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.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Just to let you know, I'm okay.

It's a very sad day in London. This morning, I was just about to set off to work, slightly late, when we got a text message from my wife's mother in Athens, asking if we were okay because there'd been explosions in London. First we'd heard of it, so we looked online and, sure enough, they were saying that there'd been some sort of explosions at tube stations in London. So I rang the three people in my section at work and told them not to take the tube - all were just setting off for work - and went to get the bus into town. I took a radio with me so that i could hear the latest.

At the bus stop, the radio was saying that it was power surges in the tube stations that had caused the explosions, which seemed a bit odd, but meant you felt pretty safe getting the bus into town. Got a bus to Archway, where the tube station was shuttered up and then managed to get on a bus, which was going down to Kings Cross station. On the radio, they were still talking about the power surges - British Transport Police had confirmed that, I believe - but the eye witnesses who were ringing in on their phones were all talking about explosions. Then someone called in and said they'd just spoken to their friend who'd been in Russell Square, about half a mile from Kings Cross, and seen a bus explode. This was the first anyone had heard of such a thing - remember, we thought it was a power surge at this point - and the radio presenters were quite keen to point out that this was an unconfirmed report, but the student calling in certainly seemed convincing.

So by now I'm on the bus on the road down to Kings Cross - one of the places where the tube explosions had been - with a work colleague who'd happened to get on, and we were both listening to the radio on a headphone each. Then they said there had been further reports of the exploding bus at Russell Square. That was about a mile from where we were, so we decided it might make sense to get off the bus. By now, mobile phones weren't working, I guess because of the demand from everyone trying to get through to their families telling them they were okay.

We wandered about a bit, thinking maybe we shouldn't go into town - as we were so near to where most of the explosions had been happening. Around now, the radio started saying that the tube explosions hadn't been power surges after all - they'd been bombs. Nobody was in a panic where we were - Londoners have a sort of stoic air about these things - like, this is really annoying, what's going on, how will I get to work. We're sort of used to disruption. I didn't really feel at all scared, just a bit weirded out. The bus that had exploded was only about 200 metres from the building I work in.

Eventually, we decided to try and walk down into central London and get into a work - a few hundred yards away - but it was clear from the number of people streaming the other way that they weren't able to get through. We asked a woman coming the other way and she confirmed that the police were stopping people and telling them to head the other way.

So now I've walked the 5 miles home, much to the relief of my wife. We now know that there have been around 6 explosions and there are fatalities. It's very strange watching news footage of areas of London I know so well, and I'm just very grateful that I wasn't caught up in it and, as far as I can tell, neither was anyone I know.

Such a sad day for London after the joy of getting the Olympics yesterday.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - we got that too!

Yes, having reaped the benefits of having the address during the last Olympics, I was lucky enough to bag just after the announcement was made today. Hurrah. Seven years of build up starts here...

London 2012. We got it. Yes!

As I write, the red arrows fighter plane display team have just flown past my office window with red, white and blue smoke billowing from their tails. London got the Olympics for 2012. We never thought we would, but we have. And now we're very happy.

Where's Robin? He's down the road at Trafalgar Square celebrating...!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Robin, fulfills Titanic fantasies...

Robin, boat
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Yes, here's Robin, making like Thingy and Wotsit in 'Titanic' (except he's on his own, of course). This was taken on Hydra a couple of days ago.

We're off back to England today - will definitely miss the Greek weather (though we did bring a few storms with us). Went for a wander in Athens yesterday, and back to the church we got married in for the first time since then - very nice to see it.

Reet, see you in England...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Robin on Greek island: no cars!

Robin on Hydra
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up

Yes, we're back in Athens after a couple of nights on the lovely island of Hydra, a teeny Greek island about 1.5 hours on a quick boat from Athens.

It's only got a population of 3,000 people, probably because everything is built into/onto hills. In fact, it's so hilly that they don't even have (or indeed, allow) cars on the island - they just use donkeys to carry things about. Really.

Lovely place, can very much recommend a visit. I'll post some more pics in the next couple of days. This one was taken looking into the main town of Hydra after a wee walk along the coast to a secluded little spot where we went swimming and enjoyed the sunshine.