Last Day

Lack of posting here down to being busy tying up loose ends at work. Today is my last day, and there still seems to be a load of stuff to sort out. I don’t know how much I’ll be posting over the next few days either, as everything is getting hectic – boxing stuff up, getting ready to move, throwing out all the crap you accumulate when you stop in one place for too long…

Thought I’d take a few minutes out to scribble something down, though. It seemed like it had to be done – very possibly the last time I’ll post anything from this machine. It hasn’t quite struck home yet, that I’m leaving this place. Here I sit surrounded by my colleagues from the last two and a half years, and there’s a good chance that I won’t see some of them again. Ever. Strange feeling.

Walthamstow Marsh

This is very much a lazy Sunday afternoon sort of post. Since we’re leaving town next week, we’re trying to visit a few of our favourite haunts at the same time as pack and clean up and organise all those things that need to be organised before a move.

[Bullrushes on Walthamstow Marsh]

One of those places is Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes, an area criss-crossed by paths, canals and the River Lee. Not to mention the sewage works, railway lines and pylons – this is London, after all – but the intrusion of the city proper into the marshes doesn’t detract from their value as a place to come and get away from busy roads and litter filled streets.

[An old boat at the Marina]

The river and the canals are always filled with geese, ducks and swans swimming between the narrowboats and clustering around the occasional canal-side cafe or pub in the hope of scraps. The paths across the marsh and alongside the waterways are well maintained and good for cycling or walking, wide enough for all to enjoy without feeling you have to keep a constant look out for other people.

[Geese and Narrowboats on the canal]

There’s a marina filled with boats of all descriptions, many of which are scrupulously cared for narrowboats that people appear to live in. There are places to stop with picnic benches. Recently a small group of cows were introduced onto part of Walthamstow Marsh, so there’s plenty to look at and you almost feel as though you’re not in the city any more.

[Some of the newly introduced cows on Wlathmstow Marsh]

Back in London

Got back to London yesterday after a great two weeks in Italy. Sad to be back, but it won’t be long until I’m off again!

Here’s a little snap I took out of the window on the flight out as we flew over France from the Channel.

[View of the French Coast from about 30,000 feet]

First NYC, now London…

Right now I’ve no idea what caused today’s power failures (a fault with the National Grid?), but I do know that if we hadn’t stopped off for a cuppa, we’d have been among those on a tube when the power cut out. Instead, we got to walk half way across London in the rain, unable to get on the overcrowded buses, before eventually forcing our way onto one in Islington. Got home at about 21.15, soaked and cold. Funny to think that only a week or two back everyone was wilting in the heat.

Knackered.

Update (22:36)
Listening to Radio 4, and it sounds like things are still a bit of a nightmare in town so perhaps we were lucky – at least we got home!

New Life

At the end of September, I’m leaving my job and moving out of my flat, and I haven’t a replacement lined up for either. But that’s OK – it’s sort of the point, really.

After much discussion and more than a bit of prevarication, we are going to book some flights after work tonight. We’re off to New Zealand for a while, hopefully until the northern spring anyway. We got work visas, and a bit of cash stashed, so we reckon on being able to sustain a reasonable life over there for a while, plus take a look round what’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.

And them when we get back, headspace refound and rut long abandoned, it’s time to start again. And the aim is to build a better life, one where the inevitable earning of money doesn’t end up totally dominating every other aspect of life. I’m already in a reasonable starting position, with no real debt and no responsibilities, which provides an opportunity to take a few risks without putting anyone else out.

Adam Greenfield wrote an interesting post at marginwalker titled ‘Real value and the nature of work’, where he talks about the difference between modes of “work” and asks us how we “construct creativity and work” – how do we build a balance between them into our lives? He has made a decision to chase a life where he survives and (hopefully!) prospers doing the things that he does best, the things he finds constructive and enjoys, because one the one hand he’ll be happier that way, and on the other he feels that he’ll contribute more that way.

And I think he’s right, and that’s where I’ve been going in my own thoughts lately. I’m afraid that I’ve yet to evolve any methods to do this, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and this is an opportunity to do just that.

Giftmas in the West End

Dammit, we’ve just got rid of all the bloody summer tourists. Lunch breaks are only ever peaceful in February.

Christmas is a terrible thing. In my opinion the best way to give gifts is when you see something you know someone would love, buy it and give it to them as a surprise. This never seems to happen to me at Christmas. I wander the streets of London gazing at the hideous window displays and trying to avoid those idiots for whom Oxford Street is the height of chic, and never seem to be able to find anything suitable at all. In the end the good old Christmas list saves me, but of course this means that everyone already knows what they’re getting on the day. If you’re lucky, you might get to be surprised by who gets you what.

Not that I’m the easiest person to buy for anyway. When you have a fairly specialised set of interests, no one but a fellow geek knows what the hell to get you. You end up getting socks. Still, I need some socks, so maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. And it’s certainly preferable to bad Star Wars novelisations.