Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Robin gets an Eiffel!

Ah, le Robin!
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, me and Robin took the train across from London to Paris yesterday afternoon - the trains are amazingly handy, gets you there in well under 3 hours without any of the hassle of long checking in times and all that airport gubbins.

As you'll see, we got up early for a wander around Paris and to get a nice shot of the tower before we came back to London. Wasn't the nicest day in Paris but it's a lovely, relaxing city to be in, even when you're only there for a few hours.

I notice they've got posters everywhere gathering support for their 2012 Olympic bid. London is bidding too, but it isn't nearly as obvious. I've still yet to really decide whether I firmly support London's bid or not. Obviously having the Olympics was great for Athens and it ends up being good for every city, but there just seems to be such an apathy about it among Londoners that I'm not sure we deserve it.

I think New York's a strong bid, particularly as they've never had it, but the fact US TV isn't showing any of the Athens Paralympics might be held against them, as they'll need to convince the IOC they want the Paralympics as much as the Olympics.

Oh, by the way, Vix wrote to point out that I haven't taken any pictures of Robin in London yet. Any of you got anything you'd particularly like to see him pictured by?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Robin and Robyn!

They love each other like sister and brother
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, with Robin back in Britain after his jaunt to San Francisco, he spent the weekend catching up with his sister Robyn (for who my Mum had created a special new haircut!). This picture was taken at Burton Albion v York City football/soccer match.

Although York - my team - have had an awful start to the season in the lowest league they've played in for 80 years, I saw them win 2-0. We've only won three games out of 10 this season, and the two I've been to have both been victories. Last season, I saw 11 games and only one win!

In fact, Robin has only ever been to two York City games and his record is
Goals for: 5
Goals against: 0
Wins: 2

Not surprisingly a few of the long-suffering York fans were hoping he'll be coming again soon!

For now, though, he's got more travelling to do. Another country tomorrow - this time a little bit closer to home and this time with me (rather than my fiance). Watch le space...

Friday, September 24, 2004

At last! The promised picture!

Robin the Frisco kid
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes folks, here's the picture that you've all been waiting for (well, at least 3 or 4 of you). It's Robin in San Francisco! Yes, there he is, trying to catch a tram to take him to the shop where you can buy flowers to put in your hair (or feathers).

My fiance was out there with work on a quick trip which involved flying to Sacramento too (a 19 minute flight from San Fran!). She didn't get too much time to look around either city, but with us both having been to San Fran in the last few months (particularly keen long-term readers may remember my trip) we'd quite like to go back for a proper holiday having had a taste of what looks like an amazing city.

Robin liked it too. Since he's got back he keeps cheeping things like 'far out' and 'dude' and 'cosmic'. He's currently sitting in his room with some joss sticks listening to The Grateful Dead. I'm sure it's just a phase...

STOP PRESS: Dawn has written a comment to this post saying that the picture doesn't show a tram, but a trolley car. Apologies - rings a bell now you say it. I believe tram is the word we use for trolley car over here. If anyone who's familiar with the culture on both sides of the Atlantic does know of a difference between a trolley car and a tram, speak now or forever hold your peace...!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wot no picture of Robin

I know, I know. I promised a picture of Robin in a far-flung destination (or I guess near-flung if you happen to live thereabouts), but I've yet to post it. That's because I've yet to receive it. Latest news is that my fiance has - repeat has - taken the picture and the delivery of it is expected any time soon. I know these are trying times for all of us. We want to see the picture. We want to know where Robin is. But we must be strong. Good things come to those who wait. As do pictures of cheery-looking birds.

Be strong. Be alert. Be nice to old people. Be there or be square. Be equals bemcee squared.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Lazy Sunday. Golf. Wedding. Other stuff...

Robin. In bed. With radio.
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks.

Welcome to my lazy Sunday afternoon. Robin's sitting in bed listening to the last day of the Ryder Cup which has just teed off (it's only on pay TV, so we're listening on the radio). Can't believe how well we (the only time anyone in Europe ever says 'we' for the whole continent) are doing against the US. Be a great victory if we keep this lead. But I'm counting no chickens just yet.

So it seems the posting about the 1906 Marriage With Foreigners Act was just what you were after. And I'm proud to say that if you search for that act on Google, this is the only site that comes up! Hurrah. I can see us getting hordes of new visitors through that one!

Got lots of comments to the post too, but I'm afraid I've had to delete them. Thing is my mum posted up the link to the info site for my wedding which is meant to be just for people that are coming (my fault for not telling her this!). Obviously most of you would be very welcome to read it (that certainly includes you KJ!), but our guests will be posting personal details on there (where they're staying, time they're arriving etc) so, sorry, but we decided to keep it private.

But don't worry, the plan isn't for me to post about the wedding on there - that's what this site is for! So you won't be missing anything very exciting. All my pre-wedding thoughts will be on here (though I'm still not sure why you're so excited to read about it).

So, I should deal with the comments that got deleted. Ginger pointed out that it's meant to be Japanese people in the hills that don't know WWII finished, as opposed to Americans (a straw poll at work confirmed this). She also asked for a pic of Robin at the Register Office. Sorry, I was too shy to take him. Next time...

Another pic request came from KJ who wants to see Robin with my Mum (she being Sarah/typical Mum) - no probs. Reckon we might be able to sort that one next weekend when I'm at home (and, of course, Robin's sister Robyn lives there too!)

Cathy asked if I managed to make it along to any of the 9/11 memorial events when I was in NYC. Sadly not. I really wanted to, but having arrived back from Philadelphia on the Saturday morning at 10am, I literally had to sit in my hotel room working until about midnight, when I went to bed. Then got up at 6am to go to the airport to catch the plane home. Would've liked to see the twin beams of light, especially. Ah well.

Meanwhile, Diegem in Belgium asked if we have to give a blood sample before the wedding. No, don't think so. Don't think that's ever been the rule here (though, hasten to add, I've not been married before!).

So what's new on the wedding? Well, apart from setting up the (infamous) website for guests this weekend, we've been sending out some pre-invitation invites, just so that people know the details and can book their flights. It's a really great feeling that so many people are coming out to Greece for us. It's only 150 days (or so) away now. Exciting times.

Last but not least, the Paralympics have obviously started in Athens this weekend. Would love to have been there - saw bits of the Opening Ceremony online and it looked great, packed stadium too. And GB have already won quite a few golds - we came second in the overall medals table in Sydney and we look like being there or there abouts again.

Actually, there's talk of a parade of gold medal winners from both Games in London once the Paralympics. You can bet your rice pudding me and Robin will be down the front for that one!

Right. Best go. Robin's off on another jet-setting trip tomorrow (this time with my fiance) so keep an eye out to see where he lands this time...

ps. hope you like the new random picture bar thingy at the top - ah, happy memories!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

1906 Marriages With Foriegners Act

Hey up

So, I'm still getting 100+ visitors to this site a day, even though the Olympics are long-gone. Problem is, I'm not quite sure what to tell you next. Maybe you're like those folks in America who live in the hills that don't know WW2 is over. Hmm, but then again, you need the internet to look at this site and that's a pretty good way of keeping up with the news. Maybe you're all Robin addicts. Must say, he's walking with quite a strut since he got back from NYC. I think he thinks he's John Travolta at the start of 'Saturday Night Fever' (but without the tight trousers and with wings).

So, in the absence of anything Olympics-related to tell you about (although the Paralympics do start in a couple of days) I thought I'd let you know that, as of this morning, I have complied with the 1906 Marriage With Foreigners Act, by visiting Haringey Register Office in north London. There, I set the wheels in motion that will get me a 'no impediment' form to take out to Athens to show the Orthodox folks that I'm not married already, in order that I can marry my fiance there in February. So, assuming no one in the Haringey Registry Office area who likes to peruse the forthcoming marriage notice board knows something I don't, I'll get the form in 21 days. Think the plan is to take it to Athen late in October sometime.

Is that interesting? Is that the sort of thing you're coming to this site for? Or is just the Robin pics? Hard to say really. But thanks for coming. I may be baffled by your visits, but I appreciate them very much all the same.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Robin hits the Big Apple!

He's an English bird in New York
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes folks, this is Robin in Time Square in NYC, where I've come with work for a few days.

Lots of Olympic advertising up around the place still and I saw a chap at a gig last night wearing an Athens 2004 official T-shirt (ah, brought back memories) but that's about as Olympic as the trip's got so far.

I've been over here a few times, but this is Robin's first time in the big apple where. after a couple of rainy days, the sun has finally got its hat on today.

I was meant to be getting Saturday off - which means I would've been able to go and see GB's Tim Henman in his first US Open semi final - but sadly now I've got to work. Hey ho. Guess that's what happens when you're on a work trip rather than a holiday. Well done Henman though - hope he makes the final (it's a long shot - he's playing Federer).

Robin was obviously most excited about coming to Gotham because it meant the chance of meeting his namesake hero. But, alas, as yet, we've yet to run into Batman and his tight-trousered assistant...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Blog gets 15,000th visitor! Robin off on new adventure!

Hey up

So, yes, sometime around midnight on Monday night, we got our 15,000th visitor - and you're still turning up in good numbers to read the blog. Very heartening, Thanks very much. I may even set up a new competition just so that you have a reason to keep in touch on the comments pages (you're all very quiet on that front)! I'll have a think for a question.

Plus, me and Robin are flying off on a new non-Olympic adventure tomorrow lunchtime. Look out for some fantastic tourist shots of Robin coming in the next few days...

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Robin brings Olympic spirit to Kit's team!

Robin, looking (at) Daggers
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So, today we went to our first post-Olympic sporting event, which was also the first time I'd seen my team - York City - play in the non-league, after they were relegated from the top leagues last season for the first time in more than seventy years (A Very Bad Thing).

So, our new season in the Conference (four leagues below Man Utd et al) had started very badly - despite being one of the favourites to win it, we'd lost four and won just one of our opening games. That meant we were 18th out of 22 teams. And today at Dagenham & Redbridge (way out east in London) we were favourites to lose. All very humbling and sad.

But, amazingly, we won. Perhaps inspired by Robin The Olympic Robin, we won 3-0! This was, we think, the first time we'd won by three goals in the league for about six years! Amazing.

Being a massive fan of York, I was quite worried it was going to be a very depressing way to return from the Olympics, but it turned out being one of the best days with City in ages. Had a great time. Even England throwing away a 2-0 lead in their first World Cup qualifier later (David James. Why?) couldn't spoil it.

Not surprisingly, several of York's fans were very keen for Robin to come again. But it wasn't down to luck - the great thing was that, for the first time in a long time, we actually played really well. Hurrah.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Best of the Olympics!

Robin sips from the Olympic cycling bottle
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, we're back in Blighty (happily we've brought the great Athens weather back with us) and, as promised, here's a list of some of the Best things about Athens 2004. In no particular order. More when we think of them!

Best comeback
Canada coming back from 5-2 down in the final quarter of their women''s water polo group game against USA to win 6-5. After that, we can almost forgive them for Bryan Adams. Almost.

Best 'can't buy it in the shops' souvenir
The Athens 2004 water bottle one of the cyclists threw at our feet in the road race. As the picture shows, it's ace.

Best 'can buy it in the shops' souvenir
Country flag temporary tattoos - as worn by many of the athletes during the Games and a bargain at 1 Euro 50 - no wonder the GBR ones became almost as hard to find as Greek yoghurt with honey at the food concessions.

Best-sounding items on food concessions menus that we never, ever saw for sale.
That would be a toss-up between meat balls, moussaka and various types of salad. If anyone ever managed to try any of these, we never met them.

Best fans
Ooh, that's a hard call. The Greeks, except for their behaviour at the men's 200m final (it seems to have passed into history that they stopped booing when Frankie Fredericks asked them to - they didn't). The Aussies, except it's easy to be that exuberant when you win so much. The Brits, apart from those folk at the hockey. Nope, it's going to have to go to the wholly unexpected choice of the Germans. Fully co-ordinated dance routines at the beach volley, grace in defeat at handball and all round chirpiness in the Olympic complex. Who'd have thunk it?

Best match
In the strictest sense of the word - Fish and Massu in the men's tennis final. Four hours, five sets and you couldn't split them. Massu got the gold but the winner that day (wait for it...) was Olympic tennis!

Best half time entertainment
No, not the dancing girls at the beach volley - the slam dunking acrobats on trampolines at the basketball. We'd pay to see them again (well, as long as it wasn't more than about 8 Euros).

Weirdest phenomenon
Pin badges. Literally thousands of different types. But why? And for what reason? It would've cost you literally about 30,000 Euros to buy all of them. And they're tiny - the only one we bought (an owl one for the man upstairs who's been feeding our plants who collects owls) seems to have disappeared somewhere in our luggage! Pah!

Best cheese pie (or tyropita to the locals)
The one at Helleniko complex before the handball final on the last day. Decreased number of spectators in complex is clearly directly proportional to increase in quality of pie. Mmmm.

Best cheesie radio show
Oh that would be the morning show on Athens International Radio. Over two days we heard the DJ say on four separate occasions that though the flame was going out, it would 'burn forever in the hearts of Athenians'. Yeuch.

Our best moment
The 4x100m mens' relay. Utterly unexpected win for GBR. Utterly thrilling.

Best flag
That would be Guam. Nice colours and a little drawing of a sailboat on a blue sea with a beach and a palm tree, and the word Guam written in the middle. Why couldn't more flags be that descriptive? Nigeria is way more exciting than just green, white, green.

Most confusing flags
Serbia and Russia - whose red, blue and white horizontal striped flags are exactly the same, only they're held different ways round. Which made it very hard to tell whose fans were which when we saw them play each other at volleyball.

Best game to play when you're killing time and have nothing to do
Flagpole baseball. In which one person with a Union Jack flag tries to hit the plastic bottle top pitched at him/her by the pitcher. It's a heck of a game (just ask the news-stand (or periptero) proprietor by Kifissia station who was our Number One spectator). Expect to see it as an exhibition event by the 2012 Olympics. Strrrrrike!

Actually whatever happened to exhibition events?
Do they still have them?

Olympic volunteers. They were ace.

Four volunteers. One of whom is striking quite a pose.
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Here's a pic of four volunteers. Unless you had a problem, volunteers didn't really have that much of a role except to be really, infectiously cheery all the time. They'd sit there on their high chairs (like tennis umpires use) happily welcoming you, singing, waving goodnight, giggling, trying to speak the language of whatever person was walking past and just generally making everyone feel welcome and sparky. They, more than anyone, were responsible for the lovely atmosphere that prevailed. Big up the volunteer massive!