A Travellerspoint blog

Time Fly's when you are having fun

Italy, Global Gathering, Bath ... where to start

-17 °C
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Yes, I know .. its been a while.

The last couple of weeks have been so full I don't even know where to start. I will keep this relatively short and will try to add more detailed stories later.

First there was Italy.

I finally got my sun. From one extreme to the other it was up around the 40's every day and often with 90 odd % humidity, but I did get warm !!!

I started off in Venice which was absolutely beautiful and met Nina who I would be travelling with for 10 days. There are a few stories around the whole Italy and Nina episode, but suffice to say, lessons where learnt and it will make for some laughs when I get back.

We then headed down to Rimini for a few days. Lots of lazing on the beach, a visit to San Marino, I went on a boat trip to view the methane gas platforms out in the ocean there .. don't know why but Nina wasn't interested ;)

From Rimini we headed to Milan for 1 day. I have to say that it really probably needs a few days and at least a week if you want to do some serious shopping as well. Milan was really a stop over on the way to Diano Marina, another Italian Riviera resort type place. So again, some vegging and general relaxing.

Nina and I parted ways at Diano Marina and I headed down to Rome to join the 3 day Busabout tour on the Amalfi Coast. What an absolutely stunning area. Unfortunately I also encountered my first pick pocket episode on The Isle of Capri and my lovely new Olympus disappeared faster than you can blink. I definitely have a new appreciation for their skills, but I'm totally peeved that I have no photo's of the gorgeous places I saw.

After the tour I headed back to the UK for Global Gathering. My first festival and it was absolutely fantastic. I had an absolute ball. My poor Doc's will never be the same. They where 3 inches thick with mud. I loved the music, the atmosphere, the whole shebang. It did absolute wonders for my state of mind as well. It was just what I needed.

We got back on the Sunday and I again stayed at my friend Dave's in St Albans. He cooked a yummy roast for dinner and then we headed over to the pub with his housemate and played Jenga. I have never played this before but it was so funny. We where killing ourselves and I did Australia proud and got the hang of it pretty quickly.

Monday saw me back on the road and heading to Bath to catch up with Joe and family for a few days as he is heading back to Perth on Thursday. Its been a lovely few days.

I'm heading over to Bristol tomorrow to stay with Shirley and will be working my way back to London for next weekend to catch up with Jakki. We have an appointment with the vodka ice bar :)

Sorry it was a bit rushed and factual .. I really will have to lift my game.

Take care all and Happy Birthday to my darling Phillip.

Posted by towander 01.08.2007 10:10 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

L'Italia qui vengo

Italy here I come

all seasons in one day
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Hi Everyone

I've been having a veg in London and been a bit slack in keeping up with my blog.

Its been a bit of resting and sightseeing.

I went to the London Pride last Saturday with Kev, Dave and some of their friends. Went to a new friends place for a barbie on Sat at St Albans, Sunday was finally a warm day so took myself off to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, oh and I was at 0' on Friday when I visited Greenwich.

I originally was looking for somewhere to sit for a bit .. but it proved too difficult. Everything was either very expensive or out in the boondocks.

I was going around in circles trying to decide what to do, researching lots of stuff on the net and feeling quite lost. I looked at tours and cruises, but it all seemed a bit formal or rushed. To try and put it all together myself was beginning to seem more than I felt like doing. Eventually I came across Busabout and it seemed perfect.

Its a hop on hop off bus system and also has pre selected accommodation at each point and you book the whole lot online. At the same time I had joined a web group call Companions 2 Travel and hooked up with Nina from Ireland and now we are heading to Italy on Wednesday.

Some sun and warm finally !!!! We are flying in to Venice on Wed and staying the night. Heading down to Rimini on the coast for a week. We then head to Milan for one night and on to Diano Marina on the other coast for a few days. From there I am heading down to Rome to join a Busabout trip down the Amalfi coast.

I head back to London late in the week as I have also hooked up with a new friend Dave from the C2T site and we are going to Global Gathering, which is a huge dance festival on the 28th. After that I will catch up with Joe in Bath and Helena's Mum in Bristol. It should be close to Jakki coming over then, so back to London and the Vodka Ice Bar :-)

Once all the catching up is done I shall have plenty of time to head back to Europe. I will definitely be doing the Greek Island Hopping trip and I am trying to fit in the 15 day Morocco tour.

So watch out for a lot more updates, lots of photo's and hopefully I shall be returning to a nice summer off white ...

I have invested in a .Mac account and I am in the process of copying my blog over to there and uploading all my photo's. I will put the link here as there is a heap of photo's but be warned, it is a work in progress and I haven't annotated them all yet.

.Mac Weblog and Photos

Posted by towander 09.07.2007 14:28 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

The Search for the Sun

I'm so glad its summer over here .. *cough*

storm
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I can't believe its been so long since I last updated this blog.

I've been wandering around the countryside in search of the sun and not doing too well I tell you.

I started off visiting an old family friend in Warrington, which is somewhere between Liverpool and Manchester.

It was great to catch up and meet his lovely family. I stayed there for a few days and then headed down to Brighton.

I am looking for somewhere to stop for a month or two and just relax and I had it on good authority that Brighton and/or Eastbourne would be sunny and suit me.

For a change I booked my accommodation before I left and headed on down. I got to the B&B and oh dear !! .. my booking was for next week and there just happened to be a convention on in town and everything was booked. The girl at the B&B did a few calls around and luckily found me a bed just up the road for 2 days.

It was beautiful and sunny for the couple of days I was in Brighton and I just wandered around the beachfront, shops, pier, etc .. it definitely is an alternative type town and I do like the atmosphere.

With accommodation at a premium and only having 2 days I jumped on the bus to Eastbourne. Ha Ha , they had the International Womans Tennis Championship on so again accommodation was at a premium. I had to pay through the nose for a 2 star hotel, but better than nothing thats for sure.

I really liked Eastbourne, its clean and bright, everything is spaced out nicely and very Georgian. Unfortunately it is a retirement town and well .. boring. I'm sure the weather hasnt helped. The first day was lovely and since then its been raining and cold.

I have just got back to Brighton and its still raining, blowing and cold. I seriously have to do some washing. I didnt bring my serious cold gear as it was sunny as when I left London. My poor little black cardigan was ripe to say the least and I was trying to work out what I would wear if I washed it .. the birds made my choice easy .. out of the middle of nowhere .. I was on the main street, no trees, poles, lines or anything a big bird plop landed smack on my arm. It was into the clothes shop and a new cardigan.

Today I am catching up with the washing, internet and find any other indoor activities that are warm.

All this cold has really got me ready to head over to somewhere warm, I am researching Greece, Italy, Spain .. will see where I end up.

Posted by towander 25.06.2007 03:04 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

The Deep Cornwall Experience

Penzance, The Isles of Scilly and Sunburn

sunny
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Its bright and early Monday morning and back on the road again.

I hopped on a train down to Penzance which is the last train stop in Cornwall, and yes, the local rugby club are called the Pirates ;)

Well prepared as usual I bought my ticket on the train and popped over to the Tourist Information Centre when I got to town to find somewhere to stay.

In the end I chose a B&B which was just over a mile away but felt like about 5 with the backpack and other flotsam and jetsam I keep accumulating. I could get taxi's but I'm really trying to get used to walking and lugging my stuff.
It was a beautiful little place and had wifi, what more could I want.

Penzance is a seaside town and they have this wonderful esplanade running along the sea about 2 miles long. They have avoided the tourist trap stuff and with all that refreshing ocean air, pebble beaches, cold cold water, greenery and relaxing atmosphere I soon settled in.

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For the Tuesday I booked a helicopter flight to the Isles of Scilly. Up till now I think a helicopter is one of the few airborne things I havent been in. After this trip I am now totally in love with helicopters. What a blast !!! I love the way they just go straight UP ....

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Now to the Isles of Scilly. I had a choice of going to St Mary's which is the main island or to Tresco. I chose Tresco. Picture this .. a 20 minute helicopter ride, an island that at best can take a total of about 800 people, temperate climate, white sand beaches, beautiful azure blue water, no cars, little cottages, farms, lakes and an abbey with acres of gardens with plants from all over the world.

Meandering through small paths, sun shining, birds singing, no pollution, noise or otherwise, plenty of benches at strategic places, views to die for.

I was in heaven. The weather turned it on and it was a beautiful sunny day in the mid 20's. I wandered around, the whole island takes a couple of hours to walk, had a delicious lunch and then meandered through the abbey gardens. There was a beautiful patch of lawn and I lied down for a while in the sun with my book and promptly fell asleep. I woke up with such a start and had a small panic about the time, but it was fine. My flight back wasnt till 5 and I made it with plenty of time. HaHa and I who should know better had a very nice dose of sunburn. No hat or sunscreen and I'm red as a beet.

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It would be an absolutely lovely place to book a cottage and just chill out for a week or so.

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I had booked a mystery tour with a local operator and he was fully booked for Wed so had to make it Thursday. This left Wednesday a very good day to head down to Lands End. I got the local bus down, it takes about an hour and yuk. It is like a big theme park type thing, very touristy and expensive. The busses are an hour apart, so I did a quick walk around and eagerly awaited the next bus back. I could have gone on to visit St Ives but I was feeling pretty lethargic, I think the sun and sunburn from yesterday knocked me around. I went back into town, had some lunch and went back to my room for a lie down. Ah yes and sunburn on the sunburn. I am really going to have to get a hat.

Thursday brought yet another lovely day and Harry came to pick me up at 9.30. There was a Calfornian mum and her son and a German couple. All lovely people. Harry is a local Cornishman and his plan is no plan for the tours. My sort of person. He loves to tell tall tales and poor jokes as he rambles through the countryside and takes you to the off beat and off the beaten track places. We visited old stone circles, a celtic wishing well .. and yes I made a wish .. you had to dip cloth , well a tissue had to do, into the water, rub it over your face, make a wish and tie the cloth onto the tree hanging over the water. This has been going on since time immortal, something like the 850's, an old uncovered burial mound, old disused tin mines, a lovely pub lunch and then a sit and yak on stunning cliffs overlooking the ocean.

I got Harry to drop me off in town. I havent done any washing on this trip and my clothes were getting a 'little ripe' shall we say. Now I had two choices, spend the rest of the afternoon down the laundromat or buy some new stuff. No points for guessing which one I chose. I came back to my room, had a shower and changed. I tell you, I felt pretty damn glamorous in my new tshirt and zip up jumper, oh and the sunburn on the sunburn on the sunburn. My forehead is pretty sore .. yes, I really am going to get a hat and sunscreen. It seems absolutely silly to be carting around my wool jacket, gloves, beanie and cashmere scarf and yet a week ago I couldn't go outside without them.

After the Shetlands and now Cornwall I am really starting to relax and can feel all the tension of the last few months just disappear. Every night here I just went and sat down at the esplanade and just watched the world go by and my mind was a wonderful blank. Them there is magic in these Celtic places and a wonderful magic it is too.

Its back to London on Friday for Kev's Birthday Bash. I'm really looking forward to it. All this country air and relaxing has had me in bed early most nights, which has been excellent, but a good all nighter sounds like fun.

PS. I am having heaps of problems getting all the pics in .. they are in my main album which is linked from here. Will try again another day

Posted by towander 09.06.2007 04:42 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Calstock Village

Cornwall, Prayer, Hills and Stinging Nettles

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Wow !! , I just keep getting bowled over by the wonderful experiences I am having in this country.

The Couchsurfing weekend over, I headed down to Cornwall to stay with Sam, who I met online.

Sam lives in a village called Calstock which is just over the Cornish border, so it was a lovely train trip down to Devon and then it should have been a short train trip from Plymouth to Calstock, but unfortunately the train was running late and I missed my connection.

I have to love the system here, because I booked an end to end journey and it was their 'fault', they put me in a taxi from Plymouth to Calstock without a blink of the eye. Being that it was a 30 min taxi ride, I assume the taxi fare cost a hell of a lot more than the £29 I paid for the entire journey. Who am I to complain :-)

So, back to the story, I arrived in Calstock eventually and Sam picked me up from the station and took me back to his place. Its a beautiful cottage at the top of the town where he lives with his mum. The first night was pretty quiet and more of a swapping stories, getting to know each other night.

On the Thursday I did some wandering. I headed to downtown Calstock which took about 5 minutes to see and then headed towards a beautiful National Trust estate a couple of miles from Calstock called Cotehele. The walk to Cotehele took me about an hour, why is everything uphill here ??? ... LOL, it was an absolutely stunning walk though and the house was magnificent. If anyone is interested in some blurb this link gives a pretty good description http://www.cornwall-calling.co.uk/national-trust/cotehele.htm

Its a huge estate and I had to stop in the barn which has been fitted out as a restaurant and partake of a yummy Cornish Tea, scones with jam and cornish clotted cream. Considering I had just walked about 2 miles (yes miles people, km just don't cut it over here) .. I figured I deserved it.

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From here I headed over to the mill where they still make organic stoneground flour, and yes the scones where made from the very same flour. More walking and down to the Cotehele Quay. Time for lunch and sit down with a nice Cornish pastie.

Once I had a break I headed back to Calstock and then the biggest challenge of all, the hill home from the village. This thing is 1 mile long and pretty much straight up !! ... OMG I huffed and I puffed, I think I can, I think I can ... just near the top was a little grassed area .. I hit that grass, red as a beet and took about 10 minutes to get my breath back. All up that hill took me about 25 minutes to get up. Its going to be my test, before I leave England I have to walk up there again and see how long it takes me and how much puffing I do.

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I got in and had to shower as we where heading off to the village for a classical acoustic guitar recital. It was in the arts centre there which is a converted church. Again it was stunning, do you ever get used to all these beautiful sights, I hope not. The guitarist, Alison Smith is fairly renowned in classical circles and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Her playing was passionate and she obviously loves what she does.

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I decided Friday should be a minimal hill day and got the bus into Tavistock, which technically is in Devon. It was a lovely town and they have a markets there. I wandered around and enjoyed a more laid back day.
On Friday night Sam and his girlfriend Kate took me into Plymouth for a bit of a looksee. We walked around the Barbican area, which is the old wharf area, and dropped into one of the locals in full swing on a Friday night. It was so funny, there was a band playing 80's stuff, it was hot and smoky (the no smoking laws dont come in here till the end of this month) .. and pretty much reminded me of that horrible over 30's pick up joint in Northbridge .. we stayed for a drink and then , phew out into the fresh air again. Theres this great little burger place at the end of the wharf and we sat down to a burger and big mug of tea .. it was great.

It doesnt sound much but it was after 1 by the time we finished, so home to get ready for Saturday.

On Saturday morning Sam and Kate where going to look at a couple of properties as they are thinking about buying a house. It was really interesting to see whats available around here and one of them was an old church which I think would be fantastic to do up.

We got home late arvo after stopping at a few places along to way to do the tourist thing. I'm still finding it hard to believe just how wonderful and amazing the people I am meeting and how much they go out of their way to show me around and let me into their lives.

On Sat night Sam cooked a delicious dinner with lots of the ingredients out of his garden and invited one of his friends Mark along. We headed back down to the village for this interesting indie type band. As Kate and Mark werent really into that sort of music, Sam and I went over to the village hall , danced a bit to the warm up dj and watched the young uns get drunk and rowdy while the band took ages to come on. In the end we went back to the pub and by the time we got back the band was finished .. ah well .. next time ... so back to the pub for more drinking and chatting.

Sunday was a bit of a late lazy day and eventually we headed off for a bit of a hike and lunch. After all my complaining about hills, Sam chose a relatively flat walk which was so relaxing and peaceful .. except for my first brush with Stinging Nettles !!! I was walking across a little stone bridge type thing and my finger only slightly touched something and OWWWW ... I was so busy carrying on about my finger I nearly fell into the water .. now that would have been funny.

We finally got to the pub and would you believe we missed lunch by 10 minutes ... they finished cooking at 2 and wouldnt do anymore .. luckily Sam had packed last nights left overs just in case .. and it WAS just in case.

After a nice leisurely walk back to the car, we headed home, stocked up on junk food and hit the couch for a movie afternoon/evening. Sam and Kate are both Christians, so at 7 we headed over to the local parish for Evensong (Evening Prayer for those who don't know :P) .. it was a lovely service even though I was struggling to keep up with 2 books to read or sing out of .. but it was nice .. its the first time I've been to any service for goodness knows how long.

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Seeing as I don't have to be back in London till this weekend I thought I would head down to Penzance which is the fartherest train station both South and West of Britian. I will get the bus down to Lands End and then I've been North, West and South .. just the East to go now.

So by the time you read this I will be in deep Cornwall territory. I have to say to those nay sayers I haven't seen anyone with 6 toes yet ... but I'll keep looking ;)

Keep posted for the Cornwall Experience !

Posted by towander 04.06.2007 11:03 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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