Saturday, 29 March 2008

I'm Dreaming of a White... Easter?!!

Things are looking up. We have had a nice wee touch of snow, some visitors over the long weekend and the days are getting longer, getting dark at 6:35, and it is supposed to be a whopping 10oC tomorrow.
Jordan and Jax (friends of Eryn’s from New Plymouth) came and stayed for a night on Saturday. Thanks to the delight that is public transport we had to drive most of the way to London to pick them up. What should have taken an hour and cost ₤15, was going to take two and a half, involve three trains and two buses… and cost a rather ridiculous ₤120.

After a bit of a drive to the north bits of Suffolk, where we checked out Framlingham Castle (in the dusk), tried to drive to the disappearing town of Dunwich (in the almost dark), and went for a walk on the beach at a town which we have yet to locate on a map (in the dark). We ended up in a cute little pub in Aldeburgh (which, the locals inform us, is pronounced ‘ALL-borough’… we’re beginning to agree that English is the hardest language to learn!) where we discussed the sometimes absurd challenges of life in Blighty. In hindsight, it might not have been the best location for this conversation, so we beat a somewhat hasty retreat after a couple of nasty stares from the natives.

The others indulged in some good old fashioned British binge drinking – which is a lot like the binge drinking at home, only less frequent and finishing earlier – while I looked on in disgust and judged them for being so common…and some middle of the night phone calls to NZ – it’s about the only time that the time difference comes in handy!

Woke up to snow the next day, proper on-the-ground stuff too, none of this ‘it’s snowing but not settling” rubbish in Ipswich… so we headed off to the park and made a snowman. When I say we I mean Eryn, she was about as excited as a Labrador chasing a stick… And about as good at making snowmen as the Queen’s corgis. As soon as we got inside (completely soaked), it stopped snowing and was nearly gone three hours later.

Click on the photo for the whole album:

As soon as we’d loaded Jordan & Jax back on the train, Rod and Louise turned up for a couple of nights – was great to see them, and an opportunity to retrace our steps from Saturday in the daylight! We did discover we have an uncanny knack of leaving a town once the snow cleared up and arriving just as it started in the next place… it made for some picture-postcard-type scenes, but there comes a point when you’ve had about enough, really.
This weekend is a pretty quite one, I've just been at the football... watching Ipswich Town draw 0-0 (lucky Eryn wasn't there to whinge and point out the futility of such games!) and we're off for a wander in the countryside tomorrow... then we're heading to Krakov, Poland on Friday, which we're both really looking forward to...
Talk soon,
Kent & Eryn x

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Como esta?

...Gee, 3 days in Portugal and we think we can talk like the locals!
Have just got back from our first sojourn to the continent, spending 3 days & nights in Lisbon, Portugal... it was awesome.

Kent's been teaching some Maths at his new job, so he's obsessed with numbers at the moment... there was no shortage of them on our long weekend:

1... motorcycle accident. The guy was only on the ground for all of a second before he leapt up, got back on the bike and whizzed off... I suppose it's hardiness like that which led the Portuguese to takeover large sections of the globe in the 15th and 16th centuries!

2... copies of Asterix in Portuguese. I think Kent has decided this is his new 'thing' and that we will be hunting down as many of these in foreign languages as he possibly can - it definitely beats collecting coke cans or stamps.

3... the number of different types of drugs on offer from a street seller who approached Kent... who was slightly taken aback by the little bag of 'herbs' he was being offered... brilliant! Quite ballsy too, as there were Policia just a couple of metres away. Not surprisingly, he didn't make a sale, but we've been giggling about it ever since...

6... days a week the Naval Museum is open. This does not include Monday... which, and I know you can see where this is going, is the very day we went to visit it, at the bottom of the steepest hill we've seen since leaving NZ... can't win 'em all.

10... 45pm. The time we left a massive shopping centre in the new part of Lisbon on Sunday night when everything, even the hairdresser, was still open... on a Sunday!

25... trips on the metro underground thingy... which is soooo much nicer and cleaner than the one in London (although it is far smaller and newer, so not surprising) so no black snot here!

13... minutes by ferry to Cacilhas, Almada on the other side of the river... where we walked. A lot. Then we walked some more. During the all the walking (most of which was in the rain, thanks to the tail of that big nasty storm that hit the south of England) we stumbled across what might be the cutest little restaurante ever - it was exactly like we pictured family-run Portuguese restaurants, the woman running it didn't speak any English, but we muddled through - even ordered things I didn't know the contents of - very brave! It was just lovely and definitely one of the highlights of the trip - especially as Kent left a tip, which is usually unheard of!

17,000... teachers protesting (or, as we like to call it, shutting down the entire central city) at their rubbish pay, which a street artist told us is pretty abismal, and they were awfully organised, so you have to give them credit for that. As it turns out, we think the locals have a penchant for picketing as we saw another march two days later and several signs advertising further protests (for different causes) on weekends later this month... they were all very orderly and well behaved though.

110 metres... the height of the Monumento a Cristo Rei (Christ the King statue) that overlooks the city (like the one in Rio, only newer). It was simply massive and had the weather been kinder, the views back across to Lisbon would have been even more breathtaking than the towering statue of the big guy itself.

50 million... the number of knots of wind on Monday while we traipsed uphill and down dale. Well, maybe not quite that bad, and certainly not so strong as all the pics of England on the news (talk about picking the right time to flee the country) but it was v breezy... we even had a bit of a dodgy landing at Heathrow on Tuesday, well after the worst was over... so glad we didn't come back on Sunday night or Monday - eeeek.

It would be pretty easy to go on and on about it, the whole trip was unforgettable... here are a few of our pics:


Talk soon,
Kent & Eryn x