September 30, 2014 – Just another Saturday
It’s another Saturday morning. At 7am the sound of the dogs barking downstairs means that its time for them to get up (and me) and more importantly, at least to them, it’s time to be fed. I turn off the alarm; walk into the kitchen and the dogs come to life. The backdoor gets open; they run outside happily, do their morning business and then run back into the kitchen knowing that in just a few minutes breakfast will be served.
My male dog Oliver will eat almost anything. My female dog, Eliza, is a little more fussy. To appease this, I take some fresh eggs from the fridge, add a little whole milk and beat the eggs and pour the contents into a hot pan so that both dogs can have some scrambled eggs mixed in with their dry dog food and a scoop of chicken from the can. Both dogs like the taste of cheese so I add a little grated fresh parmesan to the mix which when added to the food seems to make an agreeable balance of flavors that the dogs are happy to eat.
As much as the dogs would now like to go on a walk, I am getting on a plane to London later on in the day and there is still much to do. I grab a quick bite of breakfast with my son and catch up on current events and then head to the office where I spend the better part of 4 hours organizing the papers I will need to take with me on the trip and doing some last minute work so that at least when I am on the plane I can relax for a change and not have to work the whole way. Hey, it’s Saturday. Surely I am entitled to at least one day off.
Then its time to head home, grab some left over food in the fridge for lunch, spend an hour packing for the trip, paying last minute bills and the next thing you know, its nearly 5 o’clock and time to head to the airport. Instead of using a car service or even calling for a taxi, it is easy enough to click on the Uber application on my iPhone which tells me that a car will be at my door in about five minutes ready to drive me to the airport for a fee that is certainly a fraction of the cost of getting a hire car and at least 40% cheaper than a taxi. My driver arrives in a clean car, a bottle of water in the back if I want one and during the 30 minute drive down the 405 Freeway, I learn that he is working for a corporation that provides human resource services for companies that are no longer small start-ups but not quite ready to hire their own internal management to handle this area. With a daughter who wants to be a writer and go to college, a few hours a weekend driving Uber lets my driver earn a few more dollars to add to the college account.
We arrive at the airport just under two hours before the flight and so I figure I will go relax in the American Airlines lounge and respond to a couple of last minute emails. I am lucky enough to have TSA “pre-check” clearance but today for some reason, the line is closed and so I have to line up like everyone else, which is not the end of the world except that I am travelling with two computers, an IPad, and iPhone and a bunch of other electronic devices each of which have to go into a separate tray on the conveyer belt which creates angry glances from the people behind me but there is not too much I can do. I get through the line reasonably quickly and make my way to the lounge. You know you have been travelling too much when you walk into the airline lounge and the staff on duty know you by name and ask you politely “where are you heading this time?”
I thought I would have a reasonable amount of time to relax but it turns out my plane is located at a remote loading area at LAX and so we have to be shuttled out in buses and with about 20 minutes before takeoff, we are herded onto the plane like cattle.
I have chosen this particular flight over others as American Airlines offer WI-FI all the way to London. Amazing what we do to stay connected! The flight is fairly uneventful. I watch two movies. Spend three or four hours editing photos and grab a couple of hours sleep. On arriving in London I am undecided whether to take a London Cab or see if Uber is available and to my pleasant surprise after clicking on the “app”, there is a Uber driver with a Prius Sport only two minutes away who drives me to my hotel for at least 50% of the cost of a taxi and so I am pleased.
I check into my room. Plug in my computers and make sure the WI-FI is working. Answer a few emails and then go off to meet a good friend who I have pretty much had dinner with every year for more than 30 years. Before dinner we agree to meet at the Sloane Square Tube Station and then walk to the Saatchi Gallery that has an interesting exhibition of photos of Chanel’s apartment in Paris which is mildly interesting. From there we walk through Knightsbridge and sit over looking the man made lake in Hyde Park drinking a glass of rose as the sun sets over London. From there we walk to dinner at a wonderful French Brasserie, have chateaubriand for two, a glass of red wine from Gigondas, split a chocolate mouse before saying “see you next year!”
I have eaten so much that I decide that instead of taxing a taxi or the “tube” back to my hotel, I will instead walk the 30 minutes through the streets of London. After all this may be my only chance I have to “snap” a couple of pictures before the workweek begins. I walk through Knightsbridge passed Harrods, one of the world’s most famous department stores. I then walk past One Hyde Park, the location of perhaps the most expensive apartments in London where a penthouse earlier this year sold for 140 million pounds ($227 million). I keep going past Marble Arch, the Ritz Hotel, one of the original Hard Rock Cafes which has a sign advising that no nuclear weapons and drugs are allowed on the premises, and then down to Piccadilly where people are sitting under the famous landmark enjoying the From there I head down Shaftsbury Avenue, home of some of the best Theatres in London and finally back to my hotel.
Upon arriving, I check my email, reply to a few and turn in for the night. The next day sadly the work begins and I will have to forget that I am in London as I go from meeting to meeting. But that’s okay. I did get out for a few hours and for a moment, was able to feel like I was someplace other than at my office in Century City.
(Photos taken in London, September, 2014)