CricketEurope columnist Ryan Bailey is spending the summer in England covering county cricket for Cricinfo. In the first of a regular diary, he brings us up to speed on his first week in the capital.
For a city just a short hop away from home, London couldnít be any more of a complete world apart. In truth, despite itís proximity to Dublin and the superficial cultural similarities, comparisons between the two are few and far between.
That said, one corresponding facet is undoubtedly the weather. There is no danger of one feeling too far away from home in this regard. To say the past week here has been a mixed bag would be an understatement.
The weather has changed from relentless rain to twenty degrees sunshine and back again like a yo-yo. The idling - watching covers being pulled hither and thither - probably hasnít helped but the last week has been incredibly protracted - not in a bad sense - but itís hard to fathom that it was just seven days ago that I packed my bags and headed across the Irish sea: it seems like an eternity ago.
Itís been an engaging and informative week, however, and no doubt the hardest period of settling into a new environment and indeed city of eight million people is those initial few days.
Having been to London just once - and for a fleeting visit at that - Iím still in awe over the whole place: the sheer number of people, the varying cultures and the phenomenon that is the underground.
Getting around such an extensive city is made so straightforward but the logistics of it all for a tourist is mind-boggling: there are lines everywhere, going from destination A to B via C and D whilst interchanging with E. Anyway, as someone put it, my first week has been more like a whistle stop tour of the south of England.
From Derby, to Chelmsford and Canterbury, Iíve done a fair amount of commuting in a short period of time but thatís the beauty of the public transport here. Having hopped on a train up to the Midlands on Thursday, the journey proved to be a wasted one as a saturated outfield at Derby forced the abandonment of their Twenty20 game against Northants.
It was such a shame as I was really looking forward to watching the defending champions up close and experiencing my first taste of county cricket under the lights. It wasnít to be and I hauled myself back down to the capital.
Thankfully, the disappointment was mitigated by the prospect of a London derby at the Oval on Friday. It was great to see three Irish in action - although it was a brief glimpse of Paul Stirling (he got a first baller) - and only underlines our growing cricketing prowess.
Whatís been fascinating so far has been to hear what high esteem our players are held in over here by the public and indeed press. Gary Wilsonís ascension to Surrey captain affirms that and anyone Iíve spoken to during games about Irish cricket have all been hugely complimentary.
After he and Kevin OíBrien had helped seal a comprehensive win over Middlesex, Gary - despite all his post-match commitments as captain - was kind enough to meet me for a chat about everything and anything from Surrey, my own playing endeavors and how I was settling in. It was refreshing to hear a familiar voice from home even if my Irish brogue is slightly different to his!
I was back in Kensington on Sunday - only after a visit to Craven Cottage for Irelandís friendly against Italy - for the start of Surreyís four day game against Worcestershire. To say the two grounds are at opposite ends of the spectrum would be an understatement.
The hospitality at the Oval is second to none with breakfast, lunch and tea all laid on: it didnít taste too bad either!
The food apart, the on-field action was pretty good to boot. In perfect batting conditions, Moeen Ali showed why he has just earned an England Test call-up. His unbeaten 138 was of the highest quality as he combined defence and attack without fuss, including launching three towering sixes into the pavilion.
Although unable to see Gary bat or indeed Saeed Ajmal with the ball in his hand, I instead made the short trip to Chelmsford and the Essex County Ground for their Division Two game against Glamorgan.
It was an absorbing encounter of attritional cricket but again, one that was hampered by the rain. In the end, a potentially thrilling conclusion was foiled by the weather.
Tomorrow (Friday) sees me head to Canterbury for another high-octane evening of T20 when Kent face Middlesex before a trip to Bristol on Sunday to watch Gloucestershire against Glamorgan in the same competition.
Letís hope the weather improves!