Thursday, April 27, 2006

London: Hyde Park, The Thames, and Frinton-On-Sea

After a rough night crossing the Atlantic, I arrived in London a bit late and quite exhausted. There were many delays, both at the airport and in London itself, making for a difficult start to my visit. This was soon remedied by a walk in Hyde Park, right across from my hotel, where the gardens are in full bloom and numerous caches keep residence.

The park was fantastic, as you'll see below. I had a good long walk and only saw about a third of the park itself. Marty and I were talking about micros in urban areas recently, and these were a nice change of pace; they were well hidden in interesting spots with beautiful views.

In the early evening, I met up with my good friends Nick Hall and Opal Bonfante for a walking tour of the Thames. Nick and Opal are rising stars in the local media universe through their company SE1 Media, which produces programming for internet and radio. Their first podcast 'iPod Traveller' is a must for anyone who has an interest in European travel. Opal is also a presenter at a prominent radio station 'The Big L: Radio London', where she hosts a nightly radio program. You can learn more about Opal at her own website.

We enjoyed a very interesting walk along the Thames, spotting many notable landmarks. Nick and Opal also did a few sound bites along the way, hard workin pros that they are, and we eventually made it all the way to the Tower Bridge before catching the Tube to Nick's place.

Nightfall saw us making our way to Frinton-On-Sea with a carload of pizza and good times. Frinton is approximately 1.5 hours by car from London, and we made haste along the motorways so that Opal would get to her radio show on time. I have to tell you, it's a hair raising experience driving along at night as a passenger in a car that is driving on the 'wrong' side of the road! I thought we were bound for certain death a number of times...

On arrival, Opal went straight in to the broadcast booth and got to work, while Nick and I chatted with the station owner 'Uncle Ray'. Ray is a man of exceeding good humor and it was a real pleasure to meet him. The Big L is a legendary radio station, having been one of the Pirate Radio stations in the 60's and 70's. Nick did several spots with Opal live on air, while for my part, I simply contributed some background color, preferring not to taint Opal's image with my voice on the airwaves. Wait, what am I saying? Opal's image? Hahahaha!

It was altogether a fantastic day, though utterly exhausting. I arrived back at my hotel at 2 am local and collapsed - happy, tired, and thankful for my good fortune and great friends around the world. I would like to thank Nick and Opal for their many kindnesses, friendship, and good humor. They made this day one that I will remember fondly for many, many years!


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