Some of the younger IMs (plus John ... sorry, John you don't qualify) gave me a proper send off. As noted below, I've really enjoyed my time in the Henderson Rowe office in London and I'm excited about the future. The picture below was taken half-way through my Monday night send-off. We'd lost a few guys by this point, but it is the only photographic evidence of the evening. I'll be detoxing for a few months to recover.
I'mMicaela and Luci are on a weird quest to hit up all of the local coffee chains. There is Nero, and Illy, and Pret, and Costa, and Leon, and a handful of others. My personal favorite is Pret a Manager because I like their sandwiches.
I also like the coffee there. I'm less sure about the sushi. And here we are in the reflection.
It's been a crazy time at work, and sometimes I find it hard to get away. Luci's been a wonderful support to me during this first month abroad, managing the household abroad, taking the kids on adventure, and never giving me grief (even on weekends!) when much of my attention is focused on work matters. All this means the few times we get away as a family are pretty great.
You'd think that being far from home in London would mean that we spend our family time doing exotic things. But really, it's not that much different from home. Our happy times are getting our for dinner, walking around our neighborhood, playing in the park, laughing over ice cream ... it all feels normal in that sense, it's just in a strange place! This reminds me a lot of our road trips, where much of the enjoyment comes from getting a sense of what life is like other places in the country (and now the world).
On Sunday we enjoyed a lazy trip along the overground to Shepherds Bush, where we experienced a HUGE modern shopping mall. We enjoyed a nice dinner of Mexican food at Wahaca (the best of the British CHAIN Mexican restaurants), and then some delicious cookies at Ben's Cookies. The photos below were taking along a garden wall and fountain outside the restaurant.
One other thing I love seeing on this journey abroad is how Micaela and Jacob have taken a strong parenting/mentoring role with Willsy. They've always been an important role in Willsy's life, but it's rewarding to see how that relationship continues to expand as Willsy gets older. What used to be watching and occasional teaching has become mentoring and modeling. I'm never so conscious of Micaela and Jacob's maturity as when I watch them support their younger brother.
As a separate but related aside, Willsy is now in charge of "getting us home" from our local subway station. He's identified five local landmarks he uses to navigate us home, and he proudly takes the lead to get us home for the Earls' Court Underground. Being abroad requires a bit of free-range parenting, and I'm proud of both me and Luci for finding the courage to let the kids find their own way in a strange city.
An unexpected joy of watching Rayliant grow has been bringing people into our corporate family. Luci and I had the pleasure of meeting my new Pittsburgh colleagues before we left for the UK. And over the past six weeks I've been so happy to get to know the men and women of Henderson Rowe.
After 3 years of working mostly from home and alone, I've forgotten the fun (and occasional drama!) of having office mates. That's all changed! I've spent the last several weeks making a dedicated effort to have coffee or beer or dinners or just good one-on-one time with my colleagues. My gut has grown and my liver has suffered, but it's nice to feel a personal connection to the folks at Henderson Rowe, who used to know only by the photos next to their e-mails.
I'm going to miss my Henderson Rowe family, but the fun I've had with them also makes me look forward to spending time with my colleagues in Taipei in September. Rayliant is becoming e a pretty big company!
By the way, in the second photo below we are wearing the fancy frills they put around our meat pies. When we all ordered meat pies and beers for dinner the waiter politely told us, "This is a restaurant, not a pub." We were glared out the door shortly after the photo was taken.
I took off a very rare work night to actually spend time with my family! (Most of my nights in London have been filled with after-work dinners and beers with the folks at Henderson Rowe.)
It wasn't cheap, but M and J were committed to getting us to Les Miserables. I found myself quite moved to watching this musical with my children, now old enough to know every note and lyric just like me. Also ... I realized that, as I get older, I lack the emotional fortitude to handle gut-wrenching works of art like Les Mis, especially ones with themes of fatherhood and brotherhood and commitment and the deepest kinds of self-sacrifice. The performance was top-notch.
There are a large number of private art galleries near my company's office in Mayfair. Today I saw a piece so compelling I asked to be let in for the sole purpose of taking a picture of the piece so that I could then post it on this blog and make fun of it. I suppose this is a nice piece of art and likely extraordinarily expensive.
But to me, it looks like an extracted molar.
Willsy asked what this was a picture of. I told him it was art, and he responded, "It doesn't really look very arty to me."
For those who are wondering, it appears to be made of compressed cardboard soaks in some type of glue and water mixture. Basically, cardboard mache. And then coated haphazardly in cheap tempura paint. Weird stuff, man, and ugly in not even an interesting way.
Except that ... it caught my attention enough that I felt compelled to walk in off the street, take a picture, and now spend five minutes writing about it. So maybe it is great art after all.