotient?).

We’re now back in London at our Chelsea base with a trip to Manchester to come before we fly back to the warmth of Doha.

It’s been pretty intense so far – every day we’ve had a major activity and plenty of minor ones. We’ve managed to have a bit of a catch-up day today – the trip back from Brugges via Kortrijk and Lille wasn’t as stressful as the reverse journey on Thursday but still was an adventure. By the way if anyone suggests you have a holiday in Lille - do say ‘not on yer nelly’!!

Ka kite ano. Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We're boats against the current (Eric Carmen)

Leigh-on-sea is a fantastic little old fishing village where we used to live 2004-2006. We went back there yesterday on the c-2-c train. Meeting up with our old friends at the shops was great - Taz at Cost Cutters, the good people at Fives, and Eddie at Wimpys all gave us a great welcome. We had our usual cuppa at the bookshop and even walked past our old place at Victoria Rd. Fantastic! Even the dark clouds, rain and cold didn't dampen our spirits (while I'm on a weather watch - forgot to mention that we experienced snow on our walk along the Thames).

Here are some snaps of the Leigh seashore with the Thames estuary tide well and truly out.

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I don't want to go to Chelsea (Elvis Costello)

Okay so here I am at the Chelsea Stamford Bridge ground - definitely feeling like I'm in alien (nme?) territory. But we're staying in the lovely Millennium Hotel which is about 2 metres from John Terry's dressing room (bumped into Carlo Ancelotti's daughter in the lift (literally) and she pushed ahead of me in a queue to see the concierge but I'm not bitter at all). So here's the proof - also some photos from our walk along the Thames yesterday.

We stopped off at the Tate Modern in Fanfa's honour and my other highlight was a trip to Fopp - greatest CD store on the planet!! But I digress - here are the pics (and yes it was friggin freezin).

And here we are before we set off.

(Me pointing to my side while wearing a hoodie shock horror probe!)

(Jacky tackles a pashmina in our room)

Off to revisit Leigh-on-sea today - Jacky has a hair appointment and we're stopping off at Wimpys! Life on the edge - can't beat it.

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Photographs of fancy tricks to get your kicks at sixty-six (Elvis Costello)

We've had a terrific day on the underground and wandering around Oxford St. looking at all the bizarre sights that we don't see in Doha. Loads of PDAs for a start. Loads of green as well and trees without leaves.

We've noticed quite a lot - mainly the great service and friendly conversations that take place here. In Doha we are spoiled by the respect that is paid us and we thought that wouldn't be the same here but I'm happy to say that's not been the case so far (unlike NZ which is terrible for service - usually it feels like you're putting someone out).

We're staying at the Chelsea Millennium/Copthorne Hotel. It is on the grounds of Chelsea Football club at Stamford Bridge. Suzie will love this! It's a very swank place and I got a great deal on it via the internet - hence our stay here.

Tomorrow we're planning our usual walk along the embankment to Westminster and then to London Bridge. It's a magic feeling walking along by the Thames and I love the Bridge - one of my favourite places in the world. Will aim to download some photos tomorrow.

Ka kite ano - Wozza

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sun is shining in the sky (ELO)

Hey hey - Jacky and I have started our two week vacation from Qatar (inter-semester two week break) with a safe landing in England. I'm typing this from the lobby of the Sheraton Heathrow.

We had an amazing day in Dubai yesterday. The world's largest building - the Burj Khalifa is certainly impressive - and we had a wander down to the creekside souq and the Burjaman Center which was close to where we were staying. It's a gigantic mall - even bigger than the large malls in Doha. There was a floor show of Cossack dancers that was utterly amazing - I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was world class and put on for free in this mall. They also had a show by a UK Brittany Spears impersonator - she was certainly busty and blond enough! I was a little shocked that this was deemed acceptable in an Islamic context. Given that unmarried couples are not allowed the fake Brittany was a shock.

We're off tomorrow to our next location - central London in the Chelsea area. I know I know - I'll have to close my eyes and pretend it's Highbury. I'll aim to update you on our adventures over the next two weeks - highlights will be a trip to Brugges and a trip to see Christine in Bury (and watching a Rochdale game at home!!). Hopefully I'll be able to include some photos along the way.

Caio for now - ka kite ano - as salam alaykum - Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And the youngest of the family is moving with authority (Jethro Tull)

All the best to the small one who is gearing up for her trip to Wellington and her new life as a varsity student. We are also thinking of Adam (good luck with the new job), Keegan (good luck with the re-entry to the varsity years to do post-grad work) and Fanfa (good luck for the last few months in America). We love you guys! Go you good things!!

Love and peace - ma and pop

I'd call that a bargain, the best I've ever had (The Who)

For some time now, I've been meaning to do an in depth on the souq that we visit, but it appears others have got there before me. Here's quite a good youtube video that shows many of the best features.

And here's a link to a blog that has a good commentary and photos if you're too lazy to watch the video -

Tra la la - Wozza

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh what can it mean to a daydream believer and a homecoming queen (The Monkees)

It's been a lovely week in Doha. Jacky has come out to Regency Halls to see what I've been getting up to. It's been great having her there and she was certainly a hit (with the ladies especially - they thought we were well matched!!). Gives me an excuse to put another photo of me and my buddies on the blog too -

The gentleman third from right is Mohammed Rida. You've seen pictures of him on my blogs before. I was chatting with him during the week about football, as you do.

He lives in Al Wakrah (a little town about 10 mins south of Doha on the coast). Coincidentally, I bought a football shirt of that team when I arrived here. So I'm now officially an Al Wakrah fan.

We've chatted about football before but this week he dropped a bombshell. In his youth he played for Qatar! This is pretty cool right? But wait - there's more. He played for Qatar...against England. Again - large on the purdzilla cool-o-meter.

But wait - there's more still. He played for Qatar...against the 1966 World Cup winning England side. Wooh mama. AND QATAR WON!!!! 3-2. You want to know more right? I know I did. When my mouth finally closed and I could focus on my mind/brain/mouth combination again I had about a billion questions for him.

Turns out this all happened in 1977. Mohammed was 17 (I was 20) and playing for Al Wakrah when he was chosen to play for his country. In 1977 the 1966 England legends embarked on a middle eastern tour, eleven years after their only world cup triumph. The tour took in Qatar. They won all of their games - except against Qatar. Unfortunately Mohammed's career was cut short by a cruciate ligament injury that wasn't treated properly. Still - he has a great memory of when he played against, and beat, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Alan Best et al. WOW!

I always hear great stories from these people. In another for instance, Lulua told me during the week that Qatari men don't wear gold wedding bands (this after she commented on mine). Apparently the thought is that gold affects their fertility. Stories like that are gold (sorry - couldn't resist). I told her I had four children so maybe it wasn't the same for us pakehas.

And in other news...

Jacky and I have paid a real visit to the Museum of Islamic Arts. You can do a virtual one via this link - . It's a remarkable building and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Doha. It's currently got a great exhibition on Pearls. Really brilliant collection of jewellery and especially pearls - even has Marilyn Monroe's famous cluster. Here are some snaps from our excursion (we only visited two floors so we'll have to go back for more).

On the way to the museum with the Islamic Cultural Centre in the background.

We walked around the corniche past the dhows that you can charter to go out fishing.

This is the elaborate entrance to the museum.And inside it's equally spectacular (the roof is hard to get a sense of in the photograph)

The weather has been interesting as well - a cold 20 degree day on Friday and a dust storm at the end of the week were mixed in with sunny blue sky days of 26 -27 degrees.

These were taken from our bedroom window. Normally this is a crystal clear view of lots of buildings in the distance but alas - not today or yesterday.

Ka kite ano/Caio for naio/ Love and peace - Wozza