Eurovision Party

Yes, I did just say Eurovision Party!  Anyone else excited?  The wonderful thing about living in London is that you can attend Eurovision parties, as the awards are playing, and witness them in all their glory.

Adrian met at our place for some pre-drinks before heading to Cynthia’s where the party was to take place.  Come 8:00 we all huddled into the lounge room, complete with some awesome party food, to watch the awards – as tragic as they are.

I don’t know why the Ukraine didn’t win, Philip tried to explain the politics of it all to me, but they were the best!  How can you go past Elton John look-alikes in silver tight-shorts singing “Eins eins, sieben sieben, eins, sieben, eins eins.  Everybody dance!”  Hilarious!

The UK gave it a fair stab too.  The theme: mile-high club I would suggest.  You see, when I decide to watch Eurovision I believe the tackier the better.  This is why I also believe that the Ukraine, then the UK should have won.

Instead, for some unknown [political] reason, Serbia won with their Joan Kirner look-alike and the Pussycat Dolls.  Oh well, such is life.

In other news I’ve had my contract with the HPA extended until the end of June, which is exciting.  There’s really not much else to report though at the moment.  Hi to everyone at home, I love you all!

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God Made the Earth, but the Dutch Made Holland

On a bit of a whim, and exactly six months after my last visit, Clare and I headed to Germany to visit Janina, Andreas, Vanessa and Ingo.

It was an amazing weekend starting with 4 hours sleep on the Friday night before heading off to Gatwick for our morning flight. To our delight the forecast was for high 20s and sunny, unprecedentedly warm weather for the time of year. We stepped out of the plane and were immediately down to t-shirts and ready to kick on the thongs!

Janina kindly picked us up from the airport and we headed to her place to drop the luggage before going into Düsseldorf for some shopping and lunch. It was very different to the last time I’d seen it, with beautiful flowers lining the streets and al fresco diners lining the sidewalk. We had lunch and a wander before picking Andreas up, visiting the Esprit factory outlet, and heading to Köln for, you guessed it, more shopping! I’m pretty sure Janina keeps German clothing retailers in business.

That evening, after showing Clare the Dom, we met Vanessa and Ingo for drinks (many) and dinner at a famous Colonian beer hall.

The following day was, again, beautiful and sunny and by early morning it was already up in the mid 20s. We donned our beach gear and headed for Janina’s Mum’s place where we picked up her BMW (complete with sat nav), asked it to take us to the beach in Holland and off we went! Within a couple of hours we were strolling along the water front as though it were the middle of summer. We had a bite to eat then went down to the sand to sit for a while and enjoy the beach.

When we started to burn we decided to head to Amsterdam for the afternoon.

It was really beautiful in the warm weather, sitting outside a coffee-shop watching the world go by. I liked Amsterdam the first time I was there, but the beautiful weather brought out a whole new side of it. We ended up staying quite late after a wander around the city, some drinks and a bite to eat, then headed home. Janina had to work the following day so it was an early night.

The following day Clare and I looked around the old town in Düsseldorf, but were seeking shade and a drink early in the day as things heated up fast. We later collected our bags from Janina’s and headed for Köln to wander along the river and spend some time before our plane left.

We got home pretty late that night, with work the next day, but it was a great break with perfect weather and I think Clare was glad to tick two countries off her list!

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More Than You Expect

The Easter weekend was good fun for Clare and I. We had a day at home on Good Friday doing the washing etc and getting ready for Easter Sunday.

On Saturday we got up nice and early to head into Victoria Station for a day trip of Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. Despite the obnoxious American tourists (socks and sandals, Denise), who give the rest of their excellent country and fellow countrymen a bad name, it was a really good day.

We first headed off to Windsor Castle with a commentary about London the whole way there. We had a couple of hours to explore the castle seeing the grounds and then commencing the tour of the inside of the castle. Unfortunately cameras are banned, so there are no photos, but have no doubt; this place is grand. Everywhere you look there’s some gold plated ornament or gift from foreign lands. It could almost be classified as a museum.

After we finished the inside we had a wander around the grounds, saw a few marching guards on ceremonial duties, then watched the marching band play for the changing of the guard.

From Windsor Castle we headed for Stonehenge, arriving around an hour later. It’s a pretty spectacular sight, for its history as much as what physically stands today. We were given an hour to wander around the site and take in the information on the audio guides, which was full of speculation about the site’s history.

Following Stonehenge we went to lunch. Lunch was nice, albeit small, but we had to laugh, having paid £34 ($85), when the restaurant slogan was “More than you expect.” It certainly was!!!

As the day went on the weather improved even more, ending in a really nice afternoon in Bath. We were given an hour to explore the city. As I’d been with Bianca last year I knew a couple of places that I wanted to take Clare. We looked at the Royal Crescent and The Circle again, and had a look at the gardens by the river which had been planted up and opened for the Spring. It was really pretty.

From there we went to the Roman Baths where we were supposedly undertaking a torchlit tour and champagne reception. Neither of these happened, which was slightly disappointing, but it was still interesting to see the Baths in the nice weather.

Following Bath we had a really nice drive back to London through the countryside with the sun setting. I finally got to see that true English countryside!

On Sunday morning Clare and I got up and got ready for Easter brunch with Cynthia. Clare gave me chocolate eggs, plus a really bottle of really nice chocolate liquor in the shape of an Easter Bunny. She made me promise to get it refilled at Christmas, as a laugh.

We had Clare’s special Easter pancakes (impregnated with chocolate eggs) with champagne, dips, fruit etc. It was nice, and by early afternoon we were feeling nice and relaxed. We then took some beers to our park and had a drink in the gardens in the first really nice sun we’ve got! It was lovely!

Later that day we headed to Cynthia’s for dinner. Her place, in Little Venice, is really nice. She made us bruschetta and a delicious mushroom pasta with hot cross buns for dessert! We watched some Kath and Kim and Zoolander, then chatted to her flatmate for the night.

Monday was a relaxed day, we didn’t get up to too much. That night, however, I took Clare out for her Easter present – We Will Rock You. Though I’d seen it in Melbourne several years ago Clare really wanted to see it, and it was really good and a nice way to end a great Easter weekend!

The weather is definitely on the improve, t-shirts (and very pale skin) have been witnessed on me a couple of times now!

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The Imperial War Museum

Throughout the week Adrian brought his laptop over and we finished Skins season 1 🙁 . We’re now going to have to find another series to keep us entertained for a while!

On Saturday we had a lazy morning, watching The Holiday in bed, then we headed out to the Portobello Road markets for the afternoon. The weather was great and we had fun exploring the very extensive markets. Later that afternoon we went shopping for some work clothes etc before meeting Sally in Fulham for dinner. After dinner we headed over to Andrew’s pub to have a few drinks and he joined us for his dinner break which was cool.

Yesterday we visited the Imperial War Museum’s Holocaust Exhibit. It was well done, but again very shocking and moving. It’s interesting to see the different accounts given by the different museums across the world. Though all tell similar stories, the exact personal accounts tell a variety of tragic stories and each museum has been a whole new experience. I find it interesting that I’m learning far more about world history on my weekends and in my last 6 months of travel than I ever did in school.

After a couple of loads of washing and dinner we watch the Da Vinci Code and headed to bed.

By the way Beth, if you’re reading, I bought another lilac shirt, haha! How metro! And yes, it was almost as ‘affordable’ as the last one!

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Avenue Q

On Monday (26th), after our flat out weekend and my second day at work, I met Clare at home where she was picking me up for an 18-month surprise!

We headed for the tube, changed at Green Park and jumped off at Leicester Square.  At this point I was getting a little suspicious.  When Clare said we had to find St Martin’s Lane, I was pretty sure where we were headed, and was getting pretty excited.  Some background: I had wanted to see Avenue Q in New York, having heard all about it from Chris while we were in the Cinque Terre.  It didn’t eventuate in New York and I noticed that it was showing here and had decided it would be something I’d do as soon as I got a job.  As it turned out, Clare surprised me with tickets for our 18 month, which also tied in nicely with my getting a job.

First we went to a local Chinese restaurant for a very nice dinner, then we literally ran to the theatre taking our seats just as the lights were dimming.  Good timing I say!  The show was very funny, I’d highly recommend it!  It was a fantastic surprise!  We went out for coffee afterwards then headed home to bed.  Thanks Clare!!!

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