Wednesday 14 December 2005

from summer to winter

It's been over 3 months now that I have posted anything.
Time is flying by quickly and it is not making any stops.
I can still see Kate and me walking around in Hampstead Heath on a beatiful summerday.

That was September. In early october Kate turned 27. It was a fun birthday. We started it with cake and presents, met up with one of Kaet's friends for lunch and went to the Aqarium in the afternoon.

On the following weekend we invited some friends to a cocktail party.
There was plenty to drink.

And some very yummy food too.

If I remember correctly at around 4am after just a bit too many delicious drinks and some scary guitar playing and singing I too finally went to bed.

At the end of the month one of Kate's godchildren had a halloween-birthday party. So, we decided to go up to Birmingham to visit her and join the party as Dracula and Medusa :).

In November my sister came to visit and spent a weekend here with us in London. The weather was perfect so we decided to 'book a flight' on the London Eye, getting some nice views of the city.

We then walked all over the place and did what tourists do: taking tons of pictures and well, walk all over town.

In the evening we decided to see a ballet performance.

On sunday we went to the Portobello Market, did a bit more sightseeing and watched a fireworks display at night which was followed by a beautiful walk along the thames.

In the end of November Kate and I flew over to germany to celebrate my mom's and dad's birthdays. It was great. Feldber already had some snow. It was freezing cold and realy felt like winter is coming.
Even though it was a very short stay we enjoyed it quite a bit.
It was good seeing the family and some old friends I have not seen for quite some time.

We did have some time to walk around the beautiful nature in Feldberg, though the weather was a bit foggy and grey it was still enjoyable.

Thursday 25 August 2005

SVGOpen 2005

I had the great opportunity to go to the annual SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) conference [ SVGOpen], this year held in Enschede, Netherlands.
This is my second time presenting at the SVGOpen. I gave a course on building WebApplications and presented a couple papers on networking interfaces in SVG and a "HTML-Forms" implementation in SVG + sXBL.

Besides giving and attending presentations the conference truly is about meeting people and having a good time. And we surely did have a good time during the 4 days in Enschede. So much that, when I came home on friday, I went to bed at 1:00pm and only woke up the next morning at 10:00am and pretty much just resting for the rest of the weekend.
I guess thats what happens if one parties till 5:00 in the morning and gets up at 10:00 to give a presentation. But hey, we don't live twice!

All togehter I meet a lot of interesting people, had a great time and am looking forward to the next SVGOpen.

Friday 19 August 2005

dear blog ...

I have been neglecting yo .. I am sorry!

For the first time I drove an english car just a couple weekends ago. It was a little trip I took with Kate form London to Burmingham.
So, right after picking up the car from the rental place I drove a bit too close to the left and gone was my passenger side plastic mirrow covering. Other than that and that Kate was not quite sure if she really wanted to have me drive her it went really well.

A week ago Marco, my best friend from germany, came over to see London and hang out with me.

He stayed for a whole week. As I had to work there was not too much time to do much exploring together but we used the time available as much as we could.

Did all the tourist things, the river, big ben, ...

On tuesday we went out for an Editors concert, had lots of beer, danced, ... On wednesday we went for another concert !!! (Chk Chk Chk) which was really good. Again lots of beer and lots of dancing.

Thursday I did not feel too well, probably the lack of sleep so we did not do much. Marco explored the city while I tried to get work done.
At the end of the week we kindof took things a bit more slowly.

Saturday night at 4am marco took his flight back home. I got a bit more sleepa and took a flight sunday afternoon to the netherlands for the SVGOpen 2005 conference.

Wednesday 20 July 2005

Another month has passed

Time is flying by at an incredible speed.

It's been an eventfull month: I got 2:30 hours late to work just a couple weeks ago for the very first time. Not that it realy mattererd, others were late too and left early that thursday to make it home. I did not even know what happend, they just stoped the tube. The people left the Bakerstreet station and waited outside for buses, hundreds it must have been. No one seemed to have known what happened. I called up my girlfriend to tell her she had to find another way to get into town as the tube was closed indefinetly supposedly due to some power failure.

The first two busses where so crowded I could not get on. I was already running late as I kindof could not get myself out of bed that morning. The third bus finally took me to Hammersmith. I turned on some nice music got my book out and started reading not minding running late and enjoying just another bussy morning. Then Marco called me from germany asking if everything is OK with me. I did not realy understand till he started talking about bombs and terror attack ... ?!?!? So I called up my mom, making sure she knew I was OK.
Then I asked around in the bus if anyone knew what was going on and a woman read out what happend from her phone. People looked at each other with no shock or anything and that was pretty much it.

I got into work, the news were running in a meeting room, lots of people calling friends and family, so did I though the mobile network seemed to have been failing at times.
Most of the news sites online have already put up the headlines, tons of photos and what not. Well, that's what the media does, keeping us informed, not!? It is just too bad that there is too much money involved to realy believe they do it to inform the masses.
It is discusting. By the way, "About 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. Three-fourths of the deaths are children under the age of 5".

Enough of about the mad world. Let's just turn the other way, turn up the music and enjoy the spoiled life we are living.

Kate and I have been exploring more of London. We visited the Museum of London three weeks ago and went out for a play the following week. A two men version of "The Importance Of Being Ernest", it was great and so was the lovely diner we had afterwards in a little italian restaurant.

One day the following week I came home after having gone to a nice pub and the boiler was boiling over. The heating in the house just went crazy. Even after turning everything off in the house it would not stop. Eventually it did. But not for too long. The next day it started again. We called up the plumbers to take care of it. In the evening it was so bad that a pipe must have burst and watter was coming out of the wall in my room.

The builders came the next day, riping out the boiler and putting new equipment and renovating my entire room. It did need that anyways.
Meanwhile I moved into Kate's room. The builders worked on the house for the whole week, putting in new heating, redoing the kitchen and bathrooms. At the end of the week Kate and I decided to just escape into the country for a couple of days,

doing nothing but taking little walks, having nice diner and ...

It was a lovely weekend.

Last weekend I flew to Germany for my older sister's wedding.
I met up with Erech, the lad I went to Schottland with beforehand. We did not have much time but it was nice to see him again.

My parents picked me up in Frankfurt am Main on friday and together we drove down to a little town not too far away from Speyer.

The wedding was on saturday, a hot day it was but it did not stop anyone from having a great time. People where singing, there was a couple of little dance shows and not to forget plenty of beer :)
It is akward but that was the first time I have ever danced with my mom and my sisters.

On Sunday I met with a nother friend of mine who I have not seen for a few months in Wuerzburg. We climbed up to the fortress and just enjoyed the view. It was a short visit but worth it.
I almost missed my plane back but the lady at the checkin was realy nice and ckecked me in.

It is tuesday and another week is going by as usual. Not one day is boring and looking at the plans for the weeks to come, bordom will vanish from my vocabulary.

Monday 20 June 2005

London, my new home

I am here in London now for three weeks. A big thanks to Jim who let me use his apartment until I had found a houseshare and another thank-you-jim for reccomending me for the new job. Sometimes things just seem to work out magically.

The overnight busride was, well, quite long. Not much legroom and not very comfortable. I heard it was supposed to be quite hot in London, fortunatly it was not. Rather cool an windy at the time I arrived.
The next days I spent online, searching for houseshares in London.
I had no clue what to look for except that I knew I wanted to live with at least 3 more people and I did not want to live too far away from work. Alot of the offers where taken or I just got a mailbox to talk to. On sunday I was able to have a look at on of the houses. Of course I had no clue of how long it would take me to makie my way around town, I am just not used to theses distances here, but I am getting there :).
Being almost an hour late I finally got there, had a nice chat and was shown around the house. The room was not too great, kindof small and a bit worn out. But the housemates seemed great. The living room was nice and there was a little(large for London I heard) garden and a large kitchen... We had tea and chatted for about 4h... Well, I would have taken the room right away but since I had not looked at any other apartements I figured I should keep looking around to have something to compare. And so I did. Two more I looked at, which were much closer to work but (quite) a bit more expensive. The rooms themselfes where nicer and larger too but I did not get the right feelings torwards the housemates. That was pretty much it. I called up the first place to tell them that I wanted to be their new housemate.
I would move in on the following monday, so I crashed at Jim's place for the rest of the week.
Work started on wednesday, company meeting on thursday with champange and after work pub on friday ... what a start.
On saturday I was invited to a party in my new place.

It was kindof a birthday and move-out party, I guess for me a move-in party :). I decided to just stay at the house for the next couple of days,crashing in the living room untill I was given my room.

So my first regular week started. Taking the tube to and from work.
It is an hour to get there and an hour to get back home. I am using the time now to actually pick up a book and read. To some of the people that know me this may sound very surprising, but I am enjoying it. (Thanks Marco, for the quite inspireing :p book "Wenn das Leben ein strand ist, sind Frauen das Mehr").

Time is flying by and I cannot believe I am here in London now for almost a month. I have not realy seen much of the city yet, though last weekend I was out with one of my housemates to explore varois types of stone on housefronts. Well, we ended up walking along the thames, listening to streetperformers and just enjoing they day.

Other than that I have seen a number of pubs. It is quite hard to avoid them and why should one. Fridays its after-work-pub time. And no, you don't go home first get changed and go out. Skip that and just enjoy a few rounds of beer and then go home. Well, it's great getting to know new cultures and ways of doing things! And to make sure I do I am trying to not say no to any offers that may come up. This weekend is quite quiet and I finnally have some time again to post an update. Its hot outside, 31C and I have been pretty much just laying in the sun, reading a book and having a great time with my housemate. We all have a sunburn now and sweating like ... , well, anyways.

Here I am now in London, it's been great so fare and there is so much more to see and experience ...

Thursday 2 June 2005

last days in scotland

Time was flying by and both Eric and I wished for just having and extra week. Unfortunatly we have to do with what we got.
Erech was quite bussy fixing little holes in the pipes he had just put. Poor him. Not very motivating to see water dripping when one thinks it is all finished. After a couple valve bursts and some soldering and testing and soldering again he was finished and can proudly say to have put in a complete new heating system into the house. He hooked up the boiler and voila, we had hot running watter for the very first time in these 4 weeks.

Slowly the radiators where starting to warm up. What a great feeling. Not that it realy changed the temperature in the house, because we didn't have them on long enough, but it was nice for just a few minutes. While Erech was working on the pipes I managed to finish up the kitchen.

Another proud moment. After which I started to do more work in the new bathroom, putting up stud-work We also checked if everything will actually fit the way we planned. And it did.

Well, and we didn't believe it but we actually got our phoneline, just a few days before leaving. Fantastic, isn't it?
I find it quite amazing how fast BT was working on it. It only took them a whole month. Now, the interesting thing was that it was due to unexpected problems they came across. Like finding rocks where they wanted to put a post into the ground. A rock! Well, I suppose it is rare to find rocks along the road in country side scotland...
Anyways, I had to leave for London on Friday night from Aberdeen. So, not much time left.
We made a last visit to the Glenlivet destillery and Erech got me a nice bottle of cast strength whisky.

Our last job we did together on the house was putting in the self levelling compound in the bathroom.
I took a nice bath at the neighbors and off I we went to Aberdeen for me to catch the night bus to London, a 12h ride ...

Sunday 22 May 2005

one more week to go

... and plenty of work left for us.
And plenty we have finished. I have finally tiled the kitchen. And Erech is pretty much done with the piping for the heating and water supply.

The weather, as usually, is changing and continues to do so indefinitely.
We had some quite cold days and some rather warm days mixed with a little rain and ...
Here is the proof that it can be coldish up here. A layer of ice in a bucket full of water:

Our mood is still optimistic though sometimes I feel like I need to cheer up Erech because he is getting frustrated with working on the pipes.

He has been putting in quite some hours I must say. So it is always a good idea to take little break and enjoy the sunshine with a nice lunch.

Sometimes we have visitors. The neigbors come around and sometimes it is just little things like this shrew who we had some fun with, chasing it around ...

But I do have a feeling I am going nuts. Usually I start noticing it in the afternoon, when singing out loud crazy sonds with the most terrible voice but I am afraid Erech has to put up with that all day and I just don't notice it myself :)
This is me making sure my wooden support piece is strong enough for the raidiator it is supposed to hold.

We still make sure to have some relaxing time in the evening after the sun sets and we have finished working. That's usually around 10:00 pm.
Last night Erich was sanding and cleaning fittings for the copper pipes and I played some guitar...

And here is the most recent pictrue. It's only a few minutes old.
Erech and Vince and my T43 while editing the blog in Vince' kitchen.

Tuesday 17 May 2005


So, it is almost a week since the last report ... lot's of things have happened. We are finally starting to build things instead of tearing everything down and I have been to London for a job interview.
In addition the weather has been realy nice for a few days which increased our motivation.

 Though it did not last for long. Today the weather turned back to
it's original grey, cloudy, rainy, sometimes snowy mood and back again to some sunshine.

So, I was gone off to London for the 12th and the 13th. Erech took me to Aberdeen to catch the plane at 9:50. That ment getting up early... but more on the job application and interview in another post.
Erech picked me up again on friday and we got a little more done on the house on a beautiful sunny day.We now have finished with most of the piping in the new bathroom and put in some concrete to level it all out.

While Erech was taking care of the bathroom I fixed up the insulation in the kitchen, worked on the electricity and did little things like fixing up an old door. I have also managed to put in new plasterboards in the kitchen.

Besides working all day, we made sure to enjoy the nice weather by doing things like climbing the house' wall.

Today we took a day off as the weather was just awfull and we both were tired of moving sand and cement. We went to see a couple destileries ... very nice thing to do on a day like today.

Wednesday 11 May 2005

it's cold here

The temperatures have droped a bit, we are no at around 11C during the day and about 4C at night, and still we have no heating at all. It even snowed yesterday.

The fireplace, the single one that is left, does not realy warm up the place but gives us a comfortable feeling. Visiting the neighbors is always a special occasion, too, that happens about once a day to chat, check email, and warm up a bit.

We have managed to take down a couple of walls to make room for the new bathroom.

We riped out more of the floor to put pipes in and fixed some walls to add support for the radiators we are going to put in.
Since the ground level around the house is to high, so it is always wet in the house we decided to get someone it to put drainage all around the house. Of course things could not just go right, the main water pipe was riped out while the trench was dug up.

Let's hope this will be good for a number of years and get the house a bit dryer.

We still have not heard from BT so we have to manage with the cellphones. And even those only work in some parts of the house.

But then again, life is great up here.

Sunday 8 May 2005

from sunny California to rainy Scotland

I haven't realy found the time yet to process the trip to the states and off I am again on yet another adventure.

It all started last Thursday:

I arrived in Frankfurt with Arne and we parted there. I was picked up by Erech and Arne took the train back home. I did not have much time to rest because the car and the trailer needed to be packed for the trip up to the highlands. I am not sure how much we packed but I am sure it was more than the trailer and the car where ment to handle. We had tiles, radiators, a complete kitchen, cement, ... and a motor scooter.As long as we would not stop uphill the car started to get going quite well.

We took off Friday the next morning to drive up to Rotterdam to catch the ferry to Hull,England.It was an overnight ferry and we had a nice little room with comfortable beds. For dinner we set on deck and enjoyed a nice bottle of wine while the sun was setting.

We both were quite tired and did not manage to stay up for very long to enjoy the luxary of the ship. Early the next morning we arrived in England. We had a proper english breakfast a a little restaurant which filled us well enough to get through the day.
This is how the car was fed :) (pure rape seed oil):

At around 21:00 o clock we arrived at Croftglass Cottage, near Dufftown:

It is beautiful up here. The only thing you hear are the birds singing and the wind howling and every so often a rain shower comes along which sometimes turns into hail or even snow. I guess that's Scotland.
It is still quite cold and we don't have heating in the house. Though warm blankets and working till we drop into bed makes sure we are not getting too cold.
We have electricity but no phone and the mobiles only work in certain spots in the house.
British Telecom actually promised a phone line to be installed before May but they did not take into account that the house is in the middle of nowhere and that it might be a bit more work than just pushing a couple buttons to make it work. The lines snaped during the winter and the tel. posts they used to hang on are not high enough to meet the regulations. So, they will come in with a crew next week to put in new posts and a new line along a couple miles of road. They might have it ready on the 16th but we do not realy count on it.
Fortunately the neighbors are great people and we can just come down to user their line to get online or do phone calls.

There is more than plenty of work here to be done and we only have a month to get it all finished. We nned to put in a new heating system, build a comple bath and replace the existing kitchen with a new one.
Besides that there is an old bathroom that needs to be torn down and some wall that need to be removed to build the new one. Pretty much The floor needs to be tiled in most places and the walls need a new makeover. The windows need to be replaced, but that'll happen during the summer. The list goes on and on and on ...

So far we have pretty much been tearing out things amd the more we take out we find even more that should be fixed. Like the floor in the living room. We just wanted to put in some new pipes for the heating system and the main watter line. So we opened up the wooden floor to find out that one of the supporting beams is rotten at the end. So, we open up more to find out that they are all rotten. Great! Now we got the bare dirt floor.

No more sitting at the fireplace for a while but lot's of timber to burn. Luckily we still have another working fireplace in the dining room. We did find more spots where the timber needs to be removed. Erech was a bit down at the end of the day but we both agreed to do the job right instead of just giving it a quick fix.

Even with the cold weather, the little surprises we discover and what not, Erech and I are both greatly enjoying the time up here.

Like haveing the luch out in the sun:

or working hard just like that: