For the first time in a long time…

Clare and me at the Hyde Park pub

Clare and me at the Hyde Park pub

The last several days have provided some fun and aggravation. Let’s see…

I have a new computer 🙂 I ordered it in early May, had Mom ship it to the U.K., and waited for quite a long for it to arrive. Finally, it came here yesterday and it’s mighty impressive 🙂

However, I can only enjoy this new marvel after having to pay £58 to receive it. Because the value of the computer (obviously) exceeded £15, I had to pay customs charges, which is a ripoff. The good news is I can get the money back – but not after filling out some papers and enduring a nerve-wracking wait (Those £58 can go to better uses than the coffers of the British government). I didn’t realize until recently that I can get reimbursed for money paid for customs charges. Hopefully, I can also get reimbursed for the £28 I paid to receive a package in December. Meanwhile, because of my own stupidity, I had splash out roughly £50 for a new camera. But let’s not talk about that too much.

One of the first pictures I took with the new camera

One of the first pictures I took with the new camera

More good news from the weekend: I finally ran under 17 minutes during the Park Run. After I ran 17:06 over 5k on one Saturday morning, I figured that I would quickly run a sub-17 minute 5k. Well… that didn’t happen for some time. In part because the weather didn’t really allow for fast times. But that’s another story. Anyway, usually shortly into the race, I have a good feeling about whether I’ll produce a good time and last Saturday’s run was no different. I’m just glad I finally set a personal best.

Usually, Indian food makes a fun day

Usually, Indian food makes a fun day

Some not-so-great news from the weekend: Well, I learned not all vegan/vegetarian festivals are created equal.

Last Saturday (May 31) and Sunday (June 1), a vegetarian festival was held at the Wharf Chambers in town. The most recent vegan festival I went to was so much fun and since the Wharf Chambers (a co-operative) seems to be a more appropriate setting for a vegetarian festival than an upscale hotel, this gathering surely would be better.

Well… Maybe, when I saw the £5 entrance fee on the flyer, a light bulb should have gone off in my head (considering how broke I feel like I am most of the time). Probably, since this gathering was low-key, a setting like the Wharf Chambers – which is the size of a phone booth compared to the Queens Hotel – would seem to be appropriate. But only four food stands were on hand and there was no space for the information tables that abounded at the Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival. On Sunday (when I went), there was a decent crowd for such a relatively small setting as many of the attendees were eating and chatting on the patio. But it really seemed like a gathering solely appropriate with friends and I went solo. The patio seemed too crowded for my liking and the bands that performed…well, they were all playing nauseating headbanging music. And the £5 entrance fee was definitely a ripoff.

The local pub is always a good place to meet up with a friend

The local pub is always a good place to meet up with a friend

But the reason why this blog entry is titled “For the first time in a long time…” is because for the first time in roughly eight years, I met up with Clare, a former co-worker from my days in Yokohama. She lives just outside of Manchester – during this time around in the UK, I’ve been to Manchester twice but have been unable to meet up with her. Fortunately, we were able to make time on a weekday to chat and enjoy a good meal at the local pub (I even explained to her what a “Loiner” is). Clare actually went to uni in Leeds and lived not too far from where I currently live now (near Hyde Park). We spent quite a bit of time talking about Japan and she actually mentioned there are vending machines on Mount Fuji. I shouldn’t be surprised – there are vending machines seemingly everywhere in Japan. I just don’t remember seeing any when I climbed on Mount Fuji.

Anyway, it was so great that we were finally able to meet up. Now, I have to meet up with other Brits I met during my time in Japan.

The tart was so delicious...

The tart was so delicious…

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