On Thursday I hit all my (admittedly non-taxing) goals for the day. And yesterday, on into this morning, I almost did again, except that making three of the goals interfered with making the fourth.
Goal #1: See the Churchill War Rooms. Having recently seen "Darkest Hour," I wanted to see the rooms where it happened. I did, and they were really cool.
Goal #2: Visit three more pubs. I had planned to check in again at 214 Bermondsey, then head up to Ye Olde Mitre before stopping again at The Ship Tavern. I walked from the Churchill War Rooms to 214 Bermondsey (3.7 km) but it turned out they weren't open yet. So I trundled up to Fleet Street (another 3.7 km) and went to The George instead. At Ye Olde Mitre—which can use the archaic spelling legitimately as it's over 400 years old—I met up with an old friend, went to dinner with him, and then finally made it to The Ship Tavern.
Goal #3: Get to 10,000 steps as early in the day as possible. At the stroke of midnight I set off from The Ship Tavern back to my hotel in Earls Court, a distance of 6.4 km that got me 6,828 steps in just under an hour and ten minutes. I dropped my bag off, ate the curry I'd picked up on the way, and trundled around Earls Court for another half-hour before hitting 10,000 steps at 2:09 am GMT. Someday soon, but not today, I'll get there even earlier. At the pace I set from Holborn to Earls Court, it would have taken me only 102 minute had I not stopped for food.
Goal #4: Read another book. At The George, I started Robert Abelson's Statistics as Principled Argument, and managed to get halfway into the second chapter before getting swept up in conversations with the Aussies who mobbed the area where I was sitting at the Ship Tavern. It's also a bit denser than the Frum I read cover to cover on Thursday, which slowed me down a bit.
Today's goals included stopping in two more pubs, including the Southampton Arms, about which I have blogged frequently, and reading a third book. Alas, neither looks promising, for several reasons including the pouring rain outside right now and the six pubs I've already visited since I got here. So this afternoon I'm going to nap, plough ahead with the Abelson, and head up to Southampton Arms when the rain lets up, which the Met Office assures me will happen around 5 pm.
Yesterday I did exactly what I set out to do: visited three pubs and read an entire book.
The book, David Frum's Trumpocracy, should be required reading by Republicans. Frum is a Republican, don't forget; he's trying to put his party, and his country's shared values, back together. As a Democrat, I found his critique of President Trump and the current GOP's policies insightful and well-written. I don't agree with Frum's politics entirely, but I do agree with him fundamentally: disagreement between the parties is healthy when we agree on the fundamentals of what it means to be American.
The pubs were entirely less controversial.
First: The Anglesea Arms, Hammersmith, where I had a St. Aubell Tribute Cornish Pale Ale. Second: The Dove, also in Hammersmith, where I had a Hammerton N1 American Pale Ale and some foccacia with olive oil. (I'm trying to appreciate some pubs, not get sloshed.)
Both pubs were comfortable, classic English pubs. The Dove was more classic (it opened in the 17th Century), but the Anglesea Arms was more comfortable. I'd go back to either in a minute.
The third pub, where I read about half of Frum's book, is my third-favorite pub in the world*: The Blackbird in Earls Court. Over three hours, I sipped a couple of Fuller's ESBs and had their amazing steak and ale pie.
I may post some photos when I get back, but the glass over my phone's camera is all jacked up and I didn't bring my real camera.
Today I also plan to read a book and visit three pubs, and for the entire trip (including the flight home), I aim to finish four books and visit 10 pubs. And as it's already 11:30, I should get cracking.
* After Duke of Perth in Chicago and Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak, London, which I plan to visit tomorrow.
Getting tea at the local Pret this afternoon I discovered that one of the one-pound coins I tried to use no longer had any value:
On October 15 2017, the round pound ceased to be legal tender. This meant Brits could no longer use them to make purchases in shops, supermarkets, vending machines and even car parks.
The coin was phased out over six months, to pave way for the new five sided £1 which launched last March.
Those who find themselves still in possession of any round ones will have to head to their local bank, building society or post office branch to have them traded. Most will also only agree to do so if you're an account holder.
So, I now have a souvenir round pound that cost me $1.33 at the time. Could have been worse, I suppose. Now I just have to check my £10 notes. The paper ones expire in March.
A few links to click tomorrow when I have more time:
And now, I rest.
I'm not referring to the 14°C drop in temperatures over four hours yesterday, though that did suck. (And it did drench me.)
No, I'm talking about how, after calling countries that have dark-skinned citizens "shitholes," the best President we have right now abruptly cancelled a visit to the UK to dedicate our new (and ugly, and inconveniently-located) embassy on the south bank of the Thames:
The president claimed on Twitter that the reason for calling off the trip was his displeasure at Barack Obama having sold the current embassy for “peanuts” and built a replacement for $1bn (£750m). “Bad deal,” he wrote.
But the embassy’s plan to move from Mayfair to Nine Elms in London was first reported in October 2008, when George W Bush was still president.
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said Trump had “got the message” that many Londoners staunchly opposed his policies and actions.
“It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance,” Khan said on Friday.
“His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests. This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place.”
It's important to realize that Trump didn't cancel the visit because he feels one way or another about the embassy move. That's a policy detail that, while irksome to one of the closest allies the US has had for two centuries, is not something he would necessarily be aware of unless someone mentioned it on Fox & Friends. No, he doesn't want to go to the embassy dedication because he hates being reminded that he is less popular in London than Robert Mugabe.
I should also point out that our embassy in Grosvenor Square is an ugly building also, but at least it's convenient to Central London and near to many other embassies and missions. It's right across the park from Macdonald House, which used to house the Canadian High Commission and was also sold recently to private developers.
I should also point out that President Trump doesn't like President Bush fils any more than he likes President Obama, but of course Trump would never blame things on the white guy if he doesn't have to. (See, e.g., "shithole countries" comment, above.)
I'm on a train, using my mobile phone to tether my laptop to the Intertubes. I know this is an old technology, and also the reason I have unlimited data on my mobile, but I still love this stuff.
Things I'm reading:
Now approaching...Highwood! And soon off to my meeting.
I was thinking back to a somewhat strange question: where in the world have I experienced all 12 months of the year? I mean, I think you have to do that in order to say you really know a place.
Before I get to that, let me explain the post's title. The second time I ever set foot in New York was 30 years ago Monday, on 4 December 1987. (The first time was 23 July 1984.)
New York is also the second place in the world, after Chicago, where I experienced all 12 months of the year. I crossed that finish line on 1 April 1989, during my first year at university.
The other places (and dates) are Raleigh, N.C. (1 May 2010), London (1 September 2013), Los Angeles (1 October 2014), and San Francisco (29 October 2015).
L.A. really surprised me. Half my family lived there for 30 years, but between school, work, and dumb luck, it took over 40 years from my first visit there (19 April 1974) until I finally, finally experienced an October day there. And that was a work trip—I didn't even intend to do it.
The other odd bit is that the entirety of the time I spent in North Carolina is documented in this blog.
I think this post will interest about six people, but since one of them is me, and the rest of my brain is working on some pretty slippery user stories for work, up it goes.
I'm chilling in my hotel room on the second day of my trip, not sure how much longer I'll remain awake. (Waking up at 5am sucks, even more so when it's 4am back home.) This is a problem in that I need to write some code before tomorrow.
So I've spent a few minutes perusing the blog feeds and news reports that came in today, and I have a favorite. The favorite is not:
No, though all of those brought little flutters of joy to my heart, the story that London is going to make Oxford Street a pedestrian utopia by 2020 really got my interest. Since I have never driven a car anywhere in Zone 1 and have no intention of ever doing so, I think blocking 800 meters of Oxford Street to cars is fookin' brilliant.
Too much to read today, especially during an hours-long download from our trips over the past two weeks. So I'll come back to these:
But more seriously:
Lunch break is over.
On the southwest coast of Ireland, County Kerry's local newspaper warns that post-tropical storm Ophelia will hit within the hour with "violent and destructive gusts forecast with all areas at risk."
Galway schools are closed an Irish defence forces are being deployed throughout the area:
The Department of Education has ordered schools across Galway to close tomorrow as a red weather warning remains in place for the county.
It follows a special meeting of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning this afternoon to discuss preparations for Hurricane Ophelia.
GMIT is also to close all of its campuses across Galway – while NUI Galway says it is currently assessing the threat and will make a decision at 7 this evening.
Meanwhile, the City Council says Hurricane Ophelia does not currently pose a strong flood risk.
In a statement, the local authority says while there will be a storm sea surge in Galway Bay, the overall tidal level is predicted to be below the critical level for flooding.
It adds it will continue to monitor the situation and further defences and other measures will be put in place if required.
Meanwhile the storm track seems to have shifted west, so that Islay and Campbelltown are not directly in Ophelia's path; but not entirely safe either:
Three battalions of soldiers are on permanent standby to deal with major incidents in the UK, but the Ministry of Defence said no specific requests had yet been made of them by local authorities.
The Republic of Ireland's Met Office predicts coastal areas will be hit by winds in excess of 80mph (130km/h) from 09:00 BST on Monday until Tuesday and is warning against unnecessary travel.
Gerald Fleming, head of its general forecasting division, told Irish broadcaster RTE: "The track is very consistent [and] has been for days.
"The strongest winds [will be] along the south coast.
"That'll be tomorrow morning, and it'll track up the centre again, going up along the western part of the country."
BBC Weather said Monday would be a "day of huge contrasts" with the strong gusts of wind travelling over the Irish Sea and heading north to central and southern Scotland, sparing eastern parts of the UK.
Eastern England is instead expected to enjoy unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures of 22C or 23C on Monday - compared with an average for mid-October of 15C.
Highs of 24C were recorded in the region on Saturday as some parts of the country basked in a "mini heatwave" thanks to warm air brought by Hurricane Ophelia
I hope the people I met in Ireland and Scotland over the years get through this once-per-century storm with their wits about them—and their houses. Good luck.