Friday, March 31, 2006

Winding Down

On my way into the office this morning it occurred to me that I had only two weeks left on this trip. I head back on Easter Sunday. Can you believe that the year is already a quarter over?!?!

Of course, it only occurred to me briefly. I was too struck by the changes. Seemingly overnight the ornamental cherry trees that line the road through Thames Ditton have started to bloom. The route that has been below ugly, bare branches for the past few months now wends it way below billowing pink clouds. (Now if only the wind would ease off a bit!)

This weekend should be a good one for pictures. The Wilderness has traded its whites and purples (crocuses) for creams and yellows. There are huge patches where you cannot even see the grass for all the daffodils. I will try and get pictures posted this weekend.

I hope that wherever you are today the wind is at your back and the colors are beautiful!

Don Bergquist - 31-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

In A Rut?

It occurs to me in reading the latest entries in my blog that I do not do nearly as many "Touristy" things as I did a year ago. Oh, my god! Is living in London in the long term jading me to my surroundings?

There are probably tons of things that I have yet to do and to see here in the UK and yet every weekday I have my set procedure. I ride into the office some time between 06:00 and 06:30...


Didn't I just do this bit?

I hope wherever you are today you'll have a wonderful day!

Don Bergquist - 30-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In A Rut?

It occurs to me in reading the latest entries in my blog that I do not do nearly as many "Touristy" things as I did a year ago. Oh, my god! Is living in London in the long term jading me to my surroundings?

There are probably tons of things that I have yet to do and to see here in the UK and yet every weekday I have my set procedure. I ride into the office some time between 06:00 and 06:30, work until some time between 11:00 and noon, go for about an hour's bike ride. Work for the remainder of the afternoon with a somewhat longer bike ride when I get off some time between 16:45 and 18:00. If I am feeling social (and when am I not feeling social?) I stop at the pub for an hour or so at the end of my ride and then I am home in bed by 21:00 or so.

Weekends, I do a little paperwork and some administrative tasks that I do not have time for during the weekday schedule, then go for a ride with my cameras. (Usually, this is either into the Teddington/Bushy Park direction or over in the direction of Surbiton and Kingston.

Hmmm! I think I am working my way into a rut. (Or at least a well worn groove.) I guess I will have to think-up something different to do this week and weekend.

I hope wherever you are today you are doing something new and exciting.

Don Bergquist - 29-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Wind

There is a poem I remember from my youth that I have been thinking a lot about recently:

The Wind
By E. Randall
Why does the wind so want to be
Here in my little room with me?
He's all the world to blow about,
But just because I keep him out
He cannot be a moment still,
But frets upon my window sill.
And sometimes brings a noisy rain
To help him batter upon the pane.
He rattles, rattles at the lock
And lifts the latch and stirs the key--
Then waits a moment breathlessly,
And soon, more fiercely than before,
He shakes my little trembling door,
And though "Come in, Come in!" I say,
He neither comes nor goes away.
Barefoot across the chilly floor
I run and open wide the door;
He rushes in and back again
He goes to batter door and pane,
Pleased to have blown my candle out.
He's all the world to blow about,
Why does he want so much to be
Here in my little room with me?

- - -

The Poem has been much on my mind of late because in the spring there seems to be A HELL OF A LOT OF WIND in the UK!

I guess that I didn't notice it on my previous trips because I wasn't riding a bicycle everywhere; this time, it is hard to miss. Everywhere, flags and banners are being held out from their masts. The trees whip their bare branches at the sky as the clouds race by.

It is, of course all a part of the constantly changing face of the United Kingdom. I have to say, at least this week, being in London really blows me away!

I hope that wherever you are today, you are blown away by wherever you are and whatever you are doing!

Don Bergquist - 28-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Cousin Shawn!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Signs of Spring

The snowdrops have melted away giving their space in the lawns over to the crocuses (croci?) which have, in turn, started to give up the turf to the narcissus and daffodils. The buds of the trees are starting to swell. But it's not this, or even my overwhelming need to grab the Allegra that makes me aware that Spring is, well and truly on its way.

The sight that makes it plain that spring is beginning to spring is the sight of the Ice Cream vendors and the tacky tourist trinket peddlers returning to the bridge across the Thames near the Hampton Court Palace.

In the nearly two years that I have been coming here, this is one of the signs I have learned to read. During the fall, the number of vendors on the bridge starts to dwindle, to drop-off like the leaves from the surrounding trees. In the winter, you'll not see anything more that the occasional lunch truck on the parking lot of the rail station.

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the return of the hawkers to the area around the palace is one of the sure signs that spring has returned to the area. Though, the flowers are nice too!

I hope wherever you are today, it is apparent that spring is on its way!

Don Bergquist - 27-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What a Great Day!

Yesterday was so perfect!

My decision to blow-off the project for the morning was really the right one! I put in a nice, long ride! Leaving around 07:00, I rode east into Kingston, then northwest into Teddington. I then, having heard that Bushy Park is ringed by roads internal to the park, entered the park form the Teddington gate and rode around the park clockwise. Continuing across the park and out the South (Hampton Court) entrance, I rode along the A308 and the A309 down to Thames Ditton and then across the Portsmouth Road back to the house.

That completed, I sat back down to the computer to see if I could get through my project. Yeah! That lasted about half-an-hour. I then grabbed my keys, my messenger bag and my wallet and went out to do the grocery shopping. Two trips to Surbiton later, I was done with that and really buckled down.

The weather by this point was cooperating. It started to rain about lunch time and I got a good five hours of work done. I am nearly half-way done with what needs to be done. If only it weren't so nice out today, I might get some work done. Well, enough of this... It is too beautiful to be cooped-up with the keyboard. I'll catch you all later! I'm hitting the roads. I have no idea where I am headed this morning. Perhaps over to Esher... I guess I'll find-out when I get there.

Oh, and for those of you reading this from the UK: Happy Mother's Day!

I hope that you have a great day wherever you are today!

Don Bergquist - 26-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Whoever actually believes that Weather Forecasting is a science obviously does not live here! It was supposed to be a horrid day today. Today dawned lovely!

Last night I brought my computer home from the office because I know that I have a very limited time to get a project finished so I decided that the best thing to do would be to set-up my PC, crank-up the coffee pot and get cracking on the project.

So, here I sit, hoping to see this rain that is supposed to be falling all day and knowing that I need motivation to actually get started on the project. The sun is shining, the birds in the back garden are singing and the sky that I can see above the row of houses across the Portsmouth road is absolutely beautiful.

Screw this - I'm outta here. I think I am going to take my bike out and ride.

I hope that wherever you are, you have more ability to stick with what needs to be done - or not... Suit yourself!

Don Bergquist - 25-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my Nephew, Nicholas!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Going Native (Part II)

It's more than just the language that separates the US and the UK. There is a different mind-set, a different way of thinking over here. It is, for instance, considered a nice day even if it is raining outside because it could be snowing. If it is snowing, it is considered nice because the power could go out, etc.

The British that I have met seem to have this positive outlook, well at least the seem to have the outlook that things could always be worse. They're a little like my relatives and acquaintances back in Minnesota in this respect. "Not too bad..." is a good thing; as is " could be worse!"

I believe that there are things that become ingrained (like a splinter in your finger) as you spend time in an area. I think I am becoming more and more acclimated to the country and the people the longer I stay here.

The other night, I was recounting a story whose humor hinged upon the fact that the driver of the vehicle in the story makes a sudden, un-signaled turn across the on-coming traffic. (I may tell the story at some future date in my blog but as it is tangential to the story, I will just say that it is a good one!) I reached the punch-line and got the appropriate response.

It took me a couple seconds to realize that my audience came to the humor of the story too quickly. It was then that I realized that I had said in the story that the guy had "...made a right through the junction..." rather than "...had turned left..."

It's little things like coming to think of the backwards way that they do things here (in reference to the way we do things in the states) as normal that makes me fear that I am going native. I didn't set out to go native, it just sort-of happened. One day, I realized that I was a couple coppers short for the produce I was buying at the greengrocer and would have to change a note and realized that the language was insinuating itself into my head.

The day I realized I was queuing up for a space on the tube, I knew that I was on that long and slippery slope. But the other night was a real shock. Not only is the language making in-roads, so is the behavior! What next? Will I start making-up words as I speak? Will I start throwing extra letters into words like "Colour?" Will I start pronouncing syllables that do not exist in word (like pronouncing Aluminum as "all-you-MIN-ee-um?" Or worse yet, just ignore all the letters that I don't have time for? (Okay, guys, before I go completely native, they pronounce Worcestershire "wooster" and Leicester as "lester.")

I have a cousin from Minnesota who moved to the south that once made the observation that southerners average the length of their words, chopping an entire syllable out of "Alabama" when they say it, but pronouncing "Grits" as if it were a two-syllable word. I think Londoners are pretty-much the same.

The phrase "going native," ironically, enough, was first used by the British as a slight on their fellow countrymen who traveled abroad and became so assimilated in the place and culture of their new surroundings so as to be indistinguishable from the indigenous peoples. This insult was specifically applied to those whose travels took them (and kept them) in what were considered culturally backward parts of the world. Those who had "gone native" rarely wanted to return to London. I still miss home, though, so I guess I am not really going native. I guess, I am just becoming comfortable with the idiosyncrasies I see around me every day.

I hope that wherever today finds you, you are comfortable with your surroundings.

Don Bergquist - 24-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Things That Go Bump in the Night

The other night, after the Ghost Tour, the chills and thrills continued.

For one thing, it was pretty cold and a light dusting of snow was falling as I rode home; the sharp pellets of sleety snow occasionally making their presence in the air known as they slammed into my face. (Hey, they may be small, bit when a tiny little ice pellet hits you in the face it is still uncomfortable.) That's the "chills" part.

The "thrills" came thirty-minutes later at home. When I got home to Cholmley Villas, I parked my bicycle under the stairs, did my few things I needed to do to prep for the morning (set-up the coffee maker, start the dishwasher, etc.) and then headed-up to bed.

For god knows what reason, this was the evening that my neighbors decided to make enough noise that I could hear them through the intervening wall. (In all likelihood, it was completely accidental because I only heard the noise twice; but I digress...) The noise was something like a grating followed by a slam. A little like the sound my front door makes closing if the welcome mat is caught under it as you swing it.

I might have dismissed it as one of my house mates being overly noisy on their return from the pub until I remembered I was alone in the house. All my colleagues have returned to the states. I sat bold-upright in bed; listening for the sound to repeat. My heart raced as I tried to think if anyone was due to arrive in the UK.

Nope! I keep the schedule and there is nobody due to arrive in the house until the week's end. So I put on my robe and went downstairs to see if the door had been opened. It hadn't. With my heart racing, because I was also thinking of the tour I'd taken earlier that evening, I decided to double check to make sure the house was as empty as I thought it should be.

I started at the top of the house; checking every closet and room as I worked my way downstairs. Turning on every light; checking every window for its fastness. The last shock of the evening was to come as I rounded the hallway and landing on the first floor, I switched on the hall light (which also turns on the light in the lower ground-floor hallway. My hand on the newel post at the landing, I started. I had seen motion downstairs.

It took me a moment to put it together. Pulling myself together and laughing at my own overactive imagination, I breathed a sigh of relief and headed downstairs. The motion repeated as I stepped onto the stairs but now recognizing it for what it was, I just chuckled and headed down. I closed the window in the laundry room and the bathroom (which have bars over them so they are often left un-latched to allow fresh air to enter the house) and re-hung my coat that had been hanging over the lower newel post to a coat hook.

I had seen a movement. The sleeve of my coat, hanging in view of the top of the stairs, had been rustled by a breeze from the open window. It was more-or-less at this point that the noise repeated and I realized it was coming from next-door.

I returned to bed for a good chuckle at my own nervousness and a good night's sleep. At least I can laugh at my own stupidity.

I hope wherever you are today, you have a reason to chuckle. Even if it is at yourself!

Don Bergquist - 23-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Not For Everybody

Last night, I got to see a sight in Hampton Court Palace that is not seen by everyone. This is not hyperbole! About half the people who go to the palace never get a chance to see this sight. No mystery about that, I'm not that special. The sight in question is located inside a women's restroom.

Last night was the last Ghost Tour of the season at Hampton Court Palace. At £25.00 it is a bit pricey for a tour at the palace, but in my opinion, it was worth it. Now, let me qualify that. It was worth it with the tour guide who I had. I can see that the guide you get can make or break this tour.

Two of my colleagues from the states went last week and returned poor reviews. I was afraid that the tour would be a disappointment. I was pleasantly surprised! The tour begins at the bridge (pictured above) across the Tutor-Era moat. And covers much of the palace grounds. It is essentially a collection of ghost stories that have been told about the palace over the years jumbled in with a bit of history of the palace.

The tour does cover some of the stuff in the palace that I had never seen before and included a good deal of the history of the place. It is also interesting to see the palace at night. It has a completely different feel after sunset. There are places in the palace that I have been a number of times that I am entirely familiar with. I found myself coming across these places last night not knowing where I was until I hit one of the landmarks that I know well; a specific tapestry, a statue, etc. I'd come across these landmarks and be surprised at where I was even though you know that they probably came about it the same way that they do in the daylight.

On the whole, I would recommend it if you are interested in the place and the stories. I would not if you expect people to be jumping out at you like a haunted house. This is an interesting tour and a different view than that you usually get of the palace.

I hope that wherever you are, you can look at things differently today!

Don Bergquist - 22-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

First Day of Spring!

I've decided that we should have resolutions more often than just the first of the year. (Why should we delude ourselves only once a year, after all?)

So, by Vernal resolutions are to take more pictures, to ride my bicycle more often, and to be more timely in uploading my entries to my blog. This last one may seem strange to those of you who read my blog only periodically, but to those of you who email me when I do not upload my entries every day, I hear you... I'll try and be more timely.

You see, I write my blog whenever the inspiration hits and usually, that is on my PDA in a pub, on a train, or at the breakfast table. When I get to the office, I'll upload them articles to my PC and then upload them to the blog and add the pictures.

The last few days I have been pretty busy at the office, and have not been keeping-up. Sorry. I'll try and be more timely.

And now a word about predators: They're a good thing! Canada Geese are the perfect example. Except for cars, these guys have no natural predators. They really should. I mean, sure... They're pretty and all, but they mess all over everything, they are a nuisance when they congregate on the roads (as they do back in Lakewood) and there are just way too many of them around. But, they do look good!

I hope wherever you are today, you're spring is starting well!

Don Bergquist - 21-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, March 20, 2006

Winter Ends Today!

Yes, The Wilderness was in bloom yesterday! I got some nice pictures of the flowers in bloom. It looks like a great spring will be starting soon. That is if it quits getting cold again!

I'm sitting at the counter eating my breakfast and looking at the pictures on my camera. They are excellent. I'll pick a couple nice ones to go with this and upload later when I get into the office.

What a lovely day yesterday was! I had a nice ride around the circuit and then locked my bicycle in front of the pub. I walked into the wilderness and was greeted by a blaze of color. It seems that you need to pick a day that is fairly warm and see the gardens after the sun has been on them for a couple hours.

Every time it starts to bloom, we get another cold snap and the crocuses retreat. Well, at 16:48 today the winter will come to an end and the spring will officially start so perhaps we'll get more warm days and the color will explode.

I know, I know! You're probably all reaching for your book marks so that in a few months as the Summer Solstice approaches and I am griping about the heat you can remind me that I was also complaining about the cold. Save it... I will already point that out when I start complaining about the heat!

I hope that wherever the end of the winter finds you, you'll find the temperatures to your liking!

Don Bergquist - 20-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my Step-Sister, Jo!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Gene

Today is the Vernal Equinox

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Beautiful Day!

What a lovely day!

It is warm and sunny; the temperatures are in the fifties. I am feeling great! There is nothing like a nice nap to make one feel better. I got feeling better early yesterday afternoon. It was lovely to lay abed until two in the afternoon. I then got up, took a shower, had breakfast and dressed for the day. (Well, what was left of it.)

After a late breakfast (and another cup of coffee) I set to airing-out the house and making sure that the the linens were all downstairs, ready for the cleaning lady to take away tomorrow. Around six last night I headed into Hampton Court to go to the Pub. It was a lovely evening.

Today I rode down to the village to do my marketing. It is so nice that I didn't need a jacket. Of course, once I was riding along the Thames (I swear that "Thames" must be Middle English for "Wind Tunnel") the wind made me wish I had worn one.

My shopping and chores done, I have decided that this afternoon I'll mount my bike, ride over to Hampton Court and see if The Wilderness is in bloom. If it is, there will be pictures tomorrow.

I hope wherever you are, this last full day of Winter is a pleasant one for you!

Don Bergquist - 19-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Big Plans to Stay in Bed!

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today!

It was bound to happen. Coughs and sneezes have been prevalent at the office and the weather has been all over the grid with the mercury pouncing up and down like the foot of a rock guitarist.

The house is silent this morning! Really, I got up to the sounds of silence this morning and realized that all my colleagues have left for the states. I HAVE THE HOUSE TO MYSELF! I think the first thing I do after having my second cup of coffee will be to go back to bed.

I've taken some cold medication and perhaps I can lose this tickle in my throat before the entire day is lost. I think I will just finish writing this, then take it easy either napping on the couch or head back up to bed and try and mend.

I hope wherever you are, you are feeling great today!

Don Bergquist - 18-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, March 17, 2006

On the Verge of the Weekend

As I sat in my office packing my briefcase to leave last night, one of my coworkers asked me if I was on my way out. When I said that I was, I was told that "should I find myself in the pub tonight," to give her a call.

(What a silly thing to say... if I find myself in the pub? I find most of my evenings I at least stop by the pub to see who is there.)

So I went to the pub and had a few drinks with my colleague and then off for dinner at a Japanese dinner in Kingston. It was quite a nice evening. But now I am getting ready to go into work. I am sitting here with my coffee, cereal and yogurt. It is a lovely (okay, it's still a bit dark out) morning and the day holds promise. At least it holds the promise of the weekend coming up soon. (C'mon 17:30!)

I have no real plans for the weekend. All my colleagues will be headed back to the states this weekend so I will have the house to myself for a week. I may go into London and do some more shots. The Wilderness is starting to look pretty good so I will probably be going down there at some point this weekend.

I hope that your day is full of the promise of great things where ever it finds you today!

Don Bergquist - 17-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, March 16, 2006


For those of us who see patterns everywhere, winter in London is a wonderful thing to observe. It seems to have settled into a nice little pattern. For the last couple weeks, and predicted again for this weekend, the weather is supposed to be improving just in time for the weekend.

The pattern we seem to have settled into is that the weather starts getting abominable around closing time at the pub on Wednesday night, steadily worsening until mid-Friday evening when it starts getting better.

Saturday mornings are the dregs of the bad weather, then the rest of the weekend is just beautiful! The weather has been getting colder, darker, and wetter since late last night. They are out gritting the roads in preparation for snow today. But the weather for the weekend is predicted to be in the highs forties and partly cloudy.

I hope wherever you are today it is fair to partly cloudy!

Don Bergquist - 16-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Polite Americans?

The other night in the pub the subject of stereotypes came up. (I believe it was predicated by the discussion of the complete tosser who drenched me as I was riding my bike along the A308.) Someone said that there were some incredibly rude people here. I said that on the whole, I found the English (British? I am always getting in trouble for using the wrong word to group people over here...) were pretty considerate of others.

This lead to the discussion that they (the locals) are always hearing about the manners of their people but their perception is that Americans are far-and-away nicer than the British. "Really?" I asked... "What Americans have you met?"

I'm sure that my parents would be gratified (and more than a little surprised) that I was the first American that they named - I mean, sure, I was sitting right there, but being held up as exemplar for my manners? Cool! (I guess there is a first time for everything!) But it leaves me to wonder: Do we fail to notice in our fellows that which we seem to admire most in strangers?

Do we think the British are more polite than the Americans we see every day because we so rarely interact with them? Conversely, do the British like the manners of Americans because they so rarely spend time in New York? (...or a Denver traffic jam, for that matter...) If you're a sociology student looking for a masters thesis, please feel free to look into this. Use it in good health - please let me know the conclusion you come to!

It certainly could be something along those lines. Perhaps we (Americans) would be better served by keeping all those rude and aggressive members of our society in special enclosed compounds and not letting them travel abroad. We could confine them, say to Washington, D. C.

Hey, it's worth a thought!

I hope wherever you are today, you're met by mild-mannered, and polite people!

Don Bergquist - 15-Mar-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Cousin Shelly

Happy Birthday, Cousin Ann

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cold Front

Seriously, I do not remember the weather being this cold here this time last year! I am, glad that I didn't bring both my coats home last time I returned to Colorado. It will be absolutely beautiful for a few days, then it gets rainy and when the rain stops the temperatures drop drastically. I guess it is, after all, still a couple weeks until spring actually starts.

Last night on the way home, it was so cold, I even had to put on gloves!

But at least there is noting to chill my enjoyment of my friends and my travels. I hope that wherever you are, you are having a great day!

Don Bergquist - 14-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Editor's Note:
Sorry that this entry is pretty short, it has been a busy week already. I will write more soon.

Happy Birtday, Cousin Justin

Happy Birthday to my Godson, Zack!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The London Eye

One of my house-mates and I spent the day together yesterday. I had given her some directions on how to get around, some pointers on where to get the stuff she needed, etc. So she said that she would love to go with me when I went in.

So, after a lovely breakfast in the pub down the street from the house. We then went into Surbiton to do our grocery shopping and then headed into Hampton Court to meet-up with another of our co-workers to catch the train into town. Well, we missed the connection and ended-up going into the city alone.

We saw the London Eye (but the lines were so long we decided not to head up on it) and then headed into St. James Park, past Buckingham Palace, and then down some of the side streets.

Having spent a couple hours walking around the town for a couple hours, we decided to head home. After a quick rest, I headed down to the pub to meet-up with my friends and go have curry redeaux.

I hope that wherever you are today, you can look back on your weekend and have pleasant memories.

Don Bergquist - 13-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Weekend Plans Going Well!

As I had hoped, by sharing my plans on the weekend have made them all come-out exactly as I had planned! Now, I wish I had planned on not winning the EuroMillions Lottery. Oh well, there is always next week to not win the lottery!

This weekend has been good thus far. Friday night I had dinner with some friends, a special curry that had to be ordered 24-hours ahead. It was a whole leg of lamb curried and served with various vegetable curries. It was yummy, but there was far more than we could eat so this evening, Terry has invited us over to have a curry he is making from the left-over lamb.

My housemate and I are headed into London today to do some sigh-seeing. So the quest for a non-imaginary solution to the square-route of negative one will have to wait. As for the Nobel people, do you think they would be impressed by whirled-peas?

I hope wherever you are this weekend you have something that impresses you in your life!

Don Bergquist - 12-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spring is Springing-out All Over!

I spent the morning out and about with my cameras!

In actuality, a couple friends of mine had suggested that we have breakfast but when they didn't show, I headed into the Wilderness and took some pictures. After spending a couple hours shooting at Hampton Court's Northern Gardens (the Wilderness), I headed across the A308 into Bushy Park.

Ah! Spring time in the UK. Alright, the weather is a bit lousy this time of year; I got dumped on by rain, snow and sleet and that was just this morning! But you gotta love the greens and the colors that result from all that rain!

Although it will probably be a couple weeks until everything is in full bloom, the gardens are starting to look lovely! Heck, even the verges along the roadways are planted in crocus, snowdrops and daffodils!

I hope that your day is a colorful one, where ever you are today!

Don Bergquist - 11-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, March 10, 2006

Weekend Plans

I know that I repeatedly say that I am not going to make plans because they always fall through, but I have made my plans for the weekend. This time, however, I am being smart about it. There are the weekend plans I intend to share and those I intend to keep.

See, I have made this connection. When I say in my blog that I intend to do "?" some weekend, the plans invariably fall through. When I just go with the flow and do whatever comes up, I have excellent weekends. So here goes.

This weekend, I have all mapped out. After a brief sojourn to the far side of the moon tonight, I intend to come-up with a cure for cancer tomorrow morning, whilst simultaneously working-out the square-route of negative one. Sunday I will probably get my acceptance speech ready because I expect the Nobel people to be calling from Stockholm after I end world strife, poverty and hunger. I then expect I'll have a full English breakfast and spend the afternoon sight-seeing.

I hope you have excellent plans for your weekend!

Don Bergquist - 10-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Cousin Becca

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Rude Prat!

I have to blow off some steam!

What is up with some of the sots in this country? On my way to the pub this evening, I was passed on the A-309 by a complete prat! I was, on my bike ride and having finished a few miles just before it started raining, I decided to head to the pub to wait out the rain. Just as I was approaching the train station at Hampton Court, this total tosser, seeing a huge puddle veered toward the edge of the street so that he could run his tires through the puddle and splash me and the pedestrian that was walking the other way.

I know it was an intentional act because the guy was hugging the dividing line all the way along the station and when he saw us and the puddle he moved quite deliberately toward the curb to hit the puddle. He then steered back toward the center of the street.

So, here I sit, writing this on my PDA in the pub. I'm cold, sodden and incredibly irritated! I'll post this up to my blog tomorrow with the request that people spread the word: behavior like this is not funny! It's yobbish! It's also dangerous.

I hope there is nothing in your day today to dampen your spirits.

Don Bergquist - 09-March-2006 - Hampton Court, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

I guess you can come to think as any place as home, but I still miss Colorado.

I miss my friends back there and my dog and my home. London is great! Really, I am having a great time here in my off-time, but it is not like being home. Constantly I find myself thinking of Saga and wondering what trouble she is getting into.

When I am cooking in the kitchen here in the Thames Ditton house, I love the expansive kitchen... It's just not my cramped little kitchen. I miss not being able to turn around if there is someone else in the kitchen with me. Plus, I am never quite sure where things are and where they belong in this kitchen.

Then there is the alien nature of some of the places I have to go. Grocery stores, for instance. While I love the fact that you can buy liquor and wine in the same store as the rest of your groceries (what a savings of time if you are throwing a party!) the lay out of the stores here is based on some logic that still escapes me even after all this time. Perhaps, I'll get it some day. To-date, I still just wonder the store with my PDA shopping list looking for things in whatever sort the list is in and checking things off as I find them.

On the plus side, I do have a great circle of friends over here as well as the one back home. I move in some pretty cool circles and I am eternally grateful for the friends I have!

I hope wherever you are today you are surrounded by the friends that make your life brighter!

Don Bergquist - 08-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


There is only a single stop light on my ride into work. (There aren't all that many stop lights in the whole of Surrey, so I guess it is pretty amazing that one of them is on my way to work since I only travel about half-a-mile to the office!) I mention this because as I sat at it on my bike waiting for the red light to change, I got to thinking about how lovely the country is this time of year.

Yesterday on my ride around the circuit, I decided to take the detour through The Wilderness at Hampton Court Palace. It is early yet, but the color is starting to show. It was at this time last year that I first saw the lovely orange and yellow narcissus spreading out to cover the expanses of green lawns.

Over in Bushy Park, the blue lakes will be reflecting the indigo skies and the violet blossoms from the azalea bushes. Yes it certainly is colorful here this time of year. So is the language coming from the driver who wants to go through the intersection that I am blocking!

On the way to the office, there was a spectacular sunrise that has all the colors of the spectrum, unfortunately, I left my camera in the office and by the time I got in this morning, it was over.

I hope your day is splashed with colors!

Don Bergquist - 07-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Monday, March 06, 2006

By Request

The other day I got an entry in my guest book from a reader who wanted me to post some interior shots of the King's Arms. I know that it seems like I spend a lot of time here. (To tell the truth, I guess I do...)

The other day I was in the pub at a time when there were no people there so I could get some shots of the interior without having to worry about offending people by taking shots of them in the pub. So, follow the link above to see more stuff that you would see in the pub.

The King's Arms is a wonderful place. Pubs, in general are. I know that I talk about going to them. (A Lot!) But I have to stress once again: It is not all about the beers and ales. What I really love about the pubs is that they are the social centers of the village. Everybody goes to the pub. There is a family that shows-up frequently for a pint and conversation. They bring their daughter, Jennifer. I know Jennifer because she has her coloring books, pad, and crayons with her and sips her juice and colors while she is there.

I met her last year when she came over to the table my friends and I were sitting at and handed Angie a picture she had drawn. "Oh, it's lovely." proclaimed Angie and showed it to the table.

"I'm jealous." I said, "I didn't get a picture!" A little while later Jennifer came over and asked me my name. A little while later still, Jennifer came over and shyly handed me a picture of a spider she had drawn.

Conveniently, she had labeled it "Spider" at the top and had signed it at the bottom. I still have it on my desk at the office. I think it is cute. You never know! Jennifer may be a famous artist some day and this picture of the spider may be worth a small fortune. I really can't say. But I do treasure it as a token of my trips over here.

I hope today you have a moment to consider something you treasure!

Don Bergquist - 06-march-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pub Crawl

There are seven pubs that I pass on the most direct path between the house I am living in and the King's Arms. An interesting fact that I know because I have had beers in every one of them. Last night, as a matter of fact!

A friend of mine wanted to go on a pub crawl so we met for dinner in Kingston and headed south west along the river toward my place. We stopped at the four pubs we passed along the way. By the time we were back at my place we decided that we were having fun so we kept going along the river and hit only the pubs that were on the side of the road we were on.

I still prefer the Kings' Arms to the other pubs in the area. By the time we reached the King's Arms it was after 22:00 and the pub was packed! Apparently, some guy had hired the back three rooms for a birthday party for his kid. The place was crowded with people, possibly about half-of-which where not of legal age to drink. (Over here the legal age is 18.)

For the first time ever, in my experience of the pub there were five people working the bar and they were just barely keeping up! It was interesting to see the coordination of having that many people working the bar.

I hope that wherever you are, you have something to celebrate today!

Don Bergquist - 05-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Experimental Log

Thom Lehrer once uttered a line in an introduction to one of his songs that seemed like such a good idea I took umbrage at the snickering from the audience. He said that he was involved in an experiment to extend adolescence beyond all reasonable limits.

I have made it my personal goal to see exactly how long I can remain an adolescent. I am happy to say that I am still doing quite well! Thank you, very much.

It is just after 09:30 in the morning on Saturday and I have now been awake since 06:00 yesterday morning. What a weekend I am having already! Last night I went to the pub and feeling a bit knackered, I decided I would call it a night early. Well, as I have observed before in these entries, the best laid plans...

Some friends of mine showed-up and conspired to keep me at the pub (as if that is hard to do) until closing time when the barman and a group of his friends suggested we go to a dance club and have a good time until it closed. I got my second wind and had a great time! I was easily the oldest person (chronologically speaking) at the club, but who cares! I was there to enjoy the music and dance!

There was this one woman there who kept drifting over to me on the dance floor and insinuating herself into my personal space. I never did figure what that was about. She would just come un and dance right in my face. I said "Hello" a couple times after she had made and held eye contact. She, on the other hand, never said anything and, after repeating this performance and then drifting off to another part of the dance floor a few times, she left for the upstairs bar. I saw her one time engrossed in a conversation with some guy a little later on.

I returned to the pub early this morning to retrieve my bicycle and ride home. My friend, the barman was there and invited me in for a cup of coffee. As I have said, It is now just after 09:30 and I am just getting home. What a great way to start a weekend! I can't wait to see what else the weekend has in store!

I hope that wherever you are, your day is filled with music and fun!

Don Bergquist - 04-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, March 03, 2006

Chinese for Lunch

One of the guys from this office I am temporarily attached to is leaving to take a position at another office so they are having a bon voyage get-together for him at lunch time. It will be nice to get out of the office and do things with the people I work with in a more social setting. It will also be nice because it will give me a chance to have the dish I had for lunch the other day and try and discover its secret!!

Now, I have gone on record as saying that the Chinese food over here is nothing like that which we get back in the states. On the whole, I can take it or leave it. It is unremarkable. But Wednesday when a small group from the office decided to have Chinese take away for lunch I went in with them because I had boatload to get through and had to even forgo the normal lunchtime bike ride around the river.

I ordered a dish called King Prawn with Asparagus in XO sauce. (My mother is rolling in her grave right now. Yes, Mom! I like asparagus - just not canned asparagus!) It was a wonderful dish with a really odd name. It was odd, because so far as I could tell there was no asparagus in it. It was peppers, onions, black mushroom and prawns in a wonderful chili sauce.

I'll be trying it again to day and see what it is like when we eat it in the restaurant. Aside from not having the advertised ingredients, it was quite nice. I was pleasantly surprised! Okay, so not all the Chinese food here is inedible!

I hope today provides you with an opportunity to be pleasantly surprised!

Don Bergquist - 03-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

The dish I had today at lunch was nothing like the one I had the other day. It was quite nice, it was just not the same thing as the one from Wednesday. Great! Now I am going to have to order all the prawn dishes they offer to see what the dish was that I had at my desk this week!

Oh, what I do in the name of research!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Weather Report

It has turned cold over the last few days here in the UK. I guess that is the price one pays for the lovely days we have been having.

For the last few days the skies have been clear, the days have been sunny, the nights have been starry. It has been absolutely lovely here. But as any good thermal engineer will tell you, the cloud cover was acting like a blanket. It kept the warmth that the sun (what little of it there was) in place longer so that the days were warm and comfortable.

Steal the blankets and you're left shivering.

I have been getting my rides in after work when the temperatures are still relatively warm, but the other night I actually decided to wear a pair of gloves over my cycling gloves. The cycling gloves are padded to make the ride more bearable on my hands, the other pair was because it was frigging cold!

I hope wherever you are it is warm and pleasant for you today! If it isn't, stay inside...

Don Bergquist - 02-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Cousin Dale

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Driving in Britain

In the interest of public safety, that is to say my safety whilst I am in public, I have done a bit of extensive research into road signs and traffic laws in Britain.

In the US, when you rent a car, the rental agency will often give you a map. This map usually is not helpful in the sense that it seems to be entirely occupied with how to get from the car rental agency’s airport location to the agency’s fifteen other conveniently located locations. This is fine, if you happen to want to be at either the car rental agency counter or the airport for your entire trip (rather than it just seeming that way).

Some will also provide you with a pamphlet of some sort telling you the local driving regulations that you need to know to drive successfully in their locale. These can include the practical; such as if you are drunk and completely out of it and you are in eastern Tennessee it is okay for you to let your cousin and wife drive your car home provided she makes you lie in the back (so nobody can see you being driven home by a woman) and she doesn’t let you puke into your good boots. You may also learn the public safety laws like in the southern parts of Georgia, it is mandated by law that all pickup trucks be equipped with a huge slobbering bloodhound who allows his spit to be carried by the slipstream onto the windshields of any car following too closely.

So, since nobody told me what the laws were here, I have taken it upon myself to make sure that you know them when you visit. I have done exhaustive research* and will now present the meaning of all those obscure and strange (well to us foreigners) signs that you will see on the roads here.

So here goes:

In some parts of England there is a problem with young and inexperienced drivers so they want to make sure that anyone who gets behind the is at least forty years old.

Now, this one took me a while to suss. As it only seems to appear shortly before you reach a pub, I have figured-out that this means “Pints Ahead.”

So, by extension, I presume this one advises you of liters.

Ah, now this is a warning that you are following someone who has had too many pints and liters.

This is a friendly reminder to visitors from countries where they are not directly under British rule that they drive on the wrong side of the road here.

I believe the name for this sign is the “Drive to the left you idiot” sign.

I have no idea! I assume this is warning you that there are French Fries on the road ahead…

…so by extension this must be warning you that there are McDonald’s French Fries on the road ahead.

This is one you will see all over the place. They appear right before you come upon a roundabout. A roundabout is a strange street configuration that pushes all the roads in the city (and a few that are visiting from other towns) into a confused junction in the hopes that they will trap foreigners like flies in a pitcher plant.

The sign is an instruction as to the proper way to progress through the roundabout. Here is how you do that.

Rule number 1. Always go Clockwise around the roundabout. This is key.
Rule number 2. Always Yield (or as the British say "give way") to cars that are coming at you really fast through the roundabout.
Rule number 3. Always progress through the roundabout as fast as you can. (You'll need to to be missed by all the other cars tat are also progressing though at breakneck speed.
Rule number 4. (This is the most important rule.) It is absolutely mandatory that you go all the way around the roundabout at least twice (preferably shouting “Wee!” out the window as you go) before exiting the roundabout. (Try it! It's Fun!)

Don’t even try!

As foreigners, you and I have no more chance of deciphering this type of sign than we do of being elected King in the next election here. (They do elect the king, don't they? They must! I remember seeing it somewhere; "...supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses...)

These are what I have come to know as the “Abandon Hope” signs.Glance at it, and then pray that you exit at the right point. (But if you make it, it is probably just dumb luck.)

Oh, and for all their world famous manners here, this is, I am convinced what the British public works department are really trying to convey to you and me, the foreigners, by the use of all these signs:

Have a great day!

Don Bergquist - 01-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

* Editor’s Note:
By the use of the phrase “Exhaustive Research” in the above paragraph, I do not mean to imply in any way that said research was actually on the topic at hand. As the notes have made plain to anybody but the most dimwitted, the research in question was exhaustive on some other topic. Perhaps I will present that topic in some future blog entry. (Though I seriously doubt it. That would blow my entire fact-to-fiction ration that I endeavor to keep as low as possible.)

Any accidents you have whilst reading this blog or as a result of taking any of the content seriously are solely a result of your own woefully misguided trust in this as a purveyor of factual content. This blog is meant solely as a source of entertainment – mine… if you enjoy it too, that’s just a happy coincidence.


** Editor’s Note Addendum:
Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while may recognize the content of this entry and may think to themselves that this is a repeat of an entry that I made in December of 2004. For those of you who think that is what this is: YOU'RE WRONG! The entry in December 2004 did not have this addendum, so there!


Happy Birthday, Auntie Judy!

(Well, technically, I guess it was yesterday... or was it? I know the 29th is squeezed in there somewhere!)