Thursday, 26 February 2009

Mums Birthday

The other day Mum decided to have a birthday. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was for the presents, but she didn't seem to want anything so perhaps it wasn't. Either way, she decided to have a birthday so Rob, Dad, and I decided that we should probably do something about it.

I suggested that Dad took Mum out for tea and that Rob and I arrive unexpectedly from our seperate corners of the state and surprise her. So after quite a lot of emails, messages, and phone calls Dad managed to organise Mum, Rob and I managed to organise ourselves (and each other), and we managed to surprise Mum. It wasn't very exciting as she didn't scream or faint or anything, but it was nice.

Mum's birthday was, of course, a brilliant excuse (if I needed one) for me to spend a couple of day's quality time with my cat. If any of you have forgotten, her name if Fidget she is 12-13 years old and she is beautiful. I wouldn't mind if you forgot her age as we are uncertain exactly what it is ourselves. I would even forgive you if you forgot her name as I hardly ever use it (I use lots of different, rather cheesy names like "bubby", "pusskins", "flopsy", "snuggles", and "mouse")... but you must never, ever forget that she is beautiful! This week she was especially beautiful when she decided that it was clearly, absolutely unacceptable for me to be more than 10cm away from her at anytime yesterday afternoon.

Recently, she devoloped a limp in one of her front legs - it didn't stop her doing anything she wanted to do, but it did motivate Dad to build her a ramp up to her favourite bed (as he has been planning to do for quite a while because it was a rather decent jump to get up there). Somehow that idea of building her a ramp up to her bed which was located at the back of the desk grew into rather a larger idea of building a 2-story cat palace.

At first, Fidget was rather annoyed that her Daddy had stolen her bed and put it somewhere else so she stubbornly curled up and slept on the desk where her bed used to be,

but I am happy to report that she has now gotten quite used to her new complex and makes good use of all its features going up and down the ramp, hiding in her downstairs bedroom when she isn't feeling very sociable, and sharpening her claws in the carpet. Her limp has now almost disappeared as well.

Monday, 23 February 2009

The dreaded questions

A lot of my life over the past couple of weeks (well, months really) has been trying to be civil and polite when answering questions that I am sick of being asked.

"So, what are you doing with yourself now that you have graduated?" ...

"Are you going to be staying in Hobart?" ...

"Are you going to be moving back to Launceston?" ...

"What sort of a job are you looking for?" ...

"Are you still going to study Vet Science?" ...

"Where was your favourite place in Europe?" ...

and "Did you have a good trip?" are some of the most regularly asked.

So here are my answers:
I don't know...

I don't know...

I don't know...

I don't know... I'm pretty much applying for everything that comes up.

I don't know...

I don't know... I liked lots of places, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Scotland, Salisbury (no, the last one isnt a country, its a village)... I don't really have a favourite.

Yes... I think so... yes... yes, I had a fantastic time and I loved it.

As you can see I'm a little uncertain at the moment. I wouldn't be at all uncertain about the last question except for the fact that I have, by this point, been bombarded with so many questions from so many different people that I would be uncertain if you asked me what my name is.

When I answer these very well meaning, sincere questions with such a non-commital answer the person who posed that question invariably looks a little disappointed.

And the poor, faithful few who have been asking the same questions since I graduated a couple of months ago are now starting to look a little exasperated.

I think shortly they are going to start looking a little annoyed.

And so am I.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Hi there, faithful followers.

We have made it back to Australia and we are both very glad to be back. It was hard to be on the other side of the world watching all the headlines about the bush fires in Victoria. Especially knowing we had family and friends scattered around Victoria and weren't sure exactly which areas the fires covered. Thankfully, everyone we were concerned for has survived the fires virtually unscathed apart from our cousin, Maddy, who lost her home.

Well, as all of you know, going to and from the other side of the world involves tortuously long flights followed by a few days of the foggy-headed-ness of jet lag.

We spent around 21 hours actually in the air, but spent a good deal longer than that in transit from England to Tassie. The first flight was the longest at 12 hours - we then had about an hour in Singapore airport before the next flight which was another 8 hours to get to Melbourne.

We left London at 10:00pm so we responded to the fact that it should be night by trying to get some sleep. I actually managed to sleep better than any other flight I have ever been on (including the ones to America a few years ago) - I got around 4 hours broken sleep. We were fed breakfast before arriving in Singapore, which felt appropriate as we knew that if we had gotten on to the plane at 10:00pm and it had taken 12 hours to get there it should now be morning. But it wasn't morning in Singapore - it was 6:00pm. It was nighttime again. So we were, of course, fed tea shortly after take-off when we left Singapore again and expected to want to try and sleep.

Neither of us bothered to even try - we made good use of the movies on offer. I didn't watch anything that was so good that I can recommend it to everyone reading. But there are hardly any movies that would appeal to such a varied audience.

We got into Melbourne at around 6:00 in the morning so they, of course, fed us breakfast at around 4:30. We then finally made it into Launnie in the early afternoon and Dad picked us up from the airport. Rob was really happy to be able to drive again - after all our time in tour buses, ferries, trains, taxis, and planes he was glad to be back in control of a vehicle himself.

Our top priority was, very understandably, a shower. After that important duty was completed I got comfortable on the couch with my feet up (literally, with my feet up - my ankles got terribly swollen from the flight) and accidentally had a nap. It wasn't deliberate - Judge Judy must have been even more boring than usual. I didn't wake up until a couple of hours later after Mum had gotten home.

I managed to stay awake until a reasonable time to go to bed after that and after 9 hours sleep or so I woke up. And I mean I woke up - there was no hope of going back to sleep so I got up and kept Dad company while he had breakfast and got ready for work (Mum had just left already).

I spent the day doing not much and most of the time my cat, Fidget did not much on my lap.

I managed not to have an accidental naps (or any on purpose either, for that matter) yesterday, but that was clearly exhausting as this time when I went to bed I slept for over 12 hours. And even now, after an epic sleep like that, I feel as though if I tried to watch Judge Judy I would end up asleep again. In fact, I think if I stopped typing and just sat here for a while I would be asleep in a few minutes.

Rob has just gone back to Devonport - so this is the longest I have had without him for almost the last month. I'm surprised, but quite pleased, that we didn't end up killing each other - over 3 weeks of sharing a room and going everywhere together would be a challenge for any brother and sister, especially when you then add in jet lag and living out of a suitcase. But I'm glad to say that we made it with only one or two major disagreements ;(

Monday, 9 February 2009

Wales and England

After leaving the beautiful Scotland we decided to adjust our schedule slightly and instead of breaking the journey between Scotland and Wales with a night in Liverpool we decided to have a bit longer day on the train and go straight from Glasgow to Cardiff - a slightly more epic journey, but quite manageable really.


It was Rob's idea to visit Cardiff really - it is the location where most of Dr Who is filmed and boasts several landmarks that can be seen in the series and in the spin-off, Torchwood. It also houses the Dr Who exhibition - a collection of props, costumes, and memorabilia used in the filming of the show.

Dont Blink - whatever you do don't blink!!

Oh no! You blinked!

Cardiff is also an interesting city in its own right, though. A rather impressive castle sits in the middle of the town - you just round the corner from the mall expecting to see more shops and are quite taken aback by a very large castle just sitting there staring at you.

It also has quite a nice dock land area - but it is no where near as pretty or full of character as the Hobart water front.

The other surprising thing about cardiff is that half the people seem to be willing to bend over backwards to help you and are extremely friendly and the other half seem to be quite aggressive and violent towards each other (but not towards us, thankfully).

Oh, and, of course, I should mention Welsh. Welsh is a fascinating language - although we didn't hear it spoken anywhere it is obviously still very much in use as it is on all the signs around Cardiff along with the English translation. Welsh is an interesting language because they seem to have somewhat of an aversion to vowels, and always use a double 'f'.


Salisbury (pronounced Souls-bree - rather strange, but remember these are the people that assure us that Thames should be pronounced as Tems) is a beautiful English village - I absolutely adored it.

The talest spire in the UK - the 4th tallest in the world.

But that's not the reason we visited Salisbury - this is

After spending the morning at Stonehenge we took the train for the hop, skip, and a jump over to London where we spent the night (and where we are currently) to be closer to the airport as another snow storm is forecast and we didn't want to get stranded in England even if Australia seems to be a bit of a mess at the moment.

We will head off to the airport soon so we should hopefully be home in a couple of days.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Stunning Scotland



Our first taste of Scotland was in Edinburgh. We caught the train up from Newcastle after spending the morning checking out the castle and arrived in Edinburgh in the afternoon. We had the details of a bed and breakfast that we could stay in so we worked out how to catch the bus from the train station into the neighborhood of the B&B. We checked into the B&B and headed back out into town, catching the bus again.

There are two things that immediately stand out in Edinburgh – the Scots Monument

And the castle. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the castle it was dark. But I think it looks medieval in the dark, and perhaps more impressive than it would in the daylight.

After having now mastered the Edinburgh public buses and having a huge Scottish breakfast we caught the bus from the very, very nice B&B we were staying in back to the train station. We wanted to see as much of the highlands as we could so we caught a train up to Aberdeen and then on to Inverness.


Inverness is a smaller city than Edinburgh, but it also has its own castle, of course.

The B&B we were staying in was in easy (well easy compared to some of the others) walking distance of the train station – there was, however, the matter of a few steps to climb with our bags, but we made it.

As we were getting ready for bed snow started gently falling, and by the next morning a thick white blanket covered the city.

We lugged our bags back down to the train station and put them in baggage storage for the morning because we had an excursion to go on – we were off to see Loch Ness.

We were very glad to see that the bus we needed to catch was one of the ones that were still running (the snow was causing a lot of road closers), so we got on for the half-an-hour ride to Urquhart Castle passing through some extremely pretty scenery.

Urquhart Castle (pronounced erk-heart) is only ruins now, but it is one of the few places on the banks of Loch Ness easily accessible by public bus and has a very nice visitors information centre.

When we arrived, the castle ruins were closed due to the snow, which was much thicker than it had been in town so we spent time playing in the snow, taking photos, and then going through the displays and watching the video at the visitors centre. Then, 15 minutes before we had to leave, half the castle grounds were opened as they had managed to clear the snow off the paths so we got to have a closer look before we had to go.

We hurried back up to the bus stop and stood there waiting for a few minutes before watching the bus that was meant to take us back to Inverness sail straight past us without stopping. Thankfully, there was another bus scheduled for 20 minutes later and we managed to wave it down and get back to Inverness.


Our train to Glasgow was considerably delayed because of the snow and it was full so we were unable to sit in first class (we have first class tickets), but we did eventually make it into Glasgow. It was almost dark when we arrived so we went straight to the B&B – which turned out to be quite a long walk – and checked in. We left again straight after and went into the city to have a look around. We were intrigued that Glasgow doesn’t have a castle looming over the city.

We eventually returned to our room to start a rather long wrestle with my bag as the handle that extends so that you can pull it along behind you would no longer retract. The bag and I have now come to a compromise on the situation.

The next morning when we got up we went down to the dining hall for breakfast and, seeing the cereal and toast, we assumed we were simply getting a continental breakfast and began to tuck in. But then, after cornflakes and toast, a full Scottish breakfast was placed in front of us so we were very full when we left.

We then started the trek back to the train station and caught the train to, very sadly, leave Scotland.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Yet another long-winded update



We spent practically the entire day on Saturday in travelling from Paris to London. We went through some interesting parts of France through WWI battlefields and on to Calais where we once again crossed the English Chanel. After landing in Dover we were making very good time and had even caught a ferry that was 2 hours earlier than the one we had originally book, but this all went out of the window when we reached the outskirts of London as one of the major roads was closed (not sure why) and this caused complete chaos getting into our part of London.

We made the most of the opportunity to get a good nights sleep and have a little sleep-in the next morning until about 8:30 (which was a very significant sleep in compared to every day we had spent on the tour).

We then meet up with a Tasmanian friend from way back who has been living in England for the last couple of years, Maryanne. Maryanne took us to a really nice ice-cream place (can’t remember what it is called) before we started on the days sightseeing.

We first of all went along to St Paul’s Cathedral – as it was Sunday we considered going to a service, but decided against it as we had a lot still to do.

We then went to Baker Street to visit the home of the (fictional) great detective, Sherlock Holmes. There was some confusion on my behalf about where the detective’s offices actually were, but we eventually found it with some help from some friendly locals.

After visiting Sherlock we had to say goodbye to Maryanne and we headed off to Madame Tussauds where we made some new friends.

Madame Tussauds was good, but is the most over priced attraction we have been to on the trip.

We stopped by Paddington Station on our way home to go bear hunting, but were sadly quite unsuccessful. On our way home it started to snow and it didn’t stop until the next day so when we ventured out of our hotel the next morning everything was sparkling white.

We then started the second stage of our trip- we will now be using the rail system to get us everywhere we want to go around the UK for the next 9 days.


We made it up to Newcasle… eventually.

While most of the UK was being held up by the snow or snow induced problems, we were not affected by the snow at all, but then our train had ”technical problems.” First the train service was interrupted while the crew investigate a cracked window (I think it was a passenger window, but it may have actually been the windscreen), and then the train had a rather serious issue – whenever the driver tried to accelerate for some reason the brakes also activated. But as I say, we did eventually get to Newcastle.

As it was dark, raining/snowing, and we were having trouble figuring out the buses we caught a taxi to the hotel – unfortunately it wasn’t one of those attractive black cabs that you see all over London, but it got us where we wanted to go. We stayed the night in a rather dodgy and very cheap hotel, but we had a good night’s sleep and a nice hot shower in the morning so it wasn’t too bad. In fact I think I had the best night’s sleep I have had since I left Aussie.

The next morning we took a bus into the train station where we checked our luggage into the luggage minding service and walked over to see the Castle Keep – the new castle that gave Newcastle its name. The Castle Keep was built during the Roman Age, but was then rebuilt (the new castle) in Medieval times. Not all of the Medieval structures are still standing, but the Black Gate and the Castle Keep are still standing and well worth visiting.

From the roof of the Castle Keep you get some great views of the rest of Newcastle which seems to be a rather boring industrial city.

The railway goes right past the Castle Keep.

The interior of the Castle was been well looked after as well

The King’s Private Chamber

The King’s Most Private Chamber.

After our castle explorations we went back to the train station, rescued our bags, and caught a train to … Scotland! But that’s a story for another time so you will have to tune in for the next installation.