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Thursday, March 12

A day in the Budapest Office

I walked in again this morning. This was a lot easier as I did not have my bag with me, having left it overnight in the office to enable me to travel light to our evening out. The walk along Margitsziget – also known as Margaret Island (though my mind tells me to call it Monkey Island) was pleasant and bright. It was still long. If I were eating healthily and light while here, I’d be getting fitter and healthier. I’m not, though. I’m also not using the island as a jogging track, the way everyone else seems to.

The day was filled with software testing, which is nobody’s favourite task, but it needs to be done. In the end, I stayed late – a bit of a desperate bit to move things forward, though I think we are making progress enough to be comfortable with. Things are consistently running late at the moment, which I’m not 100% happy with. This is something to tackle with the team as soon as possible, but it’s the sort of thing which takes practice to get right. I know we can do it.

The sad fact about a week of working abroad is that the work starts to be the only thing you can think about. While I started the week relaxed, watching DVDs and staying aloof, the work has increasingly got under my skin.

We also conducted a job interview and the candidate managed to give a few answers which equated to “Hello, please sound the alarm and throw me through the trap door out of the building”. I’d give tips on how to avoid these things in interview, but I’ll not bother.

Eventually, I left the building and went in search of something to eat. I also had half a mind to find some DVD or other to watch. I was feeling tired, run-down, and fuzzy. I took the tram across to the Pest side of the Danube and then walked past various restaurants, in the direction of the railway station. I decided to go American. I headed into some sort of Bar/Grill. The waitress told me that it was reservation only. When I asked if there was another room in the place, she deferred to a man who explained that I was in a comedy club and that it was booked up. I asked what sort of stand-up comedy they were doing. He told me it was in Hungarian, so no use to me. Shame. Thrown out of a comedy club.

Though there was another room round the back, it looked rubbish, so I mooched on. I did a lot of mooching. I was in Budapest with no agenda. When I’ve got no agenda (and it happens) I can be dangerous. I can find myself organising and completing all manner of absurd tasks… Ashley + no agenda = all manner of outcomes. Except… well, in Budapest, I’ve got very few reference points for what I can actually achieve. I couldn’t generate many nonsense objectives for myself because I couldn’t think of anything that was nonsensical enough to try.

So I mooched some more and ended up in a shopping mall. I might have bought a simple dinner from the food court and then gone home, but the smallest denomination note that I had about my person was a 20,000HUF note, which is the equivalent of about £60. This will make the majority of shopkeepers in Budapest throw you approximately 90 miles out of their door. I didn’t like the idea of such displacement, so I hit on a plan. If I find a restaurant that is expensive enough, this note will be a reasonable thing to pay with.

Logical.

I ended up in a moderately expensive restaurant. I bought myself a meal that was a little more expensive that I would normally buy, but was enjoyable for it. The soup course! Oh my goodness. This was billed as “Marzipan soup”. I thought that sounded suitably weird. It was described as a strawberry-cream soup with almond. Also suitably unusual. When it came… it was COLD! Cold soup. Ok. That’s done. When I ate it (drank it, actually) it was very much like someone had melted a home made strawberry ice-cream with a dollop of something sweet in the middle and topped it with toasted flakes of almond. The perfect combination of smoothie, ice-cream, dessert and starter, all in a bowl. A bowl! Gadzoooks!

I think I’ve suitably raved over this enough now. I’ll skip the raving over the other courses, a steak with pasta verde and sweet something or other which put me on a sugar high. It was a good evening meal to end my stay in Budapest with. Obviously, I’d be eating some more in the place, but no more big meals out. My stomach and my waistline will be relieved.

Back in the hotel, I took a bath and then spoke with my girlfriend until sleepy time came.

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