Monday, February 20, 2012

Alpe d'Huez - only 6 months later...

I know I had promising these for ages, but I finally grabbed some photos from my fellow travel companions for the trip to Alp d'Huez in July. Earlier posts from before the race and after the race are here and here.

Mr. Booker shows us his best side as he has a bit of Tour de France fun with the pavement.

 Whoohoo! My name is immortalized..

Until it rained. Notice the lovely race conditions and what the spectators are wearing? You'd never guess it was July, would you? I think I was on my last lap at this point. Thankfully the camera isn't on a close up so you can't see me grimacing.

 Chris gets a great shot of John as he finished. Unfortunately, not such a great finishing photo for me - too many people in the way - so you'll just have to believe me that I finished.

 All smiles that we are still alive....

Of course, it's lovely and clear in the valley on the way down to dinner. Why not? I only spent about 8.5 hours racing in the rain. Thanks to John and Chris for the photos and happy memories. I think I'll post more sunny pictures in cold February. Then again, not sure I have any....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A New Commute, A New View of London

Unfortunately, or fortunately, ... I still haven't figured this one out.... my office has moved locations in London. I'm now traveling to the Kings Cross area which from Windsor, is quite a trek. I think I finally have figured out the optimum travel route, but it has been a struggle. Travel times now range from 1 hr 42 minutes to about 1 hr 16 minutes (when it isn't snowing). So - sometimes, it's still a bit of a struggle.

I am trying to be a bit more creative with my London commute. My old commute was okay, and although this one is similar in it's duathlon nature, it is a bit less scenic. Therefore, I'm started to vary the exercise and commute during the week. I still ride to a train station in the morning (now a 15 minute endeavor - up a hill) and then hop on the train to Paddington in London. When I arrive at Paddington, I've now discovered that I can run to work (yes, I said run - we have showers at work thankfully) on a canal from the train station. Although I regularly cycle to work, I now have some variety. The map above just makes out the start of the canal system behind the train station.

I'm guessing since it is winter time, the canal is not that busy. Here is the view looking back down the canal.

The canal is also scenic in it's own way. It passes by the London Zoo and actually bisects the aviary.

I have to admit, every time I go by, I can ONLY think of Jurassic Park and the Lost World. It really is quite eerie at that hour.

I also run by a Chinese Pagoda restaurant........

Underneath low hanging bridges......

By a random Pirate Castle (???) ...........

By some cool apartments and businesses........(ignore the Amy Winehouse graffiti. She used to live in this part of London)

By Camden Lock and Market. Unfortunately, I'm through at 8AM and the shopkeepers don't set up until later. I'll come back one weekend to give you a good contrast. Although I am cheered up by the electric blue lights on the tree in the back.

And by foot bridges and sculptures ... you can just see one across the canal here....

And lastly, by apartments that look like they are made from old Airstream Trailers. Or something from Captain Nemo and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. ..............So, it's not that bad, right? It's really better than being cooped up on the tube, stuck next to a stinky man, having to stand up the whole time. (It also saves me £4 a day and will hopefully get this Christmas weight off of me)  I keep telling myself that I'm making lemonade out of lemons. You've got to have some fun in your commute, right? Right? Sigh.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Snowy Commute

They say it doesn't snow in England, but it has every year that I have been here. Amazingly enough, the transport links (and people) still struggle to deal with it.

Windsor looks lovely in the snow so thought I'd share some pictures. (photo courtesy of Darran)

This is from my morning commute. Unfortunately, I had a collision with an errant pedestrian (please please please can you just look where you are going before hopping out into the middle of a busy road?) so no cycling for a bit. Looks like I've got a bruised/cracked rib to show for it. He's got a broken nose so I feel like I won that round.

The view from the train. Much prettier with the white stuff......

Friday, February 3, 2012

When In Rome... or ... the Netherlands...

I'm only a month late on my posts...I promise I am catching up...... When I went to visit the Taylor family in Eindhoven, it was great to participate in a few Dutch traditions. Not being blond, or able to speak Dutch, I did my best.

Tucker and I set off on our road trip and took the chunnel over again. Door to door, we could have been there in 5.5 hours (see our previous road trip post about how easy it is to drive through four countries) but awful weather kept us going slow on the highway and stuck in traffic for 7 hours instead.

Tucker never seems to mind. He loves being in the car for some reason. Probably because he doesn't have to drive. 

Although it seems so long ago, Tucker and I went to visit at Christmas time. I really enjoyed myself as for some mysterious reason, the Belgium radio station was playing all Christmas music. That hour of my drive was fabulous. Here Tucker gets into the Christmas spirit with Sadie, Barb's younger daughter.

Since I never actually spend Christmas in my own home/rented accommodation, Tucker is enthralled by the Christmas tree. Then again, all his dog sitters always have a tree. I think he must be looking at the tree with longing.

The girls were happy to have Tucker around. Besides the Santa hat gift in the earlier photo, they spent quite a bit of time decorating his collar to make it more festive and giving him gifts. Mia, Barb's older daughter, made Tucker a stocking of his own.

So because it was a trip somewhere new, we decided to get out and about and do some visiting. We went to a nearby town that was the home of Van Gogh in his early painting years. It was in this town that he painted one of his more famous works, the Potato Eaters. Here Zack and I are at the start of the Van Gogh tour. And yes, it is December, it was cold outside.

 Being so far North, I was surprised to see a few of the older homes still had a thatched roof.

 Can this really be cost effective with the heating bills??
 When in the Netherlands... there has to be a windmill, right? I made Zack and the kids stop for a photo. You can't not have a photo of a windmill. It just goes against the tourist code.

 While we were there, we also had to take Tucker to the vet (long story) for a stupid customs procedure to get him back into the UK. Of course, we are being Dutch so we head out on bicycles. Tucker gamely rode in the bakfiets (wheel barrow -like bicycle where the kids sit in the wagon in the front) on the way to get money. However, he didn't really enjoy being a passenger so scared the heck out of Barb by hopping out of the front mid ride and deciding to run along side. Needless to say, Tucker got LOTS of exercise that weekend.

Being a good American tourist, I also had to take a photo of Zack's gardening shoes. Oh yeah, these are wooden clogs. Sweet!

Lastly, if you can ignore the atrocious Ohio State reference, this photo is for some Michigan friends who don't realize the neighborhood fishmonger leaves the head on the fish when you buy it.

Yes, I'm a fan of red snapper.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Not Really Lost In Translation

I had to take a photo of this. What do you ask for in the Netherlands if you want some baked beans?

Why Texanese beans of course! It seems very appropriate that you can equate baked beans with Texas. And I can say that because I lived there.