Joined August 2015 Message
  • Day22

    Oxford Town

    September 13, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Oxford Town, Oxford Town
    Ev'rybody's got their hats bowed down
    The sun don't shine above the ground
    Ain't a-goin' down to Oxford Town.

    He went down to Oxford Town
    Guns and clubs followed him down
    All because his face was brown
    Better get away from Oxford Town.

    Oxford Town around the bend
    He comes to the door, he couln't get in
    All because of the color of his skin
    What do you think about that, my frien' ?

    Me and my gal, my gal's son
    We got met with a tear gas bomb
    I don't even know why we come
    Goin' back where we come from.

    Oxford Town in the afternoon
    Ev'rybody singin' a sorrowful tune
    Two men died 'neath the Mississippi moon
    Somebody better investigate soon.

    -Bob Dylan

    Different Oxford than the song but still...
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  • Day22

    Oxford Day 2

    September 13, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Our second full day I Oxford was full of family time and socializing. It was really nice getting to know my extended family which, like I say, I have heard so much about but never met. They were all such kind, welcoming, hospitable, fun, generous people like others I've known that it was yard to say good bye.
    We breakfasted with just a takeaway pie from yesterday's little street market while walking around the Oxford University buildings on our way to the car. A nice drive through the English Countryside brought us back to our cousins house in Princes Risborough. Today was the day we had brought my deceased grandparents ashes from New Zealand for. We were to scatter the at various locations around the Buckinghamshire countryside. Alf of Grandads went on his parents grave. Half of my grandmother's went on her brothers grave, in the came cemetery and her parents but as we weren't sure where they were buried it didn't seem right to guess. The other half of both grandma and grandad went together under a tree outside the house they had built 60 or so years ago in Princes Risborough. They were together again.
    It was a very emotional experience - especially for my dad as they were his parents - but was wonderful to do it not as a big event, just with a few relatives present making a little pilgrimage across the countryside together.
    After a few more stops around the places to see where people grew up or went to school, as well as a drive to the top of White Leaf Cross to see the countryside view, we went back to my cousins houses before dinner at an Italian restaurant. Dinner was nice and standard Italian fare while the drive back to Oxford after saying goodbye to the relatives was a little more sad, knowing we won't be seeing them for a long time after having never even met them before.
    Tomorrow we leave for Paris which should be another interesting day full of travel.
    There has been a little relief from the frustrations of a certain co-traveller whilst in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire area and we have been so busy doing Small-family stuff, which has been good.
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  • Day21

    Oxford Day 1

    September 12, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Late writing this one up again, apologies!
    Today we went for a walk around Oxford in the morning, including going through a great underground market for a very average coffee and full English breakfast. We then walked around the various libraries and museums, the highlight of which was a library exhibition featuring original Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Magna Carta, Dante Aligherie, Cppernicus and many more. It was incredible to see such ancient pieces of famous literature as they would've come off the press - speaking of which there was an original Gutenberg Bible also!!

    From the museum we jumped in our hire car and drove off into the countryside, visiting various little towns and villages which were always mentioned by my grandparents when I was growing up. They were all tiny, cute and beautiful with quaint English architecture, duck ponds, rolling green hills and great little pubs. We visited my distant family, again which I have heard much about throughout my childhood, in the small village of Princes Risborough. We had tea in their great little backyard and chatted and chatted all afternoon, eventually settling on Chinese takeaways which were. . Or course very average from a cheap little village takeaway place down the road.

    Our drive back through to Oxford was lovely again and we returned with hot chocolates in hand to settle down for the night. All in all not a terrible day, but with the standard frustrations that seem to be a regular occurrence.
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  • Day20

    London to Oxford

    September 11, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Well today went by in another blur of travel. It never seems to take a short amount of time to get anywhere.. always a decent day full of main and sorting things out.
    Anyway.. we caught to train early to Paddington station where we had a quick sandwich and a coffee before boarding our train up to Oxford. The train journey wwpas less than an hour of taking in the stunning Neglish countryside., what a beautiful place it is.

    Getting our hire car and getting to our apartment was.. diabolical.. 4 hours to get about 2 kilometres from the train station, a huge detour through the city and around a ring road before coming back into the city, dropping our bags and slightly injured-foot Joy off near our apartment, proceeding to find a car park in the almost entirely padestrianised Oxford city was a mission in itself, then walking back to the flat through an unknown town. What should've taken us a small part of a day had us at 6pm scratching our heads about what we were doing here.. but a quick walk down the road to the oldest pub in England for dinner was reason enough. Oxford is completely beautiful. Looming towers, Castle spires, libraries and university buildings dotting every street corner, bookshops, gardens, beautiful houses, cobblestoned streets, pubs, cafes, the river and every manner of student, businessman, teacher and sophisticate walking past makes for a truly perfect little village. Pretentious? Yes. But when you live or study in a town like this it's okay to be a bit retentious because that's what it's all about, and noone should try and stop it.

    A wander through the streets was highlighted by finding an original Dali print, hand signed off course, for only £5,500. Bargain.

    Also, our apartment is pretty cool too. It's a creaky old renovated little flat upstairs in the old Oxford town hall, next to the museum of modern art in the main street. It involves going through 4 locked doors, through some of the meseum, up two spiral stair cases and down some very dark corridors. The flat itself is lovely, everything decorated to the Oxford period style and the floorboard and beds creaking in a somewhat ominous am menacing way. But it's home and it's pretty great.
    Sleep now as a big couple of days ahead.
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  • Day20

    Borough Market. Fresh fruit and veges.

    September 11, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    I have wanted to come to Borough Market since I was about 9 years old. Although we arrived just as it was opening, it was exactly what I had dreamed of it being. It was just wonderful. Nothing else needs to be said.Read more

  • Day20

    London Day 2

    September 11, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Day 2 of London was as busy and hectic as the first! It's getting hard to explain, in everything in as much detail as I'd like so I may do a follow up entry summing up England later on. Also only being able to squeeze in 6 photos is difficult!

    Just a little note that yesterday we also went to St Pauls Cathedral. Amazing! I've included a photo as I couldn't fit it in yesterday.

    Today we had coffee at a different Lebanese cafe in Earl's Court before rushing to catch the opening of Borough Market. Yet another market that will get its own post.

    From Borough we caught a tube to Parliment buildings, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. All impressive and incredible sights in their own right. It was quite something sitting in a field staring at these 3 amazing antiquity buildings. It's quote something to be surrounded by architecture that has been around long before the discovery of New Zealand.. a very awe inspiring thought and place to be. Westminster was truly incredible inside, no pictures would do the inside justice so it's fortunate that none are allowed to be taken inside.
    From the inner city buildings we went home in preparation for dinner as it was Joy's (shh) 50th birthday.
    A long hassle of trying to find a taxi, then bus to Marble Arch in peak rush hour traffic left us rushed, grumpy and late for our dinner with my cousin Bella at Le Gavroche... and what a dinner it was. It deserves it's own post but I have few photos - until I can steal some off Bella - so will leave it at this: an 8+ course degustation in one of the world's top restaurants. The first in England and one of only a few in the world to be award 3 Michelin Stars. Run by Michel Roux, it was a truly incredible experience. Highlights were an excellent beef carpacio, a 30+ choose your own cheese trolley, hilarious twin Austrian maitre d's, and the experience of having one of the best meals and services in the world. No exaggeration.
    Nothing else needs to be said.
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  • Day19

    Athens Markets

    September 10, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Just a quick post about the markets back in Athens. They were incredible! All of the foodie stuff I wanted and was waiting for. Buckets upon buckets of endless olives, feta, fruit and vegetables. Not to mention mountains of amazing figs costing just a few euros per kilo!!!?
    Bread stalls and ready to eats were spotted but mainly the ready to eat sustanence came from roadside cafes and a bag of figs. Yum yum yum.

    The meat markets were something else also.. any New Zealand health inspector would've shut the whole thing down in an instant. But still it was fantastic: piles of liver, kidneys and general offal beside whole skinned goats and sheep hanging it the 30+ degree heat on the roadside.cut and optioned meats were mostly already snapped up by local restaurants but some still remained.
    The fresh fish market was coming to a close when we arrived but still had mountains of sardines, squid, octopus, bass, mullets and a variety of Mediterranean fish.. all sitting on a far too warm bed of almost fully melted ice. The smell was, understandably, strong and it's fair to say we rushed through.

    Finally come the endless buckets of spices, nuts, grains, seeds, flours, dried fruits and everything inaginable filling them to the brim!

    Altogether it was a fantastic market and a wonderful place to wander and taste.
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