Thursday, May 31, 2007

On the Road Again!

It is so nice to have a bicycle again! I still have to replace a few of the custom things that I had on the bike that was stolen (bike racks, a kickstand, a computer) but it is nice being able to ride to the office in the morning and get home to play with Saga at lunchtime!

I rode to the train station last night to go to game night, and then this morning, I took a nice long ride into the office. It is so good being mobile again!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're happy!

Don Bergquist - 31 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My New Bike

A colleague of mine here in the office suggested that I head into town to go to a store called Decathlon to replace my stolen bike. The best I can say about the store to describe it is that it is kind of like REI back home. The store is huge (it actually covered two buildings in the big box mall at Canada Water) and has all kinds of things.

The bike department was bigger than some bicycle shops back home. I looked over a number of bikes, they had a great selection things that were as cheap as £59 some ran as much as a thousand pounds. I settled (after riding a few of them around the store) on a model that ran about £160.

They put the bike together for me out of their stocks and then I headed out. After buying the bike, I rode back to Waterloo for the train home. With a brief stop to look at the map that they had (and ask directions to Waterloo) I was off.

By dint of following their directions, I ended-up at Greenwich. (Greenwich is at the right of the map, Waterloo is the red marker to the left.) The sun was setting as I finally reached Waterloo. I had ridden about three times the distance that I really needed to go to get where I wanted to be.

At least I can now say that I have ridden to places that I really never wanted to be. Anyone who has never ridden through Elephant and Castle at sunset just hasn't lived!

I got home well after nine and collapsed into bed. I have to start getting some rest to catch-up on the rest I lost-out on whilst on vacation!

Wherever you are today, I hope you know where you're going!

Don Bergquist - 30 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


God! What a trip!

I had a great time and it was wonderful seeing friends and family, but I am knackered! I am really looking forward to getting back to work and getting some rest. Yes, I work long and hard hours when I am here in the UK, but the hours are what I would expect and I am usually less thoroughly drained at the end of the day!

This evening after work, I am going to head into town and get a replacement for my stolen bicycle. Other than that, I have no plans for the day. I know that I have over a hundred emails to read when I get in so I had best get moving.

Saga was so happy to see her Daddy come home yesterday! I went over to Terry and Angie's where we had a lovely lunch celebrating our friend Kevin's Birthday. What a blast. I was absolutely dead, what with driving thirteen hours on Saturday (oh, by the way, the route I took Saturday was about 75 miles longer than the other route but much faster. I averaged about 65 mph for the entire route), then not sleeping on Sunday as I was flying I slept like the dead last night.

Saga is laying on the couch watching me suspiciously today. I wonder what she thinks I do all day…

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're fit and full of energy!

Don Bergquist - 29 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Monday, May 28, 2007

Conversation Starter

"I think I should warn you, I tend to vomit on planes." It was a strange way to start a conversation with a complete stranger, but hey! Perhaps that I just me! "Projectile vomiting! It's bad!"

"No doubt." I said. This is going to be one great flight!

As I awaited everyone to get settled, she kept telling all the passengers sitting in the area how she was a bad flyer. "I am also prone to panic attacks." She said. I unfolded my paper and retreated to the galley (one row behind my seat and read out of the way whilst the people in uniform took care of things.

"I once screamed because I was feeling that the people on either side of me were pushing in too close for my comfort." I overheard her say.

Eventually, one of the flight crew found her a seat a few rows ahead of me on the aisle. (Thank God!) She has been passing the night rather sedately. My other seat-mate and I spent a few minutes speculating on the veracity of her claims but marveling at the effectiveness of getting out of her center seat and into an aisle.

I really envy people who can sleep on planes.

Wherever you are today, I hope you're passing the evening calmly and comfortably.

Don Bergquist - 28 May 2007 - Somewhere over the North Atlantic - Continental Airlines Flight 4 bound for London Gatwick

Happy Birthday to my friend, Kevin

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Drive

Wow! What a difference!

For years while living in the mid-south (Memphis) I used to drive to Florida by way of Birmingham (via US 78) and then down through Montgomery (via I65) down through Dothan (on US 231) and then I10 to I75 south. Back then it made sense… now that all those Podunk towns in Southern Alabama have grown into the path, it no longer does.

I am making excellent time (even with the reduced visibility caused by the fires. It is just after 18:00 and I am stopped in southern Georgia. I am sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of a restaurant having a bite to eat and writing my blog entry.

Since just south of Atlanta, it has been like a thick fog in London. The visibility is less than a hundred yards. The smell of the burning swampland is strong. The traffic, though is moving and I am making excellent time. I should be in Florida soon.

At a guess, I would say that taking the interstate all the way is perhaps fifty miles longer, but the speeds are higher and the travel time seems to be less. Ah! My dinner has arrived! I'd best eat-up and get back on the road.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having an excellent day with clear roads!

Don Bergquist - May 26, 2007 - Somewhere near Macon, Georgia, USA

Driving South

I will be leaving to drive south early this morning. Look for pictures of Andrew’s graduation and stories of the drive when I return to London on Tuesday. Until then, have a happy bank holiday and a good weekend!

Wherever the weekend finds you, I wish you a good, safe and restful weekend!

Don Bergquist - May 26, 2007 - On The Road in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, USA

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Levi

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Calista

Friday, May 25, 2007

Congratulations, Andrew!

Congratulations to my nephey, Andrew
on his graduation from
Huntsville's Virgil I Grissom High School this evening!

Other Pictures:

Graduation Lunch
Graduation Dinner
Portrait Session
At The Cerimony
The Party

What A Difference!

God! What a difference a few miles down the road makes!

I am staying at the Embassy Suites hotel in Huntsville proper. Not only is it right next-door to the von Braun center, where the graduation will be held tonight, but it is hugely better than the pit I stayed in the other night!

It is clean, fresh, and doesn’t reek of cheap sanitizer and air freshener! I am really glad that we moved! The view out my windows shows the mountains to the south of the city. Somewhere up in those hills my brother’s house is situated.

I took a soak in the hot tub last nigh, I plan to take another today. It is so nice to be in a non-pit-like hotel! But for now, I guess I should post this and get back to having fun with the family.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have the opportunity to take some time for yourself!

Don Bergquist - May 25, 2007 - Huntsville, Alabama, USA

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

The ironic thing is that I dreamed that I would be driving to Huntsville alone. (Seriously, you can ask my best friend, Fritz… I told him this morning that I had dreamed it last night!)

But the morning was going according to the schedule until about fifteen minutes after Mary and I had met and headed north. It was then that she received the call. She would have to go back south again. I understand fully why she had to and even offered to have her turn around immediately. “I can always drive north from the Tampa Airport in a rental.” I told her as we zoomed along Interstate 75.

“Really!” I assured her… “I have no problem with that.”

In the end, we parted at the Gainesville airport; Mary headed south and I north. The fares of last week, having been largely contained, gave me no problem. I made it to Huntsville, Alabama in just over twelve hours of driving… Had I not stopped for that rest and stretch back in the Florida Pan Handle, I would have arrived around 07:00 PM instead of just after 08:00.

The hotel is a complete dump. I am sitting on a chair in the corner and looking at the stained, disheveled room which is sorely in need of repairs. It reeks of cheap air freshener… were it not that I am so damn tired, I would check-out now and look for a good hotel. As it is, I need some sleep.

- - - - -

I cannot believe I slept here last night! That will be the only night I sleep here. When I get-together with my brother, I will be chatting about getting into some other hotel. One that does not make my skin crawl!

Wherever tonight finds you, I hope that you are safe, comfortable and happy.

Don Bergquist - May 24, 2007 - Huntsville, Alabama

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I’m Off to Alabama

Today I am off to meet-up with Mary to drive to Huntsville for Andrew’s graduation. If there is a chance and I have access to a computer I will get online to post the stories I write. If not, look for stories to be posted early next week.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have a great day!

Don Bergquist - May 23, 2007 - St. Petersburg, Florida USA

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Huh, Hell (Revisited)

I can fully understand not being able to get my point across in a country where I do not speak the language. (And I count the United Kingdom among the number of countries within which I do not speak the language; I am constantly being correct there on my usage and vocabulary.) But I see no reason why the conveyance of simple concepts via the spoken word should be so hard.

A while back, I wrote a piece called “Huh Hell; Pay Attention” in which I recounted the (relatively simple - or so I would have thought) issue of trying to communicate the idea to a South West Trains ticket agent that I wanted to buy a train ticket. It was not as if I weren’t standing in front of him at a ticket counter and in a train station! He was simply incapable of making the connection between his surroundings and the sounds of the words coming out of my mouth with the idea I was trying to convey.

In this article, I will recap the discussions I have had over the past few days trying to communicate simple (work-related) concepts. I’ve had all the following in this country.

At The Airline Check-In Desk:

“I need to re-check this bag for my connection to Tampa, please.” I said to the agent handing my boarding pass, claim check and passport across the desk to her.

“Huh?” she said looking up as she took the paperwork.

“I need to re-check my bag so I can go to my connection, please.”

“You mean that you need to check your bag?” she asked.

“It’s already been checked-in, back at Heathrow.” I indicated that the bag was already checked by showing her the bag was tagged and that I had a claim check for it. “I just need it re-checked so that it will be in Tampa when I get there.”

“I don’t understand, sir” she said with an clearly apparent befuddlement on her face and in her voice. “What do you mean you’ve already checked it. Why do you have it, then?”

“Baggage re-check was closed when the flight from Heathrow landed.” I explained, I was told to re-check it with my airline.

“What are you talking about?”

“I just flew in from Heathrow on your flight that landed an hour ago. I need to re-check this bag so that I can collect it in Tampa.” I asked trying exceedingly hard to keep my voice and tone steady. “I need you to take it and send it through so that I can go and make my connection.”

At this point she took my boarding pass and my passport and walked away. I watched as she went to a colleague to discuss what she should do with this man who was so obviously speaking gibberish at her. When she returned, she was all business and efficiency.

“No problem, sir. I can certainly check your bag for you. You should have checked in with the TSA when you arrived and they would have re-screened your bag for you saving you some time. Just remember that next time you come through customs.”

“They closed when the plane came in.” I explained again. “I tried to go there after I made it through customs but they told me they were closed.”

“Customs never closes sir,” she said icily. “if they were closed, how did you get into the country.” There’s no arguing with logic like that, I suppose…

She did eventually return my boarding pass (as well as a new one that she printed-out) to me with my passport and took my bag. But the fun was just starting!

Security Screening - TSA Round II

“Is there an open First Class Screening Position?” I asked as I started to hand-over one of my boarding passes and my passport to the TSA officer at the end of the line.


“Really?” I said, taking my paperwork back. “Where?”

“No.” he said reaching for my ticket.

“I’m sorry… is it ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”


The conversation that followed proved to be even less productive than the one with the airline staff. This man spoke so little English (apparently - at lease I have no evidence to the contrary - his entire English vocabulary consisted entirely of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ which he seemed to use more-or-less at random to anything even vaguely seemed to be an interrogatory) that he could not have even gotten a job as a New York cabbie. Even cabbies have to know at least seven thoroughly vile and offensive swear words.

I know, you’re probably thinking that I had a hard time because I was in New York (or near enough) that it was my accent that was throwing them off. Have no fear…

At The Pharmacy – St. Petersburg, Florida

“Hi! I’m here on vacation and I’ve run-out of a medication that I take and want to know if I can refill this here.” I said to the woman behind the counter surrendering a prescription to her.

“You want to transfer this here?” she said seeing that the logo on the prescription was not theirs.

“Not particularly,” I said. “But as that pharmacy has no branches in Florida, I need to fill it. If that means you need to transfer, it then so be it. I’m only going to fill it here once.”

“So, you want to transfer it?” she asked again as if trying to get some deep concept across to an idiot.

“As I said,” taking a bit of affront to the way she was speaking to me but trying not to let it show “if you need to transfer it to fill it, please do so.”

“Are they open in Colorado?”

“They are open seven days a week.”

“I’ll be right back.” A moment later, she came back to the front. “They’re not open until ten. I cannot transfer this for you until then. What time is it there now?”

“Thank you,” I said “I’ll get it filled elsewhere. I don’t care to wait for two hours.”

“And just how do you think you’re going to do that?” she asked.

“I’ll take my prescription to another pharmacy that is open when my pharmacy and fill it then.”

“They can’t fill it without transferring it so they won’t be able to fill it until the pharmacy in Colorado opens.” She said.

“I will not be here when the pharmacy in Colorado opens. So if you cannot fill it, I will take it somewhere else and have it filled there.”

“I can fill it.” She explained.

“Then do so.”

“I can’t without transferring it.”

“Then I will fill it elsewhere later.”

Ah! The pleasures of speaking a common language!

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re having no problem making yourself understood.

Don Bergquist - May 22, 2007 - St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Happy Birthday to my pseudo-nephew, James

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Kate

Monday, May 21, 2007

Congratulations, Charlie!

Congratulations to my pseudo-neice, Charlotte
on her graduation from
St. Petersburg's Northeast High School this afternoon!


This has always been my favorite time of the day. There is just something about the still, quiet hours before people start to stir.

It’s just before 06:30 on Monday, May 21, 2007 and I am sitting on the rear patio of my friend Fritz’ house in St. Petersburg, Florida. The morning is still. Even the cats are still sleeping wherever they dropped last night.

Granted, the only right I have to be up this morning this early is that I am still on British Summer Time. Okay, I am almost always the first one up in the morning, regardless of the group of people you’re likely to compare me to, but we were up quite late last night.

It is a running gag that Fritz is incapable of cooking for a small group (unless by “group” you mean “army” and unless by “small” you mean “incredibly large”) and is further incapable of serving before midnight. Last night was an exception only in the respect that we did eat before midnight. There were loads of food and the feast was fabulous but there was way more than was needed to feed the six of us. Don’t get me wrong; the food was excellent; there was just so much of it. The ‘fridge is full of left-over smoked ribs, mashed potatoes and leeks, spinach and breads that accompanied it all.

After a day of running around to various places and getting ready for the festivities that are to come this week, it was wonderful to relax on the patio and chat as Fritz busied himself at the smoker and in the kitchen. We all tried to assist only to be shooed back to the porch.

This morning, I rolled-over and saw that it was five AM. I tried getting back to sleep, but I needn’t have done so. There was no way it was going to happen. I got dressed, slipped on some sandals, grabbed my cameras and walked around the property taking a few pictures.

That was about an hour ago, I’ve now gotten myself a cup of coffee and am sitting here on the porch watching the sunrise. Later, when everyone wakes up, I’ll upload this and some of the pictures I’ve taken.

This afternoon, we have Charlie’s graduation. Tonight, I suppose that it is a safe bet there will be more celebration, more conversation and need I say more (far too much more) food. Right now, though it is just me, you (by way of my PDA and, eventually, my blog), and this beautiful, still, quiet morning. Ah! Bliss!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re having a peaceful, contemplative morning!

Don Bergquist - May 21, 2007 - St. Petersburg, Florida USA

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Deliver Me!

It is so good being quit of that Airport! There were times that I thought I would never see the last of it!

It is a fairly standard process to have to collect your own baggage and re-deposit it with the TSA to be re-screened and forwarded to your airlines for your connection with arriving on an international flight. The problem is that at the Newark International Airport, if you arrive after 17:00 on a Saturday afternoon, those people lounging about by the big X-ray machines are not really working.

When I followed the directions I was given to get my bag re-screened for my connecting flight, I arrived at the TSA checkpoint and was told: “We’re closed. Go to your airline!”

Fair enough! So I find a uniformed staff member of Continental airlines and ask where to go for my flight to Tampa. “Terminal A” comes the cheery response. “Go up two levels on the escalator and then look for the Sky Train to terminal A.”

The two problems with these directions, are as follows:

1) The second escalator that you need to take is beyond the sign (for which I wasn’t looking after only one escalator) saying “Sky Train” some fifty yards away from the escalator banks.
2) The flight to Tampa departs from Terminal C.

As luck would have it, there was a display board in the train station (which I was able to consult once I actually found the train station) displaying flight information. For Terminal A there were two Continental flights listed, for Terminal B (where I was) there were none. Everything at Terminal C was Continental; I opted to go for Terminal C.

The Sky train, much like the monorail at Disney, whisks the weary traveler between stations at speeds that could be outraced by a walker going at average speed. (By “walker” I mean the appliance used by OAPs.) Eventually, however, I arrived at Terminal C where, by dint of following the directional signs (electronic signs showing directions) I arrived at one closed desk after another in various parts of the terminal.

Once I found an open check-in desk, the act of actually explaining to someone that all I needed to do was to re-check my bag bordered on the impossible. (To steal a line from Douglas Adams, I may as well have tried having an argument with a Coca-Cola vending machine.)

I did eventually get my bag checked! And then it was off to find an open security checkpoint. I wonder, now if somehow the TSA has gotten the idea that Newark closes after five on weekends. Never mind that we had all these flights going out and so the two open positions had a line that was at least an hour long, the people there that check that you are in the right place apparently neither read nor speak English.

“Is there a first-class security line?” I asked. It was a simple question as I proffered my first class ticket.

“Yes.” Said the TSA official.

“Really?” I said pulling my ticket back. “Where.”

“No.” said the TSA official.

Giving up, I surrendered my ticket, which he glanced at and handed back. I then waited in the line. Oh well, that was last night. I’ve now had a nightcap, good night’s sleep and breakfast with my friends in St. Petersburg. The prospects for the day look hopeful!

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is going well (and hassle-free)!

Don Bergquist - May 20, 2007 - St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Flying Out

What an adventure getting here! Due to some rather sloppy math on my part, I arranged to have a flight to the states that didn’t leave until 16:00. This meant that even with the outside chance of having to worry through traffic on the London Transit route 285 to Heathrow, I could leave as late as 11:00.

So what was I doing sitting ready to go, packed and set at 07:45 this morning? Bad planning!

I awoke at 06:00 and even with the special effort of trying to sleep-in, I could not stay abed past seven. I hate the waiting part of travel, as I believe I have mentioned before in my blog, much of the travel I do is just waiting. I would have waited at the villa this morning, but I was sort-of hoping that there would have been an earlier Virgin Atlantic flight I could have gotten onto. That hope was dashed when I checked in so I just took the original booking, progressed to the departures lounge, had a bit of lunch, did a bit of pursuing through the shops on the concourse and then decided to go for a walk. This was my mistake.

It never occurred to me that in Heathrow Airport there were parts of the secured area where one could walk from a secure area of the terminal to a non-secure area of the terminal without passing a checkpoint.

Still having three hours to kill before my flight, I decided to walk the concourses. I got to the end of three of the arms of the four arms of the concourses but then got to a place where when I turned around I was told I was headed the wrong direction. There were no signs to indicate that I had done so, no guard as I walked past the point of no return. They were there, when I tried to get back to the departures lounge, however, and the end-result was that I had to follow the signs for International Arrivals and Internal Connections to be screened for the second time this morning to get into the departures lounge at Heathrow.

After that, I decided to wait the remaining hour watching the crowds pulse by as I watched for my flight to come up on the departures board. When it finally did, I made my way to the gate, watching some woman complain that in a spot-check she had to confiscate the cheeses she was carrying in her carry-on as they would not be allowed on the plane.

The flight has been going good so far and in a matter of a few more hours, I should be landing at Newark. I guess I’ll put my PDA away and watch a film. (God! I wish I was one of those people who could sleep on planes!)

I hope wherever you are today, your day is going well!

Don Bergquist - 19 May 2007 - Somewhere Over The Atlantic, VS001

Friday, May 18, 2007

Running Around

Why is it that in order to get a week off I have to work a week of overtime to get ready to go and at least as much as that to catch-up when I return?

I am sure that you have experienced this for yourself, right? You have to run around to get ready to go somewhere, then you run around to get there, you run while you are there and then run to catch-up when you get back. Why is it that vacations are such a good thing? If you have to ask, you’ll never get it!

I have to run. I am leaving for Florida tomorrow.

I hope that wherever you are today, you have a great day running after whatever you’re chasing!

Don Bergquist - 18 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, May 17, 2007

April Showers

"Did you know it's raining?"

The comment struck me as odd. Of course it's raining! It has been raining on-and-off for the past few days. How was this news? "Oh, my god!" I responded facetiously, "Raining!? In London in the springtime!? Quick, someone call The Guardian, they'll want to cover this."

No wait, unless they can work a way to blame the rain on some grand conspiracy to use the rain to cover-up the fact that Princess Diana was murdered, they'd never cover it. I guess that the point of the person speaking was that after such a dry spring this far, the month that is supposed to be a bit drier is has been really wet.

Good thing, too! We definitely need the rain. (Now if we could get some of this over in the states to fight all those wildfires!

Oh well, It is raining so I would be uncomfortable riding my bike if I had one, but since I don't… Not much to report today. I am a bit busy getting ready for my trip to Florida which condenses this weekend.

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

Don Bergquist - 17 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

April Showers
by Al Jolson

Life is not a highway strewn with flowers,
Still it holds a goodly share of bliss,
When the sun gives way to April showers,
Here is the point you should never miss.

Though April showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May.
So if it's raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn't raining rain, you know, (It's raining violets,)
And where you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a blue bird, And list'ning for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.

And where you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a blue bird, And list'ning for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Back To Reality

The reality is that experiencing the absence of a thing is the best way to gain a healthy appreciation for that thing. Being unable to inhale as you struggle to get back to the surface in a pool is one way to appreciate air. Being on an involuntary fast at the end of the week as you wait for your paycheck to clear is a way to appreciate the plenty of the full refrigerator. Walking five miles to the next exit for a gallon of gasoline will make you appreciate the pleasure of a full gas tank! Likewise, walking every morning to the office really makes me miss the bike that was stolen last week! Everything takes longer and costs more.

Instead of being able to get to the office or back to the villa in a couple minutes on demand I have a ten-to-fifteen minute walk each way. The grocery store is exactly the same distance away, but it takes more than three times as long to traverse the mile between there and The Villa. I certainly can walk the three miles to the pub (and in fact, used to for the year I was here before Terry and Angie lent me a bicycle last year), but in the rain it is far easier to call a car.

Even that is not, necessarily a faster way to get to the pub as it usually takes at least fifteen minutes for the car to come. (Although I have had them tell me it would be as long as an hour-and-a-half when the weather is particularly nasty.)

The reality is that I can certainly replace the bicycle. A colleague here at the office directed me toward a nice shop (a lot like REI back home, in fact) that sells a large selection at great prices. I went there yesterday and picked one out. The stolen bicycle is covered under my homeowner's insurance policy so I can afford to replace it.

Heck, if I want to borrow the one that Terry and Angie originally lent me a while back, they have kindly made that offer as well. The truth of the matter is that I do not know what I want to do. I have no idea what action to take at this time because I do not know how much longer I will be in the United Kingdom.

Until I know that, I am going to sit here and bask in the reality of being a guy without a bicycle.

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

Don Bergquist - 16 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Saga's Feeling Better!

For those of you who have emailed me, yes! Saga is feeling a lot better.

Poor thing was suffering some king of an allergic reaction to something. She manifested the reaction by constantly licking the upper part of her forelegs. She had rubbed them raw and furless in places. She had even developed small scab-like legions in the area of the fur surrounding the bare patches. Poor thing!

Friday I took her to see a veterinarian. (He was recommended to me by a friend in the office.) Charlie was very good working with Saga and correctly got her problem on the first shot. He gave her a shot (or a jab as they call them over here) and prescribed a cream to help clear-up her itch.

She has all but stopped itching and the fur is coming back. She is back to her own happy, frolicking self. If only she could connect how she is feeling now with the fact that she went to the Vet. (She hates going to the vet.) I guess that is why I have to be the daddy. I have to take her to the "bad" place so that good things can happen.

I hope wherever you are today, you're feeling well and good things are happening for you!

Don Bergquist - 15 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chestnut Sunday

The rain abated for a time. About noon yesterday I made my way down to the park to see the parade. The rain slowed to a heavy mist and then stopped altogether. Walking around the park with my friend before the parade, my feet got completely soaked. The fresh drops of rain on the flowers, offered some interesting shots.

At a quarter after noon, the parade started. The parade starts at the Teddington gate, progresses down and around the Dianna Fountain and ends at the playground by the police station.

The parade was interesting, the first time I saw it, two years ago… yes, the parade is almost identical every year. Still, it is a fun time. (Pictures of the entire parade can be seen at the link above.)

The parade did not end high and dry. The rain held-out until very near the end of the parade. It started to rain in earnest as the military vehicles were coming by. By the time the last of the vehicles came by, it was pouring and there were lightening strokes in the distance.

I made my way to the pub… just to dry off, you understand!

The afternoon passed and I made my way to the barbecue.
Interestingly, we passed a sign advising that fires and barbecues are not allowed in Bushy Park.
Apparently, the police station (by virtue of the fence around it)
is not considered a part of the park and therefore not subject to this prohibition. The barbecue was fun… mates, food, beer, wine! And the weather by this time, had cleared. It was a lovely ending to the afternoon.

I hope wherever you are today, you've had a lovely weekend.

Don Bergquist - 14 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my niece, Heather

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Don't Rain On My Parade!

It's Chestnut Sunday and it is raining!

Chestnut Sunday is a celebration that takes place annually in Bushy Park. There is a parade down chestnut avenue and then my mates and I go to the pub. This year, Kevin is having a barbecue after the parade. It should be fun… If only it will stop raining!

I've decided that Saga will not be coming with me. Even if it is not raining, the ground is wet enough that Saga would be miserable. Ah, well. Better warm dry and happy than wet miserable and mad at me!

I hope wherever you are today, you will have a great day!

Don Bergquist - 13 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Mothers' Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekend Plans

Well, so much for having plans this weekend! I had lots of things that I had to do today but in all likelihood, I'll get to about half of the things I needed to do. What, with the rain and the fact that some wanker has stolen my bicycle, I think its going to be a busy day.

And Saga is mad at me at the moment. You see, her daddy took her to a bad place where they stuck her with needles and there were other dogs. Saga has been suffering an allergic reaction to something. She has been scratching her fur out on her front shoulders. The vet gave me a cream to give her some relief.

Well, I have lots to do today so I had better get moving.

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

Don Bergquist - 12 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my friend, Stephen

Friday, May 11, 2007


The bad news is that (like many cyclists) I realize that riding a bicycle is likely to cause injury. It is inherent in the sport. The good news is that I needn't worry about falling off my bicycle any longer. Some wanker stole my bicycle yesterday!

What a complete and total tosser!

I had taken my lunchtime ride and stopped at the villa for lunch. As is customary, I locked the bicycle wheels and left it in the door well outside the kitchen door. I then went in, made myself lunch and checked my email.

When I left the house, the bicycle was gone. Whatever reprobate took it had to carry it away since it wouldn't roll! What a blackguard! Who would want to steal a bicycle they cannot ride?

I've reported the theft to the police and can report the theft and get my insurance to replace the bicycle, that isn't the point. The point is that some derelict has nicked my wheels! A colleague of mine (upon hearing of the theft) gave me the adage (meant to help me get over it): "What can you do? Your bike is gone."

"I'll tell you what I can do. I can seethe!" (I'm world class at seething!)

"You can't stay mad about this too long!" came another piece of advice.

"Watch me!" (I love a challenge!)

Are there really people out there so vile and rotten to the core that they would take something they cannot possibly use just for the thrill of the theft? Was it perhaps that they wanted to deprive me (or whoever - I am under no delusion that this tosser was targeting me personally) of my possessions? What an Asshole!

Message to the person who stole my bicycle: I hope it brings you joy. You obviously are so low as to need some (any) entertainment. But don't worry, like a spermatozoa, you too have a one-in-a-million chance of one day becoming an intelligent life form! You are beneath my contempt!

Message to everyone else out there: I hope that wherever you are today, you have a good (read that: "Crime Free") day!

Don Bergquist - 11 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, May 10, 2007


It could have happened at any time. The fact that it happened when it did I ascribe to complete total blind luck. Had it happened on one of my weekend bike rides, say when I am running down the hill into Berrylands (where I get up to speeds approaching 25 miles per hour) it would have been bad!

As it was, when the saddle bolt sheared on my bicycle yesterday as I was riding back to the office after lunch, while being a bit inconvenient and slightly painful, it was not as bas as it could have been. All that happened was that I took a slight tumble onto the pavement, slightly bruised my hip, broke one of my cufflinks and ended-up with a pocket full of grapefruit juice.

The last item on the list may seem a strange result of the incident but it was due to the fact that I had put a grapefruit into my jacket pocket to serve as a late afternoon snack at the office.

I went into Kingston-upon-Thames after work yesterday afternoon (yes, walking there in the rain) to get a replacement part. After my return, I did some maintenance and my bicycle is now as right as rain. (Which is pretty right here in the UK at this time of year!) Now when my hip stops hurting, it'll all be behind me!

I hope that wherever you are today, you'll have a great day and that any tumbles you take are intentional!

Don Bergquist - 10 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

¿Como Va?

There are a few pieces of music that I listen to periodically that really take me back. Like this morning when my MP3 player clicked over to a song by Santana -

Oye como va mi ritmo
Bueno pa gosar mulata
What a great tune! It really made my ride go quicker. I could have hit re-play but by the time it ended, I was within sight of the building. (I waned to wrap-up my ride quickly this morning.) It is dark (overcast) and cooler today. It looks like it may rain.

How are things where you are today? Click on the comments link below and let me know.

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

Don Bergquist - 09 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Back To Reality

Ah, well! It was a lovely weekend, but it is over now. I have lots to do at the office, but I am taking this few minutes of silence at The Villa to enjoy the quiet of the morning.

Saga is out in the back garden making it free of cats, foxes, birds and whatever other vermin may wish to infest it when she is not on vigilant patrol. All my housemates are still asleep and the world is peaceful. Heck, there's surprisingly little traffic on the Portsmouth Road for this hour too!

But all this must come to an end. I have things to do and they all pretty-much require me to leave The Villa so I guess it is time I call in the dog, and head to the office.

I hope that wherever you are today, you have a moment of peace to reflect on the wonders of the world!

Don Bergquist - 08 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bank Holiday Tourists

This afternoon I spent hanging out with some friends over at their place in Islington. A friend of mine discovered that I am a card player. I had a great time!

On the way there, I was struck by the fact that I apparently have developed an air of familiarity with the area. Standing in the Monument tube station waiting for the Circle Line train when I was approached by an oriental tourist (perhaps Japanese?) with a tube map.

On The Tube Platform

"Black to Kinks Crass?" he said in broken English.

"Excuse me?" I asked completely missing his meaning.

"Kinks Crass?" he repeated. There was something really not right about what he was saying.

"Kinks Crass?" I asked. "Ah! King's Cross! You want the Northern Line to King's Cross?"

"Yes!" He said nodding emphatically. "King's Crass. This platform for King's Cross?"

"No. You'll want the Northern Line." I responded. "But I don't think that the Northern Line is running today from this station.

I called over to a station staff member standing on the opposite platform. He confirmed that engineering works were taking place and the Northern Line platforms were closed for engineering works.

It took a little doing, but I explained to the man that he needed to board a yellow line (Circle Line) train and take it to the St. Pancras/Kings Cross station and walk across to King's Cross. I then noticed that he was a member of a group of about six-or-seven oriental gentlemen. I wished him well and watched to make sure he and his group boarded the proper train (I was waiting for the Circle Line myself) and promptly stopped thinking about them.

Later, Same Trip - The Kid

The kid is way to young to remember the movie! The kid sitting across the aisle from me on the Circle Line got on at Aldgate and plopped himself down in the seat facing me. The first thing I noticed was the M*A*S*H tee-shirt he was wearing. It wasn't one of the shirts that was popular because of the TV show. It was the old movie poster… the woman's leg's supporting the two-fingered peace sign. (The "V" for "Victory" as it was known over here.)

I suppose that it is time for that film and its imagery to come around again!

The Return Trip - The Americans

The family boarded the train at Liverpool Street. I have no idea where they were coming from, but it was plain that they were tourists from the moment I saw them. If it wasn't for the shopping bags that each of them (even the children) carried emblazoned with the logos and names of Harrods, The Tower of London, and The Hard Rock Café, then it was the fact that both the parents carried cameras. The children were also wearing those stupid plastic police helmets.

That's how I knew they were tourists. The way I knew that they were Americans was that they broke one of the first rules that I learned about travel in the tube: Keep your voices low if you must speak to your companions. There is no need for the whole train to hear you!

They left the tube at Aldgate.

I hope that wherever you are today, you fit easily into your surroundings.

Don Bergquist - 07 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Missions Accomplished

I am so glad that I took most of the day yesterday to do the housework that needed doing. I did get out for a nice 25-mile ride when the weather was nice, but much of the day was dedicated to housework.

That means that today, which is gorgeous is all mine!

I do not know what all the plants are that are in bloom but the area is lovely! There are flowers everywhere you look, even these lovely purple flowers that are growing out of the chinks in the wall along the Portsmouth Road.

My bike rides have been getting longer as the weather gets nicer. I range now from New Malden to Sunbury weir and from Chessington to Richmond Park. On really windy days, I tend to shorter rides, but it is nice to get out and get moving.

It was sprinkling this morning when I got up but Saga and I took a walk when that cleared, I have a nice breakfast and a second cup of coffee (and a third) and now it is lovely out so I am about to hop on my bike and head out.

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

Don Bergquist - 06 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law, Allyn

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Apparently, I am in the wrong business!

I've been keeping records on house utilization, and availability for the past year-and-a-half and people ask me if they have any questions. I guess that this makes sense, I have been living in The Villa for the past year or so, but recently, it seems that the things I do for the house have been expanding.

I've become the de facto hotelier of the Harris Villa. I have been running around all day getting ready for house guests. There are not enough sheets for the house; I went out to Primark to get sheets. We need cleaning chemicals for the house; I went to Surbiton to get cleaning products and paper at Sainsbury's. The cleaning woman could not make it in to clean this week due to some emergency dental surgery; I am vacuuming and cleaning the windows.

I've already mowed the back garden and am about to Hoover the halls. I've got a load of my personal laundry running and a load of dishes in the dish washer. I'm taking a break before doing the vacuuming (the last of the tasks I have to complete today) to have a cool drink, and rest a while.

It was really windy and sprinkling this morning so I started the housework whilst I couldn't ride anyway, I am resolved, however, I am going for a ride today! I suppose I should get this article posted and get back to work. This afternoon is supposed to be lovely!

I hope that wherever you are today, you are getting the things done that need doing!

Don Bergquist - 05 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my cousin, DeeAnn

Friday, May 04, 2007

Bursting With Lethargy

God! It is impossible for me to get motivated this afternoon! Well, all day really! I really didn't want to drag myself out of bed this morning. The day dawned cold but clear and the duvet was too enticing.

My ride this morning was really pleasant and while I was productive this morning, my head was not really into getting on with the job at hand. I kept stealing glances out the window.

I have just finished lunch and am about to go for a bike ride. It is so lovely out I wish I could take the afternoon off and just ride all afternoon. But there are things to do so I guess I should really wrap this up, get my ride in and get back to lunch.

…but I don't know… it is so lovely out!

I hope that wherever you are today, you have the energy and resolve to do what must be done!

Don Bergquist - 04 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Busy Day

It's yet another busy day for me coming up. I have a day's worth of testing to do and a bunch of things to wrap-up for a project due today. I had really better get going and get into the office to get started but right now, it is so lovely!

The temperatures are getting a bit cooler again… which is fine with me! I'd rather put on a jumper than swelter! The summer will be here soon enough, it is nice to have the cool weather when I can.

Of course, the coolness is deceptive. Just because it is cool out does not mean that it is not really spring full-on! It is!! I am so glad that I have been stocking up on my allergy medications each time I have been back in the states. I am back on my full regimen. If not for my damn allergies, it would be so lovely to have spring all year long!

Ah well, I really had best get on my bike and get into the office. I hope that wherever you are today, your day is lovely.

Don Bergquist - 03 May 2007 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Queen Of Her Realm

As long as the rain isn't falling, Saga is truly in her element here!

She seems to love it here. We go for walks. She now owns half the real estate along the Portsmouth road, the Long Ditton common, Bushy Park, lots of houses in West Molesey, the whole of Terry and Angie's back garden, and Hampton Court Palace. (She must own them, she's peed on them… isn't that how dogs take ownership of real estate?)

As I write this, Saga is laying outside in her favorite spot (by the cypress tree at the bottom of the garden) in the early morning sun. It hasn't rained for a couple days so the lawn is nice and dry and she loves lying out there.

She also loves getting in the trailer and going over to the pub. Not only will daddy take her out to the big park with all the animals and interesting smells, but there are people there that have food and it is eat, eat, eat! As much as she can beg!

And so what if her daddy goes away occasionally, she gets to stay at her other house, the one with the foxes in the garden and the interesting piles of stuff in the next garden over. The one she shares with Angie and Terry. The one with the lovely table that she is allowed to lie on in the sun! Ah! Bliss!

But, looking out into the garden, Saga is starting to stir and I need to get into the office so I had best wrap this up and get into the office.

Wherever you are today, I wish you a comfy place in the sun in which to lie!

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

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

British Gas

It is time again to rant about British Gas!

I guess I really have nothing to complain about, they are, in fact, no worse the services back home, but they are still annoying! I have to wait for them to show up (some time today) to service the boiler.

It is time again to get the boiler serviced (it's an annual requirement here) and unlike the cable, or the phone companies here, the gas company just says that they will be here some time today. I hope it is sooner rather than later! I'd rather get back to the office. That work here where my connection is not the greatest.

So much to do!

I hope that wherever you are today, your time is yours!

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