Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jack's Fish & Chips

I haven't tried them yet, but today, from the bus, I saw a place not far from the University that might be be a good fish and chips destination. Jack's Fish & Chips. I'll report on that later, hopefully tomorrow.

Speaking of food, I walked to Uxbridge again today (while Robin worked on her looming book deadline) with two canvas bags to do some minimal grocery shopping. This time, I studied a Google map of Uxbridge to make sure I didn't get lost. Of course, the best way to not get lost here is to not ask locals for directions to any place more than 100 feet from where you're standing. Even if they know how to get there, you probably won't know what the hell they're saying because some of the accents sound like Hollywood casting planted a bunch of actors in the shops and a movie director told them to really ham it up and over-do the accent thing. One of my next projects is to go back into a certain kitchen goods store and secretly record the voice of a woman who works there.

The Chimes, a nice modern mall in the center of Uxbridge and next door to the tube station. Another big mall, The Pavillions, is across the street and a block away.

In The Pavillions, is Tesco, the Uxbridge grocery store that's always filled with University students. I filled my two eco-friendly shopping bags and was a little worried about how heavy they'd get before I got back to the campus. Happily, a bus going straight to Brunel stops just outside the Tesco entrance, and drops you off in the middle of the campus. It costs two pounds, and I found out that you can use your Oyster card to ride the bus (the prepaid tube card). These UKers have got some things figured out that we're still struggling with in the USA. Or at least in New Mexico. Like public transportation. I wonder if anyone from England ever tried to take a Greyhound bus somewhere in America, expecting WiFi service, and maybe some small degree of comfort.

Here are some random photos from the previous couple of days:

My trip to the Apple Store was fun. But then, I'm from New Mexico where there's not a subway within several thousand miles. To get this far underground, I'd have to go to Carlsbad Caverns.

Change from the Metropolitan line to the Bakerloo line, then exit at Oxford Circus to get to the Regent Street Apple Shrine - I mean Store.

I think I hear angels. I must be close.

The Enlightened Ones gather here every day. The faithful are expected to make a pilgrimage at least once in their life to either the Regent Street Apple Store or the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York.

When we arrived at Brunel, volunteers were everywhere. They delivered us and our bags to our room in the Isambard Complex.

Robin gets a phone call from Jimbo (friend/house-and-dog-sitter) who found some desperately needed passwords for getting online that we left at home. Our residence building is in the background.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

When Robin and I arrived at Brunel University and checked into our flat in the Isambard complex, I wondered what the origin of the names Brunel and Isambard could possibly be. Then we walked past the statue on the campus main concourse. Of course! It's named after a famous British engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. I should have guessed.


Our first day here was very busy. Robin is wrapping up the last details of a book deadline. I've just finished and uploaded an article for the Peachpit.com blogs site (about Geo-tagging photos).

When we tried to connect our computers to the University network, we realized we'd left a couple of critical items in Santa Fe: the power cable for my laptop, and Robin's USB-to-Ethernet cable for her MacBook Air. We hiked the mile into Uxbridge (a very cool place) in hopes of finding those items, but of course, no luck. So after looking around the town center for a bit, Robin and I went to the Uxbridge Underground station and bought an Oyster card (prepaid underground tube tickets on a plastic card). You tap the card on special yellow pads as you enter and leave Underground train stations. Very convenient, especially since I haven't gotten used to the English coins.

Robin walked back to Uxbridge to work on her book deadline, and I took the tube train into London to go to the Apple Store and buy replacements for our missing cables. And a printer. I had to change trains once, so I arrived successfully (I was pretty sure I'd get lost) at the Oxford Circus train station about 45 minutes later and half a block from the landmark Apple Store, somewhat of a holy shrine to some of us. There were tons of worshippers - I mean customers - in the store. But success! I managed to get back to Uxbridge on the tube without getting lost. However, once in Uxbridge, and just a mile from Brunel, I did get semi-lost, carrying a printer around in a big Apple bag. Fortunately, friendly locals eventually steered me the right way. I noticed something that Robin and I had noticed on our last trips to England. When you ask a local Brit for directions, they don't have a clue where anything is.

This pub, in Uxbridge, is across the street from a huge, modern shopping mall, Starbucks, etc.

Robin sets up the computers to work with the University network. She's in the office/living room/dining room area of the flat. Another residence building can be seen out the window. We're on the fifth floor, which, in England, is the fourth floor, because the ground floor here is zero, not one.

The main concourse on campus contains bars, nightclubs, a bank, a pharmacy, university store, Pronto fast food, small grocery store, etc. The upstairs is a balcony of a sports bar. Which reminds me, there are a lot of young whippersnappers on campus. From all over the world. Very multi-cultural. Even more so than my alma-mater, a private Southern Baptist college where multi-cultural meant a Methodist was spotted on campus.

Robin waits to get inducted. I think that means she was handed a packet of information.

The main concourse takes you past the Lecture Center, state-of-the-art computer facilities they claim in the brochure.

I'll post more photos later today, after I hike into Uxbridge again for groceries and other items.