Posts Tagged ‘Murrylund’

Meeting of the Minds

Hopefully you have all read THIS already which will you give you an alternate perspective on the night’s events. The Brad has an excellent way of being succinct and hysterical. I will be far more verbose.  My apologies if you’re coming here for the first time from his site.

Brad was the first (and only, thus far) person of giving me the honour of linking my silly little blog in his list of blog websites on his personal webpage. I was deeply touched and vowed to touch base with him should my paths ever cross. We have been having a spate of just missing each others, he was in London at the same time as myself, I was in Maryland earlier in the year and hadn’t made the connection he lived there. This time I gave him PLENTY of warning I was coming and we arranged to meet up.

This was completely surreal. Although we sorta kinda knew each other from our blogs (and, by extension, his extended blog family of whose adventures I also keep abreast) you don’t really know the person at all. So meeting up is a risk. I could be a serial killer, he could be a serial killer, we could hate each other instantly, all of those things. Fortunately none of those things occurred and we had an excellent evening chewing the fat, as much as we could hear each other.

We attempted to find an outback Steakhouse to further add to the surreal experience however couldn’t find one. We instead chose to go to the Buffalo Wild Wings Sport And Grill Bar. Fascinatingly nether of us liked either buffalo wings or sports so this place had our name written all over it. It was also packed and instantly noisy as evidently there was some type of sporting event happening. We were also waited on by a man I will nickname Harry, after Harry Potter due to his capacity to disappear. Harry was possibly the worst server I have ever experienced here in the states. Not only did he disappear for hours on end he brought our appetizer and main meal at the same time (really????) and when it was time to pay the bill I had to actively look for him. Brad and I could have literally travelled back to Australia on the 14 hour flight before Harry would have realized we were gone.

Despite this, and the fact neither of us knew anything about sports or why the people were cheering, it was an excellent night. Brad turns into a pumpkin really early so I had to let him go earlier than I liked. I would have liked to have gone to somewhere quieter and chat rather than scream personal insights to each other across the table. Nevertheless we had a good chat and I discovered stuff about him and he me that blogs just don’t quite do justice to. And there was so much I forgot to tell him. Like I forgot tell him I call his blog brad-adaption cos my brain fumbles over bradaptation.

Meeting blog buddies is weird though. It’s like a half-finished conversation all the way through. You allude to something and the person knows what you’re talking about as you blogged about it months ago. Surreal. In the haste to escape screaming testosterone land though we forgot to get a picture of ourselves together. So in his honour I took a picture from my motel window of his favourite place in the universe.

Brad. Email me. Call me. All of those things. It was good buddy. Lets do it again.


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History In The Making

I will write more about this for tomorrows blog but wanted to acknowledge THIS and the excellent time I had last night with THE Brad, fellow blogger and commenter on this site.

My take on the evening will be verbose, as ever. I have not learnt restraint in words as yet. However for Brad’s amusing take on events pop over there and leave a comment. Bloggers love comments.

And Brad. Great night! Cheers for that. Next time the Outback Steakhouse.

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When In Rome

I flew from Charlotte to Baltimore last night. INCREDIBLY I got off on time (more or less) and didn’t have to wait 3 hours on the tarmac like last time. Ray picked me up and dropped me off at the hotel as last time. This time however I had booked my hotel in advance. Or so I thought. They had no idea I was coming. I am certain I booked in advance however did so on night duty so it is conceivable I stuffed up. None of it mattered though as I had been given further queer eyeing on the art of suitcase management by Wesley prior to leaving. My suitcase looks SUPERB! I’m not taking anything out cos it is packed so beautifully. I was tempted to show everyone in the foyer as we waited for the booking to be sorted.

So today Ray contributed to his education of my good self and took me to my very first firing range. Whether you agree or not, America is obsessed on its guns. I certainly have an opinion on this however you soon learn to not discuss religion, politics and gun control with US citizens. Despite this I was open to new experiences and happy to go to the range with Ray, especially when he took me in his Corvette and we travelled to the firing range at 200kph plus. (That was sweet. Ray was disappointed I wasn’t suitably impressed though and wanted to go faster. I think I may be an adrenaline junkie.)

The first thing you notice about firing ranges it they are freaking loud. Even when wearing earmuffs the noise was incredible and I kept jumping out of my skin every time there was a loud bang. People thought this was adorable however. Jumping like a mexican bean adrenaline junkie. Adorable. I have no idea what people were firing and you walked on a carpet of spent cartridges. The lad next to me was firing like they do in the movies and shells were literally rainng on my head.

Things to note: it was packed. We had to wait to use our lane and this was at 3 in the afternoon on a Monday. 95 per cent of the people at the lanes were black, I suspect many of the people there were off duty police. There were at least three people coaching others in the art of gun use. People buy targets to fire at and this one was extremely popular.

I fired a Taurus 22 magnum  revolver and Ruger 9mm automatic. Ray was very generous and let me fire most of the rounds and guess what. I’ve got skills. Ray kept asking if I had ever fired a gun before and the only ones I had were those plastic pop guns you use with potatoes. Ray said I  “maxed it”.  Even with the Ruger which kept jumping all over the place as I fired I still managed to get serious targets. Who knew!? I’ve got a dead eye.

It was amazingly good fun for a pacifist. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience though the taste of gunpowder in your nose and throat after was irritating to the throat. I doubt I am going to go out and become a gun fan though. Obviously if I am attacked by a bullseye on paper I will be completely awesome. I suspect if I am attacked by a person with a gun, even if I were armed, I would wet my pants, fall on the ground and begin to cry. Even an adrenaline junkie has his limits.

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This is kind of a to-do list to remind me of stuff as well as give you an insight into what the impending US trip will entail.  But it’s more to remind me …. As you know my memory is  über tragic.

List of things to do still:

Organise travel insurance (any ideas?)

Book hotel in Washington, the Omni.

Book Mental Health Conference in Washington, which is why I need the above hotel. (Work has very kindly said they will pay for this and half the hotel room. Nice.)

Find a tie. Buy a tie. Not polyester. (And all the ties with the design I want are polyester. This is called Welcome to Nigel’s Life!)

Send Wesley the itinerary

Organise meetings for possible employment

Get my iPhone sorted so I can use it in the States.  (This is possible, right?!  Last time I was there I didn’t have a mobile. It was like being without a limb)

Buy number 7 of the 10 Wonders of the Food World to take to people in the States (You’ll see, American people. You will all thank me and be amazed at my genius. Again.)

Buy Piggy Jim Jams. Not polyester.

Buy Horlicks. No-one sleeps well over there. Horlicks fixes everything. (Did you know my insomnia has been cured since I started night duty. I’ve gone from getting maybe 3 hours of sleep a night to 8!!!!! I am super stoked! I was just in the wrong time zone.)

Book Hotel In MD. (the first two nights of the trip I’m hanging with Ray again. We’re going to shoot guns!!!  )

Pack. (Lightly. I am being taken clothes shopping when I am there.  Evidently I lack style!!!!   I know!!!!!!   The man with four shirts lacks style!!!!   As if! )

There is much more I am sure. That seems light. I suppose as long as I have tickets, money, passport I can wing the rest.

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It is ten weeks from today and I will be back in the US.

I am alternatively excited and overwhelmed at the sheer volume of stuff I need to do between now and then. Then I am excited again.

Ten weeks till  I am in Lala Land.

Eleven Weeks till I am in NC ( oh yes! )

Twelve weeks till I am in Murrylund (Brad, wanna catch up for a dinner?)

Thirteen Weeks till Thanksgiving.

Fourteen Weeks till I get really sad.

And Seventeen Weeks till Christmas.

(You all clenched then didn’t you?!)

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You know how you hear a song or a piece of music and you’re transformed back to the time when you first heard the song.  When I was 19, and the first time I returned to England, I heard Feargal Sharkey’s A Good Heart is Hard To Find. Good Lord it’s awful.  However, whenever I hear it now I remember the first time I was discovering London, the 19 year old falling in love with England.  

There was a number of songs that gained personal meaning for one reason or the other during the holiday. As pure self-indulgence I am listing them here and giving some insight into what or why they gained notoriety.

As I can imagine that would be boring for anyone reading this, instead of listing the song title, I’ve listed a song lyric. Guess the song before you click on the link.  See.  A game out of my indulgences.  Doesn’t get better than that.

“I want your love I don’t wanna be friends.”

I started off easy.  You should know this.

This song was EVERYWHERE! All the countries I visited I heard it played.  If there was an anthem to the trip, this is it. I could not stop hearing this song and it is so annoyingly infectious. This is the song that i will hear when I am 60 and be transported back to a lake house in North Carolina, a bus station in France, a pub in Exeter, an airport in Toronto…. too many excellent memories for this one song.

“And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine By being my friend”

This song! Drove me insane. I could not stop singing it in the weeks prior to visiting America.  First song played in the car in Charlotte was this soundtrack.  Someone telling me something. 

And some notes about this particular YouTube clip. There are better clips of For Good but this is the last performance ever of the artist (Kristen Chenoweth) in the role of Glinda, the white witch in Wicked.  And for those who don’t know, this song is all about the character saying goodbye to each other.  Watch the whole clip. It’s doubly heartbreaking.

 “We’re surfing in the air We’re swimming in the frozen sky”

I’ve taken you here before and you know the reason why. I’m nothing if not a completist.

“And darkness still inside you Make you feel so small”

On the plane play list returning to England from the US.  Some of the lines of the song were especially pertinent. Listen to the lyrics more than the singing.   I included the Glee version, even though I appreciate it is wuss rock and there are better versions, as this was the one on the plane and I seriously love Glee. Glee is just so much fluff and  an excellently fun tele show. If you haven’t watched it I would recommend it. Highly. 

“There are no lyrics”

 Only one person will get the significance of this, which I include to make that person  giggle. Everyone else, move on. Nothing to see here.

“I don’t mind spending everyday Out on your corner in the pouring rain”

Ray and I had driven through Washington and seen so many famous sights my mind had been blown. We had just finished a mountain of fries at Z-burgers and were heading back in the car to Baltimore Airport to send me on my way to Charlotte. This song came on while we were driving. It was just one of those gooey moments of being really happy that I will remember.  And I like this song.

“As he came into the window It was the sound of a Crescendo”

I missed this. I’m not sure how. But when I saw it, for the first time at my friend’s place at 3 in the am after a really long night, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It’s a great song. But good God, were MJ’s video clips self-indulgent or what??!!! I included this 9 minutes epic not expecting you to watch all of it, unless you are super bored.  He patented the shoes that made him be able to bend over like that tho. And the reason the song gets included here. The second time I heard it was with the same friends. Odd. Clearly the song hangs around them.

“These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you”

Just in case you don’t know, hover the cursor over a link or a photo and text will appear. And the text for this is particularly true.  This song drove me nuts as I kept hearing it in Brighton at the start of the holiday and never heard who sang it/ rapped it.  I’m not a fan of rap but the chorus by Alicia Keys is enjoyable and why it gets here. It sticks out (like those things that stick out) amongst all the other songs though.

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met”

You wont get this one. Even I didn’t know what the song was except that I spent days humming it to myself at the end of the holiday. You know that annoying tune you can’t get out of your head. I explored the song on the internet when I got back wondering why it was playing on my brain.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lyrics and its pertinence to my current situation. And yeah, muppets. Ah well. I’ve clearly proven I have zero taste in music.

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Burger You

There are many, many things America does really well.

Halloween. I love that. Thanksgiving. What a great idea. Theme parks. Yes please.

And the burger. Oh man, America does great burgers.

My love affair with the great American burger began in 1976 when the family came over for Disneyland and the bicentennial.  At that time, people from Australia were a novelty and the public forgave us our Starsky and Hutch t-shirts and floppy beach hat combinations (I got the pic!)  We had burgers at my uncle Walt’s family bbq and they tasted like heaven.

I had forgotten how good they tasted until 1995 when I came back for the trip from hell.  I may have had blood covered men running at me in parking lots but the burgers remained fantastic. I continued to love them. I am not sure why they taste so good. The beef? The preparation? Less cardboard in it than they use in Australia?

So when I returned in April I lived on them. Every burger place I could get my hands on.  And they were still fantastic.

so in reverse order, the top 3 burgers Nigel had while in the States.

No 3: Big Daddy’s Burger Bar, Charlotte, NC.

I’m embarrassed to tell you what burger I ordered there. However, bear in mind, I ordered a peanut butter milkshake so cardiac health wasn’t high up there.

The burger itself was fantastic. Excellent flavour but I shouldnt have had all the bacon. (that’s a clue there.) It took away from the flavour of the meat. The place was packed on an unseasonably warm April day, always a good sign.

No 2: Z-Burgers, Washington DC

Now this was a fluke. Ray and I were heading to a mexican place next door, even though I was jonesing for a burger. The mexican place was packed luckily and we both agreed to go to Zburger. Neither of us had heard of it. Perfect!!! Just a normal hamburger or bacon burger. The deal is you pick your own toppings  and as many as you like. I also ordered a large fries and small onions rings. The burger was insanely good. However large fries means a bucket load of (admittedly excellent) fries. Imagine a bag you use to carry a burger order in and then imagine it full of fries. It was completely  OTT and we couldn’t eat them all.

and tada, cos I know you care.. the number one best burger I had and the reason I started this whole silly topic

No 1) the Bubba Burger, Wesley’s birthday party, NC

OH. This was a revelation. Wesley’s sister Lorrie had bought these on the way to the party. Frozen patties of pure mega-cow cooked on the bbq by Wesley’s brother, Alan, whom I nicknamed Peckinpah cos he created  so much smoke. Only I got that insanely brilliant humour.

They were moist and heavenly and survived Peck’s cooking technique of grilling them until they begged for mercy. Seriously how can you go wrong with something called Bubba.

But if that wasn’t enough. The fact that they were the perfect tastiest burger ever. The fact that you cannot cook them badly. If that is not enough for you, here’s the thing that will tip you over to surrender.

They are burgers in the shape of Texas.


There is nothing that is not genius about this!

Completely superb! Kitsch and tastes great. Cannot ask more of a burger!

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Easter is interesting in America. There is much more emphasis on home decoration than in Australia. This varies from posters proclaiming Christ’s resurrection to Easter bunny paraphernalia. One person had decorated their tree with strings of multi coloured eggs. I was in a country town at  Easter time so the cities might be different but it was very pretty and impressive.

Where have all the homeless people gone? Seriously. I heard Giuliani had shipped them out of New York but I’m not sure what North Carolina and Murrylund have done with them.  When I was last in the US you were constantly asked for money from homeless people, especially airports. Now, not a peep. I did see one homeless person in Georgetown however, considering the huge number I saw on the West Coast, this was curious.

Speedboating on High Rock Lake.  Seriously wicked cool fun. And we would have gone way faster had Wesley’s gorgeous sister Lorrie not been with us. Bless her, she preferred it at a more sedate level. It was a superb day though. More of that, please.

Speaking of speed I have now driven in a car that has left the ground as it went over a hill, ala every car chase film known to man.  That was exhilarating however I’m not sure the suspension of the car thought so. 

I did not, however, go out in Ray’s Vette.  Even I, who really doesn’t understand cars at all, could appreciate this car was nice!!!! The reason I didn’t go : it was raining and the car cannot get wet. Heh! (I understand that, to be honest. I mean, look at it. However,I gotta harass him).

I was re- reading Part the one of the american dot points and was appalled at how often I say, wicked cool.  I mean, am I ten?

A small aside about the last time I was in the US and vowed never to return. It was incredibly violent and I left the states shell-shocked. This time, fantastic and I want to return as soon as they will let me through the door.

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I am playing catch up. As you will see this was written a few days ago and has been sitting in my comp waiting to be published. For those keeping score at home this should come between Flying in the Way That bricks Dont and Introductions. Not that it matters but the time line of this blog is about to get skewy. Possibly even more so as I am flying back to the UK tomorrow and the weekend blogs are not finished as yet.

American coke tastes odd. It has more of a pepsi taste. I prefer our coke.

Murrylund is irresponsibly close to Washington DC and loads of wicked cool touristy places like the  White House, Washington monument etc. Had I realised this I would have planned a longer American Trip to do these things.

Murrylund is also wicked cool close to Georgetown. We went along the street where they filmed the Excorcist house scenes and created this iconic image. Couldn’t find it this time but you just know I’m gonna get my picture taken under this light when I return.

I have achieved a couple of things I’ve always wondered about.  I’ve tasted grits which was incredibly bland. It has the texture of fine tapioca. It really has no real distinctive taste and evidently taste better with salt and butter on it. I’m not sure I am convinced that would help. It was nothing like I imagined though. It was hardly gritty.

I’ve also had biscuit with my breakfast which is a really soft scone like bun you pour sausage gravy on. It’s a fascinating comparison as to what people are happy to use for breakfast. In addition to the biscuit there was a cinnamon apple sauce which people added to their sausage and eggs with gay abandon.

Portions here are mad. Always order small. I ordered a large fries at Z burger and was expecting a small box of potatoes. I was given enough fries to feed Africa. Think small. You wont go hungry.

I am writing this in Baltimore airport and there is a pilot next to me who looks like Doogie Howser. I know I am getting older but this guy doesn’t look old enough to shave.

Had dinner at Ray’s house last night and met his wife Pearl who was exceptionally generous in having me over for an excellent dinner. Much appreciated, even with my dodgy tummy. And the housing lots over here are huge. Their backyard looks like it belongs in a forest.

Doogie is talking about his girlfriend. I think she may be in preschool from what he is saying. I hope he means she teaches there but he is VERY young.

Must go. Calling my flight. Please God let this leave on time.

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Have arrived in Charlotte after  a fantastic day with Ray looking at all the really cool things near his house, ie the White House, the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument. Had I known Ray lived so close to all these really cool things I would have stayed much longer. I’ve warned him I am coming back though.

I arrived in Charlotte on time, the flight wasnt delayed by earthquake and my bag was third off the conveyer! They must know they owe me big. I am writing this in the spare bedroom of Wesley and Trey’s house and I am completely snockered ( we’d call it maggotted).

As  Wesley was asking who were the people who wrote comments on this thing I thought Id introduce everyone to everyone else. I find comments on blogs fascinating and sometimes you guys are way more interesting than I am.

So without further ado.. and in order going backwards in terms of last commented….

Wes. Currently writing this in his spare bedroom. Married to Trey. I am over here to help celebrate his 50th birthday to which he very kindly invited me, not realising I was mad enough to come. ( a quick aside. the cost of travel between America and England is stunningly cheap. Australians take note) Very inspiring man. He has been astoundingly generous as has Trey since I have arrived. I am snockered now cos of him. this bed is lovely and soft and I suspect I shall sleep well. Apologies to both for the snoring that is about to occur.

Rach. My cousin and victim of my excessive geekiness. Wept at Ianto’s shrine. Massive Exeter city fan. Completely gorgeous woman. Would not have had nearly as much fun in Cardiff without her. She is into geneology like my brother and doesn’t think graveyard visits are boring.

Nicola. Canadian sweetie currently living in Adelaide. Has been superb in commenting and has helped inspire me when I’ve wanted to not bother. she should see our mutual friend Graham and ask him why he has not commented.

Lauren. Have never met her however I know her through her blog that she shares with her husband Lloyd. i commented on her blog and she has very kindly followed mine. Completely lovely lady and her blog is highly recommended.www.lloydandlauren.com

Robin – my brother and father of Rebecca. Currently going through a whole load of crap I am sure he doesn’t want people to know about but he should know my thoughts and prayers are there with him, even if I am here.

Kerrie Anne Brown – fellow mental health nurse who works with me on the same campus at Glenside. Gorgeous woman.

Anne Dunn – see Kerrie Brown above. completely gorgeous woman and serious country girl. Believes in country remedies, ie eat a whole nutmeg when you have a boil. Have never tried this. Anne is interesting in that way.


Continued after falling asleep in an alcoholic coma. (and typos fixed)

Lisa – not a block of flats. Gorgeous woman, now a policey met while she and I were working in a the same health service, she in women’s health; me in mental. Married to Tony. ( she will say she is not married)

Brett and Annie – one time commenter – for shame. Brett would have added the comment as Annie would have been too confused with the IT. See Lisa as to where we met. Annie is my wife and has been pregnant with my child for the past ten years. My mother would dearly love me to marry Annie cos she is indeed one of the most beautiful people in the universe and, were I straight, she would be my wife. Finish each other sentence type closeness. I didn’t mention Brett cos he’s a narcissist and that will drive him insane.

Jean – Womens health worker met at the same place as Lisa and Brett and Annie.  She is a gorgeous woman even if she is a tree hugging hippy. 🙂 She is going to help me learn French. she does not know this yet.

Andrew – my elder brother. I have two. I’m the classic example of a middle child. He is married to Michelle and has my nephews Alexander and Phillip. They are all moving to Zurich for Andrew’s work which is completely exciting even if moving is sucky.

Tony – married to Lisa. He will also say he is not married. Also a Policey and very tolerant of my love of uniform. Saw Avatar with me on an excellent night out before I went away. he and Lisa should see me more often.

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