Meaning Of Loaf

       Taking the easy road through life

Monday, April 16, 2007


I'm suffering a block.

I know I've been promising to write up the rest of the Chicago trip for some time now and not coming through with the goods, but for some reason I just go completely blank as soon as I try and write anything. I'm putting it down to the pressure of having to write something good on demand, which is a little like trying to pee in a busy nightclub with a queue of large, rowdy guys behind you. So, I'm going to do a quick filler post and hope this gets the creative flow going, so to speak.

So, good news; we're having our first preview of summer over in the UK at the moment which has been signified by two things; me breaking out the shorts, and 24 hours later, me breaking out the sunburn cream. Yep, we really know how to make the most of the sun.

The fine weather was also celebrated this weekend by a friend firing up the first BBQ of the year, much sooner in the year than we'd normally dare to try. Nothing beats a warm summer evening (I know it's spring, but we were happy believing it was summer) with BBQ offerings that are both charcoal on the outside, raw in the middle, and sitting back with a nice cold beer*.

And finally in celebration of the unseasonably good weather, me and a few friends decided to organise a big walk this Sunday. It started out as a grand plan; drive to Devon and walk for most of the day round the hillsides. By Sunday morning, most people had dropped out with pretty weak excuses, so it became a walk round the hillsides of St Albans. By 12pm (3 hours later than originally planned), it was just the two of us, and the day of walking became a long walk to a pub, where we sat in the garden for the next 2 hours. Proof that we can't plan to save our lives, but we still know how to make the best of a sunny afternoon!

Ok, so over the next few days, I'm going to have another stab at these next two Chicago posts, because I know I'm going to be getting threats if I don't finish them off soon. Otherwise, expect more filler!

* Due to exceptionally bad planning on my part, it was alcohol free beer. This lie was harder to believe than telling myself it was summer.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Chicago - The Place

Because there was just way too much to write just one post about the Chicago trip, I'm breaking it up into three separate posts; the place, the food, and the people. So, after some delay, here goes the first!

First there was getting to Chicago. Now I'd been told many horror stories by people about the ordeal I would go through at Customs and Immigration, especially since it's my first trip to the states. But unless I was just incredibly lucky, I had no problems whatsoever! Fill in a couple of forms, which get a quick look over, and I'm though! So much for the horror stories.

After a quick ride on the blue line into the centre of Chicago, I met up with Cherry and was taken back to his place, which would be my home for the week. Although I'm doing a separate post about the people of Chicago, I must give special mention to Cherry and One Lil Aussie for both putting me up for the week, and for putting up with me for the week!

On my first day out in Chicago, I decided to take a walk alongside the lake since it looked bright and sunny out. Unfortunately, I chose probably one of the coldest days of my visit to do this on, and by the time I reached the city centre, bits were ready to drop off. Even the earmuffs that I mocked on people I saw along the way had now become essential clothing, and quickly picked up a pair.

Most of my time in the city centre was spend on or around Michigan Avenue, where I did manage to part with a fair share of my spending money, both in the many clothes shops, and the lure of the Apple store, where I gave in to a new video iPod. But while not in the shops, I did visit the usual tourist sights:

The Two Towers
The two great towers of Chicago are the John Hancock building and the Sears Tower, and fortunately I was able to go up both of them, with some pretty amazing views from the top of both. I'd also go with what most people say; although the Sears Tower is slightly taller, there does seem to be a better view from the John Hancock building. My one piece of advice to anyway going there though; try and pick a quiet time, or you'll be queueing for ages!

Millennium Park
So many things to see here, it's hard to know where to start! Probably the biggest feature is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is a Frank Gehry designed outdoor concert venue, which is pretty impressive, and if you're familiar with anything by Frank Gehry, you'll recognise it as one of his instantly. Then there's also the Chicago Bean, or the Cloud Gate to give it it's official title, which is basically a giant bean made of polished and mirror-like stainless silver, which makes for something that looks almost alien in it's design. Last of all (I say last, there's a lot more, but you can look that up yourselves!) is the Crown Fountain, which is two 50ft towers made of glass bricks facing each other, and on the opposing faces of the two towers, the bricks have LED's to create slow motion pictures of peoples faces. I have to say, I was a little freaked out when I first saw it, as I didn't realise they were going to be moving, but thought it was simply a large poster! Although I didn't get to see it at this time of year, in the summer the towers will shoot jets of water out of the centre, aligned to the mouths of the people on display, which sounds impressive, and would probably be welcome in the hot Chicago summer.

The Art Institute of Chicago
Now for me, art has a slightly limited appeal; I like to see it, but there's only so long I can look at picture after picture! Still, that said, the art of display here was top quality and I did spend a fair share of my time here. In particular, I was attracted to the display of artifacts from China and Japan, which I spent a good hour wandering round.

So how did I spend the rest of my time in Chicago? Mainly eating and meeting the Chicago bloggers, to be covered over the next two posts. Watch this space!

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Getting there

Ok, so I know it's been over a week since I've got back, and everyone is eagerly waiting for the write up on Chicago, but it's still in progress because [insert random unused excuse here].

Truth is, after proudly telling everyone that I never suffer from jet lag, I've been paid back with lag like never before. Throw in a very dull three day training course in central London as soon as I got back, and you've got yourself a sure fire case of apathy.

Still, the writing is now in progress (thinking what I'm going to write counts as in progress), so just a couple more days. Promise. If I don't, you're all welcome to kick my ass and tell me to get writing!