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 April 2010

Apr 2010 a

Fri 02 Apr 2010
Easter - hooray for holidays. We both have the next 10 days off work.

Sat 03 Apr 2010
Today Jen finished sewing pearls on to her friend's cloak.

Sun 04 Apr 2010
Sun has come out and with new shoots on the trees - it feels like a long nasty winter is finally coming to a close. The local parks abound with thousands of daffodils, and since so many others were picking and taking them home - well, so did we.

Mon 05 Apr 2010
We basically spent Easter at home. This afternoon we headed out and spent the night at the Croydon Travelodge. Originally we'd booked, fearing threatened rail strikes for Tuesday. Even though the strike was called off, we figured it would be nice to turn up the next day unflustered.

Tue 06 Apr 2010
The big day - appointment with UK Border Agency (Home Office). The first person we talked with, we faltered. Little did we realise we weren't allowed to apply with one as the main and the other as the "dependent" as planned... because we'd each originally applied under the grandparent (Ancestry) visa. Sigh. Luckily the officer was able to grab Steve his own appointment in 6 days' time.
So, 5.5 hours later, after finger-prints and iris scans, and forking over £730, Jen got her 5 year Visa extension. Hoorah for not having to leave the country in 3 weeks' time when our visas expire, or sell the house, or anything stupid like that.
This evening once home, we ordered Steve's Grandad's birth certificate online. We then arranged for Steve's mum's birth certificate to be express couriered, thanks to Steve's ex-boss at SEAC in Australia!
Finally got to bed about 2 hours later than normal.

Wed 07 Apr 2010
Steve went to work today, to swap out Monday next week for his sudden Home Office appointment. Poor man was so tired, yawning all day at work.

Thu 08 Apr 2010
Not needing to stay home for deliveries (today) and with the weather being so lovely, we hit the Brit Museum, mainly to see this famed Staffordshire Hoard.

Below: a couple of display cases showed samples from the Staffordshire Hoard.... a taster rather than the entire Hoard on display. The detail is truly astonishing! These are very very close up, you can see the threads in the fabric ground they're on. It's all still got mud all over it as it's such a new find, and will be going through the cleaning up stages shortly. Thankfully the Hoard has been purchased for Museum display and kept in the UK. 


Above, right: OK we couldn't have both in focus (photoshop to the rescue) - here is the ring (background) that Steve's signet ring was based on. He loves seeing the original ring, sitting there in the museum.  :-)

Below: 14th century glassware, Jen likes.

Below: Jen also likes old clocks. Fascinated by the many clocks on display, the earliest pieces being about 15th/16th century. Intrigued by the idea of a water clock with little alarm bells.

Right: Famous Burgundian lady on a s3xy gilded shiled back on display in these newly re-opened Medieval rooms. 

Fri 09 Apr 2010
We stayed home, awaiting deliveries of two birth certificates. We were relieved to get the call from Jen's work that Steve's mum's one had arrived there (Jen picked it up). But the expected Grandad cert was a no-show.

Sat 10 Apr 2010
Annoyed at having to stay at home on our holidays, and especially with such great sunshine outside! Finally at about 11am, the remaining certificate arrived. Excellent! So off we went to Borough Markets and bought some stinky cheese for Steve, oranges, organic apple juice and 3 jars of chutneys. We had a good look around. On the way home we stopped in at Canary Wharf for some clothes shopping for Jen and Wiatrose (gourmet cooks/food shop) for Steve. A top way to finish the day. Tonight Steve cooked up a couple of thick slabs of juicy rump steak with oven cooked veggies and herbs n spices. YUM!

Sun 11 Apr 2010
Today, following on from Jen's clock fascination, Steve was pleased to show her around Greenwich. We took the ferry from the Millenium Dome pier (a first for us, in 4 years we've not actually been on the Thames).

Above: what a perfect sunny day. Yesterday was (a practically balmy) 14 degrees, today was closer to 10C - so quite biting in the wind.

Inside the Royal Greenwich Observatory (museum) the displays would have us believe Britain became the world spanning Empire it once was because of the H4 clock.

The H4 clock, pictured in the foreground (right), created/invented by John Harrison - the world's first accurate portable clock, helping to solve the issue of ocean navigation, keeping track of where you are more accurately and helping to avoid being shipwrecked.
Funny thing is, when you see the H1, H2 and H3 clocks they all look similarly like Victorian montrously complicated brass clockwork on acid (see them in the middle of this photo, seen side on) - and the H4 just looks so completely and utterly different, it at first appears to be a single leap of pure genius. More accurately, we'd guess he tested out his device, and being pleased with the mechanism, bothered to have a jeweller finish it (to his design spec) to be as nicely presentable as possible.

Just to the left of the display was a plaque on Captain Cook (dude who "discovered" Australia for the Brits) and in the discovery cupboard under it were two furry toy creatures, kangaroo and koala (pictured above). Bluddy typical, the Aussies just can't be taken seriously, not by the Brits at least. Haaaarumph!

Below: Here we are outside the observatory and museum.
....and the view towards the city was rather, somewhat, splendid!

 We strolled back down the hill and poked about inside the Maritime Museum until our feet hurt.

Left: the weather started to turn and we made our way back home. This is one of the many lovely buildings in the Greenwich area.... this could be part of the Maritime Hospital - but unsure of this.
Tonight Steve made delicious orange chicken poulards for dinner, one of Jen's favourites.

Mon 12 Apr 2010
Jen went to work, and Steve went to the Home Office in Croydon again. He spent 3.5 hours there (and a further £730 for the joy of the experience), and was also successful in his Visa extension. So, to celebrate we booked return tickets to Brisbane, Australia, for late October. Tonight Jen wished her sister Vicky a happy 40th Birthday back in Brisbane.

Tue 13 Apr 2010
Tonight after work we met up in town (in the historic and atmospheric Cheshire Cheese Pub) with some friends for a few drinks, in part to celebrate our visa-related gladness.

04 April 2010

Mar 2010 b

Mon 15 Mar 2010
Jen finishes the current stage of portrait painting. Soon - on the stage 2 of 3. But for now here's the results of swapping foregrounds from a pair of (Klimt & Manet) portraits:

Fri 19 Mar 2010
Hhmmm, after work discover we have some serious car trouble.

Sun 21 Mar 10
Since we can't drive anywhere and its a lovely sunny day (for a change) we decided to have a nice stroll through the local park and enjoy the budding rose bushes. Jen makes a false start on some pearling for Dan's cloak. A false start because these big and heavy suckers need extra spacing, to sit in a row. You can see here they're bunching too much and not a straight line. Darn it - starting again.

Mon 22 Mar 2010
Steve drives the car off to the mechanics. It works OK on local roads, but within 15 minutes on a motorway - severe juddering comes on. Not good news.

Thu 25 Mar 2010
Have news of our bridesmaid Kylie and her folks coming to visit us in August - yay! Looks like Hotel Bangor is booking up fast this year. 

Fri 26 Mar 2010
Happy birthday Jen's sister Kathy.
Steve's work's officially has sign-off of completion of their latest major project which was the new building and extension of the network into it.

Sat 27 Mar 2010
Medieval and renaissance costuming revel in north London....

Sun 28 Mar 2010
Spring is sproinging up everywhere! The trees have new leaf buds all over them. Bring-it-on!!!

Mon 29 Mar 2010
Steve installs Parallels on to Jen's Mac. Then we install some PC programs - amazing! Now we have Premier Elements and Noteworthy on the Mac - yay! This also happens to be a good test-run with helping one of Steve's workplace's "Governors" issues with her Mac.
Steve celebrates three years at his current workplace, by finally having a signed work contract.