Monday, 27 August 2007

"The next time you touch yourself at night, you'll think of my face"

Time for another blog entry. Slightly more has happened over the last couple of weeks. We've now each been offered drugs on 5 separate occasions. It's great, you really don't have to go looking for some quality produce. Anyway, to business as I may I actually have something to talk about this time.
So... Cambridge. Nice enough place. Locals and students do seem to be somewhat outnumbered by bus-loads of tourists but thankfully it doesn't really feel like a touristy town. One thing in our favour was the fact that it's a city that can be seen and experienced without coughing up too many pounds.
I spose our one major extravagance was our hiring of a little vessel for a spot of punting. In truth we were, for the most party, utterly hopeless and it began to resemble more like bumper cars on water (we collided with pretty much every other boat and or wall). Still, it was good fun and definitely worth doing.

A couple of days back in Clapham spent watching David Dickinson and playing cards was balanced out by another game of football with the same local blokes as before. Third week we'd done that actually and it's proving somewhat of an unexpected highlight.
Oh another thing of note was that I got to finally meet a bloke I've known for some time called Cam. Basically on my small spot on Syn 90.7 he used to phone in with for UK and European music news. Anyway we met up and went one night and well, after getting stuck into a couple of brews, ended up sleeping on his lounge-room floor with a bunch of other random Aussies I'd met that night.
Cue the next morning and, with a hangover that could slay a horse, I was invited to come into his station to watch him do his show. Halfway through he suggested I jump on air and despite the fact most of what I said was probably just incoherent dribble, it was still a pretty cool experience.
Speaking of which I forgot to mention that I also met up with the brother of a family friend to go and have a look at the news station he works at (ITN). Considering James is an amazingly experienced and highly regarded reporter, I was extremely happy to leech off his knowledge for a couple of hours.

Back to our travels and 7.30 Saturday morning saw us again boarding a train, this time for Newcastle. Wandered around the city for awhile (ignorantly presuming our hostel would be somewhere nearby) when it became apparent that our new digs were right on the outskirts of town; closer to the airport than anything else.
Rather than being welcomed and ushered in by the guy at the front desk after walking 1/2hr in the rain, we were told to take our packs and not come back for another couple of hours (it was nearly 2.00pm at this point).
Despite being left angry and sodden it did not however detract from our first ever Premier League football match which was to come some hours later.
After making the trek back into town we met up with a really nice bloke called Colin who happened to be a friend of both Michael and Lindy- the people I stayed with in St. Albans. A couple of pints at a particularly fanatical Newcastle F.C. pub and we headed up to the game.
Unfortunately short of recapping the whole match play-by-play it is sort of hard to describe what it was like inside the stadium.
Word has it that the Geordies are some of the most passionate supporters in the world and regardless of the somewhat underwhelming 0-0 scoreline (the only for the round) one could easily see how that's true. Indeed the novelty of actually being there and soaking it all in did sort of make the make the result pretty irrelevant.
With our luxurious abode a solid hour away, we decided to stay amongst the classy Newcastle nightlife and make something of the evening.
Now the thing about Newcastle is, well, it's a decent enough place (I likened it to a really big Ballarat). It's just the people, at least the ones that come out at night, they're sort of cut from a different bloke. The women, well they don't seem to feel the incredibly lousy weather and rarely seen in anything other than an ultra-revealing boob-tube and the most mini of mini-skirts. As for the blokes; it seems much less of a big deal to hit the strip-clubs (sometimes with girlfriends in tow) just for a few post-match drinks to kick off a Saturday night. And all this is hardly helped by the fact that the city appeared to be the Stag party and Hens night capital of the UK. Truly a cultural beacon for the rest of the world.
Anyway, rant over and we move on....

The Lake District and Windermere was where we found ourselves next. A really beautiful place by anyones reckoning and exactly what we needed after our trip through Tyneside.
To save you from my woefully inept descriptions that would undoubtedly fail to do the town justice, I shall instead refer you to one of my amateurish attempts at photography whilst there.

Err I spose it's worth mentioning that we hired bikes to get around and see some of the various mountains and lakes. Whilst some of us struggled more than others with the numerous climbs, it was still without a doubt the best way to see the area.

Skip forward 24 hours and we'd plonked ourselves right in the heart of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I have to say that the three nights we spent there were certainly my favourite to date. With the festival really in full-swing when we got there, you really didn't have to go looking for something to do; it just tended to find you. Given that a lot of our time was spent walking around aimlessly (becoming a group trait), drinking (spose that's in the same category) and catching various comedy gigs, I'll just highlight a few moments of note:
- Went and saw Stephen K. Amos in his stand-alone show one night. Foolishly sat in the front row and was subsequently zeroed in for some/much of his material. One memorable quote was when he looked me in the eye and softly uttered; "the next time you touch yourself at night, you'll think of my face." Creepy but I felt I held my own (perhaps a bad choice of words in retrospect).

-Through word of mouth we discovered these free walking tours of the city. Basically the guides work solely on tips and go for about 3hrs taking you through a lot of things we in our short time would have otherwise missed. Considering most other tours generally cost £10 and only go for 1hr, we did well to stumble across it.
-Now for Campbell. He was one of the random blokes I met whilst crashing on Cam(eron)'s floor. Through some drunken conversations we worked out that we'd be in Edinburgh at the same time and should catch up for a drink. Well we ended up spending every night with him and had some pretty good times.
He showed us to this Midnight Comedy gig which was done in the basement of a bar and each night had 3 different comedians and an MC. Very cool stuff and some of the best comedy I saw for the festival.
Even though I've so far talked a bit about highlights and favourites, undoubtedly the 2 or 3hrs I think I've enjoyed the most since I've been here were spent at the Shins concert. I'd been hankering for some live music since I got here and to see the Shins in a new city was brilliant. On top of a quality 2hr set-list of all their best tracks they threw in a flawless cover of Breathe in the Air (incidentally one of my favourite Pink Floyd tracks).
This was to prove a pretty fuckin cool start to our final night which ended lasting into the very early hours.
Being somewhat on the cheap over here we were happy to book a reasonably priced flight direct to Luton. Only thing was it left at 6.15am which meant we made it to the airport at 4.20am. As a result our decision to stay out all night was kind of made for us. Still, more good times...

Anyway, back in Clapham now. Trotted down to the Night Hill Carnival yesterday (supposed to be Europe's biggest street festival) but are otherwise just taking stock until Friday morning when we head over to Paris. Should be good.

So this turned out slightly longer than my last entry and certainly longer than I had intended. Due to my sister's requests I've tried to be less self-deprecating but still struggle to gloss over my constant re-using of words and sentence starters. In my though defence I will say mention that this (as with all blog entries to come) was written rather hurriedly in an Internet cafe with an eye on my time limit.
Thanks to everyone who's emailed or commented me recently. It's nice to hear how things are going back home. I'll try and get back to everyone as soon as possible.

Song I'm listening to at the moment: True Love Waits- Radiohead
P.S. Oh one of only a few gripes over here is that even though the English summer is comfortably mild, most (nay, all) London men insist on de-shirting and bearing bloated sun burnt bodies. Not cool

Sunday, 5 August 2007

And now for the least exciting news of your year...

I have a blog! Being neither a Myspacer or a Facebooker, I felt it was definitely time to jump on the information Super-Highway and give the world a piece of my mind, body and soul. Well not quite. As some may know I’ve begun my 6-month sabbatical and, having conquered Vietnam, am now in the process of tackling the mother country. Good old England is indeed where I find myself (at least for another 3 weeks) until my trusty amigos and I hop over to wee-Paris to start our little Eurotrip.
So… where to start? As I’ve previously expressed to one (or possibly both) of the Natashas in my life; the interest-value or at least, relevancy seems always to be lost when travel experiences are recounted to another party. That’s basically a nicer way of saying I usually get bored when people say; “Ohh Rome was great! I loved Rome. You simply HAVE to go. Oh and Paris was great. You’d love Paris. Oh and…” or the even more tedious; “On the third day we went to……. It was really nice. Then we had lunch and afterwards we saw ……… I took lots of photos etc etc.”
So err yeah- not only have I conveyed what a self-involved snob I am but I’m also no closer to writing anything of meaning.
I suppose I feel like I should be bleating about how tough the backpacker life is and how I want to be home in my own bed (the latter being only partly true). The thing is I’ve been taken care of so much since I made it to London and am currently typing this from what is surely one of the nicest houses I’ve ever stayed in. Even I can’t bitch about my state of living. To explain the house thing: thanks largely in part to a lovely fair-haired Tintin-esque chap who currently shares residence with my sister, I’ve been granted fairly stately accommodation and, due to the Golding’s extreme hospitality and kindness, am now here on my own for the next few days as they’ve taken a summer holiday.
Other stuff…well the three of us (comrades Rory, Tristan and myself) have done much if not all of London’s touristy attractions. Big Ben, Buck Palace, Trafalgar Square (in fact all the squares) are in their own respects very interesting but much as you’d imagine. Other than that we’ve been trudging around from place to place without much of a destination (or a map) but it feels like it works for us..

The London I’ve enjoyed most has probably been the markets, stalls and inner city vibe (for want of a better word). Would have to put both Camden and Portobello Road Markets very high on my list of stuff we’ve done so far.
Little things like the music, the people, the clothes and the smells (though unfortunately I’m not in a position money-wise to dabble much into local cuisine) are what really do it for me and in my opinion, sets them apart from anything we in Australia have to offer.
Played a bit of Football (soccer) and downed a few (but not too many) pints at some pretty cool and “authentic” pubs. Had the displeasure today of watching my beloved Chelsea go down to Man Utd on penalties at a pub near Kings Cross. Good atmosphere though and, contrary to world hype, opposing supports all seemed to get on well.
Did Greenwich a few days back. Nice place though true to form we ploughed through most of the noteworthy sites pretty quickly. I shall at this point include a very cheesy and cherry picture of myself in Greenwich, mainly to prove to my mother dearest that I am still alive but also because it seemed to be the done tourist thing.

Err had a job thing that unfortunately fell through (at least in the them paying me sense) and have had to budget accordingly.
Heading up to Edinburgh via the Lake District and Newcastle (for a match) in a week or so. Hoping to catch a bit of the festival so that should be pretty good.
Have otherwise run out of things we really want to do and I’m personally itching to get on the road in Europe. It’s a good feeling but one I want to satisfy pretty soon. Actually, having read On The Road recently I found myself comparing our own style of travel (or at least the way we’re taking on England) to that in the book. More in the sense that we kind of set off randomly to go and “dig places” (as it is said by the Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty) and get our kicks. Regrettably there’s been less carousing and yahooing and I feel I may at some stage have to break off the shackles of my self-restraint and prove myself to be a truly obnoxious backpacker.
So I think that shall do for now. I apologise for how thoroughly uninteresting this has been but I hope it will fill the void of any emails I forget or don’t have time to send.
I’ll endeavour to continue our journey rather than destination mentality but will also try and find something more interesting to write in the next one of these (whenever that’ll be). I promise it’ll be much more enthralling and blogtastic than this…
I miss most of you very much.. Sorry if I haven’t gotten back immediately to some people. Also, I have a new overseas no. so if anyone wants that they can email me for it.
Hope you’re all well

Song I’m listening to at the moment: Pimping all over the world- Ludacris… Actually no, never but he’s an artist who’s always able to capture my state of mind.
P.S. Feel free to comment either saying hi or instructing me on spelling or sentence structure.
P.P.S. To allay your fears Mum, I can include regular photos of me holding the days newspaper if that is of any comfort