Update - 7 June 2000



Hello all!
It has been a longer than I intended since the last update. I was hoping to get something out prior to leaving for vacation, but as you can probably imagine, there were a few things that didn't get done. However, assuming I get a chance to scan a few of the holiday pictures relatively soon, I will probably have a couple of short updates close together...

Since the last update...
We are trying to continue taking advantage of all the theatre and various performances in London. Regus, the company my employer (Litton / PRC) rents space from, often has 1/2 price tickets coupons available for a variety of shows. Although these are rarely for the productions most in demand (Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, etc.), it seems they can be for nearly anything else. Consequently, in addition to familiar shows, we have gone to a number of plays without knowing much about them including The Weir (an Irish play involving a series of "ghost stories") and Cooking With Elvis (a English drama with more than a few laughable moments). Also, caught one of the last London performances of the Argentinean De La Guarda troupe. Definitely one of those that you have to see to truly understand. Suffice to say that you stand for entire performance (about 70 minutes) and that it involves water, strobe lights, and all kinds of bizarre noises. Despite being very different (almost experimental), it was enjoyable. Apparently there is another troupe touring in the US (New York), so catch it if you can (and stand as near to the CENTER as possible). About a week later we saw Blast! at the Hammersmith Apollo. From the advertisements, were expecting something similar to Stomp though in reality it is a very elaborate bugle corps. The group consists of several ensembles; percussion, horns, and "flags" (though they were much more than that). In reading the program, learned that nearly all the performers are in their early 20s and recently graduated from a Indiana or some other mid-west college. Overall, a loud, high-energy show.

Since we live in Chelsea, I have been trying to get Blues tickets since we got here (not that we are big fans, we are just trying to see all the London teams and stadiums). Finally, there were some available for the Coventry match (the only tickets available to the general public are those left over from the club members). Anyone who remembers the MLS Final (@RFK) a few years ago (and that doesn't include you guys pleasantly tucked away in the mezzanine seats!), it was about as wet, and cold, and miserable. Learned soon afterwards that the owner began the stadium without all the proper permits. Though most of the stadium complex was finished, the local borough halted construction before he was able to complete the West Stands (as a result, they remain uncovered). Supposively he has received permission to complete everything during the off-season. Assuming that West Stands are similar to the other sides, the additional seating should make it easier to get tickets in the future too.

One of the disappointing things about London is definitely the "music scene". There seems to be only a small number of places offering live music. We were fortunate to catch David Gray @the Hanover Grand (about 1/2 of the 9:30 in DC). Saw him for the first time several years ago when you opened for Shawn Colvin. Ironically, although he is from Ireland, he is only just starting to get airplay here with his most recent CD. Hoping to catch him again when he is around in August...

Found some very reasonable (< $100 on RyanAir) flights to Ireland for Easter, so we flew there for a quick visit and to spend some time with Sue, "Auntie" Maura and "Uncle" Eugene (who were there with one of Eugene's tours). Amazingly, Ireland is just as green as you might imagined, although I will suggest that Easter may not be the best time for a visit. Nearly everything was closed Friday and Sunday (surprisingly, including most - if not all - of the pubs). Explored mostly in the south / southwest including Adare, Cashel, Cobh, Blarney. Saw a little bit of Killarney and the Dingle Peninsula before heading to the Shannon Airport on Sunday. Looking forward to returning for a more extended visit...

It seems most everyone is caught up in Euro2000 "fever". Matches begin this Sunday and end the same day as the bike ride (July 2nd). Not sure what Europe was like during the World Cup, but football is definitely the topic of discussion now. All the newspapers during the past week have been stuffed with Euro2000 supplements. I am sure we'll be spending quite a bit of time at our local pub watching as many matches as possible. If you believe the sports writers, France is definitely favored to win...

Some "pub mates" got me pointed in the right direction regarding soccer (football, everywhere else in the world). Just over the river in Battersea Park is something referred to as an "All-Weather" pitch. Basically, it is a astroturf field used for both soccer and field hockey. Although there are definitely "regulars", it is pretty much just a pickup game (Tuesday nights). Made a big mistake first time out by wearing indoor shoes (I thought it made sense for astroturf). Quickly discovered that rainwater (it does rain here OCCASIONALLY) and astroturf creates a surface roughly equivalent to ice (subsequently, I embarrassingly spent the majority of time on my arse!). As it turns out, the guys who managed best were wearing their regular outdoor cleats. Lesson learned, I have gone back since and had a MUCH more enjoyable time. Hoping to find a regular team, but that may take a bit of time yet. Most of the outdoor seasons ended in April and will not pick up again until September. Hoping we can find a women's team too. Would be very surprised if we find a coed team anywhere...

Looking forward to 26-mile bike ride thru London in a few weeks. One of the local radio stations (Heart 106.2) is organizing a charity (Cancer Research Campaign) bike ride near the beginning of July. The donation goes to a good cause and it should be a great opportunity to bike around the city. In general, London is not particularly "bike friendly", so it should be a little more relaxing than a normal ride along the streets.

That's all for now. Email when you get the chance. It is great hearing from everyone and makes it seem like we are a little less far away...

Take care, and miss you all!
Norman

P.S. Per usual, check out the website when you get the chance. I have posted new pictures of Hyde Park (all the parks were nicely planted during the spring), Regent's Park, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and our brief trip to Ireland...
http://members.aol.com/LivingInLondon/

If that does not work for whatever reason, you can go directly to the site with the following address...
http://speicher.fsnet.co.uk/