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 December 2009

Dec 2009 b

Hold on to yer hats folks, there's loads of photos in this blog entry....
Click on the photos for a larger view of them.

Thu 17 Dec 2009

After work, Steve arrived at Jen’s big end of year work party, themed 70’s to 90’s. The party is also the annual awards night for the company.

Below: Jen’s team scooped the ‘best value for money’ award

Right: the company’s directors in whacky retro costumes

The past three consecutive days have seen occasional light snowfalls, with no snow staying on the ground. We didn’t have the car with us so we taxied home. Just a light 'dusting' of snow tonight: (left)

Fri 18 Dec 2009

Above: our roses frozen by the chilly weather, and snow in our backyard.
As experience has taught us, London just doesn't cope with snow (Feb 2009) and so we decided to get away to the airport early today. This was a good idea! We certainly weren’t stressed by the train taking about 45 minutes longer than scheduled to actually arrive at the airport.

Above: Photos taken from the train window enroute to Gatwick airport.
As it was, our gate number wasn’t assigned until 30 minutes after our scheduled take-off time. Once at the gate there was a further wait for de-icing of the plane.

Below: a snowy Gatwick airport.

We eventually did take off about 2.5 hours late. Thank goodness we did get away – there are much heavier snowfalls predicted for the rest of the week! When we exited the plane it was a lovely 21 celcius, and such a relief. We were dropped off at our resort and checked in. We enquired about the wireless internet access only to be told it’s not working currently, we subsequently found out it was super slow, and later in the week not working at all.

Sat 19 Dec 2009

Today there was an abundance of glorious sunshine. Here’s a pic of our resort here in Los Gigantes, Tenerife...

We wandered along the coastline and explored. The crash of the waves against the craggy outcropping of rocks was great fun to watch.

Left: a black sand beach (volcanic).

We did a spot of grocery shopping as we are ‘self catering’ at the resort. 
Last night, the mattresses are so firm Jen couldn’t sleep, so resorted to sleeping on the sofa. The bed was two single beds pushed together, which are separate. After some very Fawlty Towers moments with the resort staff, we were eventually handed plastic zip-ties for joining the bed legs. Jen gave up on them replacing the mattress with a softer one, and just dragged the sofa mattress (one long cushion) and added that atop the bed. Determined not to have 9 straight nights of rotten sleep. Luckily for Steve, he’s fine on a rock solid mattress. The under-sofa trundle mattress is now on the sofa, so problem solved (enough).

Sun 20 Dec 2009
Since today is a blustery and rainy day, we’ve decided to have a lazy relaxed day in, reading books, newspapers, playing yahtzee and generally putting the feet up (quite literally). Even though we're without internet, thankfully we’re able to enjoy our favourite music, with our iPod and speakers set up and working just fine.

Mon 21 Dec 2009
Another rainy day, so we stay in, occasionally walk along the beach etc.

Tues 22 De 2009
Today we caught a bus down to Playas de las Americas to see what shopping and touristic sights there are to see. We ended up perusing loads of shops but not really buying anything.

Above: amazingly, this pool complex by the beach is open to the public and leads on from one of the shopping centres.
Below: Steve dipped his toe in the Atlantic; and an interesting and convenient public sculpture.

Wed 23 Dec 2009
Today, another overcast day, but warm, hurrah! A good day for getting the laundry done.
At the resort we have two English speaking TV channels. One showing very outdated shows, and the other, 24 hour BBC (UK) news. The news has been dominated by the mallarky of the Eurostar trains not working as well as all the snow chaos across the UK and Europe, so a big hooray for our destination choice of Tenerife. Even though we've had 4 days of rain and drizzle, its been superb to wander about without jackets, coats or thermal underwear.
On the other channels (in the evenings) we've had fun watching movies such as Harry Potter and Mission Impossible II in German, and the second half of Happy Feet in Spanish!

Thu 24 Dec 2009

Today we're on a proper tour of the west half of Tenerife. It's just as well, as we were beginning to think Tenerife was made up of volcanic rocks and resorts, and very little else! The south side of the island has a largely desert-like climate, with the north side being much more verdent with plenty of pine trees / forests. At the heart of the island is Mt Teide (pronounced tay-dee) a massive volcano, ranked as the 13th most dangerous in the world. It was curious see cactii littering the forest floor as we approached the volcano's summit, crossing over from desert climate to forest climate.

Above right: the Mt Teide national park near the summit.
We're really impressed by our tour guide, who did the whole tour in Spanish, German, Italian, English and French.

Below: Here at Guia DeIsora our bus-load were set free to climb and wander about.

Right: This rocky formation is known as 'God's finger' and was on the Spanish 100 note (but they use Euros now).

Our next stop, to see the Dragon (Draco) Tree in Icod, reputed to be about 1,000 years old. Take a look at the people viewing it to get an idea of the scale of this strange old tree (below).

 We had about 15 minutes available and decided to check out Icod church. They have a museum, and here is Icod's Cross, the world's biggest filigree silver cross, made approx 1666AD, almost 2.5 metres tall, weighing over 48,000 Kg.

Above: Icod's Cross
Below, right: wondrous 16th century paintings overlooking an intricate miniature/model nativity scene.

Next stop on our tour was a simple lunch in Garachio.
Our guide joked about it being a "new" town as the old one had been destroyed by volcanic landslides in 1645, and an eruption fifty years later, with lava rivers spilling into the harbour. This created some interesting rock formations which are today used as natural pools!

Left: view of the Castillo de San Miguel

Above and below: the natural (ocean) pools formed by volcanic rocks, and teeming with wild fish. As you can see not all the pools are enclosed away from the surging ocean waves.

After some windy mountain roads our next stop is the village of Masca, historically inhabited by pirates and accessible only by donkey until more recent times. Our coach driver did an incredible job getting us up here, and also back down again when the windy mountain road became even narrower! He did have to stop and reverse at the hairpin turns many times along the way. Scary stuff!

Above: the scenic village of Masca.

On a side note, the tourist shop in Masca had trinkets of various exotic things - including Galah figurines! Hang on, those are Australian birds mate! Maybe the pirates never left eh?
Last stop, Los Gigantes, or, 'the Giants' (pictured left and below). Our resort is advertised as in Los Gigantes, but its a further 15 minutes' drive down the coast... so we were glad to get a look at these mountains.

Once home, some more relaxing. Xmas eve, and Jen was super tired. Steve couldn't coax her out of bed at 11pm for a phone call to our families (in Australia enjoying their Xmas morning).

Fri 25 Dec 2009

Xmas day. About 23 celcius. There were occasional patches of sunshine about, and we enjoyed 20 minutes in the late afternoon sun, in the resort's jacuzzi. We mainly played cards today; Jen got 496 at Yahtzee, and Steve cooked up a tasty salmon steak marinated in lime for dinner, yum! Out came the champagne too.

Sat 26 Dec 2009
Our last full day in Tenerife. So we decided to visit "Jungle Park" since Jen loves bird shows. We enjoyed seeing the various animals, although we're both not fans of seeing how small some of the cages were.

From the Jungle Park tourist-trap, we caught the free bus back to Plays de las Americas and enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine.

Sun 27 Dec 2009
And so our stay in Tenerife is at an end.

We checked out of our resort before 8am and got a coach to the airport. The plane took off at 12:30. The flight itself was about 4 hours, but once into London Gatwick airport, various Tube lines were closed and we did eventually get home about 6pm. (there's no time zone difference) and made a good start on unpacking and getting the laundry going.

Mon 28 Dec 2009
So this morning we awoke and had our Christmas morning of unwrapping the gifts under the tree.

We finally saw Avatar (11am session) and almost had the cinema all to ourselves.
Once home, we lunched together, then Jen watched 'The Cooloongatta Gold' (got it for Xmas). Wow, she says, more budgie-smugglers than you can poke a long stick at! And then we watched Playing Beattie Bow together. Aaahh those great Aussie (80's) memories....

Tue 29 Dec 2009
Steve goes to work for the next three days. Jen takes it easy at home.

14 December 2009

Dec 2009 a

Thu 03 Dec 2009
Jen and her workmates had a Christmas lunch and afternoon bowling at All Star Lanes, Brick Lane, London.


Fri 04 Dec 2009
Jen's workmate Hannah leaves today to go forth and work at a Swiss chalet for 6 months!

Sat 05
Dec 2009
Jen spent the day finishing the fabric stage of covering the loft ceiling. Here's the pool of fabric for covering the final 1/4 of the ceiling. (approx 10 metres of it).

Sun 06 Dec 2009
Bought carpet and installed it in the loft.

Hooray for Steve's big strong muscles, helping Jen getting the carpet maneuvered for measuring and cutting, and up up up into the loft. Yay! Also a big yay for double-sided Carpet tape. Just whack the tape down, lay out the carpet to check the fit, pull back sections of the carpet and peel back the upper side of the tape... et Voila!

Mon 07 Dec 2009
Oil painting for Jen, and she has now added the figure.

And started a new large work...

Tue 08 Dec 2009
An extra layer of white paint on the loft's two floor beams and finalising the last little fiddly bits of carpet installing. The loft is now officially finished!!! Here's a quick "before and after"

Wed 09 Dec 2009
Steve went to fighter practice and enjoyed using his new helm all night. Still not as comfy or easy to use as the old one, but it does look great! Jen put up the Christmas tree, and Steve finished it all off by adding the angel on top.

Thu 10 Dec 2009
Jen's workmate Jools came over for some cheese and wine, and became the loft's first official visitor!

Fri 11
Dec 2009
After work drinkies in the boardroom for Jen, then Steve's workmate Dominic arrived with Steve for a few quiet beers and watching the Matrix.

Sat 12
Dec 2009
An easy and slow weekend. Loads of sleep (and sleeping in) and we watched a bunch of movies and played a few games of Yahtzee. Jen did some 1980's style clothes-shopping in preparation for Thursday night's themed Christmas party.

Mon 14
Dec 2009
The final oil painting night for Jen until after Xmas.

04 December 2009

Nov 2009 b

Fri 20 Nov 2009
Jen was limping on Sunday and Monday with a sore ankle caused by sleeping in a strange way on the uncomfy sleeping cot last weekend (in Germany).
From Tuesday onwards, due to favouring the ankle, she was limping worse with a strained groin muscle, but the ankle's now just fine.

Sat 21 Nov 2009

Tonight we had a lovely dinner party for Kev and Nick, who each brought and introduced their girlfriends to us. Loads of ale was drunk and a good time was had. Steve cooked salmon-steak baked in lime juice, served with honeyed rice and salad. Yum!
By the time we'd all finished chatting merrily, it was about 1am, and the tube was closed for the night. So Kev and Tasha slept on our comfy fold-out sofa.

Sun 22 Nov 2009

This morning Steve cooked us all bacon eggs and toast, and after farewelling Kev and Tasha we drove off to the movies and saw the second 'Twilight' film. Steve enjoyed this one much more than the first.... but that said, its still really a chic flick.

Mon 23 Nov 2009
Jen's finally not limping anymore. Hooray for resting over the weekend.
Jen skipped oil painting tonight, as she stayed back at work to meet a deadline.

Fri 27 Nov 2009
After work we met at the train station, travelled to Stansted airport, and got our flight to Belfast city airport. Pol picked us up and took us to site about half an hours' drive away. We even had our own room at the scout camp; nice one.

Sat 28 Nov 2009
So today Steve taught three classes at this Yuletide University event in northern Ireland. Two classes on fighting, and one on roman cookery (Apicius).
Jen was tres excited to see Steve wearing both his new helm and his new purpoint (padded jacket) at the same time!

You can even see the collar of his embroidered shirt, nice stitch work there Edith!

Jen taught a class on advanced illumination, and one on basic costuming. The evening feast was warm and hospitable.

Sun 29 Nov 2009
We had a very relaxed time coming home, unpacking, getting laundry going and such.

Mon 30 Nov 2009
Oil painting. Jen was glad to have not gone last week, as she had time to think and plan about what to do... 'add texture and detail' was the thought. At right is a test piece for how the oil paint would handle painting over silver enamel paint. Works fine.



Tue 1 Dec 2009
Tonight we hosted a special dinner party for Robert (Dan) to celebrate his recent elevation to Pelican.
Thankfully Terry and Dan were on hand early in the night to get dinner on track as Steve had been delayed due to bad traffic. The evening was good fun - especially teasing Edith about her new boyfriend... Terry! Isn't it nice when long term friends hook up.
The food consisted of .. entree: devils on horseback (prunes stuffed with mango chutney and wrapped in bacon). dinner: duck in cherry sauce. dessert: baked apples with fruit mince and cream. Perfect winter fare, and overall a successful night with rosy cheeks all round.