Saturday, September 23, 2006

Moving into the "Parkside Cottage"

The third move within the last 4 weeks. First from Thousand Oaks to Kirkstall, then from Kirkstall to Sugarwell, and now from Sugarwell to the Cottage. I slowly got sick of constanly transporting boxes and suitcases from one place to another... but this would now be final place for a while. This house is a 3 bedroom house, named "Parkside Cottage". It is near the "Parkside House" where the landlord lives with his family. This property was built around 1840, was supposedly for a while the Lord Mayor of Leed's house, then fell into decay. When our landlord bought the property about 15 years ago, he renovated and rebuilt everything. The Cottage actually had been renovated just one year ago, with central heating and 2 bathrooms with showers.

The Parkside Cottage. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 22, 2006

Meeting with Marius

My friend Marius Vassiliou, former colleague and supervisor from my work at Rockwel Scientific (RSC), visited England for a business meeting, and suggested that we could meet. We agreed to meet halfway, and that turned out to be the Shakespeare town Stratford-upon-Avon. Lena and myself arrived before Marius came, and we walked a bit around. Nice pedestrian zone, Shakespeare's birth place is covered by a
concrete visitors center. When Marius arrived, we have dinner in a pub and catch up on events and stories.

Marius and myself in Stratford-upon-Avon. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 18, 2006

The End of Rockwell Scientific (RSC)

On 18. September 2006, Rockwell Scientific Company (RSC), my former employer, was acquired by Teledyne. This sets an end to the story of the former Rockwell Science Center, as which it was known when I started my employment there in 1996. The employees there are "hanging in", cautiously hoping that the future will be positive.

Here is a press release by Teledyne about this:

Monday, September 11, 2006

Moving to Sugarwell Court

As we had to move out from the Kirkstall Tower Flat, Lena did not yet want to move into the new home - this house did not yet have any furniture as our stuff was still in transition from Thousand Oaks. Also there was no phone nor internet yet. So I arranged for a brief intermittent stay in another of the Leeds Met residence halls: Sugarwell Court. This facility is located in Meanwood, in a neighborhood not as nice as Kirkstall: industrial areas around, as the compound itself was also an old factory from the 1860s.

Nicely renovated, but the flat that was available was not as nice as the Tower Flat: it was almost in a cellar, and had a bit of a moldy smell when we moved in. No phone was there, and no internet. After a week, the internet was set up, but it was working only spottily - every few minutes the connection would go down. Well, better than nothing. We could stay there for 2 weeks, before someone else would move in that flat as well. But this gave us a bit of time to buy some basic things for the new home. It took me 5 rides with the Ford Granada, to get all the stuff from the Tower Flat into the new temporary residence.

Sugarwell Court student residences. Posted by Picasa

Entry to the "Manager's Flat" #13 in Sugarwell Court. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A day at the Races in York

On Saturday, the Chancellor of our University, Brendan Foster, and his wife Sue Foster, had invited a few people to a social gathering in York at the horse races. Present were the vice chancellor Simon Lee and his wife, university governors, deans, and professors. Dress code was "smart" (suit and tie) - a noble affair. Most ladies wore hats. The chancellor had rented a stand at the York race course, with a gorgeous view over the terrain. Most of us were for the very first time at such a race and had never betted on horses. Lena and I betted and won a few pounds, in the single digits. Very good food came as the lunch was served, and a delightful atmosphere.

Asked on what principle he would bet, the Vice Chancellor said "it is all in the names", and he gave examples on what horses he would bet on. Someone who shall remain nameless, suggested the following association of a horse's name: "Fantasy Believer" - the Leeds Met Corporate Plan.

The buildings of the stand.

View from the stand towards the end of the race course.

Horses running.

Spectators seen from top.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A New Residence

After one year and a few days, my stay in the Kirkstall Brewery Residences would came to an end. Since my arrival I had lived comfortably in the Tower Flat of the Kirkstall Brewery Residences. But back in June 2006, I was asked by our residential service department if I could move out in September. Since I originally had planned to stay there only for a few months, that moving out was somehow overdue. But I really liked that Tower Flat, with its views over the Kirkstall Valley, and the whole ambience of that old industrial brewery setting. So I had stayed in here, but now I would have to look for another place to live in Leeds - as the university had now arranged for someone else to move into that Tower Flat where I lived for the past year.

I did not consider buying a property (yet), but instead focussed on flats and houses for rent. What a zoo that is! There are so many agencies, and one has to look often at all the web sites to find the property that would be suitable. The whole rental market in the UK is largely unregulated, and each agency has their own way of dealing with their lettings.

In July I had explored Leeds for finding a suitable accommodation, and I had gotten my first experience with the UK housing market. As I did not want to buy a house but rather wanted to rent one, I faced the completely unregulated rental market with its strange conventions. I visited several places and saw quite a variety of flats and houses: a nicely appointed house, but close to a busy loud (and polluted) road, a small flat in a great neighborhood (Alwoodley), several old houses which looked like they would need lots of repairs and renovations, a nice new house but with very small rooms, a few flats with a moist smell of mold.

At the end of July I had finally found a decent home. I had sent an email to the letting agency that I was very interested. But when I rang the letting agency the next morning, I was told that the house is already gone - someone else was faster. Very strange system - only the very first lesser would be considered and would be allowed to file an application. This application usually costs something, around 120 - 160 pounds. It includes a credit and reference check, and if not approved, there is no money back. But only one application at a time is processed - so I was "out" and not considered for this home anymore. What a pity...

But then a few days later I got a call from the letting agency that I could now send an application - the other party who had originally expressed an interest, had never filed a formal application, and so it was now my turn. Great. I submitted the application, provided all the references, but then I had to leave to the US for the moving trip. So while in the US, I was not even sure yet if I could move into this house - my application had not yet been approved. However, now after my return, I signed the lease on 5. September and got the keys - now we could move into the house. However, since there was no furniture in it, we decided not yet to move into it right away but first buy a few essential things and move in a few weeks later.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Leaving the US

In the early morning of 31. August, at 6:00 am, we locked the door, left the keys in an evelope at the housing office, and drove to the LAX airport - with 5 suitcases. Lena had her travel on Delta, I was travelling Continental.

The last picture of Southern California, on the way to the airport LAX. Posted by Picasa

The flights went well, stops in New York, then on to Manchester. From there with the Transpennine Express to Leeds, then with a taxi to the Kirkstall Brewery Residences. Handling 5 heavy suitcases + carry-on luggage on a train is not easy, especially when tired from an overnight flight!

Friday the 1.9. was the day when our Faculty had their "day away", as part of our Annual Leeds Met Staff Development Festival. I wanted to participate and go there right after my return, but it was well after 12pm that we arrived at the Brewery Residences. As we took the elevator, taking first two of the suitcases with us, the elevator stopped just before the exit on the upper floor - we were stuck. Pressing the alarm button caused a ringing somewhere, but nobody reacted. Fortunately I had my mobile phone with me, so I called the university, and got connected to the guards downstairs. They tried to open the door, but no success - an external mechanic had to come. So we waited for almost 2 hours in the elevator, before we could finally get out at 14:45.

Bringing all the suitcases up took another while - the elevator was working ok now. Then I went to the Faculty day out, just as it was closing at 17:00. The students at the registration desk were laughing as I told my story of travel and elevator...