London Town

My first trip to London was in late February 2006. I hadn’t been back since, and if you had asked me a month ago, I would have said that I probably wouldn’t be back to London again for several more years. But some folks at work organized a conference there, and I realized that I needed to go.

The flight from JFK to London Heathrow was smooth, and I arrived in London around lunchtime on Monday. Because of our new Daylight Savings Time schedule, the time zone difference was only four hours – just one hour more than the US West Coast from home. As a result, I didn’t have too much trouble with jet lag, and I was also helped by the fact that I slept a couple hours on the overnight flight, which is a real rarity for me.

Anyway, I took the Heathrow Express into Paddington Station, and then caught a cab to Bloomsbury Way, near the British Museum, where my hotel was located [all photos borrowed today]:



My meetings took place in a beautiful hotel and conference center around the corner from my hotel:


This was a quick trip for heading overseas – I arrived Monday mid-day and flew home Thursday afternoon – so I didn’t really have time for touristy stuff. However, I did some clothes shopping for Chels and the kids. One of the main places I hit was a UK chain called Primark, which specializes in what the Brits call “cheap and cheerful” – up-to-the-moment fashion at rock-bottom prices. I even bought a couple of things for myself.


Before long it was time to head back to the airport and make the long journey home.


I have no idea when I’ll be back to London again, but I enjoyed myself a great deal, between the camaraderie with work colleagues and the energy of being in another of the world’s great cities.

NYC: On stage, on the town

[NOTE: Posts this week will include some photos borrowed from other sites to illustrate the story, since I foolishly left my camera in the car for most of my travels.]

Chelsea and Maria went up to New York on Saturday morning to attend “master classes” in ballet that were being taught by professional dancers and choreographers. They ran into an unexpected snag on the way up – downed power lines on the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey, which caused them to hop off the train, backtrack to their car thanks to a very expensive taxi ride, and drive into New York.

nj transit princeton junction station

Meanwhile, I was at home seeing Anna to her soccer game around lunchtime. I then delivered Nick and Anna to friends’ houses for Saturday night sleepovers, and climbed in the car myself for the drive into Manhattan. Traffic was surprisingly bad for a Saturday evening, and all told it took me about 3.5 hours to make the drive, which I would normally expect to make in two hours flat.

Holland Tunnel sign

We stayed Saturday night at the Sohotel, a boutique hotel on the Bowery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It was pretty convenient to the competition venue, and right near Chinatown and Little Italy besides, so we feasted on a late dinner of pizza and Chinese takeout in our hotel room.



Sunday morning, Maria’s ensemble performed. Photography during the event was strictly forbidden, so I don’t have much to show for the big moment:


The kids did well, and ultimately learned that they were in the top 12 ensembles for the whole competition. Not bad for a group of youngsters, considering that most of the other ensembles consisted of high school and college age kids.

After they performed, Maria and her girlfriends rushed off to another master class. Chelsea was kind enough to release me from kid duties long enough to walk over to The Strand, a gigantic used bookstore at 12th and Broadway.


Strand Bookstore

I picked up a few books and wandered back to Washington Square to sit outside and read in the sun for a few minutes. It was lovely.


We ducked back into the competition theater for a while longer to watch some other kids from Maria’s school, and then we wandered the neighborhood looking for crepes. We ate dinner together, went back and watched some more of the competition, and then it was time for me to head to the airport, and for Chels and Maria to head home.

van wyck expressway

JFK Airport, New York

Tomorrow: Monday in London.

Back in the USA

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome back. I’ve just returned from a whirlwind tour of two of the world’s greatest cities – New York and London. The weekend before this one, Maria had her dance competition up in Manhattan, which gave us a chance to spend a weekend in the heart of the city. Sunday night, I went out to JFK Airport and hopped on a plane to London for a week’s worth of business meetings:


To my enduring chagrin, I managed to leave my point and shoot camera in the trunk of my car, so I have no photos of my own to show from the trip. However, I should be able to comb through Flickr and find some representative snaps of the places I visited. I also managed to get a few pictures in New York, and Chelsea got some as well, so I’ll be able to give you a quick tour of the big city during the course of this week.

Quick post: NYC weekend

I’m waiting right now on my red-eye flight across the pond for work, so I’ve got time to do a quick post. This weekend I was in NYC with Chelsea and Maria for a ballet competition. This was the international finals for the competition in which Maria’s ensemble did so well back in January.

We couldn’t take pictures of the competition itself, but this afternoon we went wandering around the city to find some lunch, and I snapped a couple of pictures of two of my favorite girls at a neighborhood pizza shop:



I haven’t even boarded my flight yet, and I miss them already.

Back next week.

Spring break for the blog

Gentle readers, your intrepid correspondent is getting ready for a business trip over the pond next week, and will be exceptionally busy this week preparing for the trip. I’m declaring spring break for the blog. Posts will resume the week of March 28th. I hope you’ll forgive me for skipping out on you….


If I get any chances to post in the meantime, I certainly will. I’m just not counting on it.

Wayback Machine: July 2009

I was driving past our swim club the other night, trying to stay afloat in the build-an-ark rains we’ve had this week, and it cheered me to think that we’re only about two months away from swimming season. Here’s a look back at Anna taking her first-ever unassisted dive off the diving board, on the Fourth of July two years ago:


What a great moment! Man, it is fun sometimes being a parent. Happy weekend to you.

Who’s that girl?

It’s my wife, looking gorgeous with her striking new haircut:


I nearly fell over with surprise when she came home from the hairdresser. So short! So straight! Crazy.

Date night with Nick

Last night I picked up Nick from his photography class in the city, and we took the opportunity to have dinner together. Nick was feeling reasonably brave, so we tried a place we hadn’t been to before – a crepe restaurant called Beau Monde at 6th and Bainbridge.


We had a great meal, topped by a Nutella crepe with vanilla ice cream for dessert. It was just about perfect.

More laminate flooring – why not?

Another weekend, another flooring job. I swear I’m about to turn pro in this!

The occasion this weekend was something I’ve been promising Maria for a long time – a dance floor in our basement playroom. Since the basement floor is concrete, our tiny dancer needs some kind of raised floor surface that will be gentle on her legs and feet. Lowes has a great product for this purpose – an interlocking subfloor called DRIcore that just lays on top of your existing concrete floor.

I’m getting better now about taking ‘before’ pictures:


The subfloor material comes in 2’x2′ (67cm x 67cm) squares that lock together like tongue and groove flooring. Installation was quick and easy:




Laying in the floor was also pretty simple, since this was just going to be a regular rectangle in an open space:


For safety, I also installed some trim around the perimeter, covering the sharp edges of the flooring. (Laminate flooring is surprisingly sharp around the edges; my hands are covered in small cuts and scratches after I do one of these jobs.) That trim also gave me a little wiggle room on the precision of the edges.


The flooring proceeded as smoothly as the subfloor:




Done! Now Maria has her own little dance studio in the basement.

For your home, school, or office flooring needs, call 1-800-SPERGER today.

Time to inspect the trailer

A couple weeks ago, I was out walking in our neighborhood and came across a pop-up camping trailer that I’ve seen many times before. This time, the owner was out in the yard. I asked about the trailer and he offered to sell it to me for a song. Since then, this lovely creature has been sitting in my driveway waiting for some attention. This weekend we got a chance to open it up and have a closer look inside.



When opened, the camper has a double bed on one side, and a queen bed on the other. There is a small dining table that folds into a twin bed – already known as Nick’s bed.



The camper is pretty nicely equipped. It has a heater, a stove, a sink, and a fridge. There are water and electrical connections built in, and a couple of electrical outlets scattered around inside.




Anna and Nick were on hand to help with the inspection:



I also recruited a couple of veteran campers to have a look around:


The trailer needs some work before it’s ready to ride, but it’s here, and it’s ours, and we’re very excited. Chelsea and I are already plotting our travels all over the US.