We have an annual Hursley lab event where we take customers to meet our best and brightest in Hursley, UK. This year, Amir Mesri and I took a couple extra days to visit the country side. Thanks, Amir, for the great time!
Departing for London – Thursday, October 2
This trip didn’t start on good footing. The weather man had been predicting bad weather and sure enough, it looked like he was going to be right. As I arrived at the ticket counter, the agents told me that wheels up were predicted for 3:20, a full two hours late. What’s worse is that the weather was coming in from the southwest moving toward Peoria, so my window of opportunity to make my connection in Chicago was immediately at risk. When you live in the Center of the Universe, you are accustomed to travel challenges, so I immediately walked down to the Hertz counter and rented a clown car to drive up to O’Hare.
Yes, IBM’s policy is to rent economy or compact cars, so we don’t get comfortable cars to drive. As I was driving to O’Hare, I phoned my colleague, travel companion, and guide for the weekend, Amir Mesri, to give him an update. He laughed almost uncontrollably imagining what I looked like in this small car; head sticking out of the sun roof, arms hanging out of the window, and pushing with my feet like a Flintstones car just to make my London flight on time. It wasn’t quite that bad in this Kia Soul but there were some peculiar things like the fact that every bit of breeze felt like I was driving a sail boat tacking into the wind. Then there was the fact that I couldn’t drive for more than 20 minutes with the windows up because someone used so much air freshener that the smell almost asphyxiated me. But I was determined to make my London flight on time because Amir and I had plans for the weekend prior to our business meeting on Monday.
Luckily, I made it into O’Hare without the weather catching up to me and compounding the bad start to my day. I met up with Amir near the Admirals Club where we commenced to prepare for our trip to London.
Arrival in London, Friday Morning 9:15 UK time
The flight departed just a few minutes behind schedule but it was a good flight into London. Amir acquired a very nice Audi from Hertz for our commute. It is so nice to have a native drive you to and from in a foreign country, especially when they are on the wrong side of the road. It wasn’t until Sunday that I became accustomed to seeing cars come at me from the other side of the road. I think it would take me three or four weeks in country before I would venture to drive myself. And of course, I would pick a country road with low traffic to learn.
Our first stop was in Fleet to visit Amir’s sister, Soheila, and brother in law, Bambo. What a delightful family. We had tea and visited for a while before Soheila offered her spare room and shower for me to freshen up. After a long flight over the Atlantic, that shower and nap helped me adjust quite nicely. After dining out for fish and chips at a proper pub, we headed to Bristol.
Up to Bristol for Bath
Our first full day was planned for Bath, UK. Because there were some big events scheduled for the weekend, we couldn’t stay in Bath, so we stayed in nearby Bristol. After checking into the hotel, we walked into town to find some night life. We found a nice pub in downtown Bristol to catch a bite of dinner and a pint or two. Amir and I were watching a rugby game after dinner. This older guy next to us was really in the game – very intense. He wouldn’t carry a conversation with us, just muttered single syllable responses to questions. His buddy was quite friendly and gregarious, which was great for me because he was teaching me the finer points of rugby while we watched the game between Bath and their opponent.
During the game Bath’s place kicker had missed several field goals. But they were winning handily. Finally, after missing his fourth field goal and third in a row, this older guy next to me blurts out the most creative curse either of had ever heard. He yells out in his thick English accent “You F#*& W@#%^ T@*!!!” Amir was laughing uncontrollably.
I didn’t quite make out what said so I turned to Amir to translate for me. “What did he call that guy, Amir?”
After Amir caught his breath from his laughter he explained what the old guy said. Let’s just say it was FWT. We both laughed so hard we nearly fell off our chairs.
“That’s one we will have to write down for the future, Amir.” From now on, when someone really missed the goal posts, it’s FWT.
Saturday, October 4 – Bath, UK
(BTW: If you have a high res screen, try viewing this full screen before you click on these images to maximize the viewing area of these pics.)
On our way from Bristol, Amir was dying for a proper English Breakfast and I was seeking an ideal spot to capture the sights. Fortunately, for me, the English morning was shaping up perfectly with an ideal rolling fog over the hills and the sun hiding just behind them. When I found a spot to pull over, we stumbled on an English coffee shop that served Amir’s breakfast.
Bath at Last
We finally made it to Bath. For those who have never been to Bath, you should know this was a Roman city known for its Natural Hot Springs Spas, developed about AD 60. This World Heritage City is an ancient city of Romans, the home of Jane Austen, and a city of the British Aristocracy. The primary sites in the city of Bath are Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent, and Pulteney Bridge. Of course we covered all the sites and more.
The last shot of the day in Bath was at the famed Pulteney Bridge. You saw one of the shots above from my 70D. This shot below is from my iPhone using the Panoramic feature. It did quite a nice job.