21.1km 3.13.59hr 9.14min/km
It’s imperative, 6 weeks to the marathon, to get to minimum HM distance in my long runs. Actually longer, but one step at a time. Try for 17 miles / 27km next weekend.
Went out early in the morning, plotted the course along bowen road. Ate oatmeal for breakfast, took 3 gu packets with me as well as energy drink. Planned stopping points too, I realised that just stopping, resting and refueling for a few minutes is better than stubbornly plodding on. Can probably recoup those few minutes via the overall faster pace.
I read that the kfc double down has finally arrived, so I thought I’d go and try it out. The doubledown started as an april’s fool day press release in 2010, it’s a chicken sandwich with 2 pieces of chicken acting as the bread and bacon & cheese filling. It achieved some sort of geeky legendary status via social media. Everyone wanted to try it when it came out.
Only the fried version was available, I would have preferred the grilled. It came with nachos and runny cheese sauce as the side, I would have preferred a choice of fries or coleslaw or corn. The doubledown itself was smaller than expected. I couldn’t tell whether it was white or dark meat, probably breast, looking at the size and shape. The chicken was pretty okay, standard kfc taste. The bacon and cheese had no taste whatsoever. The whole thing had a boring soggy texture.
The one criticism aimed at the doubledown from day one was salt content. Absolutely right. Very salty and without the normal bread to soak up the saltiness. I won’t have it again, but I’m glad I tried it.
More normal dinner of noodles, fish and veg at parents’ place, plus watermelon afterwards. Even with the monstrous doubledown meal, I’m at negative calories for the day.
We met up for lunch at the scottish pub. They have a nice 3-course set lunch: salad, roast pork with trimmings and ice cream. Free refills on soft drinks and iced tea/coffee. I was early so ordered a bottle of porter before I spotted the free refills. Anyway, it was at happy hour prices and it’s so rare to be able to get proper ales.
We chatted for a long time, or rather mm updated me on things she’s been up to recently. We went to the cable company to sort out her renewal and then went to the irish pub for a couple of irish whiskies. She had bushmills and I had kilbeggan, we prefer the bushmills.
Interesting idea, spotted via the guardian, book this bookshop at airbnb for £22 a night (adding on fees give £180 a week), at wigtown, scotland’s national book town. It’s described as the first ever bookshop experience:
We’ll give you your very own bookshop, and apartment above, supported by a team of friendly volunteers and bookshop sellers to make your trip as lovely as possible.
Basically, guests pay to run a bookshop for at least 40 hours a week including opening and closing the shop, welcoming customers, selling books, staffing, stocking, creating window displays, cleaning. Training will be provided.
Seems quite interesting, for people who’ve always wanted to run shops and especially bookshops. Wigtown is in the middle of nowhere in the lowlands just over the border, and having to keep the shop open during the day means time to explore is probably limited. That said, it can be relaxing and a different sort of time off.
The shop looks cute and the flat (presumably above) looks like a typical UK home, cosy with well-used furniture. It’s very fully booked for the next few months, but no reviews yet. I place a lot of importance on airbnb reviews so I’ll check back later.
Time for another lookback post.
one year ago — tokyo trip planning
24-aug-2014 was a sunday; later that week we would be going to tokyo for a short trip, so the post was about trip planning. I made a list of places to go, let’s see how many we actually managed:
- sukiji fish market — yep, twice
- ginza — we walked past it, on the way somewhere else
- shinjuki 新宿 for more shopping — don’t think so
- shibuya 渋谷 for the iconic busy crossing, shopping at Tokyu Hands and Takashimaya — yep, interestingly our first time to the shibuya crossing, also found a farmer’s market and then visited the meiji temple
- ebisu 恵比寿 for restaurants and izakayas — nope
- roppongi 六本木 for bars and clubs — again, walked past
- akihabara 秋葉原 for electronics — went past on subway
- ueno 上野 for park and zoo — yep, this was a really interesting area, especially the discovery of Ameya-Yokochō アメヤ横丁 shopping and eating alley
- asakusa 浅草 for a bit of history, culture and religion — nope
- odaiba お台場 artificial island with a bridge, beaches, exhibition halls and shopping — nope
Another tidbit from the post was a pic of greater tokyo compared with london. Astounding.
three years ago — lunch at ledbury, dinner at hawksmoor
It was mm’s last full day in London after visiting me for 3 weeks. We were both really sad that the holiday was over. I was sad to see her leave, but I’d quit my job by then and I knew we’d see each other in a couple of months when I move back.
I took her to the ledbury for lunch. Borough market and vinopolis in the afternoon and then hawksmoor for dinner. I still think she preferred hawksmoor over the ledbury, and if I had to choose, I’d go for hawksmoor too. Ledbury dinner prices is sky-high but lunch is okay, around the same price as hawksmoor dinner. Still, we can say we’ve been to one of the best restaurants in London.
five years ago — books vs ebooks
A link to a newsweek article on books vs ebooks. Unfortunately 404 error means can’t find page anymore.
ten years ago — crimson room game
No post on the 24th, nearest was 25-aug-2005 when I reported that I was playing this game that required finding 13 objects to escape from the room.
If you found:
0-6 items, your IQ is very low, total idiot
6-8 items, Low IQ, you are an idiot
9-10 items, you are normal
11-12 items, your IQ is high, above the average
13 items found and get out of the room, there are less than 4000 people in the world can do it.
I found 12. Sherlock gave me the game, sigh, I need to get back in touch with her. Original link no longer exists, but a little googling gives lots of options. It’s a flash game so I won’t play on the mba. The exact game isn’t an app, but there are now plenty of room escape apps available.
16.01km 2.33.25hr 9.35min/km
tl;dr: wanted to do 17 miles, couldn’t even manage 17km
Long runs need to get longer, and yet I don’t have the endurance. Ran up to the desolate housing estate, then to a new park a little further away. It’s divided into 4 sections, with oddly-communist sounding names: Morse Park no. 1, Morse Park no. 2 and so on, divided by roads. The largest one is no. 3, which has several football pitches, basketball courts, a swimming pool and an indoor sports centre. About 1km to run totally around the park. It’s surrounded by the nearby housing estates so is busy with runners, walkers and people taking a shortcut. It’s nice. The problem was, there seemed to be only one water fountain and it was out of order, ugh. I’d brought a bottle of energy drink with me, but it wasn’t enough. Managed 8km up to that point.
Crossed the road to no. 1, which is quite small so I just did one circuit. No. 4 was better, medium sized with a garden, tennis courts, children playground and even a skateboarding section. And a working water fountain. Got another 5km in.
The route home was through another park, quite small and very crowded due to its proximity to a shopping centre and station. By then I was barely able to put one foot in front of the other so I struggled to do a couple of circuits then headed back. 3km home.
16km is 10 miles, so at least I got to that milestone. Aim for HM distance next long run.
Anyway, this was a circular rainbow mum spotted the other day. Enhanced via instagram.
Went with mm and a couple of ex-colleagues to an italian restaurant owned by a friend of one of our ex-colleagues. It’s only been open a year or so, the decoration looked straight out of something old school. Lots of tableside service items, the caesar salad was made tableside by the manager. He had a nice light touch, explaining the ingredients as he added to the bowl and the dressing was just thick enough to coat the salad leaves without being stodgy.
We also shared a salmon pasta with cream sauce and a mixed grill of prawns, lamb chops and pork chops. They also offered spaghetti carbonara cooked tableside, the pre-cooked pasta was brought out and warmed, then added to an entire wheel of pecorino. The heat of the pasta is enough to melt the cheese so it acted as a sauce. We saw other people have it, didn’t order it for our table.
Dessert was the ultimate tableside dish: crêpe suzette. Again, the manager’s light touch was appreciated, he made the caramel using sugar and water but only added a small knob of butter. Lots of orange juice and two flambés: brandy and grand marnier.
Since our ex-colleague knew the owner, the wine (an average bottle of italian cab), coffee tea and dessert were free. Quite nice to go to an old school place and try the food. The staff there were attentive and the food was pretty good.
Chatting with mm about nothing much, one of the things she mentioned was she wanted our stretch of river so we have a supply of seafood. Funny how mine and CC’s responses were the same: no seafood in rivers in the UK. Besides, who owns stretches of rivers anyway.
The topic moved to dreams, and mm mentioned a quote that dreams are a form of planning. So I looked up the quote and made her a meme, using a pic of the river coln in bibury we visited earlier this year.
Mum decided we should have japanese for lunch. Casual japanese restaurants are almost all all-you-can-order buffets: they have a thick stack of order sheets for various categories of food and we just tick what we want. We had 3 platters of sashimi, some sushi, tempura, grilled food, salad, soup, grilled pineapple, ice cream mochi. Drinks included too, mum had soft drinks and my dad and I ordered loads of hot sake.
This type of buffet normally has a time limit of around 2hrs at dinner. At lunch, they gave us 3hrs. Even better.
The sake got my head spinning a little when I got home so I decided against going running. Too full for dinner, just had some fruit.
Task #40 of 101.1001 is to complete the walk to mordor challenge of 1779 miles / 2863km.
Today I reached milestone 3: from lothlorien down the anduin to rauros falls at 1309 miles / 2106km. According to people who keep track of such things, this part of the journey took 11 days and was mostly paddling on the river. From then on the fellowship breaks up and continue independently: frodo and sam 470 miles to mt doom; merry and pippin 355 miles to isengard; aragorn, legolas and gimli takes a longer route of 484 miles to isengard.
There are only 470 miles left on the task, I will be able to complete this. A goal is by the end of the year; B goal is by the end of Q1 next year. I’ll probably do the back part of there and back again: after being rescued by giant eagles there is the 1625 miles from minas tirith back to bag end.
Our last full day in Korea last year we stopped at a cat café for a break and to play with the cats there. Last week, mm found out about a cat café locally, so we decided to see what it’s like. It’s at a station at the end of one of the train lines, in a popular built-up area. They charge by the hour, half price after the first hour. One drink is included. Surprisingly it was busy, mainly students.
There were around 10-12 cats there of various sizes and ages. They weren’t very interested in the humans, except when they offered snacks. Didn’t want to play at all. Most were docile, with the exception of one who showed its claws when people played with it. We were there 2hrs; I wouldn’t call it cheap, we consider it a contribution towards the upkeep of the cats—they were all very well cared for and the staff obviously loves cats.
more pics: cat cafe set
We always keep an eye out for property, I think everyone does that. In the course of discussions with friends, mm came across a new development in…Elephant and Castle. My memory of the area is a rundown roundabout. Of course it’s being gentrified, it’s in zone 1 so won’t escape the notice of developers.
The brochure is superpretty, of course, with unrealistic “indicative view” of the building and flats. The hint of Shard view, sunset and cafés. Yeah right. The cheapest are one-bedroom flats at over £600,000, nearer the £700,000 mark. Ugh.
On reddit: what does a $300,000 house look like where you are. That’s a paltry £200,000. And according to bb, it gets you a nice house in Dallas vs a garage in London. Not quite fair, comparing Dallas with London, and according to the foxtons listing, the garage has planning permission for a 2-bed house.
More realistic is the 1-bed flat in Peckham, which caught my eye because of the address: Bird in Bush Road, hehe. Around our neighbourhood, it’s mostly garages. The nearest is a studio in a converted house Willesden. These are almost always really small and horrible. We know better than to be deceived by estate agent pictures.
We know this already, London and the Southeast house prices are astronomical. How to be happy? Go live in the north. It’s hard to get out of the Londoner mindset though, we have a bit of ways to go.
I took pictures of furniture I’m planning to sell: 2 sets of bedside cabinets, bar stool, dehumidifier. I’ll post them on the noticeboard in the building lobby and online, hopefully I’ll get some profit from it. Trying to downsize.
And then I spotted this whisky cabinet on instagram. Temptation. Luckily, or not so luckily, I don’t have the space for something this size.
For my dad’s birthday this year they decided to go to pizza express. While I was in the US, sis was invited to this new branch as part of a focus group. She took my parents and they ate a lot, free of charge. So I guess that’s why they wanted to come back.
Raining heavily, but it was okay to go there. We had a selection of pizzas and pastas. I had a lava pizza which is burrata, cherry tomatoes, olives and basil. We ordered a dessert combo, the restaurant put a candle on it and also gave us a pavlova on the house.
6.25km 53.08min 8.30min/km
A slightly different running route took me up past the university campus around an isolated one-way street into a housing estate. This is a small, sad housing estate served by one bus route and what looks like one or two minibus routes. There are only 4 blocks in total, making it very small compared with the sprawl of other estates. Barely any shops: one 7-eleven, one small supermarket, one atm (not even a working branch). Other shopfronts are either empty or shuttered.
Some housing estates are no-go areas because of crime. This one, I don’t think anyone goes there because there’s nothing worthwhile to visit. Elderly people sit out in the public areas just staring into space (and at me, funny, I don’t think they get many runners running through). There are a disproportionate number of nursing homes and elderly people vans.
It’s built on a hill, so there is some open view to other built up areas. Not even the trees in the foreground can lift the overall gloom and doom. An empty playground, because it’s been raining. Not slides and apparatus for children; there are machinery for exercising legs and arms—the sort of park popular with elderly people. Everything about the place is so forgotten and forlorn.
Lunch with ex-colleague P with mm, at a restaurant near P’s new place of work. I left the conversation mostly to them. I reminded P that 10 years ago we were flying 2, 3, 4 times a month whilst we set up the service centre. None of that anymore. She is in a role with a smaller scope, and she seems happier. Same with mm. They both had to deal with some personal health issues last year and both seem to emerge with a different perspective. May be it’s age, may be it’s maturity, life changes.
After lunch, mm and I strolled around the mall a bit. There is a display of giant sweets in the central atrium, giant lollipops, sweets selection, giant gummy bears. They even waft a sugary smell as you walk near.
11.02km 1.43.31hr 9.24min/km
8 miles on the schedule. If I were still at home I’d go out around 5pm, but it’s more difficult at parents’ place. 3.30pm at 33ºC is not an ideal time. The sun was blazing down fiercely. There were more people running at the park towards the end of the run, this is when I get envious of men, because most of them were shirtless. Sigh.
I took breaks every 4km, stopped at the water fountain for 2-3mins. Split conveniently into 3 missions. The first half was at a decent pace, then slower and slower and slower. The last km was walking. Summer training is brutal.
Sis managed to persuade parents to get rid of some of their very old furniture. She hired movers to remove our childhood beds, two huge sideboards and several cabinets. The cabinets in the balcony and storeroom were so large that the movers had to break them up in order to move them, wonder how they got inside in the first place.
In exchange we got Sis’ cube shelves which take up the space of one of the sideboards. The other empty spaces will eventually have other old cabinets and shelves which hopefully allows space for my stuff.
No bed means I have to borrow her air mattress. It’s a big double mattress, it takes up almost all the floor space of my room. A portent of the challenges to come, I have to fit my bed into the same space.
Originally mm and I were supposed to meet up for lunch, but we decided to postpone because of the poor weather. Instead, I spent the whole day playing plague. I’d played a free copycat, infection, and decided to spend 0.99 on the better original. The aim is to infect and kill the entire earth population before a cure is found. The plagues progress from bacteria to bio weapon and within each plague category are different difficulty levels. The trick is to figure out the best way to win: infect everyone with low grade symptoms first; go for lethal symptoms quickly; transmit the disease through air, insects, blood; which country to infect first; how to deal with difficult-to-infect countries. Lots of possible strategies with different outcomes.
What makes it addictive is the seemingly endless possibilities, and each game can be finished in about 15-20mins. It’s a world domination sim game that makes you think, and the game has even attracted the attention of people at the CDC, who invited the developer to visit and talk about the game,
as a tool to teach the public about outbreaks and disease transmission because of how it uses a non-traditional route to raise public awareness on epidemiology, disease transmission, and diseases/pandemic information
The game was released in 2012 and has been downloaded millions of times, so I’m way behind the curve. I working my way through the standard plague types, hopefully the special types will unlock without needing to pay.
There are also many achievements to earn, which affects strategy. Combinations of symptoms, killing everybody under 365 days, cause a nuclear meltdown are just a few of the achievements.
Random popups give news or are important hints to get achievements. The Olympics get cancelled, then reinstated, and people in the UK are infected. Apple$oft (snerk) introduces iCure. Victory isn’t always guaranteed either. One advantage of coming to a well-established game late is the number of tips and cheats posted. Lots more hours of play until I get bored.
I realised that in my haste to go to parents’ last night I left a plate of fruit on the kitchen counter. I never leave food out overnight, especially uncovered perishable food. I throw my rubbish out every night too.
Plus I had a load of laundry that needed to be done. So I went home for a bit, just enough time to do the laundry. Poor fridge, it’s completely not working so I turned it off. Took the remainder of the food inside back to parents’ place. Had half a dozen eggs, but no egg carton, so hard boiled them for easier transportation.
I think the decision is not to replace the fridge. Get rid of enough old furniture at parents’ place, make room for my stuff, rent out the flat. The income is enough for us to live on.
Today the observatory recorded the highest temperature since records began in 1885. Although 36.3ºC isn’t that hot compared with many other places (I remember driving in Provence during a 40ºC heatwave, and the car thermometer reached 100F/38C on the way back to Chicago), it was very uncomfortable with the triple whammy of extreme heat, over 90% humidity and horrible pollution. The forcast says 31-32ºC but in reality it will feel hotter because of the humidity.
The reason behind the weather is the monster typhoon Soudelor. We can see its size in the pic from the international space station.
So on the hottest day in recorded history, my fridge decides to stop working. I’ve had it repaired a couple of times already, the freezer coils frost up and the fridge compartment doesn’t get cold. The technicans say it’s either the thermostat or the timer. I got rid of the freezer coil frost and dismantled the back to see if I can reset the thermostat but I couldn’t get it working again.
I have 8 salmon filets and a bunch of frozen stuff I do not want to spoil, so I packed everything up into a suitcase and got a taxi to my parents’ place. Their fridges are usually pretty full and mum did grocery shopping today. My dad is so smart, he managed to find space for my stuff. Yay for parents!
Finally got the trip pics sorted and uploaded: new orleans | conference
A few of my favourite NOLA pics are of the distinctive houses. Balconies, wrought iron decorations and, in general, very big. When we walked around the garden district, we looked at estate agent windows and these houses are expensive for the US market. The majority are well kept.
Talking about the garden district, we paid a short visit to a small bookshop there. They have one shelf of books about NOLA, nice.
We also came across an old bookshop in the French quarter.
I posted a bunch of conference pics on fb already, I guess I should let people know I have more pics on flickr. I brought the big camera with me most days, and it seemed to do a better job than the little camera. I didn’t take many pics of panels and discussions, only ones I thought were interesting. Took quite a few during karaoke with people in masks. I was too busy during the awards to take many pics with others.
One of the pics I thought turned out very well was the one of Dorothy Allison during her keynote. I was sitting almost immediately in front of the podium and took this before moving to the back of the room to get shots of the audience.
Task #83 of 101.1001 are 3 activities with family. This is 3 of 3.
Sis invited me to go on an outing at the beach today. My niece had a playdate with one of her school friends to go kayaking. Very easy, rent a kayak or stand up board from the people at the beach, that was it. No need for life jackets, although we thought we should have been offered the option. The part of the beach was quiet and not very deep anyway.
I tried both kayaking and stand up boarding, both for the first time. The light kayak was very easy to handle, and I went out past the parked fishing boats to one of the buoy markers. I was a bit wary of the stand up board, starting off sitting and paddling around, but after a while I found courage to first kneel then stand up. Took more concentration than sitting in the kayak, trying to keep balance.
Great fun. Only around £5 for an hour, and we could swap between kayak and stand up board as we wished. I think it may be a new activity, will try to get mm to come with me next time.
Met up with sis and niece for lunch at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Walked there quickly, so spent the entire meal being still very hot and sweaty. Didn’t eat a whole lot as a result. Went to visit their new place. I like it very much, open plan living/dining/kitchen (albeit very small kitchen with no counter space). Lots of storage and decent sized bedrooms. Sis needed to get rid of some of her cube shelves so I claimed a few for myself—finally I can unpack the last few cardboard boxes scattered around my place.
We dropped off my niece for a playdate and went to happy hour. I’m still coughing badly but since I’m not on any medication I reckon I was okay to have wine. There’s a new craft beer place but we didn’t go there, definitely no cold drinks whilst coughing. We also ordered a cheese plate, 3 varieties but not very generous.
Quick dinner at a ramen place, they had 3 types of ramen—regular pork, miso and ox tongue. Unusual to see ox tongue ramen so we both ordered that. The ox tongue was great, very tender without the unpleasant gamey taste. The broth lacked depth of flavour though, seemed to be mostly chicken based, which couldn’t compare with the thick slow cooked pork bone base in other places.
Cough is still bad, so stayed in all day. After lunch, mm came over to visit me to exchange souvenirs—from my trip to nola and her pilgrimage trip. She got me a fridge magnet from la verna, a shot glass from sicily and a cute holy family decoration from assisi, in addition to biscotti and my order of parma ham. I’d reminded her of directions to get to the friendly deli we visited in assisi to get the ham. She also brought me a mug from the book fair and a jar of manuka honey from her place. I got her a nola fridge magnet, big bag of popcorn from costco and biscotti from rubino’s. Naturally we will share my whisky and bourbon; total currently is 78 bottles.
We watched a dvd of Chiara di Dio, a musical dedicated to the life of St Clare, filmed at a performance at San Damiano itself. We loved that we were able to identify the location and rooms at San Damiano. A very moving story and fantastic performances from the young cast. It starts with Chiara on her deathbed, asking for a cherry, It’s August and cherries are out of season so how will the sisters get a cherry, unless with a miracle? With flashbacks, we see her story, from her life as a young girl in a rich family to her meeting with St Francis, her escape from her father’s home on the eve of her wedding, her consecration and the spectacular encounter with invading Saracens. In the words of the writer/director Carlos Tedeschi, the musical
brings out the humanity and the modernity of these two young people, Chiara and Francesco, an example for the youth of today despite eight centuries having passed. A model of how to break the mold, with the power and passion of youth without compromising its integrity
She cooked me dinner of pork ribs congee made with oatmeal in place of rice, what a great idea. We watched food and travel programs on tv and had a great time laughing and making fun of the inept presenters. How do these people get presenting gigs? One girl was cooking Indian food and seemed to be reciting a script: “add a little sugar, some flour” with a complete lack of passion for food and cooking. Yes, she was wearing a bright red cocktail dress and was a pretty face. Another one visited a safari park in Japan and her vocabulary seemed to be limited to amazing and interesting. “Oh the giraffe is so tall!” she’s definitely no David Attenborough.
8.15km 1.05.40hr 8.03min/km
Is it possible to train for a marathon in 11 weeks? Essentially, no. But I’m going to try anyway and hope that I’ve retained some residual fitness from before. I only managed a few 5k and 10k runs in July, the longest was 12k. If I’d followed the plan, I should be doing 15 miles or 24k weekend runs by now. So I’m woefully behind and to all intents and purposes, starting from scratch. Well, not exactly from week 1, I’m going to follow the plan as if the July blip hadn’t happened. Week 9 starts with 4 miles, which in theory should be fine.
Except for jetlag, plus cough, plus it’s 32ºC. Excuses excuses.
I did drag myself out in the afternoon. All the way to the second water fountain and back, except the second water fountain was out of order. Have to remember that, and bring water next time. I got home and drank a whole litre of herbal water afterwards.
The problem is, I know what it takes to train for a marathon. I even know what I need to do if I want to PR. At this rate, I’m hoping I don’t go slower than my slowest. I mean, 5.38 is ridulously slow. Any slower is almost dead last. There are all sorts of encouraging quotes around, that dead last is better than not finishing or starting; or a slow runner is lapping all those on the couch. In other words
DL > DNF > DNS > couch
I take a small amount of solace from that.
Several people at the conference were under the weather—in a gathering of 350 people, statistically there will be someone with a cold or cough. Others reported coming down with conference crud after they got home. I had a low-grade, dryish cough throughout conference week, not enough to bother me. It flared up for real on the plane, probably due to the dry atmosphere. It also moved from the back of my throat down towards my lungs. Ugh.
I took some panadol and found some cough medicine in the fridge. Mostly, I know that medicine doesn’t work with coughs and it’ll go away by itself eventually. Went to the market to buy ingredients for soup and to get some lemons. Regular honey & lemon during the day and hot toddy near bedtime—jim beam black, honey, lemon, half a stick of cinnamon, hot water. A couple of glasses at nght beats going to the doctor.
Flying west means losing the better part of the day. I boarded in the afternoon of Thursday and arrived on Friday night for a 15hr flight. On the way in, the route was along Japan then across first Canada then the mid-weat. The return flight took us almost over the north pole, at halfway point we were somewhere in the arctic circle.
Even thought the flight left an hour late, the pilots caught us up and we were only 5mins behind scheduled arrival time. Luggage was very slow coming out, people were standing around most belts and nothing was coming out; there were constant announcements of luggage delay, guess there was a general problem. It’s not really acceptable, waiting 30mins for luggage.
The great thing was, mm came to pick me up in ryan. We took a slightly longer route home, we were chatting and I was not in thinking mode to help navigate. Still probably faster than me taking the train then a taxi. Plus it was great to see mm. Easy unpacking, since one suitcase was almost all mum’s stuff. Showered then straight to bed.
Left the house at 12.30pm and was at ORD punctually at 1.30pm. No problems dropping off my luggage, the nice counter person put priority tags on my 2 suitcases even though strictly speaking I’m no longer at a high enough level. There was a huge long queue for TSA passport check, although the queue for security wasn’t bad. I had my normal backpack stuff plus the large, heavy, breakable award in a tote bag. TSA wanted to check my award, and the agent even said to me as she was getting her swab ready, “is it an award?” Some of our winners had been stopped last year so I wasn’t surprised. Not much of a delay, so I wasn’t bothered.
I looked at the whisky selection at the duty free—not much interest, may be balvenie 16 at $101 or laphroaig 10. Didn’t want to take more stuff on the plane. The flight had a 1hr delay because of late arrival from the incoming flight. I sat at the bar with a view to the gate and had an IPA from a local brewery. Debated on whether to order food, I was a little hungry but didn’t feel like any of the heavy burgers or sandwiches. Decided on a spicy tuna roll which was quite okay, if expensive for the portion.
Flight was uneventful. I had an aisle seat and sat next to two elderly Australian ladies. They weren’t familiar with the flight etiquette of closing the window blind so I had to ask them to, because the sun was reflecting off the wing straight into my eyes. The attendant for our section had the funny name of Sonic and he seemed quite inexperienced, if very polite and hard-working. Watched Insurgent, Kingsmen and the Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m glad I watched the entire Bake-off season on the way in, it disappeared off the menu this month. Didn’t sleep a whole lot.
My last full day in Chicago. Woke up at 11am. The biggest plan for the day was to do laundry, because I didn’t have a clean shirt or clean socks for the flight. So after we played online, we went off to the neighbourhood laundry. It’s always difficult on a long trip, bring enough clothes and they fill up the suitcase; bring only enough for a week or so and I’m always obsessing about laundry.
Did a couple of errands at walgreens and best buy then we ordered chinese food. It was around 3pm so we were hungry. Never order chinese food when you’re hungry. We ordered enough for 6 people, although it was strategic: leftovers keep for a few days. Rest of the day was spent repacking and reading. I have enjoyed this holiday, but it’s time to go home.