Sunday, May 24, 2009

I blame Dean.

It’s been a week since Deano left and I still don’t think our liver’s or wallets have recovered, but nonetheless we had a wicked time with him whilst he was in town.

He arrived Friday (8th) and we welcomed him in style, we joined forces with the regular stockie crew as well as Azz, Nath and Wood and made our way to Temple Walkie for a wild night of drinking and debauchery. We were introduced to an interesting drinking game where last names, pointing and drinking with the right hand was not allowed – and boy! Did it get messy! The next morning, a little worse for wear (I think we all got bitten by a snake bite!) we headed out to enjoy the fine London sunshine by climbing about 500 steps to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral before heading to Azz’s local on the Thames for lunch. That night we returned home for a BBQ in the park where Frisbee and football got the better of the boys.

Sunday, with a dusty Aaron in tow we headed up to Camden markets – a packman hoodie, a cool banded watch and a few souvenirs later, we pulled into Lock 17 to enjoy the sunshine and a few quiet drinks, which (again) got messy.

Monday, we were both happy that Monday had come around so that we could escape Dean and the excessive alcohol consumption. But by Tuesday we were having Deano withdrawals so sick calls were made. Tuesday was spent in the craziness that is Primark and returning to Camden for lunch and another look around. Wednesday night we shifted our regular Thursday fun day so we could all attend a burlesque show in Holborn accompanied by a few *cough*too many*cough* bottles of wine. Friday rolled around far too quickly and we found ourselves once again out with the lads for a night of shirt swapping fun in Clapham starting at O’neils and finishing at Vodka Revolutions at around 3:30am – did we mention Deano’s flight check-in was 9am the following morning? Poor Dean.

After Dean’s departure, we returned to Vodka Revolution for another farewell that had a little somethin’ somethin’ for everyone. As well as a pretty fun drinking session in Camden – 2 cocktails for 7 quid, can’t really blame us for that one! But between the destruction of our liver’s (hehe), we have also been busy sightseeing. We have visited a number of Museums’ – National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of London; as well as Westminster Abbey - Tick, Tick, Tick, and Tick. With our “To Do” list now dwindling and the finish line for our time in London near we are making plans for our final trip home. We depart London on the 16th of July and travel through Greece, the Islands, Italy and south of France before shooting off to Sydney via KL and Perth. We arrive into Sydney on the 27th of August, put it in your calendar, we’re coming home (country road)!

We have plenty planned between now and then but our next stop is Croatia!!!!!!

Hope your all jealous :)

A little excited over the arrival of Dean.

Come on baby, light my fire! BBQ in the park!

Fun in the Sun at Camden (Lock 17)

The boys are back in town. (At Vodka Revolutions - Friday)
Again at Vodka Revolutions (Saturday night)

Yummy (and cheap!) cocktails.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pasta, Pizza and Pinot! Yum, Yum, Yum!

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s… well, something - I don’t think Venice though (?) but somehow that song always reminds me of the place.

Jarratt and I have just spent the last long weekend, in Venice. We arrived late Friday evening in time to check in and grab our first slice of pizza and a bottle of Italy’s finest red before spilling into bed.

Saturday we rose late and made our way out for some fine Italian coffee and sun!!! We then spent the better part of the day wandering in and out of Venice’s beautiful canals and streets – whilst working on our tans. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones to have the clever idea of nipping off to Venice for the long weekend. Before we even hit the Rialto Bridge we were in the midst of happy tourists – yet, unphased and without a schedule to live (and die) by we pressed on happily strolling through the shops – checking out the Carnival masks and being gobsmacked by some of the ridiculous asking prices of Murano glass! That night we ate on the Grand Canal overlooking the Rialto Bridge where we were treated to a feathered friend dinner guest and a free painting!

Sunday we rose late, again! (Yay for Bec! I know you all appreciate how rare it is on a Bec and J “holiday” to get a sleep in – least of all consecutive ones – so please, get excited for me!) Before boarding the number 1 ferry for a leisurely - and much more cost efficient than a gondola - ride down the Grand Canal ending at San Marco Square, or St Marks to those less in the know ;) We then climbed the stairs to the terrace lookout of the Basilica and watched the clock tower toll midday. The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling out by the canals, eating way too much gelato, drinking way to much pinot and spending way too much on glass – I think we now own more than Venice – But boy, was it a fun weekend. We then called it a night at Gino’s, which had fast become our favourite Italian haunt, before making a mad dash across town (not in 20 minutes, that’s for sure) to see San Marco Square all lit up by night.

Monday we headed back to old London town, stopping via brick lane for a curry on our way home. This weekend we are meant to be going horse-riding in Wales, but may postpone upon the arrival of Deano. Tomorrow, we’re off to opening night of Shakespeare’s Globe to see… (wait for it)….. (wait for it)…. Romeo and Juliet!!! YAY!!!

On the Rialto Bridge, looking down the Grand Canal.

Lost in the streets.

Just Gorgeous! Venice is nice as well ;)

Lunch views!

J in San Marco Square.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We will remember them

After finishing work on Friday Bec, Pipes and I all met at Kings cross station ready to catch our Eurostar train over to Lille on the French and Belgium border. Once on the train we met up with the rest of the people on our tour and our tour leader Bart (as in Simpson – Haha!) Once in Lille a small group of us wandered around the city before popping into a pizza restaurant for a quick bite and a few beers before heading to bed for our early wake up call.

Saturday morning we woke up at 2.30am (!) and jumped onto the bus and headed to Villers Bretonneaux about an hour away from the hotel, where we took part in the Anzac Day Dawn Service. Australian forces did not join the European war until 1916 after finishing their eight month campaign at Gallipoli. From Gallipoli they were moved to the north of France and were deployed to various areas of France and Belgium where they encountered gruesome trench warfare in a desperate and costly bid to prevent German troops forcing their way towards the English Channel. Unfortunately, we were not dressed appropriately for the weather that greeted us at the service and with our teeth chattering we were still better off then those in the war.

After the service, with the sun now warming our skin and a free coffee in our hand we searched the long list of names at the Villers Bretonneaux wall to find Jarratt’s Mum’s Great Uncle, Private William Price who lost his life in December 1916. Afterwards we headed along the Somme to various battlefields and memorials scatted all over. That night back in Lille, we headed to The Australian Bar for a few games of two up. Whilst Bec was tossing the coins, Jarratt won a 100 (Australian) dollars of which 50 was hidden in his money belt. Merry and rich we dingle-berried our way home into bed.

Sunday we headed into Belgium to Frommelles, where we met with a very passionate forensic worker, who is currently involved in digging up the recently discovered mass graves containing roughly 400 bodies, most presumed Australian. We spent about 2 hours listening to him tell us about the process involved in trying to identify each lad. A very sombre time was spent here, we felt fortunate to hear his tale, and moreso as the following day the site was closed to the general public. Passing by VC corner the next stop was The Hindenburg Line, the strongest and last line of the German army's defence which consisted of three very well defended trench systems. We then pressed on to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the world's biggest Commonwealth cemetery with 11,908 graves and 34,927 names engraved on the rear wall of the cemetery. A sight that statistics do not give justice to, you may well hear and read the figure and feel moved but until you stand in this place and look around all the unknown grave sites do you truly appreciate how costly (and perhaps pointless?!) a war it was.

That night we made our way into Ypres, a beautiful township in southern Belgium that played a critical role in the Allies' defence of the Western Front. Surrounded by lush green fields and rich fertile farmland, the landscape is dotted with a variety of cemeteries and memorials that serve as a lasting and eerie reminder of the bloody battles that raged day in & day out during War. Today a majestic archway stands at the entrance to Ypres in monument to more than 54,000 soldiers with no known graves and whose names are etched over its pristine stone walls. As with each & every night for the past 90 odd years, the last-post is played at the Menin Gate at 8pm which we were fortunate to witness. It was a great way to rap up the last few days.

Monday morning we jumped back onto the Eurostar minus our tour leader (who slept in), and made it back in time for work.

Bec, Jarratt and Pipes at Dawn service

Jarratt with with W Price

At VB school where a banner hangs '"Dont forget Australia"
Anzac Memorial at Le Hamel

Come in spinner!