Outdated

So it has been a LONG while since Jen and I really updated the blog. This isn’t really an update either. This post is me admitting that it has been so long since we updated the blog that the theme I designed SIX YEARS AGO is no longer working. So rather than fix it, I am just going to drop the theme and post this telling you what is up.

Hope you are well.

gypsy’s warning

A quiet word to an employee or aquaintance, suggesting that they’d best proceed with caution in respect of their current conduct or attitude, or they may be in for an unpleasant surprise. The details of which aren’t actually set out by the giver of the warning, who may or may not have control over their fate.
The guy was certainly out of line, there probably wasn’t sufficient grounds for disciplinary action, but he certainly got the gypsy’s warning.

Pick Up The Phone
Master P

What follows is the EPIC tale of my quest to make my wife happy get a new toy. Journey with me brave reader and you shall hear the tale. The tale of Drew in iPhoneland.
Drew's new iPhone

So a few weeks ago, Jen tells me she wants a phone contract because she is tired of always needing to top-up her phone. You see she has been on pay-as-you-go for the last year. Originally we thought this was a great option as we could change her service if we wanted, but after a year and a half of constantly being reminded of her balance after every call she has grown tired of clicking “okay.” Can’t blame her either. It really is annoying. No really.

Back to the point. When she told me she wanted a contract, I asked her to wait a couple of days because Apple was about to announce the new version of the iPhone and this would be a great chance for me to upgrade my phone at a discount. Jen being the push-over loving wife she is, was willing to wait. Once the phone was announced I told her the release date and promised her we would get her a contract then.

Fast forward to this past Thursday (pretty sure I just violated some temporal rules of grammer) and we are now standing in line with an unknown number of Apple fan-boys all drooling over the newest gadget from the gods.

“Why would one choose to stand in such a line?” you ask, understandably. The answer is simple dear reader. We were told they were going to sell out and I had promised my wife she would have a contract when I could get the new phone. The trouble, you see, is in restocking. Rumour (UK spelling there) has it, once the iPhone 4 sold out on release day it would be over a month before they anymore in stock. Thus I feel pressured to get it on release day as to keep my wife from waiting any longer.

So now I have dragged Jen out of bed at 5am on Thursday, 24 June 2010, to come stand in the queue (line) with me at our local O2 shop.
O2 Angel

When we first arrived, we were about 30th in line. This was at 7:15am, only 45 minutes before the store was due to open. I thought this would be enough time to get us in and out in enough time to get to work (we both had until 9:30 before needing to be at work), and really, how long could it take right?

FIVE HOURS!!!

That is how long. Five hours. Moving from my spot at 30th in line from 7:45 in the morning took five hours of my life.
iPhone 4 queue

Jen finally confessed to me at 8:30, she didn’t want to be there and it wasn’t worth it to her. To be fair, she never SAID it was that important to her to begin with, but hey, I am a dude (and we all know dudes speak a different language than chicks). So at 9am Jen steps out of line to go to work. But fear not, her time in line was not wasted. She ended up getting herself something on her way to work anyway.
Jen's new shoes

We wouldn’t have wanted her to not have something new after spending all that time in line. Plus she forgot her work shoes in the rush out the door. Did I mention we were up at 5am? …or that I woke up every hour on the hour in the night out of fear I would oversleep? Yeah, I am a sad individual.

In the end I did get the phone, but it was not without a hitch. Once I made it to the front of the line and was finally sitting at the desk with an O2 representative, I was told they couldn’t sell me a phone.

“WHY!?!?!”, you ask, again understandably. Well apparently O2’s online account information is in NO way connected to their in-store system. So when the very nice clerk asks me my phone number and postcode, my answer returned no results.

Apparently when we first signed up with O2 we were still in corporate housing from TM. There was NO WAY I was going to remember that postcode. So I left the store with no phone, on very frustrated customer. Five hours. No phone. And I am late for work. FOUR HOURS late for work. No phone. I have missed TWO meetings. Did I mention no phone.

Thirty minutes later I was able to get Jen on the phone, with a bit of combined brain power and Google searching I returned to the store (skipping the queue at this point) with our old postcode in hand. Luckily the clerk was a good chap and was willing to help me straight away (well as soon as he finished with his current customer). This was not however the end of the tale as he still needed to get someone on the phone at corporate to update my address as the address on file must match my current billing address on my bank card.

Now I find myself the victim of one busy signal after another. He tries calling five or six times with no luck, but he carries on like he were a patriot in WWII (Keep Calm and Carry On). FINALLY. Someone answers. He informs me it may still take another HOUR before the information is actually updated. Luck. It happens instantly. My stomach finally leaves my throat.

Can you say frustration. I knew you could.

In the end, I got the new phone, Jen got new shoes and all was right with the world. Well, unless you are my buddy Gareth. He has a whole other story to tell.

Get In

An exclamation of energetic pleasure or the like. For example “I got a raise at work, Get In!” Origins are with football. When a ball is kicked at a goal and it just barely makes it in the net, one would also yell “Get in!”

So apparently we have a blog?

Yeah, so it has been a REALLY long time since I posted a blog entry, and seeing as Jen has been busy lately, neither of us have given you an update.

Two weeks ago we had a lovely visit from our friends Candace and Lee Coram. Looks like they may be moving a bit closer to us in the near future so it wasn’t your typical visit. They did the touristy things a bit, but because they will be back, they had a much more relaxed experience.

Candace and Lee Coram arrive from the US via Heathrow

Jen had her 30th birthday while they were here so we had a nice little group attend the shindig. Think we would have liked to have been in the states for this one but, hey, what can you do? I am certainly glad to have been able to celebrate her birthday with friends, but I am still can’t believe how much she baked! Just look at this spread!

Jen's 30th Birthday Spread

And isn’t she just a cute 30th birthday girl?

Jen on her 30th birthday

BanksyWe also, mistakenly, tried to go to Brick Lane & Spittal Fields on a Saturday while they were in town so Candace could pick up a gift for our friend Brooke. Well seeing as those markets are only open on Sundays, we didn’t have much success. We did however find a really nifty shop were we could purchase nice mounted prints of photos of graffiti art by Banksy. Jen and I are thinking one of those pieces might be a nice touch on the wall of the new flat.

After Candace and Lee left last Sunday morning, Jen went to hang with her friend Lauren while I gave into my baser nerd and spent the day playing World of Warcraft. I have to admit, I was a bit insensitive that day as I didn’t consider it was Mother’s day here and Jen was trying to pre-occupy herself. She had mentioned me coming out to meet her for a bite after she finished hanging with Lauren, but I didn’t realize how important it was to her. I finally realized late Sunday evening and tried to make up for it.

We had a new sofa and desk delivered the Monday before Candace and Lee arrived, but as the sofa wouldn’t fit in the building we had to return it to the warehouse. This of course means we are now on the hunt for a sectional sofa – the three seater the landlord provided just isn’t great for snuggles.

This last week Jen has been really busy with work, though because her new boss won’t let her work past 6pm, we have pleasantly been home together in the evenings. We avoided cooking most nights, but did do a bit of laundry.

Thursday evening we attended a show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Our friend, Elsa, gave us two tickets to Newton Faulkner for Christmas. We had never heard of him before and I had no idea what to expect. It was a really great show though. Totally enjoyed his sound, though I have to admit, he is better live. The recordings just don’t do him justice.

Newton Faulkner at the Hammersmith Apollo

We also discovered a FANTASTIC vegetarian restaurant around the corner from the Apollo called The Gate. MAN! It was some fantastic food! I think we will have to go back again (if we find a reason to be in Hammersmith).

Last night while we were finishing tidying up we were also trying to gather all the info we needed to file our US taxes. I can’t even begin to express how annoying it is to try and sort this. The whole UK tax year being April to April only makes it more difficult as well. We are basically left to sort it using pay stubs, and of course TM never gave us physical stubs so I have to contact TM UK HR again.

Today Jen and I got up early so she could go meet our friends Laure and Brian at Heathrow (standard procedure for the Huddleston B&B). They will be staying with us for the first part of the week and we look forward to hanging with them. First stop, The Marksman at 6pm. Wish you could be there.

Follow us on the site, www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Drew’s Big Fat New Job

Short & Sweet: I will officially be leaving Ticketmaster on 28 October to join Jack Morton Worldwide in their London office on 2 November (and yes, we will still be home for Christmas).
Jack Morton

So, Jack Morton, an experiential marketing agency. They create experiences that deliver on brand promises – inspiring key stakeholders to new insight, action and advocacy. They integrate live events, branded environments and interactive media to help their clients improve performance, increase sales and, ultimately, make brands behave. That may all sound a bit like marketing jargon, but the deal is they create engaging events for big companies.

Their in-house capabilities include the full range of experiential touchpoints, as well as expertise in strategy and planning, creative and design, production, fabrication and measurement. Jack Morton has a staff of 600 employees throughout the United States-region, Europe and Asia-Pacific, and is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG).

Here is a sampling of their work.

Jack Morton Sample One

Jack Morton Sample Two

Jack Morton Sample Three

Jack Morton Sample Four
You can find more Jack Morton samples on flickr.

I will be joining the London office as their Senior Creative Developer to help jump start their digital team. I will be helping their clients make use of the interwebs and other digital media to strengthen their brand position. This could be anything from developing a company intranet to online conventions to event kiosks. The possibilities for doing something new are really exciting.

I am most excited about stepping out of entertainment. I have enjoyed name dropping clients like Kanye West, Rascal Flatts, and Dierks Bentley but the time has come for me to move into an industry which has a budget, understands the importance of branding and respects what it means for their bottom line.

Jack Morton’s London office is a bit of a trek from our current flat (an hour door to door) so at the moment Jen and I are considering moving house to reduce my commute. We may end up only moving closer to a convenient tube line rather than getting physically closer to the office because we really like London’s east side. At the moment we are thinking London Bridge area to put me in walking distance of the District Line, but who knows we might go wild and move to the west side (just don’t hold your breath).

Not entirely sure what the day-to-day will be at Jack Morton culturally, but I think it is going to be a good experience (pun intended). Their office is gorgeous and a very creative environment.
Jack Morton's London Lobby
Check out the lobby of my new office.

I will try to continue giving you a flavor of what the new day to day life is for me in the new company & position, but it is safe to say it is going to be a change.

When I accepted the gig in echo’s London office, I never expected I would be looking for a new job. There were lots of things I expected to change with our journey overseas, but I thought my job was set. Turns out that was not to be the case. 2009 will go down in my life’s story as The Year of Change.

So now I raise a glass to more change. Cheers!

Drew and Jen go to London

Fall Movie Picks

So this summer movie season was relatively disappointing which is why I was so excited to find a few exciting trailers on apple.com today. Here I count down my top 10 movies I will be watching this fall & winter.

I will go ahead and say, that out of the lot, I am most excited about LEGION. So if you only watch one of these trailers, make sure you scroll down to the bottom to check this one out.


#10 The Invention of Lying

In theaters: October 2, 2009
The Invention Of Lying
“The Invention of Lying” takes place in an alternate reality in which lying-even the concept of a lie-does not exist. Everyone-from politicians to advertisers to the man and woman on the street-speaks the truth and nothing but the truth with no thought of the consequences. But when a down-on-his-luck loser named Mark (Gervais) suddenly develops the ability to lie, he finds that dishonesty has its rewards. In a world where every word is assumed to be the absolute truth, Mark easily lies his way to fame and fortune. But lies have a way of spreading, and Mark begins to realize that things are getting a little out of control when some of his tallest tales are being taken as, well, gospel. With the entire world now hanging on his every word, there is only one thing Mark has not been able to lie his way into: the heart of the woman he loves.


#9 The Blind Side

In theaters: November 20, 2009
The Blind Side
“The Blind Side” depicts the remarkable true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Oher’s presence in the Touhys’ lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own. Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. As a football player and student, Oher works hard and, with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle.


#8 Halloween II

In theaters: August 28, 2009
Halloween II
It is that time of year again, and Michael Myers has returned home to sleepy Haddonfield, Illinois to take care of some unfinished family business. Unleashing a trail of terror that only horror master Rob Zombie can, Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past. But the town’s got an unlikely new hero, if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the unstoppable.


#7 Grace

In theaters: August 14, 2009
Grace
Eight months pregnant, Madeline Matheson deflects her demanding mother-in-law’s insistent pressure for standard hospital treatment, instead opting for the peaceful companionship of a trusted midwife. Though reluctantly compliant, her husband remains supportive of her choices until a sudden tragic accident leaves her unborn baby lifeless inside of her. Madeline remains determined to carry the stillborn baby to term, where she miraculously wills the delivered corpse into life. But it is not too long before the increasingly isolated mother realizes that something is not right with baby Grace, and she must make horrible sacrifices to keep her living.


#6 Saw VI

In theaters: November 6, 2009
Saw VI
Special Agent Strahm is dead, and Detective Hoffman has emerged as the unchallenged successor to Jigsaw’s legacy. However, when the FBI draws closer to Hoffman, he is forced to set a game into motion, and Jigsaw’s grand scheme is finally understood.



#5 The Men Who Stare At Goats

In theaters: November 6, 2009
The Men Who Stare At Goats
In this quirky dark comedy inspired by a real life story you will hardly believe is actually true, astonishing revelations about a top-secret wing of the U.S. military come to light when a reporter encounters an enigmatic Special Forces operator on a mind-boggling mission. Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady (Academy Award winner George Clooney), a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. Now, the program’s founder, Bill Django (Oscar nominee Jeff Bridges), has gone missing and Cassady’s mission is to find him. Intrigued by his new acquaintance’s far-fetched stories, Bob impulsively decides to accompany him on the search. When the pair tracks Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper (two-time Oscar® winner Kevin Spacey), the reporter is trapped in the middle of a grudge match between the forces of Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers. In order to survive this wild adventure, Bob will have to outwit an enemy he never thought possible. The Men Who Stare at Goats was inspired by Jon Ronson’s non-fiction bestseller of the same name, an eye-opening and often hilarious exploration of the government’s attempts to harness paranormal abilities to combat its enemies.


#4 Where The Wild Things Are

In theaters: October 16, 2009
Where The Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak’s classic book Where the Wild Things Are comes to the big screen in an adventure tale for every generation.



#3 Extract

In theaters: September 4, 2009
Extract
Extract, is the new movie from writer/director Mike Judge (“Office Space,” “King of The Hill,” “Beavis and Butt-Head”). Joel, played by Jason Bateman (“Juno,” “Arrested Development”), is one step away from selling his flavor extract factory and retiring to easy street when a freak workplace accident sets in motion a series of disasters that put his business and personal life in jeopardy. The film also stars Kristen Wiig (SNL, “Ghost Town”), Mila Kunis (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and Ben Affleck (“He’s Just Not That Into You”).


#2 The Lovely Bones

In theaters: December 11, 2009
Based on the best selling book by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is the story of a 14-year-old girl from suburban Pennsylvania who is murdered by her neighbor. She tells the story from Heaven, showing the lives of the people around her and how they have changed all while attempting to get someone to find her lost body.


#1 Legion

In theaters: January 22, 2010
Legion
In the supernatural action thriller Legion, an out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race. When God loses faith in Mankind, he sends his legion of angels to bring on the Apocalypse. Humanity’s only hope lies in a group of strangers trapped in a desert diner and the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany). Legion also stars Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Kate Walsh, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S. Dutton and Willa Holland and is directed by Scott Stewart.


www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Hello, Goodbye

echo peeps circa 2007

Ah my echopeeps, how I will miss you all. Okay, not all of you, but most of you. Okay, okay – a handful of you! The rest of you are dead to me. Especially that Brian Matthews guy. Oh, and Eric Bradford. That guy is TOTALLY dead to me.

Now that all of our clients have been informed, I can finally let all my friends and family know about the huge news for Jen and I regarding what has been happening here in London. Ticketmaster has decided they no longer require a dedicated echo team in London, my two coworkers will be leaving the company and I will be transitioning to another team inside the London office.

On 15 April, about two weeks after Jen started her new job, echo had a company wide staff meeting (very common) which Janita and I attended via video-conference (again very common). In this meeting Ticketmaster informed echo of their intentions to close the Nashville office in 60 days.

This was HUGE news for everyone I have worked with for the last five years of my life – people I have grown to love and call friends. They would be loosing their jobs at a time when the economy is worse than anytime since the Great Depression and on top of it all we had very little explanation of why (two months later there are rumors around why, but I have no desire to participate in that conversation). The real kicker of this news was the implications for the Europe office, especially my position.

Immediately following the end of this meeting, the director of human resources and the head of technology took Janita and I into a small meeting room and informed us of how this would be impacting our office – and our jobs. Unfortunately there was not a definitive answer. We were told the UK office would be conducting a review of the business here and one of the possible outcomes of this review could be the termination of our employment. I started sweating bullets.

The thing not everyone understands about the position Jen and I are in is how we are tied to Ticketmaster while we are living here. Similarly to a job transfer in the states, TM offered me a job in another city and paid to relocate me. However, this is where the similarities end. As I am in a foreign country, I have a visa (work permit) which is ‘sponsored’ by TM and any change of employment must be authorized by the government. This is basically the governments way of protecting its citizens (which I totally understand) – keep what jobs are here available first to British citizens.

Further to my right to work being tied to Ticketmaster, Jen’s right to work is also tied to my position with Ticketmaster. So if I loose my job, not only can I not easily find another job, but Jen could possibly have to quit hers, we are forced to leave the country, and return to the states with debt, no jobs, and no place to live (except the couches of the fine loving people like you reading this). …oh, and no health insurace, because we are on the National Healthcare System here. As you can see, we both had reason to be stressed.

And then the news about Jen’s mom. It was insult to injury. Our lives were absolutely being thrown into turmoil.

While we were back in the states for the funeral, TM here was conducting their review of the business and, though we did not yet know it, deciding to put things on hold. It was not as apparent as this and certainly NOT my concern while we were back stateside, but in the end that is how it played out.

The initial proposal was to continue offering the service and moving our various job functions into other departments, but we were told the US would not be able to offer the support we needed for the next 6-12 months and as a result the echo positions would be made redundant. Janita and I were both offered positions on other teams though she declined the offer. Adrian actually decided to pursue his dream of teaching Geography and coaching rugby.

So all this time, since 15 April when TM informed the Nashville office, we have been asked many times by our colleagues about what was happening with the Europe office. Sadly we had no answer. There were rumors constantly coming out of Nashville that the decision had already been made and the business review here was simply a formality even though Adrian, Janita and I were all reassured, repeatedly, this was not the case.

All of this uncertainty and concern over our right to live in the country meant Jen and I felt we should keep this to ourselves until a decision had been made. We are not the sort of people who like keeping things from friends and family, but in this case we had NO information to give and what we could say was only just enough to make people worry and possibly endanger my job.

So in summary, and I am sorry this story did not have a short version, been under a LOT of stress here regarding my job and all the implications around loosing it. Can you imagine if I had lost my job and we found out Jen was pregnant? All I could think was how I would have no insurance in the states and have to go into CRAZY debt to pay for the birth of the child and any possible complications.

Anyway, things appear to be settling down now. I have started transitioning onto the Content and Design team in the TM London office and will probably move my desk this week.

I know a lot of people are probably saying this given the current economic climate, but it is a relief to have a job – fo realz.

History of Golden Lane Estate

What follows is taken, with little editing, from the wikipedia entry regarding Golden Lane Estate.

Our flat is located in Crescent House which is part of Golden Lane Estate, a 1950s council housing complex in the City of London. It was built on the northern edge of the City, in an area devastated by bombing in World War II.

Golden Lane Estate comprises Listed buildings of Special architectural interest, at Grade II (two) since 1997 except for Crescent House which is Listed at Grade II* (two star) in view of its importance in post-war residential architecture. The estate is largely intact, though there has been steady erosion of design detail, especially over the last decade. In 2006/2007, to address this Listed Building Management Guidelines were developed with Avanti Architects, a panel or residents and other stakeholders for the maintenance of the estate, to ensure its important characteristics are preserved. Though Listing restricts owner’s freedom to change their flats, under pain of criminal prosecution, Listing has in fact increased values of lfats. There is also increased pressure on the City of London as freehold owners to maintain the estate better than in the recent past.

Origins
The idea to build a residential site to the north of the Cripplegate area, followed devastation of much of the City of London in The Blitz during World War II. Following almost complete destruction in the Blitz, only around 500 people remained in the City in 1950, a mere 50 of whom lived in Cripplegate. The brief was to provide council housing at subsidised rents for the many people who serviced the offices in the City, particularly caretakers, secretaries and police officers, as part of the recovery strategy for the City. There was an emphasis on single people and couples, rather than families.

The site, just north of the historic quarter of Aldersgate, had previously been occupied by small Victorian industries and businesses. Some of the basements of the bombed buildings were retained as sunken areas of the landscaping.It was designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, who later designed the adjacent, Barbican Estate.

The estate was commissioned and paid for by the City of London but constructed in the immediately adjacent Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury, later forming part of the London Borough of Islington; it was transferred to the City of London in the 1990s, following boundary changes lobbied for by residents. However, it is distinguished from the bulk of the City of London, which is today the largely non-residential European financial services capital. The Estate has more in common socially and economically with the Clerkenwell creative district surrounding it, especially in view of the large number of designers and architects now in residence. The first phase of the estate was officially opened in 1957. The estate was enlarged to the West, with three buildings added later: Cullum Welch House and Hatfield House and Crescent House, this last completed in 1962.

The Golden Lane Competition
The competition for designs was announced in 1951 and at a time when post WW II recovery was still slow the opportunity to design such an estate attracted a lot of interest among architects. The competition and entries to it were covered widely in the architectural and popular press. Golden Lane Estate is architecturally important as the first work of the partnership formed when Geoffry Powell won the competition to build the estate on 26 February 1952. The three partners-to-be of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon were all lecturers in architecture Kingston School of Art and had entered into an agreement that if any one of them won, they would share the commission. The competition was assessed by Donald McMorran, who also designed (in conservative style) housing for the Corporation of London. Alison and Peter Smithson were among the dozens of entrants to the competition, and though not even runners-up in the competition they publicised their unsuccessful entry energetically in the press.

Architecture of the Estate
The maisonette blocks are faced with panels in primary colours (red & blue on maisonette blocks and yellow on the tower block). There is less use of unfaced concrete than in the Barbican. However, some of the concrete surfaces which are today painted were originally unpainted as they suffered early on from staining and streaking from iron pyrites in the aggregate.

Inside, most maisonettes display open tread concrete staircases projecting from the party walls as a cantilever. This, and the fact that the bedrooms are suspended, structurally speaking, without supports over the living rooms gives very compact planning with a surprisingly spacious feel to small flats, in spite of the fact thay they were built under severe Government building restrictions of the post WW II years. The engineer was Felix Samuely. Some maisonettes retain their hour-glass shaped hot-water radiators, visible in windows. Crescent House, the last of the blocks to be completed in 1962, runs along Goswell Road and shows a tougher aesthetic that the architects were developing at the adjacent Barbican scheme, the early phases of which were by then on site.

The architects kept to their brief of providing the high density within the 7 acres (28,000 m2) available. The visual anchor of the design is the tower block of one-bedroomed flats, Great Arthur House, which provides a vertical emphasis at the centre of the development and, at 16 storeys, was on completion briefly the tallest residential building in Britain.

Roof Garden
The three-level roof garden of Great Arthur House is one of the finest public architectural spaces of 1950s British architecture. It has fabulous views of St Pauls Cathedral, the Barbican and over North London. It extends to three stories high, making a virtue out of the lift winding gear and tank housing. It makes the most of the small footprint of this tower block. Pergolas and carefully integrated window cleaning equipment are treated for their sculptural qualities. An ornamental pool with stepping stones reflects on spring and Autumn morning ripples from the water to the underside of the extravagant curved concrete canopy. It was originally open to all residents of the estate as recreational space – which is at a premium on this dense urban site. The roof garden sadly been closed for more than a decade for health and safety reasons.

A Model for Social Housing & Urban Living

When completed the estate attracted even more publicity than the architectural competition as a symbol of post-war recovery. It was widely photographed and written about. Today the estate is home to approximately 1,500 people living in 559 one, two, three or four room units. There are 385 single storey flats and 174 maisonettes. More than half of the flats have been sold on long leases under the Right to buy scheme provisions brought in by the Thatcher government, and have proved attractive to design-conscious buyers. The rental flats continue as council housing with preference given to City of London workers, let at affordable rents. Applications for rented housing units can be made to the City of London. As a result the Golden Lane Estate is more balanced socially than the adjacent Barbican, which was conceived from the beginning as luxury housing. The Barbican is a strongly defended suburb, aloof from the street and elevated on a podium. The Golden Lane Estate is notably permeable, with pedestrian routes crossing through it and a more friendly, accessible architecture.

On the western edge of the estate is a line of shops, and there is a tenants’ hall and club room, a public swimming pool and gym, police office, estate office, nursery, pub and tennis courts (originally bowling green) – the whole combining to make an urban microcosm. A few of these facilities survive in their original uses, preserving the values that lay behind the creation of the estate. Once common in post-WW II local authority planning and housing, this idealism, commitment to quality design and a holistic vision of urban living have in many cases been abandoned by municipalities.

Corbusian Influences
Both the earlier work and that at Crescent House is clearly influenced by the work of Le Corbusier, an influence the architects were happy to acknowledge. Crescent House displays affinities with his Maisons Jaoul at Neuilly-sur-Seine whilst the maisonettes, with their open plan stairs and double height stair spaces, are reminiscent of those at his Unite d’Habitation in Marseilles and elsewhere. The idea of making the estate an urban microcosm is itself a strand of Le Corbusier’s thinking, at the Unites and elsewhere. The detailing and finishes of the Golden Lane Estate are, however, more resolved and better designed than many in Le Corbusier’s work.

Boring Birthday Bash

So yesterday was my 30th birthday.

Everyone: How was your birthday?

Me: Dull.

Everyone: Oh?

Me: Yeah. We just stayed home.

Everyone: Well how does it feel?

Me: Achy and stiff. I feel old, and I have too much grey hair.

Jen had been talking about what she wanted to do for my thirtieth birthday for years. Asked me what I wanted to do on more than a few occasions, and I always thought it would be fun to do something really wild. Once the day actually arrived though, it just didn’t work out that way.

All of our close friends and family are thousands of miles away so a huge party or get-together just doesn’t work. We had thought about maybe getting a few of our new friends and coworkers together here for the Circle Line Pub Crawl, but in the end I just didn’t think I could stomach it. Would just end up sick, and after last week’s incident with Ade’s decanter, I think I have had my fill. So I ended up staying at home with Jen watching the first few episodes from season one of Torchwood.

So yeah, in true old-person fashion, I stayed home for my birthday instead of going out and celebrating. I have really enjoyed all the birthday well-wishes on facebook and via email. Less enjoyable has been looking in the mirror and seeing more salt in the pepper. I know I have been going grey since I was 16, but seriously, it makes a guy feel old. Not to mention I can’t help but see all the wrinkles forming around my eyes.

By the way, Pinky, Laura, Jane, Quinn, if I can muster the forces of my liver, we will make up for the lack of celebration while you are visiting.

On another note, spring is really starting to let us know it is here. Today was so gorgeous that people couldn’t help but enjoy the warm air and sunshine in every available green space. Check out the mass of people in Leicester Square.

Spring in Leicester Square
I am really going to enjoy this four day weekend. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that did I? Easter weekend is a national holiday here and it is standard to have off Friday and Monday around Easter. So this is a four day week, followed by four days off, and then another four day week. This may get close to feeling like a vacation.

Plans for the weekend are yet to be made, but I plan to really enjoy it (though enjoying it will include reading Designing for the Social Web).

Ladies and Gentlemen, Gusty has Left the Building

It has been a wild week, but John Gusty has headed home. Jen and I accompanied him to the airport this morning for breakfast and a little more hang-time before saying farewell to our friend from the states. It was a blast having him around this past week. The echo Europe team really benefited from having him around as well. He may even be responsible for helping land a few new clients after joining Ade to quite a few meetings. Janita and I, of course, had to load him down with gifts to take back to the states for peeps in echo Nashville before he left (Jen and I even had to loan him an extra suitcase to get it all home).

While he was here, John wanted to get his boys something, so Janita and I took him to Hamleys, London’s biggest toy store. Walking through there made me feel like a kid. So much cool stuff. The basement was practically nothing but Legos. Check out some of these pics:
Lego Clone Trooper
Lego Indiana Jones
WALL-E
Dobby, from Harry Potter
Ben 10 display hanging from the ceiling

Was a freaking amazing place. Highly recommend NOT bringing your kids though, as they might have stimulous overload, freak out, abandon you and try to live out the rest of their lives inside the place – probably could too as there is a cafe on the top floor.

I have to say though, I was entirely disappointed in their Doctor Who display. They didn’t even have a model TARDIS.

Guess I should also give you an update on Jen, and apologize for you having to read my ramblings, as she has been too busy at work to post a blog entry. Unfortunately I cannot say that is a terrible thing. We are both VERY glad she found a job – and a good one at that. Hopefully I can get her to post an update tomorrow with a little more detail because I am not sure what she is allowed to mention to the outside world.

Jen had a late night out with her boss Tuesday night and they both joined John and I on Wednesday evening for a visit to a couple of really old pubs. Joining us first at Black Friar before moving on to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. I am thinking our preference would be The Cheese, but Black Friar was quite nice as well. Unfortunately for the Friar, there is nothing quite as awesome as descending the stairs of The Cheese down into the old wine cellar. Plus the food is amazing.

Jen has given me the impression her first week of work went very well. She is obviously getting along smashingly with her boss, and apparently has “passed the test” with a few others.

Wednesday was a bit of an interesting day for both of us actually as the G-20 protests were causing disruptions all around London – Jen’s office even had to “dress down” so as to not make themselves targets for protesters.
G-20 Protest Art
extra police around for G-20 protests
Apparently things did get a little violent, but as far as I understand it no one lost their lives. The talk of the town were the planned activities of the anarchist groups, which can I just say makes no sense whatsoever. It is an oxymoron – organized anarchist groups? Do you think they have bi-laws for joining? We did hear reports that one of their headquarters (again, really?) was raided and police riot gear was confiscated. Seems the plan was to engage the riot police while wear riot police uniforms to really cause chaos. Wonder if maybe the sign outside their offices gave away their hideout?

So, with all that said, I will leave you for the night as my lovely wife has already gone to bed, and while I love you all dearly, I think it is time for me to join her. Check back tomorrow for a few official news reports around the G-20 protests.

John Gusty Comes to London

This week we are having a visit from one of my favorite coworkers, John Gusty. He has come to the London office to help train up one of our new business partners.

Jen and I both went down to Heathrow airport on Sunday afternoon to meet him at the arrival’s gate and escort him to the company flat in central London. After the trip into the city, we had a quick bite to eat at The Sussex then had a walk down to Trafalgar Square and Parliment before jumping on an open-top bus tour. It was a really cold trip through London, but as Jen and I had not done the tour before we were really excited and sat through the cold. Think I actually got a little windburn.

(notice the grey hair)

After a good solid afternoon / evening of playing the tourist, we grabbed dinner then dropped John off at the company flat around 9pm. The plans for the week involve mostly work, but we are trying to make sure he has a good visit.

Jen owes you all an update about her job, but as she was out until 11:30pm last evening hanging with her new boss, I would say you may have to wait to the weekend. Good news is, she is obviously fitting in well with the new team. I am really excited for her as well. Think it is awesome she has found such a good company.

On another note, and we will be posting a note in the news section later, President Obama is visiting London today as part of the G20 summit on the economy. The city is on lockdown due to concerns over protests, but I am not worried.

Happy 311 Day

Real quick update before we call it a day. Jen says thank you for all the birthday well-wishes. She was especially touched by the flowers (you know who you are). I will also mention that someone got his wife flowers as well in an attempt to be a good husband.

Jen met me for lunch today with our friends Emily and Kerry at Just Falafs in Covent Garden. She then accompanied Emily to a play (sure she will fill you in on the details tomorrow) and we had a quick dinner after work.

Oh, and apparently she ran into Kiefer Sutherland during the movie premiere of Monsters vs. Aliens.

The Weekend of IKEA, House, and Watchmen

So, the weekend is coming to a close and I have agreed to write a blog entry – lucky you. 🙂

I really enjoyed this weekend (though we still have the evening to go before it is time for bed). Jen and I didn’t overcommit to costumes or parties or walking or cleaning or laundry. Okay, I didn’t over commit to those things, but Jen has been on a cleaning kick for the past few days and I bless her for it!

The one thing we did want to do this weekend was make our way to IKEA. We (read “I”) had the brilliant idea earlier in the week of heading there to find an organizer for our recycling, with the misguided notion that we could manage to do it after work. After actually going there I can see now how truly BAD an idea it was to think that would have worked out, especially seeing as we would have been heading there after work and a couple hours at the pub with workmates. Yeah, I am a genius sometimes.

So, yesterday morning Jen and I set out on our pilmigrage pimla… pilgrimage to the wonderful land of Ikea – a magical place of fairies and elves which was given to us from a greater land than our own, Sweden. Apparently in this Swee-den they design things of great beauty but commission its creation in a land called China where labor is cheap and costs are low which allows the Sweeds to pass along these savings like Wal-Mart of yore (we interrupt this silly joke to reiterate our belief Wal-Mart is truly the 9th circle of Hell which is spreading like a plague across the planet and do not wish to draw any undue comparisons to Ikea).

So Ikea. I was excited. I had heard nothing but great things about their retail outlets and the furniture I have seen on their website looks so gorgeous. We even had friends in Nashville who would make special treks to Atlanta JUST to visit the closest retail shop. So we were both really looking forward to the visit.

Our journey started with a brief walk to the Barbican tube station. From there it was a couple of tube rides to Tottenham Hale where we caught a bus to Ikea. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the sheer size of this place took me by surprise.

IKEA

Not sure it is entirely clear, but if you take a look at the size of the hotdog stand in the picture, you should start to get some sense of scale – this place is big. It is actually two floors of massiveness with a gigantic parking garage underneath. Thankfully they have designed the shop in such a way that makes finding your way through it easier than you might expect when first stepping inside the doors.

IKEA Hours

Upon making our way to the top of the two escalators at the entrance to the top of the shop, Jen and I made our way first to the cafe where we had lunch and some fantastic desserts (and one NOT so awesome coffee flavored piece of sick).

desserts

As we finished lunch we made an agreement – no pointing out everything we saw. We knew this was going to be a challenge and that telling each other to look at everything we came across would only make it worse. Thankfully we prevailed, and long story short, we emerged from Ikea THREE HOURS later with the ONE item we intended to buy and only five we did not.

Things we bought:

  • rolling cabinet with drawers (to sort recycling)
  • freestanding makeup mirror
  • door hooks
  • colander
  • oven mitt
  • three way plug splitter

The really amazing thing is not that we didn’t buy more, but rather, given the things we DID buy, we only spent £20. That is right my friends, we spent a whopping £20 and bought all of the above. I had prepared myself for the cabinet alone to cost more than that, but wow, those Chinese must work for CHEEEEAP.

After making it home we decided to rest for a bit as our feet were aching quite a bit, but we still had an entire evening to plan. So, we decided to head to Tortilla for burritos and the Vue to see Watchmen. The only problem with this plan was the popularity of the film – it was sold out.

As plan B, Jen and I headed into HMV to see if we might find a DVD to entertain us for the evening instead. After ten minutes of parusing the TV section we decided on season one of House, a show my cousin Jeffery turned us onto while he was staying with us. So we spent the night watching some great TV and headed to bed at a reasonable hour.

Today was another nice and relaxing day. We spent most of the morning lounging around the flat (okay I did anyway, Jen was on her cleaning kick), but had bought tickets for an early afternoon showing of Watchmen last night when our other showing was sold out so we headed back to the Vue at noon for a movie.

Now it is almost 6pm here and we have the night to go. I plan on working on the site a bit (changes are coming) and I think Jen has a few more things she wants to clean. We need to find something to eat at some point but will probably default to leftover veggie sloppy joes. After that I am hoping for some more House.

And Honey, looks like I can write a long blog post too. Sorry everyone.

Cheers!

Stuck in a Lift

stuck in a lift (elevator)

So yeah, they (whoever they are) mean it when they say “4 Person Maximum” on the elevator sign.

Today my coworker, Janita, and I were heading to a client planning meeting at their offices with a couple of peeps from one of our partner companies. We had met these two at their offices first to just compare notes and make sure we were all on the same page before we headed to meet with our client, but Janita and I left about five minutes before the other two peeps because we wanted to walk at a bit more leisurely pace.

So Janita and I are walking to the client’s office and make it there about 2 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start and amazingly enough our peeps from the partner company are walking in the door to the building as we round the corner. We were able to catch up and they let us into the building in time to join them and another person on the lift (bringing us to 5 peeps counting the 2 of us, 2 dudes and 3 gals).

Now let me pause here for a moment to say said client’s office is on the 3rd floor of this building, but for those Americans amongst our readers that means the 4th floor as what we call the 1st floor is called the ground floor here and what we call the 2nd is the 1st. That being said, we prefer to take the elevator after having hiked a mile in 15 minutes.

So back to the story – our three friends quickly pop into the elevator followed by Janita at which point I decide I want to take the stairs as things are looking tight in this small elevator (guessing here but I would say it was 4ft square – not much larger than a phone booth). After telling the group my intentions to take the stairs they insist we can all squeeze into the lift and they are all more than willing to do so.

I step into the lift closing the door behind me (yup, it is so small it doesn’t even have typical elevator doors) and watch as the button is pressed for the 3rd floor. It is at this moment my eyes veer up to the top of the control panel and see the sign, “4 Person Maximum or 300kg.” I knew things were going to be bad.

The lift started to rise. Slowly. Very, slowly. The elevator was the little engine that couldn’t. It tried its darnedest for about 30 seconds before giving up. It managed to lift us about a foot and a half off the ground and sat there – immobile. Our little dumbwaiter had become a prison.

Of course as this was happening we were all saying to each other, “Yeah, four people but we don’t weight 300kg.” Little did they know Drew here had been hitting the peanut butter balls over the holidays and was rockin’ 83kg himself. Even the ladies were at least 60kg each so there was no hope. It was at this point someone made the first of many wisecracks about “no one had better fart.” That is when the laughter started.

We were all strangely loving this – Janita even said she always wanted to be stuck in a lift. I of course saw nothing but laughs at the fact that we all got ourselves stuck in a tight, cramped little shoebox of an elevator. It got hot enough to steam up the mirrors and started to smell a bit like B.O., but thankfully everyone had showered and remembered their deodorant or it would have been really bad.

While trying to escape our pathetic prison we managed to pry the inner doors open hoping we might simply push open the outer door and hop out–and seeing as we were a terrifying two feet off the ground we thought it might work. Of course the outside door was locked shut as part of a safety measure to ensure no one stepped into the shaft when the lift wasn’t there. Funny enough though, while we had the inner doors open we were enlightened to discover we were not the first to find ourselves in this situation. At least three groups before us had been in a similar situation as they had left dates on the cement floor between the ground floor and the first floor. We of course felt obligated to add our info as well.

I also don’t want to forget our client – they were kind enough to try and entertain us through the doors. They brought down a radio and started playing some Brittany Spears, at which point we all lovingly started calling them all sorts of names as even prisoners at Gitmo are not tortured in such a fashion. They also tried to bring us some water but hadn’t considered how they would get it through the door.

So after 40 minutes of sweating, stripping, laughing, and smelling some stank cheese biscuit, we were finally rescued by a mechanic. Amazingly, had it been labelled, the latch to release the outer door was actually within our reach just outside our sight behind a corner.

I share all of this to say, READ THE SIGNS. And respect them, or else you too might find yourself stuck in cramped quarters with some stank cheese.

Why Doesn’t Drew Post More Often?

And the answer is… I am busy. Nothing more glamorous than that unfortunately. Good news is, I am back with an update today so Jen could take the night off. May not be great news to you, but Jen is glad to have a night to herself.

Over the next few weeks Jen and I will be reworking the site a bit – adding things, moving things, and generally making it a much more interesting and informative place. You will notice we have added a coupe of things already, a skype status message and local weather tracker. These are just a couple of examples of things we thought might be interesting to those of you who visit regularly. The skype widget simply lets you know when we are near the phone (email us if you need the number) and the weather just so you have an idea of what kind of lovely London weather we are having while you are reading. …I also am thinking of adding a map detailing the places we have visited, and maybe a calendar.

So back to the funny.

Had a pretty uninteresting day at work. Mainly the same old routine I have had since we landed – two mile walk in the cold to work, followed by eight hours of life in a cube farm, followed by a two mile walk home and finally a few hours of being served a tasty homemade meal cooked by the greatest woman on the planet. So yeah, life has changed a good deal from Nashville and so far I am liking it. But come on, seriously, who wouldn’t enjoy having someone cook them breakfast every morning, dinner every night, does the dishes and laundry. …she even makes cupcakes and brownies for me! I couldn’t, and wouldn’t dare, ask for anything more.

Yesterday when I was stepping out to grab a bite to eat for lunch I was shocked to find an entire carnival had moved into the square. I just walked out the door and there it was. If I didn’t know better I would think it had materialized out of thin air in the blink of an eye. Strangest thing.

That of course was not half as entertaining as the sight I beheld today. Some of you may have heard of this movie that just came out in the states, Twilight. Yeah so apparently it is some kind of hit with the ‘tween’ crowd (know anything about it, Ashlee?) back in the states bringing the romance back to vampires. So anyway, the thing premiered in Leicester Square this evening.

3080029255_101a31c830.jpg

You would think it was the second coming of The Beatles. Crowds of young girls screaming all over the place. I had noticed they were setting up some barricades outside the Vue theater on Leicester Square this morning with the giant Twilight sign out front so I had a good guess it was coming, but I was NOT expecting the pure insanity of these kids. I have footage (and I apologize for the weird close-up of my mouth, I’m not used to being my own camera man).

 

And here is a little bit more closer to the front of the theater. It was surprisingly less crazy toward this end. Think that is because all the stars were hitting the red carpet at the other end.

 

Yeah, so that is good times. Maybe next time I post a blog I will be able to actually make you laugh.

Oh, actually I will leave you with this – Jen’s new british word ‘bap’ is not only a slang term for a large roll, but is also a humorous reference to women’s breasts. So be careful when and if you choose to use that one while you are here for a visit because you will either get some tasty bread or a sharp slap.

Cheers!

Paul Fryer

Morning Star, by Paul Fryer

Jen and I had, what I consider, a great opportunity to see this work, Morning Star, in person yesterday. It is by an artist I had never heard of before, but I am very glad I now have. His work may not be earth shattering or mind altering. Of course then again – I am NOT an art critic. All that being said though, I really love this piece as well as the other pieces we saw on display.

This particular piece, as I understand it, is a depiction of the fall of Lucifer, The Morning Star. In this piece you see him captured and entangled during the fall. What I find incredibly interesting about the work is two fold. It appears he is entangled in high-tension electrical wires strung between three telephone poles. He also is depicted as the conventional image of an angel with large feathered wings (though appropriately they appear tattered and torn). The actual piece is not the size of a full grown man however, though, aside from the wings, he appears as a man in every other way – no horns, no tail, and certainly no pitchfork. It really is a beautiful work. It is this breaking from, or perhaps challenge of, the conventional image of Lucifer mixed with the contemporary images of technology which make it so interesting to me.

Great Art in Londontown

Morning Star, by Paul Fryer

Jen and I had, what I consider, a great opportunity to see this work, Morning Star, in person yesterday. It is by an artist I had never heard of before, but I am very glad I now have. His work may not be earth shattering or mind altering. Of course then again – I am NOT an art critic. All that being said though, I really love this piece as well as the other pieces we saw on display.

This particular piece, as I understand it, is a depiction of the fall of Lucifer, The Morning Star. In this piece you see him captured and entangled during the fall. What I find incredibly interesting about the work is two fold. It appears he is entangled in high-tension electrical wires strung between three telephone poles. He also is depicted as the conventional image of an angel with large feathered wings (though appropriately they appear tattered and torn). The actual piece is not the size of a full grown man however, though, aside from the wings, he appears as a man in every other way – no horns, no tail, and certainly no pitchfork. It really is a beautiful work. It is this breaking from, or perhaps challenge of, the conventional image of Lucifer mixed with the contemporary images of technology which make it so interesting to me.

One of the things I had not considered about our move to London was how close in proximity I would be to such a fabulous art community. My creative spark has already been rekindled and it is my hope that being here will continue to fan the flames. During college I had hoped to some day be a freelance illustrator, and while it may not be a realistic dream considering how the internet has made accessibility to stock work easy to the point of pollution, I still want to do something purely creative (of course it is also fair to say illustration was never purely creative).

So here is hoping I get off my metaphorical butt and actually start being creative again. And considering how much GREAT inspiration is around me, how could I not?!

Cheers!

Money Down on New Digs


Right to the point – we put a deposit down on this [link removed] place today.

Jen had been talking to me about a different place yesterday. Yeah, the same one she posted a blog entry about because she was so excited about it, and today she passed on it completely – even putting a deposit down on it before I had seen it. Okay, not really, but she was prepared to put one down because she knew I would love it as much as her.

Well when I left for work this morning the plan as I understood it was for me to meet one of our fleet of estate agents at 4:30 to take a look at the place Jen was so excited about yesterday. I was even excited about it because she thought it was so perfect and I was ready to be done with the hunt (for her sanity). Then, an hour before I was supposed to leave to view the property, she pops on IM and says she has found the place. I was confused for a moment. What happened to the other place? The place you saw yesterday? She tells me that it is still a great place, but the one she visited today blew all the other places out of the water (my words not hers).

So after a very excited exchange over IM, I meet Jen outside the TM office and we head to our original appointment with new plans to visit “The New Hotness” a second time today. Our tube trip had us travel from the Leicester Square tube station to the Russell Square tube station, and let me just say, take the elevator unless you really want the workout and that awesome “my lungs are on fire” feeling.

We met the agent to view the place from yesterday, and it was great. Really nice place with a great view and lots of nice places near by for food, etc. As we were preparing to leave the first place we told the agent we had found one other property which was really exciting to us and that we REALLY appreciated all of his hard work and help. He of course said he hoped he could work with us, we shook hands and told him we would let him know. He really has been super helpful and we may send him a thank you gift for his time.

Soon as he was around the corner we “legged it” (new local term I have picked up) over to the other agent’s office to meet her for the second viewing and put down a deposit. You see she and Jen had been on the phone while I was touring the first place and the landlord had accepted our offer (yes, you can negotiate rent). So we were off to see it.

The walk from the first to the last was not a short one, but it was nice. We saw a lot of what will be our new neighborhood. The agent, Sky, was very very friendly and was more than willing to go through everything she had already told Jen again for my benefit.

We had a bit of an adventure getting into the building, there is a magic spot on the door where you wave an equally magic card and it will open. Would have been easier if either the card or the spot had instructions or if perhaps said spot was not completely hidden behind a sign.

Once we finally made it inside I was sold. Jen was right, it was perfect. You can tell the architect who owns it was taking great care to restore it to its original glory (I am thinking 60’s but am not sure yet). It is a really nice space – lots of room, lots of light, and the modern vibe we wanted. I think anyone of you who come visit will absolutely enjoy the space. And good news too, while it is on the 3rd floor (4th in American), there is actually a lift (elevator).

Okay, fingers crossed that I didn’t make a mistake asking Pinky to be my reference and that my salary is enough for them to think I can actually afford this place!

Hey, Quiet Out There!

So yesterday, on my way into the office there was a large chuck of Leicester Square blocked off by barricade and a large crane was behind it hanging a sign on the front of the Empire building. Now I guess I should tell you a bit about Leicester Square so you understand what I am talking about.

Leicester Square is a nice little square. It has a nice square garden at the center with a road wrapping around and buildings wrapping around that. Actually, I posted a video back during our first visit which is just a quick 360 view of Leicester. But this is basically THE place in London to go when you want to see a movie or buy tickets to a show (as in proper theatre). It is always filled with people – whether they are just sightseeing or actually have somewhere they are going I have yet to sort out, but since this particular square has been converted to a pedestrian only area, you only see cars / trucks when they are making a delivery.

So anyway, I say all that to tell you this – the barricade did not stop with a crane hanging a sign, because it was not just prepping for a new movie release, but a PREMIERE. And not just any premiere, but the premiere of High School Musical 3. Now I know nothing more about this movie than it seems to be a movie for kids and teens, hence the “high school” bit in the name, but as I am walking to work I am made aware something insane is going to happen this day.

As my eyes move from “poster hanging crane” back to barricade, I begin to see what I originally though was simply the everyday mass of people moving through the square is actually a mass of people who are doing the exact opposite of moving – they are planting themselves right beside said barricade. As I am continuing on my typical path through the square to my office I find myself walking past men, women, and children of all ages who have brought camping chairs and sac lunches. These people were planning to be here for a while. Then I notice the stage.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, they were erecting a stage outside my office door. This is when I realized my day was going to be a little weird. Apparently this is not entirely out of the ordinary. In fact, this is probably pretty typical considering it is in the freaking heart of London. Hello! Drew! You live in LONDON now. These things are going to happen.

So anyway, long story short (ha, yeah right), Through out the course of the day I am inside working, meeting with people, having lunch, etc. and I begin to hear screams coming from outside. They get louder throughout the day and reach a climax about a half hour before I leave the office. It didn’t turn out to be quite as insane as it could have, but check out the video below to get a look at the madness that was outside my front door.

Needless to say, I had to take the long way around the square, bumping through a mass of kids, to get home after work.

Ah the excitement of life in a big city.

Cheers!

Premiere: High School Musical 3

Now I know nothing more about this movie than it seems to be a movie for kids and teens, hence the “high school” bit in the name, but as I am walking to work I am made aware something insane is going to happen this day.

So anyway, long story short (ha, yeah right), Through out the course of the day I am inside working, meeting with people, having lunch, etc. and I begin to hear screams coming from outside. They get louder throughout the day and reach a climax about a half hour before I leave the office. It didn’t turn out to be quite as insane as it could have, but check out the video below to get a look at the madness that was outside my front door.

Needless to say, I had to take the long way around the square, bumping through a mass of kids, to get home after work.

Ah the excitement of life in a big city.

The Huddlestons Have Landed

So after thirteen hours of travel, Jen and I finally made it to the flat. We think we got pretty lucky with TM putting us in the same location as our previous visit because this time we will already be a little familiar with the locale.

We had a little issue with shipping a few things from Nashville. Apparently the FedEx outpost in Antioch is under the impression Britain prohibits the import of copyrighted material. Can anyone tell me what one would ship from the US which is NOT under some form of copyright? Anyone? We are going to have to sort this out or we might have an issue here.

The flights were both bearable, but I have to say, if the kid has teeth and can talk – he is WAY too old to be breast-feeding. I mean, for real – it is just creepy. [insert shout out to American Airlines for being quite possibly the best experience I have ever had on any flight – from staff to planes, they were top notch – LCDs in all headrest.] We decided not to eat on the plane this time to try and help our bodies adjust to a new internal clock, but I am not sure how well that has worked. Jen is pretty tired and I would rather take another nap, but know I need to save it for tonight.

After we landed in Heathrow (for some reason I thought we were flying into Gatwick again), it was a really quick train ride into London’s Paddington Station on the Heathrow Express, we hopped into a taxi, stopped by the office to get the flat key, jumped back into the taxi, and made our way to the flat – in the rain. The rain wasn’t too bad though, fairly light by Tennessee standards in fact. After placing a couple of phone calls and sending a few texts to family to let them know we made it safely, Jen and I both took a shower and then Jen went downstairs to grab us a bite to eat for lunch.

Before we call it a night we will be stepping out to find a few essentials such as a hair dryer, beard trimmer (so I can remove this thing before going into work tomorrow), straightening iron, nail polish remover, and a job for Jen. Okay, we probably won’t find the job tonight, but you never know!

More updates to follow. …and once we are rested, the funny will return.

We miss you already.

The Epic Tale Continues…

So this week my work permit arrived from the UK office. One would like to think that was the end of, what has become, the epic process of entering the UK, but one would be wrong.

Apparently, while I can now legally work in the UK, I still have to be approved to ENTER the UK.

After receiving my work permit on Monday I then started the slightly confusing process of applying for entry clearance. The application itself was a nice online form written in typical government speak (read “confusing as hell”) and came with a $430 application fee – you know, pocket change – for EACH. Yes, Jen and I are now out $860 on this venture and we haven’t even left American soil. Good news is I can expense it once I actually make it to the London office, but until then, we are paying interest baby.

So today, as the next step in this process, Jen and I are heading to an office near the airport to have our Glamour Shots and fingerprints taken and submitted electronically to the British Consulate General (via Homeland Security). The part that I particularly enjoy about this step is the name, “Biometric Data.” Although, I have to say I was a little disappointed they weren’t asking for fluid samples, dental records and bone marrow.

Once we have submitted our Biometric Data (I really love that term), we will then have to MAIL our paperwork and passport to the British Consulate in Chicago to finish the Entry Clearance Application.

So, in summary:

  • British Paperwork – not complete
  • New Salary – in negative numbers
  • House – still for sale
  • Car – need to put on Craig’s List
  • Motorcycle – want a couple more rides
  • Storage Space – quickly filling
  • Crap in House – still in house
  • Family – planning a send off
  • Friends – waiting for a send off
  • Doctor Who – award winning television
  • You – reading

God Save The Huddlestons.

The Final Decision

Well the budgets have been created, checked, double checked, tweaked, triple checked, torn apart, put back together and checked again. Discussions have been had. …many, many times, and we have finally reached a decision.

Looks like Drew And Jen are going to London!

I have actually been holding off on publishing this blog post for about two weeks now. I informed TM a couple weeks ago that I was ready to accept their offer, but I wanted to wait to make it public until I signed the paperwork. Seeing as I signed it tonight I figured I should probably go ahead and let you all know (all 10 of you).

My last day working for the Nashville office is officially set for August 15th with my first day working for the UK office scheduled to be September 1st (or 1 Sept if you are British). Between now and August 15th, Jen and I have SO much to do.

We have to sell our cars, my motorcycle, our house, and everything in it. Not to mention we need to do a few home repairs before it is even ready to go on the market – plus a pricey bit of landscaping. We plan on renting a storage unit as well to keep some of our irreplaceable stuff (like handmade furniture my Grandfather made for me). We also plan on throwing ourselves a blowout of a going away party / moving sale.

…by the way, anyone want to pay top dollar for a slightly used Prius (looking like $28,000 is about fair these days)?

The Visit, Day Three

Today started out with an early visit to the TM office to chat with a couple people I didn’t get a chance to meet with yesterday. Was only there for about an hour but I feel like I got a lot of important questions answered. Still have a few more people I have to touch base with tomorrow morning and the day is already full with plans.

After leaving the TM office this morning I had to come back to the flat to drop off a few things Lin, with the TM office, had picked up for us – towels and linens mainly. Was just as well that we went back because I still seem to be suffering from major jet-lag and had to take an impromptu nap.

We wanted to spend the day checking out potential neighborhoods and touring flats of various price ranges, so while I was napping Jen was kind enough to put together an itinerary for the day. She contacted a few companies and mapped out a route for us so we could not only get there but stop at a post office along the way and end up eating at a vegan restaurant, Eat and two Veg, while we were out (Yvonne would LOVE this place). We also took Scott and Vito’s advise and picked up an Oyster card for the transit system.

We got really lucky today and ended up talking with an estate agent who was really friendly and willing to help us out without pressuring us to do something today. Check out below a video of one of our favorite flats we saw while out today.

The Visit, Day Two

Yesterday was short and busy. Started the day off by sleeping till 11am local time after going to sleep around midnight – 11 hours of sleep, yeah, we suffered from jet-lag.

After we finally got up and around we got ready, did a little catching up online and Jen prepped for a phone call with her local office while I started working out a new budget. After we finished all that up around 2:00 it was time to head toward the TM office to meet with Scott and Vito. Jen and I each grabbed a slice of pizza and ate in the park at Leicester Square before I headed into my meeting.

My meeting went really well – learned a lot. I wanted to find out what the plans were for the echo office here, both in the short and long term, and especially how I was going to fit into that plan. We also spent a lot of time chatting about where Jen and I might want to look for a place in town. We might end up needing to be on the more expensive side of town if Jen does end up in ICON’s Marlow office just to minimize her commute time.

After chatting with Scott and Vito for a couple hours, Scott and I met Jen downstairs at the little desert shop where she had been waiting. The three of us then jumped on the tube and headed toward The O2 to meet Scott’s wife for dinner and a show. We had some REALLY great at Thai Silk before heading into see Roger Waters. I have included a video snippet to tease you – though I caught a LOT more on my Flip Video.

After leaving the show we headed home via tube to the Waterloo station and then Taxi from there. Didn’t stay up too much later after getting back to the flat, but it was a really nice night.

Stay tuned…

The Visit, Day One

Jen and I touched down in the UK this morning at 9:00am local time after traveling for HOURS. We had been in the air since 4:00pm Nashville, which for those of you doing the math (and after the additional commute to the flat) means we were traveling for over 12 hours. It made for a very long day – though we had a nice lunch during our layover in Cincinnati.

After touching down we jumped on the Gatwick Express (the non-stop train between Gatwick airport and London’s Victoria Station) and rode into London where we then grabbed a taxi. I had to stop by the TM office building to grab the key to the flat and then we jumped back in the taxi for a quick trip to the flat.

Once we finally made it into the flat we pretty much passed out. I didn’t let us sleep too long though – didn’t want us to waste a whole day in bed. So after our short nap we decided to walk down to the TM office just to get a sense of what was around between here and there. Was a really nice walk, even had a good old Cornish Pasty on the walk. I think that is officially my favorite food now and may be the single reason I decide to move (kidding).

On the walk back Jen decided to let you get a look around the flat so I pulled out my new Flip Video and made a quick video and uploaded it here for you to see using Vimeo (another TM company).