Oct 16th - Nov 1st
16.10.2009 - 01.11.2009 11 °C
October 16th : Glasgow
Today we made the most of being back in a house, washed lots of clothes, tidied out Vandal, caught up on internet replies etc and relaxed in the warm....aahhhhhhh warrrrrmth
October 17th : Glasgow
Today we had a lovely day out in Glasgow with George and Irene. We visited the People's Palace which details the social history of Glasgow and was quite interesting. We had a nice lunch in the sunny gardens before heading into town to have a look around the markets. Had some coffee and cake then headed back home. We packed our bags ready for Edinburgh and then Craig came to pick us up. We went back to his place and met some of his friends, drank beer and ate pizza. We then caught a cab into Glasgow and went to a cool little bar for the night, indulging in beer and fun, before catching a cab back to his place., a good night had by all!
October 18th - 21st : Edinburgh
We caught a (cheap!) bus from Glasgow to Edinburgh on Sunday. Once there we found our hostel, a dingy little place full of art, long term workers, musos and artists. With a labyrinthine staircase it was quite cool and homely. Out and about in Edinburgh we wandered the Golden Mile up to the castle and poked about the little lanes and courtyards. Edinburgh is amazing. It is such a beautiful, picturesque city with a great artsy scene. Despite it being over saturated with tourists, it retains a genuine character and charm.
Whilst wandering we stumbled across a place called 'Forest' a community artspace which also acts as a: volunteer run vegetarian cafe, a 'freeshop' (look it up – great concept), an art studio and shop, and a 'sip and snip' hairdresser where you get a shot of vodka with your haircut! Cam tried to get a snip but the girl was out. It is a really great place, warm and colourful with mis matching furniture. The food is delicious and the people are lovely and interesting. It is one of those places where you feel like anything is possible, everyone is inspires and enthused, and you feel as though what you choose to do as an individual can really make a difference. I like spaces like that. I'd love to create one in Aus. It was kind of like the Jade Monkey, only bigger and actually with people in it.
In the afternoon we wandered around the new town of Edinburgh and then back to the hostel in the evening for the free communal dinner. It was quite nice! A spinach bake cooked by a Spanish artist who earns his keep doing street-side water colours of the castle. After dinner we reconvened to the TV/chill out room where we chatted with some people then watched 'Requiem For a Dream'. This was possibly the most depressing movie I have seen and not one I am in a rush to drag myself through again. In post-film mix of gloom and nausea, we crawled into bed for a late night.
Monday morning started early, we were raring to get back out into the town. We began the day by walking to The Forest for coffee before heading to The Golden Mile to meet up for a Free walking tour. This was run by Hamish, a nice English Geography student. He walked us around for 5 hours and we learned all about; the Geology of Edinburgh, King Charles and his attempts to woo the people with free wine, the 'spitting' heart on the ground at the old tollbooth, why the poorest people lived on the top floors (fires), the origins of the term shit-faced' (people throwing their refuse out the window at pub closing time, those too drunk to move out the way received a face full of shite), the sigining of the covenan which made many enemies, witch killing on the castle grounds, execution at the green market, Victoria lane, the story of the Burke murders, Greyfriar's cemetery, George MacKenzie's mausoleum (poltergeist), covenanters prison, Greyfriar's Bobby dog, story of Deacon Brodie and the story of the Stone of Destiny. It was a big day and we both really enjoyed it. We gave Hamish a 10quid tip and then hobbled to the cinema to see 'Up', which was gorgeous.
Tuesday following breakfast we walked to the National Museum of Scotland, where we spent quite a few hours looking around, it had loads of really good exhibits (photography, social history, textile and agriculture, art, medicine, sport..). Got a big cheap falafel for lunch then nipped into Forest to say hello to everyone and grab a coffee. We perused the art shop and found some beautiful prints made by a Swedish backpacker (who insists on going by an alias to remain anonymous) I bought one medium one and then we went to The Elephant House where we spent most of the arvo drinking copious amounts of tea and writing, just as J.K Rowling did when writing a little known series about a young Mr Potter.....
We walked to the other side of the city to 'The Stand', world famous comedy club, but found nothing to our liking (entertainment nor economy-wise) so walked right back to The Forest to see a band from Canada play. We sat and shared a bottle of wine by candle light and listened to their quirky tunes and stories about forest occupations in Belgium. It was great! Back at the hostel we stayed up to a ridiculous hour chatting with fellow travellers.
Wednesday found us up and checked out (somehow on time). We spent the morning on the Golden Mile (which, interestingly, is longer than 1 mile) and bought a book from Oxfam. Walked to The Forest for a last hang out, complete with coffee and nachos before hopping on the bus back to Glasgow. Once there we wandered around for a bit before getting the train to Clarkston, where we were greeted with a lovely dinner and evening with Geo and Irene.
October 22nd - 25th : Glasgow -> Welshpool (Wales) -> Hay-on-Wye -> Brecon on Beacons
Thursday we had planned to get back on the road in Vandal and head South. After having breakfast, doing a mountain of washing, catching up on emails and checking maps, it was getting into the afternoon, so we gave up on that idea and stayed in Clarkston for another night. We indulged in a spicy vegetarian haggis for dinner and the watched 'Question Time' on the BBC. A particularly important one, as it was interviewing Nick Griffiths, the leader of the BNP (a fascist / racist / backward / brain dead / generally-scum-of-the-earth type party). It was interesting and infruriating and challenging to watch without throwing things at the TV. We had a couple of beers with George before going to beddy-byes.
Friday we saw 3 countries in 1 day! We drove out of Scotland, in to the UK and then to Wales. We were up fairly early this morning and set off a bit after 10am. Driving and admiring the beautiful Autumnal colours, our first port of call was Dumfries for the Robert Burns Gardens. This proved to be impossible to park in and the traffic was making Cam a little one edge to say the least. We drove around the place 3 times but could not find anywhere, so we sadly gave up and made our way out of the crowds and continued on towards Wales. It was a nice, long leisurely drive, we stopped at a couple of little towns for snacks and ingredients for dinner. We eventually called it a night at the side of the road just outside of Hay-on-Wye.
Saturday we drove into Hay-on-Wye (taking photos at the Welcome to Wales/England signs as it's just on the border). It is a beautiful 'book town', the self procliamed 'king' lives in a castle (full of books) and runs the Honesty Bookshop, an open air shelving area where ou pick a book and put some money in a bucket if you decide to take it. The town is home to over 30 book shops and has the biggest second hand bookshop in the world. Not surprisingly, we spent the day......looking through books! We had lunch at The Granary and finished up the day with a couple of books at the Red Lion, where we chatted with the bartender for a while before making our way out of town in Vandal after nightfall, to freepark in Welshpool near the Brecon Beacons.
It's not every Sunday that your breakfast is followed by being questioned by a Welsh police officer to check that you haven't committed robberies. But, today was our lucky day! He was a lovely guy, any sense of intimidation he may have had over us was immediately quashed by his sing-song Welsh accent and his first statement of “I don't think you guys are criminals”. We told him our story and continued on our way with our crime check paperwork (and a van full of stolen goods – woohoo!) After that we made our way to the town of Brecon, where we spent the day walking along the canal and perusing the town. We had a coffee and a nice long walk before heading back to Vandal and out of the town. We found a tiny winding little B road to park in. This turned out to be some sort of tractor racetrack or such-like, and a little noisy...
October 26th – 29th : Adlington (The Cotswalds) -> Egham
Monday we were back on our way to the beautiful home of Graeme, Candice and Daisy in the Cotswalds. We had a nice short drive of a couple of hours to their house where we had a nice welcome from the ladies of the house (and Louie dog). After much needed coffee, showers and catch ups, we went to Broadway were we climbed up to the Broadway tower. Louie resisted the sheep and Daisy found some lady bugs, it was a lovely view over the area from the top. We went home for some dinner and when Graeme arrived back from work we had a fun evening drinking wine and chatting.
Tuesday took us to the grand date of 7 months on the road! We started the day lazily and then went to Bourton-on-the-Water with Candice and Daisy. We had a nice cream tea, Daisy fed the ducks (she has no fear!) and then went on a tour through the laboratory and gardens of the sweet-smelling Cotswalds Perfumery. After that we drove to Swindon where Daisy, Cameron and I bought some boots for the coming winter. Home for another nice cosy evening of food and conversation, we have really enjoyed our times with these guys.
Wednesday we said our farewells and set on the road to Egham. Once there we shared our stories and some photos with Nanny, drank lots of tea and relaxed. We got some bits out of Vandal in preparation for a big clean out to sell her.
Thursday we spent the day with Mike and Sheilagh. They took us to the Fox and Hounds for a lovely lunch with cider and good conversation. After which we took a nice walk through Windsor park. This included Cam getting covered in fox poo, Sheilagh darting into the bushes and Bertie swimming in the lake (to remove above fox poo) was fun! Back home we caught up on our washing, hung out with Nanny and organised a weekend in London with Pablo and Sam.
October 30th – November 1st : Ol' London Town
Friday saw us at the library in the morning to use the internet, then in the evening catching the train into town. Caught the tube from Waterloo to meet up with Pablo, our Chilean friend whom we met back in Adelaide where he was learning French (confused?). He is now studying Urban Planning at LSE. We walked to a bar where Cam and I stayed for a little bit having a pint while Pablo finished a meeting. When he returned we chatted to a couple of nice philosophy grads and then jumped on a bus out to a party. The party was full of international uni students in a girls little apartment. By the time we got there everyone was ticking over nicely and we were cornered by a drunk BBC worker who kept repeatedly telling us a story of him interviewing Ike Turner, while attempting to remain upright. Another Texan kept insisting that Texas was just like Australia, while all around us people danced and debated in a small space. It was an interesting night. We caught the first morning bus (full of the sort of people you would imagine catching a 4am bus in London) back to Pablo's apartment to catch some Z's.
Saturday we had a late rise, a nice breakfast with Pablo before saying goodbye. We caught the tube back into town and walked along the Thames for a long time. We stopped into the Tate Modern for an amazing Moccha before getting in contact with Sam, a really nice guy that we had met in Bangkok. We caught the train to his place, stopping on the way for wine. He utilised his Indian travel experiences to cook us a fantastic vego curry and we had a really awesome night chatting, eating and drinking. After dinner we walked down to the area known as the Angel, which is full of pubs and restarants. As it was Halloween we shared the footpath with all sorts of characters in dress up, it was great. We stopped in at a little bar where we had some beer and hanging out before heading back to his place to play some music and sleep.
Sunday found me feeling old and knackered after 2 big nights – how sad! We had some of Sam's brownies for breakfast (he's a cookie baker) and then began the long journey home. Thanks to a combination of it being a Sunday, not connecting trains/buses and continuous line closures thanks to maintenance, it took us hours to get back to Egham. We stopped on the way to get some bits in Staines and then arrived home to tell Nanny all about our weekend, have dinner, watch a movie and get some much needed sleep!