3 May
04
 

   The last week has been a blur things have happened very quickly and now I am left with just over 36 hours until I land in New Zealand after the most amazing year of my life. I'll try to cover what I have been up to but I will probably forget a thing or two.

   On Sunday Lorraine and I went to Ditchling Beacon for a walk. It was a little hazy out there but generally nice to be outside. On Monday I walked from Lewes to Ringmer over the top of the Downs and past the golf course. Again very nice to be out in the country side. Bluebells were appearing in small patches along my way, so to lengthen it out I took the long way back down to the village. I tried packing that afternoon. In total I am trying to bring back 40kgs. According to Singapore Airlines I can bring back 25kg free (plus hand luggage) but after that it is £32 per kilo! So I sent some things back via sea mail, things I won't need for 2-8 weeks I hope, and am planning to wear all my heavy clothes onto the plane.

   James has very kindly lent me his car for a few days so to get me used to its little oddities Marko and I went cruising on Wednesday night. It is a really big car for me, and I am still nervous about parking it. Thursday saw the arrival of Bex and just to prove a point, the sky opened and tipped it down for most of the day. The two of us met Lorraine at Glyndebourne and she gave us a little walking tour of the grounds. The opera building was completely new since I was there but the grounds remained the same. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the punga ferns. Perhaps I just didn't know what to look for.

   On Friday Bex and I saw a bit of Brighton, but due to the bad weather it wasn't a particularly great show. We missed The Royal Pavilion which in hindsight was a mistake. I had forgotten how interesting it was inside until I checked out the website. In the afternoon we went passed my old primary school in Laughton. It had just finished for the day so we poked around inside. I couldn't see the head master who is possibly the only staff member remaining from my time so we left and cruised back to Marko's place.

   Saturday looked like it was going to be another misty dull day as the three Kiwis set off for Ashdown Forest, a.k.a. Hundred Acre Wood. It was six months exactly since Bronwyn, Lorraine and I tried the same ting, in the same weather no-less. We stopped at Gill's Lap and walked much further than I have done here before, but then again I was much smaller when Mum and Dad would bring the family here to play Pooh Sticks and pick blackberries. We saw The Enchanted Place, Roo's Sandy Pit, Gill's Lap, the ex-bracken field, the tree that Peter climbed (and unofficial landmark) and all the way down to Pooh Bridge.

   For lunch we ate at The Six Bells. While we were inside the sky underwent an amazing transformation and we emerged into proper sunlight for the first time in days.

Bluebell Wood
Bluebell Wood
After unsuccessfully trying to find the land owners we decided to go to bluebell wood anyway. I couldn't have wished for better. The bluebells were out in force, just like I remembered them. A soft purple carpet stretching on for miles. Neither of the other two had seen anything quite like it, and I honestly doubted it could have been as good as that. There are a few commercial bluebell walks around Sussex, but they are bound to be overrun with crazy kids and prams and old people. Here in this wood it was silent, save for us three. Small paths snaked in and out of the trees and we were free to wander around. Totally idyllic. Eventually we had to leave so we went to The Long Man Of Wilmington and then back to Lewes via a quick stop at The Mill Post. Near there was a field of Oil Seed Rape. We are not toally sure what it gets used for, but it does turn Sussex bright yellow for a while and we took the chance to get up close to it for a bit of exploring in plants that came past our waists.

   That night we went out to Brighton and had a good time at Creation again. Lots of fun, though I thought a bit less of the place when Bex said it reminded her of Leftfield in Auckland. I had totally forgotten about that place. As we sat on the beach waiting for the last bus home I ducked into a new club to use the facilities (luckily the bouncer was looking the other way because he wasn't supposed to let people in after 1am). I really liked what I saw inside, and really loved what I heard, a bit of Franz Ferdinand. What a pity I only discovered that place in the last minutes of my last time out in Brighton.

   Yesteday was a frantic rush around to get my photos devleoped from the night before, see Devil's Dyke and drop Bex at the airport. I did all that and came over to Jo's place for dinner. Which brings me to where I am now, sitting here filling in possibly my last entry in England (I expect to get online in Sigapore). The last year has been too good to put into words.


   To everyone I have met along the way, thank you all, thank you so much.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  26 Apr
04
 

   The weather here is perfect, brilliantly sunny, a bit of a breeze and long evenings. We took the chance to have a barbecue on Saturday evening. Sitting on Marko & Emma's patio we cooked up a feast of chicken, pork, beef and vegetarian thingies for Lorraine. There were a couple of incidents which saw salad cream being splattered across the concrete, mostly-cooked hamburgers being smeared across peoples necks and I even spent a while waving the watering can at James daring him to try coming up the stairs.


best wishes from
   Craig
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Keep on trucking

Craig
England
April 24, 2004

   I'd been back in the country only a few hours when I called James and found that he needed a second person to help crew his lorry and move a mobile home up towards Hull and bring another one back down. Because of the laws on the number of hours one can drive in a single sitting and the distance to Hull etc etc, we set off from Sussex at about 4am. I was a little sleep deprived at that point having recounted my adventures to Marko, Emma and Lorraine so I crawled into one of the bunks and slept until James had to repair an injection

james Driving
James Driving
pipe that involved tipping the whole cab over. I couldn't help at all when we were driving, but when we got to the first stop I help set up the trailer and it's skids (ramps to pull the mobile home up). It felt really good to be doing some real work even when crouched under the home trying to lift a metal plank weighing more than I do. We ate at some little food caravan along the way and stopped at The Stockyard for the night. Certainly a proper welcome back to English cuisine, full roast beef dinner, yorkshire puddings, apple sauce and mashed potatoes mmmmmm. James' cab has two bunks and there is a big heat difference between them. He was on the lower one so he kept blasting the heater on and off during the night. Sometimes I needed my sleeping bag, and sometimes I didn't.

   At 6:49am we pulled into the yard to pick up home number two. It took all day and another replacement injector pipe to drop it off in Eastbourne by which time we were running on fumes. Another load of huffing and puffing to get the sleds out and the home down before we could get back to home base.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  24 Apr
04
 

   I said goodbye to Levi and Sarah on Tuesday morning. They're so cool, and it is definitely their turn to come to visit me next. I slept a fair amount of the way from Denver to New York, and after faffing about at JFK for a few hours I slept a fair amount of the way from JFK to Heathrow. Not good sleep but at least it passed the time. Once back on the ground I got myself around to check-in under the weight of my enlarged bags that now include a few more t-shirts, some I heart NY mugs and a climbing harness. Before long a familiar face popped up. Bex and I talked for a while and I got caught up on all the news from back home, hard to believe it is only two weeks until I'll be back there. She flew off to Turkey and I took the underground to Victoria, where a Kiwi girl approached me for directions. I guess the big bags and 'fun pants' give me the traveller look. Lucky she was trying to get to Heathrow or I'd have been very little use.


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   Craig
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  29 Mar
04
 

   It's been a while coming but British Summer Time is finally here. James, Marko and I had a good night out in Brighton, at Creation as usual. Hopefully we'll have one more night there before I leave England for good, and I'll get to show Bex and Lorraine what clubbing in the UK is really like.

   Sunday was lovely. Though it started a little cloudy, and an hour earlier than I expected, it was finally good enough to go sight seeing. Lorraine and I took of to Mount Caburn first. It's a great look out point over Glynde, Lewes and a fair bit of the South Downs. There was a hang-glider up there, and I am totally inspired to get one myself and get into some low level swooping and diving :-) After a while at the top we walked back to the car and drove to Birling Gap and took a walk along the beach.

Looking east from Birling Gap
Looking east from Birling Gap



I was surprised to find real sand in patches at the bottom of the huge white chalk cliffs.
The chalk cliffs at Birling Gap
The chalk cliffs Birling Gap
These cliffs are where the south downs meet the English Channel and are called The Seven Sisters.


Not far east of the gap is Beachy Head.
The lighthouse at Beachy Head
The lighthouse at Beachy Head
We took a stroll along the cliff tops and both found it strange to feel warm again, something that I have been missing since coming back from Europe in September last year.
Cuckmere Haven
Cuckmere Haven
On the way back we stopped to see Cuckmere Haven. It's the sort of area that my old geography teacher would love with a wide meandering river just about ready to form a few Oxbow lakes.

   I've only got two days left at work, and just 96 hours I'll be jet lagged in New Jersey, things are starting to get exciting again.


best wishes from
   Craig
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All roads lead to Ringmer

Craig
England
March 26, 2004

   And so the incredible appeal of Sussex strikes again as Lorraine, who has come half way around the world to live in England permanently, found a place to rent in Lewes and started work at my local opera house Glyndebourne. It's cool to have another Kiwi around even though I am talking about my ever shortening time here and she is settling in for the long term. I handed in my notice at work weeks ago and I have only 5 days left there. Then I am off to America to catch up with the girls I met in spain, Stacey and Brie, and over to Colorado to see Levi and Sarah. That should provide me with plenty to talk about since I'll be traveling more than 10 miles from home which is all that I have been doing for quite a while.

Acceptance letter from Oxford
My letter from Oxford

   I think the most exciting thing to happen recently was the letter I got from Oxford, officially offering me a place on their MSc Computer Science course, which is kinda cool. According to my watch it's been 291 days since I left New Zealand and I have only 40 left until I land in Auckland. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do when I get back to NZ but returning to Auckland Uni is a possibility. I hear that Crater Lake is due to burst so I'll be hiking up there with Dad to see it while it's there.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  1 Mar
04
 

   I've been pretty quiet on here recently because I really haven't been doing anything particularly note worthy. I walk to and from work five days a week. It's a round trip of 11km so I'm getting good milage out of my hiking boots, but this is certainly not a patch on Mont Blanc. I would walk over the downs, if only it didn't take twice as long. At least I get plenty of time to listen to Radio 1 and listen to some good music.

   Last night was a party for a friend of a friend. Bex turned 20 and to celebrate we all dressed up as movie characters. My older sister gave me the idea of going as Steve Irwin, Marko

Costume Party
Our costumes
went as Maverick, Emma as a nun from The Sound Of Music, James was Austin Powers and Sarah as Felicity Shagwell. There wer lots of other great costumes there too, Ghandi, Cleopatra, Harry Potter, Lara Croft and a girl from Coyote Ugly. It was a pretty good night, though the changing drinking prices weren't exactly going in our favour. Today the five of us went out for breakfast in Hove. Sitting in the sun beside the beach on the morning after a big party is just great. Not long later while shopping in Brighton it started snowing quite hard (but it was melting straight away). By the time we got back into the car and out onto the road it had stopped and the sun was breaking out. So basically Auckland doesn't have a monopoly on fickle weather.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  6 Feb
04
 

   Last weekend marked the 13th day in a row that I turned up to work at Threshers. It also marked my first day off in a long time. I put it to good use by racing up to Reading on Saturday night. The weather wasn't as nice as it was back in June when i was there last, but I made the most of the outdoors anyway. Lorraine and I drove around the area (well she drove, I watched) seeing some of the local countryside and generally heading towards the White Horse of Uffington. It is pretty hard to see it from the ground, but you can get the impression that this is one very stylish horse, not just some druid lone drawing. It isn't even a regular 'scratch the surface away' trick, they dug out the figure and filled it with chalk. We took a walk from there over to Waylands Smithy, a passage grave that is something like 3000 years old.

   On Monday morning I did something a little bit out of the ordinary for a Kiwi on their O.E., I had an interview at Oxford University! I'll find out in a months time if anythings comes of it, but I doubt I'd accept the offer anyway, I just liked to be asked :-)


   oh yeah, this weekend is my first payday in 8 months, WhooHoo!


best wishes from
   Craig
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  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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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
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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
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Christmas Day

Craig
England
December 25, 2003

   Today was the first Christmas day when I haven't had a younger sibling aged 6 or less in the house, and consequentially I didn't get out of bed until 10am.

Santa's Plate
A mince pie for Santa, a carrot for Rudolf
Santa had managed to find me despite me being 10,000km from home right now, and among the edible goodies in my stocking was a cool snowman chocolate mold, to help me with my Christmas cooking next year. Jo has a simple recipe for a fruity jelly thing that I'll be testing (tasting?) out in the months to come :-)

   
My New Hat
My New Hat
Peter gave me a nice warm hat, which is going to come in very handy in Ireland next week. I'm really hoping for snow there. He also showed his ingenuity by wrapping this crazy shape without the use of sellotape, and it held together very well.

   I saw a little bit of the Queen's message, but frankly it bored me. I've watch a fair bit of telly and eaten plenty of turkey. After lunch I was completely stuffed and I couldn't eat another thing but Peter that shocked us all by taking another helping and finishing everything on his plate. Dinner is on the way now, and I think I finally have room for more.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  24 Dec
03
 

   Yesterday evening was the annual Christmas party at my old house in Takapuna. My brother Peter lent me his video camera, Nivi lent hers to Mark who took his laptop to the party and thanks to the wonders of the internet (and iChat) I was able to see and talk with the people there. It was very cool to see most of my friends back in New Zealand, doing the Christmas things that I was involved in last year and will be again next.

Christmas Video Chat
Christmas Video Chat
Someone thought it would make me all sad and lonely because I'd be missing them (which of course I do) but I was thrilled to be able to do this and it was much better than just calling them.
   Last night I was in Lewes after dark (which is 4pm here) and things were really seeming Christmasy, the shops were full, the windows were brightly coloured and lots of
Christmas Puddings
Homemade Christmas Puddings
people were carrying big bags or presents. This morning I walked around Ringmer, with the hope of catching up with my old nextdoor-neighbour-but-one and someone from school. But Christmas Eve isn't a holiday, so they weren't in, which means more Christmas Puddings for me :-)

   There is no way it is going to snow here tomorrow, but hopefully early in next year (possibly in Ireland) I'll get to see some of the white stuff like olds times, but I have to get a better coat by then.


best wishes from
   Craig
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Ahh the royals

Bronwyn
England
December 24, 2003

I just had a great experience, I went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. There was no one speaking english around me, the guards did their thing. It takes about an hour and gets a bit tedious but then the band started to play christmas carols. It was so nice seeing all those faces smile. It felt like christmas then.



best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  22 Dec
03
 

London is crazy, I just had to queue to get out of the tube. As if it isn't enough being packed like a sardine with strangers pressed against you!!! Today I am gonna go look at the christmas lights. I can't find Wellington Arch though, I know it is lit up with sunflowers (my favourite).


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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Liverpool to London

Bronwyn
England
December 21, 2003

I left Wrexham, John and Doreen drove me to Liverpool where more of my relatives live. Dil and Bob took care of me for the next four days and they were great. I took my pills, watched heaps of TV and I even made it to central Liverpool and saw The Beatles story, Liverpool Life museum, shops and the St Georges Hall. I wish I had taken more photos as I feel that Liverpool has got a bit of a reputation it doesn't deserve and the people are really nice.

I left Liverpool and planned to go to Manchester but in the end I just went to York. York is really pretty and everyone should go there. The York minster is the largest Cathedral north of the alps and it was really, really interesting. York has been inhabited by Romans, Vikings and Saxons and I saw examples of all of this around York. It was just beautiful and it was one of the first times it felt Christmassy. Me and an australian girl did our sightseeing together and we agreed it was like being in a christmas movie with carol singers and the salvation army brass band. Now I am back in London, it is cold and busy and the hostel is full. I walked down Oxford Street this morning and nothing opens till midday (except starbucks) and there were queues forming at 11am. In England there are Sunday trading laws which say that you can only trade for 6 hours on a Sunday, I thnk they picked the wrong 6. I am glad I can go back to the hostel and do my laundry to escape the crowds. Pills are finished and I am almost healthy, just the occasional headache and stuff now.



best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  21 Dec
03
 

   After a week of in activity I went out last night with Marko and James for Christmas drinks at The Volunteer in Lewes. Just the three lads, it was great. But the best thing about it was bumping in to two girls I knew ages ago and both of them recognising me straight away. Gemma White was behind the bar. We were friends from Ringmer Community College and had a few classes together. Michelle Kerry was called Michelle Slyman when I took her to the leavers prom at Ringmer, in a suit that was three sizes too big. Both of them are nurses now (though Gemma has two jobs it seems) and were surprised to be looking up at me so much more than when I left. I think it is something in the New Zealand water, or perhaps all that bungy jumping.

   I stayed the night at Marko's and got to use a bed this time, I'll be moving in there in mid January and I think that will be my room. As I was sitting at the bus stop in the morning a car pulled in and wound down the window. Russell was at the wheel and drove me all the way to Brighton, he would have taken me straight to the door if I hadn't needed to do some Christmas shopping first. The weather here is pretty grotty and I don't like going out in it, but I hear it is snowing in Newcastle, perhaps I should go there for a white Christmas :-)


best wishes from
   Craig
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  11 Dec
03
 

   It is roughly eight hours drive from Brighton to Newcastle-upon-Tyne (not to be confused with Newcastle-under-Lyme) and it is all heading north. Thus I was not surprised to find it really cold up there. On Sunday morning I went for a walk along the bridge over Jesmond Dene (I think it is called the Archer's Bridge) to see the crafts for sale. There were some great photographs of local landmarks, and some from further abroad. I also really liked the giant mirrors one lady was selling. The frames seemed to be carved MDF and then painted to look like flowers, dolphins, starbursts etc etc. I think Jo is going to need one for her downstairs loo.

Icy leaf
An icy leaf
 

   It was about noon when I got down into the Dene, and the grass was still frozen. It was slightly crispy to walk on and the ground beneath it was solid. It didn't take long for me to start losing the use of my fingers after I took my hands out of my gloves to use my camera. I can't remember the last time I ran along a street and had to slow down at the corner because it was icy. Such were the simple pleasures of my youth. It totally has to snow this year, if it doesn't land in Brighton I am going to go find it.

   I took a look around Killingworth, Jenny's home ground and liked the place. Most of it seems to have been designed as one super-estate, which apparently looks like a castle from the air. There is a ring road around the outside acting as a moat, and Garths (blocks of houses) as the turrets. The big man-made lake looks pretty well done too, I can imagine that place freezing over quite soon and it becoming a skating rink. But possibly the best part of it is hidden from most routes. The Village, as it is known by locals, is the old part of town and has suitably old buildings in it. A far cry from the recent development a few streets away this place looks like it should be miles away in the country side, not a quick bus trip from Newcastle. The have a big wheel there too. It commemorates George Stephenson who pretty much invented rail travel. So I guess I owe him thanks for all the trains I took in Europe.
Cherrytree Close
Cherrytree Close

   Later that night (well it was only about 6pm but totally dark) we went walking to Cherrytree Close. Here all the residents put on a big light display for christmas that would impress Tim Allen. There was even a dancing Santa to collect money for charity.
Glowing reindeer
Glowing reindeer

   I left on Monday night after a catalogue of disasters that I couldn't help but laugh at. Rory was going to drive me to the bus station but since he had missed rugby practice he went on a bike ride for exercise. Along the way he got a flat and had to run back pushing the bike all the way. Then his car wouldn't start. We gave it a few pushes up and down his street but nothing was happening so I decided to take the bus. As we were standing there at the stop, me laden down with my big back-pack, the bus came up. The driver shrugged his shoulders and kept going! There was one other person on it, so it wasn't out of service, nor too full. grrr! I had allowed plenty of time and got there early anyway. The ride was good, seeing as I could sleep through most of it, apart from when the driver announced our stops along the way. At about 3 am I was staggering around some motorway services looking for a vending machine.

   I am back in Brighton now and hoping to finally put up a selection of photos from Europe, the only thing stopping me is me, I'll have to get over that.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  6 Dec
03
 

   On Saturday Jen and I went to Durham. We were only intending to see the cathedral and take a look at the castle but we happened to visit during the town's Christmas Festival. There was a big tent put up on the grass in front of the cathedral and inside there were loads of local craftspeople selling their creations. There were fudge stalls, knitting stalls, glass jewellery stalls and celtic art stalls. I bought some fudge :-)

   Down in the main town there were

Durham Town Hall
Durham Town Hall
more stalls and it had a real Christmas feeling to me. In what I think was the town hall they had put the more elaborate (and expensive) arts. Some really good paintings, a few fairy costumes and a number of glassware/pottery things. It was a pretty decent town hall as well, with olde Englishe writing around the walls commemorating the important locals. If I remember to do so I will look the place up in the Lonely Planet to make sure it gets a good mention.

   Someone here had hit upon the brilliant, but possibly dangerous, idea of serving hot chocolate in the streets, enriched with Baileys or brandy.
Durham Chocolate
Durham Chocolate
We walked along the river there and past the university boat sheds. Despite it being a really cold day there was a team out rowing. I would guess they were tourists because they were doing pretty badly. We didn't actually go into the cathedral after all and I have since been told it is a well known gothic master piece. Maybe I will go back there some day and check it out.


best wishes from
   Craig
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The Solicitors Ball

Craig
England
December 05, 2003

   I went up to Newcastle on Sunday Nov 30th taking the National Express coach. I left Brighton at 9:30am and got into Newcastle at about 6pm. I've been on plenty of long distance trips during my travels, but that was the most uncomfortable land-based one (the overnight ferry from Italy to Greece takes top prize). The seats were small and the head rests were too flat, my head would just roll off to one side. Thanks to my brother Peter I was able to listen to the radio scripts of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. I've read all 5 parts of the increasingly inaccurately named trilogy, but never heard this version before. Thanks Pete.

   I'm staying with Rory again and having a ball. Actually the Law School (a.k.a. The Eldon Society) had the ball, I just attended.

Jenny and Craig at the Ball
Jenny and Craig at the Ball
It was on Tuesday night and a far cry from the engineering balls of Auckland University. This time the girls were in fancy dresses, but at Auckland everyone was in Fancy Dress :-) and someone read grace in latin! There were speeches and toasts and a good feed before dancing the night away until the wee hours. I almost lost my camera in the back of the taxi, but the very friendly driver (who was a Lord Of The Rings Fan) came back and didn't charge me a thing.

   Aside from eating, drinking and dancing, there was also a mini casino available for those who felt we couldn't visit a race track without a little flutter. No money changed hands they just handed out £10 worth of chips and the person with the most at the end of the night won a bottle of champagne. I got up to £51 which was the record when I left the table, but by then I was down to £5 which I kept as a souvenir.

   On Monday I sat in on one of Jenny's law lectures, covering a bit of Public International Law. A bit cheeky perhaps but since the lecturer didn't mention anything I think I got away with it. I even went up and asked him a vaguely relevant question afterwards :-)

   For the rest of the week I've mostly been hanging out in toon. Jen and I have seen Love Actually (very funny, slightly sad, definitely worth viewing) and S.W.A.T. (good action shoot 'em up). Rory and Effie graduated on Wednesday and are now officially Masters of Science, what a cool title that is. I really wanted to do that at Oxford, but had to turn them down coz they thought I was a foreign student and wanted to charge me too much. Now that I am over here the government seem set to allow them to charge even locals an extortionate amount of money. :-/

   I think it was Thursday morning when we walked into town via Jesmond Dene. We took a moment to stop by Pets Corner.
Pets Corner Parrot
A parrot at Pets Corner
It's a free little zoo with pot belly pigs, geese, goats, sheep and lots of birds. As you might expect there ere a number of mums with their toddlers, and a few grandparents wandering around. I hope other towns can get the money together to run something like this, the kids were really loving it and I think it makes it a nicer place to live for young families. A day or two later I discovered a slightly creepy part of the Dene, the pet cemetary.
The pet cemetary
The pet cemetary
Not nearly as creepy as the film though, especially when the names are Winnie, Albert and Lassie!.



best wishes from
   Craig
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Country Cousins

Craig
England
November 27, 2003

   Today my cousin Kate was in town with her boyfriend Hugo. You might remember that another cousin of mine (Anna)was traveling in Europe at the same time as me but we never managed to meet up.

Hugo and Kate on Brighton seafront
Hugo and Kate on Brighton seafront
Well I didn't want that to become a pattern so I gave Kate and Hugo a tour of Brighton. I think I am getting quite good at it now, and I know to avoid the Carousel Fish & Chips bar on the seafront. The West Pier is a good crowd puller. Every time I go to see it there are plenty of other people about taking photos, trying to catch the right light and get a good atmospheric shot.
The West Pier
The West Pier
In the North Laines there is a good gallery of Brighton culture, including some excellent pictures of the pier, before, during and after the arson attack a year or more ago.

   Last week was the Leonid meteor shower, and being in the northern hemisphere for a change I thought I'd get up early and watch for some shooting stars. However when I peered out the window at 4am it was too overcast to see anything so I stayed in my nice warm bed for a few hours until it came time to get Peter. Yup, little brother Peter is in town, currently sleeping in Jo's dining room and he brought with him a few essential supplies for me. We've been having a good time around here and he came out clubbing with the usual crowd on Saturday night. On Sunday all four of us (Jed, Jo, Peter and I) prepared the hallway with an undercoat and the next day Peter and I did a pretty darn good job with Deluxe Timeless. Without Jed the tall fella there to reach the hard bits I was left to do some pretty precarious balancing over the stairs. It occurred to me how funny it would be if Jo had come out of her office at the wrong time, knocked me over the banister and rolled me down the stairs, paint pot an all. Luckily for me and the carpet she didn't and the house is now looking a little bit better thanks to us.

   I am working on getting this site a bit more integrated with my other one and soon I'll be putting many more photos of Europe online for everyone to see. Many thanks to Levi for the server space and service.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  17 Nov
03
 

   I've had another week or two here in Brighton and started settling in properly. I've registered with a few job agencies and taken my CV along to a few shops for christmas work, as a result of which I have an interview with Gadget Shop on Wednesday after Peter arrives in the morning. I've been improving my cooking skills too by adding chicken rarebit and others to my repertoire

   This weekend I had my from-the-road first visitor. I've dropped in on lots of people along the way, and I met up with Stacey and Brie a couple of times.

Jenny on Brighton seafront
Jenny on Brighton seafront
Lorraine and Bronwyn came down a few weeks ago but Jen would be the first person that I met during my trip and has come to Brighton to see me. She came down on Thursday via a marathon 10 hour coach ride from Newcastle. On Friday we had a simple day out in Brighton exploring The Laines. I already liked the place, but had never taken quite so long to look through the fashion shops there, nor stopped to visit the photographic gallery on Kensington Gardens. I did on that particular day and realised why Josephine loves the place. The clothes and costumes on display there are brilliant and the gallery really shows the wide variety of Brighton's many faces as seen by the locals. I highly recommend it.
A storm in the channel
A storm in the channel
Looking out to sea we figured that the incoming storm wasn't going to make the pier much fun so we headed back to the house.

A view from the top
Looking south near Devils Dyke
   Saturday was mostly based around getting to Devil's Dyke using Jo and Jed's hand built bikes. They assembled them ages ago, and they worked fine after a little tweaking to prevent the chain coming off when ever I went up hill :-) The ride totalled about 12 miles up and along the South Downs with the peak looking across The Weald where a number of paragliders where attempting to take off. Only a couple actually got airborne and only one got any decent fly time. On the way down (video 1.9mb), while checking which footpath took us back to Portslade, we noticed a number of valley names on the map that I thought would have made good road-sign trophies. 'Bushy Bottom' was perhaps my favourite. That night Marko & Emma, James & Sarah and Jen & I went out to Lewes for James' birthday dinner. The Ask restaurant in Lewes is a good Italian place, though they were very busy and service was slow that night. Afterwards we hung out at The Volunteer. A pub I have passed hundreds of times when walking around Lewes, and never been into. It seems nice enough inside, and we had a good night playing pool and knocking back a few beers.

   On Sunday the six of us went to Arundel market which is a good half hour drive from the house. The market had loads to offer, but I am not really in a position to be stocking up on household electricals, even if they are are 'just fallen off the back of a lorry' prices. I finally saw Amelie last night and I really liked it, but I think Jen fell asleep in the middle. She's gone back north again now but I'll be seeing her and Rory soon when I catch a lift up with James in his lorry. He delivers up there quite a bit apparently and while I'm unemployed I might as well be hanging out with old (and new) friends as much as I can.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  10 Nov
03
 

Lorraine and I decided to catch up this weekend. Reading is very close to Basingstoke and we thought we would make good use of it. We were going to go to London and visit Elena, a friend of Lorraine, but the trains to London from Basingstoke were closed for engineering work. I went to Reading instead. We visited Royal Henley on Thames. It is close to Reading and you may wonder what makes it Royal, they have a rowing regatta once a year which some royals attend. Plebs like me would have to stand on the other side of the river from the royals though, and still conform to the dress rules i.e. skirts and dresses are not allowed to finish above the knee. We then went and saw the Pirates of the Carribean and had a drink in Reading. I caught the last train back to Basingstoke where some fellow lunged at me as he was getting of the train and his mate grabbed him before hitting me. I then caught a taxi and came home and had a call from NZ. I made it to the ripe old age of 24 yesterday, and my friends and family called. Thank you to those who emailed/ texted/ called/ sent packages to me. I really appreciated it. I now have 11 birthday cards to look at on the windowsill and I smile each time I see them, the little things mean so much.


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  6 Nov
03
 

   Last night was possibly the greatest firework display I have ever seen. It definitely held up against Bastille Day in Paris. I'd spent the day in Brighton, shopping and watching The Matrix: Revolutions. When I got into Lewes I had hoped to meet Marko and Emma but they had stayed home sick. As I wandered around by myself I spotted a familiar face in the crowd Robert Hawke's older brother (Martin), but as I couldn't remember the guy's first name at the time I didn't really feel I could go over and say hello. After the individual processions

Cliffe Bonfire Society
Cliffe Bonfire Society
went up the high street I watched the barrel running (video 5.3mb) from the start line on the bridge. To start the run a banger is set loose on the bridge and when this thing exploded it was like being thumped in the chest.
Rolling a barrel
Rolling a barrel of fire

   I was heading down to The Snowdrop when another familiar face appeared and Luke Reynolds came over to see me. He was at Ringmer College with me for 5 years and I lost contact with him upon moving to NZ. After a little chat he directed me to Alice Briant's house where she and Andy were about to go watch the big procession (They came out to NZ briefly in 2002). So I talked to them for a moment or two and carried on to the pub where I found Jo talking to Catherine Mason another girl from Ringmer College.
   Jo, Kahina, Steve and I watched the procession (video 4.1mb) come down the hill from outside Boots,
Smugglers
The smugglers costumes
and boy was it a long procession. I'd seen a number of burning crosses being paraded up and down that night. There were 17 in fact, and they symbolise the 17 martyrs that were burned at the stake in Lewes during the reformation. There were a number of bonfire societies and a larger number of themes to the costumes. The traditional smugglers, various tudor types (including a brilliant Henry VIII), vikings, Red Indians, Indian indians, doctors and nurses, war veterans and more. The costumes were all brilliant and everyone there was having a great time.
   On the walk toward the Waterloo display behind Tescos (a super market I used to work at) I bumped into Russell Hook and his fiancé Hannah who I later got a lift home with because Hannah lives not far from Jo and Jed's house. I passed a girl on the street whom I recognised but it wasn't until I was washed away with the crowd that I figured out who she was and it was too hard to go back that way so I carried on to the park where the free display was going to be held. The other societies hold their displays in more remote areas and charge for tickets, hence Waterloo is the best attended one. The bonfire was huge and standing 100m away was close enough for me. While standing there waiting to find Russell again I bumped into Gemma Davies and her mum Sue, which is especially weird because I had just emailed them the day before suggesting I might find them in the masses of Lewes. I found Russell and co and the fireworks started. Launching from a base modelled to look like the Simpsons sitting around an armchair the display was very impressive. Every now and again pausing only to launch renewed and bigger than the round before. The explosives themselves were excellent and we were so close that many of the complicated ones that launched a bundle of little sparks with their own jets, they shot well passed us. However all that looking up gave me a sore neck. The final big-one was a worthy show stopper that left huge golden arches across the sky and at the end of each little packets were falling and giving off golden glitter. Amazing.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  4 Nov
03
 

   Yesterday I took my first two NZ friends to visit Sussex around the important places of my childhood. Something that no-one I have met since 1997 has been able to see. I've talked about it plenty but this was my first chance to connect my recent past to the distant past and it could have gone better. On the way to Ashdown (not Ashford!) Forest we drove through Lewes, the pronunciation (like Lewis Carol) seemed to cause trouble for Bronwyn. We did a quick breeze through along the upper high street and passed the 15th Century Bookshop, still wonky and askew. Then onto the forest where A.A Milne and his son Christopher Robin spent lots of time playing and based the famous Winnie The Pooh books on. We parked near The Enchanted Place but seeing as Bron had never heard of Roo's Sandy Pit we carried on to Pooh Corner to get directions. Not much later we were on our way again, this time walking though the woods to the central attraction of the area, Pooh Bridge. This is the traditional site of the Pooh Sticks game where players drop sticks off one side of the bridge and watch whose floats out the other side first. Watch this video (5.9mb) to find out who won.

Bodium Castle
Bodium Castle
   Next stop on the tour was Bodium Castle. It's a classic castle set in a wide moat and with an impressive view over the countryside. Although we were able to walk right up to the front door the door was locked. It turns out it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays which isn't cool. But I really liked the place. After that we went to take a quick look at the Long Man Of Wilmington, which as Bronwyn notes was cleaned up quite a while ago for a visit by the queen.

   On the way home we took a little tour of my old villages, Ripe (where my sister Laura was born), Chiddingly (Chid-ing-lie), Muddles Green and Laughton (pronounced Law-ton by the way). Chiddingly was the site of my early acting career at the village festival. I remember the hall being packed out, standing room only, for the nights that 'the show' was on. My brothers and sisters (back when there were only four of us) and the Penrose and Dyke families would get together to produce a short musical skit each year, directed by Jo and Amy. We did Grease, The Jungle Book and a few of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes. I did the lead males roles a few times, and narrated some, and even took on Mucky Mabel in 1989, the year I visited New Zealand and had to rehearse my lines on the other side of the world. Apparently the hall is smaller than Whitianga Retirement Home where everyone knew Bronwyn.

   I think I'll be staying around here this week. Getting my C.V. looking nice. A lot more photo editing and possibly working on getting a full photo graphic tour on line, and of course the Lewes Bonfire Night.


best wishes from
   Craig
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Brighton

Bronwyn
England
November 04, 2003

Lorraine and I travelled to Brighton with a spring in our step and a twinkle in our eye. We picked Craig up from Ringmer (where he grew up) and travelled to Brighton and tried to find a hostel. Craig recommended the Brighton Backpackers, I don’t. We stayed there even though it had no car parking and we had to leave the car at Craig’s sisters and catch a bus to the town centre. The hostel was not very nice. The bunks had fallen apart long ago and were now held together with sellotape and nails, sellotape providing the main structural support. The nearest shower was broken, so to take a shower you had to go down 4 flights of stairs and up another 4 on the other side of the building. To top all that off, sharing with 4 guys (one who stared) and coming back from the pub to find pest control there, we decided not to stay any longer.

We did see the Royal Pavilion which is an indian style building in Brighton, the pier (a fairground on stilts over water), the museum, the pub and the mall. Lorraine and I are in no hurry to get back though and since we managed to see all of the places of Craigs childhood we feel there is no need. We even went to Bodium castle which was closed, Pooh Bridge and did see the long man of Wilmington (he wasn’t long, he was missing the good bits because Queen Victoria went to see him). We did miss Lewes fireworks however, which was the point of hanging around, we are sad about that. After 4 hours driving we ended up back in Reading where Lorraine lives and although there is a builder in the kitchen it is still quieter than most hostels.



best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  2 Nov
03
 

Since returning from Scotland, Lorraine and I decided to fill in time until Guy Fawkes. Lorraine and I planned to head to London but in the end headed to Kent. We stayed the first night in Holmbury St. Mary, which is a one building town and that building is the youth hostel. It was very modern when it was built in 1935. The next day Lorraine and I decided to take in some culture and we went to Hever Castle. For those of you don't know Hever Castle is where Anne Boleyn lived, and if you needs even more info, Henry VIII's second wife. I am now a Henry VIII expert because he caused so many changes in England and Scotland's lifestyle at the time.

We spent that night at Canterbury and saw the Cathedral the next morning. To be honest I was a bit disappointed. Dover Castle where we went later that day was awesome though. There was secret WWII tunnels, a castle, a saxon church (more interesting that Canterbury cathedral) and a roman tower. At Dover castle you really are allowed to just wander through the old castle, it was great and we even stood on the top of the keep. We even saw the White Cliffs of Dover and France and it was pretty. No bluebirds though.

We spent last night in Hastings and today we went to Ringmer and met Marko (craig's childhood school friend). Currently we are in Brighton trying to find somewhere to sleep. The nasty YHA closes most of its hostels in 'winter' aka after October so we are having a few problems finding somewhere to stay. I am planning on writing a strongly worded letter!!!!!


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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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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  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.


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   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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  30 Sep
03
 

   I've come full circle and am back in Brighton, but in a new house. My older sister, Josephine, and her boyfriend Jed have bought a house here and I am lucky enough to be using the spare room. The trip back from Paris was fine, apart from the foul up on the UK side whch kept my bag delayed. Even though I was the only person in the bag collection area, by bag was not first onto the conveyour belt. Has anyone ever been the first to get their bags at the airport? I did like the discount I got for the ferry. Half price thanks to my Eurail pass which expired the day before :-)

   I will tell you more about Paris, and the lovely Potok sisters, but now I need a bit more rest, some breakfast and to help Jo with the painting.

Miss and Miss Potok with me
The two Potok sisters and I in Paris
Sunset
My last sunset in mainland Europe

Video from Champs de mars (4.5mb)


best wishes from
   Craig
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  18 Jul
03
 

I am still in Basingstoke and tomorrow I am going to London to meet Nina. I haven't been doing much but I do seem to have picked up some weird bug thing which is keeping me sore and my throat hurts :( I blame Dan.

Dan and I are housesitting down the road and last night Dan lead a jolly bunch of gay fellows back with him one of whom opened my bedroom door at 2am looking for the bathroom. Not too good when you feel like death warmed up. Other than that I have been to the zoo, the pub, the super market and Southhampton and shopping for books for reading in Tunisia and that's about it.


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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  15 Jul
03
 


Nina and I made it, although I now think that she is secretly a camel. She didn't drink or go to the loo on any of the flights (one of the flights was 11 hr and 15 min). I am gonna have a Berocca and be on my way but Basingstoke is not like Huntly (Zoe was a liar). It is 25 degrees here, nah nah na nah na.


best wishes from
   Bronwyn
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Wedding Bells

Craig
England
June 15, 2003

   The initial reason for coming to England, was to attend the wedding of Marko and Emma in Ringmer village church. Marko is one of my oldest friends and yesterday was an incredible experience, to see the kid I met at Laughton primary school, now married and starting off on honeymoon, wow. The night before, four of us from Laughton gathered at The Walkabout and caught up on old times. James is a long distance lorry driver, dating Sarah for nearly a year. Russel is a brick layer/car dealer and engaged to Hannah, and Marko was about to get married.
   At the wedding I recognised our old neighbour-but-one, and at the reception a bloke came up to me and asked if I went to Ringmer College, which I did. It turns out that he and a bunch of others sitting outside were two years below me at college, and knew that I had left the country a long time ago. Mostly by virture of knowing my younger brother Peter. It's kinda cool to come all the way across the world and bump into people that know you.
   There were a few people at the reception that were incredibly familiar, but there was no chance I could have known them. Perhaps it was a trick of the mind to make me feel comfortable, perhaps there are only a certain number of faces/mannerisms and I have seen so many people that I was bound to find some duplicates. Everyone was really great, lots of people buying me drinks, and I was glad for it at the price the English bars get away with.


   The book I ordered from Amazon have arrived. I got the Cicerone Guide "Tour Of Mont Blanc" and it is very thorough, so I can now safely venture into the alps, with at least some sort of idea about what I am up against.. HostelBooking.com has helped me organise my first night, I'll be staying in Chamonix on Tuesday and then starting the hike from Les Houches in France.


   Before I go I should say hello to Gemma, a lovely girl I have know since before I can remember. We spent the afternoon in a park in Tunbridge Wells. Sitting in the sun, talking about old times. It was such a nice and relaxing afternoon, despite the best efforts of Harvey, her friend's rather energetic dog that came along.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  11 Jun
03
 

Thanks to the good people at Consume.net . I am now sitting in Powis Square, surfing the web for free. Someone in this neighbourhood has generously opened up their wireless network to the public allowing anyone to sit in this small park and get online. Very nice of them. The park itself is very pleasant, with hundreds of little daisies and buttercups in the shade of some old beech trees. Now if only there was a mains power supply in the center, I could keep writing more :-)


best wishes from
   Craig
Wish you were here?     (6 replies so far)



  11 Jun
03
 

   how odd it felt yesterday, to be standing on Brighton's stony beach gazing out to sea, just a day after being in New Zealand within reach of practically everyone I know. The scene felt very strange and stormy because when I looked out to sea, I saw nothing (except the piers but they are very close to shore). There was no volcano in the harbour, and no islands in the distance. As if a big rain storm was hiding them. But no rain came, the islands just aren't there, despite Brighton being very familiar to me, some things are very different.

   If I walked through the right, or rather the wrong, places in Auckland I could see gangs of people walking their territory, but Brighton is bigger, meaner and the streets are places to be wary of. Jo, Jed and I walked to the seafront last night, and it made me think twice about walking back from Marko's wedding reception on Saturday night. It's probably only 25 mins walk, but I'll be alone and dressed smart. I don't want to have to run the whole way. Now I must get shopping. It appears that none of the real book shops around here cover Norway very well, so I am going virtual.

   Oh, yesterday I recognised a girl on the street who was handing out flyers. She was busy talking to someone else, and I couldn't remember her name but I know she was in one of my classes at Ringmer Community College seven years ago. I could say hi and then tell her I didn't know her name, so I walked past, thinking how small the world seems to me now.


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




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