27th Feb 2007

The Brussels Extravaganza

This week or so has been pretty quiet - still saving money like crazy to get Kobe over. We now, finally, have a week date that we'll be sending for her - the week of March 12th. So YAY!! *huge happy grin*.

What else... Mmmm, we went to a play on Friday with Adrian's Australian workmate, Helen. She's lovely and fast becoming a friend here, which is great. :) We went and saw something called 'Wait until Dark', which is apparently an adaptation of an old Hepburn (can't remember with Hepburn... the one in Breakfast at Tiffany's, I think) film. It was an amateur production (and Helen, and another of Adrian's workmates were involved a little in helping with bits of wardrobe and the sets) and pretty well done. A good time was had by all, as they say *grin*.

Seriously, though, other than that, not much... Oh, spring must be heading our way, because flowers are starting to pop up everywhere. And I literally mean pop up! Daffodils are sprouting all over our garden, several different kinds, in fact, and they're gorgeous! I really love daffodils. :) And they're everywhere - on council land, little bits of curb way grass, etc. Really stunning and heartwarmingly bright. :) And snowdrops are shooting up, along with other bulb-like plants that I just don't know the names of... little purple flowers. Gotta tell you, I'm smitten. A cold, wet country it may be, but a country where flowers spring up without any effort at all from me (especially since I had a damned hard time getting daffodils to grow at home) is a country I can love *grin*.

And now, I'm going to ramble on at length - since I've promised to for about a week now - about our trip to Brussels. Okidoki, here we go!

On the Thursday before we headed off, I was sitting at my computer, and went to stretch out my stiff muscles, and managed to hurt my back. Hoorah. :( I hoped that it would fix itself up by Friday, Sat morning at worst, but I had no luck at all on that front. As it turned out, since my silly back was still aching by the Wed (we'd gotten back Tues night), I organized an appointment with a local physio for Thurs, and the physio told me that I'd locked a joint in my spine. The area was nicely inflamed, so she manipulated it for me, moving things back into position, and then gave me some nice, safe stretches to do in the future *sheepish grin*. Ah well, at least she told me that she'd done the same thing to herself, not too long ago, on a plane flight back from a skiing trip, so I don't feel too bad. My back's all healed up now, thankfully, but the upshot of this was that I was in a lot of pain during our little trip. Sigh. Still, for the most part, we had a great time. :)

Anyway, on the Friday we were to head off, at about 3.30pm I got in our little red car, and drove on over to Slough and Adrian's workplace. Our lovely little car only fell over 3 times on the way there (our poor car struggles sometimes, as though it just can't pull enough power, and then chokes and stalls - this is not at all fun when we're in a hurry, or in rush hour traffic, but we've gotten used to it enough that we scan the road for areas to pull over, just in case *grin*). The traffic wasn't bad at that time of day, and I was able to get the car started reasonably easily each time, so it only took me 20 mins or so longer than it should have to get to Slough. Good thing I allowed for getting lost/car troubles in my travel time *grin*.

So got to Slough, found Adrian's workplace easily enough, and then sat in the car, slowly turning into an ice cube, for 15 mins while waiting for Adrian's scheduled meeting to finish - despite the longer trip, I'd still gotten to Slough earlier than I'd expected. Weee. :)

Before I'd quite turned a lovely shade of icy blue, though, Adrian spotted the car from an upstairs window, and hustled out to rescue me from the cold. :) Inside, after Adrian finished up his day, got changed and gathered his bits and pieces for the trip, he introduced me to his work colleagues, and they all seemed lovely. I met Helen for the first time - at least in person; I'd spoken with her on the phone for about 1/2 a second, previously. :) Helen, and Paul (who had the day off) were also going to Brussels, but they traveled over on Sunday afternoon.

The company organized a car service over to Heathrow, so that was nice. It was also a lot quicker and smoother to get through Heathrow than I'd feared. Apparently they were having a good day - I even heard some of the locals commenting on how easy things were that evening, so it wasn't just me *grin*. One little hiccup we had was that we managed to not be seated together - we had e-tickets, so booked ourselves in, and realized too late to change one of our seats that there wasn't a free seat next to it. There was in front, however, so Adrian ended up sitting in front of me during the flight. Sigh.

Anyway, after the seemingly compulsory flight delay of about an hour, we all shuffled onto the plane. Take-off was fine - I just clutched at Adrian's hand through a gap in the seats - but shortly thereafter, there was a scent of something burning...something like paper... And then, there was a rush of flight attendants opening all of the overhead luggage and frantically (at least it seemed that way to me - it was probably actually more like calm, professional urgency *grin*) peering into their depths for the source of the smell.

The burning smell faded reasonably quickly, thankfully. Less thankfully, the attendants couldn't seem to find anything that might have caused it. And after all had settled down again, we got an announcement from the Captain - don't worry everyone, we've got it under control, probably just a bit of paper sucked into the engines and the smell filtering through to us. We'd fly on, but they'd stay alert and be ready to touch down the moment any tiny resurgence of the problem occurred. Well, I sure was reassured! :)

I pretty much decided from that moment that we were definitely taking trains from now on, whenever we could. Trains have accidents, sure, but they're blessedly free of that whole plummeting from the sky like a brick thing. As far as I'm concerned, train problems = crash, and then over; plane problems = a horrible fall, then a crash which you're pretty much guaranteed not to survive, and then over. I think it's those two things which put me off flying - or rather, which put me off flying in a giant tin can which I have zero control over. If it was me flying a much smaller plane (after many, many lessons, of course), there would be no problem - or a whole lot less, at any rate. Annnd, that's my feeling on planes. Back to the trip! :)

As we were coming in to land there was another announcement from the Captain - don't be alarmed folks by the couple of fire engines following us. There's nothing wrong, they're just there...in case. Sure, I thought, I wouldn't even notice two fire engines trailing along behind us if he hadn't mentioned it! And then there seemed to be fire engines converging on us from every direction, lights only, no sirens going. Ok, I couldn't helped but notice the 10 fire trucks following us - but that sure as heck is more than a couple!!

There were even a couple of firefighters standing near the exit to the plane with the flight attendants as we all filed out - and my desire to never fly a plane again was firmly sealed. :)

It was about midnight by that point, but we caught a taxi easily enough, and got into our company supplied accommodation reasonably quickly - a 20 minute ride later which probably should have taken 30 mins since the driver was doing something like 140 km per hour (I looked at the speedo, so this isn't an exaggeration) most of the way there. Weeeeee - nothing like speed in the dark and wet after a stressful fight! *grin*

Our accommodation was on the same land as the company buildings - a set of 2 houses, connected by a glass corridor, where the rooms had been made into individual accommodation with ensuites, wardrobes, and a mini fridge. The second house had a kitchen and breakfast room where that meal was provided every day. All of the food and drink in the houses and mini fridges was complimentary, which was great and much appreciated!

We collapsed gratefully into our nice warm bed that night, and got up for a nice breakfast of pastries, fruit and cereal the next morning. My back was not happy, but we decided we'd catch the train into Brussels and from there to the small town of Bruges that Helen had told raved about. :)

Well, apart from Adrian initially leaving his wallet back in our room (realizing this once we'd walked to the train station - a five min or so walk from our accommodation), getting into Brussels town centre was an easy 20 min train journey. However, trying to figure out how to get from the centre metro station (the underground) to the station that sent trains overland across the country was a lot more challenging. And it was around this time that my back really started playing up.

It was a grey, dismal day, Brussels wasn't very pretty, I was in a lot of pain and disappointed that Brussels looked a lot like any other city - except the people mostly spoke French - and we weren't getting anywhere fast. :( Eventually we found the train station we wanted - after a few more false starts - but I'd left it too long to go looking for strong painkillers. We found a pharmacy easily enough at the station and I quickly took the stuff, but as the relief started flooding through, I just felt warm and suddenly very tired and wiped out. Adrian was disappointed that I wanted to head back to the accommodation, but very understanding, and I was very, very grateful. We grabbed some food for the evening from the station, and caught a taxi back, after checking out the times for the train to Bruges the next day.

Adrian mostly slept the rest of Sat. I read and took painkillers and occasionally tried to puzzle out what was going on in the French T.V. programs I flicked through. They had BBC 1 and Shrek on that night, so that was nice - something to watch after eating the nice frozen meals we scrounged up out of the kitchen.

Day 2 was much more successful. At breakfast I took the painkiller along with the pastries, etc, so I'd be set for the day. :) We got to our train and began our hour long ride to Bruges. The countryside wasn't all that pretty to begin with - the day started out fairly grey and uninviting, and mostly we were heading through cities and what seemed like slightly run-down suburbia. Towards the end of the trip, though, the sun started shining through, the countryside started opening up and generally thing started looking a lot prettier. Bruges - I'm going to let my pictures from there tell most of the story. It's a gorgeous town, full of beautiful and well maintained architecture and a chocolate shop every ten meters. My kinda town *grin*. When we arrived, we followed the neat little signs to the tourist agency to get a map and a better idea of what there was to see. I also noticed a couple of horse and buggies trot by. Hmmm.

It was lunch time, and there was a wealth of lovely looking little cafes to try, so we headed to one that looked inviting and reasonably busy on the assumption that that many people couldn't be wrong. It was a good assumption. :) Adrian and I had chocolate and vanilla milkshakes, shared a steak, salad and chips, and then shared a Belgium waffle with fruit and homemade ice cream. Mmmmm, yummy!!

Our little cafe had a conservatory-type area out front, where you could sit inside and be toasty warm, but still easily see out into the city and watch the world go by. Adrian and I watched more and more of the horse and buggy teams go by, and decided that we'd have to go on one of them ourselves. :)

After lunch, we followed the road that the carriages were headed up until we got to a central plaza (checking out pretty much every chocolate shop on the way, lol, and taking lots of photos - Adrian took a lot of video, and one day we'll have that on the website too!).

And there were all the horsies. And a nice long queue. :) So we waited, taking turns in line and checking out the rest of the plaza - so pretty! The horse and buggy ride was well worth it - our driver asked us if we wanted to know about what we were passing, and of course we said yes! She told us all about the structures and the history, and I don't remember much of it at all, there was just so much! Adrian took more video footage, since I couldn't take any decent photos while we were moving and jostling around, especially over the many cobblestoned areas. After the half-hour ride, we decided that we'd have to do the 250 stairs up the great tower to see the magnificent view our next trip here (and there will definitely be another trip to beautiful Bruges in our future!), since while I was doing quite well, I didn't think the painkillers would hold through that much exercise. :)

The we slowly started making our way through the streets back to the train station - we had a dinner to go to back in Brussels that evening with Michael (on of Adrian's Brussels' coworkers) and his girlfriend Fanny, plus Helen and Paul if their flight got in at a reasonable time - so we couldn't afford to stay too late into the afternoon at Bruges. We got a little lost, bought a bit of chocolate, had another waffle - so I could take another painkiller, mmm waffle - and then collapsed on the train, just as it was about to head off, so that was nicely timed!

The trip back was uneventful; I spent the time gazing out at the other side of the train than on our trip in, and chatting with Adrian about nothing much, and about Bruges and Brussels. We got back to Brussels with not quite enough time to catch a train back to the accommodation, so we got a taxi instead - which I was monumentally grateful for, since I was feeling more than a little worn by that point. :)

Michael and Fanny picked us up about 15 minutes after we got back to our room, and they whisked us back into town. They were great hosts, and their English was marvelous - light years beyond our French (and when I say 'our' I really mean 'Adrian's', since I know about 10 French words in total *grin* - Adrian studied French in High School, like I took Japanese), so that was great! Lol.

Before dinner, they took us for a quick driving tour of the main sights of Brussels - the ducal palace, the plaza, the monolithic courthouses, the plazas, a gorgeous frothy extravaganza of a cathedral, and the icon of Brussels - the Manikin Piz : a tiny little fountain of a little boy whizzing *grin*. Really, this fountain is only about shoulder height on most people, and apparently a lot of visitors are vastly disappointed, expecting it to be on as grand a scale as most famous fountains. It's a bit of an in-joke for a lot of Brussels people. :)

Because it was dark and we only stopped twice - once for a view out over the city, and the second time to go and see the fountain, and then head on to dinner, I only took one picture and that of the cathedral that I liked so much (at least what little I was able to see of it). It didn't come out very well, but I'll put it up for you to see, nonetheless. :)

Dinner was great, Paul and Helen's flight got in on time so they were able to make it, we all got along like a house on fire, and it was a really nice evening. The food (Adrian and I shared a bowl of muscles) wasn't brilliant, but it was nice, and the company more than made up for any failings in the food.

We retired reasonably early that evening, as Fanny had an interview for a new job she really wanted the next day, and of course all the rest had work. Well, I say we retired, but what I really mean is we finished dinner around 10:30ish, but after we got back to the housing, Helen, Paul, Adrian and I sat around talking for another hour or so, at least. :)

The next day I rested - read, took more pain killers, ate the salads and cheeses that were provided by the company kitchen, slept. Adrian had dinner in town after work, but since no spouses were going along, and since I would have had to ride the unfamiliar underground by myself to get there (I get nastily motion sick on underground trains - have to close my eyes to block out the worst of it, and I really don't want to close my eyes when I am by myself) and my back was still a pain, I hung out at the houses by myself. :) Adrian said dinner was really good, and they all had a great time. Unfortunately, though, something he ate didn't agree with him, and he barely got any sleep that night. :(

Still he was reasonably okay the next day - not brilliant, but he coped. Off they all trouped to work, and I emptied out our room and kept our luggage company until lunch time. Michael knew of a factory outlet for a famous Brussels chocolate line - Newhaus - very close to the company buildings that was having a half price sale on almost all its chocolate. So I was picked up along with our gear at lunch, and then we all went to the chocolate factory! :) And much chocolate was sampled, and much more was bought!! It was great. Praline isn't my favorite kind of chocolate - and it's what Belgium is famous for - but still, it is very lovely stuff. :)

Next, we headed back to the company offices, and Helen went into a meeting for the rest of the afternoon, and I sat quietly in a corner of the room that had been given over to Paul and Adrian while they worked.

And that was pretty much it for our trip. We caught a taxi back to the airport around 4pm. The fight wasn't delayed and there were no problems during it. We flitted back through customs, and picked up our luggage in short order. The car that was supposed to take us back to Slough never showed, though, which irritated Helen no end. A taxi back to Slough, stopping off at Windsor to drop Helen back home, was going to cost at least 70 pounds, and while the company was going to cover any costs, Helen was still miffed about having to charge that much when the ride that should have been organized was only going to cost 30 pounds. At any rate, we finally managed to organize a car service and it only cost 10 pound more than expected, so all were satisfied.

Got back to Slough no problem - had a tiny moment of concern when we couldn't get hold of the security guard at the office to let us through to our car, but that was sorted quickly enough. The car only fell over twice on the drive home, and everything was as we'd left it, so we were happy. :)

And that was our trip. :)

In the end Brussels was, uh, pretty much just another town, with a few bits of nice architecture; Bruges was the highlight and will be visited again with joy.

5th Feb 2007

Newsless Week

Sorry again that it's been a week or so since I've posted anything - I've been both slack, and sick - uncle george first, and then mild stomach bug which had me sleeping a lot and feeling blah and nauseous. :( And then when I was feeling better, I spent all my times playing internet games with my wonderful husband. *grin*. That'd be the slack part. :)

But really, there's hardly anything to tell - we haven't done anything interesting over the past couple of weeks or so. We've been trying to conserve funds because the past month or so has been monster bill time. Still, as of...mmm, today, I think, we're past the worst. All our old expenses from Aust and a couple of big ones that we got coming over here have finally been paid off, and we're pretty much free and clear! Yay!!! This is wonderful, because on Friday, we're off to Belgium! :) Not for a holiday, not exactly. Adrian's got another work do in Brussels next Mon, so we're flying over on Fri evening after his work so that we can spend the weekend there. Neat, huh? Also we're lucky enough to get to stay in his company's housing so accommodation is free, even for me. This means we only have to pay for my airfare. Woo hoo!! *grin*. Which, because I'm going at the same time on the same flights as Adrian (and was organized by Adrian's work) isn't exactly as cheap as we'd hoped, but since all the other major expenses have been taken care of, we're just as pleased as punch.

So we'll have a little adventure. And I'll take tones of photos. And then I'll helpfully badger Adrian into putting together that program for me so that I can actually QUICKLY post the damned photos on the website! Sigh. We'll get everything together eventually. One day. I promise. :)

24th Jan 2007

Snow, snow, snow!!

I hope you're happy and having a good day! :)

Because I am! *grin*. Well, actually, I plan on going back to sleep in a few minutes, but still, way neato. :)

Because... it snowed!!!

It snowed here in Reading!!! It snowed it snowed it snowed! *big cheesy enormously joyful grin*.

Ah, I wish you could see it!! I've taken a few pictures, but I suspect they'll look a bit blurred and fuzzy - kinda like the snow! :)

It's the softest snow, made up of tiny, tiny crystals of ice that have fallen, and zero wind. Looks like maybe an inch, inch and a half of snow has landed over night and piled up on leaves and twigs, and of course cars, fences, etc, etc.

Ooooo, it's so exciting!!! :)

It'll probably all melt at dawn (which is still probably an hour or so away) - Adrian (so wonderful) woke me up when he glanced out of his window, trying to decide whether he was going to walk or drive to work today (weeeelll, walk to the train station, and go from there). After he saw the snow, tiny snowfall that it is, he decided to walk. I'm glad. :) Neither of us have the least bit of experience driving in the snow or ice.

I went for a walk in the park down the street, and as I was heading down I saw my very first (live) fox!! Oh, the niftiness of it all!!! *grin grin grin*. It trotted across the street, glanced up, saw me, then began a quick trot back, and then froze, and we just stared at each other... me in wonder, it in, um, probably wariness, but still, really, really neat!. Foxy fled back to the park when it heard Adrian's footfalls crunching through the snow behind me.

Ahhh, walking through the park was neat. Much less light - so no decent photos at all - so no orange looking snow, and less light pollution. Everything was covered in fluffy, pristine white.

Oooooo, I'm just so excited!

And just a little bit sad too. It's soooo pretty, but the weather forecast says that it'll be warm (um, above zero degrees) and sunny (we'll actually see the sun) over the next few days, so no more snow, and what little there is will melt quickly. Oh well, at least we got to see it almost completely pristine. :) Gorgeous!

Okay, just had to share that with you! And now I must drift back into slumber once more :)

23rd Jan 2007

Back In Business

As of Sun, we finally got our broadband up, so now I'm reconnected with the world again!! This is going to be the world's shortest email from me, though :(

Yesterday I had a stinking headache, and my left eye is killing me... think I've got a sty or some rash on the eyelid, so I can't stand looking at a computer screen for too long - the light, it burns!! Meh.

23rd Dec 2006

Happiness is an Unexpected Home

Ok, so on the new news front; we have some mighty good news!! :)

And this is our week so far (don't worry, the good news is in there, somewhere - near the endish *grin*):

On the weekend we didn't get up to too much. Sat we did some food shopping in the morning, and then drove into Reading. Well sort of. Turns out there was a soccer match on, so we only went as far as a shopping village we've spotted before. We looked at beds and TVs and electronic stuff (in case we have to move into an unfurnished place) to get an idea of what is out there and prices, etc (and because I think it is fun! *grin*). We bought Adrian a new pillow and pillowcase, and we bought a couple of decent sized bowls for stew 'n stuff (they're cute - a pale tan color with 'eat' written around the rim. There were some mugs there that said 'drink', but we don't need mugs at present). Then we drove to the cinema that's in the Winerish Triangle (outer east edge of Reading) and watched Happy Feet. Very cute, and fun. Went home, had dinner (very, very early, but we were both starving - hadn't had a proper lunch, just bad cinema food), and crashed. Sun, Adrian wasn't feeling brilliant, so we took it easy. We also had a house viewing at 11:30am - got there, waited, waited. No one turned up to show us the house. Ooops, no, I'm remembering wrong - that was actually on Sat. The agent eventually called us on Sat and said oops, sorry, can you see the place on Sun if we can get hold of the owner. Sure, we said. So on Sun, we sat around in the sunshine for a bit, waiting for a call that never came. Eventually, in the arvo, we gave up on hearing from them, and drove into Wokingham for some browsing and general shopping. Fun. :)

A fairly slack weekend, all in all.

Monday, I got a call from a real estate agent I was waiting to hear back from, for a furnished house that looked promising. We had an appointment set up for 5:30pm Tues evening (Adrian got permission to leave work early (4pm) so he could go and see the house with me). So the plan was for Adrian to train to Reading, where I would pick him up at 5pm, and then we'd drive the short distance north to the house. Yup, that was the plan.

Didn't happen. Lol

What did happen was the massive fog bank that hung around that morning moved back in as dark rolled in about 4pm. And oh yes, it was fully, fully dark, pitchy dark well and truly by 5pm. And our lovely little car was having some serious misfiring issues by the time I was about half way there.

I set out at around 4.15pm - I planned on heading to the house first, to check out the area before it was too dark, and so I'd be able to get back there more quickly after picking Adrian up. Nup. That didn't happen either.

I avoided the easy route through the center of town because I knew the traffic would be a nightmare at this time of day. As it was, the car died at a traffic light (with all the traffic piled up behind me), at about 5pm, and wouldn't start again for what seemed like 5 minutes! Arrrrghh!!!!

So, finally coaxed it into moving again, just a few feet to the petrol station on the corner and turned it off again. Let it rest. Turned it on again. Oh the jerking, the choking, the shaking of the car. Not happy, Jan. :(

I called Adrian, told him he was going to have to take a taxi to the house, because there was no way I was going to get to him on time. In the end, he decided to walk - he bought a map at the train station - because the house was only supposed to be a 30min walk from the train station. Took him closer to 45mins, but that's because he went the wrong way. But he still got there before me!!

The car finally got over its misfiring issues and smoothed out, so off I went. Into the nightmare traffic. And you could only see about 3 cars ahead into the fog. Weeee!!

I was occasionally talking to the real estate agent during this time, so he knew what was going on, and was really easy going about it. He says its funny, he was on holidays recently and responding to someone who was talking about the foggy winter weather in England - said it was hardly ever foggy, in fact he couldn't remember the last fog he'd seen. And then this happens. So it was his fault!! Lol.

And man, once I made it out of the traffic, I got lost so often! The fog is really nifty (Adrian doesn't like it, say's it's a deathtrap, by the way) but makes reading street signs really, really difficult!

Anyway, I finally made it there, before 6pm, so that was good! Only about 20 minutes late!! :(

Sigh. But the house was great. It is in a nice little neighborhood, and it is well furnished, etc, etc, so I headed off on Wed to put the deposit down for it.

And we got accepted! Yay!! And we're now excitingly broke!!! Woo hoo! Why? Well, the place is cheaper than the other place we put our names down for, but we had to add more money down for a kind of pet bond - yup, we'll get it all back when we move out, but for the moment, we're kinda skint. Fab. Also, we're moving in a wee bit earlier than we expected. Yup, as of 11:30am or so Sat, we'll be moving into our own place! Hoorah!!! Isn't it exciting? We're excited!! *grin*

Of course, given we're moving in on the Sat before xmas, we're not getting a chance to set up things like our phone line and broadband connections before xmas, so we're going to be internet free until, well, probably until about the 5th of Jan or so, at least that's the estimates we've been given.

On the upside, we were able to organize for our belongings to turn up a bit earlier - they're being delivered on the 5th of Jan, so we'll have blankets and books and suchlike in our lives once again. :)

So yay! New home! Broke, and not much money over Xmas, but Adrian should be paid next Wed or so, and we should be able to survive until then *grin*. We'll buy each other and everyone else prezzies after that, and we might even have enough funds in the middle of Jan to go on a little trip to somewhere in Europe. France maybe? That'd be nice. :)

And that's our big news! Cool, huh?

We'll be out of contact for a bit, except for our mobiles, of course, Adrian will still be able to get email at work if there's anything you want to let me/us know, about anything, life in general, stuff, before we manage to get back on the air. :)

Just for a little weather update on this end. It's still foggy here. It's been amazingly foggy. I've taken some pictures - basically a lot of white on white, lol. And today, Adrian's work broke up early for Xmas, so he actually got home before dark. And on the drive home, he spotted something amazing - the cold and the suspended water molecules in the fog have caused some trees and bushes to be coated in ice. We drove back out there once he told me about it, and I took some photos - I don't think I did the scene justice. It just looked amazing, almost like everything was covered in snow and lost in a cloud bank. I'll post them up on the website, once we're settled in and, of course, we've got our broadband. :)

And that's about it news wise. :)

We're not having Xmas dinner with Cousin Holly - her situation's almost as much fun as ours. She was supposed to move into her new place not last weekend, but the weekend before, but the contractors who are fixing the place up are taking much longer than expected. She says it will be a miracle if they (her family) get to move in before Xmas - they'll probably be infringing on their friends hospitality for a bit longer. So we'll catch up after Xmas. :)

And I'll finish up here - I really should go to bed. Lots of packing to do, bright and horribly early tomorrow morning! :)

15th Dec 2006

Sucky News Update

I was hoping to have better news before I wrote, but since news here is slow moving at the moment I thought I might as well write and tell you. As of Monday Adrian received a call from our real estate agent. The owners of the property we were to move into on Jan 6th are having some probs. The husband's company is having troubles getting him an EU visa so they can have him work in Brussels (popular place, apparently), so they can't go yet, so they're taking their home off the market, so we no longer have a place to live! :( Rrrrrrghhh!!!!

Oh the frustration! Oh the mental anguish!! Oh the extreme need to yell at someone!!! Unfortunately, it's just one of those uncontrollable things where no one is really at fault, thus I can't blame and scream at any one person in particular. Sigh.

Anyway, as of Mon night, I started looking for new places to live, again. More sighing.

Spent Tues looking further, calling agencies up, and booking viewings.

Wed was spent traipsing all over the country side. Thought I'd found a good one, and put an offer on it- on the condition that Adrian liked it after we went to have a look on the weekend. Real estate agent called back that night and said that there were two more viewings, on Thurs and Fri, and that they couldn't hold it for me, and could Adrian get some time off work, come see it earlier, and if we wanted it, then we could put down a holding fee and the house would be properly reserved. It was too short notice. Adrian's work is, ah, not nearly as flexible as we're used to, and they really want him to work when they want, and that's it. Fri he might have been able to wrangle some time off...if it weren't the day of the office Xmas party! And no, he couldn't go on his lunch break - the house was too far away from Slough to have more than a three second look before he'd have to turn around and drive back. :(

So, we're leaving it up to fate. If it's still on the market tomorrow, we'll go look and probably sign up for it. If not, oh well, that sucks, but such is life. I'm still looking for places, pretty much as I type this. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be as much available at this time of year. On the bright side, what is available, the landlords are seemingly pretty desperate to rent, and willing to haggle a bit about the rent price. :)

Anyway, when the internet connection is stable - it has been a wee bit finicky the last couple of days, to my immense irritation - I'm combing the ether for a new home. Weeeeeeeee, fun. :)

And that's pretty much screwed up any plans we might have had for the weekend. Yup, you guessed it; we'll be looking at places - if any of the estate agencies actually deign return my calls. Sigh.

It's been a great week. :)

4th Dec 2006

Easy Does It :)

This is what we got up to over the weekend. :)

Adrian and I had a lovely weekend - not that we did much, but it was fun just the same. :)

We shopped for food (now have a working fridge! hurrah!!) for the whole week at the nearby farm shop, which was great. We got some freshly baked bread (baguette, still warm) and some of the local equivalent of brie and then rushed home with the farm fresh groceries to eat that bread and cheese. Mmmmmm, yummy.

Um, then I didn't feel brilliant, so I had an afternoon lie down, while Adrian played with his computer. Around 3.30pm or so I was feeling well enough to go out and about, so we headed off to Wokingham where the big shopping center (not like at home, just the one grocery shop, and lots of little shops off in the village) to get the odds and ends we couldn't get at a farm shop - like tissues, washing up liquid, etc, etc. We also got a couple of items from a local kitchen goods shop (found out it's the only one in a 10 mile radius, so that was a lucky find for us) which have made our cooking lives much, MUCH happier! We now have a working can opener, that's smooth and easy to use. Adrian used it last night, and hadn't thought anything had happened, but it worked perfectly - it was just so effortless! Trust me, with the can opener in the cottage, which is horrible and mangles cans (and generally doesn't open them all the way at all), the new can opener seems like a dream come true. It's the little things that make you happy! *grin*

Then we got a couple of DVDs to watch ('Lucky Number Sleven' and 'RV' - cute, and fun, both of them, though 'lucky' is a bit graphically violent, uh, more than a little), and went home and vegged out for the rest of the evening. Nice. :)

Sunday we got up late, had a lovely bowl of porridge for lunch (lol), and then went to buy some wet weather gear and gumboots. That was great - now we're all outfitted. And then we went for a nice long walk in a bit of woods near a village called Silchester. Our gear officially keeps us warm and dry and our feet and pants mud and water free! Huzzah!! It was a lovely little walk (we're both so unfit - I miss Edinburgh!!), which we'll have to do more often (the walking, not the area) and now have the gear to do so! Yay!

Bits of the wood actually reminded me of the Gnangara forest back home, because it's pine forest, and is cultivated.

Well it's definitely heading towards winter here. Almost all of the trees are bare now (the last of the leaves seemed to go so suddenly, between one week and the next they were gone!) and it's slowly getting colder and colder. Hasn't rained a great deal so far, and we've had some surprisingly sunny days. But it is full dark by about 4.30pm, and getting darker earlier. By 5pm it feels like 7 or 8 o'clock at night. Weird. *grin*

Next weekend we're looking at going into London for a visit, so that ought to be interesting. We're not planning on doing a lot of touristy things, just wandering around, familiarizing ourselves. And then on Sun, we might travel out to a Christmas Tree farm and get us a tree! And a holly wreath! Yay!! I haven't managed to find any egg nog in the shops yet, which has disappointed me - oh well, maybe closer to the actual day - but everything else xmasy is out in full force. All the fairy lights went up in people's front yards about the 1st or 2nd of Dec, so that was really cute. :)

No one thinks it will be a white Xmas here, but it should snow not too long after that. Boy, am I looking forward to it! Kobe in the snow should be classic!! Lol. The only thing I'm worried about is poor Kobe going from the heat of the middle of a Perth summer into the depths of a British winter. Hope it won't be too hard on her little body. :(

That's about it.

Oh, and finally, importantly, the t-shirt shop I've been putting together, it's up - not finished, but up.

It's on -www.cafepress.com/haali

Go and have a look, please. :) It really is a work in progress, but let me know what you think - of the lay out of the shop and the designs themselves. Tell me what you think needs fixing, changing, etc. Tell me if you'd like to see a design on another sort of t-shirt or jumper (if you go to cafepress.com you can see the sort of clothing products that are actually available and compare them to what I've used). Anyway, please, please, tell me what you think. I need the feedback, so I can make things better. :)

Okay, so I'm going to go, got more chores to do and a shop to upkeep.

30th Nov 2006

Home Situation

Just a brief update in the soap opera that has recently become our lives! *grin*

Good news - we finally have been accepted for our rental property AND we finally have a confirmed moving in date!!! Bad new, it ain't before Xmas. :( Meh. Good news - it's before Xmas next year!! Lol. It's all been arranged for the 6th of Jan 2007, which is the first Saturday in January, so that Adrian can actually help me move in (and pay the rent, and sign the giant contracts, etc, etc). So we're looking to have our long haul stuff delivered on the Mon after that (assuming it's arrived by then) and hopefully we'll be able to get Kobe sent to us on the next weekend!! Yay!!

Until then, well we're back in the cottage as of tomorrow morning - the owner's dad leaves tonight, but apparently the place might take some time to clean (gee, I wish is was tonight) so we have to wait until tomorrow to move back in - but, as far as I'm aware, we're their undisturbed for the rest of our stay...well, right until the 5th Jan, when we have to move back into the B&B for one last night (the cottage is booked out for 3 months from the 5th Jan onwards, so yay for the real estate and owners finally listening to us and getting us the house!).

Okay, now I've gotta rush - gotta few domestic things to accomplish today, so I'd better get to 'em. :)

22nd Nov 2006

Adrian in Brussels

This is what we've been up to...

Adrian headed off on his trip to Brussels about 1.30pm or so on Sunday (his coworker who was picking him up was late and lost getting here - he was supposed to arrive at 1pm, but they got to Heathrow on time, so that's all that really matters). He got back home at around 7.30pm last night, and then we had dinner and chatted about his experiences for ages.

Adrian thinks I'd really like Brussels, so that'll have to be one of the first places to visit in Europe *grin*. He didn't see much of it - mostly they got to see bits and pieces in the morning when they were being driven to the company, and in the evening, when they went searching for food. Adrian was favorably impressed by most of the food, though on the first night they ate African food and on the second, Italian - not once did they have a proper French meal!

Brussels is in the south of Belgium, and in the south the first language is French. This was neat because Adrian learnt French in high school much as I learnt Japanese - and it's gratifying to find that he remembers about as much French as I did Japanese when he was in a foreign country!! *grin*. Anyway, he thought the architecture was beautiful - on par with what we'd seen in Edinburgh, and with slightly less acid rain/soot darkening/damaging the stonework, etc. He said he had no doubt that I'd spend ages taking photos there - he was grinning when he said that, so it must be a good thing! :)

They didn't get time to do any shopping in the city itself, but they did visit the airport shops on the way home - Adrian got given a quick lesson in Belgium chocolate by his coworkers (Paul and Helen, who work in the Slough office with him), and brought home some lovely selections with him. The chocolate box (it was small, really) disappeared last night, and I'm going to try and make the delectable Godiva (one of the high class names in chocolate, apparently) chocolate spread last for quite some time. Oooo, drooooool!

Just found out more about the house today - Adrian just texted me from work - apparently they've accepted our/Holly's guarantor form and we're now discussing moving in dates!! Hip hip! Hoorah!!! From this I take it to mean that they're now checking with the owners to find out how things are going on their end, because they KNOW (or they really, really should if they've been paying any attention to us at all) that we want to move in ASAP!

Still, thing are finally coming along. Which is great, since I had a weird dream this morning that we were sharing with someone (a woman that I knew in the dream, but can't remember ever seeing in real life) who'd gotten fed up with waiting for this real estate agency and had found another place for us to live and had been accepted, all in 1 day. Which was nice. Problem was, the house was not pretty (very, very bad fifties decoration) but worse than that was the fact that a lot of the plumbing didn't seem to work, or even the electricity in certain areas. But hey, it had a great big garden, and grape vines, and all sorts of other fruiting plants, so at least we'd be paying less for fruits and veggies, and the cost of the rent in this horrible house was really cheap, so we'd be able to outfit it the way we wanted, and we could move right in - brrrrrr, strange, strange dream, and thankfully, apparently not prophetic!! *grin*

I haven't driven around much in the 'new car' - that's mostly saved for weekends, since I don't want to see too much without Adrian. But I do occasionally go out to grab more food for dinner, drinking water, etc, and I smile fondly at the beautiful foliage, and the pheasants and other birds that I spot.

Gosh, and I used to think that there were a lot of crows at home! There are clouds of them here!! I just remembered the word scarecrow actually means an object to scare crows away, and suddenly it makes a lot more sense to me. Still, they are very pretty birds - not quite as matt black as at home - glossier black feathers, and a bit sleeker and a tiny bit smaller, I think.

We've still got the broken fridge here, which is annoying. I think it was supposed to be replaced by yesterday, but no such luck. It makes storing leftovers for easy consumption the next day a wee bit difficult. I end up having to freeze leftovers in smaller pots (since there's no Tupperware or anything similar in the cottage here), and it's a job to get it defrosted even the next day. Sigh. Oh well, own place soon!! :)

Other than that, well, I've been working on something, not writing related, but I'll be getting back to that tomorrow. As soon as I have it up and running (hopefully later this afternoon) and have something to show you - it'll be through the web - I'll let you know. I'm certainly having fun with it. :) Anyway...

14th Nov 2006

Birthday redo.

Adrian's work continues along nicely - they're sending him to Brussels this Sunday evening to meet other members of the IT team, so they must like him *grin*. I can't go. We just don't have the funds for that at the moment, but that's ok... I'll miss him terribly, but it's only a 2 day trip, and he'll scout out the Belgium landscape for us to see together, another time. :)

My birthday (the sequel *grin*) was great! On Sat morning we took our brand new 1991 Golf (car) out to our local supermarket (Waitrose in Wokingham - about 1/2 hr nice backstreets drive away). I hadn't driven the car yet, or been in it for long periods of time. 1st thing I noticed was the smell of petrol. The prev owners had left two canisters of petrol in the car... we were a bit worried the petrol gauge might not be working properly, and that's why the canisters. But since the fumes were making me woozy, nauseous and giving me an almighty headache, on Sunday we removed the canisters from the car. Now, the stench of petrol grows less and less with every day *grin*. We bought lots and lots of lovely food from Waitrose - the first REAL shop we've done in our 2 and a bit months away from Australia - all the time cheering for our lovely fridge in our lovely cottage. YAY!! I've cooked nice home dinners with vegetables (oh, how I've missed you, decent vegetables!!) every night since, and I haven't had to go shopping again in, wow, like 3 whole days! Weee!!!

Annyway... I drove our new car for the first time on the trip home from Waitrose. It's interesting. Zero power steering, and it's been a good couple of years since I've driven something without power steering. It feels a bit sluggish on turns, but it's got enough grunt to speed up quickly enough - certainly it has more power than Adrian's old white car, the Daihatsu Charade. And gee, it's great to have a car that's ours, and we know we won't have to give back! :)

Oooh, for my birthday, I ordered through Amazon.co.uk, a book that I can't get in any of the stores here yet. I ordered it on Fri, and they had a guaranteed delivery of Sat (oh, the mail comes 6 days a week in the UK) and it came! It was due to come at any time before 1pm, so we couldn't go out before then, since the mailman needed a signature, but it came at about 9am. I was so excited and happy!! Wee, new book, right on time!!! Doesn't take much, huh *grin*

At any rate, I'd determined earlier that the movie we were going to see, The Prestige, was on at the newer cinema in town (Reading) at 2pm. Given we were heading back from Wokingham (after visiting the post office mailing other bits and pieces and going to a few other shops) at 1pm, there was no chance of making that movie. So I checked out another cinema that's in the outer suburbs of Reading, and they had a 4.05pm session. Hoorah.

We put groceries away, ate lunch, and then headed off to the cinema.

We've been in that cinema before, briefly, just to see what it looked like (didn't stay, since there was nothing good on at the time). It's a very 80s cinema - old chairs, old style seating, strong smells of hotdogs, popcorn and nachos permeating every bit of fabric. It wasn't the most pleasant of places (I mean, it was just a bit aromatic and tatty) but, hey, it did the job. And the movie was great! :) Not really my kinda film (the main characters... there wasn't one which you could catch hold of and say, well that's a hero/protagonist/nice guy), but it did leave you thinking and talking at the end, and it's certainly a visual feast. Adrian and I both enjoyed it, and chatted about it a lot on the way home.

We'd eaten a few too many lollies at the movie to eat dinner right away - and Adrian plonked right in front of the TV because Robin Hood was on (the new BBC series) when we got back (in fact, he'd missed 5 mins of it - the movie went for 2hrs 15mins, and we had a really nice pitch black drive back home *grin*), and he loves his Robin Hood show. As it hasn't done a lot for me (I prefer Torchwood, on Sun) I ambled off to think about what to do for dinner.

We had steak. It was lovely, although, as Adrian pointed out, perhaps I shouldn't get T-bone any more. I tend to get 2 different cuts of meat, one a T-bone, and something else, then cook both and halve them so we get a taste of 2 different kinds of meat, and both times I've done this, the t-bone's been kinda sub-par. Oh well. :)

Anyway, the rest of the night was spent in idle slothfulness, just the way we like it. *grin*

Sunday, we got up early to prepare to go to the Coral Reef pools (not actually a spa centre, as such, more a lot of heated pools, with a number of different saunas as well, a hot tub, and lots of slides for the big and little kids). Then we found out the fridge wasn't working. The freezer, yes, but the fridge part, nope. Damn. So we spoke with our lovely host, and he said he'd come and have a look. Later. So we waited. And had lunch. And waited some more. It was about 2pm when he finished up his task and came by. He decided it was pretty much broken, and he'd just order a new one. It should arrive some time this week. All our fridge food is now on the bottom shelf of our host's fridge in the B&B. At any rate, by 2pm, we were feeling so slothful, that we didn't feel like driving the 40mins or so out to Coral Reef pools. Instead, Adrian crashed from his long week, falling heavily asleep in the living room chair, and I read my lovely new book. It was a peaceful Sunday :)

On Mon, I got the second half of my prezzie from Adrian - a Shiatsu massage from a practitioner in nearby Mortimer. So I dropped Adrian off at the Mortimer train station in the morning so I'd have the car for the day, and then went back to bed. *grin*

The Shiatsu promised to be bliss. As it turned out, it was, eh, ok. :) I'm still pretty stiff, but he was a lovely man (the practitioner), and we chatted about health, weather, life and the UK for ages after the massage (not to mention during the diagnosis phase before the massage). It was nice to chat to someone here for a while. He knows quite a few Australians so that was interesting. Will I go back? Not sure... He was a nice enough man, he certainly knows his job, and I really can't expect a quick fix to all my physical probs in one session, but... I don't know. There's another massage place in Reading. I guess once I have the funds to check that one out, I can make a comparison of styles over here. Fascinating stuff, huh *grin*.

After that, it was back home for domestic chores for the rest of the day. Fun, fun, fun! :)

So that, in long, was our weekend. We'll probably go to the Coral Reef pools this weekend - actually, I might go on Friday by myself (women only day, and cheaper) since Adrian doesn't really enjoy just relaxing and floating around in hot water nearly as much as I do. Of course, if the slides are great, and there's more to do than sitting around in hot water, I'll drag him along on a weekend, too, cause Adrian loves slides as much as I do! *grin*

The house joys are still continuing. Hopefully we should have some news this week (and hopefully it will be the good kind!). After all, it's rapidly coming up to December, and we'd really like a more permanent place to put all our stuff in BEFORE Xmas. Certainly, if we can afford it, I'd love to see my dog before Xmas!! Adrian's folks just sent me some more pictures of Kobe - she's had a haircut (on the longest setting available, so she won't freeze when she gets here, but won't boil in Oz) and looks much less like a woolly mammoth, and more like my cute little dog *grin*. It's great to know she's doing well, and is with people that care for her. :)

Ok, so my tissue box has just emptied (my nose just keeps on a runnin'), and I need to run before I drip on the keyboard! *grin*

Have a great week, and I hope to give you some more and better news soon.

7th Nov 2006

Like trying to move through molasses.

Here, yep, things are still moving veerrry slowly. The insurance cover note for the car still hasn't arrived (though I know it's only Tuesday), so we still can't actually drive it - at least not any further than the train station just down the road. The cottage is lovely, but unfortunately we can't stay here indefinitely - all our stuff (arriving from the long haul around 2nd Dec) wouldn't fit for a start. The real estate agents have decided they want a guarantor (or however it's spelt) after all, so I have to thank Holly very, very gratefully for agreeing to be one for us. :( Irritating red tape!

Other than that, in classic Bagley style I am now nicely strained and bruised from my little fall down the stairs (at least they were carpeted), our colds are improving, and it looks like the weather has finally decided to turn - it's been beautifully clear and sunny for the past 4 days or so (if cold), but today has dawned overcast and not nearly as cold. Still, lovely autumn weather. :)

6th Nov 2006

Adrian's 1st week of work.

Yay, Adrian had a good first day and good first week of work! :) The thing that really gets him is the travel - it generally ends up being about 3 hrs a day, all up. :( On Fri, even though he got in around 8am, he finished up at 6pm (no overtime, but at least he gets to come home early today, theoretically) and didn't make it back to the B&B (with bus, train, train) until around 8.30pm! Oooo, that sucked. :(

It'll just take some getting used to, I guess.

What have we been up to? Not a heck of a lot, actually. Last week Adrian was getting over his cold, and passing it on to me, so I was sniffy and cranky (I also had a visit from Uncle George, so that sucked more than a little bit too). Then when the real estate agent got back to us about the place we're interested in, it was with more beurocratic red tape. Ooo the angry shouting from our end (um, to each other about them, quietly, far away from the real estate agents, so they couldn't hear us. Sigh.) Still, on Fri Adrian contacted the agents again, had another chat with them, and they'll be having another little chat today, and we'll see how that turns out. They haven't spoken to the owners yet, apparently, and the final decision is the owners. If I was the owner, I'd be getting a little irritated myself by now, and wanting things to move along, one way or another, not just waiting, and waiting for some news. Oh well. We'll see what the end of today brings.

Happily, we're now in a nice little cottage at the B&B and will be here for the next 2 weeks. I have a kitchen, and a fridge!! Woo hoo!! And a decent sized TV, and a lovely room that the sunlight invades for hours, and our own bathroom and it's QUIET!!! Brilliant!!! So very, very happy. Seriously, if we could, I'd suggest staying here forever - it's got a brilliant view, pretty much all the room we need, a wonderful view... If they'd allow Kobe here it'd be almost perfect. Unfortunately, the cottage is owned by someone else, and they occasionally come back to live in it - not very often, but now and again. :( Oh well, we'll enjoy it for the time we're here. *happy, happy smile*

We didn't get up to much this weekend. The rental car went back on Fri (which was a miniature adventure for me - driving into Reading by myself, dropping it off and then organizing a Taxi back, and giving the taxi lots of directions so he could get me home again. Thankfully the taxi didn't cost too much) so we were car-less for the weekend. We actually bought a car on Sat from the owners of the B&B - it's a tiny little Volvo, I think, and I'll take a picture of it at some point to show you, and everyone else - but we couldn't drive it over the weekend. We had to organize insurance for us first, and when we get the insurance cover note (probably today) we then have to take it in (um, somewhere - Adrian knows) and pay tax on the purchase. Weee. So we'll probably be able to drive by about, um, Tues. This means that we're celebrating my birthday next weekend instead of the weekend that just passed. :) Next weekend should be fun - we hope to go to the movies to see 'The Prestige', a magician movie that's getting great reviews, and has Christian Bale and Huge Jackman, so lots of lovely eye candy *grin*, and also to go to what looks like a great indoor pool and spa place called Coral Reef, about 1/2 hr drive away from us, right next to Bracknell Forest. :) It'll be great!

What we actually did this weekend - well, we went into Reading by train (our lovely hosts drove us to the Mortimer train station, so we didn't have to sniff and dribble and trudge our way there *grin*) on Sat. We walked around the main mall, checked out a bookshop recommended by Paul, one of Adrian's new work mates (a reasonable Sci-fi shop with lots of manga, anime, games, and a few books too! :) It's a cute little store - not as large a book range as the one in Edinburgh, but still, much, much better than nothing. We also wandered around a mall we found, and bought me some birthday DVDs with money from Adrian's parents (yay sales!!), so that was fun. Also I now have a uk sim card, so it'll be just that little bit cheaper to contact every one. Hoorah!

We then bought some groceries (YAY), though only what we could easily carry, and made our way back to the train station. Mmm, dinner that night was steak! Yummy!!

Sunday, we enjoyed the peace and quiet of our new cottage (and I was snotty and sneezy and very attached to my Kleenex box). So no, we didn't do very much at all on the day of my birthday, but we'll make up for it next weekend.

Oh did I mention that the sunroom has a fab view? Right now, I'm typing to you, and able to look up and see the teeny tiny little birds the live around here, perched on the limbs of the almost leafless apple tree right outside the window, sunning and preening itself, and chirping merrily. Hee. It's very sweet! :)

This morning I managed to do Lou trick number one and fall down the stairs, so I'm a wee bit bruised, but otherwise okay. Adrian didn't get to see it, since he'd just gone off to work. I was half asleep, and wanted to make sure that the front door had locked properly (which it had, sigh). Wee. At least the stairs aren't much more than a body height long, and I managed to catch the top part of the railing (without quite dislocating my shoulder) before I slammed into the wall bit at the bottom of the stairs. Yee hah. Lol. I'm so accident prone! :)

Well, that's about it for me today. I'm gonna go and sniffle into my tissues some more and enjoy the sun warmed room.

2nd Nov 2006

Wishing for a home sweet home.

How have we been? Well...

On this end... well we're waiting for news on a place we want. It's been, ohhh, it seems like ages now (they're checking up that we're not shiftless bums *grin*). I was really hoping we'd hear back from them by Wed (yesterday) but that didn't happen. So I guess I'll spend all of today hoping, and then all of tomorrow too, if we get nothing today - and then I'll just call 'em if still nothing by Sat. I guess they might be having some problems checking with our Australian references because of the time difference - which just got a little wider as of Sunday (daylight savings finished here on Sun, and now it's 8 hours difference again, instead of 7).

What else... Well, Adrian got a cold on Saturday, and I got a fledgling dose of the same thing, so he's felt miserable ever since - lots of sore, runny noseness, sneezing, difficulty breathing, etc. Last night it sounded like he was drowning in his sleep! :( Poor Adrian. And of course he started work on Tues; so far he's enjoying it, except for the cold. The people he's working with seem nice, he's told me, and helpfully enough (for me, at least) they're a lot of sci-fi geeks, and know all the good bookshops, etc in the area. *grin* So that's a positive!! Not quite so positive is how early Adrian has to get up to go to work, and what time he gets home - Tues around 6.30pm, and yesterday around 7.30pm, because of traffic problems. :( And of course by that time I was gnawing on the walls, the shops were closed, and we were both a bit grumpy. Sigh. Having our own place, or at least a self serviced apartment would make such a difference at the moment - we'd have a place to keep food (esp. cold food), so I could have more than muesli bars for lunch, and when Adrian comes home late, it'd be easy to whip up something quick and simple, like eggs on toast. But we can't do that because - hey, no kitchen, and no place to keep food. :(

Really, really looking forward to home of our own.

Anyway, that's enough misery from me.

On the positive side, we've had some lovely weather over the last couple of days. Freezing, but really pretty. On Tues I was woken by the sounds of many cars and many people talking. Looked out the windows and I saw those people, plus many, many dogs. Curious. The people seemed to be wearing an awful lot of tweed. Curiouser and curiouser. :) And after more observation, I noticed that quite a few of the people were carrying elongated packs over their shoulders - rifle cases. I remembered spotting something on our lovely host's fridge about hunting parties. And this would be one of them. They were off hunting pheasants, I think. There certainly are a lot of pheasants in the area - or rather, there were, I guess. I've seen less of them since Tues, but then, I also haven't been out in the car in the daylight since Mon afternoon. It turns out you can get a lot closer to birds feeding on the back road here in the car than you can on your own two feet - if a bird spots you clumping along it'll bolt into the sky before you've gotten more than 10 meters close to it; but if you're in a car, you can almost run the silly things over while they're pecking seeds off the dirt road. Funny birds. They're really very pretty. And unfortunately, quite tasty (had some roast pheasant at the local pub last week, and now I feel a little bad, every time I admire the birds). :)

Yesterday, since it was such a lovely day, I borrowed a plastic tarp from our lovely hostess so that I could go and sit on the grass in the sunshine. Think I lasted about, mmm, half an hour. Oh. My. God. It was freezing!! I think the top temperature must have been somewhere around 6 degrees. The back of my neck was nice and toasty, in the sunshine, but my extremities threatened to drop off in the frigid wind that was whipping around. Brrrrrrr. :) I went back inside and viewed the lovely day through the windows after that (didn't go for a walk - uncle george is here and I've felt like crap). Unfortunately, all the spots in the house which get sunshine indoors belong to our lovely hosts. Sigh.

So that's about all that's new for us at the moment. We'll let you know as soon as we hear about the house, but until then, it's a bit of a waiting game. :)

Anyway, I'll go now. I'm not up to much myself, being cold, sore, and suffering some of the same cold symptoms that Adrian's got. I eat my muesli bars, read and sleep. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel a bit better and then I can go for a nice walk, update the website, and do some writing, that kinda thing. Makes the day go that much faster, after all (oh, I don't have access to the car, at the moment, in case you were wondering, and it goes back on Fri - hopefully we'll have secured a cheap second hand one by then (a lot of people in this area seem to have a spare car they wouldn't mind getting rid of *smile*)).

24th Oct 2006

Where are we now? This and other such questions answered. :)

Mmm, Beech Hill is fairly close to Reading, and it's really close to a little village called Mortimer, where there's a train line. When Adrian went into London, he caught the train from Mortimer into Reading, and then from Reading into London - Slough is the stop before Paddington Station in London, so yep, he can easily catch the train from Reading to Slough. Hmm, Reading, what can I say about Reading... Well, I've only been there the once, so far, but I wasn't massively impressed - their town centre is a bit of a traffic and roadway nightmare - and this is supposed to be a small town!! Only 450,000 people or so. Still, it feels huge compared to all the little villages we've driven around. I LIKE the villages - they feel a lot more, um... suburban than anything else I've seen in England so far. Hmm. I miss Scotland. But then, it's only been a few days, so maybe I'll come to love England. I mean, it's awfully pretty right now in the countryside, with all the leaves turning and falling gently like huge snowflakes. Autumn is gorgeous here. I'm just not a big fan of all the huge motorways everywhere and people screaming along them, and the traffic rage - hesitate for one second, trying to figure out where to go next and you get the horn. :( *sigh* It's not as bad as that, but I've been beeped more times in the last couple of days than I have in my entire driving life at home (and out on our honeymoon, where I drove in Hawaii and Ireland).

Anyway, re the home search...So far we've seen 2 houses - one on Sun and one on Mon (and when I say 'house', I mean place to live, not a actual house like at home) - and Oh. My. God... they're tiny!! :( Now, I've looked at least 6 places in Scotland, so I know that not all places to live in the UK are miniscule. *Sigh*. Unfortunately though, in our browsing through the internet I've found huge places (5 rooms or more) that cost a small fortune per month to rent, and tiny places (that also cost a lot :( ), and nothing really in between. Still, we've only seen the two. I've got enquiries about the dog being ok being checked out by about 4/5 more places, and we've got an appointment for one in Reading this afternoon which looks really nice...on the internet. In reality? Who knows. We'll have to wait and see. :) Yeah, I'm a little disheartened in the search for a home, but like Adrian keeps telling me, we've only seen the two, and we're still learning the 'real estate language' over here. Things will get better, I'm sure :)

I really do like this area around Beech Hill - Beech Hill, and Mortimer, and a town towards Reading called Wokinham is REALLY gorgeous on the outskirts (lots of huge trees in Autumn colours overhanging the roads, and the houses aren't pressed right up next to the roadway, they've got a bit of a front yard), and all the tiny villages in between. When we've got time, we tend to take the backroads, rather than the motorways - a) because the motorways just aren't that pretty, and I'm always a bit tense driving on them, and; b) to see some of the countryside, and all of the other places we might be able to live. It's also a good way to spot real estate agent signs, so that I can look them up back at the B&B later on and see what they've got for offer. :)

I haven't taken a lot of pictures of England yet (and haven't updated my website - bad bad Lou - in, um, a while). I took some nice pics while out walking on Fri, and a couple of a Roman ruin (picture seeing half a stone wall, but mostly paddocks and cows) that we walked half way around on Sunday. Why only half-way? Um, it rained, and not just a little bit, and we were so underdressed for the weather. My pant legs were soaked with mud almost up to the knees (my poor leather shoes), though my leather jacket kept the top bit of me warm, and Adrian was pretty much just wet, though he was carrying the umbrella. We need gumboots in a big way, and anoraks. We also need some money, so we'll be awaiting Adrian's first pay before going out and getting some decent wet weather gear. :) Now, just so you don't misunderstand me, I'm not actually moaning about the weather - I love the rain. :) It's really cool to wander about in it. However, it's even nicer to wander about in it in the proper gear, especially when you have limited laundry facilities, and even more limited clothing options. :) Ah well. We'll get sorted out eventually.

The first fun things I think we'll do when we've got some funds coming in are - well I want to go check out the dry-all-year-round-ski-slope-thingy they've got in one of the little towns not too far off. That'll be a blast! :) Adrian wants to see Windsor Castle, not to mention check out Legoland, which is very close to Windsor. Cool huh!! *grin*.

I'm not sure how long it takes to get to London from Reading by train...Adrian did it fairly well under an hour, I think. It may take longer on weekends, which is pretty much when we'll be going off to do touristy things. And wow, is it not cheap. Still, we were warned that rail travel here is a heck of a lot more expensive than you'd think, so Adrian wasn't completely horrified when he headed off to London last Fri. And despite the expense, I suspect rail is the only way we'll be going into London - parking is a nightmare, and it's so big, I hesitate to even imagine all the amazing ways we could get lost driving through it... :) Fun.

Sunday night, our wonderful hosts loaned us their set top box (and they're letting us hold on to it for the rest of our stay, hurrah!!) so that we could watch Torchwood (the Dr Who spin off, in case I haven't mentioned that, like, 100 times already!). They had a double episode. I loved it. LOVED it!! Yay, it was great. Yay, it's on again next Sunday. *grin*. Bit of trivia, the actress who plays the female lead - Gwen - played a character called Gwyneth in Dr Who 1st season (the Charles Dickens's episode with all the gas/ghost aliens), and Gwyneth was the psychic maid who died in the end. Both are set in Cardiff, Wales, so it'll be interesting to see if they play up perhaps a relative link between the two characters. :)

It's Adrian and my anniversary today :) 2 whole years we've been married. :) :). We actually celebrated it last night, since we were both too tired to go out hunting for food. We went to a lovely pub/restaurant in Mortimer called the Fox and Horn. For a local eatery, the food really wasn't cheap, but it was yummy! Adrian really loved his mushroom chicken supreme, and my steak was very nice. Should have been a bit more adventurous and had the duck though. :) And their tomato and mozzarella bruschetta was wonderful!! :) All in all, a marvelous night out.

Anyway, that's pretty much what we've been up to. For the rest of the week, there will be more house hunting, um, and then some more house hunting! I've just had a call from a real estate agent, so hopefully when she gets back to me shortly we'll have another couple of properties to visit! Things are looking up. :)

21st Oct 2006

Reading a hoy hoy.

Well, after a lovely 9 hr or so drive, we made it to Reading! Well, actually, it's not Reading as such - it's a little village called Beech Hill, about 10 mins out of Reading. How did we locate it? The internet - we were looking for self-serviced accommodation, but unfortunately most of that in our price range was booked out. The one we chose - Little Park Farm - has Wi-Fi, which was one of the major reasons it got chosen, as well as the price. Need the internet connection so that we can effectively search for a home next week before Adrian heads off to the new job in Slough, come Oct 31st. It has self-serviced accommodation - booked out for the next two weeks, but also a B&B, so it got picked. Also it was available :) Good reasons for taking it, huh. It's a working farm, which is neat. We've seen cows, and heard them, and avoided stepping in cow pats (but only when I was actually walking through the fields) - they're beef cows, and I think they know it - they watch me vary warily. :)

Anyway, we got in on Thurs night at around 7:30pm - weeeeeee- fun drive. Fri was spent returning the big station wagon in the morning and swapping it for a smaller car (more difficult than it sounds, since the cars were through different companies and we got a little lost in Reading), and then I went for a walk in the afternoon (saw squirrels, pheasants and a dear!), while Adrian got ready for a job interview (yes, he's got a contract, but this particular recruiter said it couldn't hurt to do the interview at this other company in London anyway) in London and then headed out by train (I dropped him off at the train station that is about 2 mins down the road by car). He had himself a little adventure, which I'll write about later, but he got to the interview in time, and he thinks it went really well. Apparently someone in the company knows he's not actively looking for work at the moment, but not the people interviewing him. Anyway, he thought the role looked like it would be a really good fit, but for permanent they're not offering quite enough money, and anyway, he's already got a three month contract. :)

He got back to the train station around 7.50pm, and we headed straight off to dinner from there. We've eaten at a pub called the Elm Tree on both Thurs and Fri nights - food's lovely, but expensive - reminds me of cafe-type eateries in Cottesloe/Scarborough. Has a lovely outdoors area, obviously not much in use at the moment - yes, it's raining down here, but we've seen a few patches of sun across the day and a half that we've been here now.

Today we went driving - looking around, checking out gumboots, which look like they're going to be a necessity here, if we want to go walking the dog anywhere - lots of long, wet grass, and muddy patches, but it's beautiful. :) I do miss Edinburgh, though. Still, only been here a day and a bit; maybe my mind will be changed as time goes on. :)

Adrian's fallen asleep now - we've had a loooooong couple of days and haven't slept very well (it always takes a while to get used to a new bed in a new house) - and I'll probably do the same in a bit. Since tomorrow looks like it might rain all day (and we didn't end up getting the wellies, though we did have fun checking out country and garden centers, lots of little villages, and some farm stores) we'll probably stay in, look for homes on the internet, and update the website.

Anyway, my hands are falling off from the odd angle I'm using to get the Wireless connection in our room (I'm sitting on the floor - not the best place in the world to use the laptop for long stretches of time), so I'm going to go and fall over now. :)

10th Oct 2006

5 weeks and still no job :)

And it's now 5 whole weeks we've been gone. Can't believe it. Some days, you blink and can't believe where the time's gone. Others, well, others just drag out and out and homesickness tries to rear its ugly head. :(

We do get a bit blue, occasionally. Or, at least, I do. Adrian is the High King of optimism. :) It's very sweet. But yes, in case you were wondering, I do miss you all terribly and really wish you were here. Or at least closer. It's difficult to pop by for a chat when friends and family are half a world away. Sigh. Are we looking forward to having a place of our own, and a land line, and cheap international calls, AND maybe an internet camera so we can all SEE each other while we chat? Oh yeah, you betchya!!

And with that lead in, have things changed on the getting a job front? Um no, not so much. We keep plodding along though. I've been working on my CV today, and after I compare it to Adrian's 'UK type' CV, I'll send it on out to all the recruitment agencies hereabout to see if I can scare up some temp work for a while. It won't be much, but hopefully it'll be more than minimum wage here, and at least it should bring in some funds to keep us here for a bit longer, I hope. Cross your fingers for me. :)

Other than that, things have been pretty much the same here during the working week. The few things of interest that occurred for us mostly happened during the weekend, as per usual.

Basically, our week went like this:

Adrian applies for jobs, speaks to recruiters on the phone, researches info on the web and works on his software programs.

Louisa writes - emails, story, etc.

I did go for one long walk last week while Adrian was researching at the hotspot. It was Thursday, I think, another cool autumn day, with the sun gazing sharply down through regular breaks in the giant black clouds that race across the sky. Not that it's particularly windy down at pedestrian weather. I don my black beanie (as I do most days now), and head off after checking in with Adrian (to see how he's going, if he wants to come along, what he'd like me to grab for Dinner that night when I hit Sainsbury on my way home). Where did I go? Well something I've found fascinating is that Edinburgh is a city of levels, and not just in the old town. In Old Town the buildings tower overhead and there are bridges that cross through it all, alleyways everywhere and staircases that you can miss seeing entirely if you're looking at the shops or people and not the architecture. There are levels too, out in what I'm starting to think of as the suburbs; the area's is really only a half hour walk or so from the city centre, but it's entirely residential, even if those residences are a lot more up-and-down, and less spread out than I'm used to in the burbs. Out in the burbs you can be walking along the footpath and then suddenly notice that there are only the tops of trees on the other side of the stone wall that lines the walkway, instead of the houses that were there before. You look down and see little more than leaves and branches for long moments... And then you notice, quite a way down (most of the time), a path. There's one of these paths, and a staircase down to it, near the hotspot. It took us sometime to actually see the staircase, since it's not marked or otherwise signposted. It's just a break the black wrought-iron fencing that stretches around a green section of the Holiday Inn. And on Thursday I decided to wander on down and check it out. :)

At the base of the staircase there was a map which marked out exactly where these paths went. Unfortunately, I couldn't make much of it out, since it was covered in graffiti. Still, it was clear that the paths down here were bike paths, and some of them ran near the River Leith, so I decided to head north (my choices were north or south, btw). I'd been north west before when I walked out to the Reserve the week before, so I figured if the path got boring, at least all I had to do was walk west a bit and I'd come out near the Reserve. Hey, it's Lou logic, if you don't understand, and it made me happy, so off I went.

It was a lovely little walk, with the trees arching overhead, bits of blue sky peeking through the leaves occasionally. It stayed fairly much north (as far as I was able to tell), and only varied in height - climbing up to road level, sometimes higher, and back down again, in gently rolling hills. Sometime I could see through the trees and make out bits of people's back yards. Mostly I could see trees, and berry bushes (probably raspberry or blackberry) with a few withered remains of the summer's crop on them. If I focused hard and ignored the by-now faint traffic sounds, the slightly too prevalent waves of litter, and those backyards, not to mention the concrete path, I was able to pretend that I was walking through a giant forest, and that Robin Hood might be spotted in the distance at any time... Hmm... The whoosh of bikes rushing past me and the frequent passing of other walkers heading south soon quashed my attempts at daydreaming though; it's difficult to pretend you're all alone in an ancient forest when people keep walking past you. Sigh. :)

At any rate, eventually the path lead to a great concrete bridge over a stretch of river. I peered over the bridge walls and noticed a path winding along the river, and no people. Great. How do I get down?

I scouted around a bit, but didn't notice any staircase down. I did however notice a foot path made by tramping adventurers (ie, a bit of a break in the undergrowth and trees down the side of the hill, mostly mud and leaves), so of course, down that path I went. It was fun. :) I slid and slipped, but managed not to fall over or apply any further mud to my pants or any other part of my body, and made it happily unscathed to the bottom. Whereupon, two minutes later, when I wandered across to the other side of the bridge, I found the proper staircase. Bugger! Still, I'll take my mini-adventures where I can get them, folks. *grin*

Since I knew this was the River Leith, and I knew that the River Leith meandered its way towards the city, past it, and then out to the ocean, I decided to head east - towards the city. I figured I could walk until I got tired, then head up to road level and catch a bus back home - there are, after all, more bus routes available the closer you get to the city. A flawless plan. *grin*

The walk was great; beautiful, green, the river was clear and almost entirely free of rubbish, there was much less litter scattered through the trees and underbrush, I saw some fascinating glimpses into backyards of houses that lay along the riverbank, and there were much less people about. Nice. :)

The number of people picked up in a certain area (I've taken pictures of the clearing by the river, and they'll be on the website), and when I crossed over the little wooden bridge spanning a section of the river I found that this was the rear entrance to the Museum of Modern Art! Cool! I'll have to take Adrian back there, but not Kobe. Don't think they'll let her in, oddly enough. :) Still, she'll love the rest of the walk (especially all the people). *grin*. But that'll be another weekend's outing. :)

Anyway I kept walking for a while longer until the path ended at the rear of an apartment complex. I was uncertain of where to go next, and not really sure of where I was, but I knew that I had to be close to town, and that I hadn't passed under the Dean Bridge (a very large bridge that we cross over every time we head into town). I know the Dean Bridge crosses over the Leith, and I've seen the path on at least one side of that bridge... still not sure about the other side though, and that would be the side that I was on. So I headed on up to street level, and found Queensferry Road (the main road that stretches back to our B&B) quickly enough and then I knew where I was. Decided that I could walk back since I wasn't all that tired. And I did. Took about 15 minutes, I'd guess, back to the Hotspot, at any rate, and I got to see at pedestrian level all the houses and the great old gothic school that we fly past on the bus every time we head into town. :)

So that was my little adventure on Thurs. :)

Saturday was much like our previous Sat's here, to begin with. There was breakfast at the B&B, then the bus trip into town to the bookshop. From there, though, we checked our map and figured out that we could walk down Cowsgatehead (a road that parallels the Royal Mile) down to Hollyrood Park. Hollyrood Park is an enormous area of green in the heart of Edinburgh that contains the remains of a dormant volcano (last eruption something like 300 million years ago) known as Arthur's Seat. Basically this thing's a mini-mountain. :) Did I take some pictures? Oh yeah. Did we climb it - nope. Can't do this all at once folks! For a start, we're still both hopelessly unfit. Secondly, despite the rather windy and cloud-bedecked day, it was covered with tourists. I know, I know - WE'RE tourists. Still, I didn't feel like competing. And I'm grossly unfit. I mentioned that, right? *grin*

So instead, we went around the outside of the park for a while, and then made our way up the side of one of the foothills surrounding Arthur's Seat. We climbed, took photos (Adrian took video footage, and hopefully at some point he'll add that to his section of the website), hiked further, checked out an old ruin of an abbey. And then Lou went on a little adventure again. :) I'm not going to talk about it, any more than to say it involved something like a goat track that didn't make it all the way to the top of the foothill we were climbing at that point, that it petered out into the equivalent of clay-like shale, that there was some embarrassing sliding done by me, slightly scraped hands and rather muddy pants (thank god they're mud brown already!). Adrian tried to look concerned and not to snigger or say I told you so, too much. No, I'm kidding. He was really nice about my, um, adventure. :) He barely made any cracks at all about how the heck he was going to explain to my family and friends that I'd broken my leg/arm/neck climbing this supposedly tame little hill. Isn't he sweet! :) I love him. *grin*

So after we - slooooowly - made our way back down the hill, we spent some time looking at the great white swans bathing and preening themselves by the shore of the lake (small loch, here) at the foot of the hill. At least, I watched. Adrian took footage of me, staring at the swans. So I like birds. And squirrels. And dogs and cats and rabbits and... yes, yes. Animal lover me. :)

When the rain started sprinkling down and our tummies started rumbling, we headed back towards Cowsgatehead and a bus stop. We'd decided to catch a bus back up to the movie theatre, to sit in warmth and comfort for a couple of hours, and of course, to get some lunch. The movie we wanted to see started at 3pm (we went to see Open Season - it was great, we both loved it to pieces and laughed a LOT; one of my favorite animations this year - Adrian's favorite is still 'Cars' though, go figure, *grin*) and it was about 1.40pm, so we figured, heaps of time for lunch. We went to 'The Slug and the Lettuce' for the second time. It was packed, for a change. In fact the grey, slightly damp day seemed to bring in a heck of a lot more people than we were used to seeing at the cinema complex. Still, we figured an hour and twenty minutes should be plenty of time to have our dinner served. Right?

Wrong.

We ended up pretty much bolting our food again. It was a wonderful meal, but the service wasn't spectacularly fast and hence the bolting. Oh well. If you're curious, we had roast lamb and potato, and those cinnamon waffles with dipping sauce, brownies and ice-cream - again, all shared between the two of us. Yummy!! And then we raced up to our movie. :)

After that we pretty much went home and fell over.

Sunday was less fascinating. The B&B where we've been staying had all it's rooms booked out (before we arrived in Edinburgh) for 4 days - that Sun to this Thurs - by a group of guests who visit Edinburgh annually. However, our hosts were nice enough to source us some other accommodation for those days: about 3 houses up the street! Nice, huh?? So Sunday morning was spent sorting out what would stay (since our hosts are being nice enough to hold on to the majority of our luggage - we can also still make use of the fridge, lounge, etc at the B&B, since the one we've moved to for 4 days is basically just a room - oh and breakfast) and what would come with us. Then the rest of the day was spent packing, moving stuff across, and then sitting with the remainder of our luggage until we could move across to our temporary B&B. And that was pretty much it.

So we're back to the normal working week.

Good news is Adrian is one of two people being considered for a job down London way - 3 months contract, possibly longer, possibly going to permanent later. Actually, the job's in a place called Slough, about 15 minutes or so outside of Reading. So, we might have to move to Reading after all, at least for 6 months or so. Why six months? Well, that's about the shortest period of time we'll be able to get a rental property for. Cross your fingers for us. At the writing of this email, Adrian is waiting for a phone call to determine whether the company interested in hiring will want to see him in person on Fri, or whether they'll determine, over the phone, that the other person is the one that they want. We'll just have to wait and see. :)

Anyway, I've babbled on for well and truly long enough.

Note from later in the week:

Adrian got the job!! We're off to Reading! Yay, employment!! We're leaving Edinburgh, boo. :( Oh well, I'm sure Reading will be lovely. Another step in our whirlwind adventure, huh? *grin*

5th Oct 2006

An entire month now...

Hello again :)

One month! We have now officially been in Edinburgh for a whole month. Astounding! :) I know I'm astonished, and pretty much on a daily basis, at how quickly the time passes.

But enough of my musing. You want to know how Adrian's interview went, right? Well, the second one also went very well. There were three candidates & at the end of Wed, Paul from the recruitment agency, Spring, called to let Adrian know that the choice was down to Adrian and one other. They'd loved both candidates and had absolutely no negative feedback for Adrian. So that was great. :) But they couldn't make a quick choice, so they'd have to think about it.

So we waited. And waited. Long story short, on Fri morning, around 10am, Paul from Spring called Adrian back and passed on the bad news that after much agonizing (uh huh :) ) the clients had decided to go with the other candidate, who had ever so slightly more technical skill than Adrian (though less client facing skills), oh, and was asking for less money. Not that they mentioned the money. Nope, choice was entirely based on skill requirements, I'm sure. :)

Oh well. Yes, it was a little heartbreaking. We'd both hoped so much that Adrian would get this nice, safe job and things would be moving on track, but hey, it was a great experience for Adrian, and where one door closes... You know how the rest goes. Paul, from Spring recruitment, seemed very impressed with Adrian, and spent a great deal of time on the phone with him, basically reiterating how wonderful Adrian is, and would he be interested in contract work at all, because if so, he'd pass on all Adrian's details and recommend him to Paul's coworkers in the contract department in Spring. Well yes, actually, Adrian is very much interested in contract work, so you go right ahead and do that, Paul. :)

So, presumably, Paul has. Adrian hasn't heard back from Spring yet, but it's only been a day and a half (business days, of course), so we'll just have to wait and see.

Adrian got a couple of calls from recruitment agencies yesterday (Mon), asking for more info and such, so things are still moving along at our end.

Yep, things were pretty exciting for us between Tues and Fri with that job prospect, but that excitement doesn't really translate into interesting reading, unfortunately. So what else can I tell you...?

Well, on Fri, after the news, Adrian went off to the hot spot, as per usual, and I decided I had to get out, go for a walk. And boy, did I walk. Something like 2 1/2 hrs later I staggered home, and pretty much crippled myself for the rest of the weekend, but it was a really great walk! :0)

Where'd I go? Well first off I just walked around the streets behind the B&B (away from the major road that passes in front of it) to get a better idea of the layout of the suburb. I came across a wooded hill and was ecstatic - for about a minute, which was how long it took to walk through. *sigh*

Still, walking east through the tiny wooded park, I noticed a much bigger looking stretch of green peeking from between the houses in the distance. So I headed that way. And found... a golf course. A very, very big, green, pretty, and private golf course. Oh well, it was something to look at while I walked, so I followed the road that ran along it, and was well rewarded about five minutes later. For there was an entrance to a reserve and apparently somewhere in that reserve was a tower! Yay, a tower, I love towers! :) Not so big on hills, though, and that's what this reserve was, basically: a giant, wooded hill. Specifically, Corstorphine Hill. Did I climb it anyway because it was so darn pretty and there would be a great view from the top? You bet. Did I happen to bring my camera along and take pictures? Did I ever! Had I recharged my camera batteries at any time in the recent past? Uh, not so much, as I found out when I went to take my first picture - the little battery icon flashed a sad red. Sooo, not quite as many pictures got taken as I would have liked, but they'll be up on the web page for y'all shortly. :) And there was a very, very nice view from many parts of that hill.

And I walked, and walked, and admired the scenery a LOT, and walked some more. Did I find that tower though? Nope. Surely it's at the top of the hill, that's usually where they put towers, after all. Nope, couldn't see it. I did find a fenced off section, all tall metal stakes with nasty sharp tips, and wondered mightily what might be behind the barrier...And eventually, after much searching for the tower, and finally just walking around the barrier until I found an entrance, I discovered what that fence was protecting - The Edinburgh Zoo. I found the back entrance to the Edinburgh Zoo! :) So that's why the air near the barrier smelt so fuggy and animal like. *grin* Neat, huh. I thought so. :)

Anyway, I kept searching for that darned tower; I wasn't about to give up now, not when I'd spent at least an hour looking for it. So back up the pathways I went, and I found one that slowly wound around the hill. That seemed promising. However, before it reached the top it kind of began to wend off to the side and headed back down again. Finally I had enough. I spotted a young woman walking her dog in an open glade and nicely asked if she had any clue where the tower might be. She did. It was about five minutes back in the direction I'd come from, up a steep, muddy embankment I'd avoided because in my black leather shoes with little grip I could see myself getting halfway up, then sliding and breaking my ankle - I do that sort of thing from time to time, after all. :) But not that day. I panted my way back, strove up that muddy embankment, and found that tower. Huzzah!!

Was the irritating tower signposted at all? Nope. Was it obvious how to get to it? No, sir. Was it at the top of a hill? Uh, not really. That spot on the top of the hill was occupied by a radio tower (much more modern) of sorts. And no wonder I couldn't spot the tower before; it was surrounded by giant trees, taller than the tower. But I took pictures and smiled in triumph. Tower found, now I could stumble home and eat and drink and fall over.

Yup, it was a great walk - my favorite kind, with great swathes of forest to wander through, barely seeing another person while I walked, most of the sounds and sights of the rest of the city hidden away in the abundant greenery. And there were squirrels, not to mention birdlife galore. :) I had fun. I know Kobe will love it, when she gets here, and Adrian will probably love it too, though he's about as fond of hills as I am. :)

And then there was Saturday. Sat was a fun day. I hobbled a bit, but we headed into the city to check a few things out. First off we headed for a 'video bank' to see if it had a better range than any of the tiny video stores we'd yet seen. We got there at 10.30am. It opened at 1pm. *siiiiigh*. So, we hobbled (or I hobbled, Adrian was fine, and tried not to laugh at me too much *grin*) back up the hill to Princes Street, along Princes Street to the mound (another hill!), and up the mound to the Old Town. Yes, we could have taken a bus, that's how we'd gotten to the video bank in the first place, but I couldn't be bothered waiting for the next one to come along. I'm patient like that, dontcha know. :)

Speaking of patience, Adrian then exercised his as we headed into my favorite bookshop. Oh joy! More new books! Rapture!!

And next, did we head to the movies, as we have done for the last few Sats? Yes, but there was a difference. We decided to check out a different movie theatre, just to compare. This one was on the edges of the city centre, and this one we did take a bus to get to, but we had to do some walking to get to the right bus stop.

Oh, I've missed something. We were going to the Castle. I mentioned that, last post, right? And we did. We did check out the Castle, walked right up to the entrance, enjoying the sights of the Royal Mile on the way there, me not loving the hill on the way up... And then we checked out the price to get in... Um. Funny. I'd kind of, for some mad reason, thought it might be free to enter. Nope. So! We're going back there when Adrian has a job. Yay!

Still, I did get some nice pictures of the outside of the Castle. *grin*

We walked right around the Castle on the way to our next bus stop, and found a Saturday run Growers Market. Ohhh, it was lovely. The food! The choices! Ah, can't wait until I have a kitchen again. :) The smell of roasting meat and the hamburgers or meat rolls that everyone seemed to be eating made us drool (it was lunchtime, after all), but we ended up getting something else entirely. We passed a little booth called The Porridge Bar. And they served, you guessed it, porridge. Nice and hot. What a great idea. It was a grand snack. We had one with raspberries and granola topping and cream. Oh, yum! It seemed just right, because the previous evening we'd watched a cooking show (Good Eats for those of you that know of it) on oats and porridge. :) Oh, we'll be visiting those markets again!

Anyway, the trip out to the movie theatre was a bit anticlimactic. We ended up walking most of the way there, as it turned out, because we really misunderstood how close it actually was. We did find out that they have a great deal on movies there, so when we actually want to see something, we'll go back there. :)

After that, we caught buses back into the city and then out and back to the B&B - stopping on the way to pick up some groceries at Sainsbury - and then fell over for the day.

Sunday was a day of not moving. It was wet, it'd been a long week, and we just couldn't be stuffed. :) I read. Adrian checked out websites and typed. That was it.

And on Mon, it was back to the routine. Adrian headed up to the hot spot, and I stayed at the B&B and wrote. Oh yeah, in case you're wondering what I do all day, that's it - I write, so Adrian's pleased, and things are starting to flow for me again. Once we get settled into a house of our own, I'll go back to looking for publishers, agents, etc, again. For the moment, though, I'm working on two new pieces - when I get stuck on one, I turn to the other. It's working well for me. :)

So, that's basically been it. I think I've definitely babbled on enough for now. :)

26th Sept 2006

Three weeks and counting

Hello, hello. :)

Well, another week has come and gone. Wow, I seriously can't believe we are now coming up to our 3rd week in Edinburgh - it simultaneously seems much shorter and far, far longer than only three weeks.

The weather is slowly starting to change here. We still get days of gorgeous sunshine, but they're definitely getting cooler. On Saturday when we were wandering about the city, in the sunshine at least we were wishing for shorts and sandals, but in the shade it felt at least ten degrees cooler. Odd, yet neat at the same time. :) The rains have become a bit more frequent - mostly a downy soft sprinkle that you have to peer into puddles to recognise (you can't spot it pattering down at all by gazing out a window, and it barely seems to make a damp impression on slick surfaces like the cars out the front of the B&B) and right now we're having something of a sun shower, though with not quite as much sun as I'm used to at home, and quite a bit more rain. :) Put it this way, the sun's up there somewhere, though shrouded by cloud, and it's still lighting up the raindrops so they sparkle against the gray backdrop that is the rest of the sky. Is it pretty? Oh yeah. :)

Back to business - how's the job hunt going? Well. It's going very well indeed. This morning (Monday) Adrian had his very first job interview, which went splendidly, and he's back for a second one on Wed. Not to mention his phone just won't stop ringing today (or at least, that's how it feels after the first week and a half of dead silence from the thing). Most of last week for us was the same as the week before, so I won't bore you with the details (email checking, CVing, etc, etc). Instead, I'll try and sum up the highlights of other new and interesting things we did.

Um.

Mmmm.

I mentioned the weather, right?

:)

Sorry guys. Pretty much all of last week was devoted to spending as little money as possible while CVing. On Sat we did go out, though. We trundled over to my new bookshop and bought some more books. Then we wandered over to see if we could finally see the Edinburgian's version of a Mall - as I think I've mentioned before, there's a tendency here towards lots of small village style shops, and the one 'shopping centre' we've been to is basically a collection of separate shops wrapped around a car park. This Mall I'd heard tell of is opposite the omni-cinema, so we strolled over to see if anything new had opened up on the big screens (yes there had - 'Children of Man' & 'Trust the man'). We decided, since it was such a lovely day, to get out of that hurtful sunshine and watch a comedy for a couple of hours (went to see 'Trust the man' which was cute, 'heart-warming' as Adrian figured advertisers would have described it, and not nearly as funny as we'd hoped, but not a complete waste of time). Before the movie, we trotted on over to what looked like one entrance to the Mall and headed on in. It wasn't as it turned out.

What the gigantic building was, was kind of a combined Myers/David Jones mega building, and not at all connected with the Mall-thing behind it. Oh well, we'll check out the Mall or whatever it is next weekend. As it was, while it was fun to browse (ooo, look at that fridge, it connects to the internet! Wow, that stove is huge! Does it really need 6 wok sized burners?? Oh, look at the cool kitchen displays - oh. my. god. when did lime green bench tops come back into vogue?!), we got a little hungry and had to rush off to cram food into our starving bellies. Since Adrian insisted that the Evil Waffles we'd consumed last Sat were not actually a 'lunch food' in and of themselves, I sighed, and then suggested that we try the Japanese/Chinese fusion restaurant next door. They had a lunch time deal going, otherwise it would have been a little bit above our current budget - basically we could pick two courses from a set menu. Adrian had a basically Chinese meal with prawn and chicken wantons to start & garlic beef & mushroom and veggies for main (which he thought was absolutely delicious), and I had Japanese with the fishiest and decidedly interesting tasting miso soup I've ever had (even fishier than the instant miso and canned tuna version I normally eat at home, so that's saying something!), with tepenyaki salmon for main. The salmon was drool inducing. Mmmmmm, yummy. Yay, another lovely restaurant to frequent! *grin*

After the meal and the movie, we were actually feeling a bit wiped, but we walked back up to Princes Street, forged our way through the hordes of oncoming pedestrian traffic, and occasionally stopped to check out a couple of video and game shops - we're running short of night time movie entertainment (yes, I know, a tragedy) - so were hoping to spot some cheapish box sets of something like Stargate. Nope. Not cheap, and not very often in box sets, at least, not in the three or four shops we looked at. They tended to be sold as half season sets, or even as individual disks. Arrrrgh. Yes, that's the noise Louisa made, internally, so she wouldn't frighten those hordes into stampeding. Next was a nice long bus trip to the closest video store that I could find (in the yellow pages) to our B&B (this is ignoring the 2 shelves of for-hire DVDs at our local deli/newsagents). The video store we headed to is a Blockbusters, so I figured it at least would have a reasonable selection. WRONG! When we go back again, I'm going to take a picture of it :). It is, seriously, the smallest Blockbuster store in the known world. Really. It's basically crammed into one of the typical 'village' style shops, and only one person can fit into their aisles at one time - it's a really tight squeeze if more than five people are in the store at any one time. Oh, it was CUTE! :) Still, since it was the only thing in range that evening, we signed up (which amazingly enough did not require blood and the promise of our first born, as at home) and took home a couple of DVDs.

Sunday, we said to ourselves, we would do something constructive and touristy and visit the Castle, maybe walk the Royal Mile.

Didn't happen.

Sunday was one of those new peltingly rainy days and we both did grand impressions of sloths. :)

However, we're so there next weekend, whether it's raining or not! Really. No, really! :)

Anyway, that's about it. I know it hasn't been as interesting as prior weeks to read about, but from our end things are finally starting to move along according to plan. :)

19th Sept 2006

Slow News Week

Hi :)

Sorry it's been a while in between updates, but believe it or not, it's been a bit the equivalent of a slow news week over here. I figured I've now got enough for a decent sized entry, so here we go - :)

Let's see... last I wrote it was Mon evening after we'd traveled back from London. So, Tues was a bit of a recovery day. We checked our email and slothed around a bit, and got some nice relaxing sleep in our nice unmoving beds. :) Ahhhhh, bed how I love thee! Annnyway... On Tues arvo Adrian was contacted by a group that market themselves as career managers. Adrian set up an appointment for noon on Wed and I came along for the ride. No really, that's all I did - ride shotgun and have a good look at the scenery (which was beautiful, as always here). Adrian went in to the meet-n-greet and I stayed in the car, enjoying the sunshine (just for general interest, in our now 2 weeks in Edinburgh, we've seen 3 totally grey days, and it only really rained for one of those days; Mon, Tues and Wed of last week were actually pretty darn hot!), gazed at the field and hills across the way (the company was in an industrial park, but sections seemed almost semi-rural; beautifully maintained, green, green, green, and very easy on the eyes) and played around with the radio stations.

Adrian's meeting went for about a half hour or so and he came out of the whole thing very positive. As a 'career manager' company, this group basically does just that; it acts as sort of a mentoring program, helps you learn to market yourself more effectively, learn how to interview better, fix up your CV, negotiate for pay, etc, more effectively, and also access that 'hidden job market' through their wide range of local contacts. As such, they're not exactly a recruitment agency, but they do have aspects of that and they will go all out to help you get a really great, well paying job. Sounds too good to be true? Well, Adrian's going to have to work for it. They only take professionals (ie, only people who they think can make at least 30,000 pound a year, which neatly rules me out *grin*), they charge for their services, and Adrian's already got homework... but I'll get to that later. As I said, Adrian was happy about how the meeting on Wed had gone, and he'd arranged a second, more in-depth meeting (to which I was invited, so I could hear exactly what would be involved) on Fri afternoon. The rest of Wed was lunching, heading back to the hotspot at the holiday inn to check email, etc, etc.

On Thurs we found out that out little red car back home had been sold by Adrian's wonderful parents for the amount of money we wanted - hoorah!!!! Ah happiness. Thurs was also an email and CV day. And so Fri came rushing towards us and in the afternoon we had that second meeting with the 'career management' group. It sounded helpful (if violently expensive - I kid, I kid...once the pounds are coming in, it's not so bad a price, it just hurts our little Australian dollars), and Adrian was really positive about it, so we've gone ahead and had Adrian join up. He's got a neat little folder full of information and a first set of exercises to write up (that homework I mentioned previously) and he'll be meeting with his brand new mentor later this week to go through them and begin the first steps towards a lovely new career and learning how to 'market himself'. :) The career bit, Adrian's looking forward to, the self-marketing, not so much. Adrian, as you might have guessed is not astoundingly comfortable with telling people how wonderful and talented he is, and I can certainly empathize with that feeling; neither of us are in sales for a reason. :) Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes, as it goes.

On to Sat. :0) On Sat we got out and about in the city that is Edinburgh once again. It was a cooler day on Sat, mostly overcast, and there were a lot less people about (many less tourists, as the festival's been over for 2 weeks now (and I don't count us as tourists, since we're going to live here! *grin*)), so that made it much easier to move around the rather narrow streets here... Well, narrow if you're in the Old Town, which is where my new favorite bookshop is. :) Huzzah! says I, new Sci-Fi/Fantasy bookstore! Sigh, says Adrian as he patiently waits 3/4 of an hour for me to finish finding just the right book. :) He's just so sweet and kind and wonderful, and not at all reading what I'm writing over my shoulder! *grin* Anyway!

We also checked out an organic bath and such store called 'Neil's Yard' and picked up a couple of bits and pieces. We caught a movie at 12:50 (the latest time it was showing) - an animation called Monster House, and grabbed a bit of lunch just before it. The restaurant was called 'The Slug and the Lettuce' - neat name, huh? The place wasn't particularly busy and we had a half hour before the film, so we figured we had enough time, especially since we let them know we were watching a movie shortly. You guessed it, the food took ages and we had to bolt it, but it was very nice. We'll certainly be going back again for the desert - what desert you ask, weren't you guys running late? Yes, yes we were, but you see what we did was order one Slug Burger, and one desert, all to come out at the same time and to share between us as neither of us were particularly hungry. The burger (slug free, thanks *grin*) was nice, but not outstandingly good. The desert, on the other hand... oh, I'm drooling just thinking about it! It was brownies, cinnamon waffles, vanilla ice-cream, and two hot dipping sauces - chocolate fudge and caramel fudge. Oh god, so very, very good. But we couldn't linger. As it was, we managed to miss all the credits and just got in before the movie started. But it was great, cute, lots of fun. I really liked it, and Adrian said he had fun too, so that's good. I think it's good enough to add to our DVD collection, when we have our collection back, and a house to put it in, and a job, etc, etc, etc. :)

We then wandered off to the Botanic Park (not astoundingly close to where we were, but walking's good for us *grin*). I have some nice pictures of the biggest bee I've ever seen in my life, the gardens, and about a billion pictures of some squirrels. I asked Adrian if he was getting bored after my 1 millionth photo of a squirrel. He said no, but that he wished he'd brought his video camera along that day. Then he would have filmed me following the squirrels around, sped it up in editing and added Benny Hill music. Picture it if you can - there goes squirrel... there goes Lou... and the squirrel again... and that Louie. Back and forth, up and down, around the tree, up the tree...well, only the squirrel. Lou can't climb with a camera glued to her face, and technically, she's probably not allowed. *grin.* Fun was had by all - tho maybe not the squirrel. Not that I think I frightened it, there are far too many clodhopping humans around taking pictures of them all day every day, and mini clodhoppers bolt towards them at any given opportunity and they take it all calmly. But get in their way when they're eating, and that's when they tend to bound off - my food! Mine!! At least, that was my poor interpretation of bulging squirrel cheeks and squirrel chitter and squirrel glare, right before squirrel gabounded away.

So, after the gardens - it was getting a bit dark with the cloud cover around 4.30pm when we headed out - we walked and bused back to Sainsbury's near the B&B, picked up some dinner and retired for the day.

Sunday was a day of sloth - there was sleeping, reading, Adrian finished the last bit of documentation for a co-worker back home, and not much else.

Monday was a lot more interesting on the job front. Even though it was apparently a bit of a local holiday here (not that we actually noticed until our host mentioned it this morning!), Adrian got 3 calls from recruitment agencies and one email. That's more than the entire time (a grand total of two weeks as of today) we've been here, folks! Ok, three of those four contacts didn't pan out because they didn't offer work in Scotland, but one did. Not for as much pay as Adrian would like, but it's only a one month contract, so that's a bonus. Anyway, he's supposed to hear back from that recruitment agency today, so we'll see how it pans out. :)

And that's pretty much it, thus far. As I said, slow news week, though it does appear that things are beginning to pick up. :)

12th Sept 2006

Fun in London

The London experience: get ready for it, here it comes in full blathering Technicolor! *grin*

Wow, London is big, hot (I know, I know, unusual, huh; think it was about 30 degrees, and wearing trousers, three quarter length shirts, shoes and socks and carrying jackets we sooooo weren't dressed for the weather!), and overwhelming.

Anyway, this is kinda how the last couple of days went...

Fri, Adrian confirmed the meeting in London for the UK bank accounts and organizing our National Insurance numbers (useful for getting a job apparently - can't have a job without one, tho you can get a job if you've started applying for one, which is all good, since the darn things take 5 to 6 WEEKS to come through) for 2pm on Mon, and the sent out a few more CVs and that sort of thing.

Sat we organized our travel arrangements; a night coach ride on the way down (departing at 9.30pm on Sun, arriving at 10.30am on Mon), a plane flight on the way back (at 9pm Mon evening), and printing out lots of little maps of how to get everywhere in between. Why coach then plane? Well, because of the timing we couldn't get any cheap flights on either Sun or Monday morning. Trains were enormously expensive (more, even than the 'expensive' flights available!). So a coach ride down seemed ok. It was cheap (really, REALLY cheap), and during the night so theoretically we could get some sleep, and we couldn't really knock it without having tried it first. And flights on Mon evening were back to being a reasonable price, and we didn't really want to miss another night of our paid accommodation in Edinburgh (or want to spend another 13hrs on a coach).

So that was most of Saturday gone, organizing and CVing and a little food shopping and emailing and such. Oh, and we had a really nice picnic at lunch out on the back lawn of our B&B. It was a gorgeous day, but then they all have been so far.

On Sun we slothed around in the morning, then in the arvo after showers and suchlike, we packed our backpacks (just books, and the documents we needed and Adrian's laptop - no change of clothes or anything, we weren't staying long enough). I called my cousin Holly (she lives in London, has done for about 6 yrs or so now) earlier in the day to let her know we were coming down. It was a nice chat, great to speak with her again after so many years. She and the rest of her family are well. It seems they're currently in the midst of negotiations for a new place, so that's great for them. :) She had to wait at home all day on Mon for a courier to drop their new computer off - it was due between 9am and 12pm, but with couriers you never really know how long it'll take. The result of that being that she couldn't meet us in London, and with our running around, we couldn't make it out to her place. Oh well, we'll be in the UK for a while. :) When things are a bit quieter for them, they'll probably wander up to Edinburgh for a visit, & that'll be lovely. :) Our first family visit! It won't happen for another couple of months or so, but that's ok since it'll probably take us that long to get settled! :)

Then we walked and bused into the heart of Edinburgh. With a few hours to kill until 9pm or so we 1st went and checked out the place where we'd be picked up by the coach. We followed Adrian's little internet map, but the bus stop it lead us to didn't seem quite right. Anyway, we then headed down to Prince's Street. I was looking for a few shops I'd read about in some of the tourist guides here. One was 'Lush', a 'natural' bathroom bits and bobs place, a bit like the 'Body Shop'. We actually have Lush at home as well, at Garden Square I think... Anyway, I needed a shop like that as I'm running short on shower gel. Then I wanted to check out a Sci-Fi bookshop out in the Old Town way. Sunday was really warm here. There was a very thin layer of cloud across the sky which gave the sunlight a really odd cast, made it a sort of pinkish-grey yellow and it was quite muggy too. Not to mention there were more people than I've yet seen out on the streets in town. Lots of them seemed to be tourists from Europe; I heard quite a number of Germanic accents, and Italian and French, and there were loads of people wheeling little bags of luggage around. Yep, Edinburgh seemed packed.

As we wandered towards the Sci-Fi bookshop (in a street called Cowsgatehead) another 2kms or so away, we passed the storefront of the coach service we were going to take - so we ducked in to confirm where we were supposed to get the coach. The woman who served us said yes, our map was right, and she gave us the name of a department store that the coach stop was next to (which turned out to be really helpful later).

Walking through bits of the old town (lugging our backpacks for the trip to London and gently sweltering), we stopped for lunch at a place called 'Chocolate Soup' - and yes, they absolutely served Chocolate Soup. It's a cool little store. :) We had half a sandwich thing each, and then shared something called a white chocolate & caramel sundae. Mmmmmm, evil. :) It wasn't really a sundae, but more like a big bowl of soup, white chocolate soup, with melted white choc in the bottom, cream floating on the surface, and caramel fudge swirled all over the top. Yummy. Oh yes, we are going back there again! *grin*

We found the Sci-Fi bookshop, but wouldn't you know it, closed on Sundays. Still, found a 'comic shop' called Forbidden Planet nearby that had some books, some lovely manga (Japanese comic books that I like), Buffy and Angel books, comics and such. Great store. Adrian of course was bored out of his mind, but helpful and patient nonetheless. ;) Isn't he wonderful? *grin*

Then, we walked back, roughly the way we came, for another 2 or so kms, to the local Omi (a multiplex cinema). We still had 5hrs or so until the coach trip, and were hoping to watch Monster House. Unfortunately, the last session was at 1pm and it was 4.30 or so. We watched 'Me, you & Dupree' instead. Cute but a bit bland. Still, a harmless way to kill a couple of hours.

Then there was dinner and walking to the coach stop. We waited, but it still didn't seem like the right place... And we couldn't see any sign of the Department store that had been mentioned as a nearby landmark. So as it approached our pickup time, we followed a family with a bit of luggage around the square that we'd been told was the pickup spot - and there was the department store, and right next to it, a giant building with a giant sign - Bus Depot. Found it. :)

Anyway, we weren't late, and there was no trouble. The coach ride... what can I say about it. It actually made me think fondly of the long haul plane flight here! :) Ahh, a 13 hr drive through twisty, bumpy roads, with a tiny amount of leg room - how can it be worse than a plane flight you ask? Well, ok, I've never experienced really bad turbulence before, but I've still managed to sleep better on a plane - somehow there was more room, and at least they fed you and there's entertainment if you can't sleep... I can't read in a bus or car, so my only option was sleep. Erg, it was horrible. Adrian didn't like it much either, but I think he managed to get a bit more sleep than me.

'Nough about the coach ride. London. Okay, I was tired, sticky, hungry, and that odd weather on Sun in Edinburgh was in London too, combined with pollution... Um, basically I was really, really wishing I was back in Edinburgh, where there was much less litter on the roads and sidewalks, less graffiti, less road congestion at all hours of the day and much, much less people. Yay Edinburgh! I'm a small town girl at heart. :)

So we stopped and had a quick breakfast in a restaurant close to the bus depot, then looked at our maps and headed off towards the meeting. It was about 4kms away, and as it was very hot for the clothing we were wearing, we stopped about half way at Hyde Park and rested. It looked lovely and green, what little we had time to see. Then we headed up Oxford Street and into our meeting. Everything seemed to go smoothly, and we should have our bank account open and available in another 24 hours. Yay! That took about an hour and a half.

Since we had another couple of hours to kill before catching the mini-bus we'd ordered to take us to Lutin Airport and it was another 4km or so away, we decided to walk there 1st and then check out what was in the area. As it turned out, not much, but we got a snack (mmm ice-cream) at a local deli, and the bus stop did have a wi-fi hotspot, so we were able to get onto the internet and check out our email. :)

No problem with the bus, or the road works on the M1 which were supposed to take ages to get though, so we got to the Airport hours early. And then the plane was delayed another 1 1/2 hrs. *Sigh*. Still, there was airport food and another wi-fi hotspot so Adrian was able to entertain himself and I had a book...

The flight back was smooth and lightning fast, or so it seemed. I slept through part of it, and Adrian only remembers the takeoff, *grin*.

We got back to the B&B around 11pm or so, and then there was much collapsing into bed. :)

So that's it - our grand adventure (or not) to London. Next time we go, we'll fly, take a change of clothes, and have more time to spend so we can actually check out some of the sights! :)

Today there's more CVing to do, and then some more sleeping I think. :) I'll let you know tomorrow if anything interesting actually occurred.

Anyway, enough rambling from me.

8th Sept 2006

Arrival

And we're here!

The flight was loooooooooooooong. I don't want to go near another plane for at least 3 months. Not that I actually get a choice. :( But I'll tell you about that later. No, other than the fact that the plane ride was awfully long, it was pretty decent. Emirates is a really nice airline; the food was great, the entertainment good, the staff nice. The flight itself was reasonably smooth, so that was all good. The first half was a bit cramped (we still managed to get some sleep tho), but after we changed planes in Dubai we were on a bigger plane with much less people - we were next to the window, three seats across & there was nobody in the third seat, so I was able to spread my legs out - thank god! And I really loved their entertainment on demand system - like having your own DVD player; stop, start, pause, whenever you like. I watched brother bear and half of 'thank you for smoking' on the first flight, and then 'the wild', 'ice age 2' and 'last holiday' on the second, shorter flight (ie, I didn't end up sleeping much on that flight - I was more comfortable, but too wired. :) ).

Glasgow was fine, tho not as pretty as Edinburgh, from what little we saw of it. Getting through immigration was a breeze - I mean, we had to wait in line for about 45-50 mins or so, but we had absolutely no problems when it was finally our turn to go through. Which was an enormous relief! Then we caught a cab to the train station, spent about 10 mins trying to figure out which train was ours, and then where to put our loads of luggage - worked it out in the end and weren't too cramped. We were running late by the time we hit Edinburgh, tho - I'd estimated we should easily get to Edinburgh by 3pm, since we were to land at Glasgow around 1pm (which we did - 1:15pm). Unfortunately, we didn't get to the train station until about 2.45pm, caught the 3pm train, and arrived in Edinburgh at 3:45pm or so. When we finally got to our car hire booth, there was no one there. :(

We spent the next half hour or so trying to figure out where they might have gone, whether we had the wrong spot, etc, etc. Finally managed to contact someone at the car hire's central office & they sent someone out and we were on our way! The car tho, is not quite what I thought I'd booked - ie, a small to compact car. What we got was a giant black diesel car! It's a hatch back of some kind, and not at all small... though, it did easily fit all of our luggage, so that's nice. We haven't driven it since, though. :) The public transport here is really good and simple and cheap, and the inner town parking is a bit of a nightmare and massively expensive. The Edinburghian's complain about it a lot at the moment, because it keeps changing about. Still, no doubt we'll use it more next week when Adrian has to go off to job interviews.

Getting to the guest house was an adventure in itself. I drove our giant car, and Adrian navigated using the tiny tourist map we'd kindly been given by our car hire company. It was about 5pm when we left the rental agency, and thank god that the rush hour here in Edinburgh isn't quite as insane as at home. Still, we circled the city center about 3 times, looking for a way to get on the correct roads, drove off towards the airport once (completely the wrong direction!) and finally got to the guest house about a 1/2 hr later - it should have taken us all of 5 minutes or so. Oh well. :)

Anyway, we had fun on our tour of the city Tues and saw some lovely places to rent - not that I think we'll be getting any of them. The rental agencies would kinda like Adrian to have a job first to make sure we'll be able to afford all of the rental payments. :) On that note, well we're off to London on Monday! :) Here's how it works... Our wireless internet connection that we organize yesterday works on hotspots around town. Our closest hotspot is in the lobby of the Holliday Inn up the road. Adrian got up this morning at 6am is and trekked to the Inn to research jobs and what was required of him. He found out that they'd quite like it if he had something called a national health number, not to mention a UK bank account, etc. One of the reasons he got up so early was to be able to contact the Eastern States back home towards organizing a UK bank account, so that worked out well. They need us to go to an orientation session down in London on Mon, and they'll then immediately set up a bank account for us, and work towards us getting our National Health numbers, so that's all good. The only downside is of course that the quickest and cheapest way to get to London is by plane. *sigh* Oh well. Hopefully we'll be able to see Holly during our brief time in London - if she's not working, of course. I'm going to try and give her a call tomorrow (Sat), once the company has called back with a time for the appointment on Mon and we have organized our flights.

Today we've got a few bits and pieces to do. Adrian's off buying a cheapy printer at the moment, because we've got a number of documents that need printing out for different people (I'm about to have a shower, and have to finish this email, so that's why I'm not with him. :) ). Then Adrian's going to go back to the hotspot at the Inn and contact recruitment agencies by email and phone and try to set up some meetings for Tues. I'll be puttering around; I'm still getting over this damnable cold. The amount of tissues I've been through... *sigh* :(. Still, I think I'm beginning to beat it, so that's good news.

On Sat we're going to act a bit like tourists, I hope, unless something else comes up. We're going to go to the botanic park and some of the other sights around. We've done a lot of walking over the past couple of days - more than we've done in ages - so good for our health! *grin*.

The weather, if you're at all interested, has been great actually. So *pbbsslbth* (the noise of a raspberry being blown) to everyone who said, "why would you want to go to Edinburgh, it's so cold and wet and miserable!" *grin*. I think this is fairly typical weather for this time of year though, so that's nice. We've had mostly blue skies, with occasional cloud for Tues, wed and so far today, and the temperature has to be around 18 to 20 degrees or so. I'm happy in my t-shirts and jacket, and Adrian doesn't even bother with the jacket. It's really lovely. :)

I've taken a couple of photos - they're not brilliant; I'm still getting used to this camera. I'll see if I can't send them at some point, but most likely, they'll go up on the website when we get a chance to update it. :) That might not happen until we have a home, though.

Anyway, I should get on with the day. We've got a UK sim for Adrian's phone now and the ability to access the internet everyday, so we'll be able to be contacted by email nice and regularly. :) Yay, we don't feel so cut off any more! :) :)