Steve n Jen's UK adventures

UK and European adventures. Read on my pretties, and discover what two stray Aussies can get up to on their travels.......

30 June 2006

June 2006 b

Wed 21 June 2006
Jen travelled 5 hours each way, on a bus, to Leamington Spa, for an interview with a design recruitment agency. Jen tired. Steve studies.

Thurs 22 June 2006
Jen gets confirmation to work freelance, short-term, in Bristol. Thankfully, there are some lovely SCA people who live in the area who are able to put us up for a week or so.

Fri 23 June 2006
Jen spends the day working on a test design (7 page mock magazine layout) to get an interview, for a job in Peterborough. Jen gets confirmation on a different job interview, in Birmingham, but its in 3 weeks' time!
Steve studies some more.

Sat 24 June 2006
Hop in car to stay overnight in Hemel Hempstead. But first, on the way, we stopped and saw the north-easterly end of the ridgeway pathway (which Steve plans to walk later this year - about 128kms), at the Ivinghoe Beacon.

Above: a chalk lion (a very modern one) carved into the distant mountainside (from Ivinghoe Beacon) heralds the end of the Ridgeway Pathway.

Above: Here's an English version of Macca's, near our evening's lodgings.

Sun 25 June 2006
Drive... on the way, Jen stops to phone home. "Ohmigod, my sister (Vicky) is pregnant!" Jen gets homesick thinking of the important times she'll be missing. We drive on - and stop to look at the Uffington White Horse, Uffington Castle, and Dragon Hill where St George apparently slew the dragon, spilling its blood and hence no grass grows on the hilltop.... but actually its a chalk outcrop. Here's the White Horse...

Above: Dragon's Hill, centre, the White Horse (the chalk thing), right.
We drive on, through Avebury - just as spectacular as ever.... which is near the south westerly end of the aforementioned Ridgeway Pathway. A little further down the road is....

Above: the Avenue of Kings. Below: The Avenue ends at the Sanctuary, a wood and stone circle now completely demolished.

Above: Silbury Hill is a pre-historic man made hill. Upon it are wildflowers that have not been found anywhere else (in the UK at least). Hey, Cthulu calling for you gaming types.

Mon 26 June 2006
Jen starts work freelancing in Bristol. Stayed with the Senechal of ID (U.K.) and her husband in Wickwar, about 10 miles north of Bristol. Jen gets homesick because this couple reminds her so much of her sister Kathy and husband: the modern home, dragon statues, same embroidery on wall, star trek posters, extensive sci-fi and fantasy library, husband is a black belt, etc etc etc. Scary similarities.

Tues 27 June 2006
Day two of freelancing. Jen not happy with complete lack of work to do - five hours straight of twiddling thumbs, not fun. Glad to have the opportunity to see "what sort of a company they are" which was the point of turning up to freelance.
Meanwhile, Steve rode on a mountain bike about 10miles this morning up hill and over dale (Steve has not been getting enough regular exercise and is losing fitness). He says "I will have no trouble sleeping tonight, oh my aching quads!"

Wed 28 June 2006
Jen rings-up recruitment company to tell them she's not interested in doing nothing, and besides really really wants to keep herself available for interviews across the UK, for real, permanent work. We both go touristing instead, through south Wales.

Above: The bridge into Wales across the Severn River.
....then we came across Tintern Abbey (below).

Thurs 29 June 2006
This morning packed up our stuff and drove back to Leeds, via touristy stuff.
Made our way north through Birmingham, up to Whitchurch and 'Bangor is-y-Coed'... the original Bangor.

Above: Bangor. From left, the bridge over the River Dee, the pub, and lovely 14th century church made of red sandstone.

Arrived back in Leeds and put the laundry on. Made the bed and slept in it. Glad we're not sleeping on the airbed tonight!

Fri 30 June 2006
Today, had our interview for National Insurance numbers (NI) - which is just like Aussie tax file numbers. Turns out it will be a further 4 - 6 weeks before we get the numbers. We're OK to work in the UK - just need to let employers know we've applied for the NI. Steve contacted by recruitment agency for an interview on Tuesday.

Sat 1 July 2006
Get up early and drive to Gloucester (about 20miles north of Bristol) for the Cooks and Bards SCA event this weekend........

17 June 2006

June 2006 a

Mon 5 June 2006
Moved back to the Leeds apartment. Have been informed Monopoly invented in USA not England. Oh well - I tried to change it to say "land of monopoly pub crawls" but can't figure out how to get in and edit it. Sorry, it'll just have to stay like that.

Tues 6 June 2006
Hooray, Leeds has fabric shops - Jen buys a metre of wool. Steve studies CCNP/CCSP and looks up testing centres in Leeds. Decides to sit exam by end of June. Made an appointment to get 'NI' numbers - like a tax file number in Oz. Appointment set for 30th June - crazy!

Wed 7 June 2006
Steve orders a CCSP book online to help him study. Steve gets a few calls regarding job applications. Steve checks out spice stores looking for "Grains of Paradise" but no luck just yet.

Thurs 8 June 2006
We both got several phone calls and/or emails regarding our job app's. Still no interviews yet. In the evening Steve discovers that one of his all-time favourite bands (Sis of Mercy) performed in Leeds (10 min walk away) while we were here, and we've missed seeing them.... Steve not happy.

Sat 10 June 2006
Spent the weekend at home trying not to spend money. Went to the Leeds Armoury again, Steve bought "The Goodman of Paris" off the shelf - sorry Manfred he won't be buying this from you now. At the Armoury, this time "Max" was on display, Henry VIII's parade helm, see below (the spectacles were a later addition).

Wed 14 June 2006
We both had loads (!) of calls and emails, and getting our CVs forwarded on. Jen went to a specialist recruitment agency to show her portfolio. Celebrated by enjoying some Phish food (american choc icecream with choc fish plus marshmallow and caramel).

Fri 16 June 2006
Hired a car for a day, and drove to the Peaks District National Park. On the way we stopped for lunch. Check out what Steve ordered, yes that's right, beef wellington to go! Steve says it was good, but Morde won't drop Giles for it.

Drove to ilam where we saw this excellent YHA!

Above: YHA in Ilam. Below: the village of Ilam.

A few twists and turns up the road we came to the Nine Sisters (stone circle) where several campsites were being set up in preparation for the summer solstice. Drove past "The Druid's Inn".

Hey Sophie this one's for you (below)... welcome to the land of condiments!.... the pub we had dinner in offered: english mustard, french mustard, tartare sauce, mint sauce, brown sauce, malt vinegar, mayonnaise, tomato ketchup (sauce), salt, pepper. Then they asked if we wanted any other sauces!

Lastly, walked 2 minutes to the Palace Gardens - very lovely. Stayed overnight at a B&B, drove home to Leeds, Saturday morning.

We will try to publish a new blog every two weeks, or monthly at the least.

04 June 2006

The first month

Sat 29 April 2006
Leave Brisbane. Arrive Singapore feel unwell. Hop on plane to London with very nasty gastro bug - have horror flight for next 13 hours.

Sun 30 April 2006
5:15am Arrive London - Matt (Manfred's brother but nicer) ;-) rescued us and drove us to his home in Luton. Jen has 5 hour nap, feels a little better.

Mon 01 May 2006
Hop in car to Matt's other home in Leeds. Jen goes to bed. Steve and Matt go to the Northbar - "best pub to drink in the UK" apparently; then off to Akbar's Restaurant for Lamb Vindaloo! Spend next week recovering from jet lag, vindaloo and nasty gastro bug.

Here's a photo of Matt's Loungeroom in the heart of Leeds. Nice view eh?

Sun 07 May 2006
Crawled out into cold windy weather. Walked to Royal Armouries Museum. Steve loved armour and stuff but had seen it already in books, too much to be wowed. Loved the Eastern armour etc. Loved the "birds of prey" live display.

Mon 08 May 2006
Sun makes a feeble appearance, briefly! Go to the Leeds Markets. Discover affordable meat prices if purchased in bulk - about 10 butchers next to each other - hooray for competition! Jen buys sexy black boots for 7 and half quid. Steve finds a second hand French cookbook for a quid and gets excited. Jen shakes head.

Tues 09 May 2006
Go to Ireland for Gav and Angela's wedding for whom Steve was best man. Had great dinner in a restaurant in Cork, with a natural 3-storey high waterfall just outside the floor to ceiling window.

Here's a photo of Gav outside his house in Cork... yes the pink one.

Wed 10 May 2006
Spend next few days at Gav+Ang's place buying groceries, making meals, cleaning up after said meals, and general helpful dogsbodies, to decrease stress for the bride and groom.

Thurs 11 May 2006
Visited Blarney Castle. Steve kissed the Blarney stone, although Jen says, " The gift of the Gab is NOT a gift. I can't shut 'im up to start with."

Above: Steve gets vertigo. Below: Inside Blarney Castle.

Fri 12 May 2006
Went to Registry Office for Ang 'n' Gav's First Wedding! Travelled to Cloghan Castle for 2nd wedding prep. Had lunch on the way at Bunratty Castle where Ang used to work.

Here's a pic of the happy couple on their way to the registry office.
I think Angela's kissed the Blarney Stone too many times!
Hey, nice bouquet Gav.

Sat 13 May 2006
Wedding all went well, everbody had a great time parting in Cloghan Castle. DJ played last track at 3.55am. The sun trying best to penetrate gloomy skys. Amazingly, rain held off all day until after dinner! Steve did great job as Best Man, making Gav blush (great speech).

Above: The bride and groom successfully married second day in a row!
Below: Here's our room in Cloghan Castle.

Sun 14 May 2006
Spent the day vegging around castle and cooking "Aussie" BBQ, pretty cool.The Irish have no idea how to cook one. The 4 Aussie guys took over and all was saved. Hurrah!

Mon 15 May 2006
Went on day trip with Gav and Angela + relatives to see a ruined abbey with a leaning tower (2 foot off center but looks a lot more), and also the Cliffs of Mohl, and saw an 8,000 year old dolman "the Portal Tomb".

Tues 16 May 2006
Arrive UK as "returning residents!" Scary weird! Matt got the internet working at the Leeds apartment, hurrah!

Wed 17 May 2006
Looked for jobs online, caught up with email. Contact SCA people in UK. Join some email lists. Steve checks email for first time in two months - reads through 640 emails!!! Aaaarrgghhhh!!!!! Steve starts "dealing with" stupid freight company, trying to get our 2 boxes of stuff from the "slow boat".

Thurs 18 May 2006
See above. Also swapped phone calls back n forth with freight company. Very agitated.

Fri 19 May 2006
Travelled via train back to Luton, as the jobs we want are closer to, and easier to get to from Luton. Steve still dealing with stupid freight company. Met Helen (Matt's sweetie) and she's soooo too good for him!!!! (are you reading this Matt???) ;-)

Sat 20 May 2006
Catch bus up to Cambridge to attend fighter practice in the backyard of Clancy and Ursula/Deb (she's seneschal of Flintheath) and stayed overnight. The chances of there being not enough food n drink at their place is ZERO. The majority of attendees were American, with only the occasional Brit.

Sun 21 May 2006
Went to Cambridge markets. 10:30am whilst at markets, got a phone call from the Fraser family dinner (7:30pm in Brissie) and Jen rants on about how now she understands why the monopoly houses are that funny tall box shape! Returned to Luton.

Above: Hhhmmmmm... "Monopoly" land!

Mon 22 May 2006
Steve still deals with stupid freight company. Apply for jobs online.
Went to London to activate our HSBC UK bank accounts. In a waiting room for 1 hour with about a dozen or so other Aussies and Kiwis before getting served. Popped into the National Gallery to look at 'The Ambassadors' and the 'Wilton Diptich'. Went home.

Trafalgar Square (Big Ben in distance) from the front landing of the National Gallery.

Wed 24 May 2006
Woken up by stupid freight company, finally delivering our 2 boxes - after we paid heaps more than expected. Highway robbery I say!

Thurs 25 May 2006
Applying for jobs on-line. Matt helps Steve with CV.

Sat 27 May 2006
Went to Cambridge but this time fighter practice was held in town. Lots of tourists wandered by. Went to Arts n Sciences afterward (at Sarah and Derek's) - still no chance of going hungry. Hurrah. Spent night at Deb n Clancy's.

Fighter practice in Cambridge. Above: fighters and their armour.
Below: Alaric has a bout with Derek.

Sun 28 May 2006
Went to London with Deb n Clancy. Saw National and Portrait Galleries in more detail. Also went to the British Museum - spent the most time in Antiquities and Medieval areas. Spent the night at Deb n Clancy's.

Mon 29 May 2006
Bussed back to Luton again (public holiday).

Tues 30 May 2006
Saw X-Men3 with Matt. Steve goes to gym with Helen and does a high impact aerobics class. Steve survives and even feels great. Spent next coupla days job hunting online.

Wed 31 May 2006
Steve no longer feels great - "ow, my calves" from all the aerobic exercise the night before.

Thurs 1 Jun 2006
Spent day touristing with Helen's dad and niece. Saw Devil's Dyke, Roman Theatre, Roman Mosaics, Roman Museum, Hatfield House and Labryinth. Had lunch in a tudor pub. Cooool.

Above: Fountain and garden at Hatfield, where Elizabeth I grew up.
Below: Alaric finds a kindred soul! A famous roman mosaic in St Alban's Roman Museum.

Fri 2 Jun 2006
Jen does hand sewing to chill out. Makes a padded bum roll for new SCA dress. Also finally puts fastenings on our nice doona cover (its only taken over a year to get around to doing).

Sat 3 Jun 2006
Sun makes first real appearance. Double Hurray. Nice warm sunny day!!!! Walk half hour to Bury Park (in the nice warm sun) - the local Indian shopping precinct, looking for wool or velveteen but don't find any. No other fabric shops in Luton, dear god.