Thursday, 28 August 2008

Picture-perfect Perth

We farewelled Bron and Steve and left the UK bound for Perth. We were a mixture of emotions - Matt couldn't contain his excitement, at last he was going home; and I, well, I wished we were flying somewhere else, like Croatia, or Turkey, or Poland. Wasn't quite ready for Australia. But in the end Perth was perfect.

We'd been out of Australia for so long that it felt like we were visiting for the first time. But with a sense of familiarity. And the cul-de-sac was the perfect place to get over our jetlag, our 12 months away, and realise that coming home isn't quite so bad after all really. Especially when we had 8 days (count them, 8) of glorious sunshine! And the bestest hosts ever!!

Our 10 days in Perth were jam packed, we went:
- cycling around Rottnest Island
- on a Swan Valley river and wine cruise
- walking through the botanical gardens around Kings Park
- chilaxed and pampered ourselves
- had quite a few chimney parties
- dining on the waterfront at Hillarys

Such a great stay in Perth and the best way to ease back into coming home.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

London for the last time

After packing up our wee flat in Cambridge and cheerio-ing Mum and May off we headed down to London to check in to Hotel Bronwyn in Bethnal Green.

As I'm writing this, we've only got a weekend left in London before we leave for Perth. The last week has been so so busy, by far the busiest of all our London trips, and it's been GREAT!

The Friday that we arrived, Matt, Ross and I met up with Darren and Lindsey for a night in China Town. Lots of wine and a bit of Chinese later we decided it would be a great idea to find a Karaoke bar. Such a great night out!!

Saturday night I headed out with Jesski, KatyB, and KK from soccer for dinner and drinks. We had a fantastic meal at an Argentinean restaurant in Angel followed by a few cocktails just down the road. The cocktails were going great until a random boy thought it would be funny to harrass us. So we got him kicked out and kept drinking the night away. My first mini-cab home by myself experience - wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Too easy.

Sunday arvo was our recovery session - a picnic in Hyde Park with Jesski and KatyB followed by a bit of frisbee action. Sweet. Even though the weather was rubbish, it was still a great afternoon.

Jennie arrived from Hereford on Monday and we decided that wee night in wouldn't go astray - although that didn't mean we wouldn't be drinking. Drunken monopoly and pizza's - all class!

We woke on Tuesday hoping for good weather as we were heading to Brighton for a day trip. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't the case. It was overcast, grey and a bit drizzly - not the best weather for a trip to the seaside. But we weren't going to let it ruin our day. We got down there in time for a bit of lunch and then we hit the pier. After about an hour on the 2p amusements (which I'm pretty much addicted to!) we came outside and what did we find, but glorious sunshine all around us - hurrah! We headed off to a big park to play some more frisbee (the bestest cure for hangovers!) and were back in London that evening in time for the last tube home. Good day out for only 6 pounds (cheapest thing we've ever gotten in London, ever!).

Wednesday saw us do a spot of shopping and we caught dinner and a show. For 20 quid we were treated to a two course meal and some balcony seats to take in Spamalot - a show written by the writers of Monty Python all about the knights of the round table who are on a quest for the holy grail. Great stuff. The heat was unbearable in the theatre (I know, heat in London, what the?!) but the rest of the night was awesome.

We fared Ross and Jennie well on Thursday evening as they were heading back home on the Friday morning. Matt and I met up with some of my soccer friends - Norway and her sisters for a few ciders; and KatyB had us over for dinner - which really was lovely and great to catch up.

The weekend sees us doing lots of other things and catching up with friends before having to sort through our bags and decided if we really really want to keep that tacky souviner from that place we went to one time.

Unfortunately the end of our stay is coming up fast! And we seem to be falling apart at the seams. Matt has a chest infection and I have conjunctivitus. Not the best combination really. But maybe it's a sign that our timing is great. We're off to Perth for a week and then will be heading back into Bris-Vegas. Bring it on :)

Back in Bath

After getting back safe and sound from Liverpool, we settled down for a day of chilaxing in Cambridge. Unfortunatley for me, I chilaxed too much, and didn't quite keep an eye on my purse, which got taken out of my bag. Luckily enough for me they didn't take my whole bag otherwise I would have had literally nothing! But after a few tears and a mini tantrum I was fine and wasn't going to let it ruin the night of Pimm's cocktails that May, Mum and I were having.

The next day we packed up the wee hire car (again!) and May, Mum, Matt and I headed down to Cornwall. Temperatures hit 31 degrees outside while we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. So the drive was taking much longer than we had anticipated. We reached Bath and decided to call it a day. Neither May nor Mum had been to Bath and Matt and I had loved it the first time, so we decided to cancel Cornwall. The weather was beautiful and we were lucky enough to find accommodation (but not after making about 10 phone calls, each one getting more and more desperate!). Totally lucky in the end.

On our first night we decided to head out to a Nepalese restaurant and were greeted by a young Australian guy from Albion. North side vs. south side jabs commenced, but it was great to hear another Australian voice in a place where we weren't expecting it. The meal was fantastic and we were able to sit in a cul de sac of an outdoor garden and make as much noise as we wanted!

The next morning we headed out to Avebury (Matt and I had visited Avebury on our last trip, but again, it was so lovely we just had to do it again with May and Mum). Avebury is a much larger and more magnificent Stonehenge and you can actually walk amongst the stones and touch them without having to pay an entry fee (unliked Stonehenge). The drive to and from Avebury was lovely and we saw two of the white horses painted into the hills. Cool. We decided to be tourists in the arvo and hit the open top bus for a tour. And that evening we shouted ourselves to some fine french cuisine - by far the most expensive dinner to date (well apart from the fine french cuisine we had in France) and it was delish!

Such a great weekend away and the weather was magnificent which made it all the more better. And the Monty sisters were in fine form all weekend!

Loving Liverpool

After arriving back in Cambridge from our Scotland road trip, we picked up Mum and May from the bus stop and had a night to catch up. Early-ish the next morning we were back in the car and on our way to Liverpool (well, minus Matt who, unfortunately, had to work). So it was Ross, Jennie, Mum, May and Storm in the tiny hire car. And 3 and a half hours and many many games of 20 questions and "I went to a fruit shop" later, we arrived safe and sound to our apartment in Liverpool.

Mum, May and I hit the tourist shop and pub straight away. With Ross and Jennie meeting us there later. That night we had a lovely meal in Albert Dock and my friends Jesski and Richard joined us for some drinks. Was lots of fun.

The next morning we had two plans - one, do the Beatles tour and two, go to Anfield. Oh and we had to do it by 4pm. This sounds quite easy, but given the massive hang overs from the night before we realised that it may not be achievable. In the end we were only 1 hour late, so not so bad in the end.

All up a nice overnight trip to Liverpool, the 2008 European City of Culture.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Good times in Glasgow

Unfortunately we under estimated how long it would take us to get from Inverness to Glasgow. Instead of taking 3 hours it ended up taking 5, but the best part of the trip was that we had fantastic weather and awesome scenery.

When we arrived we checked into our hotel and Ross, Matt and I headed to Cumbernauld to see Tisha, Harry and the rest of the family. Again, we had estimated a 20 min journey and it ended up taking an hour! Our Navman, sat-Matt at his finest ;) It was great to see everyone and for Ross to meet cousins and second cousins that he hadn't met before. And for Matt to meet *more* Parker family members!

We managed to see a few pubs in Glasgow that night, however unfortunately we had only allocated one night so couldn't see too much. Matt and I got up bright and early and headed off to George Square to at least be semi-tourists. It was quiet lovely. Wouldn't have minded another night or two to see more, but unfortunately we didn't have much time.

We headed back to Cambridge to meet Mum and May who were to arrive that afternoon.

Inverness Highland Games

We arrived in the tiny wee town of Inverness and were looking forward to our highland games experience the next day. We decided to have a night out in the town on our first night and managed to find a karaoke bar (which we loved!) but were also bitterly disappointed when every pub/club shut at midnight. Midnight!! Not what we were expecting.

The next morning we were up bright and early and headed off to the highland games location. And as soon as we got there, unfortunately it started pouring. But that didn't stop the awesome atmosphere. There were two groups of strong men - juniors (under 25) and masters (over 40). Each group had to go through and compete various stages. The stages we saw were throwing 42lbs for distance and for height and the tossing of the caber. Awesome awesome strength! There was also traditional scottish dancing and a marching band that was also quite impressive. A great day out!

From Inverness we headed back down south to Glasgow, however we did manage to stop off and get some pictures of Loch Ness, which was pretty fantastic as well!

Climbing 250 steps in Stirling

From Edinburgh we travelled to Stirling via the Forth Road Bridge (which, interestingly enough spans the Firth of Forth - try saying that 10 times after 10 pints!). We had arranged one night in Stirling so we could visit the William Wallace Monument.

The day we arrived was pretty dreary, so after a couple of pints in the only Irish pub (?!) in town we headed over to play a bit of ten pin bowling. Quite a nice way to spend the miserable afternoon. The competitiveness didn't end there though - we decided to have a quiet night in over an intense game of monopoly.

We woke the next morning to a lovely day and headed over to the William Wallace Monument. Here's us thinking it might have been a bit of a museum layout - instead we had to climb over 250 steps to reach the top of the Monument! There were six levels along the way that had lots of interesting information on the story of William Wallace, which also helped us to catch our breaths! The views were magnificent though, so it wasn't all bad.

From Stirling we drove further north to Inverness.