Monday, July 31, 2006

Hampton Court

The exact location of Hampton Court is (apparently) debatable. According to some of my friends, the fact that it has a KT postal code means it is a part of the same county as Kingston (which would place it in Surrey) but others tell us that the fact it is north of the Thames means it is in Middlesex. I guess this is really an academic argument and I don't want any part of it. Suffice it to say that wherever t is, the Bergquists invaded Hampton Court palace today.

After a spot of tea and a scone with jam and clotted cream in the queen's privy kitchen, we took a walking tour of the palace. We got to see the queen's apartments, the king's apartments, the great hall and the chapel. There would be more pictures of the visit within the palace, but photography is not allowed inside the palace.

It was a good day, but I could tell that for both Dad and Flo, the gardens seemed to hold the most sway. I could see the wheels turning as Flo and Dad plotted to recreate the water gardens in their gardens at home.
After walking a wile through the halls, and a long while around the gardens, seeing the massive grapevine, the various gardens and the formal hedgerows, we decided it was time to go. It had been a lot of walking and for much of the afternoon, the weather had been threatening rain in some serious way. Not the pathetic sprinkles that the weather had been spraying ineffectually for the past couple hours, but a serious downpour. The clouds hung in a dark and swollen sky.

But that didn't stop Dad from suggesting a run through the maze on our way to get a quick bite on our way out. So we entered the world famous Hampton Court Maze. The maze fills the northern reaches of The Wilderness and is something I have never before felt compelled to do.

Dad and I entered (leaving Flo to sit down and cheer us on from a shady bench near the exit - by which I mean "take a nap") Aside from one wrong turning that took us down a circular path and a couple wrong turnings that took us into blind alleys, we didn’t do too badly.

Strangely, there were an awful lot of kids in the maze considering that we were visiting on a school day. (Or what would be a school day if school were currently in session…) many of the kids were, completely wonderful and polite children. But then there were those whose sole purpose in life seemed to be running into old guys and making a general nuisance of themselves. (Geez! Some people's kids!)

Eventually, however, we did locate the center of the maze. It took us just over fifteen minutes and was affected with a minimum of errors. (It is a bit trickier than it seems from looking at the diagram of the maze on the board by the entry. Perhaps next time I will spend a bit more time looking at that map!

We left the maze and rejoined Flo, heading over to the pub for a quick pint and a snack before we headed home for naps and a game of Scrabble. In the evening, we ordered a curry dinner and shared it with my coworker, over for a training session. Tomorrow, we will be visiting the Salisbury plain.

I hope wherever you are today, you have a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - 31 July 2006 - Hampton Court, Middlesex (?), UK

Sunday, July 30, 2006


The day started with a lovely visit and breakfast at the local pub in my village. Tiger Joe's serves, arguably, the best breakfast in the area. We dined alfresco in the patio overlooking The Portsmouth Road. It was a lovely start to a lovely day.

After breakfast, Dad and Flo napped in the lounge as I mowed the back garden. It didn’t really need it, but it was nice to knock down the weeds a bit. Later, we joined some friends over at the home of Phil and Lucy for beverages before introducing them to The Bell.

The Bell is a pub in East Molesey that is about five hundred years old. One of the endearing things about The Bell is that there is not a right angle in the place. It appears to have been held immobile by some invisible giant in the midst of collapsing. The Slanted walls have doors hung in them at crazy angles. The windows, set aslant in the sloping walls, have trapezoidal frames to fill the off-kilter frames. The net affect is to make you as if you were walking through a film shot to imply the subject of the film is having some sort of delusion or nightmare. The local saying is that you know you're pissed (drunk) when the walls of the bell start looking okay.

Despite all the craziness of the architecture (or perhaps of it) The Bell is a cool place and has the potential of being an excellent local pub. The problem is that the pub has become a bit rundown. The ownership, in the midst of trying to sell it, has no incentive to do a lot of the work the pub needs. The staff, aware of the impending sale, feels no great need to try and keep the pub up. Oh well, if the plan as my friends in Molesey have it comes to fruition, I'll win the Euromillions Lottery, buy The Bell and fix it up, and then make it the fun, showplace of a local pub it deserves to be.

After a round at The Bell, we headed deeper into the wilds of Molesey to Terry and Angie's place where (once again) my friends outdid themselves! Angie started putting out the food the moment we arrived, Terry brought-out the ribs, sausages, burgers, shish kebab; there was all manner of food from the grill. Dad and Flo spent hours talking to my friends. They seemed to be truly enjoying themselves. This is a problem for me. Not that they enjoyed themselves, but that my friends spoke to my parents unsupervised.

This is a problem because the last time I allowed this to happen, my parents (my Dad) told stories of the mostly accurate type he is prone to tell; the type that he tells that have just enough embarrassing details to be uncomfortable, and just enough prevarication to be really uncomfortable. The problem is that my friends to not know how to tell the difference so I have to explain. It is in the explaining that the embarrassing truth comes out. But I guess that among friends what is a little embarrassment?

As the evening fell, Angie had one last surprise. She had placed candles all over her garden and lit them just before sunset so that as the light changed, so did the mood of the garden. Her back garden went from a bright and welcoming expanse of herbs and vegetables among the lawns and bushes to a fairyland!

We lit the chimnea. A big, roaring fire; I do tend to over-build my fires. The fire made the cool hours of the evening more enjoyable. The Buddha, watching mutely, from the corner of the garden brought a serenity to the scene that lent its karma to the lovely time had by all.

I hope that wherever you are tonight, you have a lovely evening with friends!

Don Bergquist - 30 July 2006 - East Molesey, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my Aunt Jen

Saturday, July 29, 2006

On The Right

There is an old, well-worn and (I think) cherished argument that my friends and I are constantly having over here. You see, I believe that in the US, we drive on the right side of the road and they believe in the UK they drive on the correct side of the road.

The argument goes something like this: The Romans knew that driving on the left meant that your sword-hand was free to do what needed to be done when passing an enemy. I see this as specious. How many times on the way to the office have you driven along brandishing a claymore out the window? Wanted to? (Okay, I'll give you that I have wanted to, but be reasonable…)

I, on the other hand (pun intended), think it is much more efficient to shift with the hand that you are dominant in. I do practically everything right-handed, why would I want to drive left-handed? Although it would explain why there are so many horrid drivers over here!

All wrong-handed people driving on "the correct side of the car;" it can't be a recipe for success. I bring this up because, as my parents have discovered this week, the right/left side distinction is largely theoretical anyway. As has been mentioned before, the roads over here are extremely narrow. Even those which are ostensibly two-lane roads often are just barely wide enough for a single car to negotiate safely. There are also places where the houses encroach directly up to the very verge of the road itself so there is no where to pull over. Compound that problem with the fact that people often park in the streets, and the whole right/left argument falls apart like a wet pasty.

So the argument is over. (At least it is as far as I am concerned.) We drive how we do because we do and that is that.

I hope wherever you are today, you are driving on whatever side of the road is customary for your location.

Don Bergquist - 29 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, July 28, 2006


Forty-five minutes before they are supposed to arrive and I am sitting in Traffic on the M23 stuck and not moving. The cause for the standstill is not apparent. All I can tell is that the traffic is stretching out in front of me with no apparent end is keeping me from getting to Gatwick.

I am not really worried about getting there late; I would however like to be there when they get out of Immigrations and Passport Control. I have about nine miles left to go (and then have to park) and when I get there I was hoping to have a cup of coffee before they get in. (Good thing I built that extra half-an-hour into the time they told me it would take…)

The cause of this issue is never to be known to me. I crawl to the junction for Gatwick and end-up in the parking garage just in time to watch Dad and Flo land. At least I assume that Northwest plane that swooped down as I was pulling into a space was Dad and Flo. There are very few flights from Gatwick (or to it) that come via Northwest. Since this flight was a Northwest plane and it was landing about fifteen minutes before the time they should be here.

The coffee counter help is, as everyone seems to be these days in the Food Service Industry over here, a foreigner. I believe she is Polish, but she could equally well be from any of the other Baltic region countries now a part of the European Union. When she takes my order, I can tell she really doesn’t understand the concept I am trying to get across.

"Ice." I say for the third time. "Can you put a few ice cubes into my coffee?"

"Eh," She repeats for the third time. "Do, eh, you want, eh, iced coffee with your hot coffee?" She starts (once again) reaching into the refrigerator for a bottle of pre-made iced coffee that looks like chocolate milk.

"No." I try a different tack. "I want my coffee warm. Please add Ice to the hot coffee to cool it down. I want it tepid."

She makes a face at me and turns to consult for the third time with her colleague in a language that may (or may not) have been Polish. I look at the arrivals board outside the doors to the duty free. The flight from Minneapolis arrived half an hour ago and there is still no notation that the baggage is ready to be claimed yet. Good. It may take another half hour just to get my coffee order.

"Is this to carry away or to drink here?" she asks, her consult over.

"To go." I say, not thoroughly sure of what I was going to get. I have to make a few more directions as I am keeping an eye on the board and finally, an entire scoop of Ice into the scalding hot coffee later, the coffee is ready to take away.

It is really fun to watch people at airports. They get tense and cross for reasons that still mystify me. I can understand people being so when they have just flown trans-Atlantic flights with a plane full of screaming children or rude strangers, but presumably, the people now waiting in the arrivals area have just driven in from their homes here in London and should be fresh and ready to start their days (it is, after all 10:00 am!) and this tired and cross attitude should not be so evident. Perhaps Douglas Adams was right. The airport itself makes people tired and cross.

I am getting a bit cross myself because their plane, having landed more than an hour-and-a-half ago, Dad and Flo still have not arrived. It NEVER takes me more than an hour to get through passport control. Has there been some problem? Has someone mistaken Dad for a Drug Mule? Is Flo getting into trouble for trying to smuggle in Granola Bars?

No. There was just a problem with there being a thousand people in line ahead of them. Dad and Flo emerge from Customer and Passport control looking forward to their first day in London. It has taken nearly two hours since they touched-down, but Dad and Flor are officially in the UK. It is going to be a great trip because aside from a few tourist destinations that are definite "musts," and a party this coming weekend, there is nothing on the agenda! I am very nearly officially on vacation!

I hope that wherever you are, your week is ending as pleasantly!

Don Bergquist - 28 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Visit From My Parents

One of my favorite things in the entire world is to play host to visiting friends and family. Ever since I have moved out on my own I have made sure that damn the expense of it, my home would always have a guest room. There are, of course, the humorous admonitions that houseguests are like fish in that they start to stink after a few days. I could not disagree more! I love having guests. I love my friends and family and wish I have guests all the time!

Rita Rudner (American Stand-up Comedian) has a great line in one of her shows. The gag is that she and her husband have a small house. But it does have a guestroom. It is not a big room, but it is just big enough that when their parents come to visit for a few days they can be comfortable. So they are having the guestroom made smaller.

I feel exactly the opposite. I wish I could have a bigger house and have all my friends over as much as they want. I remember reading all those old novels (the dusty ones that everyone, myself included, hated) like The Great Gatsby, and seeing all those old films like The Philadelphia Story, that show the posh people of the bygone era “visiting” their friends. The summer houses (or country houses) always seemed to have dozens of guest suites. To have one of those would be great!

I would love to have a huge house somewhere and have rooms for all my friends to come and visit and stay as long as they wanted. Come, sponge off me like the people in the movies and books who seem to have all the disposable income in the world and no jobs to return to, at least none they ever seem to talk about. And it would take it! Having house guests all the time would be an expensive proposal. Luckily, my friends and family when they come to visit rarely ever listen to my pleas to “bring nothing.” My larder (and notably, my liquor cabinet) is usually better stocked when guests leave than when they arrive.

The occasion bringing-about this idle musing is that this morning, my parents will be leaving for the airport and heading into the United Kingdom for a visit. Since this is my last week over here on business (I have no trips scheduled after this one) and I have been writing about how much I love it over here, my parents have decided to come and visit before I leave for the states.

Dad and Flo are arriving to spend a week with me here in the UK. We’ll be taking in the sights and, as meeting my friends that I have made over here. My friends Angie and Terry are throwing a cook-out this weekend and we’ll be seeing the sights in town with Kevin. We’re going to have some fun, eat some food, drink some ale. It should be a hoot!

And as is usually the case, Dad will, with the least possible provocation tell “stories” to my friends that I will be hearing about for years. Yes, my friends in Denver still ask me to tell them the stories of the “Crunchy Pickles” that my father shared with them at a party I threw in my first home in Colorado. This and all manner of other embarrassing dirt is yours for the small price of buying my dad a drink and sitting down to chat with him. You should be cautioned, however, caveat emptor. Many of my dad’s stories are (to use Douglas Adams’ phrase) apocryphal or at least wildly inaccurate.

I am always excited to have my parents over, though and it does not happen nearly often enough. Dad and Flo have visited three times in the twelve years I have lived in Colorado. One of those time, it was not even to visit me but to go to the Mesa Verde park with my brother Denis’ family. (I was there, but also by invite.)

Well, keep reading and looking, friends! I will post pictures of my travels with my family over here in the United Kingdom as soon as I can get back to my PC and as frequently as possible. To Dad and Flo: I hope you get the chance to read this before you leave so that I can wish you safe and pleasant travels!

Wherever you are today and wherever your travels take you, I wish you clear roads, sunny skies, smooth sailing, or whatever applies to your mode of transit.

Don Bergquist - 27 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It’s Not Just Me!

A friend of mine sent me this link to an article that discusses how the London Underground frequently reaches unbearably warm temperatures in the summer.

And a problem it is! I went into London this past weekend and rode on the Circle Line. It was a little like descending into the maw of Hell! It did not help that the line was absolutely crammed to capacity (because of scheduled engineering works to other lines) and that it was running behind schedule (because of power outages caused by the heat). In fact, that merely enhanced the image of being in Hell!

Apparently, they have been having contests for years to suggest solutions to the problem. The proposed solution that this article discusses, is to used the ground water which (with rising water levels over recent years) would flood the stations should they not pump the water out. The plan is to use the water in evaporative heat exchangers before pumping it of to wherever they are sending it. The plan was that if the trial works this year, they’ll start retrofitting the tube stations with these machines to cool them in this manner. They should be done by 2009.

I have a much better solution which would be cheaper, does not involve any new machinery, and can be done a year before. Furthermore, it is fairly easy to explain being that it works on a straight-forward law of physics. The law is that gases cool as they expand. The solution is to introduce a vacuum into the tubes to make the air in them suddenly expand. This will cool the air. Now, I can have this system in place for in 2008. The vacuum sources I intend to use (Bush’s head and Cheney’s soul) are otherwise engaged until then.

I hope that wherever you are today you are managing to keep cool!

Don Bergquist - 26 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cool Mornings

This morning it was downright chilly as I rode in. An excellent example of Mother Nature playing with me. Had I not already seen a weather report I would have assumed that the heat wave was broken and that I should wear a pair of jeans into the office. But no! Today is predicted to be in the nineties again and certainly shorts weather.

Were I not to have seen a weathercast (or had my PDA) to tell me that it was going to be another day in the broiler, the ride in would have told me. Although it is a chill morning and the walking shorts I have on are a little on the light side of comfortable at the moment, the steam rising from the village in an eerie ground-hugging fog tells me that today is definitely going to be another of those hot and muggy days.

Have you ever had one of those strange experiences where you are looking at one thing in one time and place and your mind is registering another time and place superimposed over the top of it? There are time travel novels I have read that claim this experience is one of the ways to travel through time. You simply forget that you are in the place that you are actually looking at and the other time and place comes more sharply into focus and there you are; traveling through time and space by sheer will power!

The trip my mind took me on this morning was to the lowlands of southern Alabama. A few years back, I took a road trip from Memphis (where I was living at the time) to visit my friends in Tampa. I left at that particular time I like to call "Butt-Ugly-Early O'Clock" and drove through the night. It was a damp and sultry night as they all seem to be for about nine months of the year in the deep south. The morning broke just as I was passing through Dothan, Alabama. Driving through the horse pasture land, the fog was rising from the lower parts of the fields.

It was a cool and pleasant morning! The green grasslands, cloaked loosely in wisps of translucent fog; huge expanses of lawn punctuated occasionally with Live Oak, their branches spreading to impossible radii from their trunks. I pulled over that morning to drink it all in. The convertible top was down to let in the morning breezes. But I soon got moving again. This was a portent for having a hot and humid day.

The one thing that part of the world had that I do miss are what I have come to think of as "Florida Houses." In some of the more rural areas, you'll come across these wonderful old houses. The houses huddle under their ancient tin roofs; surrounded by wide verandas, they have almost as much covered space outside as they do in. One can sit on the veranda on whichever side of the house is providing shade to the porch and take in whatever breezes are blowing. They also sit up on stilts perhaps hip-high off the ground so as to provide air passage under the house. This also helps keep the house cool; and in Florida, it is cooling rather than heating one worries over the most.

In much the same way, today will be hot and sticky and this fog will burn off. We'll be more worried about staying cool than we will be about how chilly the morning was. Oh well, at least I don't have to ride the tube. I was in London this weekend and it is truly miserable when it gets warm down there.

I hope wherever you are today you have a pleasant, cool, day!

Don Bergquist - 25 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Monday, July 24, 2006

Yes, It Was a Lovely Weekend!

...and yes, it rained!

But for the brief sprinkles, the weather was wonderful! All day yesterday I kept thinking it was Friday night for some reason. What that reason may be I have no way of knowing. I guess just wishful thinking.

I find myself starting to slip over into vacation mode. My parents are coming out this week and will be spending all next week visiting me before this trip ends. Dad and Flo sound excited, but they cannot be half as excited as I am at the thought of introducing them to the area that I have come to think of as a second (third? fourth? I've lost count...) home.

The plan is that they will arrive on Friday (after the overnight flight from Minneapolis) and will spend the next nine days on vacation over here. I am meeting them at the airport and taking them to the hotel. After wrapping-up the business part of the trip on Friday, I'll spend the rest of the time over here being a tourist.

All of these plans, however, are contingent on my getting my work done and getting out of here on Friday. Well, no, I guess I am getting out of here either way... I will just enjoy my vacation more if I have actually completed the work I came over here to do. So I suppose that I should get back to the office and get to work as quickly as possible to get as much done as I can. That way I can relax next week secure in the knowledge that I did as much as I could.

I hope that wherever you are today, you have a sense of accomplishment in something you need to do!

Don Bergquist - 24 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Lovely Weekend So Far

Well, it has been a lovely weekend so far!

I had the opportunity to get our and take a ride along the river yesterday and this morning. Yesterday, I headed home as the sky began to look ominous. The clouds hung over the city and the winds, never the most constant or predictable (except that they predictably always blow into my face as I ride - regardless of the direction) became increasingly erratic. I headed home before the storm hit.

Of course, that is not to say that the storm hit here! The news today was talking about how the weather was supposed to be rainy all day. Again, that apparently did not include Thames Ditton. The back garden needs the water, I hope it rains.

yesterday afternoon, Terry and Angie invited me for a cookout. We're chatted with Carlos, from the pub, about the plan for our trip to Brazil in January. It should be fun! Just my luck, it would rain for the entire cookout. Oh well, we need the water. I'm sure we could cook in if it decides to rain!

We set-up the gazebo on their back terrace and the party went on. As evening fell, we lit a fire in the chiminea. It wasn't as if it was cold, but there is some allure to sitting outside by a fire! Thanks again, guys, I had a great time. Good thing all of us are so flexible and can change plans to suit the new situation.

I hope wherever you are today, your plans are flexible!

Don Bergquist - 23 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Author Responds to Criticism

My entry of yesterday, A Midsummer Night’s Dream elicited a response from an observant (which is not to say “picky”) reader.

Terry said...

Hang on, isn't midsummer's day in June?
Friday, 21 July, 2006

How to respond? There are so many choices!

One could respond with the contrite admission that one was using a cheap gimmick to get another column in off the heat, and the allergies:

Don Bergquist said...

Darn! You caught me, Terry! Yes, you’re absolutely correct. My bad! I’ll try and be better in the future at accuracy
Friday, 21 July, 2006

One could attempt to cover by overwhelming the reader with facts and figures until the reader forgets that the original point is lost in the torrent of information:

Don Bergquist said...

That’s an interesting point, but that would depend on one’s definition of "midsummer." According to Wikipedia: Midsummer, also referred to as Litha (an ancient Germanic name for summer) by some Wiccans and other Neopagans, refers to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice and the religious celebrations that accompany it. Also called "Midsommar" in Swedish, Midsummer-related holidays, traditions and celebrations, many of which are non-Christian in origin (apart from the designation "St John's Day"), are particularly important in Finland and Sweden, but found also in other parts of Northern Europe, Britain and elsewhere.

This of course does not take into account that the 23.4 degree angle of the Earth’s pole relative to the plane of its orbit means that the southern and northern hemispheres actually experience their seasons one half year off set from each other. So in Brazil, for example, midsummer would be in January. If one...

(and so on)
Friday, 21 July, 2006

One could get indignant and plead that it was simply a literary device:

Don Bergquist said...

You obviously have missed the point! The point is that it was supposed to be humorous. You needn’t point out it was inaccurate. The disclaimer (in the right margin) clearly states that the author is prone to take the literary license now and again! Geez!
Friday, 21 July, 2006
Sarcasm is also a route one could choose:

Don Bergquist said...

Were I to fire my fact checker, degauss the hard drives the pc on which I wrote the article, burn the desk it sat on, and break the fingers that entered it, would you be satisfied that I was sufficiently contrite for my little flight of fancy?
Friday, 21 July, 2006
One could be completely unoriginal and quote Steve Martin:

Don Bergquist said...
Friday, 21 July, 2006
One could plead shock and ignorance:

Don Bergquist said...
What!? Really? Oh My God! Thanks for telling me!
Friday, 21 July, 2006
Once could try the snide and quick dismissal of the critique:

Don Bergquist said...
Oh, picky. Picky. Picky! Geez!
Friday, 21 July, 2006
I don't think I will take any of those. (I'm above all of them.) Instead, I will just discuss what I could do if I weren't so above all those action openly and here in today's entry. Thanks for the critique and the subject for the day. Have a great weekend!

I hope that wherever you are today, your critics are kind to you.

Don Bergquist - 22 June 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Having now spent the better part of a year here in the United Kingdom, I have a far better appreciation of Shakespeare than I had a couple years ago. Let’s take a look at A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I believe that my insights may offer you a better understanding of the play.

Let’s first start with Hermia and Lysander. They were in love and decided to run away out into the woods. So far, so good. But then there are Helena and Demetrius also lovers who decide to flee into the woods. Now, the scholars who waste time studying Shakespeare from the US would tell you that they fled to the woods to escape the tyrannies of Egeus and the rest of their unnamed parents. In truth, they went into the woods to avoid the heat of the city. Out in the wild they could snog in the cool evening breezes and escape the heat that is the city in midsummer.

They generally act crazy until in the middle of the night they collapse into confused and troubled slumber. (Sounds like a summer night in London to me!)

And what of Egeus, the Duke, Theseus, and Hippolyta? What makes them try and enforce their wills on these young lovers? Why are they so contrary? I’d say it was probably the 37 Degrees Celsius, no air conditioning and not a cold beer in sight! What they really need here is a good beer garden that serves a nice cold lager. Perhaps their children would have stayed home (or at least gone to the pub) if they had had a good local.

Billy Bottom is obviously suffering from allergic reactions to all the pollens in the air. Why else would he think that his head had swollen-up to the size of that of a common ass? I know the feeling that sinus pressure gives one. When Puck says that Bottom is an ass, he probably had just been sneezed upon due to the allergies. Bottom needs an Allegra and a good nasal cleaning!

You can tell that despite Shakespeare’s note that the play is set in Athens that it is really right here in London. How? Well think about it. There are all these people who think they should get out into the park and perform. They are either in London or New York! (... and since New York had yet to develop its penchant for street performance art, I’d have to say that leaves London ...)

My theory that this is London is further bolstered by the clues that are hidden (not very well, I may add) in the scenes set in the wild. Furthermore, I can isolate the postal code to being in the KT8 area of London. (That area of Kingston that includes my favorite pub, the King’s Arms; I know... you’re wondering how I could possibly know this.)

Well, these poor lovers try and get alone on a summer evening and are accosted my hoards of people (that Shakespeare tries to disguise as fairies and tradesmen) who interfere with their plans and intrude on their solitude. Their interlude is spoiled by those unthinking idiots, Philostrate, Quince, Snug, Bottom, Snout, Flute and Starveling. Shakespeare mentions no more than these, but then it is late in the evening. I’d be willing to bet that earlier in the afternoon they would have been accosted and had their day ruined by hundreds more!

(I know you’re ahead of me... but as Monty Python so often encourages in the build-up to the punch line: “Wait for it!”)

Additional clues are to be found in the instructions that Oberon gives to Puck to go and find some exotic plants. There is also the fact that Titania is schlepping around her “companions” Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Cobweb and Moth. It should now be obvious to everyone, the crowds in the wilderness, the exotic plants, the ruined solitude! The four have had their quiet evening spoiled by the hoards at the Hampton Court Flower Show! Well, Mr. Shakespeare, that pretty much cinches it.

He out blogged me. His description of how bad the summer here in London can be has been misunderstood and enjoyed for hundreds of years. I’ll be lucky if mine is remembered tomorrow.

I hope that wherever you are, it is a pleasant (if somewhat balmy) midsummer’s day!

Don Bergquist - 21 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Running on Empty

When trying to think of something to enter into my blog today, there are so many things that come to mind. None of them stay very long, and none of them makes much of an impression. Perhaps this is in no small part due to the fact that over the past couple nights I have gotten about three hours sleep.

This heat wave is a major bummer to me! I am having trouble sleeping because the house is like a sauna. Sure, the Victorians built to last, but that means that the walls of The Villa (as we have come to call the house that my company maintains for visitors to the Thames Ditton office) collect heat all day as the sun beats down. The fifteen inches of solid clay bricks then radiate the stored heat all night long. I may not have been good enough at physics to be a rocket scientist (like my brother) but I do understand enough about thermodynamics to realize that if you have a warm air mass and you surround it by a warm layer of bricks that are radiating heat at or above the temperature of the air, there is little chance that the air will actually cool off.

And it doesn’t. The air in the bedroom is just about as warm when I get out of bed as it was when I got into bed. And since I do not sleep well when it is warm in the room, I am not sleeping well. I love nothing more for sleeping than leaving the windows open at home (in Colorado) when it is a cool fall night (temperatures down into the 30s) and climbing between the featherbed and the down duvets!

Perhaps, if I pretended that it was in the 30s here it would feel cooler! I mean, I am half way there! They announce the temperatures here in Celsius and so the temperatures here have been in the thirties for days. Unfortunately, that means that it is in the nineties on the Fahrenheit thermometer that I am used to reading. I believe that they have switched to centigrade over here so that we dumb Americans (who were to backward to go metric when they tried to do it back in the sixties) would be permanently confused.

Do you remember when they tried putting the metric system in place back in the sixties? I do. I remember that it was supposed to be the wave of the future. “The whole world will be going metric.” We were told and they made us study metric measures for weight, volume, temperature and length. Unfortunately, like so many other things that seemed like idea at the time, we dropped it when it started looking hard.

And speaking of things that they do over here presumably just to confuse visitors, every once in a while the BBC completely catches me off-guard. They (at last on BBC 4) give the time in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) rather than in local time. For those of you who have never been over here and (like me) thought they were one and the same, ah! No. They are not the same thing. GMT is a fixed time that is equal to the time it is in London during the winter. Right now we are on British Summer Time; it is one hour later here in London than it is wherever GMT is currently being used.

I guess it makes sense to not adjust GMT for daylight savings time, but could you at least give the time on the radio in the local time?!? Every once in a while, especially on mornings like this morning where I have not been sleeping so I am about as sharp as a marble, I hear that is 05:15 GMT and think to myself: “Damn! I could have slept another hour!” Of course, I couldn’t; because locally it is 06:15 and I am due at the office in 15 minutes. Oh well, I guess I should cut this screed before it becomes a full-blown rant. Besides that, it is 06:15 and I should probably be getting to the office.

Please excuse the rambling nature. I am, as I have said, running on empty. Perhaps I will sleep tonight.

I hope that wherever you are, you have had a good night’s sleep.

Don Bergquist - 20 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hot Dogs

It is okay when I am riding my bike, at least then the air is moving past me and it feels cooler than it really is. It is even sort-of okay in the office, there are a couple dozen fans for the fourteen people who share the floor with me. Even the un-air-conditioned pub is not that bad as the beer makes it seem cooler than it really is. If, however, I had to take the tube today, I'd be dying!

According to the news yesterday, the high temperature in the tube hit 49-degrees (Celsius, that is... 120.2 to those of us still on Fahrenheit) at the warmest part of the day. Pretty damn hot, if you ask me. An interesting statistic is that the maximum temperature at which the UK government will allow the transport of livestock is 37 Celsius. (Which is normal body temperature for us, 98.6.)

I have been in 120 degree heat before, I lived in Albuquerque (New Mexico) for a summer while installing a system in a television station down there once. But (and here comes the cliche) that was a dry heat and did not feel nearly as miserable as it must be in the London Tube! I feel for the transportation workers who have to spend huge swathes of their day down there!

It is bad enough being in the relatively open confines of a former factory that produced ferry boats. The floors are big, the ceilings are high and you can get a pretty good breeze with enough fans. I cannot imagine how bad it must be in the close confines of the Tube! I guess that is the problem with having the world's first subway system! There was no air conditioning back then and retrofitting the Tube would be cost prohibitive.

I can only hope that everyone keeps their cool regardless of how hot they get!

Don Bergquist - 19 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Just another day in the big city.

Last night I went out to meet a friend and go to a movie. Unfortunately, he and his significant other had had an argument and so we just met, had a quick beer and he went home to the ball-and-chain.

After he had headed off to go and see what trouble was left for him at home, I took a ride on my bike. I went down along the tow path and into Hampton Court, further down into West Molesey and wrapped around through Esher and back home. It is almost too hot to ride.

The high temperature today is slated to be in the mid-thirties. BBC says it may reach 35 today (which is a healthy 95 degrees Fahrenheit to those of use who don't use the communist system of measurement). That's not too bad, really, but once you add the humidity in, the effective temperatures will be into the triple digits. Thank heavens the office here allows us to wear shorts in! It would be better with a little Air Conditioning, but, you can't have everything!

I may forgo the lunchtime bike ride; or at least shorten it. It is just before 06:00 and already it is too warm in the house to be considered really comfortable. Oh well, at least when I am riding in it is nice and cool. So I best get moving and take my long ride this morning.

I hope wherever you are it is a pleasant day to do whatever it is you've got to do today!

Don Bergquist - 18 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Clarification

It has been observed that there seems to be a lot of drinking which appears as the subject in my blog. I guess that this is, to some extent, true. Many of the stories do seem to include tales of drinking and going to parties.

It is not as if I spend all my time here drinking. First off, I have to ride my bike just to get to the pub. Then there is all that time that I spend waiting to get the barman’s attention so that I can order my beer. And it takes a good forty-five seconds to pull a pint.

Seriously, though. There is a lot more that I do over here, but who really wants to read that I went to the grocery store, or that I found a good deal on mushrooms at the Kingston Street Market?

There is the mundane that goes on, it is just more interesting to write about the fun things I am doing.

I hope that wherever you are today, you have something fun to tell your friends and family about.

Don Bergquist - 17 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, July 16, 2006

After Party

The party after the Regatta was a blast!

Kevin, always a wonderful host, opened his house to a us as he literally is a scone’s throw from the event grounds where the regatta was held. On our way over, I popped over to the Tesco and picked-up a few bottles of wine, some crisps, and some plastic glasses. We then had nibbles and drinks for a while and listened to music.

Kev also has a wonderful collection (as I have mentioned before) of military headgear from various eras and various countries. Many parties are a chance to get out the hats and helmets and try them on. What a hoot!

The party was rocking upstairs with the wine flowing (and in some cases spilling) and the more coordinated (or should that word be read “drunk”) of us dancing to the music. It was a very fun evening. About nine we called cabs and headed over to the pub.

I understand that there is a prize given for the worst behaved (most drunk) person at the regatta each year. I was afraid at the outset that being the foreigner, I would be pegged to get it, but I understand that I didn’t win “Worst in Show.” I hadn’t even gotten a dishonorable mention.

Oh well, there is always next year!

The evening ran pretty late and was topped off by Champaign where the day had started all those hours ago.

I hope that wherever you are, you have had a weekend that is worth writing home about.

Don Bergquist - 16 July 2006 - West Molesey, Surrey, UK

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Molesey Regatta

It all sounded as if it would be such a posh affair. The Molesey Regatta! The more I heard, however, the more I realized that this would not be the posh event it originally sounded. It was lovely, mind you, it was just not the restrained and proper event I had pictured.

The invite called for “collars and longs.” This, it was explained to me, meant that there were to be no shorts and no tee-shirts. I even had to forgo my beloved aloha shirts for the day. It was okay, one day to wear a proper button down. No prob.

This morning I donned a pair of topsiders, khakis, a tan shirt, by blue and taupe paisley tie and a brown suede blazer. I clean-up pretty good! Terry came to collect me, we picked-up Kevin and some wine, and we were off to Molesey for the pre-party party.

Phil and Lucy, a nice couple I met through Terry and Angie, opened their house and organized the get-together. What a lovely morning! The sky is a perfect, flawless azure, the temperature is just on the warm side of pleasant. There is a light breeze that makes the entire effect that of a warm spring morning rather than the height of summer. It is deceptive, though. Walking from Terry and Angie’s to Phil and Lucy’s I do wish I hadn’t put on the blazer. Oh well.

There are about thirty-five people; a wonderfully eclectic gathering that congregates at the house and the Champaign starts to flow. I overhear Phil telling a mate of his from the office to pace himself. It is going to be a long day!

About 13:00 the cars start arriving to carry us to the event. The Molesey Amateur Regatta is an annual event and I am told that it used to be the largest regatta in the area. Apparently, in recent years a local festival in the area has been scheduling itself against the regatta. We have two tables reserved at the lunch tent and a marvelous lunch is set-out. There is Roast Beef (or salmon) and a choice of starters. A selection of salads and a choice of deserts that includes a cheese plate, a chocolate mousse cake and a summer berry pudding rounds out the menu.

Of course, the dinner was accompanied by pitchers of Pimms and a choice of wine.

The company cannot be beat, the food is excellent and the weather is lovely. What more could anyone want? Oh, yes! There is also a boating race, or something, going on in the Thames!

It is certainly a lovely day!

Afterward, we celebrated an after party at Kevin’s place since it was a scone’s throw from the event grounds. But that is another story.

I hope that wherever you are today you have had a wonderful day, the weather has been fair and the company outstanding. I know it has been for me!

Don Bergquist - 15 July 2006 - West Molesey, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my friend Michael

Please check-out Michael's Blog for some truly awesome pictures!

Friday, July 14, 2006

On the Verge of the Weekend

I’ve a busy morning on tap today. I am getting ready to go to Molesey Regatta tomorrow, have a couple things that I have to get done this morning, and then want to get out of here for a bike ride at lunchtime today. So I will have to get while the getting is good and move.

Molesey Regatta tomorrow. I hope that wherever you are today, you’ll have a great day!

Don Bergquist - 14 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Self Defense

I suggest taking a dialect course if you plan on traveling abroad. Especially on one in a language that is not likely understood in the country you will be visiting. You'd be surprised at how effective it can be!

Take last evening for an example. I took the train into London to walk around and take some pictures. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted. This is more-or-less what I was hoping to get. It would have been nice if we had had a bit of cloud cover so that the sky was a bit more interesting. But there are other evenings coming up.

So there I am, the sun is sinking in the west and my time s involved in getting the right lens, framing and exposure. When this guy comes up and starts talking to me. In spite (or perhaps because) of the fact that I have my camera gear out in the pack and have obvious things that I am doing he tries to strike up a conversation.

“Got a fag, mate?” he asks in one of those dialects that I recognize as being one I cannot quite properly imitate. At first, I was pretty sure hemust be talking to someone else. I am busy here! I’ve got my attention completely focused on my camera (pun intended). When I show no intention of responding, he repeats himself. Now I am pretty sure he is talking to me, and I am not at all sure that the last time he had said it was the first time.

Was I so involved in my set-up that I was oblivious to my surroundings? I have to pay more attention. I lean over the camera again, make an adjustment and as I am snapping a shot. He touches my arm. “Excuse me, mate, can you spare me a fag?” he says. I turn and without really meaning to at first, I give a guttural grunt that could be “yes,” could be “no,” or could be almost any other one-syllable word. Heck, it might have been what it was, a startled gasp that someone would invade my personal space and touch my person uninvited.

I have to admit, he was the one who gave me the idea to do what I did next. He leaned in, spoke a bit louder. The manner and the annunciation reminded me of the old Dave Barry line about there being actual places on the planet where people will not understand what you say to them in plain English unless you speak very loudly.

“¿Como se dice?” I said, mimicking a Cuban accent as best I could remember how they go.

“A fag? You know…” he said, pantomiming the act of smoking a cigarette.

“No entiendo como se dice.” I said with a look of confusion to punctuate the idea that I didn’t understand him. I turned back to my cameras, thankful that my documentation was all stashed away in a zippered pocket and there was nothing English showing in my bag.
“Oy! Mate!” he said now poking me in the shoulder. “What’s the matter? Don’t you speak English? All I want is a fag.”

I turned and looked at him and with the best pigeon I could muster said “No Eenglees.”

“Bloody foreigners!” he yelled at this point. “If yer carn’t speak English stay in your own bloody country, mate!”

“No entiendo como se dice.” I repeated shaking my head and shrugging. “No Eenglees.”

He pantomimed pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, taking one out and smoking it. “Fag.” He said.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the lens cap. “¿fig?” I said hopefully.

“Look mate, can you give me a fag?” he said, the exasperation growing. I have to admit at this point, his sheer resolve was amazing. It was almost as if he were stuck in a situation from which he could not figure-out a way to extract himself. I had become his personal Iraq. “F-A-G.” he said again, again pantomiming the smoking.

I was truly having fun now. I moved the lens cap toward my mouth. “¡Fog!” It was all I could do to keep from spluttering with mirth. My face the absolute mask of confusion; I kept looking at him as if at any moment he might reveal the secrets of the universe to me.

After a few minutes of this, his will broken, he slunk away, beaten. I felt like saying “If you mean cigarette, just say ‘cigarette’” to his retreating back. But I decided to play the game to the end. Plus, with the agitation he was showing I was not at all sure that revealing my deception at this point wouldn’t result in violence. “Hasta llego.” I called to his retreating back. “¡BuenosTarde!”

The interruption over, I returned to my photography. It was an interruption, but at least it was entertaining!

I hope that wherever you are, you find something entertaining; whether by design or by chance.

Don Bergquist - 12 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Editor's Note:

After I had posted this entry to my blog, a co-worker and I were discussing the activities of last evening. When I suggested that I had a perfect way of defending oneself from unwanted intrusion upon one's time, and then had to admit it was to pretend not to speak English, my coworker said "But you don't do you."

The cheek of some people!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Morning Ride

Ah! Being in the northern climes is certainly an experience. Much like being in the mountains, the northern latitudes are prone to some extreme temperature swings. Today there will be more than a twenty degree swing between the high and the low.

My morning ride is a bit chilly, but if I overdress for the morning ride, then the afternoon ride is uncomfortably warm. So this morning, I bit the bullet and decided that it was better to be a bit chilly on the morning ride rather than a bit warm the rest of the day.

Again I was glad of the fact that there is a very relaxed dress code in the office that I am working in over here. The shorts I brought are getting some use as they have no problem with shorts as office wear. I was a bit reticent at first and as recently as a week and a half ago I was saying that “I would never wear shorts to the office.”

Funny thing about things you would never do, one finds oneself doing things one would never do more often than one would think. All it took was a heat index in the triple digits as we had a last week before the heat wave broke, to change what one would never do into what one would gladly do.

So, with the highs and the humidity predicted to be in the eighties today, (which makes the heat index in the nineties, I am dressed comfortably. The rabbits along the tow path were treated to the sight of my white legs as I rode in. At least the flower show is gone so that I have the path more-or-less to myself these days!

I hope that wherever you are today you are dressed comfortably and ready to face the challenges the day has in store for you.

Don Bergquist - 12 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

House Names

There is an old game that has been circulating as an email that told you of a way to generate a porn star name for yourself. (Although, some versions say it is the name you should use should you ever become a stripper.) The process is quite simple, you take the name of your pet when you were a child and append the name of your elementary school. (Again, there are versions of this that suggest using the street name that you grew-up on instead.)

Given this formula, I would be either Schatzie Village Green Elementary or Schatzie Southwest 122nd Avenue. Pretty damn sexy, eh! Nothing quite says exotic mystery like "Village Green Elementary!"

I am reminded of this game because I've absolutely been smitten by the way addresses work over here. Unlike the states where huge swaths of the city are all lumped into a huge zip code, over here, the postal code may include one or two buildings. The pub next-door to the office, for example, has a different postal code than the office and that has a different postal code than the pub two the other side of the road. So, when you get into a car service over here, most of them have GPS navigation and if they are unfamiliar with your destination, they ask the postal code. When they arrive at the postal code, you'll be able to see your destination.

Another cool thing is that most (if not all) of the residences here have house names. When you fill in a form here, you're asked for a house number and name. It’s not like back in the states where there is a street number and name, and perhaps an apartment, office, suite or unit number. So here you may live in the Ditton House, or the River Chase Villa, the Walton Cottage, or the Thames Manor.

My favorite house names from my neighbor hood would include “Little House;” which I presume to be a family name as it is no smaller than any of its neighbors. Then there is “Two Trees.” This one attracts me for its sheer anachronistic nature. It is obvious that the house was named for the two trees that had been planted in its front garden. Unfortunately, one of the trees has apparently died in the meantime and all that is left of it is a stump. I guess that to be truthful they should change the name of the house to tree-stump house but who am I to dictate?

At the end of the public footpath to the train station, at the corner of St. Leonard’s Road and Ferry Road (an interesting name as it is not near the river, nor does it lead to the river so far as I can tell) is a lovely Victorian which surprisingly has no name. The more modern (Edwardian) home across the street is called The Dormers for reasons apparent. (It has dormers that rise periodically from its roofline.)

The houses all bear their names on plaques either on the gate posts at the end of their drives or around the entry to the house. It is such an interesting touch, I love it!
I believe that if I ever get the chance to name a home I would have to pick something that speaks to my chaotic nature. It would be great if I could win the lottery and buy the house over in Teddington that I have seen that I love. (It’s near the Train station and not too far from the pub!) Perhaps “Imbroglio” would be apropos.

I’d have to adjust the game to use my house name and the road it’s on… Imbroglio Park would be a great name for me when I start that career as a porn star. Well, it is something to think about! Schatzie Southwest 122nd Avenue is certainly not going to draw much of a crowd to my films, now would it?

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

Don Bergquist - 11 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday, Monday

Ba-da ba-da-da-da
Ba-da ba-da-da-da
Ba-da ba-da-da-da
Monday, monday (ba-da ba-da-da-da)
So good to me (ba-da ba-da-da-da)
Monday mornin, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh monday mornin, monday mornin couldn't guarantee (ba-da ba-da-da-da)
That monday evenin you would still be here with me

With apologies to The Mamas and The Papas, I have to disagree.

Monday, Monday is a great Because you're not here with me. Well, that is if by "you" I mean all you lot who have been robbing me of my favorite rides with your slack-jawed sauntering all over the bike path on your way to the flower show.

I am so glad that the show is over! This morning I had a lovely ride to the office knowing that I could indulge on one at lunchtime and after work and the only goobers I would have to deal with would be the ones too stupid to even realize that the flower show is over. I asked the other night at the pub if my loathing disdain for the flower show makes me officially a local, it was agreed that it does.

Let me get one thing clear, I am certain that the flower show is not as horrible as I have built it up in my mind. But as long as it is being held in a place without the infrastructure to support the crowds it attracts, they will get nothing but my contempt.

They bill themselves as being the largest flower show in the world (I can accept that as fact. It certainly seems big.) but then it is held in a location that has only a spur line train running to it. (Hampton Court is not on a main rail line.) Additionally, there are on no major roads. The choices to driving to Hampton Court are limited to the A308 and the A308 both of which extend away from the venue in two-lane stretches of road; narrow, country roads.

Finally, the palace, brings all these people over their walls to the show and dumps them back out again, onto a major cycle path with no concern or provision for what happens to them once they have touched the ground outside the palace walls.

All in all, it makes for a horrible experience for the locals. But I guess it is one you must live with to truly appreciate. Which makes it all the more pleasant now that it is over. Oh boy! Only 355 Days until the 2007 Hampton Court Flower Show!

I hope your day has something in it that you can celebrate!

Don Bergquist - 10 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Ba-da ba-da-da-da
Ba-da ba-da-da-da
Ba-da ba-da-da-da

Happy Birthday to my Cousin Becca

Happy Birthday to my Cousin Dirk

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Beautiful Morning

Yeah. Right!

It is a nice day to stay indoors today! The morning is starting cold, windy and miserable. I would not mind any two of them, but the three made my morning ride pretty bleak. I only did the seven mile route that I do around the river and back via the Esher round-about.

To tell the truth, I am a bit tired today. Some friends invited me out to a dance club last night and I didn't make it home until almost four this morning. So getting up and on the bike around seven this morning is likely to be seen by my readers as crazy. That is okay, my ride for the morning out of the way, I am planning a lovely day of lazing around in front of the TV. UKTV is running the Michael Palin series "Full Circle" today. And should I happen to take a nap, who's going to complain?

Later, hopefully, the drizzle will end, the skies will clear-up and I can go into Surbiton to do some grocery shopping.

I hope wherever you are, you have a pleasant day planned.

Don Bergquist - 09 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Idea!

* * * BEGIN RANT ALERT! * * *
In today's entry I launch into another of my wholly justifiable rants against stupidity. Please do not read on if you do not want to be enlightened as to how stupid and rude some people can be.
You have been warned!
* * * END RANT ALERT! * * *

It was a lovely morning. The kind of morning that makes one want nothing more than an open path, a bottle of water and the time to ride wherever the mood strikes them. At least it was until she stepped in front of me and... Wait. I am getting ahead of myself.

Sure, it is a bit windy this morning, but the temperatures are pleasant and it is a lovely day to ride. I got on my bike and headed west into Kingston. Then, carefully avoiding the crowds who infest my area of London at this time of year to descend upon the Hampton Court Flower Show (like a plague of locusts), I headed around the north end of Bushy Park and rode off toward Richmond. I circled back through Hampton and entered Bushy park via the Hampton Gate and rode along Lime Avenue until I was able to get around the Woodland Garden and ride the path that more-or-less circles the inside of the park.

I was ambling along this path enjoying the shade and the relative quite when I came upon her. She and her husband and a second couple were walking two-by-two and, although they largely obscured the path, they did leave me enough room to pass on the right. So, as is my practice, I called "Caution, Passing to your right." It was at this time that she revealed herself to be an absolute harpy rather than a mild-mannered Brit.

She swung about to glare at me, standing arms akimbo all but blocking what remained of the path. "Huh!" she puffed all but actually belching brimstone as she spat the syllable out at me "Here we practice that pedestrians have the right of way on the paths. How's that for an idea?" she snorted.

I had to reduce my speed (from the legal ten miles per hour to something closer to walking speed to negotiate the way into the narrow gab she was leaving). What does one say to such obdurate bluster. It was not as if I had, for example, screamed "Out of the way you cow!" or something. I had simply advertised my presence.

"Huh!" I retorted, "Were I am from, a cyclist announces his presence so as to not startle the pedestrians on the path. Next time, I'll zip by unannounced and see if I can't cause a massive coronary! How's that for a more entertaining idea!"

By then I was shouting it over my shoulder. But that ten-second exchange spoiled the ride. I decided that with the ride already sullied, even dealing with the flower show crowd could not irritate me further. I popped into the King's Arms for a pop and then headed home.

Why is it some people just do not seem happy unless they are making other people miserable?

I hope that wherever you are, you'll try and make someone's day more pleasant today!

Don Bergquist - 08 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, July 07, 2006

We're Not Afraid

If the point of the attacks last year was to make London, The United Kingdom, or the world cower in fear, I'm happy to say that they failed miserably! London is a lovely place full of wonderful people which has survived the bombings beautifully.

Today, marking the first anniversary of this stupid act of terrorism, London will be observing a minute of silence at 08:47 (British Summer Time) to commemorate the forty-six people who died in the three bombings on the tube. An hour later, the city will observe another minute of silence to remember the six additional people killed when a bomb went off on a bus on Edgeware road. All-in-all, fifty-two innocent people were brutally murdered one year ago today. Even the tennis at Wimbledon will come to a stop today to honor the dead.

Ironically, only the tubes will not come to a stop. The official reason given is the fear of overloading the circuitry by bringing all the trains to a halt simultaneously. I believe that everyone on the tube at the time will say their own private remembrance.

I remember where I was this time last year. I was actually preparing to come back over here. I didn't hear of the attacks until I had gotten up for the morning. It was 03:30 AM Denver Time (about an hour after the last bomb went off here in London) that I heard the news on ABC. I immediately was on the phone to my office over here to make sure that all my colleagues had made it into the office safely. My sister called me an hour later to see if I was in London or Denver.

Although my daily life takes me nowhere near the area where the bombings took place, I do occasionally make it into central London and have been past the places where these acts took place. Even now, a year on, it brings a lump to my throat to think about it. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of the bombings.

One of my favorite commemorations of the bombing victims is the website WereNotAfraid ( where people have posted messages to the perpetrators of the senseless violence. I believe it is important to send the message to the cowards who get other people to violently attack innocent people for their own twisted aims that their sick plans to terrorize people into thinking their way just will not work.

We are not afraid of them and we will not be cowed into doing what they want. Today, I stand with the people of London (emotionally as well as physically) in defying the terrorists. We're not afraid of you, you wankers!

I hope wherever you are today you will take a moment to think about the victims of 07th July 2005 and the senselessness of the act that ended their lives so tragically.

Don Bergquist - 07 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my Uncle Speed

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Can't Win for Losing

I have just recently become aware of the national bike route system here in the UK.

Okay, I had heard of it, but was not aware that it was as extensive as it is. It's pretty cool, certain trails and footpaths all over the country are designated as bicycle paths and the use of them by cyclists is encouraged. This combined with designated bicycle lanes gives the cyclist a safe and convenient place to ride without fear of injury due to collision with motorists.

The only problem is that the general public over here seems to be unaware of the presence of the cycle routes. Granted, my friends Terry and Angie pointed out the markings to me. They are a bit obscure and hard to discern; being that they are only a highly reflective circular sign posted along the path depicting a bicycle, a painting of a bicycle along the route, or other similar arcane markings. From the picture of the bicycle on the path and the sign reading "Bike Route 4" accompanied by directional signs telling the rider where to turn, I have no idea how anyone can be expected to suss-out that they are on a bike path.

I bring this up because the Hampton Court Flower Show is on this week. Bicycle Route four runs along the southern (and eastern and western) edges of the Hampton Court estate. Terry and Angie have complained to me in the past about how intolerably dim some of the people who go to the flower show can be, but until I experienced it for myself, I really hadn't appreciated it.

The first problem is that to facilitate entry and egress from the festival, they build a ramp over the wall of the gardens that dumps people onto the bicycle route. Once on the route, they mill about aimlessly waiting for the boat that takes them to where they parked their cars. Or perhaps they are waiting for their friends that they were supposed to meet. Or for hell to freeze over. Who knows!

The point is that they are milling about aimlessly on an active cycle path. Calling out "Please clear the cycle path" as you approach the milling hoards seems to have no effect. Those who do not ignore you outright, stare at you blankly as if they were trying to work out why you are speaking a foreign language at them.

Yesterday, as I rode, this one lady stood and stared at me as I approached. She and her group were spread across the entire path edge-to-edge. "I need to get by on the cycle path." I called. It wasn't so much the deer in the headlights look they gave me as it was a look of brain-dead disinterest. She could see me, she just didn't seem to comprehend that I could actually have places to be and that she was obstructing the bike route.

Finally the group started to move. Unfortunately, the group decided to move up the path towards me. I brought my bike to a halt blocking their way. I slewed my bike sideways to obstruct as much of the path as I could. "You're obstructing the bicycle path." I said. The group parted with a look of indignation as if being asked to actually take three steps south onto the footpath was too much to ask, and as if I were merely some amorphous obstruction in their way, they flowed around me and meandered off to the east, continuing to take-up as much of the path as was humanly possible.

In America, this sort of behavior would be rewarded by a collision. The cyclist would simply mow down the prig who refuses to get onto the footpath and off the cycle path. What are they thinking? Would they so blithely walk down the center of the interstate at rush hour? Yes, I think maybe they would.

The good news is that the flower show ends Sunday. For once, I am looking for the weekend to end!

I hope that wherever you are today, it is pleasant and bereft of things to irritate you!

Don Bergquist - 06th July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my Cousin Ron

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


True to form, I had way too much food and way too much beer available for my guests. And since people brought stuff to the party, I'm going to be eating party food for a week. While it may not be a bad thing to make sure that your guests have plenty to eat and drink, I am sure I will be seeing the aftermath of the party at Weight Watchers this Friday.

My friend Kevin, a veteran of Her Majesty's Armed Services in the Falkland Islands war, refused to show-up to celebrate a crushing and embarrassing defeat of the military might of the United Kingdom. I pointed out that it wasn't just the forces of the UK we beat back, but all the mercenaries she could hire, the unwilling she could impress, and the combined professional forces in her arsenal.

It was a great time! It lasted well into the night; the last guests leaving as 01:00 was approaching. There were comments made that I had picked a really hot day for it. (I didn't pick the date, I do not remember being consulted!) But, to be honest, yes! It was a hot one. Luckily, it is supposed to be the hottest day of the week. This hot weather system is supposed to be loosening its grip.

This morning it poured down rain for about an hour at my place and then it got all foggy and muggy. It was still foggy when I headed into the office. I guess you have to take the weather you're given here!

I hope wherever you are, your Independence Day was an excellent one; regardless of whether you celebrated it or not.

Don Bergquist - 05th July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to all my compatriots! Being that I am in the United Kingdom for the holiday (…and for some strange reason they do not celebrate the Fourth of July here. Curious!) I am, at work today. There is an old riddle which asks if they have the 4th of July in the United Kindgom. The answer is, of course they do! They just don't celebrate it as a holiday.

We do in The States, however, and I'll be damned if I let it pass unmarked. This evening after work, I have invited a few of my friends that I have made while visiting the United Kingdom to my place for a barbecue. It is a bit of a celebration, but not really an Independence Day Celebration. For one thing, the whole concept of Independence is one that I have been thinking about of late.

While I believe that it is possible to be truly independent, it is definitely not a life that I would willing choose. We all depend on our friends and families. They make us who we are and contribute so greatly to our lives. As the seventeenth century priest and metaphysical poet, John Donne said: “No Man Is An Island.”

I cannot imagine being completely independent and would never want to be. I am a social animal and my family and friends are incredibly important to me. I know what I get from my relationships with those I have chosen to share myself, my time, and my life with. I only hope that whatever they get from me in return it is even half as rewarding to them as it is to me.

So, on this Independence Day, I can only wish that wherever you are, you have people in your life that you can depend upon!

Don Bergquist - 04 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK
(Have a happy and safe Independence Day!)

Meditation XVII
By John Donne

...No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee...

Happy Birthday to my friend Chris!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Busy Weekend

What a wonderful, albeit busy, weekend! Go, Go, Go! All weekend, I was either preparing for my Fourth of July celebration or celebrating what a great weekend. Granted, it was a bit hot, so I didn't run out and get as much riding in as I would have liked, but with the nighttime ride after going to the pub on Saturday, I did get a bit of riding in.

I really do need to break out the cameras and take some pictures. I cannot believe I have been here almost a week now and have taken no pictures yet!

This is going to be a busy week. Although it is a holiday at home tomorrow, they do not celebrate it here (go figure!) so I will be working. But I have invited some friends to join me for a celebration of the day after work. I have a big bar-be-cue planned. Perhaps that would be a good time to take some pictures! Oh well, I had best get into the office and post this so I can get my week stated.

I hope that wherever you are, you have had a great weekend and that your week is shaping up to be excellent!

Don Bergquist - 03 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, July 02, 2006

New Moon

What a great night! Yes, I have been going since early yesterday morning, but I am full of energy.

After going shopping for party food yesterday, I did some laundry and some cleaning and some prep work for the party. Around five, I got on my bike and headed over to the pub. I do not know what it is, it may be the long hours of light here, it may be the company, but I am much more of a night owl here than I usually am at home.

After England was defeated in their game in the World Cup today, my friends, Terry and Angie and I went over to La Fiama for dinner. The dinner was excellent, we had risotto while watching the sunset over Bushy Park (the restaurant has windows that open onto the park). The fact that it is setting after 21:00 is one of my theories on why I am still going so late into the night (or rather, early into the morning).I

Whatever the reason, a friend of mine, one of the barmaids at the pub brought in her cello and played for us after the pub had closed. After the impromptu concert, we all headed home. I wended my way back to Thames Ditton but the night, being so warm and still, I decided to go for a ride. I passed the house and then just kept going. The roads are empty at 01:30. I rode into Kingston and then back along the Tow Path. Into Esher and back to the house again.

It is now well after two and I am just getting home. It is lovely and dark out. I could even see stars when I was away from the light pollution. What a peaceful evening. I suppose that I should head off to bed. I do have things I have to do tomorrow - er, today - and should get some sleep before it is time to do it.

I hope that wherever this morning finds you, you are enjoying yourself!

Don Bergquist - 02 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Okay, I suppose that technically I am not exactly an expatriate, because I fully intend to return to my country of origin, but I do love being over here and will be here for Independence Day! So today I am very busy.

I'm having an Independence Day party for my friends over here on Tuesday so today, a friend from the office is taking me down to the big super market (Tesco) in New Malden so that I can do the food shopping for the party. It should be fun. I was up early and took a bike ride before taking a shower this morning and now I have a few hours before she shows up so I guess I will go back to bed and read for a while.

I cannot wait to share with my friends the traditional 4th of July cookout!

I hope that wherever you are, you are having a productive weekend. I'm headed back to bed with a book!

Don Bergquist - 01 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK