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October 2005

September 2005

We're back

Usukflag The two crabs have returned from a quick trip across the pond under the most unfortunate of circumstances. Pineapple Princess's father recently passed away after a long brave battle with cancer.  It was nice to see everybody again despite the sad event that brought us all together. But we have no doubt that Daddy Crab is in heaven, hoisting a pint of his favorite German hefewisen. Here's to you!

Our latest new experience in London has been an introduction to National Health System, or NHS. Britons may pay more taxes than Americans (something near 40%) but when it comes to medicine, everything here is practically free, as the Two Crabs have learnt this week.

Our first step to entering the medical system was to apply for a National Insurance number. This involved taking a trip to CamdenTown to be interviewed by a cranky Jamaican who wanted nothing more than to go to the nearest pub.  It wasn't too difficult and less than 10 days later we got our numbers in the mail. 

Then Pineapple Princess/Angel of Angel/Mrs. Old Scratch arranged to get us assigned to a nearby doctor. Get this: our doctor is about 3 minutes walk from our flat, in a nondescript townhouse in a residential neighborhood, identifiable only by the sign that reads "Surgery" above the door. (Surgery in the UK does not literally mean having a medical operation; it just means clinic or doctor's office). 

So I go into the doctors and get interviewed by "Nurse Jenny" who asks me all the usual questions about medical history, takes my weight and height and that's it.  Despite all the complaints I've heard about the UK health system, you can pretty much walk into our doctors office and get an appointment the same day.  Once you're in the system, you never pay a dime to see a doctor.

The only time you pay is for prescription drugs, which costs 6 pounds, or about $10 USD per drug. It doesn't matter if you have a 30-day prescription or a 3-month supply, it's still only 6 quid.  (compare this to an incident last week when we tried to get a prescription at a Safeway pharmacist in Virginia. They wanted $150 for one drug because our US health insurance had lapsed. Even with insurance, the drug still would have cost $25!)

This weekend we're taking a trip to the countryside to the Roman city of Bath. Photos to be posted soon. And Coconut has a business trip next week in northern England. Details on that too coming soon. Cheers!

Greetings from Abbey Road

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Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

Could any London photo be any more cheesy or cliche than Abbey Road? We thought not. Which is why on Saturday, Angel of Angel and Coconut (heretofore known as Baghdad Buddha) played tourists in our own town and made a pilgrimage to Abbey Road, which is in northwest London about 30 minutes by Tube from Angel.

The area is very green, lush and residential. There is absolutely nothing else to see in this neighborhood other than throngs of tourists taking photos of one, plain intersection like the kind you see everywhere else in London. Cheesy indeed. But a must-see!

In the meantime, we keep meaning to blog stuff we see around town but keep forgetting. So here are some random thoughts from the past week:

--Angel of Angel is OBSESSED with licorice. And not just any licorice. We're talking about Strawberry Twizzlers. But they are impossible to find here. Yes they have licoriche but most of it is has strange oozy filling or tastes nothing like Twizzlers. I (Baghdad Buddha) could care less. I'm in the home of Cadburry's Chocolate, the best chocolate in the world, bar none!

--How to spot a tourist in London: Usually wearing backpacks on their chests for some paranoid fear of being robbed (like anybody gives a rats ass about your maps, water bottle and baby wipes!). Said tourist will also be wearing white "trainers", aka sneakers/tennis shoes, a fanny pack and baseball caps. Ballcaps are very rare except among the youth, and even then they are usually NY Yankee caps. Go figure. This is a good time to remind the world that YANKEES SUCK. Go NATS!

--There are no ZIP-LOCK bags anywhere in this country! The only "resealable sandwich bags" here have sticky gummy ends for keeping closed. Another thing you cannot positively find in London is RANCH DRESSING. Plain old ranch salad dressing? No luck. But if you love olive oil, white French and creamy caesar's dressing, then you're in luck because that's about all there is here.

--Every weekend, you can find a free festival in London. Today we went to the Brick Lane Market, which we are hereby referring to as the "Thieves Market" because everything sold here is obviously stolen. What else to suspect when you're approached by a guy in a trench coat who opens it to reveal a camcorder and Palm Pilot? Or the grungy-looking fellow selling a $1,000 racing bicycle?

Anyway, the point is there's plenty of free stuff to do in London. And just like DC, most of the major museums and attractions are free of charge. Next weekend is the Mayor Thames River Festival which features FIREWORKS. Woo hoo!

--Returning an item to a London store is easier than at home. No questions asked! By law British stores must give you at least 16 days to try something out and during that time, you can return it without any explanation or reason. We've already had success twice including our home phone which sucked ass. Note to all Londoners: do NOT buy Binatone Phones. There's a reason why they are cheap.

--Our favorite London beers so far include: London Pride, the Speckled Hen, and (no joke): BROADSIDE! (Inside joke for all my GMU alumni peeps.)

--Baghdad Buddha has lost two pounds since we've arrived in London! I attribute that to the fact that we walk EVERYWHERE. We sometimes walk three miles each way to reach a festival or market. Two miles seems like nothing these days!

--After three sunny weeks in London, the rain has finally arrived. It's been grey, cloudy and drizzly for the past two days, and thundering rainstorms at night. The real London weather has arrived. Boo hoo.

That's all for now. Cheers!

The light at the end of the tunnel

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Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

Sad news to report: Pineapple Princess's father lost his battle to cancer this weekend. After years of suffering, he is now at peace. I wish I had something eloquent to write at this time but I'm at a loss for words. Except to say: I feel honored to have known him and only wish I had met him earlier.

With that, Pineapple Princess (heretofore known as the Angel of Angel) and Coconut will return to the United States in a few days for the memorial service.

More news later.