Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Dog in the Park

While I travelled to Poland and Israel, and bwo flew off to the family wedding in San Diego, Roxy spent the time with Clive. Clive, "Deputy Dawg" the dog walker is great with her. He walks her at least once or twice a week, and she is always excited to go out with him and his pack. Unfortunately he is also a little too expensive for us, and with the amount of travelling we will be doing over the next few months we will need to find an alternative. Yesterday evening after work, Clive dropped Roxy back home. We were very happy to see each other (Roxy and I, not Clive) and her black and white body shook and shivered while she panted happily. We went out on our regular walk, down to the river and played catch with the tennis ball for a while. It's a reasonable place to let her off the lead as it's a huge open field. She even came back when bribed with doggie treats. So I was feeling like I had this whole dog handling thing down.

I got up early this morning and decided to take Roxy to Richmond Park. Clive told me he lets her off the leash and lets her run when he takes them to the park, so I thought what the hell. She immediately took off like a bat out hell and promptly disappeared for 20 minutes chasing squirrels and rabbits. You could just barely spot her tiny silhouette in the far distance as she darted from tree to tree and burrow to burrow. Luckily there were no deer around. All the while I paced back and forth calling out from time to time, offering treats and water, even the tennis ball - she was just not interested. She would spot another squirrel in the distance and would take off with single minded obsession. All this reminded me of the video below, that went viral in the UK. Basically it's a guy shouting "Fenton! Fenton! Fenton!!!" after his dog as it chases deer in the very same Richmond Park. Everyone in this country has seen it and I can even say that Roxy went all Fenton on me and most people would smile knowingly (I like the whole "JESUS CHRIST, Fenton!" thing). Roxy finally came skipping back, happy with herself, tongue hanging out, eyes sparking, with a huge smile on her face. I don't think I can let her loose in the park too often, I just haven't the nerves.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dan+ lounge

Today I am sitting in the Dan+ Lounge at BG airport (note the plus). This is because I have finally reached silver status on BA. Not to say that it's all plane (haha) sailing, as the BA web page says that even though I have enough points, I am still bronze. Apparently, according to a very nice Indian guy called Craig (I swear), their computers take 48 hours to update, so I'm in some sort of twilight zone. I slept in Gdansk on Wednesday night, Richmond on Thursday, Raanana on Friday and Saturday, and hopefully tonight back in Richmond.

Of all the times to pick to visit Israel, I had to pick Lag BaOmer during a bad hamsin. My least favourite holiday. It's the one where kids are taught to steal wood from building sites and then burn it in huge bonfires which threaten to burn down our house. I was expecting a night full of smoke and cinder as in previous years, and was overjoyed when I saw these signs placed in strategic spots in the open fields around the house.
For the Hebrew impaired, it reads something like "It is totally forbidden to light fires in this area. Whomever (or the law breaker who) does not follow this order can expect to be legally prosecuted". Signed by the City of Raanana. Finally they are doing the right thing. Now that we have left.

On top of it all it has been boiling hot here in Israel. Highs about 35 Degrees C both days. With a hot wind. Horrible. But there is nothing like coming home and seeing my kids. Nothing. I am happy to report that the house is functioning perfectly. The kitchen and common areas are spotless, and no thanks to Azziza. The boys (G and Oren and Vardi) are into "maintaining". You clean once and then maintain by dealing with each mess as it happens. What a concept. The boy is actually doing dishes. We should have gone away years ago.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's not all perfect, you know.

It's not all perfect here. Looking over the last few posts, you could get the impression that I am blissfully happy in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. There are some minor issues that do bother me. More than the strange fact that they drive on the wrong side of the road, it's just weirdness that while all of the UK is completely metric, car's speed and distances are measures in mph and miles. Then there is the over enthusiastic use of signs. They love signs, the British. At work there are signs reminding you to wash your hands after you go to the bathrooms, signs to remind you to take your dirty cups to the kitchen, signs to remind you to recycle. At the local railway crossing there are signs to ask you (politely) to turn off your engine while waiting for the trains to pass. There is even a "pelican crossing" sign near the house (seriously).

There are some other quirky things I have noticed. Why in all their years of world domination, have the British still not figured out how to make a toilet that you don't have to hold down the handle when you flush in order for enough water to clear the bowl. Then there's these strange taps.
They make absolutely no sense. Either you get blistering hot water or it's so cold you freeze your fingers off. I'm really just getting started, more will follow shortly.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


That's Ham House behind bwo and the broxyo. It's 10 mins walk from the house and overlooks the Thames. The walk takes one out the back gate onto the little path behind the houses on Petersham Road, through the grassy area of "The Copse",  down tree-lined Ham Avenues, alongside the Ham Polo Ground (and the practising polo horses) and over the wooden bridge to the Thames towpath. I have been walking mostly in the early morning or late evening with Roxy-girl, there are few people around, just lots of birds. Some dogs and their people, but it seems English dogs are less friendly (as are their people) than we are used to. So all Roxy's excited shaking and wagging typically goes unheeded.

I feel very lucky to be able to enjoy these views and surroundings every day. I am sure the uniqueness will wear off after a while - but in the mean time, I'm enjoying myself. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

White Cliffs

We got to Dover yesterday. It was a fine spring day, sunny from time to time, and warm. We took Roxy for a walk on the cliffs and she had a good time smelling everything  particularly enjoying the sheep poop. We got stuck in horrendous traffic on the way back (near Chessington World of Adventure or something like that) and after sitting stationary for an hour or so, we pulled off and had lunch at "The Shy Horse". Not bad actually (bwo had her usual bits of cow).

My cold got worse during the course of the day and by nightfall I was really miserable. Not even Manchester City's FA cup victory helped. So I went to bed really early and slept well. Got up early and went into work. All in all, looking back, it was a great weekend. I walked a lot, spent time with my two girls and generally just rested. Somehow having a Saturday and Sunday seems much more relaxing than the Friday and Saturday weekend in Israel. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


It was a hell of a week, last week. It started last Friday with the trip to Israel, then on Saturday I met the boss. After a stressful and work-filled few days in Israel, we flew to the UK (on one of the worst flight ever). Spent a lot of time with the UK squints, drove west to meet the special Bristol variety of squints, and finally some time after lunch on Friday my week work week was over. To make matters worse, I caught a cold from the sad French Canadian that sat sniveling next to me from Ben Gurion to Heathrow. I collapsed in my bed on Friday night, miserable, with a full head, stuffy nose and streaming eyes. It was raining.

Saturday morning, I awoke not feeling much better but decided I needed to walk off the cold. So early in the morning (7:15 am) I dropped bwo off in Richmond, parked and went walking along the Thames with Roxy. We started at Richmond Bridge (actually I parked on the Twickenham side), walked under Twickenham Bridge, all along the Old Deer Park, past the Mid Surrey Gold Course, alongside Kew Gardens all the way to Kew Bridge. The views along the river were spectacular (see pictures). Just my dog and I and a lot of rowers. On the way back the sky clouded over and a light rain added to the atmosphere. I guess we're in England now.

After that two hour trek, I collapsed on the couch for a nap, with Roxy sleeping at my feet dreaming of romping with her friends back in the old country. Later in the afternoon, I took pity on her and we went for another walk. This time out the house, down Sandy Lane (there is a nice house for sale on Sandy Lane for £1,125,000), down Lock Lane, to the Teddington Lock on the Thames and then in the direction of Kingston, past the footbridge to Twickenham, along Lower Ham Road to the Kingston Rowing Club, before turning back. It started raining quite hard and the dog and I got quite wet. We arrived home out of breath and dripping, quite full of mud. It was awesome.

This morning (Sunday) I want to try make it to Dover. I have never seen the White Cliffs in person, and so have some plans. These rarely work out as we usually give up after about a half hour of driving. But I have hope. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

On the way back

It's time to leave Israel again. It was a very short stay. I arrived Saturday morning and am flying out Tuesday morning. I was busy running around the whole stay, but it was very good to see the kids and the Israeli squints. The house is still standing and the boy and his house-mates seem to have it together. I was most impressed to find one of the boys awake and making sandwiches at 4 am this morning, preparing his lunch for work. He left a few minutes after I did a 5 am. The girl's was home for all of my stay and she seems to be dominating the army and to really have things in gear. So far it seems there is little to worry about as far as they are concerned.

It was hot and dusty - a big difference from the snow I left in London. Bwo says the weather has improved, I will find out in a few hours. So in general, it's all good and I am looking forward to getting to the house on Petersham.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Terminal 1 again

Here I sit once again in Heathrow Terminal 1 awaiting a 10:30pm flight to Tel Aviv. On one hand I am happy to be going to see the kids who I have missed terribly, but on the other I hate to leave bwo on her own for the next few days. We only just moved into the house on Petersham, Roxy only just arrive on Wednesday, our shipment (of which I have one of the twenty or so boxes) arrived this morning while I was at work, and I am tired. It's been a lot of early mornings with lots of varied transportation. Then busy days and back home to walk the dog and wife. So all in all I could do with a weekend, but it probably won't be much of one seeing as I am going to meet the boss and then spend time at work in Israel before flying back on Tuesday for some long days in the UK.

I did get to have my Pret, Moroccan Falaffel sandwich here in the terminal, so not all is bad. What will be completely strange is I am due to pick up a rental car at the airport in Tel Aviv, because I had to return the Prius once the relocation started. It will be interesting to see just how efficient Hertz is in Israel, here in the UK they rock and it takes just minutes to get your car. I suppose I will have to put on my 80% glasses again. At least it's a lot warmer in Israel at the moment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trains, Buses, Snow and Such

Bwo needed the car today and so I decided I would use public transport to get to work. I woke bright and early at 5:30 am, took the dog out (she is very good), got dressed warm and set out around 5:45. The number 65 bus comes right past the house, and the stop is a few hundred meters from the door. I should have realized I was going to have to wait when just as I left home a 65 bus roared past me. The sign at the bus stop said the next bus would be coming in 18 mins, then 6 mins, then 15 mins, then 9 mins, then back to 15mins (sort of like watching a file download). The bus did eventually arrive and we made our way to the station and another 25 minute wait.  Once the train arrived it only took 22 minutes to Egham and then another 22 minute walk from the station to work.  All in all an hour and a quarter trip.

But... now it's snowing heavily (everyone assures me that snow after Easter is very unusual, but these same people keep telling me the 22 minute walk to the station is actually 10 minutes, so I question their estimation accuracy). I will need to do the opposite journey in an hour or two, and am not really looking forward to this.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Roxy has Landed

Yes the sign says "Fish Border Inspection Post" (but what does the 28 mean?). This is where we went today (actually next door) to pick up Roxy. She arrived in good spirits and was very happy to see us. She is currently sniffing every cornet of the house making herself at home. I took her for a short walk and I think she was a little shocked by the cold. She seems to have traveled well and is the same high energy girl we know and love.

There is a busy road outside our front door, and I am in constant worry that Roxy will run out into the street. We are going to be very careful with her in this house and make sure we keep the front door closed. There is a sort of double door to the outside - a place to keep coats? This should help.

Strangely enough when we arrived at the ARC (Animal Return Centre), some young chaps were waiting for us. They had filmed Roxy's removal from the plane and wanted to film our reunion with our girl. They work for "Animal Planet" and were filming a show called "Animal Airport". We will let you know if we ever make it to the big screen. A few days back a different film crew cornered bwo while we were shopping at HomeBase. They took some film of her answering some questions and said they will contact her if they want her for more. It's the big time here in Richmond.

I am just very happy our lovely girl is here and safe. She seems to have handled the flight very well (so far). Now she needs to learn to talk with an English accent.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Walking About

Today was Easter Monday and it's a "Bank Holiday" here in the UK. Which means it's a public holiday by anyone's standards. Most importantly I do not work. So I took the opportunity to continue exploring the Petersham, Ham and Richmond areas. This morning I set off bright and early (it was pretty cold) and walked from the Petersham gate to the Ham gate in Richmond park. It is a wonderful wild and green park and Roxy is going to love it (I believe it's best to avoid the deer, as they can be vicious). What is strange is that even though I passed a number of people on my walk, only a few said "morning" most avoided all eye contact completely - one old lady did smile at me and say that it was a lot less cold than yesterday. On my way back from Ham gate, I noticed on a number of "diverted traffic" signs, I was rather surprised to find out this is for the local toad migration - where they are moving to, I have no idea. I am not sure if the signs are prevent you running over migrating toads or migrating toad patrol volunteers. Either way the roads were closed.

This afternoon, I grovelled enough so I was relieved of another trip to the shops, so while bwo went one more time to TK Maxx (It's TK in this country), I set off to see how long it takes to get to downtown Richmond by foot. From Richmond station back home takes 34 minutes - but it is a very pleasant walk along the banks of the Thames. There were many people out on the streets today, despite the chilly weather.

Tomorrow is work and I get to experience just how long it takes to drive into work in Egham and then back in the evening. Then on Wednesday, the Roxy girl arrives. I hope she likes it here, she is surely going to miss the doggie summer camp at the kennels in Nof Yam.