Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Madrid Day 3

I have a cold, and didn't sleep much last tired. Mom and dad left at 7:30 this morning, and they slipped their breakfast passes under our door before leaving.

We got up and had breakfast, went back to the room and just hung out, watching tv and whatever. We're moving to a hostel today, and check out at the hotel is noon, and check-in at the hostel isn't until 2:00, so we're just waiting.

At noon, we checked out and walked over the hostel and left our bags and walked down to the Royal Palace. There was a huge lineup, but if we buy tickets in advance online, we can skip the line and get right in, so we'll go another day.

The Catedral de la Almudena is right there as well, and it was not busy, so we decided to check it out. It took over 100 years to build, because of wars and lack of funds, but was finally completed in 1992.

It was pretty impressive, as are the crypts below the cathedral. The lighting in the crypts gives it a very creepy feeling, but there's lots of tourists mulling around, so not spooky, despite all the dead people you're walking on top of.

We stopped for a late lunch at Plaza Mayor on the way back to the hostel, and then got checked in, and just wandered around the twists and turns of the south side of Puerta del Sol. Madrid is such a bustling city and the whole old town is really amazing. So many restaurants, shops, little parks and plazas, squares, with so many little windy side roads (some pedestrian-only), it's really easy to get lost, but so much to explore, it's pretty awesome.

After getting checked in, we just wandered around, went to a brew pub for some craft beer, and generally didn't do too much.

The weather today was quite a bit nicer, it rained the morning, but stopped by mid-morning, and by afternoon the sun was shining off and on. The weather is only supposed to get better from here on it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Madrid Day 2

We woke up and knocked on mom and dad's door at 8:00 and we all went downstairs for breakfast.

We then walked to the Museo Nacional del Prado, one of the best museums in Madrid for old paintings and such. The lineup was ridiculous, but I had pre-purchased tickets, so we were able to skip the line and get in right away. Of course, there was a tour guide waiting at the entrance offering guided tours for an hour or more. We decided to do it, 50 euros.

It was quite interesting, and we learned some stuff about Renaissance paintings, like nymphs give birth to cupids, and foxes represent demons, and dogs represent fidelity.

We spent a couple of hours there, then went for lunch.

Downtown Madrid is very nice, the main square (Puerto del Sol) is a hub of activity, and a number of streets feed off of it, but there's a ton of little pedestrian friendly side streets, with shops and shops and shops galore, it's fun to just walk along them and explore. Very European, so many outside cafe's. Too bad it was cold raining all day. There's actually a Tim Horton's here, with a sign indicating it's Canada's favorite coffee shop.

I learned today that my mom has a rain jacket for her rain jacket.

We then went to Calle Gran Via, a main road with tons and tons of big name shops. Tracy and my mom did lots of window shopping, and Tracy did some real shopping as well.

Back to the hotel late in the afternoon and made arrangements to go out for tapas at 7:00. My parents are leaving tomorrow morning. Tracy and I also booked a day trip tour to Toledo with a winery for Friday.

At 7:00, we went for tapas, which was delicious, especially the hot dog tapas.

After that, we went to back to the hotel, and said goodbye to mom and dad, as they leave pretty early tomorrow morning.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Madrid Day 1

Tracy and I got up early and went for breakfast near the hostel, packed our bags, checked out, and hopped on the Thameslink train to Gatwick. We are meeting my parents in Madrid..

My parents are Morocco, flying back to Madrid today, after doing a two week G Adventure trip of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. While we were waiting for our flight, I got an email from my mom, apparently it was mayhem in Morocco, something about the king of Morocco decided abruptly he didn't want Morocco to roll back their clocks this weekend. Unfortunately, no one else was appraised of this decision, so everybody's phones were the wrong time, there was mayhem at the airport.

We arrived in Madrid about 3:45. We had to get our passports stamped, which I found a bit odd, since we entered the EU in London (Brexit deal isn't finished yet). We waited for my parents, who arrived at a different terminal, then they made their way to where we were waiting, around 5:00pm.

We got a cab to central Madrid and checked into Hotel Europa. We made arrangements to meet downstairs at 7:00 for supper. It ended up that my parents got a room only 2 down from us, so it's easy for us to visit. After Tracy and I showered and got clean, we visited their room, and they were having a huge issue. They had lost some of their cards, a debit card and an iTrade card. They checked everywhere, all over. So, dad's fuming and trying to figure out what cards they need to cancel, and how to do it and my mom is trying to keep him calm. Tracy and I snuck out, and went downstairs and walked around outside for a while. After 30 minutes, we went back and dad was still on hold, trying to cancel his iTrade account, and he's absolutely livid, because he couldn't figure out how to make a collect call from Spain back to Canada. He tried everything, and nothing was working, so he ended up making a regular long distance call back to Canada, and was terrified of the long distance charges he was going to see.

We snuck back out, and went for supper. I had an amazing pasta and Tracy had pizza. Tracy couldn't finish the pizza, so we got the leftovers in a box. Afterwards, we went back to my parents room, and my dad was furious, he'd been on hold for sooo long, and he's paying for it. We left them the leftover pizza and snuck out again, back to our room.

After a while, Tracy was getting ready for bed, I decided I would try and see how my parents were doing again. I was a bit terrified about how my dad would be. They did end up getting everything dealt with, and I told my dad how much his call would cost him (less than $18), I think in his brain he was imagining hundreds and hundreds of dollars on his phone bill. He was relieved, and they did end up eating the pizza we left.

We made arrangements to meet at 8:00am tomorrow morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Back to London

We went to check out of our hotel and went to pay our final bill, which should have had some breakfasts and dinner from the last night. Fortunately for us, someone didn't put our dinner on our room, so we got an expensive dinner for free, including desserts! Nice.

We walked to the train station and caught the train, for an uneventful train ride back to London. Checked back into the Keystone House Hostel.

Took the Underground to Trafalgar Sqaure, where I wanted to get some pictures of the square, but there was some huge event going on, so it was absolutely packed with people. The National Gallery is right there, and free, so we went in and viewed lots of old paintings from the 1300's to the 1700's. It's so huge, we spent two hours there and still didn't see everything.

We headed back to the King's Cross, and went for supper at a less than mediocre higher-end restaurant, then walked around a bit before heading back to the hostel.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Edinburgh, Day 3

We got up and went for breakfasts outside of the hotel, then went to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions ( a neat tourist exhibit that is pretty much what it sounds like. Lots of neat illusions and effects, but the coolest was a lens in the tower of the building that used light to display a live image into the room, on a concave wooden "bowl". You could see the people walking around, who were actually walking around outside, it was pretty cool. This lens show has been used here in this tourist attraction since the mid-1850's!

The rest of it was some typical illusions you might see elsewhere, but it was pretty good.

It was a cold day, but sunny, today, so we were continually hopping into stores as we roamed around.

I bought a nice cashmere scarf, and Tracy got a kilt skirt.

We visited the cemetery we went to on the ghost tour two nights ago. Some of the graves date back to the 1600's.

Not too much else.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Edinburgh, Day 2

We slept in a bit, had breakfast at the hotel, then walked downtown, not with really any plans.

We hit up a Barclay's ATM first in a mall, then went to a park that had a really tall monument of some sort, just outside of the mall. The monument ended up being a monument to Sir Walter Scott ( I purchased a pass to go up to the top level for both of us, because it looked pretty cool.

There was 287 steps to the top, and it was all tight circular stairs, as you went up, the way got skinnier and skinnier, to the the point where if you were fat, you wouldn't even be able to get up. In fact, Tracy told me later she was concerned that she was going to get stuck at the top, because some fat person was going to get stuck in the stairwell.

It gave great views of the city all around.

We then walked along a park, and around and up to to the Edinburgh Castle, and old castle in the middle of Edinburgh, built on an old volcano. It was quite impressive. A lot of it is is now museums inside, mainly about the military history of Scotland. We spent a number of hours up there.

It was cool and windy today, with bits of sunshine. It was especially windy up at the top of the monument and high on the castle.

We had tickets for the Scotch Whisky Experience at 4:20pm, so we headed to a pizza joint and shared a pizza, then headed to the scotch place. It's not an actual distillery (you'd have to travel to the countryside to get an actual scotch distillery tour), but they partner with over 400 distilleries in Scotland to provide a scotch tasting and learning experience. I'm not a scotch fan, but Tracy is, but we got the "gold" pass, which included 5 scotch samples from all around Scotland. We learned about the 5 different areas around Scotland that produce scotch, and the flavour's typical of each region. And the difference between single malt and blended. The tour ended with a viewing of the largest whisky collection in the world, which is housed at the Scotch Whisky Experience, over 3300 of never-opened bottles of whisky ( Very impressive.

In the tasting room, a younger couple up from London joined us at our table, and we sat and talked for probably 1.5 hours with them, till they kicked us out at 7:15.

Tracy and I went to a restaurant called Pibroche for supper. It's a restaurant she saw when we arrived, and we tried to go there yesterday, but it was closed. They serve typical Scottish food, Tracy had vegetarian haggis, I had a meat pie. I'm digging the meat pies here in the UK.

We headed back to the hotel about 9:00pm.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Edinburgh, Day 1

We got up early, 6:30, as we weren't sure how the Underground would be with the morning rush hour, so wanted to give ourselves lots of time to get from Earl's Court to King's Cross. It ended up not being busy at all, got there easily, plenty of time for breakfast at King's Cross station before our 9:00am train.

The train ride was uneventful. I used a speedometer app on my phone to calculate the speed of the train, it was going around 180 kph. It made a number of quick stops on the way, but was a great way to travel. Total time from London to Edinburgh, about 1h 20m. We arrived around 1:20.

Along the way, we cancelled the booking for the hostel, as the reviews on it were not good, and Tracy was grumbling. We actually got a good deal on a really nice hotel for 3 nights as we were approaching Edinburgh. We're staying at Ten Hll Place Hotel, a short 8 minute walk from downtown Edinburgh.

All I can say is Edinburgh is BEAUTIFUL. The old town completely escaped any damage from WW I or WW II, and is in  virtually immaculate condition. We only saw part of it today, but it seems to go on for a long time.

We went for lunch/supper in the middle of the afternoon, and booked a "free" ghost tour for the evening and also booked a scotch tour for tomorrow late afternoon. We are Scotland, after all.

The weather was cool and cloudy, but it wasn't raining.

We headed back to the hotel room to bundle up and get our rain jackets, as it seemed to be threatening, before heading to the ghost tour. The ghost tour is free to buy, but then you can tip at the end if you liked it.

It was 1.5 hours of some of the history of Edinburgh, as we walked to a number of landmarks in downtown Edinburgh. Unfortunately, I can't really compare it to a paid tour, but it was interesting. I think some of the paid tours actually take you into buildings and dungeons and crypts and such, but not sure.

We went to the Frankenstein bar afterwards for a drink, then back to the hotel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

British Museum and the London Dungeon

We slept in a bit, got up around 8:30, walked down the street and had breakfast, then took the underground to the British Museum. I had in my journal from 2001 that it was really great.

It was really great, and huge. It's free to get in, and it mostly covers cultures from around the world. They have amazing exhibits on ancient Rome and ancient Greece and ancient Iran (Mesopotamia), but have exhibits on old American cultures and others as well. They have the Rosetta Stone there, and the also the sarcophagus of Cleopatra, with Cleopatra still inside. They have other sarcophagus's, all containing mummies as well. It was very cool, and we spent a number of hours there.

After that we headed down to near the London Eye and went to the London Dungeon. I did the London Dungeon in 2001 as well, and really enjoyed all the gruesome exhibits they had on torture, the plague, beheadings and all the other gruesome things in Britain's past.

This time around it was WAY different. It's a full on, fully interactive experience, with actors playing the parts of various characters, and take you on a tour through Britain's past, from being charged with treason in the middle ages, to getting the plague, and getting beheaded. It was AWESOME, so much fun, really spooky and lasted over two hours!

We went for supper in that area, then headed back to the hostel.

Since we've been here, there's been a fast food fried chicken outlet down the street that has had hundreds of people lining up, waiting to get in literally from open until close. The place is called Jollibee. I remember reading something about a Filipino chicken fast-food chain expanding globally earlier this year, so figured this was it. They are lined up down the block both ways, and around the block, hundreds upon hundreds of people all day, every day. It's hilarious. Who know that people could take fried chicken so seriously.

Tomorrow we're up early for a 9:00am train to Edinburgh.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tower of London

Tracy and I had a lot of very dirty clothes and a whole lot of extra (dirty) shoes we no longer needed to lug around, among other things, so we decided to take the morning to do laundry and ship stuff back to Canada. That was an exercise, but we managed it all done in the morning.

Before heading out for the day, we signed up for the free dinner the hostel provides each night (they also offer free breakfasts).

We headed to the area near the Tower of London, and had lunch down there, then spent over 2.5 hours touring the Tower of London. The crown jewels are kept here too. The Tower of London was founded in 1066, and has been expanded by kings and queens over the centuries. A lot of history here. After 2.5 hours, we still hadn't seen everything, but oh well.

We walked across the Tower Bridge, and walked along some of the riverfront, then stopped at a casual place for a drink before heading back to the hostel for the dinner at 8:00pm.

Dinner was very good (pasta), as we chatted with other backpackers from around the world.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Tracy and I slept in. Our bodies are so sore. The tendons in the back of my knees are quite tender.

We checked out about 9:30, went for breakfast, then took the rental car back to Europcar in Romford. Walked to the train station, and caught the next train back to downtown London, got on the Underground to Earl's Court, and got to our hostel, St. James Backpackers. This is a hostel, a large common area, kitchen, tv, a really nice patio in the back, lots of backpackers. I obviously missed out the pricing, though, 89 pounds a night for a private double...I think I thought it was 89 CAD. Oh well.

After getting checked in, we wandered around, down to the Thames. St. Pauls Cathedral was very close so we checked it out. Normally you have to pay to get in, but they had a service going, so anyone could go in for free, but you couldn't walk through the whole church, just the back half, so we didn't get a chance to see the best parts of it. We walked around a bit more, and were getting a bit peckish, so headed to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (via the Underground), one of the oldest pubs in London. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666...that's old. It's pretty neat, part of it is in the cramped basement of the building, little nooks and crannies that are hundreds of years old. We had dinner, then walked along the Thames in the area of Bankside. Very nice, lots of things to see, lots of new, fancy restaurants along side really old pubs in really old buildings. Saw a full-size replica of the ship Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the earth back in 1577-1580. The ship was called the Golden Hind.

We found our way back to the hostel after 9:00pmish.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

OCR World Championships Day 3

Today was the team relay and the charity trust races.

A team consists of 3 people. I was originally going to be on a team with two others from Cor.Fit, but they backed out of the World Championships, so Tracy and I decided to do a team, and find a third. I put a post on the OCR World Championship Athletes Facebook group, and a lady from South Africa (who was born in France, and has lived in England and other places), took us up on our offer. Her name was Cyrie.

A funny story, I was typing a message to Cyrie on my phone, and I started it with "Hey Cyrie. ..." and hit send after the rest of the message. After it was sent, I looked at the message, and damn autocorrect changed her name to Cutie! I was partially horrified and partially laughing out loud. I followed up with another message apologizing for calling her Cutie. She laughed, said it happens often.

Me, Tracy, Mandy and Jon headed to the event about 9:15. Mike went earlier with Graham, as he's racing with Graham and Lucas at an earlier time. Our heat was at 11:00am.

The team event consists of four legs, a speed (running) leg, a strength leg, a technical leg (obstacles) and a team leg, where you have to work together as a team. Tracy was originally going to do the running leg, Cyrie the technical and me the strength, but Tracy didn't think she could run after yesterday, and Cyrie had destroyed her hands on the obstacles yesterday, so we totally switched everything. Cyrie did the run, Tracy did the strength and I did the technical.

It was a blast. Cyrie started, and did a 4km run, then tagged Tracy, who had to do a 2k run with a bunch of feats of strength to perform; carrying a 50 pound bag on the shoulders while going over and under huge logs, pulling a large, metal rocket on a rope out of the water, carrying two large bags of rocks (called a farmers carry), carrying a concrete block around, etc.), then she tagged me, and I did a short run with a bunch of (mostly) rig obstacles (monkey bar type of things, swinging from rings to ropes and other hand-holds, etc.), then I tagged the both of them, and the three of us had to carry two very heavy boulders on a platform around a short course, a rope climb, and then up and over a 10-foot wall. The catch is, you had to work as a team to do each of them, especially the 10-foot wall. For the wall, I climbed in Cyrie's shoulders, then grabbed the rope near the top of the wall, and pulled myself up and hung down from the wall while Tracy tried to grab my ankles and then climb over me to the top of the wall. She's pretty light, so it worked ok, with the help of Cyrie supporting her. Now with Tracy up, Cyrie had to try the same thing, and she would grab my ankes, and try to climb up my legs, then she would try to grab my shirt, but got my shorts instead, and pulled my shorts part way down. (This was happening to everyone, not just me....there were a lot of full moons during this.) She couldn't make it, would drop back down and try again, but no go. I was getting tired of hanging with a woman hanging from me, so I'd have to pull myself up periodically and give my arms a rest. We tried a few more times, but it wasn't working. Finally I dropped back down, and hoisted Cyrie up, while she hung on the top of the wall, and I ran up and grabbed her ankle. I was able to jump high enough to get her ankle, then get enough grip from my new shoes to propel myself to the rope at the top and grab a hold of it, and got up. With all three of us to the top, we climbed down the other side, and ran across the finish line. So much fun, I've never done a team relay before.

We ended up 63rd out of 84 that completed the team relay (i.e. all team members finished with their bands), so not great, but we all finished with our bands and got our medals. Last was the charity trust race, which is more of wind-down. No timing chips, no pressure, all the money goes to charity. Tracy, me, Mike, Mandy, Jon, Lucas and Graham (all Cor.Fit) just walked the whole course (7k). Jamie, another Cor.Fit'er also joined for a bit, but ran ahead as he has family waiting for him. I took my camera for this, and I didn't do many of the obstacles, instead took pictures of some of the obstacles while the others did the ones they wanted to do.

With that finished (I think it took maybe 2 hours to walk the 7k course), it was celebration time. The weather was even nicer today than yesterday, we sat in the outside event area, in the beautiful sun, had beers and pizza and brownies and celebrated our accomplishments.

All-in-all, I was successful in getting all four medals, with a "completed" status in all races (i.e. they didn't cut my band off for failing to do something). There were a lot of people complaining on Facebook about cheaters, people hiding their bands from the marshalls, putting it in their pockets or underneath long sleeve shirt, so they could keep their bands even when the couldn't complete an obstacle. That sucks, but what can you do. I'm happy in the knowledge that I didn't cheat and was successful, if not particularly speedy. (Did I mention I hate running?)

The other thing is, you can sure notice the difference between the runners that are trying to do OCR and the OCR'ers that are trying to run. Haha. It's amazing to see soooo many fit people (especially guys) that just can't do obstacles. So many of the rigs, guys will try 3, 4, 5 or more times to try and swing across rigs of various sorts, with different hand holds, and just can't do it. They stand around, blocking the lanes, I have to push through, and just pick a lane, ask them if I can go ahead and then fly through it. It actually kinda makes me feel good! Screw them and their muscles and six-packs. I can do obstacles and you can't, na-na-na-na-na-na.

Lucas decided to arrange a celebration supper in town at 6:00 for all of us, and also for his family (his parents and grandparents came over to cheer him on, along with Graham's dad). Funny thing, all of the restaurants in Brentwood all close down at about 5:00pm on Sunday's, so the only place to really get food is at your hotel. We were all staying at the same hotel (Premiere Inn), so that worked out well.

 We ended up to bed around 10:00pm that night.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

OCR World Championships Day 2

Today was the 15k race. I hate running, so was not expecting a great time, but was expecting to complete all obstacles. All 100 of them. Actually, I think it was 97, as they removed 3 obstacles from the race in the end, presumably because they were causing queues. I did it, kept my band and had a completion. Almost 50% of the 45-49 year olds didn't keep their band (i.e. couldn't complete all obstacles), and I managed 63 out of 76 for the completions, and 63 out of 149 if you count the ones that started, but lost their band (they still get to finish the course, even if you lose your band). My time was 3h 25m 02s. That's not too bad, I actually thought I was near 4 hours.

I meant to mention the weather. I was dreading getting typical English weather, especially for this time of year (cloudy, cool, rainy, drizzly, etc.) We have totally lucked out on the weather, with sunshine and above average temperatures, in the high teens! We couldn't have had better weather, so happy about that!

Tracy ended up pulling herself from the race after 53 obstacles. She has been having IT band issues for over a year, affecting her running. And there was lots of water on this course, and she got cold. She could barely walk from her IT band, so she got driven back to the emergency tent by the course officials.

I ran into my British underwear buddy along the race, and we chatted for a bit.

We headed back to town, Tracy and I headed to a pub for supper, then back to the room.

Tomorrow is the team relay and the charity race, then it's all over.

Friday, October 19, 2018

OCR World Championships Day 1

We were up early, 6:30, as we wanted to get breakfast before heading out to the event location (at Nuclear Races event location, north of Brentwood) at 8:15 with Mike, Mandy and Jon. I drove the rental.

We ran into Jamie again, and another woman that goes to Cor.Fit, but who's name we couldn't remember. That's at least 8 people from Cor.Fit (our gym) at the World Championships.

My race didn't go until 11:00, but me and Tracy walked around and checked out the obstacles, and watched some of the early racers doing the course. This event is very spectator friendly, spectators can pretty much walk around the whole course, so it's awesome.

Today was the 3k race, with 25 (maybe 24, they removed an obstacle from the race) obstacles. I queued up with Jamie, Lucas and Graham, from Cor.Fit, as the grouped a bunch of different age groups together. They only let 10 people go at a time (every minute), and I was near the rear of the group, so it was after 11:30 until I finally got to the start gate.

I'm ecstatic that I completed the 3k race, and 25/24 obstacles successfully, kept my band and got my medal. It was actually relatively easy, with the training we do at Cor.Fit, nothing was really that difficult. I hate running, though, so I'll pass people on the obstacles, then they'll pass me again running to the next obstacle. Haha. If I had the desire to really improve my running, I'd be unstoppable!

I had a total time of 29m 55s. I finished 76th out of 202 racers in my age category (non-pro). 427th out of 1070 men in the open (non-pro) division.

The pro racers started in the afternoon, and everyone was excited to see them, as the best OCR racers in the world are here, including Ryan Atkins and Lindsay Webster, both Canadians and two of the best OCR racers in the world.

To put my time into perspective, the top pro racer today was Jonathon Albon, with a time of 15m 37s. (Ryan Atkins was second place, with a time of 16m 07s.)

Anyway, we all headed back to Brentwood mid-afternoon, and Tracy and I went to The Swan pub for an early dinner, then back to the hotel room, watched tv, did journal stuff and photo stuff and showered to get all the mud off of me.

Tomorrow is the longer 15k race with 100 obstacles. I'll probably be running very slowly (and even walking) lots of it. I've never done a longer obstacle course race (did I mention I hate running?), so it'll be interesting.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Off to Brentwood

We were both really tired from not sleeping on the plane, and jet lag. Tracy was in bed early, like 8:30. I stayed up until almost 10:00. I slept pretty good, but woke up around midnight:30 when Tracy got up to go to the toilet. She complained she wasn't tired anymore, and she didn't really sleep the rest of the night. I did manage to get back to sleep after about an hour, and only woke up when I heard a power saw was 8:55am!

Tracy was super grumpy, and neither of us were particularly hungry, so we skipped breakfast, checked out and got on the Underground for Liverpool Station and got on a train for Brentwood.

The people of London are crazy. There are pedestrian crosswalks everywhere, but half the population don't even follow the crosswalk lights, and cross all the time, in front of cars all the time. And cars don't even seem to care, they slow down, honk their horns, and keep going.

We got to Brentwood about 10:30am, walked to the Premiere Inn (2 minutes from the train station) but check-in doesn't start until 2:00pm, so they stored our bags while we went walking around downtown Brentwood. We went for breakfast at the Slug and Lettuce restaurant, then wandered around downtown, Tracy bought a dress, I bought some socks and then got a haircut. Back to the hotel and checked-in.

For the weekend, we are renting a car with three others that go to Cor.Fit with us (Mandy, Jon and Mike). Tracy and I had tickets for the opening dinner tonight at 6:00, so there was no point in us going to the event earlier to pick up our registration packages. So they drove up there for noon to pick up their packages, then came back, and we took the car. Unfortunately they were unable to add me as an additional driver without me being there, so I had to drive back to Romford in rush hour traffic without being on the rental car contract, driving a standard transmission on the left side of the road, a 30 minute drive. It was kind of stressful, but I made it without incident. Once I was on the rental car contract, I felt comfortable.

After doing that, we headed up to the event village, at the Nuclear Races Event Village, north of Brentwood (got there about 6:30) and registered, got our packages and had some pig roast pork on a bun. I paid 35 pounds for both of Tracy, and I found out that others paid 25 pounds, and at the event, they weren't even checking to see if you had paid, they were giving pork to everyone. We were also told we could eat as much as we want, but they were almost out when we were there, so it was a single serving. Disappointed in that.

While we were waiting in line for our race packages, we ran into another guy that goes to Cor.Fit (Jamie). He was going to take a cab back from the event village to where he was staying (with some of his family, south of Brentwood), so instead we took him back to Brentwood, then he cabbed it back from there. Since Tracy didn't eat much at the pig roast, we went out to a restaurant near the hotel, then back to the room.

Also staying at the same hotel as us and Mandy, Jon and Mike, are Lucas and Graham. They are trainers at Cor.Fit, and still teenagers, and are here with their famiies, which is pretty cool. There's a ton of Cor.Fit people at the OCR WC!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

London, England

Back for another trip.

This time Tracy and I are heading to the OCR World Championships just outside of London, England, just north of Brentwood at the Nuclear Races headquarters.

Tracy and I had a 10:30pm flight from Calgary on British Airways. My brother Darren drove us to the airport, after we drove to his place and left our car there.

Uneventful flight to London, but we both hardly slept on the plane.

We took the Underground from Heathrow to King's Cross and got checked into our hostel late in the afternoon.

Not too much to report, we went to an English pub for a supper, but no booze for us days before the races! Just food. No servers here, we had to order our food at the bar, and then they deliver it to your table when it's ready. No tipping is needed here either.

After supper, we wandered around. An old church had signs for a "crypt gallery"...our interest piqued, we wandered around the back of the church, and it ended up that a bunch of people were setting up a somewhat macabre art exhibition in the basement of the chuch, in the old crypts. They were not yet open, but I mentioned we weren't going to be here for the weekend, so he took us on a partial tour of what they had setup anyway, which was kinda nice.

St. Pancras International Train Station, which is celebrating it's 150th anniversary, with a newly restored building, was quite fabulous to wander around. It's very trendy, lots of shops and restaurants now live in the train station (along with the trains).

At the last minute, I remembered that King's Cross was the station featured in Harry Potter (Platform 9 3/4 anyone?), so we visited the platform 9 3/4 and the tourist shop attached to it. I'm indifferent to Harry Potter, but Tracy is a big fan. We will be checking out the real Harry Pottery exhibit when we are back in London next week.

We were both dead tired from our flight, so made it back to the hotel shortly after 8:00. Tomorrow we are making our way to Liverpool Street station and getting a train to Brentwood.