Oh. Wow.

Once this much time has gone by, an update is hard to give. Everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks runs together in my head.

I have been so incredibly busy during these two weeks that would normally have been consumed by SCGC Championship preparation and participation as well as a possible trip to WGI.  I am honestly glad to have been so preoccupied here or I might have lost my cool.  I miss those kids, I miss my colleagues, I miss the work, I miss the laughs, I miss the creative process.  I’m still picking out songs and designing shows, like I’ll be writing one again.  Ah, bittersweet heartache.

So, back to reality.  What have I been doing?!

Interview Wednesday, 25 March
I was so pleased with so many things that I learned in the interview. The hiring manager needed someone with nearly my exact skill set and current career goals. The office is within walking distance of my flat (15 minutes if walking slow in heels, 7 minutes in trainers). The company is global, though the UK office is small, growing, and growth is expected to continue. I would have close contact with all other departments; this means the opportunity to gain a better knowledge of what everyone does – for a greater overall understanding of the industry and clinical research in general. The organization encourages and supports employees’ professional growth. Responsibilities are highly administrative for the project currently underway, which is great for me while I become comfortable with all of the EU regulations and decision making bodies, not to mention the accents and culture!

Verbal job offer received on the afternoon of Wednesday, 25 March
I might have been shaking for a few minutes. I was in disbelief. It was everything for which I had hoped. They obviously needed someone straightaway because they asked me to start Monday, 30 March.

Paper job offer received on the afternoon Thursday, 26 March
I met Emily for an Oxford Street shopping adventure. She introduced me to the world of Selfridges – whoa. All I know is that they have a small section of imported American foods where I found Crisco, Aunt Jemima syrup, and Smucker’s Grape Jelly. Who knew?! Now, if only I could get my hands on some Martha White flour, we could have proper southern biscuits… They do have chocolate covered bacon.
chocolate bacon

Lunch at Woodlands Friday, 27 March
We had to get in some time with the fabulous K & Em, back from their skiing trip in Flaine, so we had lunch at an amazing Indian restaurant just off Leicester Square. That morning I ruined some fairy cakes intended for Janita to share with her co-workers in celebration of her upcoming birthday… Boo.
cupcake fail

Work clothes shopping Saturday, 28 March
I would not recommend shopping with a specific purpose on a Saturday in central London, but when it’s all you have, you do what you can to stay calm and focused. Veggie sloppy joes, and then a visit to The Big Chill near King’s Cross for Janita’s birthday party – which she nearly missed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find her (because she wasn’t there yet) and we left before she arrived.
h and m

YAY! A Visitor! Sunday, 29 March
We met John Gusty at the airport and guided him into central london to the company flat where he was staying this week. After lunch in a pub south of Seven Dials, we gave him a short unofficial tour of the area south of the square (Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, the Thames River) and we took The Original [Double Decker] Bus Tour. We were frozen by the wind, but the view was worth it. We warmed up at Garfunkel’s off Leicester Square to top off the evening.

First Day at my new job Monday, 30 March
What can you say about your first day anywhere? It is so overwhelming to have a million names thrown at you and face an empty desk… However, as this is my first job in the UK, I can tell you some of the things I found to be especially noteworthy. Cubes are short and only go around your desk. Senior Managers sit in the cube farm with the rest of us. Fresh milk is delivered every day for coffee and tea. Water, coffee and biscuits are available fresh in all of the meeting rooms because you can’t have a meeting without refreshments. They take security, health and safety, and fire safety very seriously here. It gets noisy. We have lots of meetings. For those of you familiar with clinical research, yes, I have a million SOPs to read and since I am programme level support so I also have 5 study protocols to read and understand. No biggie.

Work and hanging with John Gusty, Tuesday through Thursday, 31 March-03 April
There wasn’t a night that I came home and cooked an actual dinner meal after work this week. I didn’t even check email most nights. I am tired.

Taking John to the airport, Saturday 04 April
We made the journey back to airport with John so we didn’t miss a minute of hanging out and had brunch at Wetherspoon’s. Then we headed home for a nap. I think I lost consciousness, being so tired and my brain having so much to process from the week. Then I made a trip to the grocery store because we were out of everything! I made a weird dinner that included vegetarian Gruyere patties, Indian spiced potatoes, and a crappy chickpea dip that I will never make again. For dessert, a chocolate cheesecake to celebrate Drew’s upcoming birthday!

So, the good news is that I have a job. The bad news is that I am not eligible to take vacation in my first 90 days. So, our May vacation to the states will most likely now happen in July. Update your calendars.

I know you are bored and yawning. At least, now you know what the heck kept me from blogging. I promise to be better, but I can’t promise to blog every night. Drew will have to take a turn more often : ) He’s been great to help lately, but we’ll both have some adjusting to do as we figure out how this new routine should work.

Much love to you all!

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
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.