Update - 26 August 2000



Hello all!
These past weeks have flown by and it seems that our time here has only been accelerating. Amazingly, we have been in London for more than 9 months! As the end of the year nears, the possibility of extending beyond December looks more likely in that the other consortium has officially withdrawn (leaving no other competition in the bid for the Metropolitan Police business). Nothing is assured, but everyone here is encouraged by recent events.

Since the last update...
Although Shelly spent most of June @work, she did sneak out for a few hours one Saturday so we could see the official celebration of the Queen's birthday called "Trooping The Colours". We caught a glimpse (and picture) of both the Queen and the Queen Mother. Prince Charles looked to be in a horse guard behind the Queen, though we were not entirely sure. Missed the Royal Air Force flyover and some of the other aspects which occurred later in the day.

We survived the 26-mile Heart 106.2 Bike Ride. The ride was not particularly difficult (London is basically flat), but the route was not protected in the way we expected. Unlike the marathon, all the streets were open per usual so there were some "interesting" experiences riding in and amongst traffic. There were marshals all over to keep you on the proper route and thankfully, there was a certain safety in the sheer number of riders (as it would have been difficult as a driver not to be aware of all the cyclists around). Our coworkers sponsored us generously so we each were able to raise £100 for the associated charity; The Cancer Research Campaign.

During the summertime, there are quite a few outdoor theatre performances, most presenting Shakespeare. Just before Shelly's coworker Sherri left for the States, we caught "Much Ado About Nothing" one evening in Regent's Park. The experience reminded me of Wolf Trap in that most everyone brought provisions for a picnic. Still hoping we might have a chance to see "Midsummer Night's Dream", which is the second Regent's Park performance of the summer. More recently, we joined most of the Reading office at the Abbey ruins (in Reading) for a presentation of Twelfth Night. The acting was definitely not the best, but the venue is intimate and memorable.

With the English Premiership starting again this past weekend, seems like forever since the Euro 2000 tournament. If you are a football (soccer) fan, it was hard not to spend the entire tournament glued to the television (yes, we FINALLY got a TV). Both the semi-final matches ended poorly (although they were good matches up until the end), but the Italy v. France final was a pleasant surprise. Convinced that Italy was going to play the defensive style they had for most of the tournament, the match was much more exciting than most people expected (myself included). Felt sorry that Italy gave up such a late goal, but you have to give France credit after being down for so much of the game. With all the momentum going into overtime, it was no wonder that France ultimately won.

Had a great visit with Chris & Nancy. They went to Ireland for their honeymoon and were able to arrange a London connection so they could visit. The time was short, but we did manage to squeeze in a couple of enjoyable dinners, a canal trip from Little Venice to Camden and the Camden Market (between the rain showers). Tried to get tickets for the London Eye (big ferris wheel), but weekends are sold out a few weeks in advance (we will have to save that for some other visitors!). As luck would have it, Jason was here working at the same time so we all went to dinner at great place called Andrew Edmunds, near Soho.

Jason is a big golf fan, so he easily talked me into a road trip up to Scotland to attend the Open Championship (what is incorrectly call the British Open in the States - though even Tiger slipped in one of the interviews we saw). Spent the night in Glasgow. Got there late (after spending the day @St Andrew's), but found a nice restaurant (thanks to a friend of one our Reading guys) and a great dance club. Would love to get back there to see what else is in and around Glasgow.

Shelly flew home AGAIN, this time in July to attend bridal showers in both Virginia and Pittsburgh. She obviously enjoyed her time with friends and family, though she did stress a bit until she was able to finish writing all the respective Thank Yous.

Since we have taken Eurostar a number of times, we occasionally get advertisements sent to the house. After eyeing the fares for much of the summer, it seemed everything reasonable was booked until September. So when we received a offer for £109 first-class tickets, we jumped at the opportunity (having been anxious to get back to Brussels, and further north to Brugges). Not sure the first class accommodations were THAT much better (especially since we generally spend the majority of the travel time sleeping), but it did include a meal (about what you would get on an airline). After arriving in Brussels Saturday morning, we continued on to Brugges (about another hour). Apparently, it was a prominent port for quite a while until the waterways silted over. As a result, it lost most of its commercial business to other ports in the area and since it lacked significance was spared by various conflicts and the World Wars. It was just as pretty as all the pictures. Spent much of Sunday in Brussels exploring some new places and buying lace.

Finally made it out to Warwick Castle. Quickly got "castled out" after we moved here, though we have been meaning to get out to Warwick ever since visiting nearby Stratford-Upon-Avon. The castle has exhibitions throughout the summer. The weekend we went there were jousting competitions along with the usual archery demonstrations, etc. The day ended with a significant rainstorm (the ONE time we believed the weather forecast and did not bring our Gore-Tex). It was not until we were on the train back to London that I "discovered / remembered" the audio tour CD players I had placed in the backpack to keep dry (we have since mailed them back).

That's all for now...
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 from our holiday including Warsaw, Kracow, Budapest, Prague, Szentendre and Bratislava. Hopefully, I will be able to post bits of video soon too. Bought some hardware / software that can be used to save video from the camcorder file.
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/