365 photos [8 - 14]

Welcome to the second batch of daily photos. Just fifty more to go!

Long Lake has fiddle jams. Gutted I missed this.

Another sunset. This one was taken from the same place as last week’s but later in the evening. It looks photoshopped but definitely isn't!

My bike resting on the bridge going into Long Lake. I was cycling to the hardware store to buy new brake pads. Long Lake is perfect for cycling but quite hilly so it's nice to have functioning brakes.

My cutting-edge solution to the problem of an oven door that doesn’t quite shut properly.

My apartment doesn’t have its own internet connection but if you sit in exactly the right place, you can steal wireless from the ice cream stand down the road. Accidentally nudge the laptop 1cm and the connection dies. Sitting outside is more reliable but leaves you vulnerable to attack by black flies. It’s not uncommon to end up bleeding from the face as a result of sitting outside for twenty minutes.

The washing machines at the laundrette only accept quarters so it’s a good idea to stock up. In my opinion, American currently falls down on its reliance on the quarter, the (de facto) coin of greatest value. One dollar coins exist but are too rare to bother building washing machines for.

Hoss's Campground. Empty at the moment but supposedly bustling when summer properly arrives. I live in the apartment hidden behind a tree on the extreme right of this photo and work in the large, green and white structure in the middle distance. The daily commute takes me less than a minute.


I’m typing this post from inside a Boeing 757, cruising 36,000 feet above the earth at 500 miles per hour. This breaks all currently-held blogging records in terms of both altitude and speed, although I won’t actually be able to publish it until I’m back on the ground and stationary so I’m not sure it still counts. They’re picky about these sorts of details.

Pretty much every aspect of this flight from London Heathrow Airport to Boston Logan Airport has gone at least slightly wrong. Granted, it wasn’t cancelled or delayed like last year, and the plane hasn’t yet nosedived into a mountain (an outrageous statement to make whilst still airborne I realise) but apart from that, things haven’t gone brilliantly.

The first screw-up occurred last night in Ipswich. I’d decided to embrace the 21st century and check-in online, which nowadays most airlines allow you to do 24 hours before departure. Unfortunately, I was both tired and stressed at the time and when prompted for my date of birth, I typed 2011 instead of 1989. Delta Airlines became uneasy about allowing a two-month-old to undertake a serious duty like checking-in for an international flight and swiftly blocked me from using the service.

A final glimpse of home
The next happened a few hours ago during the flight itself. We’d just taken off and I was flicking through the list of in-flight movies and TV shows available to me. Nothing really appealed, but that was okay because I had a contingency plan. I’d downloaded some episodes of The Wire (did I ever mention how much I love The Wire?) and a couple of films onto my laptop and would watch them instead. Except I’d forgotten to test the files beforehand so when I tried to play them, Windows Media Player gave me the finger and muttered something under its breath about missing codecs.

Not very good
After watching perhaps the least funny episode of Family Guy I’ve ever seen and about twenty minutes of Russell Crowe mess “The Next Three Days”, I decided that hibernation would be the best policy. I was asleep for about ten minutes before the pilot woke everyone up to announce that someone in row 36 required urgent medical attention and that if there were any doctors on board, could they please help out. I used the resulting commotion to sneak to the toilet after noticing the queue was at a record low.

I returned to my seat and began filling out my customs form. A couple of words in, my pen exploded and completely saturated my hand, my customs form and the bread roll I had saved from lunch with black ink. The two (already grumpy) women sitting beside me had fallen asleep and I didn’t want to disturb them with another toilet visit so I used my Delta-issued blanket and a cup of water to remove the ink from my hand instead. I had to ask the flight attendant for a new customs form (I pretended they didn’t give me one in the first place) but could hardly ask for a replacement bread roll.


I don't think my case used to look like this
That was as far as I wrote on the aircraft itself, but, as it turned out, flight DL145 still had one card left to deal. The photo on the right shows the condition of my case as I found it on the baggage carousel at Boston Logan. I hardly noticed it at the time because I was in a rush to leave the airport, but a closer inspection revealed the wheels are now completely unusable and the main handle is broken. I ended up carrying the case (containing all my possessions for a whole year, remember) through Boston on my head. Seriously.

This post might seem like a lot of grumbling but in truth I enjoyed every minute of it. Travel wouldn't be fun if everything went perfectly smoothly, and neither would reading about it.

365 photos [1 - 7]

I’ve decided I’m actually going to do this “photo every day” thing. Here’s a summary of my first week in America condensed into seven photographs. Let me know what you think!

My plane waiting outside a wet Terminal 4 at London Heathrow Airport. No, not the airborne one. The other one. The one on the ground. What do you mean “which other one?”  There’s only one other plane in this photo. Yes there is. Oh okay, Jesus. That one is so far away you can barely see it. The one in the foreground, okay? The one with “Delta” written across it? Okay? Jesus.

I spent my first two days in Boston with my favourite American, Shalli. Here we are being idiots at the Curry Student Centre at Northeastern University where she goes to school. There are so many in-jokes going on here I’m not even going to try to explain, but yes, that is Braille on our T shirts.

The scenic bus ride between Albany and Warrensburg. I almost missed my connection at Albany because the coach from Boston was over two hours late. I should be getting my money back though which is pretty good considering it didn't actually inconvenience me at all.

A sea-plane landing on Long Lake. You can’t pull that “which plane?” bullshit again because there’s definitely only one this time. What? Where? Shit, you’re right.

The bank at Long Lake gives their patrons a free gift whenever they open a checking account (the US version of a current account). I chose the collapsible bowls, but could have opted for a laptop bag or a chopping board instead. Lovely staff and a lovely gesture. Nationwide could learn a thing or two from these guys.

The beautiful Long Lake at sunset, photographed just outside my apartment. I eat dinner there every night on one of the picnic tables and the view never gets old.

Almost the entire town of Long Lake photographed from the sky. They were doing free sea-plane rides for anyone working in the town as part of "Locals Appreciation Weekend". One of the coolest experiences of my life. You can actually see my apartment in this picture.

Same time next week!

T minus one

The sun is setting on my last full day in England for 2011 and it absolutely terrifies me.

365 photos

I had this nice idea earlier. The idea was to take a photograph every day for the whole year I'm away and upload the results to this blog in weekly batches of seven, starting next Sunday. Obviously the interestingness will vary quite a lot throughout the year depending on my surroundings and what I'm up to. On busy days (like this Sunday, for example) I'll be spoilt for choice, while on slower days I might resort to taking pictures of my feet. It's a nice idea though. I hope I can stick to it.

T minus six

After a crazy week culminating in my departure from the city I've called home for three happy years, I find myself back in Ipswich surrounded by boxes and clothes and computer cables and bits of paper. I fly to Boston in six days and my room looks like a tornado has swept through it, caught in a horrible state somewhere between unpacking from university and packing for America.

Aside from giving me time to organise the tornado debris, this transition week also gives me a chance to reflect on two massive realities: the reality that I'm no longer a student, and the reality that I'm about to leave England for longer than most people leave the country in twenty years. It's hard to appreciate quite how strange this feels until you're actually in the situation, so you'll have to take my word for it: it feels strange.

This strangeness has been amplified by the stealth with which America has crept up on me. As always, exam season was successful in dominating my life for a whole month so I haven't really had much time to think about travel. It's all becoming very real very suddenly, which, for lack of a better adjective, feels strange. Strange and exciting. Almost overwhelmingly exciting.

If you're in Ipswich and want to meet up any time this week, please let me know. I'd love to see as many people as possible before I disappear and would appreciate a break from moving items of clothing from one pile on the floor to another.