Saturday, June 09, 2007

"Les cloches du mariage" at the Beau Rivage

The 2nd of June saw the 2nd marriage of my under graduate "Derby Grove" housemates. This time it was Jon the Hands (and yes there were significant mentions of his gigantic digits during the Best Man's speech - nice one Phil!) finally marrying Paula after some 10 years together. It was a tremendous wedding, very befitting to both the Bride and Groom (see above), on the beachfront in Nice. They certainly broke some new ground with respect to some of the more traditional aspects of a wedding. There were 4 best men, the wedding ceremony was conducted by two of the best men and the top table was distinctly absent of any of the olds. Great food, plenty of booze and good weather (well for the most part) all added to the occasion and I was very happy to have made the 5000 mile trip and to have been apart of the celebrations!

Jon and Paula - I probably said it already but you guys are perfect for each other and I wish you all the happiness and success in your future together. See you both in a few weeks.

All the best,


Birthday Booze Up - Champagne Charlies Stylee

What better way to see in my penultimate 20's birthday than drinking uncountable amounts of "Whallop" from pewter tankards at Champagne Charlies in Charing Cross with a selection of my favourite drinking partners! The reviews of the establishment were less than flattering but it was Friday in London and we had seats even though they were in a broom cupboard with out of control heating. In addition to the Whallop and some cheap champers there was cake though I only remember eating it after seeing the photos. I can't even remember who brought it so thanks!

Definitely feeling my age these days as I felt horrible for several days afterwards. I blame the jetlag myself, the farcical amount of booze could not have been a factor!

Cheers guys - it was a blast!


The Olds in CA

Back in April, my Olds made their first visit to both the US and California and as I have been a little slack on the Blog front these past few months I am only just getting around to posting about it now.

What with the restrictive holidays and the requirement to return to the UK for at least two weeks in order to have my visa re-issued I could not spend as much time with them as I would have liked but they still had a great time from what I could glean.

The first week I sent them out of state to see Las Vegas (no first trip to the US would be complete without seeing the overindulgent opulence for oneself) and the Grand Canyon. My mother is a big fan of Egypt and so it was a no brainer as to where they ended up staying - The Luxor on the strip. As far as I understand they were suitably impressed by the grandness of the canyon and somewhat surprised by the snow. They stayed in Williams, near Flagstaff in what used to be a brothel during the pioneer days - the aptly named Red Garter hotel! Highly recommended for any of you that are ever passing through Arizona.

The second week was spent exploring San Fransisco, Berkeley and the central coast, namely Santa Cruz and Big Sur. Santa Cruz is the reputed site of the first surfing in California in 1885 and has 11 world class surf breaks, including the point breaks over rock bottoms near Steamer's Lane and Pleasure Point, which create some of the best surfing waves in the world. Santa Cruz hosts several surf contests drawing international participants each year. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (not dissimilar to the Great Yarmouth Pleasure with the exception of almost certainly warmer weather) is California’s oldest amusement park and a designated State Historic Landmark. Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the central Californian coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean creating a landscape that is dramatic with stunning views. Highway 1 runs from San Fransisco through Big Sur to Los Angeles and hugs the rugged coastline as it goes making for a very dramatic drive.

For the penultimate weekend we all went to the National Railroad Museum in Sacramento and what better way to travel than by Amtrak train from Berkeley. Proving that the limited yet integrated public transport system in this part of the states actually works pretty well. The Bay Area Rapid Transit or BART train (something not unlike the London Tube, though with far less coverage) links up with the regional Amtrak services in Richmond and from there its a smooth 1.5 hour ride to the Californian Capitol. The Museum dates back to 1956, when local individuals advanced the concept of a national museum dedicated to the American rail road history. Two years later, a joint resolution of Congress recognized the Museum as the National Railroad Museum. Since then, the Museum has operated as a privately funded educational organization with a mission to foster an understanding of railroading and its significance to American Life. What began as an effort to acquire a single steam locomotive for a city park has grown into one of the largest rail museums in the nation and now sees over 75,000 visitors annually. The documented endeavors of forcing a railroad through the inhospitable Sierra Nevada Mountains and the significant challenge of keeping the tracks clear during the heavy winter snow storms made for some very interesting reading. In the summer months live steam rides add to the excitement and appeal and we were fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of this added bonus during our visit.

For the final week I sent my folks to explore Yosemite NP (no trip to California would be complete without seeing the most visited, 3.5 million visitors annually, NP in California). The park was the first to set aside by the U.S. federal government and covers an area of 761,266 acres or 1,189 square miles (3,081 km²) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Neveda Mountains. Yosemite NP was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984 and is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, numerous waterfalls and Giant Sequoia groves. The geology of the park is characterized by granitic rocks and the remnants of older rock. About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, narrow canyons. About 1 million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet (1200 m) during the early glacial episode and sculpted the U-shaped valley that is the focal point of the park today.