We had a quick jaunt into town yesterday and squeezed ourselves down into the crowds of Gerrard Street for the celebratory mood that the Year of the Rooster and brought. The last time I went into Chinatown to see in the New Lunar Year was probably about ten years ago, but I felt it was important to head into town and be amongst other people celebrating culture when all people want to do these days is to divide cultures.
Although S and I had arrived towards the later part of the day, Chinatown was still rammed, as were most of the eateries (including New World, which I have been going to ever since I was a kid). One thing that was quite sad to see was the impact of business rates and rents having gone up in this part of London, and many old and once-prosperous shops and establishments that I remember from childhood, have been shut down and boarded up. There's also a new development springing up along the Charing Cross Road, which also used to house a number of shops.
Needing something to lift one's spirits a bit, we popped into the pub in Leicester Square and had a pint of Old Rosie, before setting off towards The Shard for some champagne and lights:
I had meant to upload a few London-based bits and bobs a week ago, including how we got a yearly pass to The Shard and a visit to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, but it's impossible to get round to anything of the sort at the moment whilst I'm in the process of cobbling together a proposal for my upcoming work-related research project, and that's when I'm not being plagued by procrastination (which normally comes in the form of running my photography workflow).
Although the final report is not to be submitted until the summer, it's still quite a task as the univeristy are expecting it all to be about half the word count of an average-sized dissertation. No doubt the referencing will take much of my time; I'll probably either need the floor space in the living room or a large table in the library in order to get it all in order. In terms of what I have been looking at: I'm looking along the lines of the lack of what is referred to as 'Non-Technical Skills' (read as: Not Being a Dickhead), because if you read some of the RAIB reports into some of our most recent blunders, it is dickheadness and the lack of Non-Technical Skills that has placed itself in the root of some incidents, but that's another analysis for another day.
But first thing's first(!):
We're flying out to Japan very shortly, though only for a whistlestop tour, as we need to be back in time for a lecture and the possibility of estate agents; I've a short work-related trip and a book launch to negotiate... and when I get back to "work" (I'm currently on 3 weeks* annual leave), I've probably got some rookies to train up too. In fact, a fair few number of things (that I can't talk about here, so butt out, mardy) are in the pipeline, so depending on how the year pans out, we may have more trips out to Japan and further afield in the future, but we'll see.
*As I'm rarely off sick: Unknown to me, and the woman that decided to jump in front of my train two days before I was due to start a week of annual leave, I got a whole week's annual leave reimbursed to my leave allocation. Silver linings, and all that.
S is quite excited about the trip to Japan as it will have been the furthest he has travelled from home, and he is of course looking forward to our trip on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima. I'm just excited because it has been on my list of places to visit before I turn 30, so there we are.
Ever since the demise of Dopplr, I've been trying to log all my old flights through TripIt and App in the Air, so it'll be nice to add a few more fresh miles and destinations, though I'd say my twenties has seen me cover quite a bit! It's a shame I never thought to record all the long-distance travel I did as a kid as we often flew long haul to visit my parents' family back in the Philippines (I've been flying +10 hour flights since I was two!) That said, we're definitely not planning to visit the Third Reich of (NRA) America any time soon. In fact, we're boycotting the place until Orange Man is gone; we've been able to get back in touch with family friends, but the atmosphere, even in somewhere a little bit more culturally open like New York City, is tense. Such a shame, considering we had such a wonderful holiday in the US back in 2015, travelling along the West Coast from Seattle, WA to San Francisco, CA.
For now, I'm enjoying the fact that winter this year has been quite enjoyable and surprisingly warm! Because -7°C in London isn't cold at all, so do grow a pair – as a friend said to me, "There's no such thing as cold – just inappropriately dressed." Thermals and a down jacket have been good to me for the last 7-8 years and so I've never been cold in this country, never mind the -14°C with -20°C windchill that we experienced in New York City a few winters ago. Funny how the only people that have been moaning about the cold to me at work have all been old men, but such is life!