Archive for the ‘UK’ Category


Writing this in Heathrow lounge.

Despite Volcanoes, airline pilot strikes and other events, it appears I will be leaving at 930 for Melbourne.

Will write more from Singapore if I get a chance. Last time was extremely dodgy  in terms of actual time in the Airport. And I have to buy some cigarettes for a friend. Because I simply do not have enough to carry.

I brought two suitcases and a carry on suitcase and a laptop. I have no idea where the weight came from. I was wondering if it was clothes….. Certainly there are presents for people but nothing for me, relatively speaking. Other than Doctor Who DVDs I haven’t got anything for myself.

And yet, the luggage kept building. Fortunately didn’t have to pay excess luggage (I was 2 kg over and they didn’t weigh my carry-on, thank you God.)

Just so you know, the tennis elbow is taking a major hit today.

More from Singapore. Maybe.

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Last full day in Britain. Have spent it going to Winkleigh to visit graves and thatched cottages.

Have spent the day packing and unpacking. My first pack was 8 kg over weight… eek… but have now managed to get it 3 kg under weight. No idea how i managed that. Sending a 4 kg parcel to Australia does not equate to a 11 kg loss.

Not knocking it. Much more to do so this is short and sweet today.

Really sad to be leaving. Far more than last time.

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The Genuine Article

Perhaps this may not apply to American readers, but the Australian and New Zealand (and English, natch) readers would be aware of the genius that is the Devonshire Tea.

Cornwall has recently trademarked its cornish pasties so that, unless it is made with Cornish ingredients and/or in Cornwall, a baker cannot call it a Cornish pasty. It’s just a pasty. Curiously this is a seriously big deal here in the UK.  While I agree it is positively anal, I am also aware of the steaming piles of excrement I have been served that allegedly is a Devonshire Tea.  As such I am advocating Devon trademarks the tea name. This would, also, be a big deal.

A Devonshire Tea is a pot of tea, milk, sugar if you will, two scones (either plain or fruit), a pot of jam and a massive pot of Devonshire clotted cream. Something like this:

Did you spot the fatal error in the presentation of the Tea? Yep, not enough cream. The pot should be twice that size.  You don’t mess with Devonshire people when it comes to their cream, as the tea shop owner found to her horror when she presented this measly amount of cream to the table. I’ve never seen a group of old aged pensioners bay for blood before.

The ideal of the proper Devonshire Tea is to smear a bit of jam on the scone, then pour teetering piles of cream onto the scone, preferably bigger than your mouth. The problem with a proper Devonshire Tea is you need clotted cream. If the cream is not thick enough that a spoon can stand up in it (and no, really whipped doesn’t count) then it’s not a proper Devonshire Tea.

That’s not to say it’s not nice to have jam and cream on scones. It’s bloody nice in fact. It’s just truly sublime here. And I’d encourage all of you to visit this magnificent county and have a proper Devonshire Tea here. You will thank me.

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Leaving, Sorta

Technically I am due to return to Australia on Thursday. The Iceland volcano may have other ideas. I would be dead pleased if I did get stuck here. Great excuse. So knowing my luck, there will be no interruption.

The nice news is I do not have to get off the plane and start work. Hurrah. I was expecting this. No, I get a whole day off to acclimatize. I am very chuffed.

Been spending the last few days in Exeter saying bye to people. Went to my beautiful Stepsbridge today then had lunch at the Nobody Inn (cute name), a beautiful 19th century pub. The architecture was magnificent. Wonderfully there was a 93 year old regular, complete with his own chair perched by the bar, who had a pint of beer and shot of whisky kept continually topped up. In his younger day, this regular looked not unlike Winston Churchill. I think that would be a nice way of ending, being the local legend at the pub and always kept liquoured up. All the staff and locals adored him. The barmaid teared up when we discussed his passing.

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Sunday Afternoon Pics

No one reads the blog on a Sunday so I’m having an easy post. Here instead are some pics that I took and liked on the trip.

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Grave Matters

Spent the day visiting graves of long ago relatives. Fascinating measure of  cultural identity, graveyards.  The British graveyard is, at times, completely forgotten and in disrepair. Given the age of the graveyard it is not at all surprising as the relatives that buried their kin are now long dead too. However the most recent graves have this fascinating cultural quirk of adding garden gnomes, giant plastic bees, scarecrows, lanterns and other paraphernalia along with the requisite flowers and religious statuettes.

For example (and I’ve cropped the names out for the sake of privacy, hopefully,)

In my minimalist mind, I find this over the top. However it is a clear indication of love and care and affection for the departed person. As such who am I to question it.  I do, however, find it a curiousity. It seems a recent thing (ie last 20 years or so) and, in the same way that a hundred years ago graveyards were defined by fields of gray slate, so will today be defined by accessories.

However, in Switzerland, graves are defined completely differently. firstly they are tightly packed, tombstones are within inches of each other. presumably due to the lack of space available?  And instead of fields of grey slabs, these tombstones are works of art. the more ornate the better. Truly Swiss graveyards are amazingly beautiful

For example:

Bit of a difference, really.  To be honest, I prefer the Swiss version. I just couldn’t afford to be buried there, I’m guessing.

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Teensy weensy blog post today just to let anyone who cares that I got from Charlotte to Exeter alive but rattled after 24 hours of non stop travelling. Normally it doesn’t take that long but, to my extreme annoyance, I arrived in Toronto to find that I could have indeed caught the earlier flight to London that I chose not to select as I figured I would be late for it. Or something. Do not expect grammatical excellence. I have had two hours of sleep.

So I was watching all the people board the earlier flight and looking forward to my three hours of waiting for my later flight. Toronto airport has evidently won the award for the most improved airport. You wouldn’t know it to look at it. It’s got three shops and no toilets between the 17 million miles between the airplane and customs. My wee was past my eyelids by the time I’d cleared customs.

Flying is fine but sleep is elusive. I’d have slept on the bus home but it was equally packed. And I was sitting in front of the toilet so whenever anyone went to the loo my knees kept getting hit. And the bus was filled with people with prostate problems. Even the women.

I will go to bed now. My aunty is torturing me with watching the British Soap Awards and I can feel my brains seeping out my ears.

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