Friday, March 23, 2007

Could anything else go wrong?

I asked the Flatmate to go pick up the keys for my new place this afternoon at 5pm. I was wondering why he was only leaving the house at 10 past 5, but heck, I don't want to be accused of "reminding" him about his time keeping techiniques, so I was keeping my trap shut.

So on the phone to him just now, he's just said "ok I'm on a bus on the way to your place"
Me: "My place? Why? You're supposed to go to Canary Wharf!"
The Flatmate: "Canary Wharf? Why?"
Me: "You're getting them from the estate agents"
The Flatmate: "What? I thought I was getting them from your flat? I was just about to knock on their door and ask for the keys"
Me: "What the hell would you do that for? I said the estate agents! That's why you could get them at lunch time when you were in Canary Fucking Wharf"
The Flatmate: "Oh... bugger eh".

For fucks sake. Can anything go smoothly with this fucking house?

End of week insults

Dr D is texting a "girl" on his phone, smiling his little "ooh baby" smile, and looking quite smug.

Me: "Oh look at you, with the big grin, trying to look all intelligent now"
Dr D: "I don't have to try to look intelligent, it's a given. So there lower IQ girl, since mine is higher than yours"
Me: "Only by 1 point you know"
Dr D: "Yeah but a point's a point, and I'm smarter so nyer".

What a week

There has just been too much going on in my life for me to take it all in. And I know this post is going to sound all whiney, but that's exactly how I feel at the moment. Tired, emotional, and really overwhelmed by everything. All I want to do is stay at home, watch tele, and just dig my head in the sand. But unfortunately, it's time to start acting like the adult I'm supposed to be, and just get the bloody hell on with it....

1. Moving house & the great appliance debacle
Holy crap there is so much to do. I have to get so many services ported across to the new place, like water and gas and electricity and phones. On top of that work has been a bitch, so I can't seem to find the time to do everything. PLUS, I have to buy a cooker, fridge and a washing machine, and for some reason I just can not make up my mind. I've never heard of brands like "Indesit" (or as I've now heard them called Indeshit), "Cannon" or "HotPoint". How am I supposed to make an informed choice? I think I've got the washer/dryer/fridge/freezer thing nailed down. I just have to get down to buying the bloody things.

The thing is that now I am suffering from a total lack of conviction, and I am completely indecisive about everything. I was trying to buy a card reader this morning, and got totally flustered about buying a £8 reader or a £6 reader. The cheaper one is from Amazon, but the more expensive one seemed to have a longer cord. This is all it takes to floor me now. I can't decide if I should have one piece of toast or two. Eat sushi for lunch or hot dogs. Am I thirsty now or not? Do I want to sue the people who are selling me my house or not??? What is fucking wrong with me????

2. Police
I got a call on Tuesday from Aylesbury police. We went to Aylesbury for the weekend last week to show The Flatmate how random the whole place was. So when I get a call from a police woman, saying that she has some questions for me I think "holy crap? What did I do? Did I assault someone and not remember it, even though I wasn't that drunk? ". She then asks me if we stayed at the hotel which we did stay in. This has me thinking "hmm, I'm sure The Flatmate paid the bill? We did take the biscuits from the room, but they were supposed to be complimentary??? We didn't trash the room at any stage.. maybe they're calling because I couldn't get the tap to stop slowly dripping... Maybe it is over the 50 pence biscuits... but they weren't even that good..". The police woman then starts questioning me on whether we saw anything suspicious on Saturday night because they are investigating an incident of a rape at the hotel, possibly involving a man or a member of staff. This has me completely freaked, because we were there, but we didn't see anything.. admittedly, we also had a good amount of whiskey and cokes in us, but still... that's really freaked me out to be honest... What if C or I had been alone in the room and someone tried to break in? What if they accused The Flatmate because he was alone in his room? How could I have been at a hotel, where there were so few people, and not notice some woman had been brutally assaulted? There is this real feeling of guilt for some reason, that I can't seem to shake.

3. FOP
FOP week has been moving along slowly. Unfortunately The Flatmate called me up all in a state because all the restaurants he wants to go to are full on Saturday, and he didn't think about making any arrangements prior to today. This gets me annoyed because I'd spent most of the week "reminding" (ok, fine, nagging) him to get things organised, and he'd just get annoyed at me for "reminding" (nagging) him. So I didn't have the greatest amount of sympathy when he spent ages on the phone complaining that he'd left it too late. All well that ends well, because he finally found somewhere, we just hope that all the vegetarian/vegan/non-beef/non-red meat eaters will be ok with an Argentinian Steak House. I like steak, and yes, my name is Jack and I'm alright.

I've officially completed today. So officially I am supposed to be living there today. I am supposed to have the keys. I am not supposed to have the sellers living there. I told my solicitor about this whole not moving in until Sunday thing, and how the estate agent (never deal with Foxtons) had specifically told me not to say anything to them, and she's gone dead set nuts. Now she's servicing them notice telling them that if they're not out we're going to charge them, and if they aren't out on Sunday at 2pm, we're going to sue them. Apparently I could ask them to pay for the two days they are living there, and if they didn't pay then it would be up to the estate agent to pay, completely explaining why the estate agent didn't want me to say anything.

I just want an easy life! I just want to move in without all this freakin' hassle. Fuck fuck fuck.

On the plus side, Calv pointed out that we are going to a casino tonight, and if I get the keys today, I could just throw them on a roulette table and say "all on black". Then I'd have to explain to everyone why I was living out of a cardboard box, because I don't own a house anymore.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

FOP, Wrists and Boggle Eyes

I know I've not finished regaling (aka boring) you with stories of Svalbard (where it's not -37.6C, but when we were there it was a pathetic -1C) but so much else has happened, so I'll do Svalbard later.

1st: Groaning Debt
It seems that after 6 painful, head banging against the wall, hair wrenching months, I've finally exchanged on my flat! I'm getting the keys on Friday, and legally, I'm bound to it like a hostage, gagged and flung into the back of a car. However, as nothing with this house has gone smoothly, the vendor can't move out of the flat until Sunday, because he can't drive and he has to wait for his brother to help him move (what is wrong with hiring a dude and a truck I ask?) , the vendor, his girlfriend and son will be squatting in my flat for 48 hours. My esteemed estate agent told me "well, this does happen all the time, but best not mention it to your lawyer eh?". So obviously not trusting this sleazy man as far as I could throw his short, squat, rotund, little body, I ran and told my lawyer who was less than pleased. But still, squatting aside, it's done now, and some of my lovely friends are helping me move my junk on Monday. Love the lovely friends

2. FOP
It's finally happened. The Flatmate has an end date, a get out of jail, exit strategy finally planned.

Last Friday, removalists came to pack up his stuff and ship it all back to Australia. Naturally, being a complete hoarder, his estimated 15 boxes turned into 35, probably because he's taken a load of my crap too (why? my dresses won't fit him, he's way too tall!). So our flat is not 1/2 empty, and devoid of all things his. Amusing he's living out of a suit case for the next 2 weeks, and because they've taken all his stuff, including his linen, he is sleeping in his sleeping bag, on a naked mattress. Talk about temporary. Also, being seduced by the lovely warm March spring weather last week, he packed all his cold weather gear, and now is paying the price as it's fucking freezing in London, and it's starting to snow again. Snow. In London. In March. It must be some sort of punishment from the gods for abandoning me. Obviously the gods are on my side, and want the wicked Flatmate to freeze. Ha!

So the next 2 weeks are FOP week for The Flatmate (FOP = Fuck Off Phil). A vast array of events, all involving eating, drinking and spending money I don't actually have anymore.

3. Punishment for Boggle Eyes.
Speaking of punishment, on Saturday, probably in answer to me taking C and The Flatmate to Aylesbury, where Dr D grew up, for a truly, mid England, thug filled, old men coping off with old women in sleazy nightclubs, with lots of underage kids thrown in the mix as well, night out. We thought The Flatmate needed to see the randomness that is a night on the tiles in Aylesbury. And also I was making a last ditch attempt at keeping The Flatmate in London, by throwing a 5Ft 9, blond, yes slightly boggled eyed, friend of Dr Dr in his path. Of course it never works out the way I plan, as whilst she looked kindof interested in The Flatmate, that interest waned very quickly when Dr D said "well, I work with her* (pointing at me) and he (pointing at the Flatmate) lives with her (pointing back at me).." At this, her boggle eyes looked at The Flatmate, then back at me, then back at the Flatmate, probably trying to work out what sort of weird bunch we were, then she buggered off literally 10 seconds later. So in punishment for me trying to change The Flatmates destiny, I've managed to end up with tendonitis (or more accurately De Quervian tenosynovitis) in my right wrist. Basically, my wrist is fucked, and I can't grip, hold a pen, move a mouse or type. You find being a programmer who can't type or use a mouse is very difficult. I went to the minor injuries unit at the hospital yesterday, only to wait in the queue behind what seemed like a thousand people, all of whom seemed to have open cuts, broken feet or missing limbs. 2 hours I sat waiting, so I could finally see a nurse, try and explain that whilst I did go out on Sat night, and yes, my wrist started hurting on Sat night, I did not go out, get pissed, and fall over and hurt myself, and that this definitely is not a UDI (Unidentified Drinking Injury). 20 seconds of looking and my arm, she sticks my wrist in a splint, says "rest" and packs me off. So much for the NHS.

*Amended because Dr D has issues. BIG HAIRY ISSUES.

So that's what's been happening here. Sprained limbs, house moving, and FOP events. It's going to be very weird now as we start doing our "lasts" of everything. Last dinners at fave restaurants, last nights in, last fights involving fisty cuffs, and kicking.. It all sounds a bit perverse huh? Good thing The Flatmate never reads this..

Monday, March 12, 2007

Longyearbyen, our first day. AKA Boffins on Ice

This was the day we went dog sledding... And Dr D realised he had Superman/Indiana Jones fantasies, whilst the Magic saw himself more like a Bond style hero...


It's been such a cool day today. We spent the morning doing a dog sleding tour around an iced over lake!

Calv, and The Flatmate took one sled, and Dr D, Magic and I were on the other, being pulled along by 9 very, very eager huskies. All 3 of us had a go at leading the dogs, whilst the other two sat on the sledge, and it was amazing fun! Before we started off, these dogs were yappy, and jumpy, and so excited. But once we took off, they all turned into serious working mutts.

Dr D so far has not had a very good animal tour/holiday ration so far. In America a few years ago, we went horse riding, and he managed to pull his groin really badly when his horse got ultra greedy and kept trying to eat the grass, whilst not bothering to stop first. What must have seemed like a real time saving move at the time turned into Dr D's near death experience, as the horse refused to stop eating, lost it's balance, and nearly fell over, possibly leaving Dr D in a more pancake shape.. This time, he was surely hoping to have less life threatening animal touring experience, but even so, when he took the reins he seemed a bit nervous. Once he started getting into the swing of it, he really took to it, looking around, urging the dogs to run faster, saying how much fun it was, giggling like an excited school girl. Inevitably cockiness overrules, and he starts to think "this dog sled driving is a piece of piss", and so he starts trying to make snow balls with his foot (we still have no idea why??), whilst dogs are pulling us along at a not to be sniffed at trot. Slowly I notice the constant Dr D chatter has stopped, to be replaced with the occasional "oops" and "ooh dear". When I turn around, he wasn't so much standing on the sled, but more being dragged, Indiana Jones style, belly down, along the snow, behind the sled. Apparently he had managed to get too much snow caught in his boot, trip a bit, completely fuck up, and fall over. Rather than letting anyone know what he'd done of course, he thought he could "fix it" before we noticed, and was trying to drag himself back up. The only problem with this plan is that the snow is of course too soft for him to get a good grip with his shoe on, and everytime he tries to put his foot down, he just sinks into the snow even deeper. He literally was dragged about 100 m, with 9 huskies pulling our sled along before we noticed. When we saw this, The Magic jumped up on the sled quick as lightning, trying to manouvere his way to get to the break, thus saving his best friend for drowning in snow. Unfortunately, whilst The Magic jumped up like a hero, and he fell down like a boffin.

So now, this leaves me, on a sled, alone, being dragged by 9 uber excited huskies, no driver and no way to stop. Screaming "STOP" at the dogs does no good of course, because these puppies don't understand English or even the more common English Louder. All the other sleds in front unfortunately do speak english, and by now have all stopped their sleds and are watching Dr D and the Magic running after, laughing their arses off, and falling over in the snow. They also watch me preacriously climbing my way to the back of the sled, sure footed like a cow on ice skates, throw the anchor, lose my footing, and get dragged along the side of the sled until the dogs ran into the people in front. I've never been so embarrased to be a nerdy boffin in my life!

So all in all Dr D succesfully managing animals on a tour 0, Animals Trying to Kill Dr D whilst on holiday 2.

Tomorrow we're off ice caving in a river glacier, in the evening. Now I'm not too keen on closed in spaces, but I've been assured that this is the tour were I won't have to crawl under hundreds of metres of ice on my hands and knees. Being opressed by a ton of ice is not something i'm particularly looking forward to, but then again, neither is flying and I manage to do that ok.

Svalbard Day 1

Here's Day 1 in Svalbard.


Well we've finally made it to the Arctic Circle! After a 4 hour delay in Tromso because of blizzards in Longyearbyen, we spent a few hours sitting on the plane, hoping we were actually going to make it here today. When we finally did land in Svalbard, there were amazing snow drifts coarsing over the runway. Even though you know the temperature is going to be way below freezing, nothing prepares you for how cold that really is. Taking in that first breath of sub zero air was such a shock it threw me into a coughing fit. It was unbelievable. And because it's all snowing, and dark, my perception has been completely thrown, and I find that I am unable to distinguish the things that I'm looking at.. is that snow on the roof? Is that a roof at all or just a part of the sky? Is that a car or a bear? Or am I just hungry...?

But now we've all checked into our apartments at the SAS Radisson (oh yes people. We go to the acrtic circle and stay in style.. nice!), and we've gotten all of our cold weather gear (including my new hat which has a deer on it! Not quite as dangerous as a seal I'm sure), and gone our for a walk around town.. the only problem with that is that we keep getting distracted by all the feather light snow, and we all just keep falling over and rolling in it. A bit like dogs. It really is amazing here. Freezing and dark, but amazing.

So we're off to have dinner now, in the hotel restaurant, which looks amazing. And surprisingly heaps cheaper than Oslo! Tomorrow we've got a 3 hour dog sled tour booked, where we get to meet the doggies, harness them and drive them around! I'm so excited!

Firstly though, here's my personal checklist of things to do on this holiday:

  1. Try Seal
  2. Try reindeer
  3. Try Deer - done
  4. Dogsleding
  5. Snowmobiling
  6. Snowball fight
  7. See the Doomsday Vault
  8. See the Northern Lights
  9. See the Polar bears
  10. See glaciars
  11. Possibly, run outside in my underwear in the snow....

Saturday, March 03, 2007

24 hours in Oslo

Well, it's over. 2 months of planning, anticipation, worry about polar bear mauling, and sheer excitment has ended with 8 fantastic, sometimes bitterly cold, days in Norway, and it's little territory called Svalbard. I was going to blog whilst I was away, since I brought my laptop with me, but blogger had other ideas. My blog was flagged as spam(!) and I had to email the powers that be and ask them to give me my account back. Spam I tell you. Phnarr. You've never heard so much swearing when I found out. Sailors would have blushed.

Anyway, here's the first post I had written up whilst away. I figure I'll post all the ones I've written, and then do a little recap in the end. Included in future posts are things like:

1) Me being abandoned on a dog sled with no driver or other passengers, in the middle of a glacier, whilst both Dr D and the Magic try unsuccessfully to chase after
2) Me almost killing Dr D by overturning our snowmobile
3) £80 worth of pizzas
4) The taste of seal
5) The Island

First 24 Hours in Oslo
We've now been in Oslo for about 24 hours, and after lots of walking, taking photos, playing in snow, trying to avoid being eaten by the worlds largest dogs, we're all sitting here in one of our rooms, frankly, knackered, feet up, drinking beers, and watching "Loser" on norweigan telly. Incidentaly, our room is possibly the most nerd injected room in all of Oslo with:

  1. 3 laptops
  2. 6 digital cameras
  3. 1 digital SLR
  4. 1 old fun time SLR
  5. USB2 Cards
  6. Network Cards
  7. 3 USB keyfob/drive/thingy (Magic says keyfob, Dr D says key drive, and I say "thingy")

Hell YEAH!

Our first 24 hours has not been nearly as cold as I expected it to be. It's probably about 3 degrees outside, and compared to what it's going to be like in Svaldbard, that's practically t-shirts and shorts weather!

I have to say, Oslo, and probably Norway, is the most expensive place on this god given earth. Last night we went out to dinner, to what has been described in the guide books as "moderately priced". Norways "moderately priced" is equivalent to the rest of the world's "sweet mother of god, I need to get a second mortgage to pay for this meal of bread and tap water". When the Mag and I decided to have a bottle of wine with dinner, the waitress suggested a £38.90 bottle of red. And that was one of the cheapest ones going! Today, I inadvertedly spent 5 POUNDS on a tiny, tiny, tiny travel size bottle of hair mousse. It's scarey when you're in a country where you need a bank roll to buy a burger. Or where you can take out almost £600 from a cash machine in one transaction...

Anyway, here are a couple of pics from today, including Dr D constantly falling over in the snow.. I'm not sure we're going out tonight. It's actually insanely fun drinking tinnies, watching tele, and chatting. (Though Dr D is not really talking to us, and is spending all night "playing" (aka cheating) at Championship Manager. And asking me if I'm "blogging shit".

Oh yes I am Dr D.

BTW: I've just had the most nerd fulfilling experience in my life. I've just OUTNERDED The Magic, a doctor in particle physics (there are 2 of them in this room right now (thus upping our nerd factor to stratospheric levels)), when he saw me using on GVim. He didn't even know that you can use VI on Windows! How cool is that..