Sunday, 30 November 2008

I can't think of a name for this

Man, it is DARK here now... come 4pm, it's virtually pitch black outside - it's not really hard to understand why misery is common in winter here. I heard somewhere that the sun north of Peterborough is so weak that there's no vitamin D in it... might be a myth, but interesting all the same.
The start of November was a bit damp, to say the least. Angus & Janet came up for the night one Friday, and after a drive to a town with dodgy name, Kent managed to convince them to got to the football with him in the afternoon (Janet didn't seem best pleased when she realised that not going was an option, especially as it was pouring as I dropped them off - she seemed even less pleased after the game, as a result of the delightful language football fans like to hurl at the opposition, the ref, the goalie, other fans, etc).
That Saturday night was a big public (although not free) fireworks display at the park by our house. Mother Nature co-operated by rolling in the thunder clouds and opening the heavens...despite this, there were still thousands of people there, and the fireworks were very pretty. The station I'm based at had a stage so we went along, dressed in all the thermals I could find, to help hand out glow sticks and get drenched - fun.
My Aunty Paula came over for a flying visit, under the guise of keeping an eye on my 18 year old cousin, who had a work conference in Amsterdam. I met her in London and we had a couple of days being touristy, which was fabulous. Kent really doesn't like the city, and I do, so it was a good way of me seeing more without having to drag him along too... We started at Buckingham Palace, where Aunty P's camera promptly decided that it couldn't really be bothered to take photos - lucky there's not much in London town to take pics of then. It also started raining. Being the tough tourists we are, this did not halt our plans at all, and I made her walk to Hyde Park corner to have a look at the war memorials (the Australian one does out-flash the NZ one, but both are lovely), then down to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, across the river and past the London Eye. The next day we managed to get 3/4 of the way up St Paul's Cathedral, through the Tower of London, complete with a Beefeater/Yeoman Warder (just like on the gin!) tour guide who was just brilliant, to the switch on of the Regent St Christmas lights and then to Chicago - the show, obviously, not the city. It was great, just like the Sound of Music show, which we saw the night before (think I would need reining in if I lived there - there are sooo many shows to choose from every night).
We had an early start to get to the airport for a flight to Amsterdam the following day, and navigated the public transport to get to our hotel in one piece and quite quickly - not a bad achievement as this sort of thing usually falls under Kent's list of responsibilities, and I tend to be a bit rubbish at map-reading etc. The camera is also usually Kent's thing, so I cleverly left this with him in Ipswich for safekeeping - not smart, but at least I didn't leave it at the airport this time.
We had a wander in to the middle of the city, which, like most cities in Europe, comes complete with canals and pretty buildings - I thought it was lovely, and instantly felt guilty for not wanting to go there earlier.
There were only 2 ports of call planned for Amsterdam - the first was the Anne Frank Museum, which we wandered through in the afternoon. It's in the actual building the Frank family and others were hiding in for much of WWII. Anne's father survived Auschwitz (she died in Bergen-Belsen one month before the camp was liberated) and was responsible for publishing her diary and creating the museum. It was very well done and good to see, but in that uncomfortable, upsetting way that anything to do with the war is - but maybe that's just me
The second was completely different, but very predictable - the Red Light District. As you might imagine, it's not marked on the city map, so we meandered around a bit, wondering where the action was.. this continued for about half an hour until one of us spotted a shop selling all sorts of eyebrow-raising bits and pieces, followed by another, and another until we encountered one of the windows you hear so much about... Interesting to note the girls were mostly quite gorgeous, but not always 'all' woman; one of these girls with a, errr, bulge in her knickers did waggle her finger at Aunty P and beckon her towards the window. Naturally, the pair of us giggled like a pair of schoolgirls and walked a bit faster... it was eye-opening, for sure!
It was only a flying visit, so the next morning we headed back to the airport and I came back to Blighty, while they carried on to Paris and Rome.
The next weekend, Kent wanted his refereeing immortalised/photographed, so I braved the chilly wind and racked up over 800 photos in an hour and a half - thank you, continuous shooting. Here are some of the more successful ones (and other assorted pics):

Of these, about 5 were actually ok... that's 0.6%, so I don't think Annie Leibowitz has anything to worry about as yet.
Aunty P and Anna arrived back in London a week later, which coincided nicely with Angus and Janet's leaving party, and Angus's birthday at the Southerner bar, which was a very NZ-y night. It was kinda nice to finally be in a room full of people who talk proper and don't laugh when you say 'excellent'!
Quite a busy month... and it's getting busier as we start sorting ourselves out to leave work and Ipswich in less than 3 weeks - eek!
We've just booked our flights home, which was a bit depressing, but I imagine by the time the 4th May rolls around and we've been living out of our backpacks for months, we'll be ready to get back to the real world...
Anyway, enough about us, got any gossip?
K & E x

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