Wales

Wales was pretty cool. My favourite pics are up on flickr, but here’s a few of them:

Tintern Abbey

Boats at Caernarfon

Caernarfon Castle by night.

Sunset at Caernarfon

The obligatory travelling sock picture, taken at the Northern Hemisphere’s longest place name, woo (Regia bamboo, before anyone asks. I left the pattern at home, winged it, it’s too big so I’m starting again. But at least it gave me something to do on the bus).

General impressions of Wales:

  • More rural than I expected (I’d heard the jokes, but there really are sheep everywhere!) with lots of wilderness, a lot like NZ in many places but smaller – smaller mountains, smaller waterfalls, etc
  • Hay-on-Wye was closed! If you don’t know about Hay-on-Wye, it’s a village full of bookshops – ie book Mecca. But for some reason our tour stopped there from 9:30-10:30 on a Sunday morning, in the middle of Bank Holiday weekend. Nothing was open.
  • People in North Wales who weren’t associated with the tourist industry spoke Welsh ALL the time, even to us. So weird but cool!
  • Stayed in a great B&B within the Caernarfon town walls, only now I can’t remember what it was called! They served a full Welsh vegetarian breakfast – mmmm!
  • Came second in a pub quiz to the home team, also managed to get a spot prize for answering “bacon” as the missing ingredient of carbonara sauce, thus getting offside with both the carnivores on the tour and a very drunk and angry local…
  • Never, EVER go to Stratford-upon-Avon on Bank Holiday Monday (ok, that’s in England, but the bus stopped there all the same)
  • Must go back to Hay-on-Wye when it’s open….

Books!

I needed a book to take to Wales with me, so I went to Borders.

Oops!

In my defence, the Jasper Fforde books are signed.

ETA:  Of the five books, I have realised that four are sequels, and four are set in parallel universes.  I guess I know what I like!  I’m sure I thought of something else most of them have in common too, but it’s slipped my mind.

Stonehenge update

So I feel I should post an update on the Stonehenge situation. Apparently there was a gas leak in the road and the bus drivers couldn’t get to the buses, and the office people couldn’t get to the office to man the phones. They have offered me a half price trip at another time, which I have taken a raincheck on as I am pretty well booked up for the foreseeable future.

This weekend is a Bank Holiday weekend, which means on Monday we all get a day off work. I’m not quite sure why England has all of these unspecified public holidays when they don’t even celebrate Queen’s Birthday, not to mention English history has many historical events that could be celebrated with a day in their favour. But who’s arguing when you get a day off work?

Anyway, thanks to this unspecified public holiday, my friend Katherine and I are taking a three-day tour of Wales. The weather forecast is good so we have our fingers crossed! Can we get through a bank holiday weekend without rain? Place your bets now! All the same, I’m packing my umbrella.

The worst part is that I have to be at the pick up point (near Victoria Station, about a 10-minute tube ride and 10-minute walk from here) by 7:15 Saturday morning. Painful!

Next weekend I’m off to Warrington on the train to spend a weekend celebrating Dan’s 30th birthday.

Given that the cancelled Stonehenge trip, and the fact that London has been rather dismal lately, it will be good to get out of the city!

Small things

Well, since the Stonehenge fiasco this morning I’ve been inside all day, finishing my Dollar and a Half cardigan. And I do mean all day. Photos of that later, when there’s light.

So I have no photos of famous monuments, but I did take a few photos of things around my room today though:

My consolation cup of tea.

Cape gooseberries, known here as physalis. I love these – they have the texture of a cherry tomato, but a lovely tart flavour. Kalman was too wimpy to try them! I used to grow them in my garden (about the only way you can get hold of them in NZ); hopefully I will again one day.

I got the last copy of the new Interweave at Stash yesterday. Must subscribe again!

And last but not least:

Meet Prunilla. I’ve been saying I needed a piggy bank for ages now, long before my wallet split open the other day because of the sheer amount of coins of various currencies I was carrying. But it had to be the right piggy bank. Then I was at Stables Market in Camden Town yesterday and saw her. A papier mache pig covered in patchwork fabric. She’s perfect! And a lovely souvenir from one of the quirkiest, most atmospheric markets I’ve ever been to – sadly I understand it is soon to be bulldozed in the name of urban regeneration.

Stonehenge

stonehenge-wallpaper-4.jpg

This is a picture of Stonehenge, taken by someone other than me. You and I will just have to imagine I was there (for accuracy’s sake, you should probably imagine more rain in the picture). ETA I have been contacted by the owner of the photo, head on over to David Ryan Photography for more luscious photos.

I was looking forward to going to Stonehenge all week. I got an early night last night, got up very early this morning, walked in the pouring rain to the pickup stop at the Royal National Hotel at 7:30 am, and stood there under my umbrella. And stood. And stood.

Unfortunately I had left the tour company’s phone number at home, so at about 8 I walked back in the pouring rain (my jeans were sodden by this stage) and gave them a call. I got a recorded message saying my call was unable to be connected. I called several more times, then went to the tour company’s website, which said that the tour left from 8:15 most days. What if (contrary to instructions) I was meant to get the bus at 8:30, not 7:30? Back to the hotel. More waiting. More phone calls.

Home and an email to the company that booked me on the tour. They’ve just called me back to say that three people have contacted them to say the same thing today. They can’t get through to the tour company either. They have been using that tour company for years without any problems. They’ll get back to me when they find out what the story is.

Bloody typical! (I’m going to count how many posts I end with that phrase)

Wicked

I just saw Wicked and it was indeed wicked! I have a new favourite musical. Of course, I should hardly be surprised as my favourite stories have always been about witches. I’m definitely going to check out the New York production the next time I’m there!

Oxford

On Saturday I went to Oxford with a bunch of Couchsurfers. It was a fantastic day but I feel like there’s so much I didn’t see – I must go back some time (maybe as a student!)

Many more pictures up on Flickr.