Worcester, UK

Exploring the Cathedral

Last weekend, as a part of my ongoing effort to see new parts of my new home, we (Vera, Roland, Darren, & I) headed to Worcester.

We didn’t choose it for any reason other than it was there, and we hadn’t been.

It’s a relatively short trip by train from Paddington of just 2.5 hours. We immediately checked in to our hotel and headed out into the rain in pursuit of lunch.

After lunch, we headed over to Worcester Cathedral, and took lots of inside pictures. The Cathedral’s construction started in 1084, and its crypt dates from the 10th century.

As we were clearly on a roll, absorbing heaps of local culture, we then went to the Worcester Porcelain Museum.

Sadly we were denied, as the museum was closing at four, and we were advised that we would need more than half an hour to soak in the experience. I managed to console myself with a photo op with this guy (Henry Sandon) from Antiques Roadshow.

Spirits dampened, we wandered around in the rain some more, until I decided that rainboots were in order because my shoes were failing me. Unfortunately, trying to find a pair of Wellies on a rainy day that weren’t pink and actually came in my size was a bit of a challenge. In the end, I emerged with not only dry feet but a pair of unoffensive navy blue rainboots, reminiscent of those I owned at age 5.

I did what one does with new rainboots. I took them to the pub, and I consumed a beer in them.

We headed back down the street to Saffron’s, and enjoyed an excellent dinner there. The Sticky Toffee Pudding was enjoyed by all, and after dinner, we all lamely admitted defeat and had an early night.

Sunday morning brought a bit of respite from the rain, and we had a bit of a wander around both a farmer’s market and a shopping mall which was full of shops that hadn’t opened yet.

At the Farmer’s Market we discovered an excellent source of Scotch Eggs.

After meeting up with Vera & Roland and wandering until the deluge resumed, we had a quick lunch and headed over to The Commandery, which is a 12th century building that has been converted into a museum.

Over the course of it’s lengthy history, it has served numerous functions, including a hospital, a school for the blind, and as Civil War headquarters. It was definitely worth a visit, thanks to the audio guide, which allowed a user to tour the building and hear about the role of different rooms and areas of the building at one’s selected time period. (Picture taken from the balcony in the Commandery’s main hall.)

We wrapped up and headed to the train, right in time to head back to London at half three.


Life in the UK: A Journey of Multiple Choice

Long, long ago, I thought it would be interesting and fun to study for my Life in the UK Test.

Needless to say, lots of things seem like they could be enjoyable before you actually do them, and this is of no exception. A bit of procrastination teamed with my selecting a test date rather late in the game probably weren’t among my best decisions.

Some sections were more interesting to learn than others. Among the things I have learned in preparation for my “journey to citizenship”, or at least indefinite leave to remain include:

  • There are 646 Parliamentary Constitutencies.
  • An employer may descriminate potential employees if the job functions are to be carried out in the employer’s home.
  • 2.7% of the population is Muslim
  • One may drink at age 16 at a pub or hotel, provided it is done so with a meal.
  • One may obtain free tickets to see the House of Commons by contacting one’s MP.
  • A helmet must be worn while driving a motorcycle, unless the driver is male, Sikh, and wearing a turban.
  • Scots Ulster is spoken in Northern Ireland.
  • Provisional Drivers must put a sign with an L on their car, unless the driver is in Wales, where a D is used.
  • There are four bank holidays.
  • The NHS was founded in 1948.
  • Pregnant women receive free prescriptions.
  • If one is blind, one gets 50% off the TV licensing fee.

I went armed with said information to my test center in Wimbledon, ready to face my 24 questions in 45 minutes. I arrived at 9:00 leaving plenty of time to spare, only to find that the Wimbledon Library is closed until 9:30.

After a bit of loitering, we were allowed in and advised to queue outside of the examination room in the back of the library. (pictured)

I was thrilled! This provided me a prime opportunity to gleefully inform people that I had been hoping that queuing would be on the test.

Sadly, No one thought this was quite as hilarious as I did.

After that, the ID checking began. There was 45 minutes of ID checking and registration. Then, after a brief practice test, we were allowed to start.

4 minutes later with answers triple checked, I left the test room to wait for my results.

As you can see, I passed.

In addition to the satisfaction of a job well done, I also got a Percy Pig cake!
(Thanks, Darren!)

Training Update: 20 November – TMI?

So, about that little break I’ve been taking…

I’ve had a sciatic nerve inflammation wreaking havoc with me for a long time. Since oct 2005, in fact.

I’ve mostly just coped with it. I take conference calls standing up, I avoid chairs where my knees are higher than my hips, I gave up big heels, and I sleep with my leg turned a certain way.

Two orthopedic surgeons, two physiotherapists, and a massqage therapist in the States were convinced it was a hamstring problem and best they did for me was a lot of flexeril. I really thought this was just going to be permanent.

I got to the UK, and was advised that the culprit was likely the nerve, and the assigned tracking exercises made an incredible difference. I was amazed how something so basic radically improved the situation. I still was in agony when required to sit for long durations, but I could manage long haul flights with anti- inflammatory meds. Even better, the stability work I’ve been doing all year was expected to help set me straight long term.

Then, it seemingly flared up out of nowhere. Seemingly because the pain didn’t specifically correlate with anything I did or didn’t do. Such was true until I woke up very sore along the nerve in my back after a more challenging run at the end of October.

An MRI was suggested, so I once again benched myself, and I waited.

The radiologist’s report claimed a normal result, which my sports med doc agreed with and suggested a few weeks of accupuncture. More than half of MRIs administered to people my age show disc issues that have no injury symptoms according to the doc, so it seems that a normal scan may just mean nothing extreme.

A few weeks in, I’m no better, and my physio, who is a spine specialist, is encouraging a second opinion because he and several of his colleagues think that the bump highlighted in the picture is the cause of my woes. That’s where a disc appears to be pressing on my nerve.

So, my goals of racing the train will not be met this year, but I’m still not giving up.