Saturday, December 31, 2005

Robin and the Jokerit jester

Robin and the Jokerit badge
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

To make up for the slightly dodgy picture below, here's a picture of Robin with the Jokerit badge (Jokerit means jester in Finnish).

Jokerit were bought by a rich owner in the mid 90s which has made them a little unpopular with other Finns who don't agree with the way he's injected money to make money (modelling the club on the razzmatazz of the NHL). There are even anti-Jokerit websites online. But the rich owner's money obviously isn't working this year - as the team lie fourth from bottom of the league (having finished second last season). Apparently they got quite a few players from the NHL last season when there was a shut-out in America, and lots of them went back to the US when ice hockey started again, leaving Jokerit with a much weakened side (their star goalkeeper, for instance, joined Boston one day before the Finnish season started).

Robin at Jokerit!

Robin at ice hockey
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Apologies for the slightly dodgy quality of this picture, I took it on my phone cos they don't really allow cameras into the ice hockey games - but here's Robin at our first Finnish ice hockey game, featuring Jokerit (the home side, from Helsinki) against SaiPa. Sadly, despite my purchase of an over-priced woolly Jokerit hat, they lost 3-1 (didn't take their chances and the SaiPa goalkeeper played very well). But, despite the score, there were 8,400 very passionate Finns there and it was an enjoyable evening out.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The sea is frozen!

Robin In Helsinki
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up

So here's a picture taken in Helsinki, just near my wife's parents' flat. This is a harbour that would be filled with boats in the summer, but, at the moment, the sea is frozen! It's been very, very cold here in the past few days and weeks, getting as cold as minus 15 Celsius (about 20F). It's very odd to see a frozen sea, but very beautiful too. Literally all the ice you can see in the background would be normal sea in the summer.

This evening we're off to see ice hockey - a massive sport in Finland. Naturally, I shall take Robin along to document it...

Robin in frozen Finland!

Brrr! Robin in Finland
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Yes, we're out here in Finland for a few days, visiting my wife's parents who moved to Helsinki in August.

This picture was taken in a beautiful little town called Porvoo, about 50 minutes' drive from Helsinki. We're actually standing on a bridge and that long white thing behind Robin is the frozen river! A few minutes before the picture was taken we saw a cross country skier skiing along it!

It's a very pretty town - in the background you can see some of the wooden houses the town is famous for. It wasn't actually as blue as it looks in the picture - but for some reason all my pictures came out blue. Must've been something to do with all the snow and my camera not being used to it!

Hope you all had a good Christmas. We're off into Helsinki itself in a few minutes, so I'll try to take another picture there...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas!

Robin the wrap star
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, it's Christmas Eve and me and the missus and Robin will be offline for a few days now. So, before we go, we wanted to wish you a very, *very* happy Christmas.

Hope you all have a great one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas in London #2

Robin and a tree
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Here's another picture of Christmas in London for you. This is Robin in Trafalgar Square, standing in front of the 25 foot Norwegian Spruce just next to Nelson's Column.

Every year since 1947, the people of Norway have given a Christmas tree to the people of London to show gratitude for Britain's support of Norway during the Second World War. A nice tradition and a very nice tree.

Hope you're all having a nice build-up to Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Robin parties with Dave Grohl!

robin and dave grohl
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, last night Robin bumped into rock legend Dave Grohl - former drummer with Nirvana and current frontman of the Foo Fighters - at a party in London.

As you'll see, they were partying rather hard and Robin woke up with quite a hangover this morning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas in London #1

Robin and a bow
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up

So, as promised, this is a picture of Robing with some of London's Christmas decorations. This is a building around the corner from where I work and they always seem to go to town decorating their building. This year, as you'll see, it's a giant holly wreath. And very nice it looks too. Not exactly sure what they do in the building, but I'm guessing they're not short of a few quid.

More to follow...

Sunday, December 11, 2005


beware the squirrels!
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Sorry it's been a while, but me and the missus (and Robin!) have been away for a lovely relaxing week in the Lake District, in the north of England. No mobile phones, no internet, just lots of relaxation and walking and good food. And now back in London and back to work tomorrow. Sigh...

Anyway, thought you might like this sign, which we saw just outside the village of Patterdale. The Lake District is one of the very few places left in England that still have red squirrels - as, sadly, their grey cousins have taken over. As Wikipedia puts it:-

"Although not thought to be under any threat worldwide, the Red Squirrel has drastically reduced in numbers in the United Kingdom. Under 200,000 individuals are thought to be left, approximately 70 to 75% of which are in Scotland. This population decrease is likely to be due to the introduction of the Eastern Grey Squirrel from North America as well as the loss and fragmentation of its native woodland habitat."

If that above stat is right, and most of them are in Scotland, then there are less than 50,000 of them in England - so naturally we have to look after them, hence the crossing! We saw two of the little cuties outside our cottage, so it seems to be working.

So, onto your 'off-topic' questions. At the moment, no, it doesn't look like we are going to the Winter Olympics. We were toying with it for a while, but now we've got my wife's 14 year old sister coming to stay with us in London for one of the two weeks, so it doesn't look like we'll make it. We will though, be going to the World Cup in Germany (the soccer tournament) so Robin will definitely be there.

As for pictures of Robin with Christmas trees and lights - yes, we go pretty big on that here too. I shall get onto it when I'm back in central London tomorrow...

Hope you're all well and that you've managed to get most of your Christmas shopping done.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Don't worry, it's only a drill...

Robin takes shelter
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Hope you chaps in America had a lovely Thanksgiving - I tried to remember to post something on the day, but we don't celebrate it over here and, um, I forgot. But I hope you all had a nice one.

I took this picture this morning down by London Bridge (breaking news: it isn't falling down). The sign is on the side of a WWII museum that commemorates the air raids that London had to put up with during the war. I didn't actually know the museum existed until I walked past it. Might have to visit sometime...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Shakira bites Robin!

Shakira and Robin
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes folks, today Robin met Shakira, the bona fide pop superstar whose last English-language album sold 13 million copies around the world (and her current Spanish language one is the biggest selling Spanish record in US history!).

Although the fact she's biting Robin;s wing might make it appear she didn't like him, she was actually very fond of the wee bird and seemed quite reluctant to give him back. Lovely woman. Me and Robin were very impressed by her niceness.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

1of4: In York

robin and a minster
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks.

As ever, sorry not to have posted in a while - but I've been busy. I know, I know, I always say that. But it's true. Honest.

So, here are four pics of Robin from the past couple of week - three in York, where my dad lives, and one in Cologne in Germany (see below for the rest, obviously).

This first picture was taken of Robin last Saturday night in front of York Minster, which has been on the site since the year 627AD when a wooden structure built was hurriedly built to provide a place to baptise Edwin, King of Northumbria. Edwin wouldn't have lived to see it blossom into the structure you can see today. Well, not unless he lived to be 802, which seems unlikely (let's face it, the health care back then wasn't anything like as good as it is today. Chances are Edwin didn't make it much past, um, 500).

2of4: At the Castle

Clifford's Tower
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is Robin at the bottom of York Castle - which is known as Clifford's Tower. This structure was built between 1245 and 1265 replacing a wooden castle built by William the Conquerer in the previous century.

That castle was burnt down in 1190 when the following tragic story unfurled (taken from Wikipedia).com:

Richard de Malbis of York was a debtor of Aaron of Lincoln, an influential Jewish banker of the late 12th century. When a fire broke out in the city of York, De Malbis used the opportunity to incite a mob to attack the home of a recently deceased agent of Aaron of Lincoln named Benedict of York, killing his widow and children and burning the house. Joce (Joseph) the leader of the Jewish community of York obtained the permission of the warden of York Castle to remove his wife and children and the rest of the Jews into the castle, where they were probably placed in Clifford's Tower. This was surrounded by the mob, and when the warden left the castle the Jews in fear would not readmit him. He appealed to the sheriff, who called out the county militia; and Clifford's Tower was surrounded for several days. On 16 March 1190 the Tower was set on fire, and many Jews either perished in the flames or took their own lives rather than be attacked by the mob, those who did surrender were killed. In all around 150 Jews died.

Quite a chilling history. They still have memorial services to this day and Jewish groups have fiercely opposed redevelopment of the site.

3of4: Minster from the city wall

York Minster in the distance
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So this is York minster again, taken on a glorious late Sunday afternoon from the York city walls.

York has been protected by a city wall since back in the Roman times, with most of the surviving walls built in the 12th to 14th centuries. There's still a couple of miles of walls more or less circling the city - it makes a lovely walk. And, as you can tell, you get some great views.

4of4: Robin in Germany

robin in cologne
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So this is a picture of Robin in Cologne, Germany taken by my wife when she went there with work a couple of weeks ago.

This is outside the sprawling cathedral (known to locals as K├Âlner Dom) in the centre of the city. Apparently it took over 600 years to finish (they started it in the 13th century and frankly didn't work as hard as they could have). When it was finished, the spires were the highest structures in the world. That was until 1884 when some Americans went and built the Washington monument in DC.

My wife describes the cathedral as 'vast, absolutely huge, you can't get an idea of how huge it is.'

So how come Robin is about half as big as it?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Robin in NYC #1 of 3

Robin at the Empire State Building
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Sorry I've not posted for a while - I've been a busy bee - but here are three pictures I took of Robin when I was in New York this week.

You might remember that he's been before - there was a picture of him at Time Square - but we had a little bit longer to look around this time (although it was still only a Monday to Wednesday trip). I've been quite a few times now, and developed a real fondness for the city.

This one is Robin at the base of the Empire State Building, which I've been up before, but which we didn't have time to go up this time around. But I did get plenty of time to wander the streets and visit some friends.

Actually, talking of wandering, about 3 weeks ago I was brushing my teeth at our flat in London and walked out into the hallway and felt a massive pain in my foot. I'd obviously stood on something sharp - it felt like a nail or something - and, sure enough, whatever it was had gone through my sock and punctured my foot, which started to bleed.

So, my good lady wife had a look at it, said it looked like whatever it was had just made a hole, cleaned it up and that was that. We had a look on the carpet to see what might've done it, but there was nothing to be found.

For the next couple of weeks, it was still hurting, but it didn't look like there was a splinter in there or anything, so I just assumed it was healing.

But then, after walking from Time Sq to E65th and 2nd (about a 40 minute walk) the other day, my foot was numb with pain! It clearly wasn't healing.

So, the next morning, in my hotel room, I resolved to investigate what was happening in there. So I managed to pick away at the skin, dig around a bit and soon managed to push out...... a jagged shard of glass!

Ah, so that would be why it was hurting! (Mum, if you're reading, no, it didn't cause an infection and, yes, it feels much better now thanks!)

Hope all you folks are well and that you're managing to ignore the spam comments that have been appearing recently. I actually got a spam email from one of them offering me the chance to spam the comments of other people's blogs for a fee! I'm hoping the folks at will be sorting out a way of preventing it before too long.

Right, now check out the other two NYC pictures, below...

Robin in NYC #2`

Robin looking over upper Manhattan
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This one was taken from the roof of my friend Bernadette's appartment block - quite a view!

In the distance you can see the trees of Central Park spreading from left to right. Really shows how you've got a park right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.

Robin in NYC #3

Robin in Central Park
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This last picture shows Robin in Central Park, one of my favourite places in New York, where I went for a lovely walk with my friend Bernadette and her gorgeous 6 month old baby Andrew.

I love that there's such a beautiful park in the middle of such a massive city. You feel like you're lost in greenery and lakes, and then you look up and see the skycrapers towering over it all, reminding you where you are!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Robin at Stonehenge

Robin at Stonehenge
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, here's Robin at Stonehenge - the ancient stone monument in the south west of England which is thought to have been used for some sort of religious ceremony and was built 2,800 years ago!

We took the picture as we drove past it (hence the fence) on the way down to visit some friends who live not far away. But I'm sure nobody minded that we didn't stop to look properly - the site gets over a million visitors each year!

(Doesn't the phrase 'hence the fence' just trip off the tongue?)

Robin at Bristol City FC

Robin at the Robins
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is Robin at Ashton Gate - home of Bristol City Football Club, where we went yesterday. There are 92 professional football (soccer) teams in the four major leagues in England and I'm gradually trying to get around to all of them - this was my 74th out of 92, so I'm getting there....

Bristol City's nickname is The Robins (nobody seems too sure why) and they had a giant Robin mascot wandering about on the pitch. Sadly he didn't come near us, or I would've got him to pose with his namesake!

Naturally, with all those Robin mascots in the ground, Bristol City got a much needed 1-0 victory to climb out of the relegation zone...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Robin at the British Museum!

Robin checks out the Great Court's roof
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Sorry it's been so long between postings, I've been - as ever - quite busy. And although I did go to Italy last weekend with my best pal for his 30th birthday present, I forgot to take Robin with me (I'm blaming the 4am alarm call!)

So, today I thought I'd head over to the British Museum at lunch time to take a couple of pictures.

The British Museum has been open for 251 years and holds a huge collection of Roman, Egyptian and Greek treasures (notably the Elgin marbles, which the Greek government *really* want back).

This picture was taken inside the Great Court which used to be open air (and not open to visitors) but which they roofed at the turn of the millennium. It's made up of hundreds of glass panels and was opened by the Queen in December 2000.

As I can see the British Museum from my desk, I watched them building the roof from the very first day that surveyors came to look in cranes at how they were going to build it. I'm quite attached to it now and it's a lovely place to go and relax in one of the cafes there.

It's also Europe's biggest covered square (or something like that) which makes it very handy for days like today - when it's absolutely chucking it down with rain.

Hope you folks are good.

Robin arriving the British Museum!

Robin at the British Museum
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, here's Robin arriving at the British Museum (see post above). Although it may appear that Robin has grown a human arm, I can categorically deny that that is the case. He still just has two little furry wings.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Six of the best: Alton Towers Air

Robin and Alton Towers' Air
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is the last of my mammoth six posts today - another ride at Alton Towers. This is one of the newest rides and is meant to replicate the feeling of flying, so you sort of lie forward in your seat, facing down, and then go whizzing off.

And, sure enough, as you hurtle around the loops at a ridiculous speed, facing down, with nothing beneath you except the ground, it feels a) rather like you're flying and b) rather scary!

This was one of our favourite rides of the day. After all the rides, you can buy a picture that they've taken of you on it, and on this one both me and wife had massive grins on our faces.

A top day out, to end a top week of top days out.

Six of the best: Alton Towers Nemesis

Robin and Alton Towers' Nemesis
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is another of the rides we went on at Alton Towers. You hang down in your seat, dangling below a rail above you. This is a loop-the-loop and you'll see that people's feet are towards the sky and their heads near the tracks.

This is one of the park's most famous, popular rides - but happily, because the kids are all at school now, it wasn't very busy at all. In fact, we only had to queue for about ten minutes to get on this ride (it could easily be two hours in the peak time of summer). It's a fun ride, but you do come off feeling rather dizzy!

Six of the best: Alton Towers

Robin and Alton Towers' Oblivion
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So, having been to the New Forest for my wife's secret day out (see below), on Thursday I took her to Alton Towers, a massive theme park in the middle of England (not far from where my mum lives, actually). My wife had always wanted to go and was very pleased with her surprise.

Alton Towers has some of the world's best roller coasters. This one is called Oblivion and features an enormous vertical drop into a black, smoke-filled hole. When you get to the top of the drop, they pause the car just over the edge and then - whoooosh - you hurtle down into the hole. Quite scary, but very good fun.

Six of the best: wild horses

Robin and New Forest wild horses
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is a second picture from our New Forest trip. The New Forest has literally thousands of wild horses roaming throughout it and this picture captures a bunch of them. It's amazing to be cycling along and just come across seven or eight horses grazing or galloping about. They're obviously used to having people about too, so they didn't run a mile at the sight of us.

Six of the best: biking the forest

Robin on his bike at the New Forest
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So, the morning after our trip to Tamworth, it was the first of our secret days out - whereby, on Wednesday, my wife planned a secret day out for me and, on Thursday, I planned a secret day out for her.

Her day was a trip to go cycling in the New Forest, which is down towards the south coast of England. We had a tremendous day, cycling about, sitting in cafes in cute little towns and enjoying the fresh air.

Six of the best: at Tamworth FC

Robin at Tamworth FC
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

This is the first of six - yes six! - Robin pics I'm posting this morning. Myself and my lovely wife have had a few days off work, so we've been going on some day trips.

This one, on Tuesday, was up to Tamworth to watch my boys York City play. Happily, we won 3-0 - the third of which you can see being scored in the background of this picture. Moments after the picture was taken the ball flashed into the bottom corner for a goal. Hurrah!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Big chair! Big desk!

Robin and giant furniture
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

If you look to the right of Robin on the kite-flying picture below, you might be able to see this giant table and chair, which is currently situated on Parliament Fields on Hampstead Heath.

It's a work of sculpture called The Writer by Italian sculptor Giancarlo Neri. It's an impressive piece of work, like something out of Alice in Wonderland or Lilliput, just sitting there in the middle of the field.

You can read all about the sculpture on The Guardian's website here.

Robin goes up to Parliament Hill

Robin goes fly a kite
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

'Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height,' sings Mary Poppins at the end of the film. And that highest kite flying height in London, as Poppins was no doubt aware, is Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath where you'll always find plenty of kite flyers on a Sunday afternoon.

We went up there with Robin yesterday afternoon to watch the pros with their huge parachute-like kites, while joining in with our little foldaway pocket one (you can see it at the very top of this picture).

We offered to tie Robin to the kite before we got it going, but he didn't seem keen on the idea.

Robin at Aldershot FC

Robin at Aldershot FC
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

On Saturday Robin went down to Aldershot's Recreation Ground to see the game between Aldershot Town (in red) and York City (in blue). Sadly Aldershot won 2-1. Still, at least it was a lovely day and there was autumn sun to be caught.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Robin towers over London!

Robin up BT Tower
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Yesterday evening, Robin, the wife and I were invited to a party up at the top of the BT Tower in London. It's a huge tower that stands head and shoulders above London - 189 metres high - and isn't normally open to visitors (they closed it as a tourist attraction after a bomb was placed in the toilets in 1971).

There's an amazing view from up there, as you can probably tell. The most obvious landmark behind Robin is the London Eye - the big wheel that was built on the banks of the Thames to celebrate the millennium and is now one of the most popular attractions here.

Hope you folks have good weekends.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Robin watches England win the Ashes!

Robin at the Oval
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, Robin was at the Oval cricket ground yesterday to watch England win the Ashes cricket series against Australia for the first time since December 1986.

This is massive, front-page news here in England and, as I write, a victory parade is beginning to make its way past tens of thousands of people to Trafalgar Square. Sadly, me and Robin can't go cos I've got a meeting at work.

Still, I was one of the lucky 23,000 who got to see us win it. An amazing day. Well done England.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Robin and the singing dogs...

robin and dogs
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hello folks - hope you've had good weeks.

Here's Robin with a couple of singing dogs on a pillow. They were given to me by my mother last week when she came to visit us in London. On taking them out of the box, I wasn't quite sure why she'd bought us such a schmaltzy gift - but then she showed us a button to press which brought them to life singing 'I Got You Babe' to each other in full-on Sonny-dog and Cher-god animatronics fashion.

That was the song myself and my lovely wife sang in front of all our guests at the party on the night we got married (in truth, the dogs are probably more tuneful - but it's a lovely reminder).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Robin takes tea with the chap from OutKast!

Robin meets Andre 3000
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes folks, Robin's been rubbing shoulders with the stars again. Today he bumped into Andre 3000 (or Andre Benjamin) from the band OutKast, Atlanta's finest hip hop duo whose last album featured the hit song 'Hey Ya' (the one about shaking it like a Polaroid) and sold over 11 million copies!

Mr Benjamin was so pleased to meet Robin that he offered him a nice cup of English tea and then helped him to drink it. What a lovely man.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Robin and a London bus

Robin and a London bus
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, my prolific posting spell continues with a shot of Robin waiting at the bus stop about half an hour ago to catch the bus home. This is your average London bus - red, double decker and all that. Not the quaintest of bus stops though!

Dawn, absolutely take your point about the roads being out of use making it difficult to get aid to the New Orleans area, but I spoke to a pal of mine in Austin Texas today who was saying that the Austin police helicopters are still in the city - you'd have thought they'd have sent all the helicopters in the area to the disaster zone by now. There have certainly been plenty of distraught people on the news complaining about how no aid has arrived whatsoever, so it's not like those helicopters wouldn't be of some use.

And, again, take your point about the hugely foolish people shooting at the helicopters - but I'd say that although the authorities were encouraging people in advance to come to the sports stadium to escape the tornado, they don't seem to have thought very hard about how they'd look after/police them when they got there, so mob rule broke amidst some awful conditions.

Terry Ebbert, the head of New Orleans' emergency operations, has already said the slow response by the wider authorities has been a 'national disgrace' - so it's not like I'm the only one who thinks the response has been rather slow and the problems poorly anticipated (people were, afterall, well aware that the city is below sea level and that there was a very good chance it would flood).

But, I'm sure we're all very much agreed that they need to get relief there as soon as possible and thank goodness that seems to be starting to happen. I really hope that they can regain control of the city and help the thousands of desperate people who are in such awful trouble,

Anyway, my Austin pal was also telling me it's a holiday weekend over there in the States this weekend - hope that amidst these awful scenes you folks manage to have a peaceful weekend.

Robin on a famous piano!

robin piano
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hello folks,

Took this picture yesterday afternoon when I had to go to a recording studio in West London. This very piano, the manager of the studio told me, has been played by Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi, Freddie Mercury and, now, Robin. Well, I say played, he just jumped up and down on the keys a bit.

Like everyone in the world, we've had crazy pictures coming to our TVs from the New Orleans area. From this distance, even given the size of the hurricane, the lack of preparation for what they'd do afterwards is just stunning, as is the fact that so little relief seems to have made it through so far. I really hope they can actually start to help people before things spiral any further out of control.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Robin hits the town

robin giggin'
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, just to prove that it's not all work and no play around here, here's Robin at a concert at the Luminaire in London last night by a band called The Brakes (taken on my phone, so perhaps not the best quality). It was a top night and Robin moshed his little heart out.

Also, really sorry to hear what's going on in the New Orleans area at the moment - the pictures I keep seeing on the news are just so disturbing. That and a 1000 people dying because of a stampede in Iraq makes for some of the most heart-wrenching news in years. Really hope that the state authorities can pull together and help out the people that are stuck in New Orleans and that something can be done for all the people who've lost their homes. Just devestating. Also hope none of you guys reading this have been unduly affected.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blimey, I haven't posted in ages!

Robin at my desk
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Really really sorry not to have posted in so long, it's been one of those super-busy times I get at work sometimes. So much so that I'm sitting here at 8.39pm still chained to my computer, 11 hours after I arrived. But hey, at least I've got Robin here with me - he's always happy to hang out with his pal Money Mark (that's him in the shades).

So, I really should get straight to the competition result - and it was won hands-down by Mary, who was not only the first person to enter, but also got the exact correct answer of 11 countries with all 11 listed. Impressive stuff Mary, drop me an email with your details and I'll get that tacky London souvenir in the post.

Hope you folks are all good. I'm going to try my very hardest to post more often over the next few days, so keep 'em peeled...!

Friday, August 19, 2005

More from Ibiza...

A Robin on water
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up

Here's another Robin in Ibiza shot - taken from a boat going from Es Canar to Ibiza Town.

It's a very beautiful island - more famous for its clubbing (P Diddy and Michael Stipe were both there enjoying that the weekend we were there), but there's lots of lovely scenery if you go looking for it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Robin, in Ibiza

Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.


Here's a more scenic shot of Robin in Ibiza - this was taken up at the top of the hill in old Ibiza Town. I was experimenting with the panoramic-stitch-together thing on my mobile phone - problem was I couldn't see the screen properly cos the sun was so bright, hence the blurry repeated bit.

Keep those competition entries coming (see below) - that tacky London souvenir could have your name on it!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Robin celebrates birthday! Competition!

Robin, chillin'
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

In response to Andi W's comment last week - the answer is that yes, I probably do travel more than most British people (mainly through work), but I think we do tend to leave our country more than Americans anyway. Obviously you have to travel long distances to get to another country, whereas (particularly since the advent of budget airlines) we can get to a whole host of countries in under two hours for a cost of about $100 return.

So, yet again, I was abroad this weekend - on a work trip to the Spanish party island of Ibiza. On Saturday, it was exactly one year since Robin made his debut online, and he celebrated by lounging about in the pool.


And now - to celebrate one year of Robin - it's time for our first competition since the Olympics.

Guess how many countries Robin has been photographed in since he made his debut last August. And as a tie-breaker, name them. To enter, just post your entry in the comments tab below. Whoever gets the right number of countries wins. If two people get the right number, the one who names most of them correctly takes the prize.

Closing date is a week from today. The winner gets a tacky London souvenir.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Robin in Ypres

robin in belgium
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

This picture was taken on Sunday in Ypres, a lovely little town in the Flanders part of Belgium.

I was over there with my wife and my grandad, who we took away for the weekend. The mediaeval city of Ypres was very much in the thick of the action during World War One (it was called Wipers by British soldiers) and we went to a very thought-provoking trench that has been preserved since 1917.

It was quite moving to walk down the trench and imagine who'd been in there all those years ago and what they'd been feeling. Around a quarter of a million men from the Commonwealth lie in grave sites in Flanders - mind-blowing to imagine.

But it was also a very pretty town and we managed to have a lovely time exploring the fair that was going on and eating some great Belgian food.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Robin and an Arsenal stadium

Robin checks out Arsenal
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Here's Robin checking out the brand new stadium of Arsenal Football Club at Ashburton Grove in North London. Arsenal are one of the best football (soccer to you American folks) teams in England and, probably, Europe.

It's not finished yet - the team have one more season at their old Highbury ground where they've been for about 80 years - but it's going up pretty quickly and looks like it will be quite a stunning ground.

They're moving because the old ground only holds 38,000, whereas this one will hold about 60,000 (which, of course, equals rather more money through the gates). Plus, they've already got a multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Emirates airline to call it the Emirates Stadium.

Me and Robin will certainly be going back to check it out when it's finished...

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Robin at Beachy Head

Robin and a heckuva view
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

I took this picture this morning at Beachy Head an amazing place on the coast near Eastbourne in Sussex (we went to a lovely wedding nearby on Friday). The view of the enormous white cliffs probably speaks for itself - if it doesn't, then may I suggest 'stunning'?

Definitely worth clicking on this picture to see it bigger.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Robin, on the tube!

Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Yes, this is Robin, back on the London Underground - which is the main topic of conversation in London these days, after the suicide bombings on Jul 7 and the failed bombings on Jul 21.

It's quite weird sitting there every morning with people reading about bombs and bombers in their newspapers and giving each other furtive looks to check their bag doesn't look too big or whatever. But all you can do is get back to normal and keep travelling to work and hope that the police can stop it. Not ideal, but there really aren't too many alternatives.

Robin certainly enjoyed his trip (he hasn't been out of the house much recently). Look, his eyes are wide with the excitement of being on the tube!

Hope you guys are all good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

24 days till Robin's 1!

Ducky says...
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up

This is Robin's friend Duckia, whom we rescued from a Duty Free shop in Genoa airport in Italy last year.

Duckia wanted to tell you folks that on August 13 2005, it will have been exactly one year to the day since Robin made his first appearance on the world wide web (see the archive if you want to check Duckia's got her facts right) . Duckia's a nice duck, and she wanted to make sure you were all aware of this momentous occasion.

And now you are. A job well done Duckia.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wow, what a game! (But, oops, forgot Robin)

cricket 'n clouds
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

So, as you'll see from the picture, I forgot to take Robin to the cricket match last night - and he missed a classic!

As today's Guardian newspaper put it, 'the venerable old Oval had never seen anything like it'. To cut a long story short, it was a 20 over (120 ball/pitch) match - which was interupted by rain, so Warwickshire, the away team, only got to face 90 balls, whereas Surrey, the home team, had faced all 120. Surrey had scored 149 runs from theie 120 bowls, so it was worked out that Warwickshire had to score 118 from their 90.

In the end, after much drama, they score 117. The Surrey players celebrated, thinking this meant they'd won. But, after 30 minutes, it turned out they hadn't - it was a tie.

Because this was a knock-out cup match, that meant they had to resort to a bowl-out, the first in the history of the competition (like a penalty shoot out in soccer)! That meant five bowlers from each team got two bowls each at the wicket/stumps, without a batsman trying to stop it. After both teams had had their 10 balls, the score was 2 hits each. So it went into sudden death.

The Warwickshire bowler went first and hit the stumps. Which meant the Surrey man had to hit the stumps with one bowl or they'd lost. Amazingly, he hit it. Then the Warwickshire man missed, which meant the Surrey player had to hit the wicket for the home team to win. He did and the crowd went barmy. The player who'd hit it - Tim Murtagh - went sprinting off into the field, peeled off his shirt and waved it around his head, like he'd just scored a winning goal.

I'm not sure if this communicates to those of you who know nothing about cricket, but this is an unprecedented way for a game to end. Murtagh was on TV afterwards saying hitting the winning wicket was 'definitely one of the best feelings of his entire life'.

Amazing. And a great way to celebrate a year to the day since me and my wife got engaged.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Robin at the cricket #2

Robin, by the scoreboard
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This was taken at the same cricket game as the posting below - it's the scoreboard (yes, really!), a key part of any cricket game, even if there's no spectators to speak of (it's handy for the players, I guess). This is quite a sweet-looking one, I thought (certainly more so than the chap taking his top off and thrusting out his stomach!).

Robin at cricket #1

Robin, by the boundary
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Sorry it's been ages since I've posted, I've been really busy. Things are getting back to normal in London after the bombings ten days ago, which turned out to be the UK's first suicide bomb attacks. I'm pleased (and a wee bit proud) to say London has taken it all in its stride and people are back on the tubes and the buses and not letting it affect them too badly. It is still strange being on the tubes, especially when they're packed, and you can tell everybody is checking out everybody else's bags, but I'm amazed how quickly things have got back to normal really.

This picture was taken this afternoon, up at Highgate Woods about a 15 minute walk from where we live. There was a cricket game going on in the middle of the park, so I thought you folks might like to see a couple of pictures from this most traditional of English Sunday afternoon pursuits.

Do you folks in America know/understand cricket? Or do you look at it with the same mixture of confusion and bafflement that we Brits/Europeans/Rest Of The Worlders tend to look at American Football with?

Funnily enough, I'm off to a proper County cricket match tomorrow in one of the biggest cricket stadiums in the UK (The Oval) so I'll take Robin along so that you can see the difference between a little local game and the real thing.