Thursday, May 29, 2008

Latin flavour

I have obviously passed some sort of test of the dancesport team and have been inducted into the group. This includes nights out and different lessons with actual technique. Apparently I have made friends with the 'in' part of the team; the current team captain, current latin champ, latin teacher and top ballroom dancer. Man can these guys move their hips. I would kill for that hip movement.

Turns out wednesday night is Salsa night in Oxford. We went to Anuba, a cocktail bar on the clubby side of town (think claremont area), which is a whole 2 minute walk from the shop side of town :) Anuba has a dance floor the size of the outside area of Mojo and there were maybe 15/20 couples on the floor. Bumper cars ahoy! 10 points if you manage to cause extensive bruising. Cover charge is 3gbp, which was less than expected, by cocktails were 6gbp. Good thing the guys bought them otherwise my bank balance would be crying right about now. Definitely a repeat experience.

One question though. Do I really look that sweet and innocent? Honestly... and if so how do I can change it?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

early light, late light, all light

One of the biggest changes being here is the daylight hours. Its very weird waking up at 4am and its getting light, or staying out to 9.30pm and its still light. It throws the whole day out of sync.

Dinner for 1

I am once again reminded that making dinner for 1 is boring and depressing. Turns out that Oxford sucks as far as take out goes and the kitchen where I'm staying seems slightly hazardous to my health. I am living on soup, baguettes and dips.

Normally Monday nights are sacred girls nights complete with cake or cocktails. I have found a place that comes close to Limnos (for those of you who don't know about Limnos, find out) and am keeping up the tradition. Though how depressing is cake for 1 :(

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

weekend roundup

This weekend has been a wash out - literally - for any sightseeing plans. Monday was a public holiday (bank holiday) and I spent some of it watching movies (Warren, I'm adopting your friend) and some in a research meeting. Turns out I understood about 10% of that one. woohoo. Statistics is EVIL. Insomnia is ftl, its back with a vengeance and I hope no one annoys me today because I haven't slept much. Oh well, onwards with the installing plans. For those of you who understand: I managed to lose my bash profile and now need to start again :(

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fashion accessories

One thing you notice in Oxford are the bicycles and prams (strollers over here). The prams seem to be a new fashion accessory or so I am told. The come with fancy all weather covers and shock absorbers and attachments to fit onto the front of bicycles. Apparently England is experiencing a baby-boom and hence all the prams. If I see one again, I'll attach a picture.

Turns out my luck has run out. It has started raining, just in time to get lunch outside. Oh well.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

research meetings for the uninformed

I went to a research meeting and understood about 5 minutes of it. As Warrick pointed out, that's 8%. Maybe next week it will be 10%, by the time I leave I could possibly get to 80%. I have a goal.

I am registered with the uni now. Have a desk and internet access(obviously) and a stack of things to read including a PhD thesis. Fun times.

Weird note for the dance crowd. The syllabus here is wacky. Their gold is our advanced/bronze class, I mean gold just learnt slingshot in jive and natural turn, though they do do this cool reverse natural top thing and something called a wiggle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

These shoes are made for dancing

I managed to wreck my dance shoes on the first day in Oxford. Quite the achievement. Turns out that if you are a member of OU Dancesport(which I am) you get a 10% discount on shoes. My spiffy new shoes (see pics) are 53.65gbp (I know I splurged, they were the only nice ones available) and Freed. I got the heel protectors as well and some international size ones (5.95gbp for 3 pairs) for others to try when I get back (I think Christina and Ann have the large base). The only problem was getting to the place, the only dance shop is 30mins by bus in Woodstock. Nice drive, had a very talkative old lady next to me.

Two Fat Ladies

Tuesday was admin day. I hate admin, but Oxford seems to have made the process infinitely simpler than UCT. The sun is shining, but for how long is anyone's guess. I've registered my laptop and will receive my Oxford Uni Card soon. Now begins the interesting times, getting my data.

One thing I have noticed in Oxford is the size of the people. Everyone seems skinny or slim. Very few seems overweight. I have a theory: all the walking keeps the weight off, but it could just be the British in general.

There is currently a cricket match occurring on the pitch outside my window. Nice looking guys in whites. Hmmm....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brain overload

Monday started with a bang. Had a research meeting at 9.30. Now for the people that know me, this is super early and I am generally not processing much yet. Imagine my surprise when I'm asked to speak about my thesis first! Turns out the stuff I planned to do while I am here isn't what they think I should do, so I am officially in the deep-end with new data, new techniques and new place. (pic is of the atmospheric physics building)

The rest of the meeting was focused around the Microsoft project UCT is collaborating in and the logistics and politics surrounding it. Have to love how the researchers talk about terrabytes of data as if its normal amount to produce.

Most of the technical stuff went over my head, but I have noted a few things. PhD students tend to be older, like 25ish minimum. weird.

Lunch was at the University Club(equivalent to UCT Club). Meals for 3gbp. Starter for 2gbp. Not bad price or quality food.

As a side note, the building on the left is the Science library. How cool is that. Science gets its own library, not like UCT where we have a section.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blisters in the Sun

My trip to Oxford was plagued by tubeworks. Turns out the tube people were doing maintenance on the line to Victoria (my bus collection point). After frantically reading maps to get there on time, we took the tube to Green Park (i think) and then the bus and then a 5 minute walk to the bus station. In future I will check the maintenance schedule prior to departure.

The bus trip itself was uneventful. The scenery looks like the trip out on the N1 to Paarl, except the architecture is different. Bus arrived in Gloucester Green late and then I had to walk across Oxford to get to the tourist bureau and pick up a map and on to my res room. I eventually got to Holywell Manor (turns out it is actually 3 buildings, I'm in Dellal.) My room is on the top floor, 4 rooms on the floor. Pics are the view from my window.

I dropped my stuff and proceeded to walk Oxford, much to my feets' displeasure. I have blisters on the balls of my feet. Next time i'll wear takkies instead of boots. Found the equivalent of Super sandwich off campus. Haven't found a decent supermarket yet. That is moday's challenge.

I realised a few weeks ago that going away for 8 weeks means, no dancing. That was unexpectable. I have now officially joined the Oxford Uni Dancesport Club and been to my first class and social. This is a note to the ballroom people. Our socials are much cooler, there is no theme, its only 2 hours and the music is still CD operated by the instructor :( Met a few people, I realise now what the american couple in bronze felt like with us all being a clique and almost zero way in to it. Its a very closed group. I also managed to destroy my heels (an ongoing fight, but i only ahd them done the week before I left). I also discovered the coolest invention: HEEL PROTECTORS. they are these plastic covers to go over your heels so they don't wear done and damage your shoes. I am so investing in a pair. If they work, everyone at dancing is getting them as presents (that is if they don't cost a fortune). Next stop research meeting. bleh.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I have arrived! After a bit of a currency issue and walking the whole of the Cape Town International airport, I managed to exchange my money for pounds. In future, I will do all this prior to the airport. I booked in and got on the plane, and then waited 1 hour because of strong tailwinds meant we would land too early in Heathrow.

The flight was awful. The SAA dinner was a choice between fish babootie or chicken and pasta. Though they are quite prepared to dish out copious amounts of alcohol on demand. Settling in, I went through the movie list, it was abysmal. Either seen or had no wish to see. Turns out there was not 1, but 2 babies on the plane! When they finally settled done around 12ish the turbulence from a storm over West Africa caused more unpleasantness. We arrived at Heathrow at 6.10 and to 11C weather. I was very glad for my new winter(SA winter) coat.

My next stop was the UK border person. I think they live to annoy. I had all my paperwork ready and when they asked for the reason for my entry I replied very honestly. In hindsight I should have just stated holiday and they would not have cared. The studying thing threw them and didn't know what to do with me. Good 10 minutes later they finally told me that they will let me in, but to get a special letter from Oxford Uni in case.

The tube was my next adventure. As a girl who doesn't do public transport it was quite a change. Nice people helped with my luggage and i made it to Russell Square without incident. Got off and then the trouble started. I was earlier than I told Warrick and the people couldn't direct me to Goodenough College. One WAP google lookup later, I headed off.

Warrick apparently went partying the night before and wasn't particularly awake when I arrived. Anyways, we dumped my stuff and did a walk of London to the river and caught a bus back. I am very impressed with the transport system. I think the oyster card is awesome. I'm still having trouble reading the bus maps though. I will improve.

Grabbed Subway (their options aren't nearly as interesting as ours). We trudged back through rain (it had to start raining again when I arrive after sunshine for a week) and crashed. Little sleep on a plane does not a happy Hayley make. Supper was Nando's (I know, I come to London and eat the same as in South Africa). And so ends my arrival to England. Next stop Oxford.