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The London trip 2006 (day 2)

OK, this time it was for real. No more messing about with strange-side-of-the-steering-wheel car and funny gear sticks that didn’t want to move. I had to get to London, find parking, get to the Redbridge tube station, change at Mile End, end up in Westiminster station, walk to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and get myself registered. Luckily the London underground is just to big too big to implement any real security checks so I was spared the man handling I had to endure the previous day.

Unfortunately Mrs. Luck or whatever he/she is called was not on my side all the way as there was an accident on the M11 (the motorway you have to use if you drive from Stansted airport to London) so I ended up in a mild traffic jam and to top that, I ended-up lost by missing the exit on the M11 and nearly missing the exit after that as well. I then had to find my way back to the previous exit by maneuvering through the small back streets while the rush hour was still in effect. I was hoping to park my car at Redbridge station but once I finally got there (after getting lost again by turning of the wrong exit on the roundabout) I was not so pleased to find out that the parking lot was full! So the parking attendant told me to use the parking by a nearby pub and that it will cost only me only 5 pounds fr the whole day. Yeah, right. It ended up costing me 30 pounds. But as I was late as it is I had to dish up the money and sprint for the tube station. I got to the RCVS only 9 minutes before my appointment. To close for comfort, if you ask me.
My next job was getting myself into the RCVS which I will describe in a separate post, where I will describe in detail the procedure I went through in getting my Slovene veterinary diploma nostrified and confirmed by the RCVS.
After the RCVS business I put on my tourist hat and went walking round London. I started at Lambeth bridge and went towards Westminster through the Victoria Tower Gardens. I remembered that I have never been to the Westminster Abbey so I had a look (entrance fee 10 GBP). I finally saw where many of the famous people I knew from history and literature lessons were buried: Queen Mary I. and Queen Elisabeth I., Lord Byron, Charles Dickens and so on. After that I continued on Whitehall, pass Downing street, waived (or should I have made rude gestures, I am not completely sure) and ended up at Trafalgar square. From there I went up the Strand and down to the Embankment. Then I took a short trip with the underground at Charing Cross to Oxford circus, where I continued on Oxford street to Marble Arch and Hyde Park, walked down Park lane and near Brook Gate visited the Animals in War Memorial (link 1, link 2, link 3, link4) by an English sculptor called David Backhouse. I found the memorial completely by chance but loved the idea of it.

After that I continued in Green Park, then on Piccadilly where I got my regular dose of Polonium 210 at 167 Piccadilly and ended up in Piccadilly Circus. By then I was so nackered and above all it was getting arctic so I used the Central line to go back to Redbridge but remembered I have never been to St. Paul’s cathedral on the way – so I made another stop.

The atmosphere was quite special, I had arrived just as mass was starting, the choir was singing which produced a great sound effect in the cathedral. I must have stayed there for over half an hour. I must also have looked quite out of place sitting there – I had my suit on and didn’t look as any of the German or Japanese tourists or even as one of the church goers.

After that great experience I decided that that was enough and I should be reunited with my rented Jetta. But apparently I got lost again as I could not find the St. Paul’s tube station so I ended up at Chancery Lane. On the way there I saw a very familiar building from many of Sky News’s live coverages of court proceeding – the Old Bailey.

Catching a train at Chancery Lane proved to be a bit of a tricky affair as I seemed to have stumbled on the evening rush hour for that part of town and all the trains were so full-up I could’t get on any of them and the station was getting fuller by the minute. So I decided to try something else: I went to the other side of the station and drove the opposite way. The trains there were much more empty. Went a few stations to Oxford Circus and got on the train going in the opposite direction again. The trains there were not so full, but they were very full at Chancery Lane where I could see again that people could still not get on. I was surprised to find that other seasoned London transport users did not do the same. They probably just couldn’t be bothered.

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The London trip 2006 (day 1)

If you asked me a few months ago that I will have to go to the UK I would not be so cheerful as the security checks at the airports would probably be as pleasant as sticking your hand in a meat grinder. Luckily the EU recently imposed new regulations that make air travel a bit easier, just as long as you stick all your aftershaves and deodorants in the check-in luggage.

Even if the the new security system was not imposed I would still have to go anyway. Needles to say, the airport security guards at Brnik airports was probably more intimate with me than many of the girls I have been on a date with 🙁
Just as it took me two hours to clear that unpleasant image from my head I ended in Stansted airport to be meticulously searched again. “Thankfully” this time my person was not the victim but my luggage which got just about the same hands-on experience as I did a couple of hours earlier.

I have always heard of scary stories of people renting a perfectly decent car and ending up with an equivalent to a Yugo. However my luck has held so far and this time was no different, well, sort of. The gentlemen at the rental counter was very persistent to upgrade my perfectly reasonable VW Jetta to a Merck or even a Grand Cherokee. Luckily I was not persuaded as the Jetta ended up to be just OK except for its lack of foot pedals and with a unusual gear stick. I intentionally say “unusual” as I have never driven an automatic in my life and now I was in a country where the roads are strange, they drive on the wrong (right) side of the road, it is dark, wet and I have a car I don’t know how to drive! But it was certainly nice to see that the friendly rental company assistant was on hand to explain what the little letters by the gear stick meant which didn’t help me move from the parking area as the gear stick was completely stuck. As all men, I have an ego, the same ego that does not allow me to ask for directions if I get lost, so I had a look through the car’s manual and found I just had to use the brake pedal 🙂

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Veterinary certificate

Next week I have an appointment with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to get myself the certificate to do veterinary work in the UK. I hope it will all come together as it had takem me quite a long time to get it. My first attempts at getting the necessary documents go back as 6 years ago. Slovenia, where I live, was not part of the EU yet so mandatory exams were required. Now, just a bit (meaning quite a big bit) of red tape is needed in the form of documents. I will get into those later, if all goes well at the RCVS 🙂

I will travel to London, and I am looking forward to it as I haven’t been there for a very long time. My B&B (Puttocks Farm) is close to Stansted (yes, Easyjet rules again) and its supposed to be very nice, costs 35 GBP per night but that is a standard for a single room.

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OK, go

Well, so far I never had any need to publish a blog whatsoever. I created the blogspot just to see what it looks alike and how Google has organized things.
I have done much blogging but sorry to say the Blogspot.com leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully they will put as much work into this as they did in Google Docs, which by the way is a great tool. It is very simple so don’t compare it to OpenOffice or Microsoft Office Excel, but it does some very good basic things and it is accessible everywhere. I put all my skydiving jumps on it and it works like a charm.