After arriving in London, my brother Lewis decided to show me around London. More specifically, he decided to show me around London pubs. Naturally, I have very little recollection of them aside from extreme discomfort at taking a drink from a bartender without tipping. Tipping is something which is seldom done over here, though apparently 10% for good service at a restaurant is done. Oh, and London cabbies expect to get tipped -- and they'll let you know it if you haven't.
On Friday, Lewis took me to Belgo, a Belgian restaurant in London. My first experience with Belgian food reminded me of German food with mussels: good stuff, but a bit bland for my tastes. Lewis explained that their quality has gone down for a bit, so that could be the reason. Still, it was quite nice. My first experience with the bathroom, however, was almost a disaster. You see, Belgo has a "unisex" bathroom. You walk in and there are two corridors of stalls, only one of which is for men. I noticed what had to be the strangest urinal I've ever seen, but before I brought further disgrace on America, I realized that it was a bizarre hand-washing station. That could have been quite awkward.
Saturday was spent at a BBQ at Lewis and his finceé's house. World Cup fever has him in its thrall and he was quite delighted that England beat Paraguay 1-0, though the happiness was muted slightly due to the goal possibly being an "own goal" (one which Paraguay scored on itself). I saw the play and it's debatable what it was, but in any event, England won and riots in the streets were avoided.
Sunday I took the train to Nottingham, met my new boss and took a cab to my hotel at 16 Pilcher Gate. My boss had suggested I rebook my hotel for here and I am very happy he did so. This is a lovely room with maid service. On top of that, the very first day the lady who runs the place brought a couple of beers for my fridge "just in case".
Today was my first day of work. I can only wonder how my new coworkers viewed me as I greeted all of them with tears in my eyes. This brings me to my next topic: hay fever. It's the worst attack I've had in years and worse timing isn't possible. I cried and I sneezed (juicily, I might add) most of the day. Looking at myself in the mirror was terrifying. I looked like someone had just run over my new kitten or something. Damn.
The hay fever is probably closely related to the fact that Nottingham is having a heat wave with some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded for the beginning of June: 82 degrees. (I'll pause a bit so you can stop laughing). Folks were complaining left and right, people were dripping with sweat and there was general discomfort. Surprisingly, the heat started getting to me. I grew up with 100+ degree summers in Texas, but the humidity here is incredible so what would ordinarily be a pleasant summer day is instead hot and muggy.
I got back to the apartment after work and instead of going out, I had a rather involuntary nap. In getting up, I went downstairs to join a coworker for dinner (he's staying at the same hotel), but had already missed him. I wound up wandering Nottingham for a bit before finding an inexpensive take-away joint north of the Lace Market (or maybe it was in the Lace Market and I just didn't know). For those familiar with Portland, Lace Market is roughly equivalent to our Pearl District.
I haven't had much time for sight-seeing yet but what little I've seen looks rather nice. It's a small town, but clearly a European one. I look forward to seeing more (and taking photos and posting them).