Take one seasoned and salty traveller (ahoy there) and one fresh to airtravel country boy (yee-ha), and watch them travel antipodally to visit the UK.
LONG haul flights, gloomy exchange rates, aussie-weary Londoners, dodgy hot water systems
- will nothing deter the boys from escaping a dreary winter in Sydney?

Monday, July 17

heatwave

I love the polite little announcements at tube stations asking passengers to carry bottles of water with them in the heat. It's only 31C and very pleasant. I'm so Australian.
This blog update is well overdue and I will be adding the entire Paris update later when I can tack on the photos togo with it. My apologies if this entry is short but this keyboard believes it's stuck in the middle ages and is extremely reluctant to accept any spacing in between words. My typing sounds like Stephen Hawking on a bad day.
We've been out to Greenwich today, where I traditionally enjoyed myself jumping from east to west, which Matt found unexciting compared to the foot tunnel under the Thames with the elevator time forgot at the end (larger and better decorated than many studio flats I've seen).
We assembled a small picnic to eat in Jubilee Park, Canary Wharf. A lovely little space full of lunchtime officeworkers.
Yesterday was our road trip to Oxford including pleasant little pub roast lunch. We were supposed to go to a BBC pilot taping foranew comedy series, but I was far more in need of fresh air on such a massively pleasant evening. A lengthy stroll up to Ken Palace and then back through Mayfair did the trick, with a nice outdoor Italian meal to round things up.
OK this keyboard is totally doing me in. More soon guys.

Sunday, July 9

on the market..

No don't get your hopes up. I've just been to half the markets in London it seems in a short period of time. Portobello road to Camden to Borough markets. Of course being a rampant foodie I loved the last, lots of food is definitely cheaper or more plentiful in Australia, but it's still a joy to see the luxury items I only dream of eating back home. I won't go into food porn details but lets just say the only reason I didn't come home with masses of cheap, gorgeously ripe berries is that we had dinner guests and I don't always share nicely. We came back with loads of food anyway (plus a couple of luscious tarts) and then simply made up dishes for dinner on the fly.
It was great to catch up with all the lost Aussies and just chill out. More so after loads of running around London on spurious errands. Off to Chelsea to get some fantastically nice chocolates, then became fatally distracted by several buildings and ended up going the entirely wrong direction for half an hour before realising. oops.
I've been out to flashy afternoon tea at the Wolsely, strolls through Mayfair (love the Qatar embassy, would they consider moving possibly?). And also been taken to La Fromagerie and allowed to run wild with exotic cheeses. Naughty me.
more adventures to come...

Wednesday, July 5

hot and steamy

Hi everybody. (sorry it's a doctor nick joke) well here we are, in lovely summery weather - looks outside to gray rainy sky and remembers the bright sunshine of yesterday.
Our flight was quite tolerable with a quick stretch of the legs in Hong Kong and some sleep achieved on board. Matt was surprised to find that airline food wasn't all that bad, better in fact than his mother's cooking. We were the first plane in for the day at Heathrow and with only hand luggage we basically just walked right out of the terminal (I've never seen NOBODY at all in a customs hall, scary) and down to the tube. We bought out nifty little Oyster cards and set forth for the city.
Matt got hit all at once upon leaving the tube that he was really in London, walking out to Hyde Park Corner and seeing a red double decker, black cab, huge parks and grand statues. Then it was basically a pleasant early morning stroll across the park and up to J's apartment. We have a gorgeous balcony and green leafy view, and only minutes from Marble Arch. Awesome.
After a much needed shower, life saving coffee and delicious breakfast we made our way out into the summery tourist hell that is London. haha. It was fun and Matt certainly enjoyed everything. But the 100 strong tour groups of americans and russians were a tad too much to deal with after 22 hours in a plane. We did some of the more obvious locations and crossed the river to Waterloo to pick up tickets for the Eurostar next week and to walk down the Cut and sit in a pub for lunch.
One tube trip home and an afternoon nap later, I was feeling refreshed and sociable. A quiet dinner followed by a stroll through Edgeware was topped off by J and I stopping at a pub to see what we assumed would be Germany winning the cup. Alas we were greeted by shouts of Italia! Italia! and even got to see nasty cheating Italy score their second penalty goal. grrrr.
Anyway that was day one. Need to upload some pics tomorrow I guess. Now its off for another coffee. :)

Saturday, July 1

up, up and away

Well here we are with only one more day of work left before holidays. thank god.
I refuse to do any shopping before we fly off on monday, so making something to eat is a definite challenge tonight and I'm thinking we'll surely opt for take out tomorrow night.
I can't get over how many people continue to ask me if I'm all excited. Strangely I'm not at all. And I don't think I will be until I'm actually on the plane and we take off. That's when you know a journey has truly started. Until then I'm just trying to think of whatever it is that I must have forgotten. Of course knowing full well it will reveal itself to me only once we're there.
So....what else has filled up my week? Britney Spears has posed naked - NO not another piece of objet d'art for the guy who has everything (think combination hat stand with light up pregnant belly hall lamp to match the coffee table released last year). She's on the cover of Harper's Bazaar covering up her enormous nipples in accordance with American censorship standards.
Oh and we went first thing thursday to see Superman Returns. I was very impressed. If I see Bryan Singer in the street he's getting a big kiss.... Bryan be warned.
It's a terrific movie, obviously not everybody's cup of tea, but I doubt many will fail to be entertained. But personally I adored so many aspects of the film. Kevin Spacey plays such charismatic intelligent bad guys and Brandon Routh reprises and adds to Christopher Reeves performance of a gentle yet awesomely powerful being wanting to belong. The visual impressions - the effects and the design both glue your eyes to the screen. But the thing that I loved most, was that the movie stayed true to the spirit of the first 2 movies that this one borrows so heavily from; it really felt comfortable to sit and watch. I walked out after the movie and very, very nearly bought a ticket and walked back in.
Not much else to tell, so here's to the next post *raises glass* coming to you from the UK.
Finally.

Friday, June 23

coming soon to a country near you..

...well that is if you're in Europe somewhere. Looking to my right at the calendar we've been zealously marking with big black texta crosses, it seems that we only have about 10 days until our ridiculously long antipodal flight. With most of those days spent at work there's not a lot of time for last minute tasks. So I have pretty much done them all today.
Bought my new camera for about $400 less than the advertised price (no sexual favours required) and I'll be getting my 10% GST back at the airport, so all in all a good deal.
We are planning on travelling light..mainly because I have had some awful experiences with lost luggage and baggage carousels in the past and I now opt to travel with hand luggage only. It's so much faster at the airport it's ridiculous. Plus I like the challenge of packing light. Anyway if I want to do some shopping I can always check it in on the return flight or post it home. But really, me, shopping in London or Paris? Come on. Really. As if that's gonna happen. Hmmmm. Yeah. Where's that big bag with the wheels?
Actually most of our decisions have been made. We know where we are staying, who we're visiting, what our budget is like (unless we win the lottery), who's minding the house, etc. The only choice I can think of is whether to catch the tube from Heathrow or the Paddington Express. You save an hour of train travel but pay over twice as much. It may depend on how we feel after the flight I guess. It is a really long boring tube trip, I lived out at Ealing Broadway for a while and at half the distance that was bad enough. Though I did admire the passengers who could squeeze in against the wall with one hand wedged next to the next guy and still use the other hand to read a novel held inches from their face....for 35 minutes!
Seeing as Matt is doing his Masters in Sustainable Development I do tend to keep an eye out for related items when skimming the web. I can now make a direct contribution to offset my carbon footprint, including the fuel burnt on the flight to the UK and back. I heartily endorse organisations like Climate Care and Anti-Apathy who are actually convincing people to do something about their personal impact on the planet; we need something similar in Australia. There, that's my 2 cents for today.
Stay warm, or cool. Your choice.

Friday, June 16

local terror alert level raised this week...

Yes folks, it's been an exciting week here in the Kings Cross area.
On Sunday night we went raised the terror alert level to yellow
Terror Alert Level

After an exhaustingly busy Queen's Birthday holiday weekend at work, (officially the dumbest and least plausible public holiday of the year in Australia) we had dinner with some friends, came home and fell into a deep sleep. At around 2am I awoke to some disturbing noises. To cut a long story short a homeless petty thief had made a huge mess out the front of our place and next door, throwing recycling mess everywhere and attempting to gain entry. With no luck he went to the back lane and actually pulled off several 8 foot high fence pailings and slipped into the backyard. A neighbour had seen and heard the guy and called the local cops who drove by, and as I turned on the lights and scared the guy away from trying to force the lock on our back door (in vain) he was arrested at the end of the back lane. I then had to wake Sleeping Beauty...I mean Matt, and go out to give details to the cops who had the thief in the back of their van.
My first real disturbance at this house since I moved in a couple of years ago has shook us up a bit. I had so much adrenalin pumping through me at 2am that I was happy to go all Middle Eastern and cut the guy's hand off to mark him as a thief. I also lay awake for another hour starting at every sound and dreading my 6am alarm for work. The fence has since been repaired and our locks checked (we already have bars on every window, so why a thief would target us is beyond me).
Meanwhile the countdown progresses to take off day. Only a little over 2 weeks left now, and lots of last minute things to take care of. I'm excited about buying a new digital SLR next week sometime, to replace the one I sold last year. As usual I have tracked down a killer price which only requires a small trip over to the north shore.
I was slightly excited earlier this week when the aussie dollar strengthened against european currencies and our spending allowance for the trip looked a bit healthier. Then the next day the aussie market had its worst day since Sept 11. So OK, I'll raise my hand and say it must have been my fault. Damn you oh spiteful finance god, damn you!
But I must say my week has been brightened immensely by being directed to this fantastic piece of footage. The best 6 minutes of online entertainment I've seen in ages (and that includes Seth McFarlane's speech to this year's Harvard graduates).

Evolution of Dance

Sit down, relax and have a laugh. :)

Friday, June 9

expandifying

Yes.. I know that's not really a word, but it suffices quite nicely for what I have been doing to my little blog in the last hour or so. Lots of little buttons and information tool/link type thingys
now appear at the bottom. Oops I said 'bottom', it reminds me of another innocuous word that comes across rather rude.. 'package'. It seems that everyone is obsessed with the size of Superman's package in the upcoming new film Superman Returns. Or I should say Brandon Routh's package. One of the London dailies (oh paragons of truth and virtue) reported that it may need to be digitally reduced in the film editing to return attention to the action, and of course the gossip has been picked up far and wide. Even Matt is looking forward to coming with me to see the film now. But the official story is that the poor guy actually has a hefty codpiece in the suit, which would account for the size issue. Now if only Stewie from Family Guy could play Supes - "what this? oh it's just my package.."

Nothing much new on the upcoming journey, we're still crossing off days and saving money wherever possible to ensure a good time whilst away. Following the daily drop in the exchange rates is depressing I must admit. Stupid economy. hmmmm.... Matt's cute and funny and not afraid of ridicule, perhaps he can do some London summer busking (with me managing of course) and we can come back with a profit. Or not.

Matt has decided on a mammoth train journey of exploration the day after we arrive. All over Britain in 3 days so it seems. Why can't relatives live somewhat NEAR each other? Meanwhile I will be hanging out with mates and haunting bookshops and cafes all over the place. Of course trying to make plans with people ahead of time is near impossible. Why can't anyone commit to a place and time anymore? Even though we are all time obsessed and constantly assessing and planning our movements and responsibilities. It should be simpler and it reminds me of a passage from a writer I know; Frank Moorhouse, from his book of memoirs: Martini.

"I suppose there is the daily question of whether to drink or not to drink. With whom to drink? To what end? To avance a project or to just play the fool or both. We didn't plan our days when younger. The day 'unfolded'. I don't think I had a foreward planner or diary. Things just happened without foresight. We were less discriminating about our company, I seem to recall, and drinking was a way of washing the blood off our togas."

Anyway time to go, yet another fun filled day of books and coffee ahead of me tomorrow, yet nary a word or a sip for me.......