Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas, etc

I've put our photos from the pre-Christmas Bruges trip up on the flickr site here. I missed Christmas with the family at Coolum, but The Boyfriend and I visited the pub after braving a very London-style rainy Christmas day. Then The Boyfriend cooked a fantastic turkey dinner. Nice having someone around who doesn't manage to ruin everything he cooks!

A couple of Bruges shots to convince you to bother checking out flickr.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Iceland revisited

Unfortunately we have not yet re-visited Iceland, as much as I would like to. But Alisha, one of our compatriots and fellow Iceland visitors, sent me some great photos of my favourite bit of Iceland - Þingvellir National Park, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. This spot was the first stop on our day tour out of Reykjavik and it was amazing. Snow-dusted cliffs wrenching out of the ground where the pressure between the plates has forced them up and across, and a beautiful clear blue sky reflecting off the water between the rocks. Plus a sunrise. What more could you ask.

Somewhat typically, the battery in my camera ran out right after we got out of the jeep to walk across the park, and as the spare was in the car, I couldn't take any photos. I have added these couple from Alisha onto the flickr site but since there are only 2, and they're almost my favourites of the whole trip (although The Boyfriend and the bicycle is up there), I have posted them below.

We're slogging through the last couple of weeks of work before Christmas. Bruges in 9 days.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Night lights

This is Somerset House in Central London a few nights ago. They set up ice-skating rinks at some of the public buildings and parks at this time of year. You can pay about 10 pounds or thereabouts to go skating for a night. The rink wasn't open yet so I couldn't get any closer.

At this time of year it's all Christmas lights in Oxford Street. D-grade celebrities like X Factor contestants and S Club 7 usually turn them on during November. I was on a mission for pillows the other night so here are some shots of the street.

These are some of the more pretentious Christmas windows along the Bond Street end - Selfridges:

(Still can't seem to hold that camera straight.)

And Debenhams' more family-friendly ones. All of the bears were on strings and moving; tangling themselves in ribbons and decorations or stuck in the Christmas tree ... actually pretty cute.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


I have too many Iceland photos I wanted to post, so I have put them all on flickr.com at this link.

If that link doesn't work, you might need to join flickr.com to check them out but please send me an email or make a comment below if that is the case, and I can send you my login details if you like.

Monday, 12 November 2007


I've amended the page settings so there are fewer entries on each page, so it should load a bit faster. The internet speeds are much faster here than in Oz so I forgot about how long the photos would take to load over there.

Stay tuned for Iceland photos.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


These are just some more boring park/landscape photos but if you imagine the cold, misty air and falling leaves it makes it more interesting. Soon there won't be any leaves on the trees at all and then I'll stop posting photos of them all the time.

This is at Richmond, which is a short-ish tube ride from our flat. It's full of very grand houses and posh shops. The Thames also flows through here, in a far more picturesque fashion than in it does in Central London. There are little boats huddling under bridges, and weeping willows and crumbling mansions on the banks.

We actually went there in search of warm clothes for our Iceland trip this weekend as braving the crowds on Oxford Street or Kensington High Street is not a happy weekend excursion.

I took these from a tiny little restaurant perched halfway up a park hillside. The Boyfriend had an awesomely delicious wild mushroom tart (which we'd seen for sale earlier in a farmer's market in town) which I kindly helped him eat. I didn't order anything myself as he keeps cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast on the weekends, removing the need for proper lunches.

You can just see the Thames through the trees here.

In the autumn...

They have real seasons here. This is the tree outside the bedroom window about 2 weeks ago.

And this is what it looks like now.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Hyde Park

Shortly after The Boyfriend arrived we went for an expedition into town to Notting Hill, and then through Hyde Park into Kensington. Hyde Park in autumn reminds me of watching To the Manor Born or All Creatures Great and Small. All green grass and dogs romping under the trees and women in tartan wool skirts and boots.

The Boyfriend, looking a little jetlagged. Or like he's planning an armed robbery before lunch.

The Prince Albert Memorial and the Albert Hall. We couldn't help but comment about how we felt Queen Victoria went a little over the top.

It was slightly more pleasant than Monday morning this last week, when the train I was on stopped at Notting Hill Gate, and the driver announced in a friendly yet neutral tone that he didn't know when we'd have clearance to move again. Signal failure or something. After waiting 10 minutes I got out and walked to work. It took an hour and 20 minutes, including about half an hour walking the length of Hyde Park into the city. Enjoyable at first but after about 40 minutes, with a whole day of work ahead, I was cursing the London Underground.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Fairytale castle, where millions of pensions were born

Just a quick one...I took this a few weeks ago a block or so from my work on Holborn Viaduct. It's the old Prudential Assurance building. Looks more interesting than it sounds...

Monday, 8 October 2007

Celebrity sighting

On the way to Waterloo on Friday I had my first proper London celebrity sighting, and it was a good one. No Big Brother rejects or Neighbours cast for me. Dustin Hoffman!

I heard a security guard say they were filming a movie to be released next year. He said the title but it's completely slipped my mind... something with the word 'Harvest' in it?

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Bonsoir, ma famille

On Friday I took my inaugural Eurostar trip. Firstly, I have to say how excellent the train is, and how I never want to fly again. No queues, normal bar prices, comfy seats, friendly staff, no liquid restrictions on your cabin baggage, and only one security check. You catch the train at Waterloo, which is right in the middle of London (or as was drilled into me on the trips over and back, from King's Cross St Pancras from November 14!), and less than 3 hours later, you emerge in Montmartre.

Anyhoo, my trip was to Paris to meet some ex-Australian Voices friends. Kent and Kelly have been travelling through Mongolia (on horse-back for 2 weeks!) and then through Russia. They met up with Kelly's sister Sarah, and we all met in Paris along with Anika who now lives in Cologne (Germany) with her boyfriend Florian, Andy who lives near Bath (England), Clare who lives near Glencoe (Scotland) with her boyfriend Jamie, and Brodie who is living in Besancon (France).

Kent, Sarah, Brodie, Kelly and I hit Sacre Coeur early(ish) on Saturday morning as our hostel was only a few hundred metres away. Absolutely gorgeous day. It's weird the way London is so close to Paris, and Paris' weather looks like this, while London manages to be overcast 90% of the time.

Then we caught the Metro down into the Centre of town. Unfortunately, and unusually for me, I was not the wielder of the guidebook, so now I can't remember the name of this building. Quite embarrassing because it's the scene of the major events of the French Revolution.

We wandered onto the Ile de Cite to Notre Dame. I was tempted to make a hunchback joke but luckily I curbed that impulse in time.

After some amazing ice-cream (for the others) and a croissant (for me), we found ourselves in the Jardins des Tuileries where we took some sun. Unfortunately you are not allowed to sit on the grass in this park (or many of the other Paris parks, it seems) so some of us squeezed onto a bench, and the rest onto the autumn leaf-covered gravel. I think we're still searching in vain for grass without a 'Pelouse Interdite' sign.

We had dinner at a Greek/French restaurant not far from where some of my family and I stayed in 1995. The restaurant was very touristy and the food was not fantastic but with the 12 of us, we were not likely to get a table anywhere else.

In any case, it was the night of the France/Argentina Rugby World Cup game so every restaurant had a big screen TV and hordes of excited Frenchmen. They actually shushed everyone when the game started. Luckily France won, or the jubilation in the streets after the game could have become something much uglier. There were people absolutely everywhere dancing and drinking and celebrating the win. I am utterly sick of rugby after all the attention it gets in England, but it was an experience to be on the streets of Paris and see the excitement. We walked down the Seine in the moonlight, and there were car horns going non-stop and people hanging (very dangerously) out of cars brandishing French flags. The guy in the middle below was a random excited French guy who wanted to be in our photo.

The next day I just had time for a Metro trip to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Paris' most famous cemetery. Hundreds of famous people are buried here, including Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and Oscar Wilde. My camera's battery died shortly before reaching any of these graves but here are some shots in the cemetery.

I was exhausted on Sunday night - our hostel room was right on the courtyard and consequently we all spent a few early morning hours listening to inane backpacker conversation - but I am still amazed about being able to just pop over to Paris for the weekend.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Navigational issues

I am seeing the Dandy Warhols tonight at a place I haven't been to yet called the Electric Ballroom. It is in Camden, home of the famous markets, which is quite easy to get lost in as the tube station comes out onto an intersection that has about 7 new roads leading away from it and limited street signs. It looks quite close but I find in London, being used to the relatively new cities of Australia, that it is exceedingly easy to fail if you go somewhere new with a cocky faith that you will find what you're looking for quickly.

The streets branch off and double back and loop and are not sufficiently signed and even if they are there is a much wider range of things that may be a street name than one is used to. They have roads, streets, lanes, courts, crescents, squares, rows, drives, ways, closes, places and terraces which together are about the extent of what you might expect a road to be called in Australia. Here there is also [ ] Villas, [ ] Gardens, [ ] Hill, [ ] Fields, (despite having no common features with a villa, garden, hill or field), [ ] Mews, [ ] Viaduct, or something not even resembling a street name at all like "West Smithfield". So until you become familiar with the street sign layout in the particular borough it's very, very easy to get lost.

As an added level of trickiness most people look at you like a) you do not exist or b) they want you and everyone else to die a painful, slow death so unless you're really desperate, asking for directions is not very appealing.

So, in summary, if I'm not back in 24 hours, send help. And thank goodness for Google Maps.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

One rainy night in central London

After work last night I decided to eschew drinks after work and go for a stroll into a new bit of London. I work near St Paul's, which is just across the Thames from the South Bank where you can find the (New) Globe Theatre (remember Shakespeare in Love?), Tate Modern, the Tower and London Bridges and lots of other London sights. It was actually raining rather than just being the usual overcast, so while that makes it colder, it also makes concrete, smoggy London seem a bit more magical and cosmopolitan.

This is St Paul's from just near my work.

If you then walk around St Paul's and towards the Thames, you come to the Millennium Bridge (which the British Government built for the 2000 celebrations and then took a lot of flak for as the the bridge was architecturally flawed and wobbled). From the bridge you look one way and see the Tate Modern, and the other way, back north to St Paul's.

Here's a better view of the bridge itself.

The galleries and museums are all open till 10pm. I wasn't allowed to take photos in the Tate, but they have some really interesting and sometimes controversial art (being a modern art gallery). A lot of things that you think a 6-year-old could create, but also some really amazing things, and some famous works from people like Andy Warhol, Picasso, Frida Kahlo and Joan Miro. I particularly liked the photos by an artist called Francesca Woodman - a bit depressing, especially because she killed herself at 22 - but very original. So anyway, I took a photo of an installation outside just to get one art photo, and also one of me because I know how dull photos with no people can get. I also took a shot of the escalators because they were kind of beautiful all on their own.

And finally a night shot of St Paul's on the way home to the Tube.