Tuesday, 28 April 2009

identity crisis

Today was the big day for me and my life here in the UK! I am now a citizen!!! Considering I had already been living here for about 7 years, I didn't have any more hoops to jump through in terms of years to wait to fulfill the requirement for citizenship.
I did however need to take a "Knowledge of the UK" test. Passed with flying colours, so all that was needed to proceed was a gross sum of money and this ceremony.
To be accepted as a citizen in another country is quite nice: a sense of relief that any past shenanegans in my life didn't raise any red flags, a excitement over getting to come and go from England any time I want for as long as I want, and the excitement of knowing I can live anywhere in Europe without any paperwork!!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Running, running and more running....

Well, I say....
I am very impressed with our friends today - they finished the London Marathon!!!
Five of our mates decided to get themselves in shape and torture themselves with the grueling 26.2 miles through the streets of London. We were of course on hand to cheer them on, managing to locate each of them along the way at some point.
A few serious knee injuries later and they all crossed the line.
Although their style of walking afterwards was a bit humorous, it didn't take away from how impressed all us "cheerleaders" were with them being able to actually walk at all after such an incredibly serious pounding they put their bodies through!
Well done all!!!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Scotney Castle

Our visit to Scotney castle was a cold and windy day but well worth the hour treck from home!

Upon our arrival, we realised that only the day before had the new cafe and visitor centre been officially opened. So, in true expedition spirit, we promptly warmed up with some coffees and rather enjoyed the service and quality of the java!

Scotney Castle is actually a small castle at the foot of a hill upon which sits a massive manor house which was lived in up until the 1980s. The lady of the house finally passed it on to the National Trust upon her death as there were no heirs.

Walking around the inside of the "house", you could get a real sense of the incredible amount of maintenance that was required just to keep it looking okay. In fact, both she and her husband were living with water stained walls, deep long cracks, and loads of pretty intense maintenance problems. Goes to show that no matter how grandieose the setting, this place was a bear to keep in tip top shape. (Enter Joe's lesson in asset rich, cash poor people)

Nonetheless, it was a pretty incredible to walk through!

Here is the front of the house:

And the back:The back of the house overlooked the castle and moat - my favourite part of the whole property!
The castle is in ruins, something Joe and I thought was the natural cause of nature reclaiming itself over the years. We were shocked to discover that a previous owner during Victorian times had intentionally destroyed portions of the castle to create a more romantic feel to the place! The horror! Okay, we secretly liked it...

What a place, eh? And this was on just a portion of the entire estate!


On our way back to London from the big Birthday celebration weekend for Joe, we took a detour.....to Wales.
After almost having a heart attack paying almost £6 to cross the bridge into Wales, i took a few deep breaths and soldiered on.
We were about 5 minutes from the entrance to our destination, when a wrong turn tested the wonder that is "Joe Joe", my own version of Tom Tom made up of Joe and his mobile phone gps. Note to travellers: gps on mobile phones isn't very reliable in remote places. Numerous back country gravel paths later, we found the parking lot for our day hike mission.
The country park consists of 4 big waterfalls situated along a 3 mile path. For each waterfall, you need to descend (quite a long way I might add) along rock strewn paths and water drenched mud steps to get nice a close for photo opps and getting wet opps.
At one point, Joe and I went down through a waterfall and chose another trecherous path back up the other side only to find out we went the wrong way. Bemused and exhausted, we scaled down the incredibly steep, muddy and slippery rocks back to the correct side and huffed our way back to the car.
It was hard, we were in pain, and in hindsight, it probably wasn't the best choice of activities before a 5 hour ride home. But, it was worth it!!! Check these photos out!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Joe's Birthday Balloon Ride 2009

What an amazing day in April!!
When we got to the site early in the morning, the blue sky was taking over from the cold, dreary and cloudy night. You can actually see the cold front in one long line moving further and further away from us in one photo.
I couldn't believe my eyes when we saw the size of the balloon basket. Talk about the mini van of baskets - that puppy fit 12 people!
We barely had any wind, so didn't get too far. But, the sites were lovely nonetheless and we had a great time just soaking in the beauty and the sun on the crisp spring day.
Ended of landing in a field, had some champers and got moving back into downtown Bristol.

Bristol April 2009

Wow - what a great city! I didn't realise how nice it was, what with the canal system and all!
Joe and I spent a few days here as our "base camp" for Joe's Birthday Balloon ride a short drive away.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Bradford Upon Avon

You ever driving somewhere and end up going through somewhere just so stunning that you stop your journey and forget about the end point?
Well, that's Bradford Upon Avon.
After a quick look into estate agent windows at picture perfect homes costing a minimum of £700k, our dreams for a better life quashed yet again, we drowned our sorrows in a lovely walk along the Avon River through the town, along a path into the countryside and back again.
Simply gorgeous.


Our visit to Lacock didn't disappoint! In fact, after walking around for a little while, we realised we had been then before with my grams and gramps a year prior on a cold, wet, windy night on our way back to London from Stonehenge.
A fantastic village with picturesque charm, looks like it hasn't really changed much since the 1800s, with the exception of the cars! In fact, it is often used in period dramas, for some of the Harry Potter films and other films. Beautiful!
We were there just before Easter and that day the village organised a massive Easter hunt throught the entire village, with all the shopkeepers involved, getting the little kiddies and their parents to follow clues which eventually lead to....well, frankly, I don't know, cause we didn't follow them! We ended up in the pub!
Met a great potter who has a pottery right across the street from the church (I posted about him in the jml pottery blog) which I would die for!

The Courts Garden

This is the courts gardens, now on the site of a former turn of the century mill located near Bath.
Although certainly lovely in April during our visit, aparently it is alive with colour in the summer.

I'm trying to impress Yen with my photos here - so I'll be happy to hear what she has to say!
But, here they are for you all to enjoy!!!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

10k in Richmond Park

My big 2009 10k is over!
Thanks to Has and Joe for coming along for support!
Did it in 57 minutes!!!