In The Highlands

Craig
Scotland
October 29, 2003

   So, what did we get up to in Scotland then?

   Well after spending a lot of time at Edinburgh Castle and seeing the Stone Of Destiny (possibly my favourite student antic of all time) we headed west to Glasgow, home town to Billy Connelly. I think he's great and Lorraine thinks he's better than that. The town itself was kinda average, we saw a few bridges, the Winter Gardens and the Peoples Palace (cunningly disguised as a greenhouse and placed opposite a big brick palace building to confuse tourists).

Loch Lomond Hostel
Loch Lomond Youth Hostel
That night we stayed at the Loch Lomond youth hostel. It's exactly the sort of building that should have secret passages in it somewhere, but they were too secret for us.
   From Loch Lomond we drove north towards Loch Ness through the great glen that cuts through Scotland. The sun was pretty low when we passed the hostel but it was still early so we went on to a small settlement a while up the road. The main occupation of the locals seems to be setting up 'official' Loch Ness Monster exhibitions. We've no idea what makes them official (could the monster itself actually be called upon to authorise one?) or why they think they can charge £5.99 for entrance to see a whole lot of stuff based on one photo taken in 1934. The hostel that night was right on the loch, and had a great view, but it also had gas problems. Our room was freezing, the hallway with it's electric heater was much warmer. Seeing as there wasn't much else to do there at night we turned in early and had some reading time (I'm still reading The Dharma Bums at the moment). In the morning Lorraine and I decided to go for a dip. It was extremely cold, as you'd expect and my feet were in severe pain as I stood there fiddling with my camera to get a good picture. I did go right under (incredible murky and dark water, a giant prehistoric animal could easily hide there) and had a little paddle but it was Lorraine that really made the most of it. I think she is part penguin.

Loch Ness Sunset
Loch Ness at sunset
Loch Carron
Loch Carron

   Inverness is at the end of the loch but we took the scenic route so that we could see some more of the highlands. just outside of Kyle of Lochalsh we came to Eilean Donan, a castle I have wanted to see for ages. The castle is set out into a loch and accessed by a cool old stone bridge. On the right day it is a real beauty but the tide was out so my photos don't do it justice. We carried on along the coast and then cut inland aiming for Inverness via a town called Craig. The settlement is too small to get it's own town sign though (or someone got there first and stole it) so we drove right though without knowing it :-(

   We got to Inverness and found a purpose built hostel which is very nice and clean and warm, but has zippo on the character front. That night we saw The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. If I ignore the shocking way they portrayed Venice and the millions of people that may now think the city is built on stilts then I quite liked it.

   On the way to Aberdeen we took an inland route to make it to Alford, in honour of our good friend Mark Alford (there is a river there named after his dad too).

A Passage Grave
A Passage Grave
We also visited some very nice cairns and passage graves. Aberdeen lived up to it's image of being all grey, but in a good way. A lot of the buildings there are made from local granite and they look quite silvery when wet, which they were because it rained that night.
  On Tuesday we drove to Scone where the Scottish kings were crowned and previously the home of The Stone Of Destiny. The nice man at the gate let us in to look at the replacement stone without charging us anything. Throughout this trip we've been to many many castles but only into the one in Edinburgh because we could mostly see enough from the outside and didn't want to fork out £3 each time. I've forgotten the names of most of the places we stopped but I'll be able to point them out on a map I think. We stayed the night in Stirling. The hostel there is mostly new but has the original facade of the church that used to be on the site (and thus we were surrounded by graves). Right out the window was the old town jail which looked much more like a castle than the real castle did. It was frosty in the morning and I hoped for a bit of snow, but we it was still too warm for that. Stirling was the place where William Wallace had a particularly large battle with the English, so there is quite an impressive monument for him on a nearby hill.

Stirling's Old Town Jail
Stirling's Old Town Jail
The Wallace Monument
The Wallace Momument

   That day we went back past Edinburgh and left Scotland just a week after arriving but felt like we'd covered it nicely. We tried to go back via the same hills that Lorraine and I saw on the way in, but when we saw the snow had already melted we decided to take a more direct route and get to Newcastle quicker.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  23 Oct
03
 

   On Tuesday we left Rory's place in Newcastle and drove west towards Carlisle then south into the Lake District. Autumn is in full swing here and the trees were dropping their leaves along the roadside in the most amazing array of colours. Everywhere I looked it was picture-postcard scenery and pretty soon we stopped pointing things out because it was all so beautiful.

FrostedLeaves
Frozen leaves outside the car
But it is also very cold, and I finally got around to buying a hat and gloves. Lorraine says I look like a snowboarder with my jacket zipped up and wearing my beanie. We stayed the night at Gummers How (or Hummers Gow) and woke up in time to see the frost on the grass and mist slowly wafting across Lake Windermere.

   We had to be in Edinburgh by the afternoon so we got moving early, but took the scenic route anyway. Along the way we saw a place called Dalebottom and both thought of our friend in NZ who would love to pose by the sign I'm sure.

   Eventually we made it to Edinburgh and picked up Bronwyn at the station. She brought with her some prezzies from home and a wonderful word-find game made by Bex with the names of my new Euro-Friends hidden in it. I know what I'm doing tonight, thanks babe :-)

A Quicktime VR movie (4.5mb) taken of Castlerigg stone circle.


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   Craig
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  21 Oct
03
 

   I am constantly amazed at the hospitality that I have received along my trip and Newcastle has been no exception. Rory and his lovely ladies (Effie, Izzy, Anna and Rachel) have been wonderful hosts, making us feel really at home and making it a tough decision to leave here this morning. On Saturday afternoon we went to the beach, though it wasn't exactly beach weather in my opinion. We were wrapped up warm and ran around after a bright yellow frisbee until it was time to get ready for the evenings entertainment. After dinner we all went out on the town and met up with Jen and Sally (from the Munich beer hall episode) and their friend Louise. I really enjoyed the night though it was a little pricey. One place even tried to charge us $30 NZ to get in. Needless to say we didn't stay there. On Sunday I went to watch Rory play hockey in the rain. It was bitterly cold and yet he was quite happy to run around in shorts and put himself in the way of a number of large wooden sticks. Nutter. In the afternoon every one at the house (Rachel was away) went to Hadrian's wall. It was a fantastic spot for it and I took lots of photos. It was such a classic outting, just a bunch of friends going for a drive in the country, watching sunset over a national monument and then warming up to a cup of tea at some local country hotel. On the way home Anna executed a brilliant emergency stop to avoid a young deer that was staggering across the road in a frightened panic.


Newcastle Friends
Rory, Effie, Izzy and Anna

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall


   Yesterday Effie, Lorraine and I spent the day in town. we visited the excellent Baltic art gallery and met Rory, Jen, Sally and Ash for lunch.

(rushing now to pack up and go)

Last night was another party evening, fun had by everyone, me especially.

Thanks Rory and Effie for taking us in, thanks Jen, Sally and Ash for coming to see me, and thanks to Newcastle in general for being a cool town. And now for the lake district :-)

A video (3.2Mb) made at The Angel Of The North just outside of Newcastle.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  18 Oct
03
 

   I left Oxford on Wednesday morning, after watching some poor old lady take a dive at the floor of the train station steps and cut her head open on the concrete (I rushed off to get the paramedic on duty at the station). Lorraine and I drove west to start with because it looked like a good exit from the roundabout we were on. We didn't really have a place to go to but liked the idea of seeing Hereford because I had seen it on TV and Jo's place and it looked quaint. We never made it that because Lorraine recognised a town that her sister used to live in. After that I found a town called Stanton and we went there so I could pose for a photo with the sign. I took the time to look in the map index and found a whopping 22 towns starting with Stanton (four of which were just that, the others included Stanton-on-Hine-Heath and Stanton-on-Bridge). I thought my family was pretty big in NZ but we clearly colonised England first. The Stanton Estate in the Peak District looked really impressive.









Stanton In Peak
Stanton In Peak







Stanton
Near the village of Stanton







Mams Tor
Lorraine and I on Mams Tor (Mother's Hill)


   So we drove around the Peak District that after noon, and on Thursday wandered around the hills above Castleton. The village at the bottom is nice enough but I really didn't like the way they commercialised all the caves around there and wanted to charge $18 for a visit. Instead we walked the hills and found a vein of amethyst which I attacked for quite a while but came away with only a few flakes. Thursday night was in Bradford with Stephanie, an old friend from Lewes Tertiary College days. She really loved telling people how long we had known each other. I guess after leaving Sussex in '98 her friends are all newer than me, much like my time in New Zealand.

   On Friday Steph guided us to the excellent Yorkshire Dales national park. It was such a beautiful place, really perfect little valleys (dales?) and lovely weather. The three of us walked to the top of Malham Tarn and enjoyed a great view and the occasional low flying fighter jet. Just like you've probably seen in lots of photos, the hills are crisscrossed with lots of stone walls, some in the most unusual patterns. One can only assume that the builders has also been out on the town with a bar manager the night before. With Steph safely back at home then we drove to Newcastle. We had left it a little late, and rush hour traffic didn't help but getting there was easy. Navigating the one way system in town however was not. After circling the uni a couple of times we parked a little way off and I ran down to find Rory and Effie at the lights.

The Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales


   Rory is a friend of mine from primary school and came to Newcastle to study ages ago. He has just started his Phd here and that will mean he stays up here for quite a while more. It's great to see him again after 5 years (when he toured NZ with his school rugby team), he's been guiding us through the city and tonight we are all going out clubbing in Newcastle. No-one parties like the Geordies. Jen, Ash and Sally (met in Munich) will be there too, so all signs are for a good night. Will update tomorrow.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  17 Oct
03
 

Never let a Bar manager take you for a drink. They last a lot longer and are much better at dealing with things. Jillian was a legend though and so was the Dr Chris Warner look alike who bought us drinks. Tuesday was a big day and after 6 pints and no dinner you will be surprised to hear I was a little toasted. Jillian gave me some excellent reading material. I read one page and that took most of the 45 minute train journey. I had to catch 2 tubes, a train and make the walk home. I made it although I dont remember all of it. I am glad I returned safely, although I feel that anyone who approached me would have come off worse. I wont be doing that again in a hurry but I guess experience teaches you more. Anyway Dr Warner looked worse than me when he left.

On Wednesday, I travelled to Stonehenge with Nina who is a distant relative and we went to Cornwall after hiring a car. Nina is swiss and drives on the right normally and we had no idea what the speed limit was. There was a large amount of guessing due to a lack of signage (mostly open road signs but what speed is right for the english open road). Sometimes trucks overtook us and we felt safe in the knowledge that there would be no £100 fines for us. Stonhenge was pretty impressive and we had a look around there before heading to Salisbury. We slept in Exeter and then went south and saw the Eden Project, a few small towns and Penzance. It was cool and we spent today driving back to London. Dont ask me future plans because I am not too sure I need to chat to Britrail before I decide.


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  15 Oct
03
 

   I've now spent a few days hanging around Oxford. Although Monday was kinda cold and overcast all day, yesterday was very nice. I lay down in one of the parks here for quite a while. Read a bit more of The Dharma Bums, and fell asleep in the sunshine.

   In the evening Ruth and I went to The Duke for a session of table football. It was the last informal meeting of the table football teams because the league starts next week. I was randomly paired with a guy called Adam, and we did managed to win one of our six games, despite being in the top devision and up against the number 5 player for the country.

   Oh, and I took the time to apply for this.

Sundown in Oxford
The sun goes down in Oxford
Autumn Colours
Autumn colours

best wishes from
   Craig
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  13 Oct
03
 

Today is Monday and I made it to England. I am staying with Pam and Roger, my fathers cousin and husband, in Clapham Junction. I have seen more of London, went to Lincolnshire and saw where my grandfather grew up. I met my grandfathers brother and saw the house where my great grandparents died. It was crazy but cool. Nina and I are in Shepherds Bush messing around and although there is lots to do we can't seem to find anything constructive to do. Except making a post!

Nina has cut herself a fringe and has a styly, windswept look about her. I look like a mess. Berlin was colder than London so I am a little overdressed but I have a warm, wicked (secretly coveted by Nina) jacket and a really cool coloured top!! We are a funny but beautiful pair. Since it is Monday we are going to be rather demure about our carryings on. (Yes, demure Julie!!!)

On Wednesday, I am heading to Cornwall with a distant swiss relative, Rogers niece (Nina 2). Nina is looking for a job and having a lot of fun especially at a particularly fine establishment called the Red Back. I hear that a rather nice French man frequents it. That's life in London at the moment, tomorrow I will visit Jillian from the Athens post and Nina will go and try to find (and not get lost, now she even has a map) a nanny agency with whom she has an interview.


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  12 Oct
03
 

   I've been here for a week and have hardly got anywhere with my photos. Tonight though, I have finally got around to resizing and uploading some. Here is a list of the entries with new pictures/movies

Florence
The Ouzo Got Me
I Have Arrived
Craig's Grinning Chops
Fnorkeling is Fun
At Least We Survived
Cinque Terre
Parisian People
End Of Part One

   I also improved the VR movie of the Besseggen Ridge, it now goes right around.
I hope you enjoy them all.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  11 Oct
03
 

   This week I have been mostly playing with photographs. The extraordinary number of photos I took during my time in Europe only really hit me when I laid the CDs out across the floor and I had to fold up my air-mattress to make room. I;m trying to edit them down to just one CD so that when people want to see some pictures, I can show them the just the good ones and not have to dedicate an entire day to it.

   On Wednesday night Marko and I were back in town. We sat in the Walkabout bar from quite a while, going further in depth about the missing part of our stories. I saw him look over at someone and then away quickly. I waited, looked in the same direction and it took me only a second to recognise a guy we went to school with. He was an all right sort of guy but seeing that Marko didn't want to talk to him I figured I'd spot him around town some other time. I'm still trying to like beer, and stayed on the stuff for the evening, but as yet I still prefer sucking on old lemons.

   I've got a new cellphone (borrowing one from Jed actually) and a new UK sim card to boot. I am still a little bit worried about giving away details on a website, especially as Google has me indexed under some funny categories, so I won't give you my number here. Just email me, or leave a comment if you want it.

   I am going to be leaving Brighton tomorrow to head to Oxford for a few days and then go north. Some old friends to drop in on, some new, and plenty more adventures to come yet.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that yesterday I spent a few hours fixing the pull-cord light switch in the bathroom. I actually got cramp in my left hand from all the little fiddly bits and holding the cord straight with my fingers in funny positions. Not going to be an electrician I think.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  9 Oct
03
 

As Arnie gives interviews in German, it took a New Zealand website for me to work out he is now the governor of California. That coupled with shopping with Anne and seeing some of the stiff people actually sell here, I am convinced the world is going mad. Berlin has worn me out and I am satisfying myself sending parcels and getting photos developed etc. Tomorrow I go back to England and drink more beer.


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  7 Oct
03
 

Two posts in two days, it's pretty impressive. Berlin is cold. I had to buy a woollen coat, and before you say how are you going to get that back to New Zealand, I decided I would rather carry a coat than lose my arm to frostbite. Today I went to the Deutches Technik museum. I once again got tricked by the German lady who said the exhibits were in English, what she meant is some of the exhibits are in English and none of our staff speak English. It was a pretty cool museum though with lots of buttons to press and noises and flashing lights. They had a huge exhibit on Hair and I really had no idea that hair was that interesting (it may have had to do with the exhibition being in English). I saw lots of trains and they had a couple of windmills on the grounds, it was fun. I also went to Potsdamer Platz and to the Sony Centre. I was gonna play with things but then I decided that it might be hard to carry something home from there and I would be tempted. So today's been so far so good, hopefully today I will be able to leave the internet cafe without being hit on by some short, black, african man who rants about Berlin. His name was Kenny and I think he meant well but I was coming out of the loo!!!


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   Bronwyn
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It's long but really interesting

Bronwyn
Germany
October 06, 2003

I made it to Berlin which in itself a small accomplishment. Without knowing, I picked the day before a public holiday that fell on a Friday and the start of the school holidays to travel to Berlin. The Innsbruck train man advised me that it would be no problem to get a seat, but when I booked all I could get was a smoking seat and the train was full. I met the worldwide software manager for Mercedes Benz on the train. He was giving me Berlin tips and drives a BMW Z3. He travels 500km to go to work. He lives in Köln and works in Stuttgart. He works a 50 hour week in 4 days and lives in a hotel when he isn't at home. Work pays for the train each way and the hotel. Apparently a number of people so this if the job is right for them.

Anke, a friend with history with my family, met me at the train station and I am staying at her apartment. She has gone to Bavaria with Antje (same relationship to me as Anke) to meet a man they met on Ibiza who owns a restaurant there. Antje had been living with her family in their garden house (like a garden shed with bunks, a kitchen and a loo) and they fed me and I got a sunflower (my favourite flower). They also detailed what they have planned for my Dad next time he visits, I hope he survives.

Berlin has always been a mythological city. Through my life I have heard lots of stories about it. The usual ones like the Berlin Wall, but also where Anke and Antje lived, where Dad got sick and it seemed like a different world. Getting here and seeing parts of these stories i.e. Anke and Antje's homes, the Victory Tower where Dad had chest pains and Anke decided he needed a doctor, and photo's of places my parents had been 14 years before, makes the couple of days travelling with Anke and Antje a bit emotional.

Anke, Antje, Klaus (Antjes husband) and Anne (Antje's daughter) took me for a day of sightseeing before Anke and Antje went away. This helped me to find my way around and we went to Sanssouci a castle in Potsdam. We went past a whole lot of sights but the weather was pretty bad and I couldn't take photos. I bought a 3 day pass and it lets me travel all the travel networks (Sbahn, Ubahn and buses) and gives me a discount into museums. Berlin only has about 175 museums so I'm a bit spoilt. In the last three days I have been to Checkpoint Charlie, The Brandenburg gate, the chunk of the berlin wall left, the museum for world cultures, the berlin cathedral, the natural history museum (there was a giant dinosaur skeleton), Schloss Charlottenburg and the list goes on and on and on. I still have another day left of my pass.

There is a lot to see and do here and I'm glad I have a fair bit of time here. I would definately recommend Berlin to anyone althhough they do have an annoying habit of saying things are in english and then they hand you a piece of paper to read instead. The totally best site I been to so far is the Reichstag (German parliament). It pretty much got destroyed in the war but has been rebuilt with a new dome which you can climb. It's free to go in and because the Reichstag is in the middle of the old east and west you can see old and new coming together (with lots of new where the berlin wall was) from the top. There is a bulletpoint history display at the top which has photos and calls the Third Reich a sham parliament, it's really quick and easy to read and gets across the main points. The Checkpoint Charlie museum needs to take a leaf from their books. Adolf Hitler never ruled in the Reichstag, it wasburneddown before he gained power. The only downside is a really, really long queue due to a security check. All the staff that were in Bonn have apartments built for them and discounted travel each week home.



best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  4 Oct
03
 

   On Friday night I went out to diner with Marko & Emma and James & Sarah. It was good to sit with familiar people and talk about stuff that wasn't travel related. It being Marko's birthday dinner I avoided tales from the road as much as possible. We played pool for a while (and I won my two games which is pretty surprising really) and then sat down in an instant-photo-booth and had it printed out in pencil mode.

Click here for picture

   On Saturday we moved things into the freshly painted office and it looks complete now. Jed and I tried 4 different places to find what I thought was a fairly regular cable, and now the dsl modem can be next to the computer rather than in the middle of the floor, which is good.

   That evening I met with those that will make up my regular crowd now and spent the night in a few bars and a cool night club. I had a great time, though I now think I need to start a job even sooner than previously coz this town is expensive. During the evening Marko very kindly offered me the spare room at his house for when I need to move out from Jo and Jed's. I talked with a number of new people and generally found myself really liking the place. I think travelling has done me the world of good. I am far more confident and relaxed in new surroundings and I drink tea. Speaking of which I had a sudden realisation this week and it wasn't good. I didn't drink tea in New Zealand. I didn't like it and saw no reason to put up with it. When in Switzerland I turned down tea whenever Mike and Sandra offered it. But now I take it because I have decided that I want to like everything so I might as well start with tea (also drank beer last night, but still don't like it). But as Jo pointed out tea is not just a drink, it is an offer of hospitality and if I refuse to take something then I am refusing their hospitality and quite possibly offending them. That is not good. So I am drinking tea and practising so that next time I visit people I can accept their offers and drink it without wincing.


best wishes from
   Craig
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In case I forgot this was England

Craig
England
October 02, 2003

   Not only am I shivering for the first time since sleeping in a park in Norway, but it rained today. Not the fast storm that blows over quickly or deluges the city for a day that Auckland gets, but a long slow drizzle that you can walk in, but the entire walk is spent with a scrunched up face hoping it will prevent the rain for hitting you.

   Apart from observing the weather I have been getting in contact with the numerous faces I met in the numerous hostels I stayed in along the way. A lot of people seem amazed that I have only just got back, but do they know I haven't finished? Within two weeks I hope to be going up to Scotland visiting Craig Youth Hostel (yes I know it is closed at this time of year) and searching for Nessie.

   In the mean time I am helping to paint my sister's new house, and celebrating Marko's birthday this weekend. Sometime I have to tie in a visit to Oxford, Basingstoke, Newcastle and Bradford and get my hair cut and upload some new photos and process the underwater camera from Greece and learn to relax.



best wishes from
   Craig
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Last day in paris

Craig
France
October 02, 2003

   I never told you what happened that last day in Paris. Well I neglected to confirm with Katia that her cellphone was receiving my text messages. So it wasn't until I returned to an internet cafe and emailed her that she knew I was waiting in Champs de Mars (the park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower) until 3pm when I had to catch my train to Calais for the ferry that night. She got the email and both her and her sister came and found me. Sometime earlier I had realised that my choice of clothes probably wasn't the greatest. Blue jeans, white shirt and the red scarf from Pamplona (movie 3.9mb). I hope the locals didn't think I was making fun of them. The three of us walked around near the tower for quite a while, discussing the various places we have seen and what we do at the moment. I mentioned that I hardly saw any of France and there is now a possibility of a joint trip to the Loire Valley next spring, depending on work and study requirements. I love having friends in exciting places (NZ included).



best wishes from
   Craig
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Art work and site design by Craig Stanton. Entries written by Craig Stanton, Bronwyn Leak and Nina Lindsay. All rights reserved. © 2003