April - October 2015
  • Day1

    Minster on Sea

    April 20, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    After years of talk, saving and planning, we're finally off around the world!

    We're boxing our life up and only taking with us what we can carry on our backs for 6 months across the USA, New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia.

    Thank you to our family, friends and everyone who has helped us in many ways to make this a reality for us. We hope you will join us as we go from place to place and share with you the things we see, the people we meet and the adventures we have.

    For those of you wondering about the 'semi-serious' part of the title, this is related to Alex's belief that he is not growing up, that his life with Kim has not yet become 'serious' and instead only 'semi-serious'. This has led to some of our friends naming us 'Mr and Mrs Semi-Serious'...
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    Dan

    5/4/15Reply
    Debbie glover

    Hi

    5/4/15Reply
    Rachel barnett

    Safe journey x

    5/5/15Reply
    Kerry March

    Good luck and have a fab time x

    5/6/15Reply
     
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  • Day17

    Gatwick airport

    May 6, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Getting excited waiting to board!!!

    Carrie-anne Wicketts

    I'm so excited for you. ? have a wonderful time xx

    5/6/15Reply
    Chloe Gill

    Alex, soon you'll be able to sell your long locks as human hair extensions. Might give you enough funds to extend your trip?!

    5/7/15Reply
    Kim and Alex

    Haha Chloe I think we should start a blog just for Alex's hair! ? x

    5/8/15Reply
     
  • Day18

    New York baby!!

    May 7, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C
    Kerry March

    Keep away from that dunkin donut shop lol x

    5/7/15Reply
    Kim and Alex

    Haha Kerry our hostel gives us free dunkin donuts and coffee in the morning lol! Very very yummy xx

    5/8/15Reply
    Kerry March

    Lol x

    5/9/15Reply
     
  • Day18

    Midtown and Central Park New York

    May 7, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    An orchestra of sirens, horns and bouncing chassis rang through the night of the city 'that never sleeps'. But it was the sound of Michael Jackson's 'Beat It' from a truck radio that stirred Alex from a fitful sleep that we fell into after arriving late the night before.

    Our room is well equipped for its small size with our window doubling as our fire exit for our convenience. We made use of the free coffee and Dunkin' Doughnuts provided by the hostel before heading out into sunshine and a city that was then truely awake.

    Crossing up onto 7th Avenue we were greeted by the flash and buzz of Times Square, where amongst the throng of tourists entertainers dressed as cartoon characters posed for for photographs and tips. I caught Olaf, Elmo and the Cookie Monster counting dollar bills in a huddle under an array of digital billboards inviting you to not look where you are going. Yellow taxi cabs jostled with delivery vans and black sedans as human and vehicle traffic snaked through the streets converging on the square.

    Leaving the bustle behind, we strolled into the green oasis of Central Park and lay down in the carpet grass of Sheep Meadow as aeroplanes cut across the blue vault above. Every generation was out playing and sunbathing whilst buildings bordering the park stand watch over us. The Sheep's Meadow is one of the many landscaped areas of the park that include; Strawberry Fields (dedicated to John Lennon who was shot in the archway of The Dakota hotel that borders the park in 1980); The Great Lawn with its six baseball pitches (the line 'the cross is in the ball park' from Paul Simon's 'The Obvious Child' played in my head) and the great body of water, The Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, around the mile and a half border of which, Alberto Arroyo pioneered jogging. After jogging for over 50 years, Alberto died in 2010 at the age of 94. A small sign of sun bleached news cuttings commemorates his achievement of jogging for over 50 years and inspiring thousands of New York residents to do the same. He was honoured by the State Senate in 1985 and became known as 'The Mayor of Central Park'.

    With the park to our backs we headed down 5th Avenue to take in views from 'The Top of the Rock' at the Rockefeller Centre. Through polished corridors of Art Deco design, we took a lift, the ceiling of which is transparent, allowing you to watch the speed and distance of your ascent to the 67th floor as your ears pop to the quick change in altitude. The views are brilliant and we're not sure the photos even do it justice.

    An orange dusk coated the brickwork as we arrived back at our hostel, jet lagged but sun kissed from a great first day in New York City.
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    Carol Stringer

    Fond memories of your last visit in 2004?

    5/8/15Reply
    Chloe Gill

    Unbelievably awesome photos guys.

    5/8/15Reply
    Chloe Gill

    My favourite!

    5/8/15Reply
    Charlotte Cox

    the pictures are so good.

    5/14/15Reply
     
  • Day19

    Midtown and Lower Manhattan New York

    May 8, 2015 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    Despite the fanfare of city life outside the window we slept through exhaustion and readied ourselves for another day of exploring Manhattan.

    We crossed over to 10th avenue to walk down the 'High Line' a converted industrial railway line that was built above the avenue to carry goods brought off the docks of the Hudson River in the 19th and early 20th century. The railway line was built above the avenue as prior to its construction the line had intersected with the streets below and caused so many accidents and deaths that the avenue became known as 'death avenue' and horse back riders had to be employed to ride ahead of the trains in a bid to get pedestrians out of the way. With the decline of heavy industry in the city in the 20th century the High Line became derelict until at the turn of the 21st century it was donated to the city for conversation following advocacy from residents. You can now walk along the leafy 1.45 mile route and look out upon the corridor streets that stretch eastward to the horizon.

    After descending from the High Line we ventured along the waterfront of the Hudson River and down into the Financial District through the 9/11 memorial, passing the charging bronze bull of Wall Street and into Battery Park.

    The 9/11 memorial with its cavernous pools of flowing water and lists of the dead was compelling in its size. However it was later that the human loss of that day more deeply resonated when several fire engines went past, with sirens and lights ablaze and tired firemen looking out.

    From Battery Park we dodged through the lines of hawkers for boat and helicopter tours to get onto the Staten Island ferry. We cruised out across the Hudson River as helicopters flew overhead and jet skis jumped in our wake. We past the Statue of Liberty who stood resolute gazing back at us as an anthill of tourists clambered beneath her bluegreen copper robe.

    After a quick turnaround we were back in Manhattan and looking out across the East River at the Brooklyn Bridge with its iconic archways from the South Street Seaport, where 19th century tall ships rest, slowly rusting in contrast to the 21st century sheen of the skyscrapers bearing over them.

    Crossing through Chinatown and Little Italy with their distinct residents, buildings and cultures we rested in Union Square where we drank ice tea with skaters, pigeons and the NYPD.

    We finished the day eating fresh hot pizza at $1 a slice that was the size of our heads (Alex's hair not included) as the sound of the city continued to flow on around us.
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  • Day21

    New York to Niagara Falls by Amtrak

    May 10, 2015 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    New York was wrapped in a cool smog as we walked to Penn Station to take our Amtrak train upstate to Niagara Falls. Now we know our backpacks are heavy but when do you really appreciate how heavy? Carry them for over 1 mile on a mostly up hill gradient. A good morning workout.

    Fighting fit entering the station, we caught our breath standing in line with some very large Americans before filing down into the depths of Penn Station and onto our train. The train's distinct aluminium carriages gave the impression we were boarding a silver bullet to our destination. However this analogy ended when our conductor informed us that we'd be running an hour late due to speed restrictions of 25mph in places due to track regulations.

    As we left New York the smog lifted and the skies opened. Conifers and maples clipped past as we bobbed along the tracks. We rolled through towns of timber clad buildings and farms with traditional red barns.

    Despite the journey's length it was a clean, comfortable and friendly experience, contrasting somewhat with UK train travel. The conductor even performed a magic trick. I never saw that on Southeastern rail but maybe that's a good thing?

    There was an amusing interaction between with the conductor and a neighbouring passenger, which we will not be able to do true justice through this blog. However the passenger was possibly (but not certainly) Indian with a heavy accent (think Goodness Gracious Me/similar stereotypes) who became confused by the very helpful but perhaps over-informative conductor regarding the number of stops, direct of the train and arrival time to Niagara Falls. This led the conductor having to repeat the whole saga several times as the passenger became more confused 'how many stops? An hour late yes? Turning around? Not back to New York no? Oh dear. But going to Niagara yes?' to the point that the conductor, clearly exasperated, simply said 'we'll get you there' before making a hasty retreat. Meanwhile we were quietly giggling away. Recalling it now, it might have been at this point that the conductor did his magic trick as a likely distraction tactic. Kudos to anyone who can confuse a Southeastern rail conductor to the point that they have to perform a magic trick Paul Daniels stylee to get away.

    As the day was ending as we arrived at our motel but Kim still felt like she was still in motion from the repetitious roll of the train.

    When you have a long train ride you have time to listen to lots of music so here is a New York and upstate inspired playlist with a song for each hour on the train (if you've got Spotify or download it for free then click http://open.spotify.com/user/somebodyalreadyhasit/playlist/3WOHUqnIhKe8YX7iJAx7XN)

    Ryan Adams - New York New York
    Beastie Boys - No Sleep Till Brooklyn
    The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
    Run-DMC - It's Tricky
    Stevie Wonder - Living for the city (full version on Innervisions album)
    MGMT - Electric Feel
    Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
    The Rapture - No Sex For Ben
    Big Country - In A Big Country
    Trevor Jones/Last of the Mohicans soundtrack - The Kiss (the film is set in 18th century upstate New York)
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    Charlotte Cox

    brilliant very informative. Like the playlist

    5/14/15Reply
     
  • Day21

    Niagara Falls

    May 10, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    After a 'continental breakfast' of sugary muffins and coffee served in the reception/quickie mart of our motel we took the short stroll down to see the Falls. It was 9:30am but it was already hot as we made our way through the typical tourist town make-up of restaurants and souvenir shops as well as a heli pad for helicopter tours of the Falls. Like Joey in 'Friends' we took a moment to 'get in the map' but the Falls were pretty hard to miss with the spray of their cascading waters hissing in the distance.

    Being in the U.S. we naturally came upon the American Falls first with the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in the distance but largely out of sight due the mist of spray coming off it. We purchased tickets to take the 'Maid of the Mist' boat ride that takes you as close as is safely possible to the base of both Falls (we laughed when the adolescent male ticket attendant with braced teeth commented 'you're accent is awesome' to Alex as we paid).

    Looking down from the observation tower we could see tiny people clamber along walkways from the lifts that would take us to our boat. Down below was also the walkways for the Cave of The Winds tour that unfortunately we were just outside of season for due to the walkways requiring repair after yearly harsh winters and the constant battering they receive from the Falls.

    Once down at the boat we were issued with blue ponchos to keep us dry (you can see from the photos they are very fetching and Alex particularly liked his). This was a natural selfie moment for all with Kim helping a family get a picture of themselves all together.

    As we approached the Falls the 'oohs' and 'ahhs' turned to shrieks as water sprayed down onto the deck and we were enveloped by the mist. The ponchos were definitely necessary! Soaked by the end, the views and experience were incredible and we'd highly recommend it to anyone going to see the Falls.

    We explored the rest of the State Park with its islands and outlooks around the Falls. Three small islands, The Three Sisters, are named after the daughters of General Whitney who are believed to be the first European settlers to explore the islands in the 19th century. Not such a big deal looking at the size of the islands or the distance between them when you're crossing the now connecting bridge but the current is obviously strongly and there is only one way you'd go if you fell into it.

    We also went food shopping (really exciting but necessary). We noticed both in the State Park and in town how we felt like we were the only people walking anywhere with tourists taking a bus around the State Park and residents driving around town. The town was eerily quiet as it was Sunday as well as Mother's Day in the U.S. Rows of dilapidated timber framed homes stood silent with only a chained dog, an old man on a porch and some children playing in the distance showing any signs of life.
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    Nicola Collis

    Wow looks fantastic xx

    5/11/15Reply
    Charlotte Cox

    looks amazing if a little wet!!

    5/14/15Reply
    Chloe Gill

    Rick Grimes, how did you get out of Atlanta?!

    5/16/15Reply
    Debbie glover

    Wowwee

    5/30/15Reply
     
  • Day22

    Niagara Falls to New York by Amtrak

    May 11, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    There being only a handful of passengers to board at Niagara Falls in the rising light of early morning we got our pick of seats, choosing some at the end of the carriage with enough leg room to stretch right out.

    The sun blanketed the bodies of a father and his infant daughter as they slept in their seats. Broken and graffitied facades of abandoned industry stared back at us whilst dirty great freight shuttled past with their telltale bell ringing. The long mournful call of our horn sounded over the ever present click-clack of the tracks.

    Morning turned to midday and it became apparent that we were going to be delayed for similar reasons to those we encountered when travelling up to Niagara Falls. This meant that we missed our connection to Washington by 3 hours...
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    Kim and Alex

    Lots of leg room!

    5/11/15Reply
     
  • Day22

    New York to Washington DC by Amtrak

    May 11, 2015 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    ...When we finally got back into Penn Station we noticed that the father and his infant daughter who got on the train in Niagara Falls also missed their connection in New York. The father had his daughter and more luggage than us so we stood watch over her in her baby carrier whilst he got their luggage off the train and located a 'red cap' luggage handler to help him onward. We met him again at the ticket counter as we both got our tickets changed. He was from Jamaica but when he realised where we were from he told us he was a DJ and travelled to London regularly. He recommended listening to fellow DJ David Rodigan on BBC 1Xtra/BBC Radio 2 who was ,quote, 'bad'.

    We were impressed by his daughter, who managed the long train journey better than many of the adults, and the care he offered to her. In our line of work when we're confronted with so many appalling examples of men it's also nice to see this contrasting example.

    After over 600 miles through Buffalo, Rome, Hudson, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Baltimore that took 15 hours we arrived in Washington DC under the cover of darkness. Kim read a whole book (Pt. 1 - The Travelling Man) and started another (Pt. 2 - The Travelling Woman) in this time. Here's another playlist of songs that got Alex through the journey (http://open.spotify.com/user/somebodyalreadyhasit/playlist/6gda7tjvAPZH2AUKd6KFfF) -

    The Who - Baby O'Riley
    Florence & The Machine - Ship Wreck
    Vampire Weekend - Unbelievers
    Hozier - Someone New
    Snow Patrol - New York
    Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes - Bad Luck
    Banks - Goddess
    The Knocks - Comfortable (Lightwaves Remix)
    Ella Eyre - If I Go
    Junior Kimbrough - Meet Me In The City
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    Debbie glover

    Need to start getting pictures if these people you talk about lol

    5/30/15Reply
     
  • Day23

    Washington DC

    May 12, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    We woke to a solid breakfast courtesy of our hostel, which has a ritual that guests greet staff with a 'good morning' in a language other than English. Alex eager to finally put his D in GCSE German to good use, fired off 'Guten Tag', only to realise that it is in fact 'Guten Morgan'. Fail.

    The next day was better, eager to redeem himself, Alex got in early with 'Buenos Dias'. He was so convincing the staff member tried to communicate further with us in Spanish thinking Alex was in fact Spanish. Ole!

    It was another hot and humid day out on the streets of Washington. We knew we'd arrived at the White House even before seeing the building because of the watchful security and tourist crowds. Snipers on the roof, K-9 dog teams, guns, body armour and of course - sunglasses surrounding the white shining walls of the the President's residence.

    We strolled around the great lawn of the Eclipse as sunglass-toting men with 'secret service' stitched on their body armour rode past on bicycles. Before us towered the obelisk of the Washington Monument with clouds brewing around its pinnacle. You can go to the top of the monument but the tickets for the day had gone by the time we arrived. Many historical attractions and museums in Washington are free to the public which is great but unfortunately we are not staying in Washington long enough to fully appreciate this.

    We walked down the Mall as a slight breeze lapped the water of the reflecting pool with the Lincoln Memorial growing in size as we approached. Inside the raised stone temple sits a marble statue of the man enshrined by engravings of his Gettesburg Address and his Second Inaugural Speech.

    These engraved speeches give reference to 'one nation under God', a need for 'freedom' and that 'it may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces'.

    However the sense of optimism raised from this fanfare of success is muted when you realise that nearly 100 years later, in 1963, Martin Luther King stood on the very steps of the memorial to deliver his 'I Have A Dream' speech due to the significant short comings in this ideology.

    We walked the short distance to the memorial that now stands to Martin Luther King. His likeness carved out of milky stone, arms crossed, looking out across the waters of the tidal basin. Quotes of Dr King's own speeches are carved in a dark stone wall behind his figure, one reading -

    'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy' (25th February 1967, Los Angeles)

    We later joined a free tour of the city's African American history from our hostel. It took us to the home of Duke Ellington and other buildings of significance in the area around U street, which until the boom of Harlem in the 1920s was the largest African American community in the U.S. We finished the tour at the landmark Ben's Chilli Bowl where previous patrons include Bill Cosby and Barrack Obama. Sitting in the diner, with its walls displaying memorabilia and a jukebox playing Smokey Robinson and Michael Jackson, we tucked into the signature dish of chilli half-smoke (hot dog in a bun with mustard and chilli served over the top and a side of crinkle crisps).
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    ben Winder

    Love reading your travel reports, sounds like its all going well. Bella now venturing out into garden, I will send some photos when I can sort out a way of doing it. I'm not very techno minded. Dont forget to take hundreds of photos. take care.Ben

    5/13/15Reply
    Jayne Harrison

    Good pic

    5/14/15Reply
    Jayne Harrison

    Wow I you liked Washington

    5/14/15Reply
    Kim and Alex

    Thanks Ben and Jayne. Ben you need to get whatsap and you can send on your phone for free :-)

    5/14/15Reply