Friday, June 19, 2009

Get em up!

Last weekend we headed to Wales for a horse riding weekend. Friday night we meet our small group of six and our host Tony at Ealing common tube station before he drove us four hours across the border. The drive itself was very pleasant because of a few road blocks on the main highway; we took the scenic way and pasted many rolling green hills and small English towns, even stopping to let a group of sheep muster by. We arrived at our destination Brecon Beacons national park about 11pm and had a welcome drink before settling into bed.

Saturday we arose to the smell of a warm breakfast being cooked, Tony had been a 5 star chief from around the world. Filling our tummies and making a packed lunch we headed to the stables. After meeting Viking (Jarratt’s) and Roody (Bec’s) our horses for the day we got a quick lesson on horse riding and off we went. Walking away from the stables and into the national park it wasn’t long before we felt comfortable with the horses. The next step was trotting and cantering, which didn’t prove too much of a problem, although we had one broken hand and no sports bra between us. The views were amazing as we walked, trotted and cantered our way along the hills and rivers. After 5 hours of riding, we were both very sore and Jarratt a little sunburn, we had, had an amazing time!

Heading back to the house with drinks in hand we all fell into the hot tube to sooth our muscles and enjoyed the rest of the night. Tony also cooked up a three course meal, consisting of a very nice pumpkin soup, BBQ and dessert.

Sunday some of us had a sleep in whilst others played some shuttle cock, patted the horses and entertained the dogs before a late breakfast. We then left the country bound for London once more, very sore but had a great weekend.

Geared up, ready to RIDE HIGH!

Wow, right? And the view aint bad either ;)

Ahh.... relaxation - plus the t-shirt tan! LOVE IT!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Go Hard or Go Home!

After a relaxing week away in Croatia, we have hit the ground running as our time here is running out. Our first week back we went to Shakespeare globe on the Wednesday night to see ‘As you like it,’ with Dave and Bec.

Then on the Thursday night we went to the horse guard’s parade down from Trafalgar square to watch ‘Beating the Retreat’, similar to the military tattoo. The London version was performed by the Household Division, the Pipes and Drums division from the Scots Guards, and a division from Norway. The Retreat was originally used in fighting when beating or sounding a retreat pulled a halt to the days fighting, a return to camp and the mounting of the guard for the night. A good night with Norway putting on the best display.

On Friday we finished work and meet up with Dave and Bec to head to Amsterdam for their farewell weekend. After arriving in Amsterdam late on Friday night, and checking into our hostel we headed out to a cafĂ© to sample some of Amsterdam’s finest, all tired we headed to bed early in preparation for the weekend ahead.

Saturday we woke up and fought the crowds for our hostel breakfast before heading out on the town. Both Bec’s headed to Anne Frank’s house, while Dave and myself got comfortable in a pub. After all meeting back up we moved pubs and slowly made our way up and down the many narrow street of Amsterdam sampling most of what it had to offer, quite a messy and memorable day.

Sunday we hired push bikes and rode out to the country side, we headed past a windmill and ended up at a cheese and clog factory tasting and buying some of the product before turning around and heading home. That night all worn out we opted for a few quite drinks, and an early dinner before crashing in bed, with Jarratt well and truly retaining the Master Chief title (HAHA, pays to do the blog early DAVID!)

Monday we caught a flight back to London, dropped our bags, said farewell to Dave and Bec and jumped back onto a train heading to Trent Bridge. We had tickets to the T20 cricket world cup to see Ireland V Bangladesh and Australia V Sri Lanka. After finding our seats amongst the overwhelming Bangladesh supporters it was good to see Ireland win. Then before the next game started all the Bangladesh supporters changed there shirts and started supporting Sri Lanka. With only about 10 Australian supporters there, we were in for a long game. Sri Lanka ran away with the win and with English supports giving us grief with left with our tales between our legs.

Beating the Retreat at the Horse Guards parade

Farewell Drinks in Amsterdam
Biking around Amsterdam

Bec enjoying a beer at the cricket at Trent Bridge

Not much to cheer about

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why not Split to Croatia and Hvar a good time?

Two weeks ago (23rd May) we set off from London to spend 8 glorious days in Croatia. We had been hanging out for a nice relaxing beach trip ever since our summer break in Spain. We were desperate to slow down, relax and unwind…. But, initially, totally the opposite happened.

We arrived at London Bridge to catch our train to Gatwick only to find all trains were delayed. We were then directed to Kings Cross for a different train, but on arrival …. All trains were cancelled – it was 8 o’clock, our flight closed at 9am and Gatwick is AT LEAST an hour drive away. However, some quick thinking, an amazing cabbie and a whole wad of cash later we arrived safely, although a little rattled and strolled onto our plane. Having thought the worst was behind us, we arrived at Dubrovnik to find we were the only ones still waiting at the carousel for our bag. After 10 minutes we discovered our bag was safe and sound…. and still in London! BA assured us we would have our bag by the evening, so we set about (in jeans, jumpers and NO swimmers) to make the best of the 40 degree heat of Dubrovnik. We spent the afternoon wandering the beautiful town, drinking at a bar cut into the cliff side and generally staying in the shade. By 9 that night we were showered, fed and in the possession of our AWOL bag.

The next day we sweated it out on the city walls before heading to Lapad Bay for a swim. That night we headed back into town for a nice dinner of seafood pizza and wine. Tuesday we said goodbye to Dubrovnik and headed to Krocula, one of the many islands along the Dalmatia coast. Upon arrival at the bus terminal we were greeted by the most bubbly, happy lady we had ever met. Lenni, then led us to one of her apartments that would be our home for the next two nights and OH.MY.GOD it was amazing. A beautiful studio, complete with kitchen, laundry and a tropical fish tank, which was 100 metres from the waters edge! We finally felt like we’d got the holiday we wanted. The next two days were spent learning to ride scooters, eating far too much, swimming in crystal clear waters and topping up our tans. On the third day we boarded a ferry to Hvar (another island) and said a sad farewell to Lenni.

Hvar was much the same, we spent a blissful two days sleeping in, swimming and eating before moving on to Split for the day. Split proved to be an interesting town complete with city walls and old palace ruins. But is very much a transit city with the constant ferry traffic in and out of the marine dock. We decided to catch an evening train to Zagreb, rather than an overnight one, to make the most of our final day in Croatia. Zagreb was a lot cooler than the south and islands and we spent much of our remaining time exploring the two hills, being scared by the noon day cannon and eating Croatia food for the last time. It had been a rollercoaster ride of a holiday, but well worth it!

Looking over Dubrovnik

Biking around Krocula
Close to sunset on Hvar Island

Swimming in crystal clear water
Looking out over Split Harbour
Looking from one hill to the other in Zagreb