News from Iceland

Well Iceland was very nice indeed. Bloody cold, but very cool (if you’ll excuse the bad pun). Iceland had been getting the worse snow storms for thirty years so Dave and I had fun playing around in the snow, walking through blizzards and trying not to slip and break our ankles on the ice. Reykjavik is a great little city if unbelievably expensive (it was about £18 for a pint of beer and a vodka and lemonade!). We didn’t see much of it as our Saturday was spent on a tour visiting waterfalls and geysers and on Friday it was raining so hard we couldn’t really go out. The highlight was the Blue Lagoon. A total tourist trap, yes, but totally worth it. There’s something quite magical about sitting in what feels like a hot bath with this milky water around you surrounded by big clumps of lava with a blizzard blowing. It’s worth visiting Iceland just for the Lagoon. Here’s some photos!

That’s the Blue Lagoon. Awesome isn’t it? This is a cold Dave:

Dave

I know I said the Blue Lagoon was the best thing of the weekend, but actually it was the second best. The best thing that happened over the weekend was Dave proposing. Obviously I said yes. Yay! We’re getting married! *cue girly screaming and jumping round the room*

very hurried message

Hullo! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and for that apologise. I’m back from Oz and back to work and missing down under greatly. It was brilliant there, not having the experience of travelling before I’ve spent the last couple of months with eyes wide open and have enjoyed a form of freedom and immense happiness not felt before (not that I’m unhappy here, but you know what I mean) and I can’t wait to go wondering again.

Which is a lot sooner that you might think! While I was away, Dave decided that for his birthday (which is today) he’d go away for a weekend and drag me along. Well our bags are packed and we’re getting ready for bed for a very early start tomorrow morning. We’re off to Iceland! It’s going to be awesome. I’m a very lucky girl.

Flighty: Thanks again for all your comments during my trip, it was always great to hear from you.
Burro: You’re back! It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to email you for a while to see how you’ve been getting along, especially after you mentioned the thing you and the wife have been working on. I think I can guess what that is, but I’m a girl and I want details!

Once I’m back in Blighty next week I’ll start anew on this here blog as it’s been kind of floating for the past few months (I think the Aus trip was the first time in ages this place was used properly) I’ve got a few ideas and hopefully I’ll be posting a lot more often. Lucky you!

Opera and Parliament House

So what have I been up to these last few days? Well I arrived in Sydney after a very long train ride in which I learnt it’s really quite difficult to try and sleep on said trains seats, even if I have taken over two and are using them as a bed. Sydney is a very pretty city and the opera house is really quite beautiful, the sails are reflective and so it sparkles in the sunlight. The first morning I was there I had a coffee there and watched the over-friendly seagulls steal someone’s bacon sandwich and I watched boats pass underneath the harbour bridge. Later that afternoon, after checking into the very nice YHA Central, I climbed the bridge. It was fun and for the amount of time you spend with them, it was worth the £80 price, I think.

Christmas day was spent having a nice long walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi. It’s a great walk along the coast and you pass many interesting things from little coves to graveyards and hermits who live in the cliffs.

I’ve also been to Canberra for a couple of days, and despite it’s boring image, it’s a very interesting place to stay. It’s a bit of an odd place; it’s like someone got a park and just threw in a few buildings in there, but Parliament House is excellent and I spent almost three hours in there wandering about. Old Parliament House is also really worth a visit. Now a living museum, you wander in most rooms including the PM’s and cabinet rooms with the press gallery worth a particular mention. Those two places alone make the Australian capital city worth a visit.

I also wanted to have a look at the National Gallery, but didn’t have the time because I was enjoying my busman’s holiday too much. But it did have this sculpture outside it, which is rather cool:

And just as I was thinking Canberra is a mighty fine place, this goes and ruins it all:

I know the huntsman spiders are harmless, but they’re bloody huge! It’s about the size of my hand span. Not that I actually went up to it and measured it, mind. It made me feel a bit sick, but that’s because I’m a big wuss.

I’m back in Sydney today and so far I have done these things:

  • Have a very nice croissant and a coffee in a cafe in Kirribilli which got ruined by me having a massive nose bleed, but got better when two nice ladies gave me all the tissues they had in their pockets, which I promptly used up. (I’m fine now)
  • Went on the ferry boat called Charlotte. She was an awesome boat with an awesome name.
  • Bought a Sydney Time Out and pretended I was a local (I’ve actually read this Time Out, Dave!)
  • Went swimming in the Olympic Pool just underneath the Harbour Bridge. It’s cheap and I don’t have to worry about my belongings like I do on the beach. No other swimming pool comes close to it’s amazingness. Have a look at this photo for yourself:

Isn’t it sweet?

Right, I’m off to Manly for the rest of the afternoon. Oh and Ma, you’re right, I am looking forward to my own room! But mainly I’m looking forward to my own bathroom. I’ll give you more details about it later as I’m sure I’ll be on here before NYE. Maybe.

A deer ate my dress

This jeg lag thing is a breeze. After feeling really rather tired after arriving on Saturday, I had a six hour sleep and and also slept well that evening too, so I’m really rather well adjusted to the times here. I do keep getting up at six in the morning, which is just weird for me.

Ma, it was a kookaburra I saw on Saturday! I learnt that from going to the zoo yesterday. They really are lovely birds aren’t they? The photo above is him. Also at the zoo were some very loud baboons, lots of wallabies and hundreds millions of families out for the day. I saw a koala too, although he decided to hide his cute little face from all the visitors wanting to gawp at him.  Tasmanian devils are awesome.  While in the contact area of the zoo, I said hello to a lovely little deer that came from India, but because I didn’t buy any feed for him, he decided to munch on my dress instead. It took me about five minutes to wrestle and pull the skirt from out of his mouth. I now have a dodgy brown stain on there.
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Speaking to one of the ladies in the tourist information booth, she suddenly because very concerned for me when she realised I was on my own. She gave me a piece of advise. “Don’t talk to any strange men” she said. “Talk to the nice looking boys, but not the strange men”
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When you sit out in the small back yard in the hostel having a morning coffee, if you look up, you can see parrots flying around. It beats pigeons by lots. And robins for that matter.

Glenelg is a seaside suburb and to get to it to have to take a tram. It’s a lovely area and the beach is beautiful, even if the wind there makes it really quite cold. It’s a vibrant area with lots of bars and restaurants. I ate fish and chips on the beach. No cod or haddock on the menu here though, it’s butterfish and whiting. The butterfish is tasty. I reccomend it.

Ju and Bec, this picture is for you. For some reason I thought you’d appreciate it.

I’ve uploaded a few photos onto flickr.

It’s very hot by the way. 29°C today. Amazingly I’m not sunburned and am still pasty white with the exception of one red mark along my neck next to where my dress strap was.

I’m leaving Adelaide tomorrow and it’ll be a shame to say goodbye. I like this city a lot. I might be off line for a few days, as I’m not entirely sure where I’m staying as I’m doing the Great Ocean Road tour, it should be fun and interesting and very tiring and am really excited about it, especially as I’ve arranged my pick up, so no worries any more.

Itinerary

I may have mentioned this just once or twice, but for those who don’t know, I’m off to Australia for a whole month next week. This blog will be my main way to contact people – it keeps me from writing lots and lots of emails and filling up people’s inboxes with inane banter about how hot and sunburnt I am. Also, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the mobile, which will only be used in emergencies and me showing off that I can see Sydney Harbour Bridge. Friends and family who don’t normally come to my crappy blog: welcome! This is the place where you come and find out I am safe and well and I’ve not been eaten by dingos . Feel free to leave any comments below, I think come Christmas day I’m going to want to hear from you.

Quite a lot of people have asked what my itinerary is for the trip so here it is. It’s as complete as I can make it (which is pretty complete as everything is booked now). I’ll leave phone numbers and address of hostels with Dave, just in case, like. All times are local times. You’re going to have to work out the time differences yourself!

I fly out on Thursday the 13th December at 2200hrs with Malaysia Airlines from Heathrow, flight number MH0001 (it’s a Boeing 747, plane fans). Arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 1820, Fri 14th Dec. There’s a three and a half hour wait if the plane isn’t delayed from London (and I hope to Goddess it isn’t) before I catch my connecting flight to Adelaide at 2145, flight no. MH0139 (Boeing 777 this time). All things going well, I’ll arrive in the southern hemisphere at 0715.

It’ll be at this point I’ll be checking which direction the water goes down the plug hole.

I shall be staying in Adelaide for three nights in Backpack Oz. I have plans to have walks around the city’s many galleries and museums and take in it’s amazing scenery, but more than likely I’ll be in my bed wondering exactly why jet lag feels so shit.

At 0645, Tuesday 18th December, I’ll be picked up in a mini van and taken on a three day tour along the Great Ocean Road. I’m not sure where I’m staying on this trip, but the tour company lists what takes place on these tours on its website . It sounds like an awful lot of travelling crammed into such little time, but being unable to drive I won’t be able to see these things for myself otherwise. I just hope that the jet lag has worn off by then; otherwise it’s going to be very hard going indeed…

When I arrive in Melbourne tired, hot and really wanting a bed on the 20th, I’ll be staying at the Greenhouse Backpacker, which Lonely Planet like a lot, which is good, I hope. It gives me a free breakfast every morning, so that’s got to be a good thing. Here I shall hopefully be stalking Dr Karl Kennedy and Harold Bishop and pretending I’m in an episode of Kath and Kim .

On Sunday, 23rd December at 1955 I shall embark on the longest train journey in my life ever, ever. For a whole 10 hours and one minute, I shall be travelling from Melbourne to Sydney (arr. 0656, Christmas Eve). But it’s first class, so at least I get a bit of room. Oooh! Look at me! First class! I’ve gone all la-de-da!

From Christmas Eve to the 30th, I’ll be staying at the YHA Sydney Central, which has its own swimming pool and sauna and everything (Ma, I know what you’re like, so I’ve found a video of the hostel here). That said, on the 27th, I’ll be heading off to Canberra for one night in a (probably failed) attempt to meet my work counterparts in the Australian parliament. I’m catching a Greyhound bus at 0800, staying at Victor Lodge B&B and catching a bus back to Sydney on the 28th at 1800. It’s almost a four hour ride!

This country is quite big isn’t it?

On the 30th December, I’m leaving shared bedrooms for a quite nice single room in the Y Hotel City South for three days, so I’ll be bringing in the New Year in some sort of comfort. Let’s just hope I actually get to see these fireworks, and they better be worth it too after all the trouble it took to get accommodation for NYE.

On the 2nd January at 1010, I’ll be catching a plane all the way to Perth. (Flight no. DJ427, not sure what plane but it does have TV and it’s with Virgin Blue.) I arrive in Western Australia at 1305 and will be staying at One World Backpackers until I leave for Britain. I have no plans for Perth at all (apart from attending Matt and Paula’s wedding, obviously, considering it’s the main reason I’m doing this trip, which is on the 5th) as other friends will be arriving on the 3rd.

Checking out some of the wineries there is somewhat of a priority though.

Heading home on the 12th Jan. Flight number MH0124 at 1730. Arrive at Kuala Lumpur 2200. The very last leg back to London departs at 2355 and arrives at Heathrow at 0525 (MH0002). Pity poor but the very lovely Dave who has to pick me up (and provide me with warm clothes) that morning and take me home.

I go back to work on Monday 14th Jan. I think I’m not going to be of much use that day.

That’s it. That’s my trip. Fun packed isn’t it? I can’t wait. It all seems a little unreal at the moment. I remember talking to Matt over email when he first announced his engagement and saying to him how much I’d love to be there and I’ll do my best to save money and book flights. I never actually thought I’d ever make it though; it was just one of the many ideas and plans that never come into fruition. So you’ll forgive me if I start to ramble on and on and get over excited and terribly nervous. I’ve never done anything like this before, especially doing this on my own and quite frankly I’m terrified (although once I’m in Australia I’m sure I’ll be fine, I’m just panicking about my flights at the moment), but I’m also very excited and sometimes it’s hard to work out which feeling is what. Meh, it’ll be alright.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank Dave for everything during all this planning. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be going at all. He helped me manage to pay for the flights and was forever getting an earful whenever something was booked or being planned and would sit for hours patiently listening to me going on and on about how brilliant the Blue Mountains are going to look (also thanks to Jen who has also had quite an ear bashing). He even tolerated me pointing at all the planes that flew over the M25 from Heathrow and making sounds that went a bit like “oooooohhhhhhh!!!” whenever we drove to mum and dad’s. So thank you Dave, you’re the greatest. I’m going to miss you a lot.

Have a great Christmas and Yule everyone, see you in the new year (unless I see you in the Blue Posts before I go)

ooooohhhhhhh!!!!!!
I’m not actually going here

Last weekend

  • Those swanky Virgin pendolinos trains from Euston to Carlisle are very nice, but have the ability to make me feel very travel sick.
  • staying in a old castle in the middle of nowhere is awesome and must be done on a regular basis.
  • Cooking a six course meal for 20 people is very hard.
  • Having people playing ghosts and having makeup on them to make it look like they’ve had their eyeballs stolen isn’t as wierd as it sounds.
  • Dressing up as a RAF captain and running round all guns blazing, shooting down some occultists then running away like girls from the Big Bad is the best fun ever. Really.

Summer

So it’s been a rather nice few weeks. I won’t go into it too much as I’ll only bore you all, so here’s a quick summery of the past month:

Dave got on very well with my grandparents. We only had a few hours in Exeter, but we spent a couple of days in Dorset were we swam in the sea (and I was slightly shocked how quickly the water became deep in West Bay) and Nan showed us a lovely pub in Loaders. It’s been a while since I was last in Dorset and I’d forgotten how completely lovely it is.

Camping was fun and the Gower is lovely. I like the fact that to get to the beach you had to walk for ten minutes through trees and sand dunes. This is the view from our tent:

There was a great pub called the King Arthur which served lovely food and a good pint too. We also visited a chocolate factory and did a bit of archery, which I have discovered is completely awesome, despite getting a massive bruise along the inside of my arm where I whacked the bow string there twice. It hurt.

I spent a week at mum and dad’s house too. In which I spent the majority of the time there not being outside and enjoying the views of the Isle of Wight and the nice pubs, but in front of the computer booking bits and bobs for my trip to Oz later on this year. Sydney it seems is completely booked up during new years and it took me two days solidly and numerous (this isn’t an exaggeration either) phone calls to find a cheap hotel for me to stay in for three nights. This firework display in the harbour better be good!

Once all that was sorted, I did manage to do a few things. Ma and Pa have been growing quite a bit of vegetables and the majority of our meals were cooked with the fruits of their labour. And damn tasty too. It made me miss the allotment. The best meal was this. Tuna steak bought from the village fishmongers and marinated in arrabiata spices and olive oil, served with potatoes, roast beetroot, peas, courgette and chard all from the garden. Yum. I also visited Hurst Castle with dad. It’s amazing! If you find yourself in the area do go, it’s a great place to explore, especially if you take the ferry to get there.

So that’s been my summer so far. I’m back to work next week. Boo! And there’s so much to do on this here blog. I notice I’ve been tagged by Hedgewizard, and I shall do that very soon and there’s also a soup recipie I need to type up too. And maybe a couple of other things too if I manage to stop playing Bioshock. (note to Burro: get this game. It’s awesome!) I’ll also actually get round to replying to the comments left here and catching up with all your other blogs too. Once I’ve come back from shopping.