Mechanical

The Arrival: Nottingham

My plan was to be in bed, sound asleep right now. I realized that if I didn't write about what's been happening, I'd likely forget a lot. Naturally, that led to a complete inability to sleep, so I had better write this up in hopes of catching some shut-eye before tomorrow.

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).
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Glad to hear your trip went well, and you've already been indoctrinated to the 'always got to have a pint' mentality. :)

A Brit I used to work with had me on the floor when she was talking about a 'major heat wave' a few years back. This was SERIOUS over there and people were dying left and right. I mean, it actually got into the _90s!_. It was only after she explained the rest that I felt horrible about laughing. Since the weather is generally not like that, they just aren't equipped to handle the heat like we are here in Texas. We go from central air in our homes, to A/C in our cars, to central air at work or in the stores. Some of the homes there don't have sufficient air conditioning, if they have it at all, and it was the elderly the heat was taking.

I can't imagine a place where the 80s/90s is considered a 'heat wave', but I guess if you aren't accustomed to it, it can be just as harsh.

At least here, I don't go outside very much for half the year :)

I look forward to hearing your tales of your new job and experiences.
That stinks about the hay fever, but at least you're settled in now and it sounds like an awesome hotel.
It's completely variable by cabbie, often irrespective of location. I've had drivers who took a substantial tip before giving change, without asking, and another who refused the extra after giving me an estimated fare that turned out low.

Also, Ovid, here in Britain we work in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. If you're not overly concerned about your journal reading like a recipe book, maybe you could give temperatures in both scales and save us all the dreadful effort of mental conversions? ;) (course, as a scientist I work in Kelvin, but asking for that too might be going a bit far..)
oh c'mon, give him some time to adjust! :-) Here in Seattle, you see more use of Celsius (I was pleased that my elderly neighbor used Celsius when discussing the weather one day), but I think Oregon is too far from Canadian influence to see as much Celsius. My household uses Celsius because I lived in Australia nearly three years and I imported a fellow from European...and we're both very stubborn. But it takes a while to adjust. (I love to confuse the Yanks with "Damn, it's 30 degrees inside my flat, I'm burning up!")
You can tip bar staff in the UK -- just say "Have one yourself" and they'll add an appropriate amount (20p to 50p or so depending on pub policy) to the amount they charge you, then drop the extra into the tips jar. It was all in that pub guide I linked to, I think....
Well I've never done it myself, but then, bar staff in the UK get paid. ;) I tip when I'm in the USA. So on balance I'd say it's not standard here, but it's certainly appreciated. You'll get it happening more in smaller, more rural pubs, where the staff & customers know each other pretty well, in my experience.
Hey, welcome! Gald you made it safe after your monster journey. :)
I'll probably get my own place in a couple of weeks. Whether that's with a flatmate or a place of my own remains to be seen.
ooooh, just getting 'round to this. very nice to hear some good stories after that crazy trip over. well, the hay fever aside (i just sneezed 17 times in a row myself, think of it as a tribute), everything sounds wonderful!

so like....when can i visit? ;) hehe....