Australia

Bass Strait crossing

A handful of photos from the weekend - Crossing Bass Strait from Launceston to Docklands via the Curtis Island group, aboard Antarctic expedition vessel The Blizzard, a 20m Radford designed schooner run by Jonathan of Alinthia Adventures.

Sailing with Tobias Fahey

Last week I had the great fortune of getting a sail in with Tobias Fahey, aboard his IOOD50 (International Open One Design 50), in Tasmania. This year, Tobias will be attempting to become the fastest Australian to circumnavigate the globe, singlehanded and nonstop around the great capes. The boat he will be sailing was originally built specifically for voyages such as these, designed by Graham Radford and built by infamous Australian adventurer Don Mcintyre ten years ago, as part of planned one-design circumnavigation race which unfortunately didn't happen. Just a few weeks ago I also had the great pleasure of meeting Don in Melbourne, when he visited me at the new co-working space I built with my pal Marty. Don was flying through Melbourne (metaphorically), on a mad trip north to pickup some kind of inflatable flying boat. Don has more energy than anyone I've ever met, and so many great stories, one could just sit there and listen to him recall his life for hours, if not days, without closing an eye. He's an amazing ambassador for encouraging adventure to young Australians, and everyone should take a minute out of their lives to zoom around Google and read up on his various projects and adventures, spanning oceans and frozen continents. Sailing with Tobias was a fun experience, as I've never been aboard a large, highly strung offshore racing boat before, as generally I toy around on small, slow, full keeled boats where 5kts is deemed 'fast'... Tobias is a true waterman, living in a house of his own construction over looking a beautiful bay, where he sails and catches lobster, abalone and fishes for food. A sailor, surfer, diver, and really nice person, Tobias is taking on a huge personal challenge and dream to depart this October, at the young age of just 26. Take a look at his website, send some words of encouragement, and watch his undertaking unfold at tobiasfahey.com.au.

Below are a few photos, and a short sailing vignette as we sailed around Frederick Henry Bay, not far from Hobart.









Nick.

A small update...

Well! How long it's been. I get a little sad sometimes, thinking about this blog... It was a little bit of a lifeline while I was out sailing - A little place to put all my thoughts that built up after miles of sailing. Unfortunately now, I've hit land, and while the thoughts still pile up, they're not necessarily anything to do with sailing! So what have I be doing anyway? Oh yes! I did get some sailing in a couple of months ago, quite unexpectedly... I flew to Palau, returned to Melbourne, and then flew back to Palau, to help deliver a boat to Darwin. It was a mighty long, and mighty hard trip. We sailed (or rather, motored, burning close to 600 litres of diesel), against the winds and currents for two weeks. Several engine failures later, a few hair-raising moments and a couple of pirate scares off of Indonesia, we arrived in Darwin, Australia. This was my second entry into Australian waters by boat, and also my second time across the equator:

The sailing was pretty extraordinary... It was also the longest distance I've ever sailed with others aboard, which was a very different experience to being alone. I dare say, harder... We sailed close to shore for a few days, right amongst the Indonesian fishermen. At one stage we even sailed through a small straight, just 1nm wide, at the top of Papua New Guinea. To the left and right of us were small subsistance living communities, as enormous tankers took advantage of the water way:

Some nights we were surrounded so tightly by small fishing vessels, it was virtually impossible to sleep. The curious ones would come close by, and scare the daylights out of us... Flare guns at the ready, minds churning with self-defence tactics... Thankfully curious was all they were, and through the waters we sailed with little outside trouble.

So other than that brief month of sailing, there is little other news to report on the personal voyaging front. For avid followers, you will already know I moved to the countryside, and am working away at my own business... We (re)launched two projects in the last two weeks -Neverstop Pedalling, an online bike store, and our web hosting company Serversaurus...

SV Harmony still lies at rest in California... Awaiting her owner (me)... How and when I will ever scrounge the money together to get there, I'll never know (perhaps buy a bike, or change your hosting provider! Plug plug!) ... However, I guess when the time is right, it will all come together.

A massive congratulations to Adam who recently completed his first solo transpac - I finally have someone to commiserate with about sailing small vessels alone, across that stretch of from SF to HI... We both concurred: Yes, it's possible, but...

:)

Jack continues to work on the documentary about my voyage, however, from my understanding, the creation of the documentary is just as financially crippling and difficult as the voyage itself... ! We hope it will screen in European film festivals this year, but as to if and when it will be available to buy as a DVD or stream online - I have no idea. This is Jack's film, so it will be up to him as to how it's distributed...

I will be archiving this site as we know it soon, and replacing it with a new site which will allow me to just generally blog about sailing - At the moment, the layout and construction of this website is for a voyage which is now complete: It will still be at Bigoceans.com, however I'll move the current incarnation of the site and start afresh... What do you guys think?

Cheers! Nick

A little update...

It's been so long since I've written anything here. I can see the statistics on my site dropping further every week... Maybe it looks like I've simply disappeared, however I am actually working on a new bigoceans.com slowly between projects - I would like to use this space to write regularly about all sorts of interesting nautical things. Perhaps I could write about Jessica Watson ? Actually no... I think she's great, and her achievement is absolutely extraordinary - But the media! They've written enough for thirty years of sailing. I quite clearly remember Jesse Martin's record breaking sail, however I don't remember it being anything like this extravaganza the media outlets have created for Jessica. I trust she'll be able to use it to her best advantage, and that the people around her think for her future, and not their own. Jesse Martin, David Dicks, Jon Saunders, Kay Cottee & now Jessica Watson... All the great contemporary solo circumnavigators are Australian! :) A few weeks ago, my great friends Captain Ted and Rob over in the Bay Area of San Francisco graciously moved my sweet little boat 'SV Harmony' to her new home: Out of water. She now lays in a yard full of other boats that are gasping at their gills to sail. It's a sad turn of events in one sense - I had sort of hoped that maybe I could wrangle a small visit to see her, and make sure she was safely stored and could weather the next year or so of neglect, but alas that won't be happening...

If anyone is curious as to what I actually do now, I've started a company with a close friend here in Melbourne, and we're both working hard to pull it off the ground. I had two opportunities on arrival here in Australia: A great job offer with a company I had worked with previously, and the opportunity I've taken: To pursue our own ideas & ambitions, and take a risk. Just like sailing Constellation, this could sink, but on the other hand, just like sailing Constellation, it could float and be an extraordinary experience. I'm pitching for the latter. But like sailing, and taking any kind of risk, there is self-doubt, and worry... So, I live out in the country in a small miners cottage, and work away on something we hope will be self-sustainable, far away from the sea.

In between all this, I've had ups and downs, missing my sweet old boat. I don't regret my decision to sell her, but I do miss the memories and feelings I had whenever I was aboard. The odd smell of mould and diesel inside her cabin, was enough to put me right in the thick of it. Right in the middle of the Atlantic. Rolling and churning through the water, seemingly at a standstill against the backdrop of vast water and sky... What extraordinary times.

So while I thought about all this, I made a tshirt of the Contessa 26, and decided to have a few of them printed. Screenprinting isn't cheap, and the little amount I do make on each tshirt is going towards my monthly hard standing bill for Harmony.

Buy online.

I'll try to update more regularly!

Nick.

Documentaries, new ships & companies

It's been awhile since I last updated... Thank you so much for all the friendly and encouraging comments on the end of this long voyage... I don't really know what to do with this blog. I do get a lot of traffic and interest here, and sometimes I wonder whether I should just keep musing... You know, about sailing things, deep sea adventures, knots and bilges. Or whether this site should just stay around as an archive. What do you think? It's hard re-adjusting to life on land. The constant drama and adventure of sailing is in the past... It isn't gone forever, but things are certainly different. So what's been happening in the aftermath? I seem to have lost some inclination to write, but things are definitely active, post-sailing. Firstly, I'd like to introduce the work of Jack Rath, who has been following me around the planet with a camera. Following is a 6minute trailer of the film he has been shooting on my travels for the last four years. It's a very strange feeling having a film made about oneself... The film is called 'Between Home' & the project website is www.betweenhome.com, if you'd like to keep up to date with its progress.

The film isn't my only news... The adventure will always continue in one way or another. Please say hello to my new sailing boat 'Harmony' -


More photos here

She's a perfect 32ft long, and has all the wonderful attributes of a solid and trustworthy sailing vessel, much like my dear old friend Constellation... As to where we shall venture - Unlike my last voyage, future sailing will be just as ambitious, yet less prone to deadlines, and specific goals. I have new work commitments involving a freshly formed company with a great friend here in Melbourne, so I'm 100% focused on that at the moment & for the foreseeable future - Yet the very fact of knowing Harmony exists keeps my sense of adventure and connection to the sea alive. The type of sailing I performed with Constellation was to give up everything and concentrate on one single goal for several years - This worked for me at the time, but I plan for my future sailing endeavours to work a little differently. Harmony also resides many thousands of miles away, and I have to thank my friends Adam, Captain Ted and Rob for helping me make the purchase from Australia. Thank you also to Zack the former owner, for being patient and helpful through such a faraway sale.

For those interested in keeping up to date on the goings on of the adventures of Harmony, please click on the drawing of her on www.silentunrest.com. A new website will be announced there when the time is right.

nick.

We're home at last. In 743 days.

It was a long final passage from Tonga... I don't really even know how long. I left sometime in October, and I arrived yesterday. I don't count days anymore, and I think in this last passage I made my peace with many things. I spent several hours every single day just staring at the sea. I have a pose in the cockpit of Constellation... I don't know what it's called, I haven't named it. But I stand bolt upright without holding onto anything, and surf the boat for hours at a time, just looking at the horizon and thinking. It's clearly meditative, but not in an intentional sense. It's simply a hypnotic trance one is drawn to without any real thought. I've been scared of the sea for a very long time. I came close to drowning once; I was pulled out beyond the breakers by a rip. I gave up, and sank to the bottom, and my feet touched the sand. Instantly I regained my composure and came back up to keep fighting. I was rescued.

When I was nineteen, I went surfing with a good friend, and I turned the body of a drowned swimmer face up who was not so lucky in a rip of his own. I pulled him to shore, and nearly drowned myself out of exhaustion in doing so. He was heavy, I was tired, and his family screamed at me because I couldn't hold the man's head upright out of the water when his waterlogged body was dragged ashore; even though he had clearly been dead for upwards of twenty minutes.

Everyday for the last two and a half years I have been scared of the sea. Every night on passage, I would get into my bunk, turn the light off, and wonder if I was going to wake up. I would get up regularly to maintain a semblance of a watch; glance out of a port hole, see the familiar and wondrous scene of rushing water, stars, whitecaps and silvery reflections, and put my head back on the pillow, again wondering whether I was going to wake up. I wondered many times what it would feel like to be hit at sea. I've played the scenario over in my head a million times. Some nights I would sleep with my grab bag.

And so last night, after several days of difficult weather, I arrived on the shores of Australia. I had no real idea what I would feel. Excitement? Depression? Sadness? I guess a bit everything really. But at the heart of it, I felt a fearful weight shed from my shoulders. I've maintained an intense personal motivation to keep moving, even when I didn't really know how. There is no particular point to any of this. And I've known that since day one. What is the value of crossing oceans in small boats? To prove a point? Reinhold Messner would say it was the sign of a degenerative society. For some things, there is not always an eloquent or sensible explanation. Often times those concepts are best left to simmer.

Am I depressed? Is this a rambling flurry of post-adrenal thought? No, not really. I've never felt more overjoyed and elated; wondrous, and the exact opposite of all those things...

I did my very best to take everyone along with me on this trip, through the web, via my sporadic and sometimes random writing, videos and twitter updates. And the surprising result is, I've had the most incredible outpouring of support over the last three years - More than one could possibly imagine. I guess I'd just like to point out, that I really, genuinely, I could not have come this far without the hundreds of people who showed their support in many different ways: I've received literally thousands of satellite SMS messages over my two ocean crossings, full of encouraging words; hundreds of positive comments across multiple networks... People have given me their own hard earned money for no other reason than to see me succeed. Companies have given me things and supported me with equipment. People have written me messages and said I've inspired them to leave their lives of ordinariness and lead more fulfilling ones. The list is endless... I've not really done any of this alone; solo, singlehanded or otherwise. I'd be arrogant to say I had - I may have been the helmsmen, but that's it...

Thank you so much, to everyone who has shown any interest at all in this endeavour. This isn't my last post, but it is certainly the last post of an era...

nick.

Next stop Coffs Harbour

The sailing thus far, has for the most part been idyllic. I say for the most part, because the last 48 hours have verged more on the miserable scale of things than anything else. Passing 160 nautical miles (around 300km) south of New Caledonia, I decided to ask the weathermen how they thought the stretch of ocean spanning onwards to Australia might play out over the next seven days. It had always been my intention to skirt close to New Caledonia in case the weather was going to be foul - I don't think I've heard of a single pleasant crossing to the mainland as yet... In fact, I came across three other boats headed to the east coast of Australia, that were going all the way to Vanuatu, and crossing from there to Cairns to avoid this very crossing. The weathermen told me to expect winds between 30 to 40kts (60 to 80kmh) within the next 24 hours. I was so disappointed, as the day had started so perfectly - We were literally flying (a relative term...) on a flat, grey sea. Alas, things worsened as the afternoon took over, and I lessened sail with every gust. Before long, Constellation was shipping green water over the deck, and progress was futile. By 6pm I hove-to (stalled the boat), and lay below, listening to the crashing, and watching as waves rose through the companionway. I get a shiver down my spine when the wind hits a certain note, at sea, and now even on land. There is an equally nervous feeling in my stomach when the foam begins to streak across the surface of the water. The physique of the ripples change in shape to a hard chine, creating a louder 'slap' with each connection to the hull.

I slept on and off through the night, until all at once, we were hit so incredibly hard by a breaking wave, things that had never fallen out of their places, flew across the cabin. Immediately after the hit, there was a loud hissing sound, and with alarming calm, I heaved out of bed to assess with my feet how much water was entering the boat. I noted there was no water as yet, and made a mental checklist of what I needed to get to abandon ship: Grab bag (containing offshore flares, flare gun, EPIRB, and some chocolate. Actually no, there is no chocolate, I ate it in a fit of despair...) and lifejacket. I then made another quick mental note to get my survival suit because I didn't trust the liferaft. As all this was going through my head (the time-scale was milliseconds), I reached for the red navigation lamp, so I could see, but not destroy my night vision, and saw to my amusement and relief, there was in fact no water at all entering the boat, or even a hole in sight. The hissing was from a self-inflating lifejacket that had had its release cord caught on the wet locker clothes hook, and sprung to life when the boat jerked.

This might all seem overly dramatic to you, but the sailor leans a great deal on his or her sense of hearing: An almost sixth sense develops and notes every single sound that is deemed 'normal' on the boat - Anything that deviates from that list is immediately cause for great concern, and even in a deep sleep, one is often alerted to any acoustic change in the environment. I remember a similar incident in the Atlantic, when a flying fish flew through the hatch, and lay sputtering and flapping on the cabin sole - To my dimly awakened state, it was the sound of the electrical system short-circuiting...

Fortunately today, things have calmed down, and my frayed nerves are regenerating with each cup of tea. I have decided, and I must apologise to Brisbane, that I will in fact be sailing into Coffs Harbour - The northern most entrance into NSW where I can clear customs and quarantine. This decision is based mostly on the fact that my trajectory seems to naturally be pointing me that way, and also it appears to be a much easier entrance than Brisbane, or even Sydney: Just a simple breakwater on the coast, and a buoy to hang off of and await clearance. I am trying to sail home, and in a fit of anger a few posts ago, I declared Brisbane was it - But, I've come this far; I will sail as planned into Melbourne, and land hopefully in Docklands Marina. I hope to see some familiar faces there... Ones ready to stay up all night and paint the town red. I think I'll call the party 'Shore Leave.'

And so, we soldier on, 14 days out of Tonga. I don't like to predict my landfall, because there are many things which hinter progress (namely, weather), but, with 550nm to go, it would be nice to be seeing land within five or six days...

Australia is on my chart

My recent posts have been rather anguished. I've been in a very odd state of mind, there is no doubt about it. Someone left a comment on my last post saying I was sounding more and more like Moitessier. And he wondered if that was a good thing or a bad thing... Well, having recently watched Deep Water (maybe not the best film to be watching at sea...), at least I was not likened to Crowhurst! There is a certain something that happens when you place yourself in solitary confinement: You often wonder why you're torturing yourself. However, the quirk is, in this form of torture, there is always the possibility of experiencing something divine, and simply told, that's why people do it. I don't necessarily mean a spiritual divine; the simplest things at the oddest moments can make their ranking: Days of hard weather, and the taste of coffee in a dwindling swell can be enough to light the spark. Anyway, I'm out here now, after 778 days of voyaging - It's the finishing leg to Australia, and my little handheld GPS is pointing right towards that sunburnt continent where I was born. Hauling up the anchor in Vava'u was miserable. I could barely muster the strength to do it. It was a perfect day, the wind was blowing south east, and I'd just spent two really nice days with my new friends Rob & Sarah at anchor - Spearfishing, talking, drinking local rum, and all those good things that can be done in the company of others. Not only was I hesitant about leaving for a potential month of solitary confinement, but my time in Vava'u had actually been quite social: I met a few young sailors with their own boats (a rare sight), compared notes with a couple nice fellow singlehanders, and even had a connection through a friend of a friend at the infamous and great Aquarium Cafe. The 'cruising community' was quite large, maybe the biggest I've been part of so far. I seem to have sailed a very different route to everyone else, and often just out of season: Many of these sailors had met months ago on both sides of Panama.

After the first 24 hours of sailing, my worries disolved into the sea ahead, and the wind switched direction. I beat into a light south west wind for a few days; but frankly, I didn't care - I was so happy to have broken my spell and let go of everything. The weather at these latitudes is much cooler than most of my Pacific sailing thus far - At long last I was able to lay in my bunk and enjoy readng again. The heat previously had been so much, the sweat so prolific, all I could do was feel my brain melt and my organs evaporate. Now, I was back! And with such a catalogue of great books, my confinement finally produced some cerebral activity beyond that of trimming sails and eating cans of chilli.

Two days ago, to my great excitement, Constellation and I found ourselves on the exact opposite side of the planet to England. We had sailed so far west of Greenwich, we were now east of it. I remember crossing zero degrees longitude, with Johannes Erdmann as we tried to sail to Hamburg. I watched in wonderment as the GPS slowly ticked over to 180degrees 0minutes 0seconds. In a flash, it was gone, and the seconds of longitude began to decrease, as the unit started the countdown back to zero degrees.

Of the books I've read so far, the book by food critic Ruth Reichl has been the most torturous. The finest food on this dry ship, is three cloves garlic and two miserable looking tomatoes. As I read about lobster risotto, or latte cotto, a light lemon custard served with marinated berries, my mouth flopped open and vowed never to sail again. So I got to the chapter on a Japanese sushi restuarant, and decided to go fishing.

Thanks to Rob and Sarah, my fishing knowledge doubled (from nothing to something), and they even donated several lures to my cause. So, listening to music in my bunk, I hear the the handline spinning. I jump outside and catch the 400 pound line with my bare hands, cleat it, and watch in wonderment as the largest Dorado I've ever seen is jumping a mile high into the sky. I was trying to catch Sashimi for one, but instead I had caught enough for an entire restaurant. Constellation literally slowed down under the power of the fish. Terrified, I rolled in the genoa to make battle.

With the fish swimming under full thrust, I couldn't hold it, even after I put on a pair of gloves. So I decided to let it tire, and watched miserably as it thrashed about. All I could think about was that this was tantamount to killing an entire cow for a single steak. So I decided to catch and release, if only I could get the damn thing near the boat... Eventually I could reel the fish in, but, due to my poor knowledge of such things, the fish sounded, and came up on the other side of the boat in an instant. I tried to let slack out, but it was too late. This thrashing enormity broke the line on the keel, and vanished, forever to have a very large pink plastic squid stuck in its mouth. And so, I decided fishing once more, was not for me, and read a book on Alexander Von Humboldt: "... Yet what we feel when we begin our long-distance voyage is nonetheless accompanied by a deep emotion, unlike any we may have felt in our youth. Separated from objects of our dearest affections, and entering into a new life, we are forced to fall back on ourselves, and we feel more isolated than we have ever felt before."

nick.

(Thank you everyone for your SMS messages and nice comments to my posts. I receive them all out here. And to answer your questions, no I haven't seen Jessica Watson, but, I think we are probably very close to each other right now. My radio has terrible range, and we could pass within 20miles and not see each other... But, it's nice to know she's out here, and I have a good feeling that she's going to take the record from Jesse, with gusto.)

Australia, What's next, Photos

Happy New Year! I've had a comment and quite a few emails asking what's going on. Well, not a lot really... The project is still on, and I'm at home in Australia working, and scheming for the next leg. I'm still adamant about trucking the boat, and will do so sometime in April. We'll go somewhere on the West coast of the US (obviously), most likely Berkeley because I have a couple of contacts in the area... I also like Ginsberg, and I hear he wrote a poem there. While my blogging has slowed down, the project hasn't - So for anyone thinking I've just thrown the towel in, you'd be more than wrong... ! It also remains to be seen how I will get myself across the country, as the original idea of cycling may have changed slightly in recent weeks.

I continue to work with Bluemapia.com, which has been fantastic - If you're a sailor, go there, sign up, and share your tips & info on your local sailing area. When not working with Bluemapia, I have the great fortune to be working on my own ideas. They involve the web, and sailing... And another project may involve helping someone else begin an enormous and seemingly impossible voyage. More on all of that some other time.

After Christmas (which involved no snow) I went on a small trip - Photos are below. My return ticket to New York is booked for the 19th of January, however, due to a lack of housing options, and the fact it's much easier for me to survive here than in a foreign country in the dead of winter, it is more than likely I will stay another month or two. There is little I can do on Constellation right now, and she will probably not touch the water again until April or early May. Much work remains, and she's in a state of disarray, however 2009 is set to be the year Constellation is more seaworthy than in any other time of her life!

Cooring

Pink Salt Lake

Cape Horn

Salt Pan, Cooring

More photos in the usual place.

Skandia week is coming up, and with any luck I might get to sail then... I may finally get to write about sailing again!

Nick

Little People, Home Sweet Home

I'm not even going to apologise for going on all these blog holidays... Actually no, I can't help myself, I'm terrible, I'm sorry... Apologies also go to all those people who write to me, and get replies weeks later, or have their words drift into binary obscurity as emails back themselves up thirty pages down. So now, from the comfort of the worlds smallest continent, I'll try and explain. Two Friday's ago I had the fun opportunity to talk to a bunch of little people. While I tried to make funny jokes about visiting Columbus's house in the Canary Islands, and the reason for painting Constellation red was purely to increase her speed, questions about deadly snakes and whether Tasmanian devils really exist abounded. In all reality, I feel that little people are able comprehend killer animals better than small boat voyages - One seems cool, and the other makes little or no sense. At my uncles school I spoke to three classes of third graders about sailing, Australia, venom and geography. It was great fun, and I've decided to sell Constellation and invest my money in time machine research, because having your lunch made everyday, getting half day on Friday's, and playing with toys for 70% of your time, is awesome.

Questions with 3rd grade

For some reason the above photo is my most viewed on Flickr - If that's because it looks like a little person is giving me the finger, you'd be wrong - I believe I was actually getting the thumbs up for suggesting the idea that all Australian animals are either weird looking, or trying desperately to kill you.

After nervously standing among the little people to talk, it was soon time to board a Qantas 747-400 back to Australia. Oh! How did that happen? Well, the short of the long, is that one can only stay in America for 6months before overstaying a B1/B2 visa, and potentially never being allowed to re-enter. Don't mention Canada, because their border doesn't count for 'flag poling' (exiting the country to renew your visa). Therefore I had every intention of visiting Europe, as London was the cheapest destination across the Atlantic, and Australia was out of the question. That was of course until my family pooled all their hard earned frequent flyer points together, and coupled with fees & charges, I managed to buy a ticket for less than a return trip to the United Kingdom. I kept everything hush hush, poised for a great suprise on home soil, and managed to stealthily keep my arrival under wraps and shock those that thought I'd be at least another year until Constellation's bow bumped into Australia.

It's been a great reunion, and while I've just spent two years and seven months noodling around the planet, all my friends have all been doing exceptionally well in their endeavours, and it's being such a treat to see everyone after such a long time. I continue to be essentially homeless here, and will remain so until January, when I am set to fly back to chilly New York. I've been propped up in spare rooms, childhood bedrooms and friends houses through upstanding generosity over the last week, and must thank all involved (you know who you are).

Coming home has also had its elements of complete strangeness. On the one hand, I need to look at my own photos and pinch myself, in order to make sure I've actually done what I've said (you know, all that sailing business) - As in, I wonder if I ever left. Yet conversely, I feel like a stranger, trapped in a familiar dream, almost as if I've stood still and everyone else has kept walking... Or maybe instead of walking forwards or backwards, I took a left turn down an unnamed street in an unnamed city. Really, I have no idea, and this is probably my jet lag talking... I hate jet lag, and every day at 2am New York time, I want to curl up and hibernate.

So other than general strangeness, what else has changed? Well, it seems everything is 30% more expensive, and by the tone of my friends, their wages have not increased in equal proportion. Which is of course standard story - If you artificially increase the price of things just a little bit more every month, no one notices, and no one complains. There also seems to be a myriad of fresh petty laws, Police Hummvees lining the city streets, and a wave of inner city violence to boot. Maybe it's connected to the price increase of sausage rolls ($3 guys, where are the protests!) and rent... From the looks of things, the only safe activity these days is to stay at home and play Nintendo Wii.

Anyway, it's definitely a clear sign of old age when you complain about the cost of living and violent crime... So, before I begin ranting and raving, let's leave it at that!

More frequent updates on the horizon, promise.

nick.