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.......

14 September 2006

Sept 2006 a

Fri 1 Sept 2006
Go together to the doctors during lunch to register with the local surgery. Takes all of 3 minutes to walk to, from our home. Decide to get a projector rather than a telly - as Deb and Clancy can get it cheap for us, from the USA, and we like the picture quality (as they have the same model). Had a visit from a TV licensing guy wanting to see if we had a TV. Y'see, here in the UK you must pay about £100 a year for the privilege of using a TV, even the free-to-air channels. If you have a TV, watch out - you might be fined!

Sat 2 Sept 2006
NTL - hooray we now have internet! We went with a "3 for £30" (per month) deal = Television (72 channels with video on demand), phone and broadband package. The telephone wasn't working - but found out later the phone had to be switched to UK setting rather than USA. Jen goes fabric shopping with Deb in Cambridge, but only buys two curtains worth of fabric (which cunningly matches the lounge suite perfectly). Yes, we need curtains for our future TV projector. Deb stays with us overnight - our first guest! (Clancy works on a US military base, but has been sent overseas for a couple of weeks).

Sun 3 Sept 2006
Steve goes to the local gym and signs up! Hooray! We all went with Deb to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play in Central Park (Eastham) for FREE! Or more aptly, our "council tax" is used to put on the show. The fireworks to the big finale (of the 1812 overture) were really cool.

Above: The Royal Philharmonic perform "Under the Stars".

Tues 5 Sept 2006
Jen finally does the blog! Discovered we have a big attic, but unuseable right now, as the insulation bats are all over the place. Steve hassles Real Estate Agency again about the leaky toilet and stuff.

Above: our attic

Thu 7 Sept 2006
Steve goes to the Gym.

Fri 8 Sept 2006
Hooray! The toilet gets fixed. Double hooray! Well done Steve, for whinging in person at the real estate agency, and refusing to leave until they organised the repairman. Steve hires a large car (the stationwagon we ordered was not available) and somehow we manage to fit everything in, that we need to, for the duration of the upcoming weekend. We pick-up Gavin and Angela from Stanstead airport. Bring them home.

Sat 9 Sept 2006
Get up at stupid o'clock in the morning (5am) and quickly do breakfast and load the car. About two hours down the road we did second breakfast. Off we go to Raglan Castle in Wales! Ohmigod we have never seen so many SCA people taking photos at an event.... but then a castle is the Ultimate backdrop - don't you think?

Above: We arrive! Yes that's the SCA period encampment on the right. The dome tents were around the back. Below: BANGOR!!!!!! A knight, his lady, his squire and lady.

Above: Master Ciaran (from Tasmania) being very photogenic! Have castle will be photographed. Below: And they fought on the bridge too - Look! No haybales! Mwahahahaaa!

Above: The ladies had several excellent perches to view the combat. Below: Yes, even the fencers had a rollicking good time with stunning scenery as this.

Above: This shot was taken from atop the Tower. The fighting is taking place in the fountain courtyard. Below: As many fighting scenarios as a knight and squire can take! (stopped for a water break)

Above: Jarl Peregrine is knighted (yes in a real castle!) Below: Alaric finds a comfy perch.

Sun 10 Sept 2006
We stayed last night at a wonderful little B&B, all 5 of us for only £120 - which is an absolute steal compared to a lot of places. The place was fabulous, the shower was HUGE, and the company/food was excellent too. Anytime you're in the area of Raglan Castle, we recommend you stay there, except when this event is on as we want to get int first!!!! Here's the contact details anyway: address: Glanusk Farm, Llanfair Kilgeddin, Abergavenny, NP7 9BE Phone 01873 880266   Mobile 07977 99616

Left Raglan site at 12:30pm and headed back to London. Took the scenic route through London along the waterfront, because hey the traffic's going to be crappy no matter which way we go right? Angela and Gavin enjoyed the sights without having to concentrate on driving or navigating. Thankfully we got them back to the airport in time for their flight.

Mon 11 Sept 2006
Laundry done, back to work for Jen. Steve groans about his well-earned bruises from the weekend battles, and spends next day or two recovering / taking it easy. But he still cooks Jen a lovely dinner anyway......

Tues 12 Sept 2006
Today we had a HP 2575 all-in-one printer/scanner/photocopier delivered to our place. Hurrah! Steve goes to fighter practice in Basingstoke again. Teaches everyone the pretty ribbon trick. (reminiscent of gymnastics at the olympics)

Wed 13 Sept 2006
Jen looks for the £20 mini sewing machine that Melina told her about. As it turns out, we needed to visit a shopping centre about 10 minutes' train away, to buy it, since it looks as though they're discontinuing the product. Its a very cute little sewing machine that comes with a 1 year warranty - and I'm sure we'll be getting our value out of it!

Thu 14 Sept 2006
I (Jen) went to a "care scheme" for the elderley today, where an exhibition of residents' memorabilia is on display thanks to my efforts at work. There were 22 posters in all, with a two day (design) turn around. The client (at work) thinks I'm a legend. Nice. We decide to hold our house warming party on 23rd September. Steve also cunningly manages to setup the laptop to talk with our secure wireless broadband.

Fri 15 Sept 2006
Steve's Birthday! One year away from his big 40th, which we'll have to come home for..... Jen takes Steve out to a nice Indian restaurant (which is saying a lot since she doesn't do curry). Yay Jen, says Steve.

05 September 2006

August 2006 b

Mon 14 August 2006
Jen's birthday. She worked. Steve took her out for a lovely dinner at The Dove restaurant.

Sat 19 August 2006
Moved in!!!!! Took note of what a "fully furnished" house doesn't have, that we need to buy. Ohmigod the place is FILTHY.... the previous tenants have not cleaned the place, and in fact had not 100% moved all their stuff out of the house just yet. The tenants came back a couple of hours later to clear out the remainder of their stuff (but not clean up darn it). Jen took about 50 photos in and around the property, to document the state of the house.

Above: The view from our bedroom window

Sun 20 August 2006
Shopping! And more shopping! Groceries, a heater, bins and cleaning products, bedding and pillows, blanket, pots n pans, crockery, cutlery, glasses, alarm clock and wall clock, powerboards, and various other bibs'n'bobs. We ended up spending about £150 less than we anticipated.
Hooray for '£-stretcher' stores I say.

Here's a view of Stratford Station. On the left is the Coach terminal, in front is the train and tube station, and the photo is from upstairs in the Shopping centre everyone walks through day and night to get to the rest of Stratford.

Mon 21 August 2006
Carpets got cleaned. Discovered there would be no further cleaning done for us - we will have to clean the place ourselves. Steve discovers that he can get wireless internet access if he stands outside!

Tue 22 August 2006
Steve discovers the toilet is weeping wet stuff under the floor boards. Not happy. Tells real estate agency about it. Decide to put off house-warming party until this can get fixed.

Wed 23 August 2006
Steve celebrates 9 years as a knight in the SCA. For the rest of the week, Steve cleans and organises very useful set-up and investigation of bills, taxes, paperwork stuff etc.

Sat 26 August 2006
Long weekend time! More shopping for house stuff. Jen decides to cut up two AA roadmaps and sticky tape them together - this is now the 'wallpaper' in the guest room, courtesy of white-tac.

Sun 27 August 2006
House cleaning day. Steve and Jen clear out the roof gutters. Steve mops floors and cleans the oven.

Mon 28 August 2006
Bank holiday (public holiday in Australianese) Bought a microwave, telephones and a hairdryer. Had the afternoon off to relax.

Tues 29 August 2006
Steve goes to the local gym to check out prices and deals.

Wed 30 August 2006
Steve spends day with Acacia, in the textile room of the V&A museum, as her photographer. Photographs over 400 pieces of old fabric, for Acacia. Subject of photos - not really Steve's thing, but the company was fantastic! Jen catches up with Acacia, Steve and Acacia's mum for dinner. Jen gets Tim Tams, which will be broken open at our house warming party later. Must introduce the locals to shot gunning Tim Tams with coffee.

August 2006 a

Tues 1 August 2006
On the way to fighter practice at Basingstoke, we stopped at Waverley Abbey just outside of Farnham. Stopped in at the 'Sun Inn' in Bentworth for a pub dinner. When we got there, there were 7 or 8 dogs around the feet of their owners about the bar. The food was excellent.

Above: Waverley Abbey Below: Basingstoke Fighter Practice, and our hosts Elizabeth and Dan (at fight practice).

Wed 2 August 2006
Returned hire car, and caught the bus to Cambridge to stay with Deb + Clancy. This allowed us to have a break from the stress of house and job hunting before Jen starts work.

Above: Our hosts, Deb and Clancy.

Fri 4 August 2006
5 year Wedding Anniversary! Deb + Clancy were really sweet to take us out to dinner in a lovely pub restaurant nearby.

Sat 5 August 2006
Went to Newmarket fighter practice (as it has been moved out of Cambridge).

We also visited the US military base where Clancy works. Came along to go grocery shopping with them, and wow, its like visiting another country. Steve found Starbuck's double-shot coffee in a Can.

Sun 6 August
Moved down to Dan + Elizabeth's - they were very gracious to let stay with them until our rental home becomes available to move into (19 Aug).

Mon 7 August 2006
Jen starts work! Have since decided they're really lovely people to work with, and the job offers amazing career prospects.

Tues 8 August 2006
Steve goes to Basingstoke fighter practice with Dan via the train. They get home about 1:30am.

Sun 13 August 2006
Get train to Stratford to devise a price comparison list at the local stores (10 minute walk from future home) in preparation of buying stuff for the house.

July 2006 b

Thu 20 July 2006
Its about this time the Mac gets packed up. Therefore, the blog becomes a bit sketchy here until early September sorry. In the meanwhile Steve uses a laptop lent to him from Matt.

Mon 24 July 2006
Hooray - Jen finally gets the job offer letter!!!!

Tue 25 July 2006
Hired a car, packed up everything and drove to Luton. At last all our stuff is in the one place! Stayed the night.

Wed 26 July 2006
Caught a train to stay with Kane and Livia in Balham. What a lovely couple! They have 2 black cats. We used their place as a base to look at rental properties in Stratford (to be near Jen's workplace).

Our hosts - Kane and Livia

Thu 27 July 2006
Had a disappointing time looking for an affordable 3 bedroom house that wasn't already snapped up. Discovered that Real Estate agencies over here "bait + switch" rather than actually having the advertised properties available!!!! So, instead of wasting the rest of the day (we had day-passes on the tube) we visited Buckingham Palace, and strolled around the city a bit.

Buckingham Palace

Sat 29 July 2006
Looked at about 6 properties. Finally found a nice two bedroom terraced house only 7 minutes walk from Jen's work. Unfortunately we discover its not available for 3 weeks! Aaarrgghhh! But we decided to wait, as its so much nicer than all the others we'd seen in our price range, and the location is excellent. Its on a nice quiet no-through road.

Our house, in the middle of our street

Sun 30 July 2006
Left Kane and Livia's, then went and stayed with Dan + Elizabeth for a few days....they offered their attic for storage of our stuff.

Mon 31 July 2006
So we hired a stationwagon for two days to pick up our stuff from Luton. Well, the vehicle we ordered online wasn't available until the next day, so we got to use a van for Monday, and the four seater for Tuesday (to take us all to and from Basingstoke fighter practice).