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.......

25 June 2008

Jun 2008 a

We've mainly spent the past three weeks simply working and recovering from our driving holiday :-)

Sat 7 Jun 2008
Scriptorium and Cooks practising recipes at our place. A fun social day.
The garden has really taken off, with the roses exploding from this (a fortnight ago), to this...

Tue 10 Jun 2008
Jen ordered an "integrated" slim dishwasher. It's her birthday present from last year, so no more putting it off, hurrah!

Sat 14 Jun 2008
The dishwasher arrives! Look at that smile...

And then Jen did a spot of heraldic painting for Robert of Canterbury...

In the afternoon, we attended the local SCA Revel which started with some group Banner painting.

Sun 15 Jun 2008
Today we made a start on the DIY for the dishwasher, after a carpenter dropped by and gave us some free advice on how to get in and do it. Very nice of him to pop in and give advice.

Mon 16 Jun 2008
The first of the hand-sawed cuts, dividing the cabinet (below). Way to go Jen!

Tue 17 Jun 2008
Today we got the boiler serviced. Its a fairly new boiler, but all the same it's best to do these things once a year.
DIY kitchen demolition... we have both worked equally hard to get this thing done. We spend the next few nights working on this too. It seems just as we're at the next stage on making the space, another new problem presents itself.
Here's where we're up to on the DIY dishwasher-install saga at this stage....

Sat 21 Jun 2008
We got the plumbers in today hurrah!

Sun 22 Jun 2008
Jen bugged Steve that the height and position weren't really right as far as she was concerned. So back to mucking about with the feet and the water-hose holes in the cabinet wall. We also worked on positioning and fastening the dishwasher door's facade.

In the afternoon we visited Steve's boss' place (Paul) which was a 10 minute walk from home. It was Paul's birthday party and his family is close ... in fact Paul's parents live next door to him and his missus. It was a lovely day, Jen got a little sunburt, and Steve rescued the food on the BBQ (having watched the sausages put on the BBQ frozen!). We eventually headed back home for the last of the DIY.

And finally the dishwasher is pronounce ready for use!

Mon 23 Jun 2008
Tonight and tomorrow night we have 3 house guests: Fiona Wiggins (the "crown princess of Drachenwald"), Countess Eufemia and Fiona's workmate Teresa.
To welcome our guests, we raided the garden and produced this bouquet:

Tues 24 Jun 2008
Jen's workplace is (finally) officially opened ... by the Queen's cousin, the Duke of Kent! The opening ceremony took place on the 3rd floor terrace.
Amusing to have a Princess at home and a Prince at work :-)

Above: The prince looks quite pleased with himself.

Steve was a trooper and cooked up a storm both evenings. And we all watched 'Serenity' together too.

This coming weekend is the SCA Coronation event of Fiona and her consort Thorvaldr. Steve will be head chef, so fingers crossed everything runs smoothly in the kitchen.

03 June 2008

May 2008 b

Here's our big France-Germany driving holiday for 8 days.
We make no apology for the 40 or so photos here-following, as it's a huge cull of the pictures we took!

Sat 24 May 2008
We say bye bye to England as the car ferry pushes away from those famous white cliffs....

We drove on to a roadside hotel in St Quentin overnight.

Sun 25 May 2008
We got up and headed to the Musee Conde in Chantilly, where Jen was hoping to see the famous medieval illuminated book 'Tres Riches Heures' in the flesh. Unfortunately, its not on display until about August due to some other exhibition being on. Regardless, this place was the highlight of the trip for Steve.

Above: Steve and the palace (Chantilly)
Below: those zany 17th century Frenchies knew how to throw a party.

Below: we caught up with some very famous paintings.

After the many galleries, the library, and the chapel, we enjoyed a walk around the grounds which were also fantastically picturesque.

We arrived in Rheims for dinner and checked into the hotel. Thankfully the Cathedral was still open. This is where most of the Kings of France were crowned.

Mon 26 May 2008
Leaving Rheims, we drove into Luxembourg for a look-see. What a stunningly beautiful city!
Below: you can see Steve far left atop the viewing platform.

We headed on to Koblenz (Germany) and checked in. We had a very 'Fawlty Towers' experience here. The hotel staff prepared the spa but it was full of tepid water, so we skipped it. In way of explanation the "f**king technics" were not working, in his words. There were many other dodgy things about this place but let's continue on...

Tue 27 May 2008
We set out on our very own driving tour of the 'pretty' part of the Rhine between Koblenz and Mainz.
We saw a couple of dozen castles in about 3 hours worth of driving! We stopped and trampled through only two of these. First stop was Marksburg, the only one never ruined. Apparently the French ruined most of these castles in the 17th century. Please excuse the dirty windscreen....
Below: Marksburg Castle.

Above: the Hex garden with both medicinal plants and herbs
Below: some original wall paintings and a medieval chest

We continued on our drive down the Rhine, on the east side of the river. The beauty of the river is there are new castles revealed along every bend of this curvy river, and they have little man-made islands following the curves of the river - probably to protect the banks from the wake of constant river traffic (cruises). On these islands are tress, and they reflect so nicely in the water don't you think?

Below: We stopping into Rheinstein Castle. A "gem of romantic medievalism", which is to say its a more recent take on "medieval" but we fell in love with the place all the same, and the views were stunning! This was Jen's highlight of our trip.

Above: you just can't beat the view
Below: these walls and ceilings are flat, but painted with really effective trompe-loiel.

Above: another stunning view, this time from the reading room
Below: our driving tour of the Rhine continues. Here are a select few of the castles we spotted.

Finally, we left the Rhine and headed to Fiona Wiggins' home near Heidelberg. Her hospitality was, as ever, excellent! We enjoyed a Rhine wine together over dinner.

Wed 28 May 2008
We caught the tram into Heidelberg centre and couldn't believe the heat! It was 32 degrees C, and Jen wasn't coping at all in her woollen trousers. Here's one of the squares where we stopped for a sit in the shade.

We made our way to the University for Jen to see the Manesse Codex, a world-famous medieval Germanic illuminated book.

Above: a facsimile edition of the Manesse Codex. This was when we discovered the actual book is Always kept locked away and never displayed. Perhaps the university can't afford sufficient security for such a treasure.
So there was nothing for it but for Jen to get some retail therapy to calm her nerves and soothe her swimmingly hot feet.

Above: Steve waits patiently!!!!
We headed back to Fiona's place for another relaxed dinner together, then headed out to Nordlingen, checking in at about 10pm. The info about this hotel mentioned a Turkish Bath on site, but it was too late at night, and we wouldn't have time tomorrow. Darn it.

Thu 29 May 2008
We wake in Nordlingen - it must be Thursday.
We head to the church in the heart of this fully-walled medieval city, in the hope of climbing the tower to see the crater rim. The town is situated within the Reis Crater, 25kms across.

Above: lots of stairs to the top but we managed it.
Below: what a view!

After clambering back down to ground we wandered through the church to discover some rich artworks.

The Reis Crater Museum a short walk away had some interesting stuff....

Above: the red dot at left is the whole town of Nordlingen inside the 25km Reis Crater. The little shiny diagonal bits are plastic markers showing other towns.
Below: A very happy Steve enjoying the geological delights of the museum.

Above: Nickel-iron has to be pretty hot to crystalise like this - it's out of this world (literally)

We headed off to Baden-Baden for our next hotel check-in. This town is famous for its spa and sauna experience, and they have hot springs and Roman bath ruins here. We had a wonderful time swimming and luxuriating at the Caracalla Therme from 8pm (which closes at 10pm lucky for us).

Fri 30 May 2008
We left Baden-Baden and had a bit more of a drive through the Black Forest.

...and onward to Nancy (France).
The main square was just gorgeous, dripping in gold it seemed!

We checked to see if Berengar was in town but we were told he's off ruling foreign lands. ;-)
Stayed overnight in Nancy.

Sat 31 May 2008
Steve drove for several hours from Nancy, and we arrived in the afternoon a little place near Lens, just north of Beaumont (thinking of you Alex).
So many of these hotel have beds which are far too firm and Jen's been getting grumpier as the week progressed. Interestingly, this place has the smallest bathroom we've ever seen! OK, well yes it was cheap to stay here.

Above: yes there's a shower in there too, to the left of the toilet.
We had a little spare time so wandered through a wonderful giant Art supplies shop, buying Jen her first artist's easel.

Sun 01 Jun 2008
Our last day in France. We drove to Azincourt, to see the Agincourt Museum (all about the famous battle of 1415).

Above: the entrance to the town, and the front of the museum.
Below: some of the horse and belt fittings discovered on the field

Above: the battlefield. Yes it is still used today for farming.

Finally we headed for Calais and the car ferry back to bonnie old England. Strangely it seemed the closer we got to the UK the more the weather worsened.
We were told "you can't miss it" about the cheap wine stores near Calais. But we missed it. Oh well there's always next time....
Got home, got the laundry on, and we were so relieved to sleep in our own bed!!!!

The total trip was just over 2,100 kms.

Mon 02 Jun 2008
Back to work! And on to updating the blog.