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.......

19 October 2007

Oct 2007 a

Mon 01 Oct 2007
Back to work.... and yes the bathroom and any plumbing problems are all sorted out.
Unfortunately, the camera decides to stop working. Jen tries to order some new batteries (over the net, since no-where stocks them) in the hope that's where the problem lays. Also unfortunately there's a postal worker strike on, so this could take some time.....

Thu 04 Oct 2007
Our second round of house guests arrive: Stephen Aldred and Mathilde, and their son BJ.

Fri 05 Oct 2007
The three guests and Steve head into town for a "beer and museum" night at the British Museum. Jen insead picks up Kiriel from London City Airport, 15 minutes down the road from home.

Sat 06 Oct 2007
All 6 of us visited Hampton Court Palace. Good weather for it too! Photos courtesy of Stephen and Mathilde since our camera's not working.

Above: The entrance to Hampton Court Palace
Below: Merry band of explorers!

Below: The Tudor Kitchens and staff....

Below: The famous painting 'field of the cloth of gold' is kept here.

Above: What a view! Someone used to wake up to this (sans the tourists that is)
Then in the evening we had dinner together, all of us, plus Jenny and Nick. Lots of wine was drunk!

Sun 07 Oct 2007
Kiriel catches up with Dan, Elizabeth and Terry. The rest of us do the ancient monument tour in our car: Stonehenge, Avebury, Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow, Chalk Horse and Uffington Castle. Really really lucky the rain held off all day!
Below: almost there! Yes that's Stonehenge as seen from the highway.

Below: a different bunch of rocks - the town of Avebury is situated inside the stone circle!

Below: We had lunch in the Red Lion in the heart of Avebury (yes, we ate inside an ancient stone circle).

Above: West Kennet Long Barrow is an ancient burial mound which now has a concreted roof so tourists can walk around inside without fear of joining the ancestors!
Below: Silbury hill - ancient, hand made hill. Yes those are really really big, full-sized trees next to it.

For our final stop we saw the Chalk Horse.

Above: Jen couldn't help herself and had to poke the horse in the eye. Eco-vandal!

Mon 08 Oct 2007
Back to work again....

Tue 09 Oct 2007
All the house guests depart.

Thu 11 Oct 2007
Final packing for Crown Tourney weekend.

Fri 12 Oct 2007
After work, we head on up to Norwich to find
'heirs' to the thrones of Drachenwald.

Sat 13 Oct 2007
Fantastic weather! Like a cool Summer's day - perfect for a tournament!
The tourney itself was fairly 'clean' and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves lots. Sir Cadogan wowed us all by voluntarily giving up two points of advantage in the same bout - astonishing! The feast managed to have everyone in the one room (thankfully!) and court went pretty well.

There was one person who came up as "their first court" to receive a token, but took the chance to ramble on about old times (so obviously not a new-comer). About the point where he mentioned Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Earl Marcus reported that he saw "the Dragon cross her Majesty's face" and Jen firmly told the chap to kindly take the token and re-join the populace. :-)

Ball in the evening was good fun, hall decorations nice, everyone was in really high spirits! Oh, and our Heirs are Duke Sir Sven and his Lady Jovi. By some twist of fate, Sven is the steward in charge of running... his own coronation event! Good luck to him!
Anyway, here are a few photos, courtesy of the spectators - thank you!

The above photos and many others can be seen at:

Sun 14 Oct 2007
Packed and left by 10:30am. Arrived home 1pm, unpacked, got the laundry going, showers and relax (slightly exhausted). We both had a 3 hour nap before getting up for dinner. :-)

Sep 2007 b

Sun 16 Sep 2007
In the morning Jen stopped in to the South Bank markets to try and buy a wind-swirl thingy but to no avail. The one thing she wanted to do was go for a swim at the (man-made) beach at South Bank, only to find for the first time in 17 years, its shut for re-fitting of the lagoon lining. Darn it!!!!
Here's a little of what the parklands famously look like.

In the afternoon Steve continued his birthday fun with a few hands of 'magic the gathering' card games at Alex and Rachel's. It was nice to catch up!
Dinner was spent with Jen's family.

Mon 17 Sep 2007
Trip to the dentist and some tourist shopping, such as a new watch for Steve's birthday.
Also, Jen scours through the boxes and boxes of our stuff in the attic, and picks out some much loved favourite items to take back to old Blightey. We travelled with only carry-on luggage to Oz, with every intention of taking two full suitcases "home" with us.

Tue 18 Sep 2007
For lunch Steve catches up with his old workmates (not of the destroyed place, that was a different job) and so does Jen. Here's a photo of Jen with Netty from her time working at Quest newspapers.

Jen caught a train back to the city. For the London friends - here's a main road (below) which goes straight into the heart of the city, only 15 mintues walk from CBD and check out the pedestrian and vehicle traffic - or lack thereof. Wow - space to move! Mind you, the train only comes every half hour or so, rather than every 2-3 min as in London.

Above: also, notice the "queenslander" - traditional house architecture in Brisbane.
Below: ...and this style is used on this "heritage" buiding in the heart of the city...

In the evening we hung out again at Alex and Rachel's new house - also proud home owners for the first time, like us!

Wed 19 Sep 2007
Since Jen was determined to spend time at a beach, she decided we would visit Bribie Island. On the way, (since she lives on the way) we visited Sharon (squire we saw on Sat night) and here she is with her daughter Emily.

OK, we got to the beach, Jen stuck in a toe, and decided the ocean was too cold. But we went for a nice walk along the beach and relaxed on the sand, just enjoying the sunshine and lack of people (necessary when you've lived with London overcrowding).

We're both pale after a year and a half in the UK!

As we drove off the bridge onto the mainland, we saw a big grey Kangaroo, the same height as Steve, by the side of the highway! First time Jen's seen a big kangaroo outside a zoo, let alone in suburbia.
In the evening, we visited old friends at the A&S hall in River Haven, north-side Brisbane. We were surprised to have Wolfgang get all patriotic at us about Drachenwald! Its was cool! Here he is with his wife Nina.

Thu 20 Sep 2007
The beauhenias are still in full bloom at this time of year. Very romantic for us, as they were just starting to bloom when we married (August 2001).

While here, we saw a dingo in the park! The drought must be desperate for them to be so close into the city!
Tonight, the final pack.

Fri 21 Sep 2007
Jen says farewell to her parents and we jet off to Sydney and stay with Paul and Laj again. They'd conveniently arranged a series of dinners for the next few days to catch up with more friends.

From left: Paul (squire), bart (ex-squire), Nick, Jen, Steve, Laj... about to order some fabulous seafood dinners.
Below: Paul's message to his brother: "when are you getting married?" :-) ...its a long story.

Sat 22 Sep 2007
The next in a series of catch-up-with-old-mates dinners....

Above: Funny mugshot of Soph! (niece who couldn't see us in Brisbane so chose Sydney instead)

Sun 23 Sep 2007
Fantastic roast dinner at "home" courtesy of Laj's kitchen. Caught up with B&B of Rowany, plus various other guests!

Mon 24 Sep 2007
Today we ventured out into Sydney and went shopping in the Queen Vic Building (QVB for short) with Sophia. Bought a new suitcase since one was destroyed enroute Bris to Sydney.

Above: Soph and Steve go to town.
Below: Tonight, another dinner, at a local pub this time.

Tue 25 Sep 2007
Final pack and weigh of suitcases. Everything's about two kilos over, each, but we get away with it! Take off about 5pm....

Wed 26 Sep 2007
Touch down London Heathrow, 6:30am. Welcome to the UK - and queuing (customs took ages, as did baggage claim). Arrive through our own front door about 11am. Well, we do live on the East-side, and Heathrow is West. Thankfully the house is fine, the car hasn't been stolen or broken into - everything's good. Except of course we haven't yet arranged a plumber, tv, telephone or internet connection etc etc etc! Well, while we have some business hours to organise things, we do!

Thu 27 Sep 2007
Steve is so tough, he goes to work! Has an OK day.
Plumber turns up for a total of an hour. The cold water in the shower just needed a connector in the pipe set to 'open' (hoorah for simple fixes!) and they made everything nice and watertight for the clothes-washing machine. Just in time really!

But we discover that the bath is watertight, and they suggest the water-on-the-bathroom-floor problem we've been having is actually due to the wood panelling on the wall in the shower/bath having cracks between the panels. The guy who sold us the house obviously didn't quite manage to 100% finish the bathroom renovation.

Tonight we visited Argos and also Ikea. We bought and fit into the car in one trip: two executive leather (gas lift) chairs, a vacuum cleaner, four dining chairs, a queen size bed and matress, wine rack and shoe storage cabinet. Hoorah for flat packing! Mind you it did take us most of a half hour to attached the mattress to the roof rack.

Fri 28 Sep 2007
Steve goes to work again, but the jet-lag hits hard around 11am, with 3 cups of coffee not having any helpful effect!
He tells his workmates if there's any brain-dead work that needs doing he's their man! Steve says: "I've got nothing left in the tank. Anyone want me to hold a screwdriver?"
Meanwhile, Jen attends the big annual staff conference. Not exactly back at work, but really fantastic to see the workmates again!

Above: Steve sits on one gas-lift chair while assembling the other.
Below: The smaller bedroom comfortably fits our new bed. The wardrobes were left by the guy we bought the house from. They'd been assembled in that room and he didn't really want to take them apart.

Sat 29 Sep 2007
Jen does some fitting of stuff in the bathroom: extendy shaving mirror, toilet roll holder, towel rack, and (with help from Steve) a full length mirror on the back of the door.

Sun 30 Sep 2007
Jen does DIY in the bathroom.... filling in the cracks, and painting over these. Regrouted the corner, and repainted the ledge which pools water. Everything to make that shower water-tight damn it! Mission accomplished!!! Meanwhile, Steve relaxes and recovers from jet lag. :-P

Sep 2007 a

Thu 30 Aug 2007
So Princess Di's been dead for 10 years, but they still manage to get her photo in the papers...

Fri 31 Aug 2007
Hurrah! We now own a house! Lawyer informs us we've 'exchanged contracts' now. Steve tells Jen this at about 6pm as he drives to Wales, and she's at the airport on her way to Finland. However, we can't move in until the bank hands over the cash to the seller, which means in a week's time if we're lucky.

Sat 01 Sep 2007
Steve: Ffair Rhaglan (Wales). Jen: Aarnimetsa's Baronial changeover (Finland).

Rhaglan photos:

Thu 06 Sep 2007
After another week of work, staying with our dear friends Jenny and Nick, we do a final pack and load up the car the next morning....

Fri 07 Sep 2007
Steve picks up the keys to the new house. "The most expensive piece of metal I've ever bought" he says. Steve makes the first run to the storage place and start unpacking stuff. Steve sets up the two camp stretcher beds for the night.
The one thing Jen looks forward to is a nice hot shower. Unfortunately, the cold tap doesn't seem to work! Ggrrrr. Since plumbers are notoriously expensive on weekends, decide to deal with this later.

Sat 08 Sep 2007

Thanks to a small army of friends we manage to get everything into the house in only one run. It took 7 people to lift the sofabed over the back fence and in through the rear french doors. Hooray now we'll have somewhere to sleep!

Above: The first swinging of sticks in the new backyard. Feels like home already!
Elspeth/Kazzia/Gudrun whatever you want to call her, arrives as our first house guest!!!!

Sun 09 Sep 2007
After a bit more tidying of unpacked stuff, the three of us decide to check out the local historical attraction - a tudor house in Hackney, just a 10-15 minute drive away.

Unfortunately, during the move-in process, the clothes washing machine's outlet pipe comes away from the wall (wasn't properly secured to begin with). Oh well, something else for the plumbers to sort out....

Mon 10 Sep 2007
OK - time for a quick tour of the 2 bedroomed terraced house that we have bought....
Here's the new house...

OK just kidding, that's the shed.
So here's the front and back of the house:

Below: Now we look from the through-lounge, to the kitchen (toward the back yard).
The compass on the kitchen floor points north.

Tonight Steve installs two smoke/fire alarms and a CO gas detector. Decide to keep the fire extinguisher on top of the fridge rather than attached to the wall.

Tue 11 Sep 2007
We haven't even really settled in, when we have to set-up some lamps with timer switches, and depart to Australia (tomorrow) for a fortnight. Packing, packing, our lives are being lived from the suitcase!!!

Wed 12 Sep 2007
First day of holiday, and we take off from Heathrow, just after midday.

Thu 13 Sep 2007
Land in Sydney about 7pm. We had a short stop over in Singapore, so we were outside the aircraft for about half an hour all up! Picked up at Sydney airport by Paul (one of four squires) and Laj (Steve's best friend other than Jen). Lots of catching up, and neccessary showers!

Fri 14 Sep 2007
Arrive in Brisvegas (Brisbane) early afternoon. Here's a shot of the house Jen grew up in, which will be our home for the next week. Thanks to Jen's mum for the use of her car.

Go and have dinner with Steve's mum and 3 out of 4 of his sisters. Here he is with his mum and sister Colleen.

Sat 15 Sep 2007
Happy 40th birthday Steve!!!! Here's your present - lunch with your family.
For those who don't know, Steve is the youngest of 8 children, with 4 sisters and 3 brothers. And most of them were able to make it to lunch. Here we are with Mum Parsons.

Below: afterwards, we all decided to walk off lunch with a stroll across the new Green Bridge nearby.

From left: Mara (a niece) with husband Zolie and bub, Carmel (sister), Peter (nephew),
Cal (nephew), David (Nephew), Jodie and her new boyfriend, Steve the birthday boy, Clare (oldest niece), Mark (her husband), Mum Parsons, Barry (brother), Jane (wife), Julie (sister), Shane (brother) and Belinda (wife).

We discovered Steve's old workplace had been destroyed by fire only a week ago...

Dinner, was spent with old SCA friends of our old barony: St Florian.
Below: Steve chats with another squire, Arianwen, aka 'the girl'.

Above: For those in London who remember Melina/Serena, she's sporting a funky new 'do'.