lost in orpington

yesterday i had my last big travel adventure in england- i headed out at 6.45 AM ~~~south to the far side of london.

red dot-orpington

 i had a vague idea where i was going since i did a similar trip on tuesday. this time though i hit the morning rush hour in london and spent a good 20 minutes packed like a sardine in a tube carraige wondering on a scale of 1-10 how distressing this was for the average english person…all that body contact-being so close to other humans, strangers in fact- that you can see every blemish and hair on the back of their heads…but they do seem to survive, mostly in a very detached, denial sort of way.

so this time i was not heading to a hospital, i had agreed to go directly to the medical records office to save them the trouble of transporting the case notes. and yes, somewhere in kent in an industrial complex is the warehouse that holds thousands of patients medical records-of which they had pulled 10-12 and put them in a room for me.

i had an address and a post code-the holy grail of location finding in england and looked at a map but couldn’t quite figure out if orpington or st mary cray train station was closer. i ended up going with orpington because i assumed that being a bigger station there would be a taxi-i was right and wrong. there was a taxi but it was further away than st mary cray.

so on leaving the warehouse, i was assured i could walk to st mary cray train station with the basic directions…go to the top of the road, turn right…when you get to the mini roundabout go to the left and follow it round…yeah right!

now it’s all very englishy sounding names to go with the curvy streets click here to see a map

so it didn’t take long for me to get lost…luckily it was a pleasant, spring day, a nice neighborhood and i had plenty of time. i had to put out an SOS call and approach one of the few locals out and about but did eventually find the station

it was so boring, non-descript and un-station-like that i can’t imagine how i missed it…

all day-even on the way home i kept wondering what a cray was~~becasue st mary had one, st paul had one~~ even the foot had one…

it’s a river!!

so that’s pretty much the end of my UK tour-i have to go to london to the torture chamber  office on tuesday and possibly coventry but that is old territory. hopefully when i come back-and i WILL be back it will be more of a holiday and i can go to scotland and ireland and seaside resorts and relax like a tourist!!

breaking the rules

actually breaking my own rule…the one about talking on my phone on public transportation. today during the middle leg of my circular tour of england..i was on a crowded train wedged in a window seat when my phone rang….and i did a rare thing indeed…i answered it.
it was phil jackson-not chicago’s phil jackson.  (i couldn’t figure out why that name seemed familiar.)

he was filling out some forms to get access for me to visit leeds and was confirming the information…and for some reason they wanted my birthdate…i tried to lower my voice slightly and said 4th of april 1958…thinking great!… now everyone within a 5 seat radius knows how old i am…

i finished the call as quickly as possible and didn’t break the rule about turning a business call into a personal office therapy call~~

i did take some pictures of middlesborough train station and hope to have those soon-i’m just hoping that body start too relax-i have been in pretty much constant motion since sunday when i got on the plane.  i was feeling a little nauseous from all the constant moving at high speed.

here’s a map of my journey-in yellow-heading north, then south and then northwest

back in the groove

i made my way-stumbled really- to london today. i nearly missed my bus, had to switch to the train in order to be sure to catch my scheduled train and had to run to get my tickets and on to the train with about two minutes to spare….

i had to review some stuff for the meeting but when i looked up it was a bright sunny day and i was disoriented by the beauty of the english countryside. last week i was on a train but with completely different-suburban chicago scenery. not better or worse just different…

i have had to reorient myself a few times but most dramatically hanging off a curb in london as double decker buses whizzed by….from right to left…..a real “we’re not in kansas anymore” moment.

the meeting went well, good to see everyone and had some unrealistic “right from the project directors mouth” news about how the project would continue despite having no statistician, staff jumping ship left and right and generally going up in a puff of smoke. amazingly, we had two new doctors joining in. there was a comment welcoming them to “the heart of the dept of health” ….oops, more like the “corpse of the DH”

i have to comment here-

i don’t know how i have survived all these trips with no music. i brought back an ipod and it has totally transformed my commuting experience. i am thoroughly enjoying having a blank faraway look while battling through the crowds.

i came home and slept for an hour+ and now i’m wide awake…lots and lots to do this weekend…stay tuned!

a better wednesday

i went to london today…it was a mixed bag of really good stuff where my opinion was needed and a bunch of cringe-worthy moments.

one of the best things was that i saw the junior IT lady, who happens to be black on the stairs and asked if my boss had replied to her email asking for his decision about 3 things….she hadn’t and i explained that it was because he was working on the unit and i would be happy to make sure he responds tomorrow. we all discussed it at the afternoon meeting, without my boss, and the IT woman passed me a note. it said “hi tracy, i still want to have JB’s feedback”. i smiled and nodded…

i guess i just have to learn to make my own relationships and alliances…maybe it paid off that i always thank this IT lady for all her hard work.

the highlight of my trips to london are now my choice of sandwich…i have a current craving for pret manger

The New Yorker Bloomer

A classic recipe (stolen from our stateside friends) of salt beef, gherkins, mustard mayo and leaf spinach on our 7-grain bloomer bread (we counted!).

salt beef=corned beef….the best part?? pickles on the sandwich!! love pickles on my sandwiches….just remembered how you always get a pickle on your plate in the US…

today they were all out of the new yorker (a testament to its popularity i think) so i tried something equally adventerous…

Slim Pret - Italian Proscuitto Artisan Baguette

Prosciutto, Italian Matured Cheese, Tomatoes, Mayo, Whole-Leaf Basil

didn’t like the mayo so much but the rest was yummy!

i’m going again friday anybody see something from the menu they’s like me to taste test???

christmas in the city

i’m in london so much now that it is routine, the last 2 days it was a little more relaxed and it finally hit me….i am walking around london, england….going to my job…carrying a laptop….who’da thunk, 3 or 5 or 15 years ago this would be my life??

the christmas decorations are coming out and i’m getting used to the travel. i’ve timed the journey…it’s about 2 hours and 15 minutes…door to door….each way. weird part?? i’m generally only there for about 4-5 hours!

i’m going to newcastle again tomorrow which is even more time on the train…3 hours each way!!! for a 3 hour meeting!!

the pros? i can dose off on the train, it’s pretty stressfree…scenic…get to overhear lots of other peoples gossip….the meetings are usually interesting and productive and peoplel value my opinion.

the cons~~~sitting too long, my legs and ass get restless….not getting a window seat on the train, being subjecting to others peoples stupid/annoying/loud personal conversations…

i have so many pictures and stuff to post but i just don’t have the time~~it looks like this will last until sometime in feb. i’m working extra all through christmas because i have a goal….

anyway, i will do what i can and i gave myself a pep talk on the way home tonight…a variation on the “the more you do the more you CAN do” motto…i reminisced in my mind about what tired used to mean. it used to mean working 3, 4 even 5 ….12 hour…on my feet…long shifts….days and nights….eating on the run….being in lifesaving situations with a bursting bladder…listening to families crying….making infusions and mixing drugs when i could barely keep my eyes open but carrying on because it was my job…..

yep, getting up at 7 ish tomorrow to sit on the train for 3 hours for a three hour meeting and then doing it in reverse is a piece of cake!!

when the exciting becomes boring…

a few weeks ago i was so excited to be going to london….then it became every wednesday. the last two weeks it has been two days a week. i’m not really complaining and i guess i should remember what my work life used to be….12.5 hours, on my feet.

going to london is a 12.5 hour day too…but most of it sitting on my BFNAA…big fat north american arse! it’s hard, lots of thinking and traveling etc…but i do have to keep it all in perspective!

i am working a night shift saturday night so all will become clear again.

i’m looking forward to having a quiet all american girls thanksgiving this year. things have changed for the “core” group. maria went home to arizona, with our little friend cate….julie 1 is being dumped dumping her husband….and julie 2 is now officially one of us!

weird thing is that we have finally made arrangements to have an electrian fix the fuse box and kitchen and living/dining room ceiling lights. what day is he coming?? nov 26th!! which i believe is thanksgiving…i’m planning to explain that to the electrician and ask if he can finish up a little early on thursday.

my oven is gas so i will make some stuff the day before and light the oven for the turkey….the girls are taking the afternoon off work and coming over…i think we may need to watch a real american classic movie…tissues at the ready. classic as in we’ve all seen in so we won’t be bothered if we miss abit…

i’m in london alllll day tomorrow and thursday….hope to hear good news soon from my mom about the packages i sent her. loads of pictures to post, need to finish cates gift…no time, no monitor…

this expat life is really a mixed bag~~~