The blog is evolving!

Stay tuned for new features including journey maps, some missing posts, linked photo albums, minor tweaks and ultimately... the earlier trips...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The big questions...

So... how was it?

Pretty damn good. John enjoyed himself even if his bum was a bit tender. Wa saw a bit of Pete and Nichole as they came through and I hung out with Dave a bit including another stellar day at TC.

Where'd you get to?

View 2008 - Queenstown, NZ - Ski Trip in a larger map

Any good pics?

Queenstown, NZ - 2008

And some time-lapse?

I only took one time-lapse this time round and froze in doing so. I think it turned out alright in the end. Probably could have allowed it to go longer but oh well, next time...

Queenstown from the Peak

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 9 - NZ

John says...

Commentary to come...

Cookie says...

Commentary to come...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 8 - NZ

John says...
Today I was super soft. It was the last day I could have gone skiing and I didn't and after seeing the blue sky, I sort of wish I had. Instead we did some sightseeing, we walked around Arrowtown and saw some people jump off a bridge at the bungy spot. I found the bridge, that was built in 1880, incredibly interesting considering it's construction and building technology of the time.

One night left and then we're homeward bound. Holiday over and back to the real world... doh!

Cookie says...
I was hoping Dave might have been up for Cardies today but he played golf instead. We slept in bit it and turned out it was quite a nice day so we should have hit the slopes one more time but it was probably a good thing to be able to rest.

We headed out to Arrowtown and had a bit of a look and then checked out the Kawarau Bridge where AJ Hackett started their bungy opperations. A bit more driving through the mountains and then back to the unit.

Photos to come...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 7 - NZ

John says...
I went to the Remarkables while Cookie went with Dave to Treble Cone. Take a windy dirt road, wrap it around a mountain, hold back on the use of guardrail and make it wet slippery at the top and that's the road to the ski field. Remarks carcark is as high as the peak at Coronet and it really does feel like you're on the top of the world and when you look around, everything is covered in snow. It was a great day, the only thing to take the edge of it was my unintentional attempt to cartwheel down one of the runs.

Cookie says...
Dave picked me up around 7.30 and we were gone. It's a bit of a hike from QT over the crown range to Wanaka where we picked up some goodies and then we continued to Treble Cone past some amazing scenery. Once at TC we got into our gear, bought a day pass and headed up the hill. First run started on some nice stuff then we found the hardest snow / ice I've ever ridden over. We cut our losses and headed over to the saddle basin where we had some fun runs.

We knew that Hollywood Bowl was beckoning however it was on hold as they were waiting for a chopper to lift an injured skier out of there so we hit a few more runs.

TC has some incredible terrain like Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl finally opened and we were the first through the gate. We gunned it to the bowl and while Dave perched himself to video my run. Silly me went the wrong side of a ridge from where Dave was recording but it was the best snow I've rode on aside from Whistler. The only sucky part is the walk out at the other end. It was around lunch so we did a few drops and jumps and then some back country to get to the car for a short break.

Dave dropping into a run

Mikey, I've found a replacement photographer

This bird will chew your tyres, windscreen wiper blades
or in our case, steal your aerial

There wasn't too much of the day left so instead of heading to the saddle again, we hung around on the main side for a bit of fun and photos / video. A few runs later and we're packing up and starting the long drive back. Turned out John was still in one piece after three hours at Remarks.

For the LotR trainspotters, this waterfall is in the movies

John had been talking about KFC for the last few days so we went there for dinner. Dave came over later to check out the photos and video.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 6 - NZ

John says...
Cruisy morning with Pete and Nichole meeting us at the unit and then ducking into town for some souviner shopping followed by lunch at The Cow. We came back and played a few hands of five hundred. We saw Pete and Nichole off and Cookie headed into town while I did some reading and watched TV. Afterwards we met up with Cookie's mate Dave for a few beers and a feed.

Nichole loved the freshly cooked garlic bread and Pete's always smiling anyway

Cookie says...
Bit of a laid back day today. Pete and Nichole would leave this afternoon so we kicked around town a little and stopped to have lunch at The Cow. Once fed we headed back to the unit to continue the five hundred game we started last night. It was one game a piece when Nichole and Pete left for Te Anau.

Inside The Cow

I took the chance to update the blog and sus out aother time-lapse spot. Headed back to the unit to see John otherwise occupied.

John busy back bashing

We met up with Dave and I finally bought a softshell that I said I'd buy that tonight for the last week. Better late than never. Anyway, we decided to head to Monthy's for dinner and a few beers. Two mates of Dave, Matt (art designer for a NZ surf magazine) and Stacey (national Oakley rep) joined us.

Dave and I decided to hit TC tomorrow and John is off to Remarks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 5 - NZ

John says...
Giant step today. I went for my first blue run and went from the top of the mountain to the bottom. I felt inadequate when compared to the Pete's due to their ability to consume large quantites of food at a buffet, especially when time limits apply. The view is amazing from the lookout.

John enjoying both scenery and boarding

Nichole says...
After a whole day of skiing (with numerous intermittent breaks) at last I did the snow plow (on a slope that's not even considered part of the beginners slope). I discovered that it is extremely difficult to get myself up when lying face down and wearing skis with my legs jutting out at impossible angles.

What a gentleman!

Quote of the day came from an instructor 'You can stand up!'

And my guns are getting big!

Pete says...
Skiing was todays highlight. Need I say more! Actually, I can. It was great to see Nichole get the snow plow working).

Skyline buffet I don't rate it as the best but it was pretty good. There was alot to chose from including the following;

Tomato soup with croutons
Indian lentils
Roast lamb, roast beef, pumpkin, carrot, peas, potato bake, broccoli, cauliflower
Nichole's extras was lamb shank and a little seafood
Indian chicken thing, a thing of rice, fetta chicken thing, more pumpkin, roast potato, more potato bake, marinated pork
Potato and herb soup with croutons
A small plate of cheeses
Sticky date pudding, chocolate mousse, tiramisu, jelly fruits, hokey pokey ice cream, chocolate ice cream and a dodgy cake thing

Pete heard we had one minute left so loaded up

After dessert we went to the viewing platform where after three seconds Nichole promptly retreated to the warmth inside.

Cookie says...
We did our own thing yesterday but today we all headed to Coronet. Bit of a late start and we booked in for the buffet for dinner up the lookout. Once at the base John and I did our own things while Pete and Nichole grabbed some gear and headed to the beginners area. Today I started looking for some black runs and parts of the hill I hadn't been to instead of jumps and stuff.

I ended up finding the others around lunch to see how they were doing and they were sitting with a guy from Albany Creek who's brother turns up and recognised Nichole from school and knew common people. I took the chance to shed a layer as it was warm and we all headed back out so I could get some photos of the others. I eventually convinced John and Pete to get away from the baby slopes and try their hand at the main run. They thoroughly enjoyed it and looked quite able. It was nearing final lift and it had turned quite slushy so after a last run, I found the others and bailed.

I managed to trick Pete into trying the chairlift

Pete and Nichole found another trailer park to stay in, showered (in lukewarm water which Nic didn't find nice in a cold environment!) and we met up for the buffet. There was a pretty good selection of foods so Pete and I had several plateloads each.

Afterwards we came back to the unit to play five hundred and when it was getting late Peter started talking gibberish and Nichole started quoting Pride and Prejudice whilst big noting her guns.

Rain / snow expected tomorrow so a day off to rest before fresh conditions on Sat / Sun with Dave.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 4 - NZ

John says...
I turned into a tourist today. Cookie went off and did some more boarding so I walked around and took photos with Pete then met Nichole for lunch after she slept in. Tried some $15 steak which turned out to be an overcooked steakette. Afterwards we decided to try some Shotover Jetboating. It was good fun but as I ride bikes, it wasn't as exciting as others would find. It felt more like snowboarding when you're sliding around.

I jumped on the shuttle back to town and Pete and Nichole went to do the swing thing. My gloves are a little tight with wearing Cookie's wrist guards and one has split so thought I'd find some new ones. Chatted to some guy waxing boards and headed home.

Cookie came home and we waited for the others to return. Once they had showered we walked into town for dinner. I wasn't too interested in pizza and wanted to try something else. We went to an Indian place which had odd taste in music for an Indian restaurant, it was mainly movie and TV show theme music. Ordered the old faithful butter chicken and it was good. Went home to a nice warm unit.

Nichole says...
I politely declined Cookie and John's invitation for a 7.30 breakfast and decided to sleep in. It was well needed sleep. The shotover was good but it froze my face. I have yet to see it snow.

Nichole after half a week in a campervan

Pete says...
The highlight of this day was that I did the giant canyon swing. Here are the stats; 60m freefall, 109m deep gorge, 150kph = the most incredible rush I've ever had. I even had Billy Idol's Rebel Yell and a Leyton Hewitt 'C'mon' pumping me up!

There's a hill between town and the unit which Nic needed some help with

Cookie says...
Late start this morning as Pete was coming over while Nic slept-in back at the campervan. Bit of a day of people doing their own thing. Nic had some alone time while Pete and John cruised around town. I headed up the hill but this time to Remarks. Unfortunately this prawn left his memory in the computer so no photos or video today.

It was another beautifully clear day and while sitting on the chair I was contemplating all the important things in life like which runs do I warm up on? Should I try the jumps here? That whole face looks like fun but would require a fair bit of walking. Decided to keep the walking for later and ended up spending the day on the jumps. I was pretty happy with my effort. I think I stacked it about three times on the run of three jumps in the terrain park after going through there about 15+ times. After the jumps I'd either fang it to the lift or pick a run where I could get some turns in.

The light started to go flat so I finished up with a few quick runs and made it back to QT. Picked up a Brazilian hitcher called Sabrina in the carpark and dropped her off in town. Her background was research and hospitality however her current job was labouring which she has found gave the best income and flexibility for hitting the snow.

I found John lazing around the unit and we were waiting for Pete and Nic. They arrived, showered and we hoofed it into town for dinner. I showed them The Cow and Winnies which they liked the look of but we ended up at an Indian place.

They are joining us for Coronet tomorrow so should be fun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 3 - NZ

John says...
Today was absolutely gorgeous, you just couldn't have asked for a better day and I had a coupla good runs without falling over. I can see why people who don't fall over enjoy snowboarding. I'm happy that I'm improving and the only thing is that I'm sore in different spots now but apparently that's good because it means I'm doing something right.

This is just part of the amazing views from Coronet Peak

And while Cookie chose to sit in the freezing cold for a few hours (weirdo), I vegged out in the warm unit. Looking forward to some Thai tonight.

Cookie says...
I'd have to say that today was probably the best conditions I've had while on the snow in NZ. John was sore from yesterday but he ventured out again and was happy for me to shoot through. Greengates was the lift I hung around and managed to meet three med interns from Perth on a 'conference' - study leave for snowboarding.

It's a big mountain with big views

After they went in for lunch I stayed out and tried my hand at hitting a few jumps and thankfully they didn't hit me back. Found out that not only does a powder skirt keep snow out, it keeps your camera in. I thought I'd lost it to find it swimming around inside my jacket!

And in keeping with last trip, we found another car in the ditch

After returning to the unit, John stayed in while I froze my bum off with capturing some time-lapse of Queenstown from the lookout above the town. It should look good but apart from the boarding, I'm over the cold and looking forward to summer! Pete and Nichole arrive late tonight so we'll catch up with them tomorrow.

I froze capturing this so I hope it was worth it!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Day 2 - NZ

John says...
Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch... who'd have thought bruises on bruises were possible! I had some success but as you can tell, it came at a cost.

This is the position I became all too familiar with

A late lunch became a pilgrimage to Furgburger

Cookie says...
In the famous words of Warren Miller 'It's time to get our swerve on.'. So we did... kinda. We headed to Coronet Peak, kitted up, grabbed our half price tickets (due to having a Warren Miller movie ticket) and hit the snow... at least John did... multiple times. Fortunately for him the clouds came in so we bailed shortly after 1.

The view from Greengates over the road towards QT

Dave had flown down that morning so we met him around dinner for an ale in The Pig n' Whistle. Soon we left and made our way to The Cow. The Cow is another of Queenstowns' iconic establishments and one that I've not visited due to it always being busy. Dave also gently informed us that it is currently Gay Ski Week. I guess that explains the grins the landlords gave us when we checked in.

Even our car knew about Gay Ski Week!

After two pizzas, eleven beers and the biggest and best loaf of freshly cooked garlic bread I've ever eaten, we parted company to rest for our second day on the hill.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 1 - NZ

John says...

I just love plane flights (NOT!) and as we draw closer to Queenstown the good news came over the PA that we would be in a holding pattern with two other planes waiting to land. The kicker was that if we couldn't land Christchurch was our next stop, Arhhh!! Noooo! All good though we made it to Queenstown and things went pretty smoothly.

I got snowed on, yay!! One aim on the trip down on day one, what a great star to the trip.
Just a point of note as well. I'm all for carb loading for a big day on the slopes and I must clarify that I do like noodles but Cookie takes it to a whole an other level.

This is what a mortgage makes you eat!

Cookie says...

'I see sheeps!' yells a kid on the plane just minutes from land earning a cabin full of laughter. Yup, you guessed it, we're back in NZ. Three major changes to this years lineup. John steps up to fill Mikey's (small) shoes, Pete and Nichole are hooning around the island in a campervan and the volume of snow. Here's a photo just to give some context.

Not much snow... alot of snow...

Team photo - John, Kylie... oh that's right, she piked... and yours truely

So, I guess this trip has started out pretty good all things considered. Last night we booked a maxi-taxi but they sent a Falcon sedan. We couldn't make the snowboard bag fit so they sent a maxi-taxi. The check-in queue was big but kept moving along with the customs queue which was huge but it was alright. Then once in the air we're told that QT airport was closed in the morning meaning that we could be landing in Christchurch.

But after two tuff laps in the holding pattern we land, sneak through customs, pick up the car and check into our accommodation. After a little grocery shopping we hoof it around town and John finds some goggles. John was keen on a simple meal so some fush 'n chups was required. He liked his fush n' chups and I thought the salmon was pretty good after being washed down with some local brews.

After having fush n' chups for dinner we're back in the unit watching the olympics, setting up our snowboards and we've discovered that our main heater does not work. I guess this means we might end up having to spoon in the double bed to keep warm (sorry Julz).

Tomorrow: snowtime!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Queenstown '08

Another year, another trip (and another late post). Hmm... that makes this is a post pre post post. I'm sure that would be a paradox in the Star Trek universe...

This year John March is joining me and for the first time, he shall be trying a snowboard. Also, Nichole and Pete will be within cooee so looking forward to hanging out with them when possible. Dave is in town so I can't wait to catch up with him and see what gnarly terrain we can find.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the read as much as we'll enjoy the trip.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

The big questions...

So... how was it?

Amazing! I was able to see Julz again, hang out with Gavin and Sarah, caught up with Kate and Tim and did some tough laps with Brendan in Wales. London grew on me this time, Austria was pretty impressive and the Whistler adventure was all-time. We had a great crew to hang out with in the cold and in the warmth and seeing Fi and Kirst again was awesome.

Where'd you get to?

View 2008 - Whistler - Europe Trip in a larger map

Any good pics?

Yup, you can find them in the following albums...

England - 2008

And some time-lapse?

You betchya! I wasn't going to pass it up this time. Poor Julz froze a few times and I certainly did other times. Worth it I reckon.

Church in Vienna

Festung Hohensalzburg


Tower Bridge

Clock Tower - Day

Houses of Parliment

London Eye

Trafalgar Square

Clock Tower - Night

Hong Kong from The Peak

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day 51 - HK

Cookie says...

Yes... I've been slack!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Day 50 - HK

Cookie says...

Yes... I've been slack!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day 49 - HK

Kinda struggled the last two nights and mornings because I've got some slight jet lag and I'm suffering from Destination Syndrome - a state of mind where all you want to is get to where you're headed i.e. home. So, my body is telling me to sleep in and my brain is telling me I have no motivation. It's easy to just sit around some place and veg out but I thought stuff that, I'm going to overcome this debilitating disease and figured what better way to be a tourist than to go to a theme park! Gwennie. I'm sure your eyes are rolling at me now :)

Exit hotel, catch ferry to Central, found bus to Aberdeen and walked to Ocean Park. The name might be lost on most of you but it's where Hong Kong keeps it's four panda's and true to it's name, they also have an extensive marine exhibition.


Hey Flipper!

There's separate enclosures for dolphins, seals, jellyfish and an atoll for a reef environment which was fairly good. The also had something which I think Craig would have lived - a shark aquarium. The park also has an extensive array of games and activities aimed at kids and the park is split between two sites on this ridge connected by cable lifts. The end at the headland which had the marine stuff bar the dolphins also had your typical rides like Dreamworlds Giant Drop, a roller coaster, a ferris wheel and other odds and ends. There was also extensive construction going around on the site so it keeps getting bigger.


Lukey J will be pleased, bambo, zip ties and gaff tape holds
their construction industry together!

If this trip as done anything for me, it's cured my fear of busses. Well, not fear, more like apathy. I finished up around 2 and bussed it to Stanley. It's got a bit of a market area and although I generally don't care for markets, I looked around and even made a purchase. I'm sure those from Bridgy will see it soon enough. It's also the location of Murray House which was relocated from Central about 20 years ago. Hong Kong has a poor track record with historical buildings but they got lucky with this one. It's been rebuilt however look at the photo below and the six pillars in front were actually left overs from the building they pulled apart in pieces - go figure. It contains a good museum of maritine history with some excellent models and information on Hong Kong, Chinese and Japanese sailing including interaction with European and other nationalities. It also feels odd being back in a country where you sweat. Kinda sucks but it also means I'm closer to home. Also noticed that I was getting a little tired. I had hoped that this was a sign that the jetlag might have been dealt with but then I realised I was on the bus.

Looking at Stanley from Murray House with the six homeless pillars in front

Made it back to Kowloon and shall have a quiet night in tonight with no time-lapse as it was looking smoggier today than the last two. In hindsight that was a bit of a mistake as the night lights look okay but meh... kinda over sitting around doing nothing waiting for a camera and computer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 48 - HK

Managed to sleep in today but was out on the street shortly later. Walked up and down several of the roads and encoutered a thousand Indians trying to get me to have them tailor a suit or shirt. When they realise I'm not interested they then try the 'copy bags, copy watches' routine. Most streets look similar in that they're littered with electronics stores, Indians and tourists. Walked past a church and noticed there was a Keswick conference on at the moment. Did plenty more walking and then headed back to the hotel before wandering off to the science museum. It had quite a few hands on exhibits and information on day to day appliances and how they work.

Big city = big ads, one Yank tourist said this was the biggest lunchbox... ever

Afterwards I picked up my gear for some time-lapse and headed up to The Peak. Jumped onto the Star Ferry for the first time and went to Central (Hong Kong Island). Located the bus that goes to the Peak Tram Terminus and jumped onto the funicular. Got to the top and looked around for a vantage point. There's a lookout with two levels which isn't used as much as a Peak Tower has been built however the lower (what I thought would be the less popular balcany) still attracted some attention. At one point I had a bunch of tourists I think from Japan singing some tune and a dude who spent 20 minutes point around the city. I feared that I'll get a bunch of frames covered with hands and fingers but a preliminary review seems it's come up negative. Mind you, a careless Pommy managed to kick the tripod... grr... got talking to her and her friend after lending the careless one my little tripod (her night shots were covered with motion blur) and some other Indian who currently lives in the US. As expected, our conversation turned to cricket.

A view from this lookout

Back to the hotel and did some more blogging etc (I've got a bit of a backlog) and watched three episodes of That 70's Show hoping that I'd get tired and get to bed before 12.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Day 47 - HK

Entering Hong Kong was quite a simple affair. Landed, passed through border control without a single question, picked up the baggage (relieved that it had arrived after hearing stories about Finnair), bought an Octopus card for public transport and made for the train. Could have taken a more scenic route to the hotel however I was tired and smelly so just wanted to see if it was too early to check in.

Caught the Airport Express to Kowloon and after initially thinking I could walk it to where I was staying, I thankfully ended up on the free shuttle service. Unfortunately it was too early to check in however I was able to leave my bags and go for a wander. Thought I'd head down to the front that looks towards Hong Kong Island and met some Indian who claimed he'd had a vision he was to meet me and foretold all these great things that were to happen to me soon (all of which could be applied to anyone). He really just prays on tourists with fortune telling and then tries to fleece money off them. Managed to give him the flick and headed up one of the streets while checking out some of the shopping precincts containing more brands you could poke a stick at. They were attatched to the harbour so cruise tourists were their target. Found an old school Germany Football spray jacket from the 80's. Tempted to buy it because for some reason people think I live in that era. If only it was a Bon Jovi denim jacket!

Gave up walking cause I was still tired and smelly and made my way back to the hotel. Sat and read until 12 and asked about the room again and thankfully it was ready. Found the room, got some of my nerd gadgets charging and had a shower. Had a bit of a nana nap too although it balooned from one hour to three. I woke a few times to my alarm and a message from mum and when I checked what I'd replied with a few hours later, I realised I was so tired that whatever I sent her didn't make sence.

Finally left the room and after experiencing a seniors moment and leaving my tripod behind, I picked it up and grabbed some food. They have a 'Symphony of Light' each night so I found a vantage point to watch it and try a time-lapse of the view. Naturally the end result was only getting half the view in because I wasn't sure where it was located and it was really wide so couldn't get all of it anyway.

What a heap of junk!

Not Mikey's skyline but Hong Kong's

Once it was finished, I came back to the room to try and catch up on photos and blogging. Just hope my snooze hasn't made me too tired to sleep!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Day 46 - ENG

Another day lost to commuting today. Rose at 5.30 to finish packing and said good-bye to Gavin. Yesterday he said that gale force winds and rain were expected for today and the weather forecasters weren't wrong. I consider myself lucky to not have experienced much in the way of typical weather up until today so i prefer to think that England was crying that I was leaving. The end result was me and three bags being rather damp by the time I'd dashed to the tube.

When I rose I check the status of the tube and it was all good however just before I was leaving, one of the lines had minor delays and by the time I was on the line, both Wimbledon and Piccadilly lines had issues. Of course, those were the two lines I needed to get to Heathrow. Was this England's way of telling me to stay? Finally made it to the airport and checked in and waited to depart. The winds had affected flights all over the board with cancellations to destinations like Rome and others still in doubt. Our flight to Helsinki experienced only a minor delay and so off to the skies with Finnair.

Had a good old chin wag with a Finnish couple next to me who had just had a belated honeymoon to Bali and were on the way home after changing planes in Hong Kong, the destination of my connecting flight.

Similar conditions to the Bris - Syd flight
but being on the otherside of the world, it was all upside-down

Landing was without issue and I made my way around the terminal to burn some time. When I went to board for some reason my ticket wasn't initially but after a ten minute wait, it was all sorted.

This however was the bumpiest ride I'd ever had but it wasn't due to turbulance. For the first time in a long time I had an isle seat with our middle row of four taken up by broad chested adult males and as it seemed that I was invisible to everyone, it resulted in people smacking into my shoulder whenever anyone was moving around. Eating out meals was a tedious process too.

Nine hours and no sleep later we landed in Hong Kong around 8 in the morning.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Day 45 - ENG

Julz, Sarah and I were off to HTB again this morning for church however knowing that it was my last full day in Lomdon, it took the shine of anything we did and put me in a bit of a mood. After making it to South Ken we shared in Sarah's religious activity of having a Ben's Cookie. I'm sure I mentioned it before but they really are very good.

This morning Tim Hughes was leading worship which was nice to see. The worship team had more depth which added a richness to the music but that didn't drown out the congregation. Sang both familiar and unfamiliar songs including some songs with actions which the girls got into.

After the service we met with Gavin and headed to a pub. Service could have been better and we were squished into tables better suited to little people however Sarah and Julie said they were fine. Once that was over, we observed another of Sarah's pilgrimages to the Hummingbird Cafe. This time it was Gavin who bought the bessa block sized chocolate brownie and we retreated to Sarah's to sit, eat and talk.

As Julie lives so far away, she had to leave mid afternoon. Much to Sarah's dismay, neither Julie or I shed a tear although we both knew that it wasn't easy and knowing that we'll see each other again mid year for Brookes wedding gives us something to look forward to.

Gavin and I finally left and once at his place, he, Jo and I ordered some Japanese and we sat watching crap TV and being nerds on our computers.

Set my alarm early as I had a flight out at 10.20 and it was a bit of a hike to get to the airport especially when the tube is quite the unknown factor when it comes to getting somewhere on time.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Day 44 - ENG

We had a few things to do today but Windsor Castle was our main destination. Julie, Sarah and I met Lauren and Kristy at Clapham Junction and we trained it to the station near Windsor and Eton. First stop however was a cafe for some morning tea. Shortly after we reached the castle and joined a walking tour around the main precints. The Royal standard was flying which indicated that the Queen was in residence however as she didn't come greet us personally, I doubt she was and someone stuffed up.

Can you tell I washed my hair today?

One of the popular things to view there was the Queens Dollhouse. I'm not sure it was entirely all it cracked up to be but good to see none the less. One things for sure, if the Queen can dedicate a chunk to it then I can dedicate a room in the townhouse to Lego! Sarah was keen on checking out the chapel there as King Henry VIII was laid to rest next to Jane Seymore as she's mildly obsessed with this Hen-Rye chap. Actually, tonight she went and saw the latest movie about him (or the Boleyn sisters really).

I found the throne and I even sat on it!

At this point Julie and I left as she had an appointment around Clapham for a dress fitting for Brooke's wedding. On the way out I managed to tick another of my tourist check boxes much to the embarassment of my better half.

Josh... do you think I'd make it as a cop?

After arriving at Clapham Junction, we headed for the dress shop via Nando's. I was only a late convert to Nando's back home (thanks to Josh, Jonno and Richard) and we both enjoyed our meal. We made it to the shop and Julie tried on some unimaginable number of dresses and asked me for my expert opinion. She fancied three of the six she had to chose from and managed to reduce it to one which did look good on her.

The others returned from Windsor just as we were leaving the dress shop so we headed to Sarah's to get ready for tonight. Sarah was off to the movie's and Julie and I were heading into town for dinner with Kate and Tim. Kate had suggested a Latin place and we met them there. Nice food and good company made for an enjoyable dinner. Kate and Tim had a party to attend afterwards so we bid them farewell and walked along the Thames, over Westminster Bridge and around Westminster Abby before heading to Victoria Station where we bussed it to Sarah's. We beat her home so we packed our gear for tomorrow and hit the hay.

Another drunk looking Kate photo : )

It kinda looks photoshopped but trust me, we were there
and it's just a rare dud photo I take

Friday, March 7, 2008

Day 43 - ENG

Although we woke on time, it was still a bit of a rush this morning. Julie gets a lift to school with Natacha but the time she get's to the house varies so Julie always rushes to get ready and then has to sit around for her ride. Natacha arrived and I got a lift to Chafford Hundred. I was tasked with getting tickets for Lord of the Rings from a half price mob. Sadly and worryingly enough I kinda got lost coming out of Fenchurch St. Station. There's two exits and I could never work out where this other one surfaced. I wandered around the stupid gerkin / cucumber / whatever building for about 20 odd mins. I was annoyed and worried as I thought the ticket place opened at 8 and I knew I'd cop an earful if I didn't secure us seats.

Guilty as charged!

Finally got onto the Metropolitan line at Aldgate and man, that station sucks. Circle line is intermittent and hardly any Metro trains operate. I think I was there for about 20 mins before I got out. I ended up going some silly direction to Kings Cross and then down to Leicester. Finally made it there around 9:40 and turned out the place didn't open till 10 and I was about 10th in the queue. All good in the end, got the tickets and then I headed to Hampton Court Palace.

The entrance to the palace

Sarah had been at me to make sure I'd visited this place. It's a court that had been built by Cardinal Wolsey but was confiscated by figure in Sarah's eye - King Hen-Rye VIII. So I trained it from Waterloo and got there around 11. It's an impressive place in a nice area with some neat gardens. I could understand why he took it from Wolsey when he branded him a traitor. I did two tours which although had different names, went to the same places and talked about the same stuff... bit disappointing. Strolled around the rooms and then the gardens. I even walked through the maze and got to the middle.

One of the courtyards

Part of the gardens

I bailed and tried to get to Temple Church before four when it closes however when I arrived, it turned out that it was closed today anyway. I don't know much about it apart from it being the only surviving circle church in England, was built by the Templar Knights and featured in The Da Vinvi Code. I still had some spare time so I squeezed the National Portrait Gallery in until I was to meet the othres. I don't know which one however Sarah says one of her earlier house mates has a photo in there which the gallery bought after it was displayed. Quite a bit of stuff there too.

Temple Church. Just like Wales... it was closed

Then it was time to meet Julie. She was coming in later than desired but we met and found Sarah and grabbed a bit for dinner and then we were off to West End for the show. And what a show it was. Well, it was pretty good. The orcs were moving around with either arm or leg extensions allowing them to run along like apes or bounce around and do flips with the fight scenes. It (like the books and movies) was long but it moved with pace and unlike the other two shows I saw with Sarah, I didn't drift off.

After it was over we headed to Sarah's to stay as tomorrow we were off to the home of the Queen - Windsor Castle!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Day 42 - ENG

Yet another late start today and this time, I missed the train I was aiming for at Fenchurch St. by just a single minute. Oh well, not to worry as it gave me a chance to have some lunch and besides, Julz was on bus stop duty.

The plan was to meet Julie at her school after hours as on Thursdays a handful of teachers and staff get together and play some football on the astroturf out back. Apart from all the walking I'd been doing, I'd not been to active and after last nights game, I was looking forward to playing. It was good fun and some of the players were actually quite good. I managed to wind poor Big Dan (and we were on the same team!) however he gets hurt in every game he plays and Little Dan played in his pants, sorry, trowsers (pants over here are underwear) and socks. There were goals a plenty and fun was had by all.

Once that had finished, Julz, the Dans, Amy and I headed out to dinner. Initially we seated ourselves at some Italian joint but Big Dan was restless as he wanted refillable drinks so we did a runner and headed to TGI Fridays instead. It was busy (and the Italian place was not) but they squeezed us in and our meals arrived relatively quickly. Once again Little Dan dropped us back at Julz place and I said farewell and I might catch him soon as he's spending six weeks or so here mid year.

The last thing to do was to sort out what was happening tomorrow as we'd decided to go see a show and eat beforehand. It was nice getting into bed. My body was sore as I think I'd strained twice the number of things I usually do when I play sport. No sympathy from Julie either, all I got was 'I'll point and I'll laugh'.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Day 41 - ENG

Really slow start to the day today as I had some photos and blogging to catch up on. Mind you I only had three things I wanted to do: U23D this arvo, time-lapse at dusk and the football tonight.

Finally stepped out at lunch and trained to Waterloo. I spied some football game being played near the station so walked around to watch it. I thought it might have been some school comp however I soon found that it was adults playing and I suspect it was a company comp. Only saw about 5 mins worth and from what I saw, the standard wasn't too crash hot, they were obviously employees reliving past glories and sadly enough... I'd have fit right in!

I moved over to near Tower Clock to check I could find a decent spot for the time-lapse. Found an okay spot however I'm still not sure how it will turn out as I didn't use the best settings and the angle's a little odd. Oh well, you can only do what you can. It just gives me an incentive to come back again!

The mighty Thames... it's as 'clean' as our Brisbane River!

Headed to the IMAX opposite Waterloo station and booked my ticket. I grabbed a bite to eat and sat down for the show. Tell you what, it was an impressive show. I've now seen them live and own their two recent concerts on DVD and this experience still blew them away. Murray... you'd loved to have seen this hey! Stereoscopic vision is seriously cool and the depth perception was amazing!

Once it was over I headed straight to my vantage point. This time I was up against a statue so didn't stick out like a sore thumb so no police interest. Sarah met me so I packed up and we tubed it to South Kensington. She took my gear to her place and I met Gavin and Jo (albeit a little late) at the shopping centre near the stadium. We found our seats and proceeded to enjoy the game. Chelsea won 3-0 and were a goal up after 5 minutes through Ballack (Germany's captain) and Frank 'Fat' Lampard 20 minutes after that. We had a goal in front of us in the second half. Once again it was amazing to listen to the crowd chanting away either supporting Chelsea or giving Olympiacos a right serve including one song asking if they are West Ham in disguise.

I think this time-lapse has turned out okay, shall wait and see

Stamford Bridge in all it's glory

We also felt like yo-yo's as you have to stand to see once people in front of you stand up. You usually stand for two things: a goal / tense moment in the game or someone starting a chant that if you love the team you stand up. I had a fine specimen of physical form (a man mountain who must have been locked in the pie truck as a youth) who kept standing up for song meaning I needed to stand resulting in an entire bay reacting to his every move.

After surviving the rush to the tube, I picked up my gear from Sarah's and returned to Gavin's for the night.