Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cousins of Cousins in Milano

So it's almost 3 months since the last post, and many photos taken, in charming cities like Paris, and Bradford(!), but while I take a quick break from job hunting (yes, I'm moving jobs and countries again), I thought I'd add some of the latest pictures from a long weekend spent in Milan.

Joyce, and Chris Munster (my cousin from Sydney)

The reason was simple, my cousin Chris from Sydney (1st cousin once removed) was in Vienna and then Milan visiting cousins of his (xth cousins, slightly removed). My other Chris(tina) also popped over and we spent most of the weekend just walking around the town, celebrating Haloween in an Indian restaurant (?) and seeing a bit of Lake Como and the Swiss Alps in the not-so-distance. Nice. So some pics:

The Pavia family: Joyce, Giorgio (Chris' Dad's cousin of some sort), and Alissa

Near the Swiss border (I think at Mt. Bisbino)

It was a long day for Chrstina who got up at 3.30 am to get there

As usual, more pics are on Picassa, so click on the link / pic below:

Milan & Chris(Munster) & Chris(tina)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rufford Abbey & Lincoln Cathedral

Just a quick post from a trip up to Rufford Abbey, where an international ceramics exhibition was being held. Not much to really see at the Abbey, but there were some interesting ceramics on offer. I really had to wonder though about the Japanese guy selling chawan bowls for 1500... pounds each!! I though the price was in yen! They were rough cast, deformed and brown, I guess trying to capture the spirit of untamed earth. But in credit crunch times, I wonder how many he sold?

Lunch there was a disaster, really feeling like something out of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. I guess the canteen doesn't get much business and this weekend just swamped them, but despite the 8 or so staff in the kitchen, no food was coming out, what did come out in terms of full breakfast combinations wasn't right, no-one was in charge and everyone was flustered. Amazing stuff to watch. Then it was on to Lincoln, which has an impressive old town with lots of "old town" charm to it, and a pleasant few hours were spent walking the streets and checking out the cathedral which is very impressive. Some endagered peregrine falcons were nesting there, and telescopes were set up by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds so get a better glimpse than just the grey blob which can be seen with the naked eye.

Getting home I went to a bbq at Dave's house (hathern band conductor), which was an experience. No aussie bbq this, with the blokes chargrilling meat and barely a bit of green salad to be found. With Lesley Bentley's involvement it was guaranteed to be extremely organised, and within a minute of arriving at the house I found myself standing in front of a salad buffet table a beer in one hand and a sausage in the other. The bbq was tended to by Stephanie mostly, though later in the night an attempt was made to restart the fire by two other english 'blokes', but with limited success. It was a good night, and quite amusing.

For more pics, click on the link below:

North Wales

Conwy Castle

May is a month of 2 Monday bank holidays, so Christina came to visit and we went on a quick excursion into North Wales. This almost didn't happen due to a bit of linguistic misunderstanding in Swenglish of when 'next weekend' actually was. I got that dum, de dum dum feeling when on the Wed before the weekend in question I asked her where she wanted to go she said there was another week to think about it so why worry now? A change of ryanair flights was still cheaper than the other alternatives that needed to be considered.

So she came and we went for a drive, staying a night in Llandudno, which is partly how I imagined a British seaside town to be. The city itself reminded me of old Aussie country towns, with a central grid of a couple of streets in Victorian style. What I liked about Llandudno was the curvy, hilly streets around it, which always adds a bit of interest for me. There was also what I guess is a typical beachside pier with small shops and amusements and such, all a bit naff and tacky. Yay! Finally some naff seaside amusements!

On the way back, middle of Wales, drove we did. Passing the mountains of Snowdon - the highest in Wales at 1085m, and taking a quick stroll to the Fairy Falls. Very nice, and can easily see why this area is popular for camping and quiet country retreats.

For more pics, click here or on the graphic below:

North Wales

Friday, August 14, 2009

Europapark, Nancy Animal Park, Luxempark

Hi Everybody,

I´m actually back in Germany at the moment, with a bit of time to kill on a German pc with a strange keyboard so excuye me if there are few 'z's where 'y's should be.

Back in May I was here for a week, following on from the Swiss Party, and we went on a couple of day trips to Luxembourg, Europapark and Nancy.

Our time in Luxembourg started off great with a drive around the city ring road as we looked for a car park. Eventually succeeding, we took a road-train tour of the city, past the cliffside vaults and through the parks and along the river. Following a traditional meal of doner kebab, we went in search of hillside castletops, and partially succeeded, but prior appointments meant we had to head back to Germany and endure autobahn traffic jam madness along the way. What can i say about Luxembourg after one day? It seems nice, kinda French, but really except for around the city, it was just motorways and forests, much like the rest of the region.

Another day was spent in Nancy where Christina studied for a year, so it was a bit of a nostalgia trip for her, eating at the favourite eatery, seeing the favourite shops, having the French be rude to her again etc. It is a really nice town, and the central St. Stanslas Square is quite impressive with lots of ornate goldwork around. We also visited the museum of
Émile Gallé, one of the founders of Art Nouveau, where after spending an hour or so in the museum i realised I don't really like much art nouveau. Perhaps I'm more interested in the art of becoming a nouveau riche...

Not many people look at the back end of a peacock.

There was also an open zoo there, with peacocks and various other birds roaming the pavements. The peacocks were cool, kinda acting like radar dishes and rotating in one, then the other direction, hoping to home in on the signal of a peahen.

Another trip south to scaring us into feeling more alive had nothing to do with driving fast on the autobahn. Europapark is a major theme park full of rollercoasters, magic shows, and entertainments. Having not been to a theme park in ages, it was actually quite impressive how they kept the theme through the park. Scariest two rides were the Silver Arrow (below) and Blue Fire which did a few corkscrews and upside down bits. I also hopped back on the Pirate Ship, and concquered my fear from when I was 10 or so and almost cried being on it. Must admit though the highlight of the day was queing for 20mins for the Blue Fire. This was after walking through the queuing area where signs were indicating "queue from this point 90 mins". That's why you go on a wednesday and not during school holidays.

For more pics with minor comments click on the links below

Also, you can see video of the Silver Arrow - Europe's Tallest Rollercoaster, on Youtube...

Luxembourg, Europapark, Nancy

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Swiss Party

Fire Juggling (Not my pic, but if I'd had my slr with me it could have been...)

1st of May was Swiss Party Day - to celebrate the impending birthday of Pierre-David, as well as his impending departure on a trans-siberian backpacking trip around the world. We met up in Yverdon, went to Grandson Castle, local thermal baths, and ate, drank, and slayed each other over the 2 days.

PiDa is keen live action role player, so there were many foam swords and pikes to go berserk with.

More pics:

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Welcome to Germany where I managed to mix a bit of business and pleasure back in Feb. The pleasure was in Wallerfangen where I was able to go to the last night of Carnival, a night of ba-doom tish "humourous" skits and schlager songs with actions for the audience and lots of arm-in-arm swaying...

The origins lie somewhere around Köln, considered the home of Carnival, who were represented here by a travelling trio of Kings and Queens

Some costumes were very inventive - I don't want to see what comes out of the spout!

Ralf and Jorg on stage singing and dancing. They really didn't want to be there, but being related to the President of the Carnival organisation (Christina's mum behind the white shirted dance leader) got caled into duty. There's somethign about 11's in Carnival - it starts on the 11th of the 11th, and there are 11 men on stage.

Christina's dance group with C in the middle

After shelling out extra for snow tyres I finally had use for them on my last day when I had a 5 hr drive back to the airport. There was chaos on the roads, the motorway was blocked, and I didn't have enough time to change plans, return the car where I was and go by train. It was hair raising at first having never driven on falling slushy snow (in Sweden it was all hard packed the few times I drove). There was much slipping and sliding, and I needed a push up hills twice, but I got there in the end and all was well. No 200km/hr autobahn driving that day though.
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Asbhy Castle & Calke Abbey

'Eyup, as they say

Sorry for the silence, so here we go with some of the latest buzz from my trips around the Midlands.

Not so many months ago when complaining that the Midlands were a bit boring, I was reliably informed that there is "so much to do" by a friend, and handed a book of all the UK Heritage sites in the area, which consists of castles, castle ruins, stately homes, more ruins, and cathedrals.

So, with new housemate on hand, we went to check out some of the local heritage and went to Ashby Castle (ruins) and breifly to Calke abbey, after discovering that the Bass brewery tour and discovery centre was closed.

The ruins were cool, the stately home ok too, but I've done a couple of each of these now, and honestly, don't really need to do more. But here for your viewing pleasure are some pics, with more on the Picassa weblink below.

Ashby Castle

Lots of tasty animals on display: Chinese golden pheasants above, and venison below!

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More photos: click here (

Friday, July 24, 2009

Update coming soon!

Keep your eyes peeled for an update soon!
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chatsworth House

Still catching up on pics from '08, here we have Chatsworth house, the classic stately home that is the backdrop to so many period movies and TV series. It was the home of Bess of Hardwick from the 1500's.

This was an amazing marble sculpture that made the veil look like the most fragile lace

A Rolls-Royce engine of course!

Sculpture park

Alex and Luca

Alex, Luca and I met up with Winnie and her mum Katherine who was over for a visit and who were doing a "Jane Austen" tour. Dinner was at the Bulls Head, along Pierre and Ben in blue, a RRFCS student who had literally just arrived from Germany that weekend.