Thursday, September 19, 2013

Visiting Bristol

Thanks for the patience, dear readers. I'll be posting two today to make up for the absence.

Back to normal!



Strangely similar to my days in Finland, I've not been to too many of the British offices other than the one I currently work at, in Paddington. Admittedly my track record here in the UK is a bit better, but that's almost circumstantial - before I moved here I had reason to go to our old offices in Southwood (which no longer exist) when I was still living in San Diego. I have fond memories of spending weeks there at a time at an adorable bed and breakfast. I have a feeling now that we've pulled out of that area of the UK that that little business park has likely dwindled down.

So when my manager suggested we go to the Bristol offices to meet up with our other teammate who's half-based there and in London, all of us very happily agreed. A chance to get out of town for a day on the company dime and see another site? Absolutely. We work rather closely with several of the teams there so it's always nice to stay close also. Why not?

We made our arrangements and met at the Burger King in Paddington station before boarding our 9am train to Bristol. It takes about an hour and forty minutes to get there on the most direct train, which is what we were taking. The scenery outside the train is beautiful countryside outside of London. Sometimes it's hard to remember that outside of the huge city we all live in there is actually greenery and nature. Fields where no one lives for miles.

One of the stops along the way is Bath; one of the cities I very much want to make a weekend trip to one of these days. Maybe I can convince my Helsinki girlfriends to come and visit and we can have a spa weekend there. I don't think it'll be a hard sell. It's a gorgeous historic town with lots to do and not even very far away (maybe an hour away by train).

Anyway, eventually we land in Bristol close to 11am. We get off the train and walk our way to the office, which is only fifteen minutes away. The weather is gorgeous and sunny, surprisingly mild even though every British person has basically told me the summer is over and was longer than normal (this shocks me because we barely had three weeks of good "hot" weather).

Admittedly it's hard to get a good grip of the town; I've heard many times that Bristol is a lovely city and is indeed worth checking out on its own. It's even in the Britain guidebook my parents have bought me, but there's nothing in there that I can remember specifically. Apparently there is some sort of spectacular bridge there. We don't see it this time.

We make it to the office after a few stops and I am taken aback; the office is completely different than any other I've been in. Since the focus at this office is entertainment, they have loud music pumped into the reception area (which is kind of nice, actually) and gorgeous prints of musicians hung on every wall, matching the rather loud carpet. I like it; it's different and funky. Not so corporate. I prefer the office I work at for its floorplan and comfort but generally speaking, the fact that this one is so different makes it likable.

We have our full-day of work and are extremely productive. It is good to see our teammate after such a long absence (she's had health troubles and hasn't been traveling back and forth to London as is her normal plan).

Afterwards we go out for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. It is adorable and quaint and the wait staff are very friendly.

We all decide to order wine after our long day and in celebration of a lot of things - my intern has found a job after several weeks of interviewing (we were told we would not be able to keep him) and my patent has become official (which I'll write about in the next entry). Also, finally, after several months, the team is back together again, all in one place.

Chin chin!

All of us order our meals and all of the food looks delicious. I order the lobster tortelloni and they are fabulous:

Slightly sweet and creamy tomato sauce, soft pasta covering a slightly cheese lobster filling. It was sprinkled with cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. I do love Italian food, and it's been awhile since I've really had it. For whatever reason it gets heavily deprioritized whenever I'm eating out nowadays. Perhaps because it's so easy to get usually.

Everyone remarks at how much faster I'm able to eat now. I think it's because I'm starting to get comfortable around my team. I also say how eating around other people at work has forced me to eat faster; they definitely comment about my eating habits and it makes me self-conscious. I try to keep up this time; knowing we are under time limits for when our evening train leaves.

We part, all happy and warm from our wine, knowing that this is the last time we will all four be together. My intern leaves in another two weeks and after that it is difficult to say when we will all be together again, even us three. It is difficult for the teammate in Bristol to travel and because of this, my manager and I are the ones moving around the most. I don't mind; I've always been a traveler, and in this case THE traveler for the team.

So we three board the train and make our way home. It is a quieter train ride this time versus the time we came up; we're all sleepy and there is an angry man in the seat in front of us. He has a loud conversation with lots of swear words, pounds his fold down table several times, throws his iPhone. His heavy aggressive breathing makes us all uncomfortable. Luckily he gets off several stops before ours so we don't need to be around him the entire time. We all discuss after he gets off how we're all country bumpkins enough to feel unsafe around people with anger issues. Best not to provoke them in any sort of way.

We part ways with my manager at the train station since she lives somewhere else; my intern and I take the same route home since we basically live in the same neighborhood. It has been a good but very long day.

Nice to see Bristol finally; I'll have to see it again with fresh eyes on a weekend sometime. There are two people there I can now visit; my teammate (who has invited me to stay with her whenever I want), and a girlfriend I met in Salzburg when I was backpacking through.

Hello, Bristol.

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