Joined April 2016 Message
  • Day151


    September 1, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    After my birthday celebrations in Nottingham we decided to spend our last 3 weeks of freedom in sunny Suffolk with Sarah's parents. Despite only being situated a two and a half hour drive away in East Anglia, the weather difference and change in atmosphere is quite extraordinary. Even if the rest of the country was facing Armageddon at the hands of a ruthless storm or asteroid collision, I am pretty sure it would be a windless 26 degrees in Suffolk and the finches would still be chirping. We have come to Suffolk with a round about 'plan' but our primary objective was to chill our beans before being thrust back into the world of work. And that is what we have done! Three weeks is a lot to describe so I will do my best to summarise.... We have been touring some of the beautiful Suffolk areas; having days out to the beaches at Dunwich, Southwold, Walberswick and Felixstowe. All were beautiful and our days swimming with sharks and sea snakes were soon forgotten as we refused to swim in Dunwich after spotting a few moon jellyfish.. ahh well! Learning about Dunwich and the huge chunk of it which is now claimed by the sea due to erosion was both interesting and shocking. Needless to say me and Sarah have also spent our time visiting Ipswich and the Suffolk and Norfolk aerospace museum where we learnt how aeroplanes fly, viewed some classic UK, USA and Soviet war planes post WWI and had a go (relatively successfully) at completing a flight simulator. I also took the opportunity to bring my road bike to the south and get some nice flat miles in. As well as finally being back in the saddle it was also an opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside and drool over some of the ludicrous houses in the area. They are the kind of houses that make you want to knock on their door and ask them what they do for a living....... Then immediately regret it as you know it can't possibly have been an honest path! Between days out and rides, we have spent our time outside reading, doing puzzles, dining out with several of Sarah's friends and family and in my own case, getting destroyed at every card game available. On the 19th Sarah had a great birthday where super boyfriend managed to stumble across a romantic boat we could have a high class dinner on. I also finally bought her the watch she had been asking for since march... Better late than never. Yesterday we managed to visit the illustrious city of Cambridge and what a day it was! After catching the 'park and ride' to the river Cam we proceeded to take a punting boat tour of the university grounds for £16 each, I would definitely recommend it to a UK tourist. Me, Sarah and her parents had a 45 minute tour by an incredibly knowledgeable host who pointed out all of the college's such as st Johns, Trinity and the Chapel and told us about their history, student life, pranks and famous alumni/fellows such as sir Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking. He also explained about the architecture and buildings designed by Christopher Wren and pointed out the (incredibly ugly) first building in the world ever designed by a computer. After our trip we had a nice meal at the not-so-British Las Iguanas then headed for the FREE Fitzwilliam museum. I am not too intrigued by art museums but it was free and we were on a cultural binge so why not! The two artefacts that particularly caught my attention were firstly a Bible. This was a huge book (about 60cm x 40cm and 4 inches thick) and dated back to the 14th century. The care put into the typography, artwork and binding was incredible and its age just astounded me. The pages were worn and torn slightly but this artefact was still in a readable condition. Secondly I loved the axe gun found in the armoury, it does exactly what it says on the tin - it is an axe with a gun popping out of the handle. It was made by the Germans during the 17th century. If Hitler had been concentrating on manufacturing axe guns from 1609 instead of trying to master nuclear weapons we could all be speaking another language now........ Ah nein!

    I am sitting here in sleepy Pettaugh, under a walnut tree in Sarah's parents garden the day before we return to Nottingham and conclude our travels for now. We shall be moving into our lovely new flat and shall attempt to start my own company, so rather than stopping our adventure, it is merely taking on a new identity. I have thoroughly loved our time off together, 5 months in total. Our 3 months circumnavigating the globe was crazy and our 2 months visiting relatives and travelling the UK has also been great and has actually primed us a bit for life at home so the end of our holiday will not hit us quite so hard. We have learnt a lot about the planet. For that reason I would recommend the time off to everyone I know. Travelling is not a necessity, as some people are genuinely not bothered about travel and to be honest are probably better off staying within the borders. However, five months off work with no money pressure and with your loved one can give you time to stop and think about your life in general and provides an opportunity to change path if that is what you feel needs to happen to make you content. It is what I have done and has personally increased my resolve to stay true on the path my life is currently heading. I would also recommend that although travelling on your own or as a group has its benefits (I've done both) you should go with your spouse if you are lucky enough to have a girlfriend or wife. This takes off all the socialising pressures and you can just be yourself with a loved one for five months which in turn makes you more relaxed and less lonely through out your travels. Having a faithful companion also helps during those inevitable lows where you just want to catch the next flight back to Heathrow, you support each other though these moments and emerge the other side even more enthusiastic than before. I can safely say if Sarah was not with me I would not have made it to Thailand having spent all my money on prepacked sandwiches and taxis! It also provides a test for a relationship. If you are together after 5 months of pretty much only each other for company, having been through the stresses of travelling, illnesses, hormones and a lack of toilet facilities, together, there is nothing you cannot do!
    That's pretty much it, they are my recommendations and as for our favourite place, Fijis marine life gets the abroad prize but sunny Britain has to take the overall number one spot! Our beautiful and unpopulated countryside as well as our wild coast and historical cities have won me over through their sheer character, they also provide a half decent bike ride 😋 (Sarah's disagreeing, she's seen this and wants to add Iceland and New Zealand to the favourites list)
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  • Day122

    York - England

    August 3, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    So on our last stop before my birthday visit to Nottingham we headed for the Park View guest house in York city. This was the only reasonably priced accommodation we could find and was actually quaint and pleasant to sleep in. As a city, York was a lot smaller than expected but was beautiful and had the same historical character as Edinburgh. The centre of York is enclosed by a fort wall which we were able to walk, the area in the middle is called the shambles and contains countless multinational shops, independent stores, markets, chocolate makers and pubs. We had a nice walk around in the evening and managed to find a voucher cloud code to have a nice meal at Bella Italia... well it would have been cheap if Aiden hadn't have ordered two cokes and a dessert, which drastically increased the size of the bill. Oh well, lesson learnt. We headed back to our b&b in time to watch egg heads, oh how cool we are. After a good night's sleep we woke up to eat a massive but not very impressive fry up. Once again we had a very busy day spending our money. We walked York all day, exploring and eating. We managed to find a quaint little family run Italian restaurant that was buy one get one free, get in, money is sparse but we can't cook for ourselves here. However, Aiden once again forgot that we were trying to spend as little money as possible and subsequently ordered two very expensive cokes, while I politely sipped on my tap water. Once we eventually stopped laughing from the shock of Aiden's accidental doubling of the bill, we went back to the b&b and eventually collapsed into bed. There isn't too much to write about this area, not to detract from it, but we just didn't do much to write specifically about! We have really enjoyed our stint exploring the north of the UK and shall now spend a few days with the family celebrating mine and Holly's 26th birthday - I'm feeling wiser already...Read more

  • Day120

    Edinburgh - Scotland

    August 1, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Our drive through the Glen Coe region down the spine of Scotland was beautiful, the dramatic cliff faces, green hills and endless wilderness bringing back memories of new Zealand. We arrived into Edinburgh after approximately 3 hours driving, an ingenious move saw Sarah book us onto vacant university accommodation in the city centre for only £35 a night between us..... lurveley. Our first night was pretty much spent reconciling and apologising as we had a bit of a domestic getting to the city, I won't give you the gory details but it resulted in me feeling travel sick as the love of my life purposefully swayed the car side to side for nearly 3 hours... grim. However, a new dawn drew a new day and we had a walk through town towards princes street which is incredibly busy with the city trying to prepare for the fringe festival next week. We arrived at the archaic city centre and headed up to the castle for our taste of Scottish culture. The castle is one of the world's more impressive specimens and would wholly recommend a visit, we took photos of the impressive views, visited the military museum to learn about the Scottish cavalry's participation in 'recent' wars. We also visited the old dungeons which used to have prisoners of war stuffed inside. The prisoners of France didn't actually have such a poor standard of care with meat, beer and bread readily available. Apparently the only prisoner swaps which weren't made were with rebel Americans who were despised and would never again see the light of day! After pictures next to Mons Meg (the huge cannon) we headed down Victoria Street and on to Princes street for an afternoon of shopping. Fuelled by ice cream we frequented primark, H&M... the lot. Eventually we made it back to the flat and collapsed exhausted!! However, we did then have to drag ourselves up to go and make a delightful dinner in the student kitchen (brought back a few memories). We both enjoyed Edinburgh and both agree that we will visit the city that is full of character again. Oh Scotland we have enjoyed you but now we hit the low road and head down the motorway to York city and our final stop on our tour of the north.Read more

  • Day118

    Fort William - Scotland

    July 30, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    I am currently lying down with Sarah in the tent, completely exhausted and ready for an early bed after an awesome day hiking the UK's tallest mountain; the monstrous Ben Nevis. Our first day here was spent putting up the tent, exploring the quaint Fort William town, playing battleships, crib and Velcro catch with a tennis ball - beaut! Pretty much a days camping holiday. After a fitful nights sleep we awoke and got into our walking gear, complete with water, phones, cameras, and of course a years supply of oreos; double stuffed and peanut butter flavours. The path to the top was well maintained and we actually managed to overtake a few ramblers, only for them to fly passed us on the way down - gits! At around 800m we entered the clouds and blimey was it cold, Sarah's finger swelling level is usually a good indicator of the temperature and it got to the sausage thumbs level (about 0 degrees). We plodded on with dew forming on the beard and our clothes drenched with rain. We eventually reached the top in 3 hours and 20 minutes and spent a further 20 minutes in the shelter of the old hotel ruins, snacking and taking photos of us pretending we weren't about to freeze to death. We took it very steady down the treacherous and slippery path in around 3 hours and arrived back at 4pm. If I were to describe the mountain in one word it would be a 'Tease'; the clouds cover the peak so for the last hour you honestly believe the peak is around the corner, we got our heart broken many times, especially by walkers on the way down telling us we were nearly there... Bastards! However, we did it and now we may leave our next mountain until a few months (or years) down the line! We have done all 3 peaks now and agree that Snowdon is the most enjoyable, Ben Nevis physically the most difficult but Scafell technically the most difficult due to the scrambling and the difficulty navigating... so they all have their quirks! I'll keep this short due to tiredness but I have had a great day and all the more enjoyable for sharing it with Sarah. Cannot wait to drive down to Edinburgh tomorrow.Read more

  • Day116

    UK - Jura

    July 28, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Based on our recent Yasawa Flyer boat journeys, our expectations of our 2 hour boat trip to Islay were not high. However, we were greeted with a majestic modern ferry with a titanic-esque interior which we felt was 'too posh' for us. Hilary met us aboard with her cocker spaniel 'Ebony' as we spent the next 2 hours catching up, eating and meeting their friend the 'jack of all trades ' Jerry. Following this trip we immediately jumped on the 5 minute car ferry to Jura in Hilary's very swish Mini Clubman. We arrived in Jura without any real itinerary, and that is exactly what we did! We spent our 4 nights relaxing, Hilary and Chris were extremely accommodating and spoilt us greatly. We attended Jura's only pub/ restaurant/ hotel twice, entertained the dog on the beach, cycled up the islands only road and had a couple of walks. I even had a few decent poops - this must be a magical place! Life on the island itself is fascinating from a human perspective. The island has a population of around 200, 150 of which reside in Craig house and there is one country road which begins at the ferry port and travels 15 miles up the east coast. As a result the majority of the Isle is wonderfully wild and uninhabited with over 7000 deer estimated to live there. There is one community owned shop (funded by the national lottery) which Chris runs, a distillery, a hotel and a small primary school in Craig house... that is all! Hilary has informed us that life on the Island is very close, everybody knows everyone's business and tourists are greatly reveared, we were lucky to leave alive! Even waving to vehicles is taken seriously, a lady whose name we cannot remember on the ferry back informed us that a polite rise of the finger (the index!) is a friendly hello to a tourist and a full hand wave it generally between locals, god help you if you do nothing! We survived on a curt nod! We also got treated to some of the Islands wildlife, there were no black smoke monsters to be found but we saw grey herons, trout, red deer, wild goats, oyster catchers, ospreys, grey seals and a chance siting of a full grown otter at dusk, it was magnificent! I would advise to watch out for the calm nights as that is when the midges come out to play and eat everyone alive. We would highly recommend Jura and will visit Hilary and Chris again once they have finished building their new house (very exciting). We are sad to be leaving but excited about our next few days camping in Fort William and our ascent of Ben Nevis, the last one of the three peaks we are climbing this year.Read more

  • Day111

    UK - Lake District

    July 23, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    The long awaited return to the adventures of the fellowship of the BrownCob is upon us and we have decided to see out our quest amongst the UK countryside, no more flying - thank goodness! We have begun with a 4 and a half hour drive up to the lake district on a mission to climb England's highest peak.... Scafell Pike. Now I have done this before using a different route but wish to complete it with my partner in crime. Our chosen place to begin was the Wasdale valley. We stayed above the Screes Inn where we had basic rooms but a bloody good bangers and mash with the sound of rampant sheep to wake us up in the morning. After an early night, we set off in the morning to park at Wasdale head. We paid our £6.50 fee (pants well and truly down) and set off in mild and cloudy weather, the top was already covered with clouds. Our pace was good and we managed to overtake a few groups. We were walking with nothing but a few directions screen shotted on Sarah's phone which informed us the scramble up to Mickledore Col would be exciting, and exciting it was! It was so steep we had to use our hands, the scree was loose and there was no marked path and when we were in the clouds, the lack of visibility made it interesting to say the least.... I just felt sorry for the young family who were following our scramble to what we thought was the top. It was very cold and bleak at the top and we very nearly turned back due to the cold were it not for the fortunately timed break in the clouds which us allowed us to spot a few Kern's in the distance and follow the melodic sound of a German tourist's voice.... On-wards! Despite Sarah's inability to feel her fingers through the cold, we made it to the summit where we had a few snacks and a cheeky photograph next to the plaque. After pretending we were happy in photos we quickly descended via the mainstream path in a little over 2 hours and very jubilantly returned to the hotel proud, and in one piece just in time for a recovery nap. Afterwards we had a cheeky game of Mastermind and the Great British trivia quiz (at which we were terrible) before destroying a gorgeous pair of pizzas with some cider and wine. Despite attempting to have a late night by napping after the walk we still passed out pretty quickly... it was a big mountain alright!!!! Right now we are chilling in our Loch Gair hotel room after a beautiful days driving through Loch Lomond national park. We are very excited to catch the boat to the Isle of Jura tomorrow as my Aunty Hilary hosts us for a few days.Read more

  • Day102

    Suffolk and Nottingham

    July 14, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Home we came. We spent a week in Suffolk recovering from the awful jet lag and spending some quality time with family. The start of our time is Suffolk began with us attending the funeral of a very dear man, my grandad, Sam. The funeral was perfect, Aunty Sally, Uncle David and my Dad all did him proud. It was a beautiful day and service, and was heart warming to see how many people came to say goodbye to such a true gentleman.
    The rest of the week was spent in blissful sunshine, and we tried to make the most of our time seeing everyone. We had a couple of lovely days out with my family. We took a trip out to the 'beautiful' Felixstowe 😋. We relaxed in the sun eating our fish and chips, whilst the seagulls swarmed over head waiting for us to drop a sneaky chip. After lunch we took to the arcades to challenge each other to the highly skilled games the facility had to offer. Aiden is victorious at basketball, showing us his keen ability to sink many a ball into the net. Mum proved to be a whiz at a strange bowling game, beating us all. And I remain the undefeated champion at air hockey, although Aiden gave me a run for my money, which resulted in a nail biting sweaty showdown. Just when we all felt sorry for Dad, having lost at everything, he spotted a crazy golf course on the way to the car. Let's just say, he proved to be the Tiger Woods of crazy golf. However, despite the fact I came last, I believe I showed most technical skill, by making the ball fly off course, perfectly making it way through the small hole in the fence!!
    We also took a trip to Bury. Mum and Dad showed us round the town and took us to the park which had some old Abby ruins. The best part of the day was when I went to the market and got 4 very lovely avocados for £1. Having been to New Zealand and witnessing the avocado crisis which is leading to an avocado black market (no joke), I was extremely happy with my purchase. I even managed to get some blueberries, and make a crumble made with these and raspberries from Dad's garden. A nice edition to the lovely family dinner we had with Nanny and Gidad.
    So after spending our time in Suffolk, we headed to Nottingham to catch up with friends and of course, the lovely Brown family. It was so nice to see everyone, and was great to see how freaked out Aiden was that Jack was now walking freely everywhere. We had a lovely BBQ, courtesy of Aiden Browns superb cooking skills. And after a very short but sweet visit, we are now going to head off for a couple of weeks to tour the north of the UK, before Mr Brown turns 26!!!
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  • Day97

    Singapore - Day 3

    July 9, 2016 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    The evening of the final day of our travels, we decided to visit the Singapore Night Safari. This was basically the zoo opening at night to provide a showing of its nocturnal animals as well as a fire breathing show from some of the native Borneo ancestors. The whole action of spitting petrol out of ones mouth instilled images of a hospital cancer ward in 20 years time, not a sense of wonder. The tram and walk round was OK, the animals didn't seem too unhappy despite the small enclosures, especially for the leopard. The highlights were actually our taste of the Singapore Slinger and the extremely feminine tour guide whose reference to half the animals as 'very cute' and wolf impressions had me and Sarah in stitches half the way round. We managed to get back by midnight so we could get six hours rest before our long flight home tomorrow!!!
    After a flight to Doha and then on to London, we are suddenly home after 3 months of pure bliss and wonder, has it really occurred, was it a dream? This is not the end of our travels, after the funeral we shall road trip round the UK for a few weeks which we are terribly excited about. We intend on sailing the Norfolk broads, visiting national heritage sites, climbing Scafell and Ben Nevis and more swimming with sharks. For now we shall bid this diary farewell for a week or so before we join you again for our next adventure - speak soon!
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  • Day96

    Singapore - Days 1 and 2

    July 8, 2016 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The flight south to Singapore took 2 1/2 hours and it flew by... ah thankyou! We arrived to a nice, relaxed and modern airport - a far cry from Thailand. We managed to grab a 24 dollar taxi ride to Chinatown where our hostel was located. Our taxi driver Benjamin was incredibly friendly and gave us a comprehensive list of activities we must do - we're only here for 3 days man! Despite our prison cell of a hostel room I got an excellent impression of this city/state. It was clean, the taxi drivers are great and the weather beautiful; pretty much a constant 33/34 degrees. We spent our first day exploring china town, which was by far the best China town I have ever experienced! To me, China town's are generally full of character but are run down and probably a hot bed for crime. However, this was saturated with modern markets, music, dancing classes, street food and even magnificent artificial rooftops over the food street complete with enormous fans to keep customers cool in the oppressive midday sun. Needless to say for a 5 dollar bowl of noodles and prawns, we ate here most days! Now I mentioned a dance class, we were lucky enough to stumble across a street Barn dance class on a large square, about 100 people taking part, hilarious! This was yet another surreal event, with the highlight being the Asian cowboy shaking his moneymaker like he was born to do so. After a night of milkshakes and seafood we hit the hay exhausted. The next day was one of the busiest days of the trip as a whole..... we began the day negotiating the metro for the first time, we are a fan! The carriages were clean, not too busy and get this, people actually smile and looked like they were happy to be alive. I had to double take after our experience in London. So we caught the train to the Gardens by the Bay for a relaxing walk among the sculptures, impressive flora and waterways. After a good sweat here, we took refuge in the air conditioned Marina Sands shopping complex with the largest array of brand shops such a Prada and Gucci I have ever seen - cue the sweating again! At least we found something reasonable to eat. From here we headed for the famous Orchard Street for more of the same. To be honest although we couldn't afford to shop in most of these places, the stores were magnificent and the countless shopping centres along this stretch were even more so. We recovered for an hour in the cell and once again headed out for a night on the town. We decided to head for the Ce La Vi bar on the roof of the 5 star Marina Sands Bay Hotel. The shape of the iconic building was enough to make my night but was trumped by the classy music, beautiful skyline view and tasty cocktails, even if the bill came to £37 - Holy Jebus! Our next stage of the night was my personal favourite - the Casino! I have zero experience in Casinos and with free admission for tourists we gave ourselves 50 dollars each for the night. Sarah spent the first half an hour teaching me about casino rules and how to play the dreaded roulette! Unfortunately Sarah lost the 50 dollars within twenty minutes which must be some kind of record - not sure about the standard of my teacher! Resultantly I spent more time on the 2 cent minimum bet machines and only lost 2 dollars for the whole night.... a fact that Sarah will not hear the end of for a long time. We gathered our wits and reigned in our excitement before catching a lift with another friendly taxi driver back to the boudoir. Our final day was spent lying in, eating and getting ready for our excursion to Singapore's Night Safari.Read more

  • Day93

    Thailand - Pai

    July 5, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    To be honest I haven't really got much to write about in Pai, it was just somewhere we chilled out for 2 days. The bus to Pai however, was interesting! Me and Sarah clambered aboard, completely oblivious to the fact that apparently it is one of the worst journeys you can take on a bus due to the meandering nature of the 3 hour drive. It wasn't a good omen when at several points along the way there are several officially signposted stopping points at which to vomit... as well as clear signage on the bus itself! We did well but unfortunately the girl sitting next to Sarah did not, she could not get a word out without coughing up a chunk or two into an unfortunately small plastic bag. So we eventually made it to Pai and our lodge was more akin to the bures we stayed in whilst in Fiji. I've got to say, although I have grown accustomed to nice hotel rooms, I have missed the sound of geckos in our room, it was a welcome feature. To be honest, Pai itself is set in a beautiful location, but the village itself is dull and has been spoilt by the tourism industry. There are basically a few streets lined with the usual bars, hotels, massage parlours, souvenir shops and swarming with western teenagers dressed in bandanas and 'Chang' vests. Although there are many of them, after listening to their conversations, they are not tourists....... my apologies! We enjoyed some nice Thai meals and scenery but were not sad to see the back of the place and head back to Chiang Mai via the same bus, this time noone was sick 😃.
    We arrived in Chiang Mai for one more night so we could hit the night market in earnest and what a night it was! We managed to buys loads of goodies with our vastly improved bartering skills... I got a bag down from 980 baht down to 650 and Sarah got a hat down from 250 baht down to 150. We even got treated to a Thai band performing live western music, hits such as Adele's 'Herro' and Justin Bieber's 'Rove Rourself' were my personal favourites. We finally finished shopping at 11.30pm ( having only covered a quarter of the market) and headed home to collapse on the bed. The next day saw us have a well deserved lie in, nice food and to buy a new backpack for sarah. We then embarked on the night train to Bangkok (where we shared a room with an adorable young French family) so we could catch a flight to our final destination..... Singapore!!!

    P.S : Before our epic trek the other day we forgot to mention about the main temple of Chiang Mai we visited. I'm not usually one to spend much time around the many temples in the region but I would definitely recommend visiting this one in the old city. In particular it was the old stone buildings still standing since it's original construction that we very impressive as well as the high population of monks present. They also offered free talking sessions with some of the younger monks but we were too shy to take advantage so we watched from a distance, looking slightly suspicious 😆.
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