Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Observations on Johannesburg

Now that I am a bit more awake, I want to give you an update on the trip thus far.

Gauteng (the state that Johannesburg) is in is only two time zones east of London. So getting used to the time is no big deal! But the city is worlds away.

Actually, it reminds me a lot of Southern California. The landscape is a rolling, hilly one. The buildings are all of the new, low-slung variety that are so common to strip malls and office parks so common in West Hollywood. Also like that area of the world, practically everything is gated. Unlike Hollywood every gate or wall here is topped with spikes, barbed wire, concertina wire, electric fences or a combination thereof.

I asked if the crime in the area was really that bad, and was told that was the reason they had the fences was so that it didn't get that bad. That's twisted logic, if you ask me, but hey! What're ya gonna do?

I've been warned not to venture out of the hotel compound too far at night, so basically, I've been to the mall across the parking lot and the restaurants therein bit nothing further. I have a colleague coming over from the states today so there will be two of us here to work with the client station. Perhaps this weekend we'll find some time to explore!

I hope that wherever you are today, you're having a safe day!

Don Bergquist - 28 February 2007 - Randberg, South Africa

Happy Birthday to my aunt, Judy

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Greetings from South Africa! Good god am I knackered!

I have never been one who sleeps well on planes. This plane ride was no exception.

Yes, Saga was right! I had a very busy day yesterday. Sunday evening I got a call from the states. My boss wanted to know if I could get to South Africa that day. The answer was, of course no… but I could try my best to be there on Monday.

I said that I had arrangements to make to assure Saga was cared for but that once that was done, I could fly out on Monday and arrive on Tuesday morning. So Monday morning I made travel arrangements, did the training I needed and got myself packed. At sunset last night I was sitting in a Virgin Atlantic flight bound for Johannesburg.

This morning, after an interminably long flight, I looked out the window to see the sun rise over Africa. The flight was soon to be over. We landed at the airport and I cleared customs soon enough.

Landing at the airport at rush hour was a bad idea… I wonder whose it was! It took well over an hour to get to the hotel in Randberg. I had a long day with the client and then came home and had dinner at an ethnic African restaurant.

It has been a long day and at the time of this writing, I have been up for over 36 hours. It is time to sleep.

I hope that wherever you are today, you've done something surprising!

Don Bergquist - 27 February 2007 - Randberg, South Africa

Out Of The Office...

Greetings all!
Sorry to say that I have been called out of the country on business. The hotel I am staying in has spotty Internet access at best. I am writing and taking pictures and will return to London on the 10th to upload the tales and pictures from my trip to South Africa.

Please be patient and check back after the tenth!

I hope that wherever you are, you're having a great day!

Don Bergquist - 07 March 2007 - Randberg, Gauteng, South Africa

Monday, February 26, 2007

What's Up?

I know something is up! Daddy got up early this morning, opened the back door for me and gave me a quick pet and then ran to glowing box on his desk in the lounge! What's up with that? It obviously has nothing to do with feeding me! Why is Daddy working at 05:00? Could this have something to do with that phone call he got last night?

He must be busy today! He ran out of the house this morning after only telling me I was a good girl a few times. He gave me a big handful of my favorite frozen vegetables on my kibble and then headed off somewhere on his bicycle.

I saw him from the window I was sitting at upstairs go by twice in a car. (He never takes me anywhere and he gets to go riding in cars! Hmm!) He never rides by the house in cars. Not at the middle of the day!

He then came running in and threw a bunch of stuff in a suitcase and went away in another car. I wonder what is happening!

I hope that wherever you are today, you have something to feed me. Daddy never feeds me anything!

Saga Bergquist - 26 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Birthday Party Weekend!

I have a number of friends here in town who all celebrate birthdays in late February/early March. Angie, the social director of our group, decided that we should all celebrate en masse with dinner at le Petit Nantaise, a wonderful little bistro on The Bridge road in East Molesey just near the palace.

I have been here for dinner a few times in the time I have spent here and I highly recommend it! It is a fabulous place. The atmosphere is comfortable; the staff attentive to your needs; the food is exquisite! I have never been disappointed here.

We met-up yesterday at The Albion, one of the local pubs on the bridge road. We were supposed to meet at seven, but due to some kind of a sporting thing, rugby, football (soccer) or something like that was on the tele so some of the celebrants were a bit late showing up. It was okay, they had told me that they may be late. I knew the would when I came into the pub.

None among the throngs of people screaming at the televisions in the pub were my friends. So I took a beer and a position at a table in the walk out in front of the pub. It was fun watching East Molesey (and the obvious tourists) go walking through the village as the evening stretched.

There was one little girl who wanted nothing to do with the noise and palaver inside the pub. She wanted to run around and play outside. Her mom kept coming out and calling to her "Lola, come back here! Quit Running Around!" Lola finally found a friend of her mom's who would play with her and wore her out by having her run up the street and then back to him. On arrival, he'd pick her up and toss her above his head; catching her and setting her down again gentle as you please. I'm not sure who was most tired when that was done.

There was one family of tourists who kept walking by the pub as I sat there. I knew they were tourists by the book they kept referencing as they walked along. It was printed in some foreign language; Russian, I thin - the letters looked Cyrillic. I have, really, no reason to believe they were lost. The book may have been a guide to the architecturally interesting highlights of East Molesey; for all I know they may have been discussing the downspouts.

My friends showed-up around seven thirty and then we had a beer before heading over to the restaurant. Where once again, we had a sparkling conversation, and a wonderful meal! The wine flowed; the owner and chef JP came over to chat with us a couple times and even bought us a round of coffees and aperitifs after we had our desserts. The accordion player came by and played a number of songs that we all sang along with. (Well, almost all of us sang along. Once again, I feel the lack of common background with my friends here in the UK. There were a number of songs that they all knew - old English standards - that I had never even heard of before!)

After dinner, we headed back to The Albion for a night cap and were still there when the second bell rang. It was well after midnight this morning when I returned to the Villa. After a nice lie-in this morning (I stayed abed until nearly eight) I went out for a nice bike ride in-between two rain showers. I took pictures of these daffodils in the margin or a roadway in nearby Kingston-upon-Thames on my way back. I had a leisurely morning, brushed Saga (God! Can she shed or what?) and then got ready to meet-up with my mates back at The Albion for the continuation of our celebrations. I'm off to the pub now. More tomorrow.

I hope that wherever you are today, you have something to celebrate and a wonderful to do so!

Don Bergquist - 25 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, February 24, 2007


The Daffodils are Blooming again! These are in the margin of the road into Kingston-upon-Thames. I saw them as I was on my bike ride today. This is the reason that I almost always have a camera with me!

I wish I could say I always have a camera with me; there are some classic shots I have missed because I had no camera. There was that time that I saw some barristers from the crown court came in (in full regalia... that was the only way I knew they were barristers) to a local fast-food restaurant. I could see the caption: "At the bar?" below a picture of a guy in robes and stupid-looking wig standing at the counter of Subway.

Ah, well! Those are the breaks.

I hope that werever you are today, the day is a lovely one!

Don Bergquist - 24 February 2007 - Long Ditton, Surrey, UK

Travelogue Amsterdam: Part VII - The Journey Home

As it turned out, the night was very young! I had a nice dinner at a Cantonese restaurant in the Red Light District. The owners of the hotel had recommended it to me and when I told the staff that I was staying at that hotel, they got all happy, invited me in and gave me a great table. The service was excellent the food was great. I had a wonderful time chatting with the staff until the restaurant got busy and then finished my dinner watching the world course by down the Warmoesstraat.

I had a couple beers and then, having an early flight and needing to catch the 06:00 train to Schiphol, I headed off to bed early. I was dead tired. It had been a big day and the beer was helping. So why is it that I could not sleep a wink yet all night! I was in bed by nine and I think I must have checked the clock every fifteen minutes all night long.

Needless to say, I was able to get up, get dressed and get to the train station well before the time I had to be there for the train. I was therefore able to get the earlier train and was at the airport before I had planned to be.

My flight, more than two hours away was preceded by one about an hour away. I got to the check-in desk and had the choice of three lines. One had only one person in it, another had only a couple in it, the third had a dozen people in line. I stood behind the one guy. In much the same way that the trip had begun with a problem at check-in, it appeared that the trip was going to end the same way.

The guy was arguing about how he had to get onto his flight and how he was supposed to be in Hong Kong at 08:00 tomorrow morning. It turned out that his flight had, in fact left on time an hour ago and that there were no other flight that day that would get him where he wanted to be in time.

Quietly, I sidled over to the line where the couple were standing. Whatever this discussion was about, thankfully, I was spared the details. The entire transaction was being handled in Dutch. It took much longer than I would have expected but since it was all in Dutch, they could have been discussing the weather for all I know. I considered sidling over to the line with the dozen people in it.

The wait was uneventful, I had coffee and a roll and read from my book while waiting for the security checkpoint to open. It did and I got into queue for the security screening. Although I had divested of all metal I knew of, I still set-off the magnetometer. The gentleman who was working security gave me a very thorough frisking. Ah well, welcome to Amsterdam!

The flight home was a nice one, I got on the bus and was back home by noon. I've been working on transcribing these stories for the last three hours now. It is time to upload them and go get Saga from the pub.

I hope that wherever you are this evening, you have wonderful things ahead of you!

Don Bergquist - 18 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, February 23, 2007

Travelogue Amsterdam: Part VI - Sunday Evening

With my time dwindling, I have very few things left on my list that I wanted to do while here. The floating flower market was not something I had time to do. Nor was getting out to the country and looking for windmills. I guess that is something that will need to wait until another time, another visit.

I saw and did almost all the things I wanted to. I've had two full days and one full night. Tonight I am going to have Chinese and sit and watch people as they walk through the Red Light District. People have are so interesting to watch!

At least I was able to have a nice leisurely, if somewhat late, lunch this afternoon. It was fun. It was in a small café here in the Red Light District and as I lingered over my beer once my sandwich was gone, I watched the people go by. (I absolutely love watching people. Especially if they do not know that you are watching them!)

You can tell the puritanical American without too much trouble here in the Red Light District. They are the ones shooting the distasteful glances at the gay couples as they pass, the ones who snicker and point at some of the more graphic signs, and the ones that make lame attempts at humor as they pass the gay bars: "Hey, Bob, You wanna go in there for a beer?"

As the people in my adopted (albeit temporary) home would, no doubt observe at this point: What Wankers!

I did have a wonderfully unexpected thing happen to me this evening. I was standing on a bridge over a canal trying to get a self portrait for my blog entries. While I was there, a couple of cute little oriental girls walked by talking in something that I assume was Chinese. (At the risk of sounding racist, I'd have guessed Japanese but for the complete absence of cameras.)

I had just taken the picture to the right (the one I am happiest with) when one of the little girls (she could not have been more than a teen) ran back and in broken English asked "You want me make uh, picture for you?"

Now, I am one of those people who is always offering to do this for couples single people, families, whatever when I see them together especially in a vacation spot. Just today I had taken pictures for a couple guys on the main avenue (each taking turns snapping shots of each other with the same camera in front of signs, views, etc.), there was the couple last night, I took a picture of them as we left the restaurant. Then there was that family of Spanish tourists on the canal bus and the group of couples (three couples from Montana) over in the square this afternoon. But in all this time, nobody that I can remember has ever offered unilaterally to take my picture for me. I was touched.

She snapped the picture, handed back my camera, and asked "It is okay?"

"Yes, fine!" I said. "Thank you! Thank you very much!" I meant it. I was very touched. Satisfied, she ran away, giggling to join her friend and they walked giggling into the train station.

Perhaps I will take a tram ride out to one of the outlying districts after dinner. Who knows! The night is young!

I hope that wherever you are this evening, you have wonderful things ahead of you!

Don Bergquist - 17 February 2007 - Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Travelogue Amsterdam: Part V - Sunday

"There's a thin line between Saturday Night and Sunday Morning!"
Jimmy Buffet
(From Fruitcakes)

The line was less than five hours wide! I fell into bed last night and was almost immediately asleep. This morning, I was awake around six thirty and, not being able to get back to sleep, I took a shower, got dressed and went for a walk around the city.

I had passed a number of sites that I really wanted to take pictures of on the way home from the club last night. But because I didn't want to carry my camera around with me all day, I had to run back there this morning. There were some interesting statues, monuments and buildings all of which can be seen in the photo album that can be seen at the link above.

There was a wonderful little market place just opening as I was making my way back to there were stalls selling food, clothing, flowers, all the necessities of life spread out for sale along the road. I stopped at one of them and took the pictures of the Margriets (Gerber Daisies) that appears to the right as well as the roses that appear below. There are more pictures from the flower stalls at the link above.

Back at the hotel, I had a cup of coffee with the owner and his partner. We chatted about what I had done the evening before and what my plans for the day were. I thanked them for the advice on the Ann Frank house and asked what they thought of my itinerary for the day. They said that provided I got to the first museum early, it should work out well. So after coffee, I headed straight to the van Gogh Museum.

All day my timing was, as luck would have it, excellent! I arrived at the van Gogh and was fifth in line to get in. The museum was busy but not packed. I spent a few hours working my way through the galleries. Almost every time I was leaving one gallery for the next, a large tour group was entering the gallery behind me. I ate lunch from a cart in the park outside the museum and made my way across to the Rembrandt Museum.

I entered the museum just as a huge group was leaving and heading toward a waiting tour bus. There was a short wait to get in, but during the wait, another large group left, chattering in something that sounded like Spanish, and then boarded another bus.

I spent a couple hours of perusing the galleries. (I have to say at the risk of being branded a philistine, I preferred the van Gogh.) Then, I headed over to take a canal boat tour. It was good to get off my feet! It was bad to be sharing a boat with a family from the States (or perhaps - and I pray I am right here - Canada!) with a small child who…

Well, to my father and anyone who had to put up with me as I was a child, please let me say: If that is how I was, please accept my apologies! This child was the most ill-behaved snot-nose I have ever heard! A short example:
Recorded Announcer: "You are sailing down the Gentleman's Canal. To your right you will see…" (The remainder of the announcement was obscured by the child.)

Unruly Child: "Your in a boat! To your right, you'll see Amsterdam. To the left You'll see Amsterdam! What do you expect to see from a boat in a canal in Amsterdam?"

(At this point the kid started incessantly yakking at his siblings about how clever he was and how dumb it was to have a voice announcing what it was we were seeing.)

RA: "We are now turning into the…"

UC: (Obscuring the rest of the announcement) "We're now in a different canal. It looks like the first but that is because they are all the same. Look to your left and you will see Amsterdam! Look to your right and you will see… guess what… Amsterdam!"

This child was narrating with this inane babble for the next five minutes while all around glared at the kid and his parents. When he did it for about the fifth time, I stood up, turned to the kid's parents and said (Pointing at the kid) "This is why we get a bad reputation as tourists."

The parents shot me acid glares and the kid made a face at me. The next announcement started.

RA: "We are about to pass through the…"

Tensing (as I am sure much of the rest of the boat was) I waited for the inevitable inane commentary by the kid. I was rewarded with:

UC: "We are about to - Ouch! Hey! Why'd ya do that?"

There were no further interruptions to the commentary. The person sitting across the table from me told me that the father had reached across the table and flicked the kid's ear when he started his last comment. Thus explaining the "Ouch! Hey! Why'd ya do that?" The family left the boat at the next stop to a smattering of applause.

I returned to my hotel briefly to make notes and to rest my feet a while and then went for a walk in the Red Light District one last time before sunset. There is an oddity in it. The Church (to the right) is in the middle of the red light district. As a matter of fact, as I was trying to frame and take this shot, I was having to ignore the pleading requests of the women in the windows behind me to come over and "talk" to them. I find it an interesting juxtaposition that were you to swing the proverbial cat by its tail, you could hit a church and a chippie on the same swing.

I hope that wherever you are today, you are able to see the interesting things in life!

Don Bergquist - 17 February 2007 - Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Happy Birthday to my pseudo-niece, Charlotte

George Washington's Birthday

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Travelogue Amsterdam: Part IV - Saturday Night

When I asked this morning at the front-desk where I could get a good Dutch meal so that I could say that I had eaten Dutch, I was told that there were a couple but that I wouldn't enjoy it. "Dutch food" the desk clerk informed me "is a bit stodgy. It's all mashed potatoes and overcooked vegetables; meat that is overcooked and gluey gravies." As appetizing as that sounded, I decided I would rather give it a miss.

Just as well. I found only two restaurants in my travels yesterday that advertised "Dutch" cooking. One was closed. The other might have well as been; their business was as brisk as the tomb. I decided to strike out and fine something else to sate the hunger that I was developing from having skipped lunch (and, come to think of it, breakfast was just a roll with some Port Salude cheese on the plane over from London! - No wonder I was famished!)

I finally decided on a steak at an Argentinean restaurant not far from the hotel. This had been one of the places they had mentioned to me so, why not? Sitting at table, I was watching the throng go by and enjoying a pretty good steak and had just ordered a second glass of wine when the man at the next table asked me if I was American.

"Yes. I said. I am." I responded, pausing only shortly to consider claiming to be Canadian. Americans are not popular in some parts over here… (With the wanker we have in the White House, you need not wonder why!)

"My wife is American." He responded. "What part of the states are you from?" he asked.

(What wife? He was sitting at table alone.) "I own a place in Denver," I said "but I've been on an extended business trip to London for most of the last year."

"Ah!" He said. We're going there next." He beamed. "We're on our honeymoon!" at this point, the absent wife appeared, kissed her husband and joined him at table. The joint between the tables was so narrow we may as well have been sharing one so we continued our conversation.

We did introductions all around. Ben had been living in San Rafael, California for the past few years and was a professor at Berkley. Amy had completed some graduate work there and worked in San Francisco. We then spent our dinners in pleasant conversation and in poking fun at the people acting obviously "tourist-like" passing the restaurant's window.

I nearly demurred last night when they invited me to join them at a club they were going to with some lame excuse about having an agenda to keep. But they didn't give me the chance. I had told them during introductions that I had come over on a whim to celebrate my birthday and they insisted I not celebrate alone.

The club was… an experience. The music was good; the dance floor was crowded. The crowd was surprisingly well mixed. All ages, all sorts of clothing. It was a truly eclectic crowd. It was not the type of club that you'd likely run across anywhere but Amsterdam. Whereas many dance clubs in the states have cages that people can dance in, very few (none that I know of) have exotic dancers dancing in the cages.

We stayed quite late. Around two this morning, I found my way back to the hotel and headed up to bed. What a night!

I hope that wherever you are today, you've got things to celebrate!

Don Bergquist - 16 February 2007 - Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Ash Wednesday

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Travelogue Amsterdam: Part III - The Anne Frank House

Following the advice I was given at the hotel, I decided to put off lunch and shopping for a while and take the tram straight to the west side of town and tour the Anne Frank House and Museum first. I'm glad I did!

A bit about the neighborhood before we talk about the museum: If you visit Amsterdam, they will tell you to get off the tram at Westenkerk. The problem is that the announced stop on the tram is Westenmarkt. And although most people in Amsterdam speak English, they prefer to speak Dutch, all of the announcements on transport is in Dutch, and the tram drivers can tend to be rude. (Though in the interest of fairness, a couple of them that I met were very nice to me.)

Walking around the streets of Amsterdam, you may begin to wonder whether the smell of cannabis (which can be smelled all over the place) might be affecting you. Do some of the houses seem to lean outward? Is this poor craftsmanship? Is this design?

Once you cross the Market, you'll walk along the canal a short way and the Anne Frank House is on your left. It sits in an unremarkable neighborhood of unremarkable houses. This picture is of one of the houses opposite the museum across the canal. I took it because of the seagull perched on the top of the finial atop the gable. It just looked cool!

I am sure most of you are familiar with the story so I won't linger too much on it here. I will only say that reading the book thirty years ago in school I was in no way prepared for the reality of seeing it in person.

You enter the house through an annex that has been built to one side of the original structure. They have brochures that explain all the rooms and gloss the tour with excepts from the journals. Be prepared to be moved. It is a place of powerful emotional energy. The entire house has been preserved and restored as a reminder, a memorial and a lesson.

There are film clips, pictures, more excerpts from the diaries that narrate your trip through the house. I was struck repeatedly by the size of it all. Eight people lived in this space! It is no wonder Anne is always telling us of the strife from being enclosed with all those people in such a small space!

If you are a living, feeling being, you will be moved. I am not ashamed to note that I found myself near tears on a number of occasions. I stopped at the newsagent at the train station on my way back to the hotel this evening to buy a copy of the diary. I am re-reading it after all these years. I think I will probably get a lot more out of this second reading.

I was glad that I went to the museum when I did. The lines may have appeared long to me when I arrived at two. By four thirty, when I left, the lines were vastly longer. Wrapping along the walk by the road to the little square and around the corner. My hotelier had been right about the timing! I have to be sure to thank him tomorrow when I see him.

After the museum, I went walking through the tourist markets. I walked the streets of shops selling everything the heart could desire. Wallets, luggage, clothing, and foodstuffs jumble the small shops on either side of the streets. The proprietors jostling each other to get your attention and hopefully your business.

About sunset, I decided to head back to the hotel, get a shower, write these notes and head off to dinner. And as such, this seems an opportune place to break the narrative for the day. So, until tomorrow…

I hope that wherever you are today, things are going your way!

Don Bergquist - 16 February 2007 - Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Happy Mardi Gras!

(...or for those of you not from the states:
Happy Shrove Tuesday,
Happy Pancake Tuesday or
Happy whatever you call today.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Travelogue Amsterdam: Part II - Arrivals

I suppose there is some perverse logic to the layout of Schiphol International Airport but I have yet to suss-out exactly what it is. Some of the gates screen you for security directly at the gates, others you have to have been screened somewhere else first. You have to walk through a customs check-point to get between some of the gates and others are apparently impossible to move between at all.

Upon my arrival, I collected my carryon from the overhead bin (being careful when opening the bin as contents may have shifted in-flight) and headed into the airport concourse. There were teams of people headed every direction and I was reminded of those nature programs where you see the schools of fish or flocks of birds moving seemingly randomly but in unison at the same time. It had a perverse loveliness to it.

By dint of following the signs to reach passport control I found a desk which had signs above it: "EU Passports" and an arrow indicating a queue; "All Other Passports" and an arrow indication a much longer queue. I made my way for the desk and was intercepted by a woman in uniform thrusting a plastic bag at me. "You need to put all gels, liquids and creams into this bag!" she exclaimed.

"Why?" I'm just trying to get to the exit so I can catch the train into Amsterdam Central Station.

"You're in the wrong place." She said exasperated. "Go that way." And pointed in a seemingly random direction which was in a direction contraindicated by the signage intended to tell tourists where to go.

Eventually, I found the correct place and queued to exit the airport. The train to the city was much better than the last time I took it! With the sun up and no rain you could see the canals everywhere!

It reminds me (other than the bare trees) a lot of some of the richer homes in the neighborhoods in Florida where there were artificially dug waterways so that the developer could sell more "Waterfront" property. Those neighborhoods eventually end-up looking like combs stuck into the water with a central road and other coves stick out at 90-degrees with canals separating the radiating fins of land. The difference is that those are to increase the value of the land. These were built for drainage, defense, and as an avenue of transportation.

The train ride was, other than being able to see the city as I approached it this time, uneventful. I got off the train at Amsterdam Central Station and made my way to the hotel. This is where another of those "interesting" little mishaps of the life of a traveler took place.

"What do you mean you don't have a room for me?" I asked trying to remain calm when the desk clerk told me I had no room available. Of course I do! Here is my reservation number. I made it online!

"You may have a number…" came the tart response, "…but you have no room. We are full and have no record of your reservation!"

To say that I was a bit stressed at this point would probably be accurate. But hey, Amsterdam is a huge place. There must be a hotel room somewhere. I saw a hotel booking office at the train station. I'll try there first.

I walked back to the train station and entered the hotel booking agency. "These things happen." Was the wizened response from the agent behind the counter, "But you have arrived on the day of the big party so rooms are going to be scarce. I will look for something."

"Thank You." I said thinking to myself "Party? What party."

"I'd like to stay somewhere near here in the central district if that it possible." I continued." Most of the things I want to see are within a twenty-minute walk from here according to the maps."

The agent said he had a bed and breakfast that was showing availabilities. It was on the fringes of the red light district and that I could be there in five minutes.

That was good enough for me. Five minutes later I was standing in the bar at the B&B. It was a nice enough room, and at 75 euros per night, it was not a bad deal. The bar (which had a separate entrance) at the hotel, from its décor obviously catered to a crowd of a specific taste. The guy behind the counter asked me if I was in town for the party. And I asked what he meant. He looked at my leather vest and jacket and then said that there was a leather fetish party at many of the clubs this evening. It was a huge annual event. Well, at least I knew what party the guy at the train station meant!

I explained that was pretty much not my cup of tea and thanked the guy. Asked for directions to a couple things I wanted to do today and then headed up to my room.

I have plans this afternoon to take a walking tour of the central part of the town, take a look at the red-light district in the daylight and then see the Ann Frank house. I shared these plans with the Desk Clerk (who I later learned was one of the owner/operators of the hotel) and he suggested that I change the order of the things I wanted to do a bit.

It's now just about one. I've unpacked, made myself a cup of coffee and put my feet-up for a few minutes. As suggested, I'm headed out to the Ann Frank Museum first. More on that tomorrow.

I hope that wherever you are today, any surprises you have are pleasant ones!

Don Bergquist - 16 February 2007 - Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Happy Birthday to my friend, Chip

Happy President's Day

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Travelogue: Amsterdam - Part I Getting To Amsterdam

The story of my trip to Amsterdam actually started yesterday. As I have mentioned the custom here in Thames Ditton is that on your birthday you bring the cake(s) into the office to celebrate. This has a certain logic to it as if you don't want people to know or to make a fuss, you simply don't bring a cake.

It is not so much that I wanted people to make a fuss, but I wasn't feeling like shutting-out my mates at the office either. So I baked two cakes and brought them in. I shared the news of the presence of cake to my colleagues at the office via an email informing people that I was celebrating my birthday and was turning 29 (base 18) so if they wanted some, they should come on up and get some.

Now I admit that I am something of a math geek, I love numbers and the things you can do with them; this is one of the things I have been doing for years. When I was a kid they used to teach number theory as a regular part of the elementary school math curricula. Back in the sixties, they called it the "new math" as if teaching children how numbers worked instead of just having someone learn by rote memorization the tables of the math results was some revolutionary idea.

I guess though, that this has fallen out of fashion as more than once yesterday I got the question: "What did your note mean you're 29? You look older than that!" or queries along those lines. Distressingly, some of these queries came from people I'd have assumed would have been familiar with numbering systems that were not based on 10. Computer programmers! When I was taking programming in college, I learned hexadecimal and binary numbering systems. I guess in these days of compiled code, they no longer teach the logical underpinnings of the system to the programmers.

A number of people asked my plans for the weekend. I explained that as I had wanted to do a lot of things while I was in Amsterdam for the one night that I spent there last October that I had no chance to do. The rain prevented me from walking around outside and the hours I was there precluded me from getting to the museums I wanted to see. So, I was returning for a couple days and nights and staying at a hotel in the central city so as to have a better launching point for exploring.

At 18:30 I printed my hotel reservations, my airline bookings and my itineraries and made a copy to leave back home. I then went to the villa to meet-up with my colleagues for a birthday dinner at the King's Arms and a few pints with friends. We had a lovely night that, perhaps - just perhaps, lasted a bit longer than it should have. Saga went home with my friends who were taking care of her for the weekend and I returned home last night at 23:00 and, after tossing a few more things into my carry-on, went to bed.

04:55 came real early today! It seemed that I had no sooner put my head to pillow than the alarm rang. Surprisingly, I was not really tired, on the first few notes of the tune my mobile phone plays as an alarm, I was up and getting ready for my day.

This morning I shared a cab to the airport with a colleague who was departing for the states and with whom I needed to have some discussions anyway. So, even on my day off, my Birthday, I was working. We had a good chat covering all the things we needed to discuss and then made arrangements to talk next week. I was deposited at the airport at 07:15 plenty of time to make an 08:35 flight since all I needed to do was walk up to an automated kiosk, hit a couple keys and check in (I had already printed my boarding passes yesterday at the office) and walk straight to the plane.

Have I ever told you that plans that I make tend to go awry? Sometimes this is a good things, sometimes this is a bad thing, sometimes it is just an interesting thing. Then there was this morning when it was just a frigging frustrating thing! The check-in kiosks were all off-line so I had to present myself to a check-in desk. There was only one person at the check-in for the premier status members of the airline I was flying so I went there.

Unfortunately, this woman was one who had never heard the old adage that one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Apparently, the trouble had started when the KLM agent had tried to charge her an extra £130 for her excess baggage. She was trying to check three suitcases, you see. This was bad enough as the limit is two. God only knows what she had in there, but I am reminded of the character from the musical, The Music Man and the repeating gag where the Anvil Salesman is always dropping his bag with a heavy metallic clunk.

So, all of the bags were over the 23 kilogram (50 pound) base limit, two of them were in excess of the expanded limit for business class which adds another 9 kilos (20 pounds) to the allowance. The squabble went something like this:

KLM Agent: "I'm sorry, but that will be an extra charge for your excess baggage."
Disturbed Flyer: "But I am flying business class!"

KA: "That is why you are being charged only for the overage of two of the three bags and the extra bag fee."

DF: "But I am allowed extra baggage! It says so on your website!"

KA: "It says you may have two pieces not exceeding thirty-two kilos a piece. You have three pieces. That will be an additional baggage fee of £50.00 then you are over the limit on the other two. Your bags weigh forty kilograms a piece. You wull be charged £40.00 per bag extra."

DF: "But I am allowed extra baggage! It says so on your website!"

KA: "I am sorry, madam, the extra allowance allows you to have two slightly heavier bags. Not three massively over the limit bags."

DF: "What I am I supposed to do now? I need to fly and I am allowed to have this much luggage!"

…and on in that vein for the next at least twenty minutes. A second position eventually opened and I checked in. The row was still going on, the KLM Agent calmly explaining the rules, the passenger acidly fighting a losing (and ultimately wrong) side of a battle until I had checked in and was out of earshot.

I cleared the security checkpoint and was through to the gate with plenty of time to spare. I sat at the gate collecting my thoughts to write the articles for my blog and it was at this point that I realized that I had left my PDA at the office! DAMN! I dug out a note pad and started jotting notes. All weekend I would have to jot myself a note the old fashioned way to make sure that I remember the things I want to blog about.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. I sat and waited. My flight was called and oh! I got a number of birthday greetings text messages from friends as I was waiting to get on the plane. The 45-minute flight was smooth and pleasant enough. By 10:00 I was in Amsterdam.

I think that this is getting pretty long for a single entry so here is where I will break the story. My arrival in Amsterdam tomorrow.

I hope that wherever you are having an excellent weekend - or will when it begins.

Don Bergquist - 16 February 2007 - Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Stephanie

Greetings from Amsterdam!

This week we will have a serialized account of my birthday trip to Amsterdam. Even though the trip was only about 52 hours long, it was a busy trip with too much happening to tell it all in one day. I hope you'll enjoy this departure from the normal format of the blog!

Don Berquist - 18 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Chinese New Year

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What Brings London To It's Knees

It's a good thing that Hitler never developed weather control. The blitz would have been unnecessary had he done so!

Last Thursday (the 11th) the city came to a complete stand-still. The post office didn't open when it should have because the postmaster could not make it in from New Malden (only four train stops down the line). I sat at the office alone until nearly ten. The problem? About an inch of snow fell!

I have always thought that London got snow regularly. (You see it all the time in any of those period pieces… or in A Christmas Carol.) But no! The occurrence of snow here is so rare that they really do not know what to do when it falls! They acted as if the other morning's snowfall was rare.

Aside from a few half-melted snowmen in the Giggs-Hill Park, there was nothing to show we had had a snowfall. The city had returned to normal. I suppose that the fact snow here is so rare is something that should have occurred to me, there are all those tropical plants apparently thriving in Bushy Park.

This is being written the same day that I understand from friends back home that we got another eight-inch snowfall in Lakewood. They are handling it in stride. Ah well, Today (Saturday the 17th) I am off in Amsterdam. The weather is supposed to be lovely! I guess you'll know when I return if it was!

I hope wherever you are today, your weather is lovely!

Don Bergquist - 17 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey UK (in absentia)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Traveling on my Birthday!

Because I am traveling on my birthday, I have pre-written the following entry for my blog. Please look for stories and pictures of my travels to Amsterdam starting next week.

I have always enjoyed travel (as you can see) and living in London has given me great opportunity to do more of it that I would have had the chance to do back home.

It's about an hour flight from Heathrow to Schiphol. That's no worse than flying Detroit to Memphis! I could get used to having such large swathes of the world that I haven't yet visited so accessible to me. I guess the chair I travel in has just gotten a bit more high-tech as I have gotten older.

I hope that wherever you are today, you are doing something you love!

Don Bergquist - 16 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Strange and Backward Ways!

Today, in accordance with the customs that are practiced in the office I have been attached to for the past year, I have baked cakes. Tomorrow, being my birthday, I will be out of the office on holiday - that is vacation to those of us from the states.

I've found some very cheap tickets and am headed to The Netherlands for the weekend. Because I will be out on Saturday and unable to post, I'll pre-post an article that I wrote recently for that purpose. Check my blog this weekend for what brings London to a stand-still!

As for today, I've brought-in a carrot cake and a Victorian sandwich (a sponge cake stuffed with jam and lemon curd) to celebrate my birthday with my colleagues. I guess that though this is a rather quaint and old-worldly (Doesn't that sound better than "Strange and Backward?") there are benefits to this practice of bringing your own cake. You are sure to get a cake you like! And, if you don't want to have a fuss made over your birthday, just don't make a cake! Anyway, I suppose it is time to get to the office! Have a great day!

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

Don Bergquist - 15 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my nephew, Andrew

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sacking It

It would be a perfect day for sacking it all day! I'm sitting in the lounge looking at the rain fall. Saga is curled-up across the room, looking all cozy, snoozing happily away. I know that she is going to be doing that all day!

There are a number of books laying around the villa that I have yet to read and a number of things that I could be doing if I had the time and the energy. But the one thing that really sounds the best idea for the day is curling-up under the duvet and staying there!

Around noon I'd think about sticking my nose out, doing my Punxsutawney Phil impersonation, emerge from my bed, see my shadow and then curl up for another six hours! But alas! I have no option to do so… It is time for me to slip on my rain gear and get into the office.

Oh well, at least it is Wednesday which is my short day. (I will only be in the office for ten hours today!) So the sooner I get to the office, the sooner I get home.

Wherever you are today, whatever you choose to spend the day doing, I hope you're having a great day!

Don Bergquist - 14 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my friend Kelly

St. Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day to lovers everywhere!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Welcome To A New Blogger!

A friend of mine has recently started blogging. Tony has started a blog to document his travels. Today, he's posted a picture that he could not identify. It is, I believe the same building that appears in the lower left/central part of this picture.

As many of you know, I started my blog about two years ago when I started coming over here on business regularly. It was originally an attempt to communicate regularly to my family back in the states and let them know what I was up to.

It was also a way to try and out-do my brother who, on a business trip, went and took a cap to the Taj Mahal. He sent back a letter with pictures and stories of the trip. He has had some great adventures on his travels. Too bad so many of them are classified and he cannot tell us or he'd have to kill us.

Anyway, welcome to the new blogger! Tony posted a picture he could not identify. Being somewhat familiar with London, I was familiar with it. Here is the response I posted to his blog.

The picture you cannot identify is the Palace Guard Barracks.


You're picture you cannot identify is the west face of the Palace Guards Barracks building. Unless I totally am turned around, you were standing on Horse Guard Road with your back to St. James Park. Buckingham Palace is behind you, The Admiralty is to your left (north) and the cabinet, #10 Downing Street and The Foreign Office are all to your right (south).

When you are watching The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, this is where the new guard comes from. They leave this entrance, turn right, and then left at The Mall and head up to Buckingham Palace. You can hear the bagpipes from here across St. James Park at the palace.

I have been spending WAY too much time here!


I hope that wherever you are today, you're comfortable in your surroundings.

Don Bergquist - 13 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

(A link to Tony's Blog has been added to the links table to the right of this post.)

There's More Than One Way To Stop A Bicycle!

Mother used to yell at us when we'd come home with our shoes al scuffed from dragging them along as we rode our bikes. Back then, bikes had coaster breaks; you pedaled backward to stop the bike. There was no real reason to drag our feet, perhaps as mother suspected - loudly and often - we did it because we were perverse little children who had no idea of the value of money and the cost of things it bought.

Bikes are way more complex these days and there are more things to fail. Things are more expensive these days and I have to pay for them!

Perhaps that is why I thought of mom this morning when the brakes on my bicycle failed on my way into work. I was coming along the high street and wanted to slow as I made the curve at the river (right between the two pubs next to the office). I applied the back brakes and nothing happened. I applied the front brakes and the mechanism slipped but did practically nothing.

Now, if I weren't a perverse little kid who has no idea of the value of money, I would have realized that I could have just kept coasting along past the office and gotten off the bike when I finally stopped. But did I? No!

I dragged my feet to slow sufficiently to make the turn into the lot by my building; the plan being that I would coast to a stop by the bike shed. The problem with this idea was the 10% grade down to the river that ends in front of the bike shed.

The rain-slicked, mossy concrete pavement near the bike shed had no traction to actually assist me in my deceleration. So I did what I thought of next. I patiently, calmly and determinedly - crashed into the fence by the pub.

There was no damage to myself, the bike or the fence. It was a creative solution to a problem taken at the last moment. I'll have to go fix those brakes at lunchtime. But for right now, I have had enough of the bike!

I hope wherever you are today you have a chance to be creative in your problem solving!

Don Bergquist - 12 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ah! Sunday!

It was a lovely day to stay abed. I took a nice nap but not until after I made plans for my birthday.

It is amazing the kind of air deals one can find over here! I'm flying to Amsterdam for my birthday weekend. I've found a cheap flight that will give me two days and two nights in Amsterdam and not leave me tight! Hopefully this time I can get some pictures.

After a lovely lie-in, I went out to the pub to meet-up with my friends and we went to have a curry for dinner. It was a really nice evening. This morning, the skies have cleared and I am headed out for a ride. It is well past the time that I should have left so I am going to wrap this up and head out.

I hope that wherever you are today you've got great weather for whatever you want to do!

Don Bergquist - 11 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Miserable Day!

It is just yucky outside today! It's the kind of day that makes one want to stay curled-up under the duvet. So I think that is what I'm going to do!

I didn't realize that the day was so drear until I was out of bed, dressed, and drinking my first cup of coffee, but there it is! My grand plan when I jumped out of bed was to get dressed, get on the bike and complete the twenty-mile circuit early before the roads got too busy. The problem is that when I let the dog outside, I saw that it was spitting down a cold drizzle.

Now, an hour later, it is a full-fledged downpour and it is cold and windy to boot.

I have a grocery delivery coming at ten, once that is here, unpacked, and away, I think I'm going to crawl back between the sheets and sloth-out for the day! What a plan!

I hope that wherever you are today you have something pleasant planned!

Don Bergquist - 10 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, February 09, 2007

Travelers Return

My friends from Molesey returned from Brazil yesterday.

They've been away for the past three weeks and for much of that time, Saga and I were watching Terry and Angie's place. They should be pleased to see that Saga now owns their back garden and the foxes have been evicted; glad to see that the damn cats from the neighborhood are shying away from their herb garden.

I cooked a big pot of stew and had them over for dinner to celebrate their return. I figured that after being away for so long, the last thing they'd want to do was go straight out and shop for food and cook a meal.

It was a perfect night for stew in that it was cold and rainy; and the evening flew by with tales of the road. It is good to have my friends back home!

I hope that wherever you are today, you are surrounded by your friends and/or family!

Don Bergquist - 09 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Poetry Corner II

Here is a poem that is not plagiarized.

It was an assignment in a creative writing course back in college. I kind-of forgot to do the assignment until the day it was due. (You know how it is in college. There are things to be, people to do, beer to drink! Time slips by! Please imagine the following in calligraphy... except for the last line which was typed. The poem was presented on a nice piece of papyrus.)

I got a "B" on this poem.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

a poem by Don Bergquist

(Well, nothing much!)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I hope wherever you are today, your creative juices are flowing!

Don Bergquist - 08 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Poetry Corner

Today's entry is, largely, plagiarized. (Sorry… It's a busy morning!)

My Aunt Jennifer forwarded me an email the other day that seems appropriate to use at this juncture. While there has been no actual snow since that one day a week-or-so ago, the weather has been getting colder here over the past few days and it put me in mind of any number of the cold fall days I have spent in Minnesota visiting relatives.

So, the arrival of my aunt's email with the enclosed poem really hit home. The poem is quoted here directly from Aunt Jen's email:

I found this beautiful winter poem and thought it might be a comfort to you. It was to me and it's very well written. It is probably the best piece of English literature I've seen in quite a while....I am going to try to memorize this prose by next December....

a poem by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre

SHIT! It's Cold!!


I hope that wherever you are today, you're keeping warm and cozy!

Don Brrrrr (er, um!) Bergquist - 07 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What Goes Around…

Mon Dieu! (I'm learning French…) I have leaned a lesson about divine retribution this week!

It suddenly dawned on me (as if by epiphany) that the Brits who make fun of my English are simply fulfilling the plan of the cosmos, repaying my own insensitivity when I was younger! The realization came to me when I was on a bus this weekend (headed to a train station because the train service was interrupted for engineering works - but that is another story). What goes around comes around!

The roots of some of the locals here being so merciless in their contempt for the way I speak reach far back into my own past. I have always been one that corrected the mistakes of others. (Oft times when it was not necessary or welcome…) The reality of this was brought to mind by the sight of a "DUAL CARRIAGE WAY" sign.

In college I worked for a summer camp in Minnesota. The crew there was fairly international and there was this one guy from the UK who was dead set that he was going to get his driver's license while he was there. I helped him study for his test and let him take the driving test in my car. I cannot remember his name, where exactly he was from in the UK and even whether he got the license or not.

The reason this sign made me think of him at all was that I used to get such a kick out of the way he phrased things. The road sign for "Divided Highway Ahead" for instance he insisted meant "Dual carriageway ahead." I guess, in retrospect that I should not have laughed at his phrasing and should have showed more understanding that there are other places English is spoken and perhaps not identically to the way it is spoken in the US.

I now am reaping what I sowed all those years ago. So, let this me a lesson to me; don't try and correct others… unless it is welcome! It's a lesson to me, myself! (If you want to learn from it too, who am I to stop you?)

I hope wherever you are today, you're having a good one!

Don Bergquist - 06 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Monday, February 05, 2007

Swans in Flight

This weekend while riding, I saw something that I have never (to the best of my knowledge) seen before; a swan in flight. I guess I may have seen them and I just never thought of it when it happened before, but there it is!

The reason it was memorable this weekend was not for the fact that I was seeing a bird, roughly the size of Cessna, coming into a landing in the middle of a busy road. Imagine a weekend pilot bringing in a small plane in the middle of a major traffic artery.

The time was at rush hour on Friday night as I was riding, the place was the Kingston Bridge; the main connector between Kingston-Upon-Thames and Teddington. The huge feathered creature came into land on the center line of the bridge; oblivious to the honking of the cars, he just kept coming in and landed.

Luckily, there were no accidents. The traffic, in fact, seems as if this were not a totally uncommon occurrence. Strange! Once landed, the bird strolled to the verge, deftly hopped the guardrail and walked down the sidewalk to the abutment. There he slunk off and jumped into the Thames. Why the bird didn't just fly the extra twenty feet to the river, I have no idea, I guess he just got tired of flying.

I hope wherever you are today, you see something noteworthy!

Don Bergquist - 05 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Winter Returns

As the weatherman promised, today was a bitterly cold, wet, overcast morning.

My ride was postponed on the false hope that the morning would burn-off the fog and brighten. It was not worth it.

When I finally got to my ride, it was slightly warmer than it had been, but it was still cold!

I'm now sitting, enjoying my fourth cup of coffee, curled-up with my laptop and my dog on the sofa at the house and trying to get warm after the ride. This afternoon I'm planning on heading into town to see a friend of mine

I am hoping that you are, wherever you are, having a great day!

Don Bergquist - 04 February 2007 - West Molesey, Surrey, UK

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Beautiful Saturday!

The morning started a bit on the chilly side, but the sun soon burned off the frost. I took a nice long ride this morning/early afternoon and then returned to Terry and Angie's where I have been house sitting while they are out of town on vacation.

Saga is loving it at their house! There is a family of foxes that live in the trash heap of a back garden to the west of their house. (Or perhaps they live in the allotment behind their garden… whichever.) She worries out the back windows when I keep her in, and goes out like a shot when I open the door. I am sure that Terry and Angie will love having a back garden free of foxes when they return.

The skies on my ride were absolute purest azure! I love these days! I am having to enjoy the days while I can. I understand that tomorrow is supposed to be cold and overcast! There is an old agrarian aphorism that I guess applies today: Make hay while the sun shines.

I hope wherever you are today, the weather is favorable for the execution of whatever you want to do!

Don Bergquist - 03 February 2007 - West Molesey, Surrey, UK

Friday, February 02, 2007

An Early Spring?

I don't think you need to be Punxsutawney Phil to be able to predict the weather. At least not if you are here in the UK…

The cyclic nature of the rain bands means that you can pretty much bet that there will be at least one rainy day in every three. Clouds will obscure the skies more often than not, and the weather will be cool for most of the year except when it is really hot. (There are very few days that are that happy medium here but when they come, we all get out and enjoy them!)

I mention this not just because it is Groundhog Day and I am betting that Phil will not see his shadow; I just really believe that winter is coming to an end here in the London. I am thinking of starting to make room in my closet for the occasional Hawaiian shirt.

C'mon, I know that it is only the second of February and the moment I start thinking to myself that winter is over we'll get slammed, but I really think that it is starting early this year. We have daffodils growing in the parks. The mud boots are getting regular use as people go walking, and one gets the feeling that unlike the old song says, spring will be early this year.

So here's to an early and wet spring! We really need the water!

I hope that wherever you are, your day is beautiful, whatever the weather happens to be!

Don Bergquist - 02 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year (1943)

Music Written By: Frank Loesser
Lyrics Written By: Frank Loesser

Spring will be a little late this year
A little late arriving, in my lonely world over here
For you have left me and where is our April love old
Yes you have left me and winter continues cold
As if to say that spring will be a little slow to start
A little slow reviving that music it made in my heart
'Cause time heals all things, so I needn't cling to this fear
It's merely that spring will be a little late this year
Yes time heals all things so I needn't cling to this fear
Its merely that spring will be a little late this year

Happy Groundhog Day

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Signs of Trouble

A lovely morning is breaking in the village.

After a night which was a bit restive, I awoke to a lovely morning which is dawning warm and clear. It is supposed to reach ten or eleven degrees Celsius. The stars were bright and only slightly impeded by the broken skies.

The ride into the office was just perfect. I had the traffic breaks I needed so that once I left the house I could just keep going and not stop until I got into the office. I made it here just as one of my colleagues was unlocking the gates to the parking lot so I could ride right up to the bike shed. This is going too easy! The fact that my morning is going so well is a sure sign of trouble!

What the heck is going to go wrong today?

I hope wherever you are today, your morning goes exactly as it should.

Don Bergquist - 01 February 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK