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!