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 Blogger.com 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!