22 December 2011


Here are some mushrooms, toadstools and fungi that we saw on our walk from High Barnet to Cuffley on the 17th of November.

You can see more photos of fungus here.

I'll post an update about that walk at some point in the not too distant future!

15 December 2011


We've uploaded some more photos to Flickr for your enjoyment.

On the 2nd of November, we went for a little local walk to check out some parks we hadn't visited before: Brent Park and Hendon Park.

Brent Park, autumn
At Brent Park, Dollis Brook feeds into a pond - formerly part of a lake that possibly acted as a duck decoy (hence the nearby Decoy Avenue, I suppose).

River Brent watchtowers 1
At the southern end of Brent Park, Dollis Brook/River Brent flows between these two structures. Not entirely sure what they are.

I liked this street sign.

Autumn walk in Hendon Park
Lovely autumn colours in Hendon Park.

On the 13th of November, we went for an impromptu trip to Moat Mount Open Space and wandered around the fields and woods for a couple of hours.

Morning path
The morning light was gorgeous!

Green track
There were so many inviting paths... This one led down between horse paddocks.

Waymarker and permissive path notice
Waymarker and permissive path sign. They close these paths one day a year so there can't be a future claim of continuous use.

Moat Mount pond
The wonderfully named Leg of Mutton Pond.

On the 15th of November, we went for a walk with a Ramblers group around Hampstead Heath:

Setting off
We were a bit overdressed in comparison - one of the group did say they were happy to see the serious hikers were joining them!

Golders Hill Park?
Golders Hill Park.

At the top of Parliament Hill
At the top of Parliament Hill. We had a good time checking out the view and watching someone try to fly a kite in the wind. We saw The Shard for the first time.

Crepes at Hampstead
Others went for a pub lunch in Hampstead, but one of the reasons we did this walk was to have an excuse to re-visit our old favourite: La Creperie de Hampstead!

We've done several other walks and trips around the area, too. Stay tuned for further updates!

27 November 2011


When we got back to London after WWOOFing, autumn had well and truly arrived. We went for a couple of lovely strolls in the days before we headed up to Norfolk. Here are a few photos.

Autumn afternoon, Highgate Wood
A serene moment in Highgate Wood.

Sky above Lyttelton playing fields
The skyline and sky above some local playing fields.

Decorations (Autumn Leaves) White house, autumn garden
Autumn leaves.

Natural geometry
More autumn leaves.


Please also consider donating to this fundraiser:

26 November 2011


Here is a picture of what the tube looks like to people who can't use the stairs:

Read more here.


We have been given some free tickets to the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy today. It'll be our first art outing in London since we got here!

23 November 2011


After our last day of planting, D and M dropped us off in Brighton, where we went to the cinema to see Tintin (really just to fill in a couple of hours without dragging our packs around) then headed up to our next accommodation: our friend G's place. G and her partner A showed us around, taking us to a number of good eateries and purveyors of coffee, pointing out some of the tucked-away shops, waiting while we rummaged through the stalls lining the lanes and letting us tag along with them as they did some of their real-life errands.

A, G, J and D

99 problems t-shirt

G at tapas

As well as to see friends, we were in Brighton on a bit of a reconnaissance to see if we still liked the place (we'd been there once before) and if we still thought we could live there (DB is applying for a Masters at the University of Brighton). One of the things we hoped was that we'd be able to find some nice food and (for me) good coffee. We found some delicious food and the best coffee I've had in England on this trip, so we'll count that as a win!

Palm hearts salad

Fried custard

Tasty breakfast at Iydea

By the end of the weekend, we'd been WWOOFing and travelling for 15 days, and we were looking forward to getting back to home base, washing our clothes and minding our own business for a bit! It was lovely to see how the leaves had turned in the time we'd been away. Even in the week since we'd first taken the train down to Brighton, the countryside had taken on a kind of misty, autumnal feeling and most of the trees had at least some yellow, orange, red or brown leaves.

Autumnal bike path, Brighton

Goodbye, Brighton! We'll be back!

20 November 2011


Hi all! In lieu of actual posts about our WWOOFing adventures, allow me to point you to the photos! Here are three pages of photos from our time at The Bungalow and here are two pages of photos from our time at Beaconscroft. (Click each image to see a larger version with comments.) Here are a few samples:

The Bungalow

d and the hedge
Re-establishing a hawthorn hedge.

WWOOFing at The Bungalow
Our accommodation.

Fire (1)
Clearing and burning.

North Downs fields and woods
A walk on our day off.

view from the north downs (2)
View from the North Downs Way.


D at home
Our accommodation.

Coarse grind
Grinding wheat into flour to make bread.

Number 1
Doing some planting and landscaping with M (another WWOOFer) and D (our host).

Tea time
A bite to eat.

Peacehaven sky (3)
Going for a walk one afternoon.

Peacehaven sky (4)
Sunset near Telscombe.

6 November 2011


I’m writing this while sitting on a huge, comfy couch in a spacious holiday house in Old Hunstanton, Norfolk. D and I are about to have a leisurely breakfast, then M and A will drive down to one of their favourite pubs, we'll go for a 7km walk and have lunch. Yesterday we also started the day with croissants, then D and I walked about 8km along the coast path to Thornham, where we met M and A, went to Titchwell Marsh for some wandering and bird spotting (we spotted Rory McGrath in the car park, which was a highlight for me!) and then had lunch at a great little deli café. We’ve joked since before we left that our plans run out after the Norfolk holiday and, with the exception of a couple of family get-togethers and “Let’s have dinner!” potential engagements, that remains true.

Two days ago, our one month anniversary of arriving in the UK slipped by without any excited blog posts or tweets from us. In fact, it was only marked by us saying to each other, “Hey, did we arrive on the 4th?” and “Oh yeah, it’s been one month”.

There haven’t been that many blog posts from us, have there? I’ve felt a bit resistant to blogging about our comings and goings in the way I/we usually do when we’re over here (something like a daily diary with the super boring bits taken out and photos added in). Doing that feels like a chore – and I think it weighs so heavily because there isn’t really an end in sight. Other than our 5-6 month gallivant around Europe back in 2005 (when we started this blog), we haven’t been travelling for more than six weeks at a time. When we travel for that sort of period, the blog inevitably falls behind a week or two – but it’s easy to reminisce and pore over photos when we get home, and write the last few blog posts with a tinge of nostalgia.

That’s not going to happen this time. We’re not going home next week. We’re just doing life: it’s not going to pause suddenly and give us time to catch up with blog posts and photo uploads and postcards (we’ve bought half a dozen, written none!) and phone calls and conversations with friends and paperwork and whatnot. This is it, we’ve migrated/repatriated!

There are other things reminding me of the permanence of this move, too. I’m looking for jobs and internships (I’ve applied for one and have another half a dozen lined up to do when we get back to London) and D’s applying for his course. I need to set up a bank account, which is already proving difficult. I will need a haircut in a week or so and I’ll have to go through the whole horrible process of trying to find a friendly, inexpensive, decent hairdresser. In another couple of months, I’ll need to get my T injection. Before then, I need to figure out whether to register with a local doctor or if I’ll go to a travel clinic. At some point I'll get my examiners' reports back for my dissertation and I'll have to do some more work on that. Will I get a desk, go to a café every day, work on the couch? One of my favourite shirts has a big hole in the armpit and M and A don’t have a sewing machine. Do I buy one? Borrow one? Take the shirt to be mended (it’s an old shirt, not worth the money)? Throw it out? Or (if you know me, you’ll see this coming) keep the shirt inevitably until I manage to repair it (when?) or detach myself from it (might take a long time!).

Because this is a relatively long-term move, it’s hard to write as I usually would when we’re travelling for a month or so. Maybe once our plans run out and we get down to the business of making a more permanent life here we actually will have time to reminisce about our travels and edit and upload photos and write blog posts and do all this admin – but at the moment I’m just having a fun and relaxing holiday!

Now, for a toasted cheese sandwich and a cup of tea.

2 November 2011


Wednesday 12th October, 2011

As promised, here is the post (with pictures!) of our day in the Oxfordshire countryside. You can see all the photos here.


We set off from home at 8am, and once we had passed the traffic of Aylesbury, were thoroughly distracted by what can only be described as the disgustingly quaint little villages of Buckinghamshire.


At our destination - a charmingly tiny Oxfordshire cul-de-sac village - we were greeted by the wonderful J and the adorable Phoebe (the dog), and received the grand tour of the orchard and homestead.

Two in the bush

The apple and pear trees were exploding with fruit, and we got to work picking and filling box-loads (only a few pieces of fruit failed to make it past our mouths on their way into the boxes, honestly).

One in the hand

There is a phenomenon we have observed and we are curious as to whether it is just us, or if other people have noticed it too. It is this: eating apples makes you hungry. It almost never fails. And so, after an hour or two picking and munching, we retired to the kitchen and got to work on a fantastic vegetarian shepherd’s pie made primarily from freshly picked ingredients, and a delectable apple crumble. And, of course, a bottle of the 2010 cider.

Then we have lunch!

Tomatoes: globes of sun

Apple Pro-Peeler

Pleasantly filled, we returned to the task at hand, and began washing, scratting and pressing the apples (and a few pears for good measure).


How d'you like them apples?

The scratter:

Then we pop them in the scratter

Into the scratter (1)

The scrats? scrattings?:


The press:

Cider press

Then we press the apples!



The "cheese"

Juice! More juice!

These few hours were the only part of the day that really felt like ‘work’, but it was a lot of fun - and I get the feeling that J was going easy on us! (Yes, she definitely was!) We soon had a decent haul - well, it seemed decent to us - and got to work (or rather, watched J get to work) pasteurising juice and alchemising cider.

Then we pasteurise some of the juice...

A fabulous day with (mostly) perfect weather was topped off splendidly by a dinner of pie, chips and cheese in Oxford with J and V. It’s a hard life, eh?