28 Jan
04
 

   After a huge build up in the news over here 'the big chill' has arrived. I woke up this morning and looked out to see the South Downs dusted in snow. I've been waiting for this all winter and though it is only light so far, I am very happy to see it.

Sussex Downs Snow
Sussex Downs Snow
It might have been the cause of being rather late to work this morning, either that or road works, one of them made a 45 minute journey out of a distance I could run in 15. It snowed again this evening
Snow At Marko's
Snow At Marko's
and I'm hoping that I'll be walking through snow drifts tomorrow :-)


best wishes from
   Craig
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  21 Jan
04
 

   After 7 months of bumming around in Europe I have settled down and got a job. On Monday I applied for a job at Threshers Wine Shop in Lewes, after lunch I started work, next week I get the keys and alarm codes. Its not exactly brain taxing work, though I do need to learn a fair bit about their antiquated till system. I'm doing a fair amount of lifting and stacking which Lorraine thinks will put me in the unique position of claiming that beer and wine give me muscles :-)
   So Yay for having money coming in at last, I'm going to plug that hole in my bank account and see if it can build up a supply for a stop off in the states on the way home. For the time being though I am pretty well rooted in Sussex due to my day job, which gives me time to catch up with some other old friends.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  15 Jan
04
 

   The receptionist at the dentist remembers you from 10 years ago. That's right folks. I went back in to the old dental place I went to many years ago and the first lady told me their books were full and I would need to find somewhere else. But then the older lady at the back recognised me (and I her but I never knew her name). She said that my sister (presumably Jo not Laura) still goes there and she'll go ask if I can be seen. Sure enough I got on the list and will be back in there next week. In other news a lady working at Marko's greengrocers asked about my little sister Ruth. Over Christmas she had mentioned to Marko that many years ago her daughter was too afraid to go on stage at the primary school play until Ruth held her hand and went on with her. Both the receptionist and the shop assistant remebered our large family and knew we moved to New Zealand a long time ago. It's cool to be recognised.

   In other stunningly mundane news, I now have a library card, Yay for me!


best wishes from
   Craig
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  12 Jan
04
 

   I left Derry on Monday morning after seeing the old city walls and the murals on both the Catholic and Protestant sides. Driving west I went through a national park that looked remarkably like the Desert Road in New Zealand (photos to come). There was snow on the peaks but it wasn't coming very far down, so I carried on across to the coast and went south towards Glengesh.

Celtic Pillar
A Celtic Pillar
Coming through the pass was fun, leading up to it were some great bumpy roads and going at the speed I was I think I managed to take off at least twice. The radio was silent though. I had forgotten just how good Radio 1 is until I picked it up in Northern Ireland. No ads, no silly local news, and lots of good music.

Malin Beg
Malin Beg
   After the glen I found my way to Malin Beg, a nice big sandy beach, and the sun was out too :-), then on to the main highlight of the day.
Slieve League
A rainbow at Slieve League
Slieve League is the site for the highest marine cliffs in Europe, and while I was there it rained (not surprisingly) and gave off a brilliant rainbow that went back under itself, cool.

   I stayed the night in a car park on the edge of Lough Sheelin and spent the morning in great panic as I raced back to Dublin to catch my flight. Major road works and having to fill the tank up before returning the car stressed me out, but I reached the plane in plenty of time. The plane itself wasn't exactly a great sight that morning. It said Islandsflug on the side and the last three rows of seats were not to be used! That's what you get for a 1p flight.


best wishes from
   Craig
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The ultimate list

Bronwyn
January 12, 2004

I have spent my last couple of day in London tieing up loose ends but I thought I would compose a list of best and worsts. I would like to point out that this is a purely subjective opinion and you don't have to listen to me but I thought it might help those of you one day,

Best Museum -
Deutchestechnikmuseum, Munich, Germany. Hours of entertainment and lots to see andplay with.

Worst Museum -
This is tough, many of the worst museums is merely because there is too much stuff and you can't take it in or it is all the same. This is tied between the British Museum and the National Science Museum, London.
The British Museum has great egyptian stuff but loads of not so interesting stuff and it induced a migraine.
The Science Museum has lots of stuff (mainly engine pumps) and some mildy interesting. It was showing the Lord of the Rings exhibition which was great in NZ and I met a German girl who had come to England for a day to see it.

Best Art Gallery -
If you are looking for classical painting stuff then I would say the National Gallery in London. It has all the biggies (Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso) and not too much of anything. If you are looking for something different then the Kunsthaus Wien is great. Really different but lots of fun.

Worst Art Gallery -
Honestly I haven't been to that many galleries, but Museo del Prado is extremely taxing. Lots of dark pictures of Jesus being crucified and some are more graphic than any movie I have ever seen.

Best Scenery -
Norway for fjords
Greece for beaches
Ireland for dramatic coastline (the west)
Switzerland for mountains
Italy for pretty coastline (Cinque Terre)
Germany for Castles

Best Hostel -
Wombats, Vienna, Austria for 15 euros you only shar with 3 others, the bathroom is in the room and it is really clean

Worst Hostel -
Some weird place I never got the name of in Florence. Some guys flat decorated with bunks. Just book when you go to Florence and do it on someones recommendation to avoid this.

Funniest Sign -
'this is the original handrail used by the jorvik viking centre between 1983 - 2000' it kinda paled into insignificance when we were looking at viking artifacts!!! Jorvik Viking Centre, York

Best Church/Cathedral -
This is really hard to pick. York Minster, the Saxon church in Dover, La Sagrada Familia and St Patricks Cathedralall come close. I think that the York Minster was good because I know so much about it thanks to a tour so I would say go there.

Worst Church/Cathedral -
Really this just boils down to disapointment and that was St Margarets Chapel (?) Edinburgh Castle. After reading so much I expected more.

Internet Cafes try and go for easy internet they are everywhere and usually cheapest especially if you go in the morning.



best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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Wintery Ireland

Craig
Ireland
January 11, 2004

   Well Jenny and I pretty well covered the southern part of Ireland in the last week. We took off to Galway

Galway
Colourful Galway
a little later than expected due to an argument with the evil car-rental company Sixt who expected me to pay another 276 Euro on arrival (after the 120 already laid out) despite my receipt that said there was nothing else to pay. But that's not for rental sir, that's a surcharge because of your age. It boggles my mind how they think that a surcharge for renting a car isn't part of the cost which were all paid. Madness. We ended up swapping to Budget which got us a much better deal and only added 34 Euro to their all inclusive quote. Galway was nice and quaint with a good example of small roads and brightly coloured shopfronts. I was glad for a rest after the only real driving I have done in 7 months (save for driving Lorraine's car in Brighton). That night we stayed in Doolin and visited the famous Gus O'Connor's Pub where we listened to some traditional local music (video 6.1Mb). On Tuesday we saw the very impressive Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs Of Moher
The Cliffs Of Moher
, The Burren and a
Passage Tomb
Poulnabrone Passage Tomb
passage grave. The cliffs were my favourite part of it, totally awe-inspiring, and as you'd expected I took two boat loads of photos which I will sort through later. That night was at Barron's Bunker Bar and hostel, somewhere near Ballyduff. Seeing as there was no-one else in the main hostel the owners gave us a room in their house and the full run of their kitchen :-)

   Wednesday was the Dingle Peninsula.
O'Connor's Pass
O'Connor's Pass
Between sheets of rain and really nice rainbows we crossed O'Connor's pass to descend on Dingle from the north. Then we did a loop around the area (involving a long drive down a muddy track where I'd never take a car owned by someone that I liked) and climbed a small hill to view the incredible coastline from higher up. It really was just as I expected the west coast of Ireland to be and I loved it.
Western Point
The most westerly point
After watching the foamy sea on the most westerly point we could find (and missing sunset because of the clouds, we returned to base.

   The next day we drove the Ring of Kerry and dropped by Valencia Island to see the Skellig Rocks. It was rainy at times but mostly it showed southern Ireland in a wonderful light. After driving through Kilarney National Park (with more great views) we raced over to Blarney to kiss a rock.
The Blarney Stone
Me kissing the Blarney Stone
Both Jenny and I did it. There was only one other group up there and only the dad didn't lean backwards over the wall. He said he had done it before on a school trip and he had a bad back now. hmmm. We very nearly stayed in a bad hostel that night, but we decided to face the owner and tell him we wanted to leave (though we had cooked dinner there already). He didn't even get out of his chair and waved us cheerily on our way. We finally found the excellent Midleton Hostel, which was totally brilliant in every way, including having no other guests at all. Travelling in winter is good. The weather does suck a bit, but everything still works and the countryside is still very green.

Kells Priory
Kells Priory
   Seeing as we were getting close to Dublin with a day to spare a lot of Friday was taken up doing the scenic route to Kilkenny. I don't know what a priory is for, but Kells Priory seems big and must have been pretty important in it's day. The ruins are lots of fun to climb around and over, and it has have a big enclosed field for the inmates (monks?) to play rugby. Also impressive but basically ignored is the huge old mill on the river next to the priory. A substantial building in any country, but quite massive for the Irish countryside.

Celtillar
Glendalough
   On Saturday we went to Glendalough. It's highly recommened by The Lonely Planet, and both of us. To start with there is a really old church and round tower, the only surviving double-arched entry to a monastry and some grave stones. All the stones I can remember had IHS on them (perhaps the Irish equivalent of RIP?) but one particularly stuck in my mind. Walter Byrne (Lorraine, is this another spelling of Burn?) born in 1644 and died 1750! What a legend. With none of the preparations that the signs wanted us to take we set off on a 9km hike over the mountain. It started with a quick ascent next to a water fall before going onto a wooden path winding up in between the pine trees, which gave me plenty of time to wax lyrical about Rotorua's Luge and the time Mark, Peter and I got wedged in at the top :-). Some people along the path we really over prepared for it, we looked totally casual as we strolled over the bleak hillside in the same outfit you'd wear to a shopping mall (plus gloves and my new hat). Before long it was time for Jenny to be dropped off at Dublin airport. Ryanair is cheap but they have the nasty habit of letting you bring lots of luggage into the country, and then charging you lots of money to take it home. Alone, I drove north and crossed into Northern Ireland without noticing it. I stayed the night a picnic spot in the Mourne Mountains. The car is a Fiat Punto by the way so there is nowhere near enough room for doing that on a regular basis. During the night another car turned up and parked on the other side, and a cat ran across the bonnet. I guess these things added to the bad dreams I had about being set upon by local youths intent on stealing the car. Anyway....

   I woke early (lots of times) and saw sunrise over the Irish sea. I drove straight through Belfast and cruised the coast all the way to The Giants Causeway. Before getting there though, I passed through the Glens Of Antrim and a snow storm! Yay!
Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway
The causeway was much smaller than I thought, even after Bronwyn had said it would be. I stayed a while and took lots of pictures (to be uploaded as soon as I can get online in England I hope). I am now in Londonderry (aka Derry) and tomorrow I'll be checking out what makes Donegal one of Lorraine's favourite Irish spots.



best wishes from
   Craig
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England again!!!!

Bronwyn
England
January 08, 2004

I know I have been slack so here is a summarised post to make up for it. Christmas I spent in London with 2 other New Zealanders and 2 Australians. We ate, we drank, we watched TV, we drank some more. It was nice and I spent Boxing day in much the same way all thanks to Elena whose house we were at. The following day Lorraine and I went to Brighton and visited Craig. While Lorraine stayed the night I returned to London. The dorm I was put in was with some ccol people. Claire was from China and had spent the last 6 months in Edinburgh learning english and was about to go to Bournemouth to complete her education, Gwen was from the USA and was studying her MBA in Boston. Gwen was travelling with her friend Josh who was the most conservative person I have ever met, he wouldn't move the washing from the washing machine to the dryer as it had her underwear in it!

I spent a few days in London, saw some museums, libraries and cathedrals etc. I caught up with Mikey and his family, we had great food and it was nice to be with someone who I didn't have to explain my life to. The on the 30 January, Lorraine and decided we should sort out New Years. A bit late but I found out that the trains to Reading (where Lorraine lives) were running till 5 am and we took advantage of this. We went to London at about 3pm and visited Jillian and had a few wines and met the locals. We gave Jillians bartender our numbers and he rung us later, it was quite a surprise.We left Jillians and went to a kebab place. Made friends with a guy in the queue who gave us his tube ticket and carried on our way. We then went to Brad's bar. His boss was an idiot and Brad was getting a hard time and in turn so were we so Lorraine and I left, only after Lorraine met some American boys who didn't know what Trafalgar Square was!!! Lorraine and I headed to Trafalgar Square and then plonked ourselves on the waterfront opposite the Millenium Eye. We ate and drank our supplies and saw the New Year in. I must have got excited about there being a large clock because I ended up with about 10 photo's of Big Ben from different angles, none at midnight. Lorraine and I walked to Buckingham Palace, said happy New Year to the queen and started to head home. We reached home at 4am after catching the tube, train and taxi.

After New Years, Lorraine and I went road tripping. We went to Stratford upon Avon. It was really beautiful but it does get to feel a bit invasive when you have followed old Williams life around. The church where he was buried had heaps and heaps of squirrels, I liked them. We then went and visited John, Doreen and Lynne again in Wrexham. Here we went to Chester, we walked the city wall and the rows and went to a museum that had really awesome roman memorial stones. They were maintained because they had been used in repairing the city wall and I honestly think that they were better than some roman stuff in Rome. On the way back we went to Ironbridge, a world heritage site, and a centre of the industrial revolution it really is just a pretty victorian town with an Ironbridge!!!

Lorraine dropped me off at Oxford and I visited that. Lots of beautiful buildings and I visited Christ Church, Merton and Magdalen (pronounced Maudlin) Colleges. I met Lorraine again and we saw the last Lord of the Rings before we said our goodbyes. After Oxford I went back to London with my list of things to do. London has so much that I have now seen many things. Yesterday, I spent hours in the Imperial War Museum which isn't really my thing but it was really interesting and thought provoking. That combined with reading Dracula I had a pretty poor nights sleep last night so I apologise for any grammatical problems I am tired.



best wishes from
   Bronwyn
Wish you were here?     (2 replies so far)



Dublin Days

Craig
Ireland
January 04, 2004

   I've been in Dublin for a few days now and apart from the distillery tours I think I have seen all there is to see. On Friday Jen and I arrived at the airport knowing that we needed the correct change for the bus (thanks to Bronwyn) but the change machine wasn't really right outside the front entrance as the strange tourist info clerk thought it was (strange because he seemed quite happy to beckon forth the people from the back of the queue rather than the front). At the change machine a not so useful bus official told us that we didn't need the correct change, so when we got on board the bus driver thought we were crazy and insisted that no driver ever gives change 'just like in England', which is completely wrong because all bus drivers in England do give change. So we got off, got some smaller coins and got on the next Number 41, whereupon the new driver happily accepted notes from the next couple to get on board and gave them change. Argh!

   Apart from that it's been a lovely time here. It has rained a bit but mostly it is just cold. The hostel is pretty much deserted and the castle, the cathedrals and Trinity College have not been swamped by tourists. The busiest place has been Henry Street, the main shopping area, which we need to traverse every time we go food shopping.

   On Friday night we had a drink in The Temple Bar (the pub), named after The Temple Bar (the district) which is Dublins cultural heart. It certainly was a nice pub and had a semi outdoors area too. On Saturday we tried out The Left Bank pub and then Fitzgerald's, the latter of which promised live music. We didn't know until he started that it wasn't traditional Irish stuff but Robbie Williams and U2.

   Today we did a lot of walking, along the Grafton Street shops and through St Steven's Park. We had a lot of time to waste before the museums opened in the afternoon. I wasn't expecting much from them since they were free but was pleasantly surprised. The National Museum had a great display of really old gold trinkets and stuff, some dating back to 1500 BC with amazingly detailed craftsmanship. The National Gallery contained a Caravaggio as featured in Ordinary Decent Criminal, that I had expected to see in Museo del Prado. Tomorrow we pick up the car and head to Galway.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  1 Jan
04
 

   Thanks to Peter going there the night before to pick up tickets, Rory, Effie, Jenny and I spent New Years Eve in a club with the confusing name of The Brighton Gloucester.

Sherbert
Giant sweeties (photo by Jen)
It was really well decorated for the School Days theme with giant Sherbert Fountains, packs of Chewits and humungous Love Hearts hanging from the roof. On the way in we were given little bags of sweets and there was a sign for a Tuck Shop I never went to find out if they were actually selling them.

   By my watch the DJ was out of sync by a few minutes, and he must have been looking at several different clocks during the countdown because it wasn't getting closer to midnight at a steady speed. The four of us sung what we could of Auld Lang Syne and partied on into the night. By 1am we were just a little tired, and Rory and Effie had a long drive back to Eastbourne, so we found the night bus and got dropped off pretty close to Jo and Jed's house but even that short walk was an effort in the cold rain that comes with British New Year Celebrations.
New Years Revellers
New Years Revellers


   Today I am packing up my things to be stored at Marko's house until I get back from Ireland. Once I am back I'll be in my old village where surprisingly there is no internet cafe. I'll do my best to find some way of getting online but it might be a while between updates.


best wishes from
   Craig
Wish you were here?     (1 replies so far)




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