26 December 2005


a. the cricket was rather boring. slow. australia won the toss and elected to bat, so we didn't see much of them. ponting made a century, hayden took about fifteen hours to make something like 80 runs... in case any anti-cricket people read this and scoff that cricket is always boring, well... in this case it was, and if you happened to catch a day like this on tv or radio then you would think that cricket is always boring. so. boring.

b. sat near rowdy group of yobbos (young yobbos) who alternated their chants between "aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, oi" (on the odd occasion that hayden hit the ball) and "you are a wanker" (to pretty much anything at the mcg) and "skollskollskoll" (to members of their sect) and "wwwoooooaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrritrirrr" (to any female-type humanoid in their bleary line of vision), occasionally interspersing them with the time honoured "you're going home in the back of a divvy van" and "bay thirteen are wankers" (the sentiment i agree with, but in this case its a bit of a pot/kettle situation), the alarming "she sucks all the boys" (at which point i decided i didn't really like being in that area any more), and the always amusing "we want a streaker". at one point i wa fascinated to hear "wanna see the cops kiss", and thought all my suspicions about male sports fans and repressed homosexual desires were wrong, and that those desires were actually manifesting around me. alas, the police officers were both female (not that i mind the idea of women loving women in uniform). oh, and also one fist fight, into which came a few baton-weilding keepers of the peace... yuck.

c. despite sitting under shade for most of the day, and applying sunscreen and wearing a hat, i have been pinkened. yes! pinkened!

d. i bought some chips, which were delicious. the person in front of me bought a 600ml bottle of water. for THREE DOLARS AND NINETY CENTS!!!!!

... on the plus side, there are at least two more days of the test, and i could go to both to see if the game can redeem itself... mmm, cricket!

21 December 2005


i don't make new year's resolutions, and if i happen to break the habit this time round i certainly won't be writing them up here where everyone can see them, and mock me mockingly if i don't keep to them.

thank you

15 December 2005


it's that time of year, when you suddenly realise that christmas is not actually 'a couple of weeks away'... it's NEXT WEEKEND. and then you think about all those good intentions you had of sending cards to everyone, especially to your friends OS, and the dreadful knowledge creeps over you that the cards will NEVER get there on time, and you are doomed - DOOMED! - to the pits of hell for your slatternly behaviour.

on a more positive note - i got the scholarship! so i will be rich, RICH i tell you!... well, at least i won't be starving.

a wattle bird landed on the rosemary bush outside our window, and as the rosemary bush is rather small, and the wattlebird rather large, it fell off. but all is well, as it then turned its attentions to the paperbark tree, and hung upside down for a time to regain its composure.

other news? oh, the house was sold to someone with more money than us - damn them! so we are looking around for another place in the area... one day, one day!

dan and i are about to enter the sixth tier of hell, known to others as 'christmas retail,' so your thoughts, prayers and/or condolances will be much appreciated!

6 December 2005


as far as i can tell, i'm the only person i know who has a phobia of steve martin. it is, as all phobias tend to be, a slightly irrational fear... the threat steve martin poses to me is far smaller than the fear i have of him. i examined this fear the other night, and this song emerged. (it has backing vox, in brackets, too!!!)



dear steve
i don't like you (ooo wah-ooo wah-ooo)
in fact i despise you (steve)
they say all these things about you
you're talented (talented)
intelligent (intelligent)
but you're american
i hate your voice, your smirk, your smile
i hate your hair - it's too damned white

steve (steve)
i don't like you (no, no, no, she doesn't like you, no, no, no)
in fact despise you (steve)
they say all these things
they say you're funny but you're not
i heard a twelve year old girl say she thought you were hot (oh no)
please steve, get off my tv, get out of the movies
go and play golf or something
somewhere (somewhere)
i don't have to hear of you ever again (shoobee doowee doowop)

please steve, i'm begging you
begging you to go and do
something that doesn't require you to be seen by me
you're giving me nightmares (nightmares)
your horrible white hair (white hair)
your hideous smirking sneer
(wah-ooo) you're old and ugly
(wah-oo) you're worse than bill murray
(wah-ooo) at least he's funny
sometimes (sometimes)

get off (get off, get off) the magazines
get off (get off, get off) the tv
get off (get off, get off) the movies
before i hurt your feelings

steve (steve)
i don't like you (no, no, no, she doesn't like you, no, no, no)
in fact i despise you


pretty mean, aren't i?

1 December 2005


muchas flores: rosario
it's gonna be alright: gerry and the pacemakers
diamonds on the soles of her shoes: paul simon
the way you dream: michael stipe & asha bhosle
clandestino: manu chao
who needs forever?: astrud gilberto//theivery corporation
be careful what you pray for: vika & lynda
eireann: afro celt sound system release
stuff and nonsense: missy higgins
the badger: the tea party
baby please: johnnie johnson
bei mir birst du schon (means that you're grand): the andrews sisters
lafayette: hot lips page
see-line woman: nina simone//masters at work
electric blue: the cranberries
rainyday: emaline delapaix
love is a place i dream of: luka bloom
truth: neil finn
last train to clarksville: the monkees
skye waulking song - chuir m'athair mise dhan taigh charraideach (my father sent me to a house of sorrow): capercaillie


what are the hallmarks of a great mixed cd? it all depends on the purpose - who is it for? what do you want to say? when and were will it be played?...

when i get a mixed cd, i really like it if the mixer has chosen some songs that i am familiar with but don't have, some styles of music i like and some that i don't usually listen to. i am a big fan of lyrics and vocals, so i like it if i can hear what is being said. conversely i also like songs in languages other than english. i don't like getting mixed cds that only reflect the mixer's tastes. sometimes i am guilty of this myself.

in this case, the cd is for my new place of work: a boutique tea shop at the vic market. the vibe is slightly chilled, slightly left of mainstream. the music needs to be smooth and easy to listen to but not tackily so, relaxed and chilled but not morose. the other cds in the shop include dido, moby, many chillout sessions, the new madonna album, another mixed cd i made... (you can see the track listing to that on sam's blog - click on the link at the side>>)

what do you think of my mix? what do you like in a mixed cd? what do you put on a mixed cd?

22 November 2005


so i've noticed recently a plethora of spellings for the short version of BREAKFAST... i wonder which one is right?


BREAKY - looks like it should be pronounced BRAKE-ey, as in "ach[e]y breaky heart"
http://www.touristaustralia.com.au/online/tao.cgi?ct=bnb&md=second&id=161 ...is a bed & BREAKY
http://www.cdten.com.au/product_info.php/cPath/29/products_id/2175 ...lists achy BREAKY heart

BREAKKY - this was on a chalkboard outside a cafe, and also contained the plural of coffee: COFFEE'S (the rampant apostrophe's are taking over) (i feel i should add [sic] in there!)... but mispellers everywhere have embraced it:

BREAKKIE - i just think there are too many letters here.

BREKKIE - if the age epicure uses it, then it must be right, yes?
my only issue with this one is that it doesn't include the 'ea' of the original word... but then i guess we don't really think of BREAKFAST as 'breaking the fast' any more, so maybe it's ok... although my tinly little pocket oxford dictionary/thesaurus says that BREAKFAST is the first meal of the day... i guess that means even if the first meal is blatantly lunch?

BREKKY - random spelling? http://www.eatability.com.au/au/sydney/brekky.htm
or is it, too embraced by the age? http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/15/1063478120508.html?from=moreStories


i don't know what it's going to be... i think my votes are with BREAKY (despite the billy ray thing) and BREKKIE, but i think the spelling might just be like BREAKFAST itself. BREAKFAST might be the first meal of the day, technically, but that doesn't stop you from having A BREAKFAST in the afternoon after having elevenses in the morning. i often have A BREAKFAST for lunch at a cafe (eg eggs, mushies, etc), but i don't usually have A BREAKFAST for BREAKFAST (i have leftovers - one of my fave BREAKFASTS is leftover fried rice. sometimes i make fried rice for dinner just so i can have leftovers for BREAKFAST!).


anyway, enough with the CAPITALS! i look forward to reading your opinions.

20 November 2005


and look what happened!!!

Judith Butler
You are Judith Butler! Your postmodern queer theory
has shaken up people's ideas of gender,
sexuality, and sex. Your work has blurred lines
between what it means to be a womyn and what it
means to be a man. Queens and transbois all
over the world worship your Birkenstocks!

Which Western feminist icon are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

who are you?

14 November 2005


i can't live in these conditions
i'm going mad
at its height our love was like
the best lunch break i've ever had
but i'm handing in my name tag
my hard hat
i should have done it sooner
i'm giving you my two weeks notice
and i'm calling int he union
i'm bringing back the eight hour day
and equal work for equal pay

your reformist peak performance
steals away my soul
this workplace is packed with faces
but i still feel so alone
so i'm cutting off the dial tone
hang up the phone
i should have done it sooner
i'mgiving you my two weeks notice
and i'm calling int he union
i'm bringing back the eight hour day
and equal work for equal pay

and i see you staring dismally
and i won't bring yu up for unfair dismissal
you se i know the contract's run its course
and you know i don't endorse
your unpaid overtime direction
and your commission-based affections

i'm handing in my two weeks notice
this love affair's over

10 November 2005


so, we decided since we had jobs we should start asking about home loans...

mecu (our credit union) said that the minimum deposit was 4% GENUINE SAVINGS. in this case, genuine savings means that you have to have had an INCOME and ACTIVELY SAVED this money over a period of 3-6 months. we have 4% saved, but haven't been SAVING it - it's just there. so no good for us.

cba (second most hated institution after centrelink on my scale) said that we didn't have a telephone banking password and so we had to set one up before they transferred us to the home loan people... who cut us off.

anz (apparently the most favourite home loaners in the universe if you believe their ads) said that the deposit was 5%, and could be a gift (though we'd have to sign a declaration), and part time work was ok (bet you'd have to sign a declaration) but that casual employees (that's me) were the spawn of satan and they'd have nothing to do with me.

westpac (i talked to patricia and bruce!) were as friendly as a bank can be - did all the guestimating for us over the phone, said casual work was ok if it was permanent, said the 5% GENUINE SAVINGS didn't have to be income based, we just had to have HAD the money for 3 months or more (dan has), and talked us through all the fees and monetary things... wow. this morning is loving westpac morning.

i don't know why banks made it so hard... i mean i've been supporting myself for 6 years. please, i can pay off a loan!... anyway i start work tomorrow, and dan starts training on monday (full time for a week)... so the cash is going to roll in! perhaps they'll give us promotions and give me $1900 per hour instead of $19.00 - ah, the decimal point, cause of so much frustration!

8 November 2005


woo! two in one week! dan got a job today working for DODO, DODO, INTERNET THAT FLIES! in highpoint.. it is a part time position, 20-40 hrs p/w til christmas, probably going into full-time later. yippy-yi-yay!

they offered him the job straight after the Group Interview. pretty good huh?

that's because dan is the best! i'd give him a job any day (hey, dan, i can be your reference!!!)

how is everyone?

7 November 2005


yes, that's right! rachel (that's me!) is now an employee again!

i got the casual (causal pay, part time hours) position at the tea party - a little shop on victoria street in the vic market. it sells tea, suprisingly. and teapots, and CUPS (don't despair, mum!!!). i'm very happy about it, because now i can eat, pay rent, buy a house, EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD! particularly drink tea!

in other news, dan and i went to the nova today, for cheap-arse monday, and saw paradise now - the film about two young palestinian lads who are in line to become martyrs/suicide bombers. very intense, but great.

also went to brunetti's for the first time back in melb. ahhhhh...

i have written a song about the breakdown of a relationship, using employment metaphors. fitting? (i'm handing in my name tag, hart hat, should have done it sooner. i'm giving you my two week's notice, and i'm calling in the union)...

damn john howard - and ALL the liberal party, and their families, neighbours, pets and gardens - to the pits of pit-ness. IR is sooooooo angry-making.

but i have a job! woohoo!

4 November 2005


we did washing this morning... here is a list of things about it.

a wash load costs $3... rip off!
a dry for 10 mins costs $1... it is never enough
we did two loads or washing
and one load of drying (twice)
things that we put in the dryer: undies, socks and pillow cases.
things that did not dry: one pair each of toe socks, normal socks and ankle socks,
we had to buy another pack of powder, because we ran out.
we have hung up all the wet teeshirts (Tshirts?) and one pair of jeans and one jumper.

and that is the excitement of the day.

apart from when esther j called from berlin with mich and charlie and young genna. that was nice.

yesterday esther w came over with REALLY YUMMY ICYPOLES that were homemade from her lemon tree and were lemon juice and sugar and a very little bit of water and they made us have facial spasms. yum..

and we might see esther o'r-d g (hee!) tonight, although she is a bit sick.

that is the esthers accounted for.

The Country was fun. why is it that, although i rarely just go out for a cup of coffee by myself when i am here, i always crave it when i am in The aforementioned Country? is it just because i can't do it? mum and i had a nice walk, i forced some of my novel on both pezzas, and we went opshopping.

i am now going to go and eat pasta with dan. OH! there are a couple of new pix up in the scotland section of photobucket. check em!

30 October 2005


today dan and i are off to my cousin kate's second wedding (it's like hobbits and breakfast)... well, she got married a couple of months ago in new zealand, and is now doing the ceremony over here for her australian people. mum and dad are coming down this morning and taking us and esther and andrew out for lunch before we whoop it up with the family.

then i'm going back to The Country with the pezzas for a couple of days... i think i will relax in a bath with essential oils, go for some walks and quiz mum about plants and their various names and used so i can put them in my book. i will also look at chooks and laugh at their funniness.

and i will continue re-reading the lord of the rings. i haven't read it since (the sixth time?) just before the first film came out. i'ts a lot drier than i remember, but i'm really enjoying it as a history this time - and (don't flame me, fans) i am actually BOTHERING to READ all the SONGS!!! some of them are quite complex, with a lovely rhyme/rhythm scheme that i can't elucidate because i never paid attention to formal structuring of poetry in creative writing classes.

all about freeform
the hiccup jazz poetic
no structure for me

ha. i'm so witty.

our garage sale was SHIT!!! we obviously didn't signpost it well enough, and also with it being a racing weekend, and almost a long weekend... dead... we had some neighbours and our lovely friends, we sold some things, and donated the rest to erin's schoolkids for their fundraising jumble sale. we made a grand total of $40!!! but we got our tax returns back the other day, and that was nice!

oh, i was accepted into masters, too. yai! now to wait until i get a scholarship offer, and we're set!

hope everyone is well, and thank to those who came along to the sale!


27 October 2005


we are having
this saturday

and general miscellany

we will be there
from 9am to 5pm
selling things


see you there!!!

23 October 2005


© 2005 Chiera, Greaves, Katz and Williams

Today I saw a cat and thought of you
Today I read your blog and thought of you
Today I got your postcard
Today I walked to Carlton
Today I ordered flowers and thought of you

Did you think of me when you were eating crepes in Hampstead?
Did you thing of me when you were defacing currency?
When the dodgy French men
Touched you inappropriately
Did you think of me?

Esther, you are the best-er
I wrote some fanfic
Where you came back to Australia
Esther, oh yes we missed ya
I had a dream where
Gary kissed ya
In a bulldozer

Today I saw a Mormon and thought of you
Today I saw some orthodox Jews and they made me think of you too
Today I saw a book, I saw a fridge, I saw some houses
Today I saw a cup of tea, but no tartan troosers yet
Today I saw the sky and though of you
Did you think of me too?

Esther, did you think of me too?
Esther, you are the best-er
Esther, did you think of me too?


aww!!! hey, by the way, the post just below this one is the prologue to the novel i'm writing. don't read it if you haven't got time!!!


“Once upon a time, in a land not too far from here, lived a girl not unlike yourself. She lived in a small cottage with her parents and her little brother on the outskirts of a great kingdom, and they were happy.”

“What was her name, Jimmy Jibber?” A young girl bounces up and down on the floor across the hearth. The fire crackles gently between them, lending the small room a snug glow.

“Her name?” he says, leaning closer on his crossed legs. “Her name was Dandelion.”

The girl shrieks with laughter. “That’s not a name! That’s a weed!”

“Ah, but there is often more than one use for a word. You see,” he gazes into a corner of the room, where the shadows dance with the darkness, “Dandelion was bright and strong, like you, and she had yellow hair like a dandelion flower. But,” his eyes snap back to the girl, and a smile curves his mouth, “she was also a dreamer, and when the north wind blew from the mountains, her mind would blow off in all different directions. She would forget what she was meant to be doing, and would go instead into a world of her own.”

A gust of wind rattles against the cottage and down the chimney, and the fire blazes. The strings of dried flowers and braids of garlic rustle secretively in the rafters. Jimmy settles into the sheepskin rug, and the girl watches him with big eyes.

“One day, when such a north wind sent the clouds running and the branches shivering, Dandelion wandered out of sight of her cottage, and spent a whole afternoon playing by the river.”

“What was she playing, Jimmy Jibber?” The girl’s eyes sparkle with excitement.

Jimmy shakes his head. “I don’t know… What do you think she was playing?”

The girl grins and wriggles in her place, fidgeting with the ragged cuff of her shirt. “I know! I know!” She waits for Jimmy to raise his eyebrows and lean forward, then squeals, “Dragons!”

Outside, the wind dies down, and the cottage falls quiet. Jimmy’s eyes dart to the thick wooden door, the shuttered window, around the room. “Shh…” he whispers, distractedly, “You’ll wake your brother.”

The girl lowers her voice, still excited. “Was she playing dragons?” she asks earnestly.

Jimmy shakes himself, and smiles. “I’m sure she was, and she was having a lot of fun. But while she was away, a real dragon flew down from its lair, and stole all of Dandelion’s family away!”

“All of them?” She screws up her nose. “How did it catch them all?”

Jimmy shifts on the rug, recrosses his legs, and shrugs his shoulders. “Well, dragons are very powerful, and very mysterious, and very, very scary. And if a dragon wants to steal away a whole family, then there aren’t many things that can stop it.”

The child’s forehead wrinkles. “Then how did Dandelion get her family back?”

“What makes you think that she did?” he teases.

“Jimmy, don’t be silly!”

His face turns sombre. “I’m not. Dragons are a very serious business.” He pauses. “But there was one person who could help Dandelion rescue her family… the King!”

“Did she have to go to the castle?”

“Where else would you find a king?”

“How long did it take to get there?”

“She ran all the way.”

“Was the King nice?”

A flicker of something like bitterness crosses Jimmy’s face – or perhaps it is just the firelight playing tricks. “Yes. Yes, the King was very nice, and kind and helpful, and he promised to get Dandelion’s family back. He called together a company of soldiers, and his champion, and they rode on horses up into the mountains, where the dragon had its nest in a big cave.”

“What were their names?”

“The soldiers?”

She nods.

“Well, most of them had names like Michael and Peter and Sarah, because they were ordinary people before they were soldiers – just like your brother and your mammy and daddy.”

“And were they excited about finding the dragon?”

Jimmy purses his lips. “Some of them were, and some weren’t. Like I said, dragons are very scary creatures.”

“They were frightened,” says the girl, with a hint of scorn.

“They were – and they were right to be! As they got close to the lair, they could see smoke rising up from the fires lit by the dragon’s breath. The air became extremely hot. The horses wouldn’t go any further, so they all had to dismount and approach on foot, carrying their heavy shields up the mountainside. At last they came to the mouth of the dragon’s lair, and the King walked forward, his beard bristling with importance.

“ ‘Dragon!’ he shouted into the black of the cave. There was a moment of stillness as his voice echoed through the mountain.

“Then came the slithering sound of scales on the stones, and the dragon replied in a voice like the start of an avalanche, ‘Who comes here?’

“ ‘The King!’

“ ‘What do you want?’

“The King stood up straight. ‘You have stolen Dandelion’s family, and we have come to take them back.’ The dragon snorted, and a plume of flame burst from the cave, singeing the King’s beard. But the King remained still, his champion just behind him. ‘Will you give them to us freely?’ he called.

“The dragon snorted again, and some more of the King’s beard singed off. ‘No.’

“ ‘What will you do with them?’ cried Dandelion, from a little way off.

“The dragon poked its snout out of the cave and looked at Dandelion with one cold blue eye. ‘I will eat them. I am very hungry little girl.’

“Dandelion stomped her foot, because – like you – she was rather impatient. ‘That’s not fair!’ she yelled at the dragon. ‘Why don’t you eat something else?’

“The dragon scraped itself a bit further out of its lair. ‘There is nothing else to eat,’ it growled, towering over the King. ‘I am hungry!’ Although the soldiers were brave, they quivered as the dragon snorted another stream of flame from its snout, setting some of the nearby trees alight.”

“Do dragons really breathe fire, Jimmy?”

“This one did.”

“Then wouldn’t Dandelion’s family be all burnt up?”

“Ah, but you see, this dragon didn’t breathe fire all the time – only when it wanted to frighten people. But Dandelion wasn’t scared, because she had thought of a plan. She ran quickly to the King, and whispered in his ear. The King said, ‘Hmm,’ and ‘Ahh,’ and was not sure that the plan would work, but he thought it was worth trying. Drawing himself up to his full height – he looked very majestic, even with only half a beard – he said, ‘Dragon! You live in my kingdom, and I will not allow you to eat my subjects. However, as you live within the borders of my land, you are also my subject, and I do not want my subjects to go hungry. If you return Dandelion’s family, and promise not to eat any more people, I will tell all the farms in my kingdom to send me one sheep every year, which I will give to you. This amounts to six sheep every month, so you will never be hungry again.’ It was a fine speech, and all the soldiers, the champion, and even the King himself, held their breath as the dragon considered this offer.

“At last it spoke, in its low, rocky voice. ‘You are a wise and generous king,’ it said, and opened its great taloned forehands. Out rushed Dandelion’s mother and father and little brother.

“The soldiers gave a mighty cheer, ‘The King! The King!’

“Dandelion ran to her family and hugged them all. Then the King turned, and all the soldiers and his champion followed him down the mountainside. But Dandelion stood in front of the dragon. ‘Thank you, Dragon,’ she said. The dragon winked at her, and disappeared into its lair.

“The King kept his promise, and the Dragon kept its promise, too. And because the dragon had winked at Dandelion – which was considered to be a very lucky sign – she was, from then on, called Dandelion Dragoneye. And she and her family lived happily ever after.”

They are both silent for a while. The girl stares into the fire as it sinks into coals, and Jimmy watches her. “But it was Dandelion’s idea.” She wavers a moment. “Why didn’t the soldiers cheer for her?”

Jimmy stretches his legs out in front. “It was Dandelion’s idea, you’re right. But only the King was able to make it work. Dandelion wouldn’t have been able to get all those sheep herself, would she?”

The girl rests her chin on her hands, and turns her gaze to Jimmy. “If Dandelion Dragoneye was so lucky,” she asks gravely, “did she get to go on lots of other adventures?”

Jimmy laughs softly and stands, holding out a hand to the child. “Maybe she did, but they would be stories for another time. Come on, time for you to go to bed.”

She jumps up. “But I’m not tired, Jimmy Jibber!”

“I am. Go on, to bed.” He yawns.

She takes a few steps towards the curtained doorway, then hesitates in the hands of the waiting shadows. “You’re an adventurer, aren’t you?”

Jimmy ponders this for a minute, his eyes lost in the dim glow of the embers. “You could say that.”

“Good,” she says with satisfaction. “So am I.” And she disappears through the curtain to her room.


So, do you want to read more?!?!?... Dan has just applied for some more jobs (more interesting that the one he interviewed for - he finds out about that one next friday), and we have been looking at units and apartments online. There seem to be a few in our price-range, even! We'll put pictures up soon!!!


19 October 2005



what i wrote in my masters proposal:

The dissertation will discuss the representation and construction of trans people by contemporary mainstream Victorian newspapers. Focussing on articles covering two separate stories, I will use trans theory (informed by queer, post-structuralist and other theorisations of gender and language) to analyse:
* language used by newspapers to describe and construct trans identities;
* depth and quality of coverage by newspapers of trans issues;
* agency of trans people in news articles.
I will then conduct a survey with trans people to highlight problems and issues encountered, and use the results to produce a set of guidelines outlining these problems and suggesting some solutions.

something similar was in my scolarship (or scholaphris, as i just typed!) application. i have submitted both, online and in person, along with various sundry pieces of paper either required or not required depending on what you read and who you ask.

dan is looking for jobs (so if you know any full-time jobs related to AV things, please tell us), and i am writing my book.

speaking of books, we have spent about $200 on them so far since returning. we have a library. you can borrow for a $2 deposit.

house is still nice. housewarming was lovely. we even met a couple of our neighbours - one is called julie, and she works in a kindergarted and writes kids stories... i hope she brings some downstairs to read. we have walked into the city 3 or 4 times through royal park. we are so close to the zoo!!! it's very cool. dan saw an elephant from the tram the other day!

and now i must go. i wonder if anyone will read this now we are not in an exiting foreign-type country?

12 October 2005


THE FLIGHT: was looong... it's odd to get on the plane at 7:30pm, in the darkness, have tea (DINNER for you english people), go to sleep, wake up at 1 or 2am to bright sunshine, then get to Japan at about 6am... in the middle of the afternoon! we spent a lot of time in japan duty free - the best duty free in the world!!!!!!!!! so many odd things!... siberia was GORGEOUS again. from the air, you can really see how arid australia is - esp compared to that lush greenness of the uk.

THE ARRIVAL: picked up by the pezzas, we encountered fresh air for the first time in 30 hours. what a relief! and also, not too chilly - has melbourne always been this mild? drove through the wonderfully ramshackle suburbs of melbourne, where all the houses have verandahs and you can feel the army of friendly hills-hoist washing lines parading in the back yards, to RETRO for a WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL BREAKFAST!!! yay!

THE HOUSE HUNT: we got the rental lists, spent half the day driving around, looked at 3 flats, applied for one (just around the corner from esther-my-sister) and got it!

THE FIRST WEEK: gorged on australian food and friends; stayed with esther and andrew until our flat was ready; lay in the sun in their back yard beside the huge lemon tree and the hills hoist, sipping BIG Ms!!!

THE MOVE IN: helped by a couple of friends (saj, we will be eternally grateful - likewise to may for the ute... me driving a big mo-fo ute around brunswick *cackles evilly* it was so much fun!) we were moved in - in 2 days! then began the slow process of unpacking boxes (you are right mum, we have a lot of cups/teapots/cushions/books!) - a process which continues to this time.

WHAT ELSE?: have cried twice when thinking of whisky in the scottish highlands. had a HORRIBLE ear infection for a week or so. have got lots of pix developed - and venice looks much nicer than i remember - i think coz we didn't take pix of all the places with tourists. am applying for masters and scholarship as we speak.

HOUSEWARMING!!! we are going to have an open house on THIS SATURDAY 15TH OCTOBER from 1 PM TO 8PM at our place... we will text and email details (if you don't get a text or an email, you are still invited, but you'll need to text/ring us for the details, which i am not going to post for the whole world to see!!!)...

other than that, it's great to be back, but we miss all the people in europe too! speak soon. xxx.

25 September 2005


scotland - magnificent! skye was beautiful (i've never seen such an amazing array of waterfalls), and we stayed in a hostel beside a wonderful little pub, right on a loch. met lots of nice people, many Serious Walkers who like to Do Mountains. visited the talkisker distillery, so esther and i could indulge our sudden and alarming whisky fetish!... lismore was great - got to see ross and jen. went on one long walk to coeffin castle - an amazing 13th century ruin standing in a remote part of the island, looking across to the megalithic hills of mull. we thought it might be fun to walk cross-country around the coast back to our cottage... let's just say that 'around the coast' became something of a catchphrase for us! there was plentiful lighting of warm coal fires, flirting with the cute little ferryman, and writing of novels, films, short stories, etc. wonderful... and now we're back in london for a couple of days, packing bags and boxes, saying goodbye to friends and family, enjoying the city life... looking forward to seeing all on the Other Side of the World. also to MELBOURNE FOOD! retro, alasya, small block, lentil as anything, big harvest, crooners, trotters, vina bar, the vic market, thai nee, vegie bar, cafe romantica!, MY2K, thaila thai... i can feel the weight piling on! trying not to think about all the things we'll miss... if we have time today, i'll put pix on the net. love and hugs!

12 September 2005


Hallo, folks. Dan here, with a brief update for you lovely people out there in warmer places. We are currently sitting in The Orkney Library in, er, Orkney. It is Agatha Christie week here, and the staff are all wearing highly amusing wigs and cardigans and skirts and sporting the obligatory detective magnifying glass (tm) - so there are pleny of Miss Marples and Hercule Poirots walking around me as I type.

It is cold here. Rachel has a cold. Dan has a cold. Esther has a hole in her leg and hobbles, from when she fell over in the street. Other than that, Orkney is fab! So fab, in fact, that we have decided to extend our stay here. We are staying in a hostel on an organic farm, with three tiny kittens (Esther is in heaven!).

Since leaving London, we have seen: Edinburgh, which was great; Kingussie, which was great, also; John O'Groats, which was, in the accurate words of Lonely Planet, an 'overdressed car park' (although there were a number of celebrities in town filming something for channel 5 - Brian Blessed, the bloke from Top Gear who isn't Jeremy Clarkson, and many other fabulously famous people whom I recognised but couldn't name).

On our way to the ferry to Orkney, we (I) decided that it would be a wonderful thing to do to drive into a ditch and get stuck. And so I did. Luckily, some people stopped and helped us out, otherwise we'd probably be there still.

However, we made it over to Orkney, and looked at lots of really old things, like The Ring of Brodgar, Scara Brae, the excellent Maes Howe... It has all been too splendid.

Anyway, I promised that this would be brief, so I will let you, dear reader, get back to whatever vitally important task you were in the middle of doing when you took a break to read this. Fare thee well.

Next stop, Skye...

4 September 2005


hello (to be said in the style of lupin to neville in DADA class)... esther is here! sunny days are here!!! tomorrow we won't be here!

off to scotland tomorrow. 3 nights in edinburgh, 2 near the cairngorms (?), 3 in orkney... a couple more somewhere, a couple on skye, then to our cottage for a week of fun with ross and jen. then back here for a few days and then back to australia. can't believe it's so soon!

it is so nice having esther with us. yesterday we picked her up from stansted, then came back, sat in the sunny garden, watched the mighty boosh, went out to sit in golders hill park and watch the sun set (it looked like a pink grapefruit)... today we went to camden market, where esther bought earrings made of bits of circut boards, and dan and i bought food. then to hampstead for (of course) CREPES and iced tea/chocolate/etc. met uly and mike and went up primrose hill for a while... and now we're here, and - as previously stated - tomorrow we will be gone.

no more milk from the milkman, no more 'look left. look right' painted on the roads. no more laptop computer. no more katzes - apart from dan and danny of course...

will try to update a couple of times in scotland. see you round!

30 August 2005


Well, here we are… Dan and I are sitting on the edge of a gentle valley, on a warm, sunny, still August day. Six small, recently shorn wheat fields lie in front of us, and a peacefully dappled wood at our backs. We have just eaten a quickly assembled lunch of leftover pizza and salad, and are now relaxing on a picnic cloth in the green grass. Today, after Dan visited the dentist for his last tooth-polish, we travelled out to Haddenham (near Aylesbury) for a visit to St Tiggywinkle’s wildlife sanctuary… and I think you can guess what we saw there. No, not a giant, technicolour antelope! We saw HEDGEHOGS! They are really STUPID! But cute. They look like someone designed them for a play or a film, and didn’t bother to learn about anatomy – they look a bit like wacky animatronic creatures. Then we drove to Ilmer, a very tiny, peaceful hamlet (the residents of which I’m sure come out as devil-worshippers or something at the new moon!) where we visited a church that has been there since the 12th century. There were two white doves in the rafters! I then directed Dan quite haphazardly across a small section of Buckinghamshire to Little Hampden (past funnily named places like SNEED and LOOSELY ROW), where you now find us. Of course, as you may have realised, we have the laptop with us, and will post this blog when we get home!

But Ireland… as if you weren’t sick of it. After that night of boozing, we had to drive all the way down to Kells the next day. The countryside was lovely, and Jonathan Ross on the radio was hilarious, and my terribly queasy stomach was terrible. The country around Kells was probably some of the closest we saw to that cliché of Irish landscape – all rolling hills, bright green grass, stone walls and hedges. (May I just add here that today is SO LOVELY! We even have a warm wind blowing the smells of the countryside through our non-existent hair)… At Kells we stayed in a strange hostel – it feels a bit like it was once a school or scout camp. I slept most of the time, and woke up feeling a little better the next day.

That day we went to the Hill of Tara in the early-ish morning. For those who know of it, yes it was as ancient-feeling and as mystical as you think, especially early in the morning… for those who don’t, where have you been??? We walked around for a bit, and as we were standing in the centre of one of the rings, the sun broke through the blue-grey clouds, illuminating the green grass on the historical sights, and lighting the bales of hay a fey silver-gold. Looking out over the plains, you can imagine that those Old Kings of Ireland would have stood there and exclaimed, “YESSSSSSSSSSS! It’s MINE, it came to ME!!!” Or something far more noble. We went into the café and ordered scones and tea – the scones had just gone into the oven, so we waited 15 minutes and had the yummiest, freshest scones of the trip! We also bought some information pamphlets, and went and stood in the Banquet (Long) Hall, pretending to be the king’s harpers, royalty, etc. Imagining the hall as it might have been – bustling, almost chaotic, the smells of a feast in preparation, the rituals, the music, the rich clothing…

And then we drove to Dublin, checked into THE WORST HOSTEL IN IRELAND (at least, the worst one we stayed in… at least it was sort of clean. You can see my reviews of Isaac’s hostel and others we stayed in on www.bugeurope.com), dropped the car off at the airport, and began exploring the city. Despite the hostel, we both really liked Dublin. It is old, it has a great mix of seediness and coolness, it’s pretty laid back for a capital city, it has great alleyways, it has a cool University (more soon), good food at prices that are CHEAPER THAN LONDON (whatever others might tell you, it’s not as expensive as the English capital), a nice park/garden, a river (which makes it feel a little like Melbourne), it has plaques with quotes from Ulysses all over the place, a fantastic free museum, trams, and BEST OF ALL it has traffic lights with the same buttons – and the same SOUND – as Melbourne traffic lights. It is so strange to find yourself doing something as habitual as hitting the big round button, and realising that the last time you did it was on the other side of the world, five months ago. Tick, tick, tick, tick, psheeewww ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti… heheh!

Trinity College has an amusing and informative little walking tour, and also houses the Trinity College Library (2 and a half metres longer than Trinity College Library in Cambridge, and thus the longest single-room library in the world) and the Book of Kells. The library (Long Room) is AMAZING, and worth the entry to the Book of Kells. The ceiling is 2 storeys high, and a walkway runs right down the middle. Off the passage, there are deep alcoves: both walls lined from top to bottom with old books. And above these alcoves are other alcoves (on the mezzanine) also lined with shelves upon shelves of books. The ceiling is arched, and made of dark wood, and the sunlight falls through large windows in the middle of each alcove. Best of all, guess how they arrange the books??? BY SIZE!!! Hilarious! The Book of Kells comes with an excellent exhibition on the historical context, making of, religious environment, interpretation and conservation of the book. The pages themselves are displayed rather stupidly in a dark room in a glass box without any sort of queuing system, so you sort of have to push in… the visit was great, and out of the experience the idea for a novel popped into my head, the fist scene fully formed (I am actually writing it!)

The museum is also excellent. It provided a really great summary of all the things we’d seen – the megalithic tombs and info on those people, the old religions, the arrival and spread of Christianity, the Viking heritage, medieval towns… and GOLD. Oh my word. I have never understood why people went to all extremes to find gold, but seeing so much of it (a lot of it replicated, but much of it real) made my head go a bit funny. My mouth started watering, and I actually began to think about how to steal it all!!! Gold-lust. It exists. We had to go for brunch (in the chic-est, cutest, gaelic-speaking café) to calm me down.

Hilariously, just as we were leaving the hostel to go home, who should appear but the ubiquitous and lovely Simona?!?!? It was very amusing – we also saw her from the bus going to the airport… Dublin airport has RIDICULOUS security: everyone has to take off their SHOES and put them through the metal detector!!! We also saw a couple of the bike riders from Peter’s place at the airport. Watching the mainland fall away below the plane, we once more got a view of Dublin and the Wicklow Hills/Mountains, basking in the patches of late afternoon sun. We were sad to be leaving – but we will definitely be back. Next time we will be prepared for the very approximate road-signage (occasionally only in Gaelic), the tiny lanes, the road works (SLOW… SLOW… SLOWER, the signs say!), the accents (I still couldn’t tell if some people were speaking Gaelic or English)… but we will also know to expect the friendliness, the laid-back atmosphere, the music seeping through every aspect of life, the stunning, stunning scenery, the (mostly) excellent hostels, the famous fog, the emerald-green fields… Eire…

26 August 2005


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paradise in the mist...


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paradise the day before...


THURSDAY 11TH AUGUST: DONEGAL TO PORTRUSH: we decided that we really wanted to see the bunglas (cliffs) to the west of donegal and killybegs, so off we drove. it was very rural when we arrived - we even had to go through a gate, and a whole hoast of sheep bounded down the mountainside to see if we were going to feed them. the cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in europe, apparantly. they were indeed tall, and we climbed up and up to have a good look out over the sea. in the 2nd world war, they wrote 'tir eire' on the ground by laying out white stones, so that people would know it wasn't england and wouldn't bomb them! on the way back in to donegal we picked up a couple of french hitchhikers. hilariously, just outside donegal we saw simona again!... the drive up to portrush was fairly boring, although we got to listen to our chist moore cd (and the hit sof the 90s cd we got - oh, yuck!). the only interesting thing was crossing the border into northern ireland, where they measure everything in miles (like england) not kilometres (like proper ireland)... we discovered that our speedo only had kms on it, so we sort of had to guess!!! our hostel (macools) was really nice - the owners lived upstairs, and there was a huge selection of games and dvds for rainy days. we talked to a lovely woman named kathleen, who has offered to show us around edinburgh when we're there.

GIANT'S CAUSEWAY: the giant's causeway was created in one of two ways: either by some geographical outburst (volcanoes etc) or by the giant finn macool! in the second version, finn was told that a scottish giant wanted to fight him. finn was the biggest, strongest giant in ireland, so he thought he'd have a go. he started building a bridge from the irish side, and the scottish giant started building from the other side. one day, when the bridge was just about done, finn's wife came running to him and said "finn! i've had terrible news! the scottish giant is much taller and stronger than you, and you will surely die in the battle!" finn didn't like this very much, but he had a plan. he and his wife gathered together all the blankets and clothes in the house, and made a giant cot... the next morning the scottish giant knocked on their door. mrs macool answered it, and said "come in, come in! finn is out at the moment, but please have a cup of tea!" so in came the scottish giant. as he was drinking his tea, a great wail arose from the next room. "what on earth is that, och aye tha noo!" he exclaimed. "oh, it's just the baby," said mrs macool, "come and see him"... so the scottish giant went to see the baby - which was really finn macool wrapped up in huge baby clothes. he took one look and his knees started shaking, "if this is the baby, then what size must the father be?" he thought, and he flew out of that house and over the bridge. so scared was he that finn macool would follow, that he tore up the causeway behind him, so only the very beginning remains - what we now see as the giant's causeway... and that is your folk story for the day. the causeway itself is both bigger and smaller than i imagined. the hexagonal stones are much smaller, but it covers quite a large area, so there are thousands of them. they are very bizarre - quite evenly shaped hexagonal columns all around the cliffs and the bay. we went for a nice walk around the cliff-tops.

CARRICK-A-REDE ROPE BRIDGE: is not as scary as it sounds, nor as you would think by my face in the photo!!! every spring, the fishermen erect a swinging bridge between the mainland cliffs and a tiny island, so they can see where the migrating salmon are swimming. the bridge is something like 65ft long and 80ft high (20m long, 25 high go to http://www.travelsinireland.com/northern/carrickarede.htm for a view)... it waves a bit in the wind, but i imagined i was on a ship, and it was all ok. we had lunch on the island, and had a debate about whether the land form we could see on the other side of the next island was scotland (it was, i was right!).

TORR HEAD: inspired by the possibility of being so close to scotland, i looked at our crap map and figured that a place called torr hear was the closest point in ireland to scotland. it was a lovely drive, and a very special view - the mull of kintyre is only 12 miles away, and in the clear air it looks close enough to touch.

DVDs AND TOO MUCH WINE: that evening, we watched bourne identity and kill bill 2, and drank a bottle of red wine. each. i was so, so queasy. blech! never again!!!


in other news, new pics are up, and i will post one to the blog soon!

24 August 2005


it's been a while. i don't know who is reading this anyway. i guess mum and dad, and tina from italy said she'd popped in. and louis. and maybe a couple of others...? if you're here, please leave us a message! we like contact!

ok... yesterday was a 'highly successful day'. it went like this. dan went to a dentist appointment in muswell hill at 9am. while he had his teeth cleaned and his mouth x-rayed, i enjoyed The Best Breakfast (so far) in England. it was at a restaurant/bakery thing called Sable D'or, and the breakfast consisted of scrambled free-range eggs on organic rye toast, a lettucy salad thing, grilled tomato and mushrooms, and the nicest cappucino i've had in london. it was so tasty. trust me - not amazing by melbourne standards, but compared to all other breakfasts i've had... wow! we went for a little walk in the warm sunshine through the park surrounding alexander palace, came home, armed ourselves with a plastic container, then went out into hertfordshire (little berkhampsted, near essendon), to go for another walk and... PICK BLACKBERRIES!!! i have been waiting to to that for oh, at least a year and a half!!! it was lovely, lovely, lovely. except for the bit where i reached out my hand to pick some juicy looking berries and surprised a snake basking in the bush less than a foot away from aforementioned berries. needless to say (being australian and from the country) i leaped back by about a metre, dragging dan (who didn't see the snake, as it was probably more scared than us and squiggled out of there) with me. we identified it on the net last night as a female grass snake (see http://www.onewildworld.co.uk/reptiles/natrixnatrix.htm and look at how cute it is when it feigns death!) which is not venomous at all - unlike the snake closest in appearance to it in S/E victoria, the brown snake, one of the most venomous snakes in australia!!!... so after a lovely afternoon, we headed back with loads of blackberries, and i did what MUST be done with blackberries - made blackberry shortcake (thanks for sending the recipe, mum!). we went to dan toman's for dinner, where we were fed delicious food and a vast quantity of red wine (flashbacks to shannanigans in northern ireland, which you shall hear about at a later date), came home, ate shortcake... mmm. great day.

TUES09AUG: THE BURREN: got to listen to the emer mayock cd on the way to the burren visitors centre - pleased with purchase. at the centre we grabbed a map of the area with a bit of info on local sights, history etc. the burren (boireann) is an amazing place - alien landscape. when the people of ireland first discovered agriculture (several thousands of years ago), they did what a lot of cultures and societies have done: began to clear the forests for pasture. without the protection of big trees, and with grazing animals preventing any vegetation to grow, the topsoil eroded completely away, leaving what we see today: hills of rock. rock rock rock. it is weird, and beautiful, and amazing (especially to think that the area was once thick oak forest), and was cool for me to see while reading Jared Diamond's 'Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive' which deals with these issues. we first went to Poulnabrone, a famous megalithic tomb - there are a lot of tombs in the area, but this it the best preserved and most accesible of this particular type... thus loads of tourists. we decided to best get a feel for the place, we'd take one of the walks marked on our map and get away for civilisation. and boy did we manage that. ireland doesn't have rights of way in the same way as england - only the bigger trails are waymarked. you can however, enter private property so long as you don't disturb livestock or damage anything (i think). our walk took us into a farm, which involved climbing over a few gates and fences (eep! dad, we checked to see if anyone was home, but if people lock a gate and you have access rights, then you have to climb over it! we didn't damage anything...) we ended up making our way more by the hills and contours marked on the map than by any of the fences, because the map in this department was completely innaccurate! we luncheoned at the very ruinous remains of a stone ringfort (a circle int he rocks) beside a cairn, feeling we'd stepped back in time - 60 years? 600 years? 6000?... interestingly this is the only place in ireland (europe?) where both arctic and mediterranian flora grow side by side. then we approximated our way back to the road. it's really hard to walk when you can't tell if you're stepping on a moss-covered stone or a canopy over a foot-and-a-half deep crevice... on the way home, we stopped at Gregan's Castle Hotel for afternoon tea. it was excellent! they had croquet set up on the lawn, we got the full treatment with fresh checked tablecloths and napkins, scones with delicious handmade jam and cream, served on white china along with a pot of tea (with a silver strainer!)... bliss! that night we listened to some more trad music (fiddle, banjo, bodhran) at MacDermotts, before lying on the car bonnet, staring at the stars for at least half an hour (they were very speccy - it was so clear, and we could see the milky way properly. no southern cross, though). what a brilliant day!

WED10AUG: DOOLIN-DONEGAL: if you are in a hostel and need to wake up early: put your alarm under your pillow, so you don't wake others. turn it off immediately. get up. do not, under any circumstances hit the fricking snooze button!!! especially not 3 times at 6am. people are likely to lynch you... we did the huge drive to donegal, with the lovely simona from slovenia joining us to sligo. it was sad to leave the cute littel hostel by the river - it felt a little like hobbiton! - but we will be back one day to see karl and emily (if she's still there). the drive was uneventful, as we stopped only once to check out a church and get petrol, and we exchanged national anthems. donegal - like a lot of towns on the wes coast - at first looks quite dull, but grows in interest and attractiveness. our hostel was about 1km out of town, run by a slightly manic woman called linda and containing the fattest laziest dog ever. in town we bought sandwiches from the incompetent bakery, and 2 cds for the car - one of them being christy moore's Iron Behind the Velvet, featuring (among others) Barry Moore. HAHAHA! Luka Bloom with hippy hair and a beard!!! that night we went to the scotchman's pub for music, where a friendly team lead by gerry (who sang quite well... and i think of him as gerry with a g, maybe imfluenced by gerry adams?!), and accompanied by mateus from germany on the whistle (he said germans are nuts about irish music?!)... a man sitting next to us found out that i sang, and dobbed me in, which was surprising... so on short order the only song i could think of was 'Sonny', which in retrospect is actually from nova scotia, i think? it was fun - nice mic. dan said it sounded good, so i'll trust him on that one... went home satisfied with a good night of music.

and that's it for today. in other news, dan is doing some work experience with BT, which eliot kindly arranged for him. we went to uly's 30th where the food was excessive and delicious, and i had flashbacks to greek and turkish restaurants in melbourne. we have both become completely obsessed with sudoku, also - an addiction starting only 3 or 4 days ago, and rapidly taking over our lives! i've also been researching for my masters/scholarship applications. we are sooooooooo looking forward to seeing esther in a week and a half, and to seeing ross and jen soonly, too.

19 August 2005


SAT06AUG: SKELLIGS: after the perfect weather of the day before, saturday crept in and settled with the mist, drizzle and poor visibility. we thought our skelligs trip might have been cancelled, but didn't hear anything indicating such rotten luck, so we drove over to port magee. there we met joe roddy (who looked a lot like andrew - my sister esther's partner) who put us in the right boat and told us to get decked out in these hilariously huge waterproofs! eventually we were off, over the swell of the steely grey ocean - needless to say i loved every minute of it - huge lashings of spray right in my face, the roll of the boat, the feel of the sea beneath us. dan, however, was quite yellow! he sat guarding the bag, with a queasy face, looking out for PUFFINS! and he found one! it was really, really small and had a colourful beak!!! and it was all puffiny! eep!... the first major skellig came into view (in irish gaelic, sceilig (sp?) means cliff, or rocks, or something), jutting out of the dark ocean. it had what looked like snow all over the ledges, but when we got closer we realised the white was actually hundreds of gulls (and hundreds of gull-poos). we passed the island and headed towards skellig michael - our destination - even more impressive, rising into the fog. as we drew closer, i saw a path rising up what was essentially a sheer cliff (albiet covered in grass), and i swore at that moment i would NOT climb that path, because A. i value my life and B. i didn't fancy meeting shelob at the top. however, once on solid land (i felt like i was walking like captain jack!), our path was a lot more sheltered (though not much broader, and almost as steep)... just as we got off the boat (dan and i were the last) we saw two seals - mother and child? - in the water... what can i say? the whole trip was amazing! as we headed up the steep stone-slab stairs, the mist concealed the ocean and the wind whipped the fog past us. the stairs are hundreds of years old - some monks back in the 6th to 9th centuries decided it would be a great place to live (removed from earthly delights etc), and built not only the stairs, but a settlement at the top. and when the clochans came into view, it was eerie - the buildings look like huge beehives made of stone, and the mist made me feel like a space explorer on a strange, deserted planet. we had a talk from some guides, and nosed around, then headed back down. on the way we stopped for the (now clearer) view, and as we ate our lunch, we spotted MORE PUFFINS!!! one of them even flew a few metres away from us!!! on the way back we circled the other side of the first skellig, and there were thousands and thousands of gulls. i have never seen so many birds in one place. and there was a whole group of seals, too! very exciting. dan felt better on the way back, and we sang sea shanties, and 'The Ballad of Young Tom'... excellent! it was the best 70EUR we had ever spent!... ... from there we decided pub lunch was in order, so we went to the pub with the best known view in ireland, and saw that under that declaration came a qualification (FOG PERMITTING). sat for an hour or so, and saw a tiny bit of the famous view, and lots of the famous fog... it was a great day.

SUN07AUG: LOUGHS, FORTS & DREAMS: we drove our roommate (abe, from new york) to his fishing spot on the lough behind waterville, and liking the scenery decided to drive to the end of the road. this hills are very strange - all those layers of rock that look like they've been peeled back like the lid of a sardine tin. we passed lots of sheep, radioactively green grass (this is the colour from which ireland gets the name 'emerald isle', obviously), a little stream or two, colourful boats in little inlets of the lough, and a few little cottages - i decided that one day we'll come back and buy a property, where we will run a tiny cafe (advertised only by a sign on the main road saying CAFE: FRESH SCONES, 1/2 HOUR -> ), attached to a hostel for walkers and travellers... and we'll have our recording studio, and a garden with herbs and chooks! (you can take the girl out of the country, but...). we also drove to steige fort, a stone fort somewhere between 2500 and 1900 years old, and the walls to about 2-3 metres are still standing - in places they are a few metres thick, and have little rooms actually inside the base! that evening we went to the pub to listen to some GENYOOWINE irish music. it was CRAP! there was a good whistle player and a horrible man in beige pants playing a really nice fender guitar badly. he should have stuck to the bingo night entertainment. we went back to the hostel, chatted to the people there, watched as 8 irish navy ships pulled into the bay.

MONDAY08AUG: WATERVILLE-DOOLIN: sadly said our goodbyes to the guys at the hostel, warmed our hands by the turf fire, and began the drive to doolin. after the ring of kerry disappeared (what wasn't hidden by the mist!), the scenery became rather dull. as you travel north up this part of the coast, the towns become bleaker, and the scenery more messy. in the south, the houses and buildings in the towns are painted every shade of blue, purple, yellow, apricot, taupe, red, green that you can imagine, but as you drive north they become less colourful (maybe because there are fewer tourists to please?!). we crossed a ferry and saw a pod of dolphins playing in the water!!! arrived at aille river hostel in doolin after passing many little old men in little old red massey ferguson (and suchlike) tractors - they were so cute! the hostel is lovely - bigger than peter's place, but still very friendly. doolin is known as a bit of a centre for music, so we were looking forward to the pub that night. first, however, we went into the lower village and discovered that none other than LUKA BLOOM was playing there that weekend. had a bit of a crisis - should we stay? should we return? arrr!!! - and had to sit on the stone wall overlooking the river and cliffs to calm down. we saw a great sign in the middle of a paddock, which read 'NOT SAFE FOR BATHING BEYOND THIS POINT'... ye-es... ok! that night we had a decent meal in mcgann's pub, and watched the music (guitar, banjo, accordian) for a while. it was pretty low-key, so we headed to mcdermott's, where the place was ON FIRE (not literally) with an amazing group of musicians playing full-pace (great banjo player, pretty amazing concertina player, bodhran, fiddle, guitar... and a couple of them also sung). great night! we really felt like we were in ireland!!!

alright! in other news, we have booked a car and some accommodation for scotland; esther j has left australia/arrived in europe; london has been sunny and warm, and is now drizzly and crisp... i shall blog more, anon. i hope these blogs aren't too boring and long for you (you'd have thought i'd kissed the blarney stone, the way i'm carrying on!). take care, and keep in contact!

17 August 2005


we will break this up into two or more parts, and blog over a few days, so you can enjoy ireland in bits. yep, we chiselled bits off it as we went around. this first bit is a brick of turf (or peat, if you will).

WED03AUG: LONDON-KILKENNY: Margot generously offered to drive us to the bus station in Golder's Green, from which our bus left for Stansted airport at about 7am. Margot looked very endearing in her dishevelled hair and pyjamas and slippers. We got to Ireland easily... TOO EASILY. then i was deported at the gates and that's the end of the story... actually, we arrived at hertz car rental, having booked an automatic car, to be told the wait for the automatic cars might be anything between 30 minutes or... FIVE HOURS! but we could take a manual if we'd like (dan hadn't driven one for 11 years, and to insure an under 25 driver would be 200EUR)... we didn't really like, but we couldn't wait for 5 hours, so manual it was. we probably should have turned back when we spent about half an hour stalling and bunnyhopping around the hertz carpark. but we persisted in taking the stalling to the wider world - the motorway! at one point we just COULDN'T move forward, and a guy jumped out of his car and knocked on the window (later, dan told me that in london he would have been coming to punch us in the face!). with a big smile on his face, he said 'i think you're a turd'... actually he said 'i tink yoor en turd', which on closer inspection turned out to be 'i think you're in third' (we weren't, we were just shit drivers!). we eventually made it to killkenny, where we stayed in a hostel with a big sparkly banner in the loungeroom, which said something like 'JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD'. Klassy. that evening we went to pub for my first pint of guinness in ireland (i have to say, it wasn't that great...). kilkenny is very pretty, but it is quite touristy, and feels a little bit put on (in the way that i found venice to be a McItaly, kilkenny is a bit of a McIreland.)

THUR04AUG: KILKENNY-WATERVILLE: went to kilkenny castle in the morning, for a stroll around the estate (it has the most vast expanse of lawn ever!) and down by the river. the footpath by the river was dotted at regular intervals with life bouys bearing the inscription 'A STOLEN BOUY, A STOLEN LIFE!'. we then hopped in the car and stalled our way to the rock of cashel (in cashel), which is a stone castle/cathedral/thing set on top of a limestone outcrop - it looks like it has grown from the hillside. went in and poked around with the masses of other tourists as the clouds burst, providing us with a slight deluge. to avoid the tourists and enjoy the deluge, we wandered down into the valley to the abbey we could see from the castle. this was much more fun than the rock, and we got to explore the ruins in peace and quiet, then get our shoes muddy on the walk back. excellent. our destination was waterville, a little town beside the sea on the ring of kerry, and as we got closer, the scenery began to get rather stunning (and because dan was getting better at driving, we were able to enjoy it!). huge rocky hillsides, which looked like abandoned quarries (they weren't) rose up out of sight into the low cloud, and our first glimpse of the sea came as the road almost fell into it! this scenery disappeared, however, into the thick white cloud. or was it mist? we learned, during our stay, that is is called fog, and it is very famous (!)... it was so thick that the road appeared a few metres ahead, and vanished just behind the car. we passed a pub claiming to have the most famous view in ireland (we laughed), and at one point a huge grey statue of the maria loomed up at us (we wouldn't have been surprised to learn this was the end of the earth). eventually we found our hostel - peter's place is like a share house, with a fire warming up the kitchen, and a cozy lounge, and beds in which i fell straight to sleep.

FRI05AUG: SKELLIG RING: sat by the sea in the crisp morning air, as the sun chased our shadows west into the bay. the sky was clear, the water blue... i think this was the first time i had ever looked west into the ocean, and it was bizarre to think that very little lay between us and that scariest of continents - america. peter called us in for breakfast in the garden, and fed us up with his homemade bread and scones, and oodles of tea and coffee. bliss. he also offered to organise our boat trip to the skelligs the next day, and gave us a map of the area and a suggested road trip for the day. we followed his instructions, and drove firstly around the bay to ballinskelligs for a look at the ruins of the friary there (so picturesque! right on the water, surrounded by graves, and celtic crosses). then as far as we could drive alond bolus head, the narrow road wending its way along the smooth hillside, past mazes of stone walls, ruins of old clochans (circular houses), through a resurrected village (where ruins and restored cottages line the road), and to a gate marked 'private'. at which point we turned around (dan showing all his skillz!) and drove back. as peter said to us - you haven't travelled a road unless you've gone both ways, because your perspective is completely different. the view out to the next headland was crystal clear, and the water was gleaming in the sun, and it couldn't have been more different from the day before! we then drove around the other side of the head before following the map over through port magee to valentia island. i could smell smoked chicken. the roads are lined with fuschias (the are not native, but grow like weeds! everywhere, with their pink and purple fuschiacality!). we went for a walk up to a disused signal tower at the end of the island, watched by sheep and cows, where we had the most amazing views back past puffin island (too far to see any puffins, annoyingly), out to the skellig islands, and along the amazing cliffs of valentia. i could still smell smoked chicken. what was it? we drove then to cahershiveen (spellling?) where the main road travels along a huge valley - i am SURE there used to be a glacier there, as it looks like it has been (yes, mum!) scoured out, and it's quite rounded. we also explored this valley in-depth as we tried to use our crappy big map to get around in it. we got lost(ish - we could still see where we wanted to go!) in the scrub, drove up a remote hill, chased a postal van hoping it would lead to civilisation, lost the postal van, found a random school, and eventually made it home!... that evening, waterville fired up (heehee!) with a travelling funfair. it was soooo cool and retro - like a 60s type affair. it had about 4 rides (that's including the dodgems and one in a giant tea-cup!), and fairy floss (which these chaps call candy floss). unfortunately dan wouldn't come on any of the rides with me (adults had to accompany children), so we had a little walk before retiring for the evening. we did figure out what the smell of smoked chicken was, though: the smell of turf fires!!! so now you know what peat smoke smells like!

and that's enough for today - the first three days of our irish shenanigans. i'll post some more tomorrow, or whenever i get around to it. london is sunny and warm. hilarious!

2 August 2005


a headline only made possible by a coin collecting newspaper...

in other news: we are back from dorset, and are heading to ireland tomorrow for 2 weeks. here's a brief diary of our week away.

FRIDAY 22ND: the family got up early (for a day off) and bundled into the cars to go to venture photography studio for a photo shoot (margot won it by doing a marks & spencer survey... after she got her bits). the photo shoot was... sort of fun, but odd - especially for those of us used to being on the other side of the camera apperatus. later that morning, after adam went to get his toe sawn off (i think it's an infected ingrown toenail), we hopped back in the cars and drove down to dorset, singing loudly to the 'grease' soundtrack... beautiful. the 'cottage' turned out to be something of an enormous structure - it slept 7 of us, with enough room for another 6 or 7. it was situated near arne, wareham, swanage, studland, poole, bournemouth (just in case you look it up in an atlas...) right beside a bird sanctuary and a toy museum, only half an hour walk from the sea (ha ha HAAAAA!!! the SEA! the english BEACH! a beautiful, tranquil expanse of MUD!!! hilarious... ok, it wasn't REALLY the sea, it was a[n?] harbour). we played cricket and football on the lawn.

SATURDAY 23RD: dan and i had purchased a book on walks in dorset, and intended to make good use of the £10 investment, so we set out to the village of worth matravers for the beginning of walk 22 - a 7 mile (11.3 km) ramble through the fields to dancing ledge on the coast, then around st aldhelm's head following the south west coast path, past chapman's pool, back to the village. the coast here really is odd to australian eyes, with farmland and pastures right up to the cliff edge, then the white chalk dropping straight into the steel blue sea (i can imagine my cartoon self running full tilt away from some pursuer, looking back over my shoulder, and running over the edge of the cliff but not noticing until i was a good few metres out, then looking down, pulling a 'CRIKEY!' face, and dropping out of the frame...). my favourite bit of the walk (which was wonderful - even the horrid V shaped valley we had to climb down, then straight back up again) was finding st. aldhelm's chapel at the tip of the headland. it is a norman chapel, a simple structure, with such a sacred atmosphere... it's basically just a cube, with a slightly angled roof. it's divided into quarters inside, with the only openings being the doorway in one quarter and a tiny slit in the wall diagonally opposite. the light from that window falls onto the altar, which occupies that quarter, and upon which sits a simple cross. the pews face the altar, occupying the other quarters. i found it thoroughly refreshing. every christian church, chapel or cathedral i have visited before has been different (some opulent, some gorgeously kitsch, some understated, some rich, some impressive, some huge, some colourful...) and my test of them has been to stand in them and consider the corruption of the institution, the murder of various groups of society either carried out by or allowed by the churches, the sexism and homophobia particularly of the roman catholic branch... suddenly the stained glass doesn't look so luminous, the paintings seem tainted, the gold and richness of the decor makes me feel ill. but i simply could not connect this place with those things. it stands out in my mind as the physical manifestation of all that is good about christianity: simplicity, humbleness, openness, welcome, reflection, a lack of pretense. there were no confession boxes to hide in, no curtains or divisions for the clergy to disappear into, just the altar, the pews, and a pot of flowers and information leaflet near the door... ... ... ok, enough with the chapel! the walk was fantastic - we had a sense of achievement, as it was the longest one we'd done since being in the uk. in the evening we played board games and did crosswords.

SUNDAY 24TH: was a very lazy day. we watched 'the producers' in the morning, then drove eliot to wareham in the early afternoon to do some stuff on the internet. but, with it beingthe country, most things were closed, so we ended up taking him our for lunch. it was a very filling lunch. i was full. then i decided it would be a good idea to have what the english call 'cream tea' - a huge pot of tea, scones, jam, and a cornicopia of cream!!! mmm. i was then REALLY full. in the evening we watched the first star wars (i.e. the first one ever made, i.e. episode 4). it was hilariously dull! but less dull than 2001. however, the tedium was lightened by some truly horrific acting and some props and monsters of epic tackiness. all in all i would have to give it at least 2.5 stars. maybe even 3 out of five!

MONDAY 25TH: involved dan and i (mis)leading an expedition party (both of us, margot, aaron, orly and adam) on a 4 mile walk from studland, inland across ballard down, then to ballards point, harry's rocks and back to studland. except that we were reading the wrong map and lead people on a 6 mile walk from studland, inland through a marshy heathland, across a golf course, through a farm, up a small but steep hill, along a ridge and THEN to ballards point, harry's rocks and back to studland. it was great!!! we even had entertainment for the whole family provided by what we decided were some lesbian cows (they were mounting each other with slightly more vigour than is usually seen)... back at studland i had my first experience of a REAL english beach. there was SAND. and WATER. and people making SANDCASTLES. and SITTING ON DECKCHAIRS. i must also add, though, that there were NO WAVES, and NO SWIMMERS because there were a number of THREATENING CLOUDS, and that the people on the deckchairs were wearing RAINCOATS and SCARVES and often had UMBRELLAS, and that the DENSE MIST hanging over the beach gave it a rather BLEAK FEELING. had a delicious vegetarian pasta as a 4 o'clock mystery meal (on the second try, they even managed to omit the seafood), accompanied by a pint of cider. mmm.

TUESDAY 26TH: dawned cloudy and gradually got worse. orly and adam were going to take dan and i to poole to do pottery painting (yes! really!) and crab fishing, then to bournemouth to play minigolf (see previous brackets) and sit on beach. weather did not permit, so we painted our pottery then went home, where i wrote a song about english summers at the beach.

WEDNESDAY 27TH: was still grey and drizzly, but we decided to go for a walk anyway - just a short, 4 mile walk from swanage to durlston head castle through durlston country park, then alond the coast to the tilly whim caves and the lighthouse, and back through the fields to the town. it was really quite magical walking though the trees, with a fine mist creating the effect of translucent curtains set every few metres. we didn't see any elves or puffins (or in fact very much of the sea, due to themist!), but we did have a lovely walk. our family entertainment this time was provided by an enormous penis, belonging to a wistful looking white and dappled stallion... the cream tea experience was repeated in swanage after the walk (will i ever learn?!).

THURSDAY 28TH: was quite lovely, though lazy. dan and i went fora walk in the heathland near the cottage, wandering along the narrow paths, joining a bridleway, pushing our way through what felt like cool-temperate rainforest (except with oaks instead of lillypillies!), then emerging back onto the heathland and climbing a low hill, giving us a nice 360 degree view, with corfe castle in the distance. although we never walked around the castle, we drove past it a number of times - as one travel article put it, it looks like it has been precision dynamited for aesthetic effect. that afternoon, dan and i did a small part of one of the longer walks in our book - from kingston to swyre head. and i have to say that the views from the head really were incredible. we could see the cities of bournemouth and poole on one side, around the coast to st aldhelm's head (where we found the chapel), along the green spine of purbeck ridge (corfe castle guards the only gap in the ridge), and out along the south west coast path and white cliffs to weymouth and fortuneswell in the west. imagine all this under a sunny blue sky, abutted by a sparkling ocean, accompanied by the sound of the wind whipping through the trees in a small nearby wood, and the bleating of sheep in the adjoining fields. it was a good summary of our trip - to get an overview of all theplaces we'd visited.

FRIDAY 29TH: we got up and packed the cars, then dan drove orly, adam and i to stonehenge on the way back to london. stonehenge is great! it was much smaller than i thought it would be (even though people had said it would be much smaller than i thought it would be, it really was much smaller than i thought it would be... etc). however, it still manages to catch and hold your attention. it costs £4-£5 to get in, but entry gives you a very informative audio guide and some pamphlets on the site, so even stingy me didn't mind too much. we went on quite a bleak day - though it wasn't raining or overly windy, the clouds were high and grey, and the grass and surrounding landscape seemed leached of colour. despite the tourists, it was possible to feel quite isolated from the contemporary setting but understand the stones' connection across time to another, unknown, culture. as i walked around the ring (the path is fenced with a rope barrier), the henge grew more impressive, and with each step came a further understanding of why people throughout the centuries have been so fascinated with it. also (esther autograph, you probably already know), king arthur's father, uther pendragon, is said to be buried in one of the barrows near stonehenge. cool, huh?!

since returning to london, we've organised more of our ireland trip (it's going to be GREAT!), watched pirates of the carribean (it's still GREAT!), went to dan's friend's place for dinner (we had broad bean and asparagus risotto... and cheesecake... mmmmm, GREAT!), we went to see charlie and the chocolate factory with mike and uly (and johnny depp is GREAT!), and i have had my 3rd hep b injection (which isn't really that GREAT!), and today dan and i were in the city and we played an experimental travel game (GREAT!). this is how you play the game. get a pack of cards, at least 2 people, and a digital camera. stand at a crossroad. turn over the first card. diamonds=right the number of streets/shops/roads indicated, spades=forward, clubs=left, hearts=back. so a 6 of diamonds means turn right and walk 6 blocks, or 6 buildings, or whatever. start walking and flip the next card. diamonds=find the number indicated of red, static objects, spades=find and photograph the number of capital letter 'A's indicated, hearts=find the number of pink things indicated, clubs=find and photograph people in uniform and/or wearing nametags/security passes. so a 10 of spades means you need to find and photograph 10 capital letter 'A's (and they have to all be from different places). if you turn a joker at any point, then the other people get to construct a silly challenge for you (e.g. ask a police officer if you can get a photo with them... or hug a tree for 20 seconds... or lick a shop window... silly things). it doesn't sound that fun on paper, but it's a cool way to see bits of a new city that you wouldn't otherwise venture to.

and that's it. i have to eat now. mmm. FOOD! please write to us... we'll be your bestest friends!!!

21 July 2005


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You know this means new photos, right? So we don't need to tell you how to find them.

20 July 2005


we started off on saturday morning after an anniversary breakfast (nice, but pale in comparison to friday's dinner), dropping in to tesco to pick up some sunscreen. i waited patiently in the car, windows down, music on, enjoying the sunshine, while dan went to battle it out with the queues. he came back with sunscreen. and a present. and you know what it was, don't you boys, girls and others? HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. yes sirree.

so, then we drove to uffington area, to scope out the white horse - the oldest chalk carving in britain. i'm not sure how long it took, or what the landscape was like, because i was otherwise occupied. i guess i should just say now that, out of respect for those who haven't started or finished reading it (freaks), i won't be issuing any spoilers. except that the violence is grand! nose stomping and blood spurting all the way! and notsoangry!harry is a relief. and ginny is looking to be a strong contender for seto kaiba's title (if you know, you know what i mean. if you don't, you probably don't want to know)... and there are some GOLD LINES!

but, back to the horse. it was pretty cool, to see something that has been there for so long. it's also quite bizarre, because you can't get a very clear view of it from anywhere on the ground. it looks like it was designed to be seen from the air, but who was flying around back then??? alien conspiracy theorists score another point. possibly nerdier and therefore better than the white horse is the flat-topped hill next to it. it is called dragon hill, and there is a bare patch of chalk, where the grass was poisoned... by the blood of A dragon (or THE dragon... the literature was ambiguous) killed by st george. had our picnic lunch looking out over the countryside, watching some aeroplane antics in the middle distance.

then on to wales. again, with the distraction that is HP6, the only thing i really remember is crossing the second severn crossing and paying the £5 toll to get into wales (i think it's actually for using the bridge, but it felt strange)... a very weird experience, as the highway widens into what is essentially a good couple of acres of tarmac, to pull up behind a couple of other cars and wait to give your money to a person in a little glass booth so that the flimsy 'gate' goes up and you are free to enjoy wales. i felt like driving the car really fast and smashing through the gate in a cloud of smoke and debris. i guess that's why they don't let me drive.

as we made our way to hunters moon inn, llangattock lingoed, near abergavenny, the roads got narrower and narrower, and the hedges started closing in around the car. it was a bit triffid-esque, only in a pleasant way. the plants over here really go NUTS in summertime. maybe it's to make up for losing their leaves in winter, but they sprout foliage out all over the place in what is really a most decadant and unnecessary manner. the inn itself was lovely - it's billed as a 12th or 13th century inn, and although i don't believe the building is that old (though it's obviously a couple of hundred years old), it is still amazingly pretty and cosy. the proprieters also gave us a warm welcome and invited us to join the huge BBQ they put on every sunny saturday night for the locals (deliiiiiicious). (the food, not the locals). there were also two friendly, cute, OBESE dogs to keep us company. i finished the book just after dinner... EEP! so good in so many ways!

on sunday, we woke up to a clear, crisp morning, and went for a little stroll before our full cooked breakfast. the church next to the inn is quite striking - especially against the bright blue sky. one of the major welsh walking trails - offa's dyke path (great name) - runs through the tiny village on its way from the north to the south of the country, and we has a small explore. when breakfast arrived, it was yum yum yum - and dan even got BLACK PUDDING! of course i had to taste it, having never seen it before, and possibly never having the opportunity again (congealed blood sausage is not something i'd go out of my way for)... it was quite nice, tasting a bit like the strong, salty juices you find in the bottom of a roasting pan.

after packing our backpacks with supplies, we drove over to the brecon beacons for our day of walking. the walk we'd chosen has a very defined track, maintained by local enthusiasts who volunteer time to pave the path in the ancient way - embedding flat stones vertically into the slopes, packing them tightly, to help prevent erosion. we set out from the highway, climbed directly up a large hill, then followed the path back down the other side to a small stream - trickling coldly along in a most inviting way, and just blissful on our hot faces (it was a warm, very sunny day) (yes, mum, we wore sunscreen). from there, the path began ascending agin, up to the summit of the mountain Corn Du (Black Horn), a spectacular peak jutting out above the sheer mountainside (which contains a bizarre round lake, Llyn-cwm-llwch [i kid you not!], formed in the ice age), looking into the massive sheltered valley and beyond to a huge VISTA of quilted countryside. the climb was steep and long, but the views were absolutely stunning, as was the speccy formation at the top of the mountain (if you want further evidence, check out the WALES section of our photobucket... the photos will be up in the next couple of days). from Corn Du, we followed the ridge a short way to Pen y Fan, one of the tallest peaks in south britain (ok, so it's only 886m above sea level, but it sounds better the other way!), where we ate our lunch looking out across the lower peaks of the beacons, and the lakes in the distance... very special. apart from other walkers (the trail is one of the most popular in the area), all we heard for the majority of the walk were sheep (they all still have their tails!), an occasional whinny from a pony (we passed a small herd on the way), the calls of birds (mainly ravens), and the wind in the grass. beautiful, peaceful, and amazing scenery. i would use the phrase 'awe inspiring', but as i have seen the swiss alps, i have to stick to slightly watered-down adjectives. we did the 5 miles (8kms) in 3 1/4 hours, including stops, which is pretty good, considering the ascent!!! (i think i might be developing asthma... is this possible at my age???)

ahhh, well, i've probably bored you all to tears (or jealousy) with this description, so i'll skip briefly over the other news. we had a lovely anniversary weekend in wales (3 years!), including a misty stop over at the haunting ruins of Llanthony, a 12th century priory in the Black Mountains (again, see pics). london was still here when we got back, in all its cityish glory. this glory obviously includes shopping centres, which contain HMV stores, which have DVDs, some of which are the 3 LOTR extended editions and the director's cut of donnie darko. yep, we spent a fair bit of money! we started our marathon of extended edition watching with mike, uly and david last night... and we are continuing with Two Towers tonight! yay!!! faramir! dave/sean love! heheheh... and because we will start watching at 7ish, i have to go soon!!!

today dan and i were accompanied by margot to town, where we wandered around some london institutions - Liberty (a bizarre old department store, full of lovely expensive things you never knew you needed until now - a DEADLY TRAP for sara-jane and esther!!!); a MASSSSSSSSSIVE toy shop!; carnaby street (not happening like the 60s now) - before heading to the V&A for a look at the exhibition of penguin book covers (70 years of them!). the exhibition was disappointingly small, but i spent a good half hour reading the catalogue/book chained to the table (i was a hog!).

hope you are all well, and our love to all of you! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx rachel and dan.

15 July 2005


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here, as promised, are NEW PICS in a NEW ALBUM!!!

Just click on the right where it says PHOTO ALBUM NUMBER 2 *NEW*. Fairly self explanatory, really.

Must be off now, so byeee!!!


... and because of this, i hardly know where to start. so for want of anything better to do (except go and laze inthe sunny garden), i am going to compile a list of things we've spent money on in england. it is a sort of experiment, to see if the list gives you an idea of what we've been getting up to.

tube and bus tickets: to get home, to go to the city, to go shopping.
wine: australian shiraz, all the way, baby!
accommodation: for two nights at igloo hostel in nottingham, and (tomorrow) two nights at hunter's moon B&B in llangattock lingoed, wales.
petrol: mainly for driving to nottingham (where we visited MELBOURNE!!! we'll stick the pix on the site soon), but we've also been to visit emily in borehamwood, taken ross up to hertfordshire, and visited hertfordshire ourselves (it's quite close).
food: two nice, if expensive, meals in nottingham, and snacks on the way back to london; nice (if expensive) meals in london; solero and magnum icecreams; breakfasts for us and ross; soft serve icecreams; sandwiches when we went to visit mike the other day in the city; drinks when we went on a 3-pub-crawl with dan toman a few days ago, and also when we went to roxy (where dom djs) for rosies birthday (there were also nice olives stuffed with feta); avocadoes; two roald dahl drinks from the museum in aylesbury (again, pix will be forthcoming)...
books: a man named dave; spook's apprentice; AA's 50 walks in hertfordshire; walks in dorset...
cd: cathedral in the thrashing rain, music composed by stephen hartke, performed by the hilliard ensemble.
arsenal wristbands... heheheh...
a bright purple lacey strapless dress for rachel (unfortunately it doesn't fit dan)... from an op shop of course.
a cute little zipper attachment for ross...
a cool zip up jumper for dan... op shop again (sorry, brits - a CHARITY SHOP).
guitar strings (6 string acoustic - steel AND nylon sets) and manuscript paper.
postcards and stamps.
a buckinghamshire museum badge.
flights to and from ireland (oh we love ryanair - we are both getting there and back for the equivalent of $150 australian).
parking at sherwood forest, and in northampton, and in aylesbury, and in west hampstead, and in golders green.
a car to hire in ireland.
one newspaper and one magazine.

and that's about all i can think of at the moment. the weather has been gorgeous for the last few days, although it looks to be cooler today. tomorrow we are off to wales, which will be EXCELLENT! we have a bath in our room! and we can do walks! and they have an open fireplace in the dining room... and we will go on walks... and it will all be super! hopefully we will see THE giant chalk horse on the way, and come back with loads of photos for you.

today is margot and aaron's 32nd and 33rd wedding anniversary (one religious, one civil - coz religious wedding are uncivilised, obviously), and tomorrow is our 3 year anniversary. we are having a dinner tonight. yum.

speak soon, and we'll try to blog a bit more frequently!

11 July 2005


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Yes, folks, you guessed it... it's ALL NEW PICTURES time again! This time from our adventures in Holland, Belgium and France. There is also a new photo of a cat on the main page - see if you can spot it.

We are almost out of space in our photobucket album, so watch this space for details of an ALL NEW, thrilling, ACTION-PACKED journey through our NEVER BEFORE SEEN photo album-o-rama... OF DEATH!!!

Toodle pip, darlings

7 July 2005


very quickly: as far as we know, no friends or family have been killed or injured by the explosions in the underground or on buses around london. we are both ok.

ross is down at the moment, and we were meant to go to some museums etc today, but it looks like it will be a bit too much of a hassle, as the tube is closed, buses are packed, people are all out in their cars.

nottingham was nice - becki has the cutest kitten in the town (mostly white, with black stripe over face!), which is, in eliot's words 'just on the wrong side of coordinated,' and pounces on everything that moves!!! sherwood forest was great - went for a 5.5 mile (about 8 km) walk, and it was sunny and beautiful. lots of wheat fields that made me want to eat bread and cereal! they make such a cool noise in the wind, too - the word 'rustle' describes it fairly well, but i think the word 'sheaves' really has the best onomatopoeiac element to it...

sorry we've been a bit slack, but there are so many things to do here - play pool, piano, guitar, talk to people (in english!), watch big brother (it is really quite bizarre over here), see friends and cats... win olympic bids... i wonder if the french are responsible for the explosions - they're pissed off that paris didn't get the olympics? (bad me - too flippant)

see you soon. i hope that if any of our london friends/friends in london are reading this, that you will confirm that you're alive and well. shalom.

2 July 2005


hulloooooooooooooo!!! we're back 'home' in london, and about to head off to nottingham for the weekend for some days of sherrifs, robin hoods, sherwoods, and memories of dan's university days... and also for the birthday of eliot's friend becki. dan and i are driving up this morning, and coming back on monday - hopefully via some sort of hedgehog sanctuary or something... EEP! HEDGEHOGS! next week ross is coming down for a couple of nights for his birthday, so we shall be doing wacky rossage type things with him. looking forward to it!

so, paris, huh? crazy! it's really quite lovely, and all the people we dealt with were friendly and helpful... don't know what the world has against the french, because they were generally much more polite (in shops, restaurants, etc) than italians, spanish and especially english! not that i go in for these broad generalisations... so, the eiffel tower. is really. bloody. big. no denying it any longer - it's much bigger than the original in prague. however, as one of the 'legs' was closed when we got there, the lines were even bigger, so we couldn't be arsed waiting for an hour just to pay 10EUR to go up. so we took a boat home along the seine, instead... what else?... ah, the marais - the jewish and gay quarter! everything you could possibly need all in one convenient bit of paris. we went to the memorial de la shoah (holocaust museum), which was comprehensive, interesting and free (which always makes everything better!), and also nice and cool after the heat of paris (apart from a massive downpour, the weather was generally nice and warm). ate at a couple of excellent places, one called chez marianne (in marais) recommended by lonely planet - selling wonderful dips and kosher delights - and one called la fourmi ailee, just near the hostel, selling fresh meals (vegetarian options), with the walls covered in books, paintings etc. very cool!

but enough of paris. we are now in london!... there are some excellent things about being back here. firstly - familiar faces (in both senses)!!! so, so nice to arrive somewhere and KNOW people (like visiting michelle and charlie in berlin, and peter in roermond), and have a place to stay and catch up on gossip, share pictures, etc. i've now seen some of dan's friend's houses - louis' in west hampstead, and last night we went to the house that emily and richard have bought (BOUGHT!) in borehamwood (where we were fed so much delicious home made pizza, and got to meet the CUTEST KITTEN in london - Raisin!)... another excellent thing about being back is that everyone drives on the correct side of the road, and at pedestrian crossings THE CARS WAIT FOR THE PEDESTRIANS! yes, sirree! they see you standing at the side of the road and they STOP so you can cross!!! no longer do i fear for my life!... one more thing of strangeness about being back in england is the LANGUAGE: firstly, i can't talk nonsense in a loud voice to dan as we're walking down the main street because everyone will know that i'm talking crap! (not that it really stops me, though)... and the other day we went shopping, and when it came time to say thankyou to the shop assistant, i couldn't remember which language we were meant to be talking, and did a bit of a stutter: 'gra- da- mer- thank you'... hmmm, that english is a wacky language. should also mention that on that particular shopping trip, we got a bottle of barossa valley shiraz... and OH MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD! i have been longing for an australian shiraz for i don't know how long!!!

yesterday we went to edgeware with orly, and bought guitar strings. we cleaned up dan's 2 guitars (one of which had the grand total of, i think, two strings when we arrived) and re-strung them... so now i have a piano and a guitar to play! bliss! and the piano was also tuned recently... ah... (after the piano in the hostel in paris, you would feel the same way!!!)... what else? oh, i am learing to play pool!!! you might not think that that statement deserves 3 exclamation marks, but you haven't seen me play before, have you?...

enough for now, i want breakfast! hope you are all well. how is the band? jules and erin and esther autograph, how are reports etc? rachel how is the film? esther j, how excited are you!!!!???? naomi, how is the thesis? ben g, 'sup?! esther noo, how is the $75 per fortnight going, and how is our alex the palm? sj and sam, tell us crazy goss! mum and dad, when does the exhibition come down? michelle and charlie - crazy, we saw you in berlin! we're going to make the cannelloni next week... and all other people and gossips welcome to leave comments!