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!!!


  1. esther van der skog3:44 pm, August 04, 2005


    you people are crazy! crazy, i say. CRAZY! did you lick a policeman during this 'experimental travel game'? i bet you did.

    it seems like the whole word, the WHOLE WORLD i tell you, will see charlie and the chocolate factory before i will! i don't even know *when* i will get to see it. damn those exciting europe travel plans. hmm... johnny depp. mmmm.

    well, keep up the craziness. see you in SEPTEMBER. so soon! so soon! YAY!

    Esther von ONLY TWO (2!) WEEKS TO GO! TWO WEEKS!!! wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  2. rootin tootin high falootin9:23 am, August 05, 2005

    have you been arrested for terrorist activity, ie, taking photgraphs, yet?

    has the doctor paid you a visit?

    is this really the sort of stuff you want to hear from your friends on your holiday?

    didn't think so.


  3. Busy busy. We're all so busy... Why is the second part of the year always so much busier???? Hmm?

    We have a cut out of Jonny Depp in the bookshop. OH-HO yes we do! He's got no legs though... Megan, one of my esteemed collegues, recently refered to him as 'Migit Jonny.' I thought she was talking about Howard. Ha ha! Anyway, poor legless Jonny...I could make some legs for him. I need a crafty sort of project to stop myself from becoming a deviant (too late!). Esther suggested they could be rams legs - like the ones that Ceruvias, king of the woodland animals has (A.K.A sweet, sweet Noel Fiedling...)

    Finally read the new HP. There should have been MORE Harry/Draco action...More I say!

    Are you or have you gone to the British naval museum? You should! I don't know where it is but you sould go there... NOW! Ships and midshipmen are fun. Let me live vicariously...

    Keep having fun, kids!

    Jonny S.

  4. the naval museum is all about belly buttons. ireland is great. you guys are all fantastic... we will blog again when back in london in 2 (YES TWO!!!) days (TWO DAYS, I SAY!!!). very looking forward to shenanigans in a very short time, esther j!

  5. yay - shenanigans! can't wait! there is serious day counting going on here: four, no, three days to go, if you don't count today as a day. or two days, if you don't count the day i leave as a day also. what? i don't know. the days when maths was my forté and my hair was long and golden and i only played 'serious' music on the cello have long passed ... the basic gist is, i leave on thursday!! which is soon. today being monday and all. eeep!

    so, i'll see you SO-O-OON! did you guiness-and-fairy-floss it up in ireland?

    well, much love,
    Esther JK-Ha-ha!

    (by the way...i have a blog now also, for the travels. to quote the mighty boosh boys: check it out! ... esthervonjohnson.blogspot.com)

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  7. that last comment (the deleted one) was spam. we're not censoring anyone!!!