Thursday, 26 July 2007


Trip to Plymouth!

Due to the floods, it took us six hours to get to Plymouth on the train. We had to go through Bristol and then down to Plymouth. The direct train only takes three hours!!

Plymouth was a a really interesting place. We Ellie's first house (when she was a baby!), had an Oggy (a devonshire pasty) together, walked around and saw the lighthouse and the waterfront.

We stayed at a really nice B&B. It was great. The port and waterfront was nice, but really polluted!! It was really disgusting, and the English were fishing in it!! Right in the polution!

We had an awesome dinner and evening at a really cool restaurant bar. The best service we've had in England! Just great!

On Sunday we cruised around the town (away from the touristy bits) and saw where Ellie's Dad lived when he was a kid. We happened across a really cool cafe with great coffee, where we sat for a while and Ellie called her Dad to get his old address. It was there that Ellie realised (while speaking with her Dad on the phone) that we were right across the road from where he went to school as a kid.

Here's Ellie eating a pasty!!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Plymouth tomorrow

Yay - we're finally off to Plymouth tomorrow. 3 hrs on the train tomorrow morning, then we're staying at a B&B a block down the road from the terrace house where I spent the first 3 yrs of my life - how cool is that?? Otherwise we'll just wander around Plymouth and check stuff out, and get a pastie from Ivor Dewdney's, which is evidently a famous local landmark now, but where Mum and Dad used to get their pastie fix when we lived there 25 years ago, and whose pastie recipe Mum patiently and faithfully ripped off. When I get back home, I'm making a batch of pasties! Yummo!

And as an added gift for today's post, here is one of today's kitties from I Can Has Cheezburger:

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Stick a fork in me Jerry ...

... I'm done!

After claiming earlier in the trip that I was sick of museums etc. I've spent over 10 hours in the last two days in two museums. On Wednesday I went to the Imperial War Museum and today I spent six and a half hours at the British Museum.

I went to the Imperial War Museum to see a few movies I'd seen scheduled the last time we were there. Saw an old film (news reel) describing how airfields were built in the English country-side to launch bombing raids on German positions in Europe. Then a short film produced by the British School of Infantry in 1943 on camouflage and field craft (if any one knows, it's soldiers in the middle of a war!). The second film was great (really great!!!) with some awesome stuff on the use of camouflage and field craft, using shade and terrain, range cards and the selection of fire positions, movement across country and section formations. Really cool stuff! (To me anyway!)

Then I went upstairs and saw a 30 minute film titled Crimes Against Humanity. It was not a pleasant film, but I do feel that it is a very important one. The film is "A specially-commissioned 30-minute film is the central element of this exhibition which examines the theme of genocide and ethnic conflict". More people need to see this film, and more importantly understand what is going on in the world around them. Once you know what is really going on you can take action. So stop watching Today Tonight and switch on SBS World News. Then write to your local politicians and tell them to do something about it. Don't let fear and mass media rule your life.

Enough ranting. And I haven't even got to Collingwood yet.

After the Crimes Against Humanity film I went to the Holocaust exhibition. It was an incredible exhibition. Phenomenal. Like a normal museum exhibit it has lots of physical exhibits you can look at and read about, but in addition to this, complementing and enhancing these pieces are images, diorama's, audio and video from Nazi propaganda films and Jewish holocaust survivors. I spent over two and half hours going through the exhibition. At one point I was almost cried reading letters, watching videos and listening to the stories of the few survivors as they were shipped off to Auswitch like cattle as part of the Nazi's "Final Solution". I could not believe the horrors these people were forced to endure because of a belief system. And worse still is that it has been not only Nazi's but Christians and Muslims who have perpetrated and advanced anti-Semite beliefs for centuries.

But worse still, and worst of all, is that we have learnt nothing. The parallels between Nazi Germany and the conflicts of today, portrayed in the Crimes Against Humnaity films were the most disturbing thing of all.

Cambodia. Yugoslavia. Rwanda. Darfur.

I'm sorry for such a negative post. Well, negative or positive? It all depends on your point of view and what you choose to do with the knowledge you've obtained (or been reminded of) by reading this Blog today.

On to Thursday!! I have to make this part of the post upbeat; Ellie is insistent that the Mark and Ellie's Adventures Blog be entertaining so all our friends and family come back and read it and leave good comments! Ellie loves comments!! (If you can't read between the lines, leave some good comments, this means you! ;)(Hey Baby! xox)

So Thursday, Ellie and I did what is becoming a bit of a morning habit. Headed down to the Italian Coffee Company (which is actually an Italian pizza restaurant) for a coffee and a croissant. If you buy a large coffee there (and they make pretty good coffee) before 12pm you get a free croissant (pretty good croissant's too, baked on the premises!). So we had a coffee and a croissant, and then I walked Ellie to work, which takes a little under 30 minutes.

After dropping Ellie off, I wasn't sure what to do. I thought I might check out the British Museum which happens to be on the way, directly between our place and Ellie's work. I was keen to do an audio tour (self guided headphones type thing) of the Enlightenment Room. When I got there the exhibits were closed (they don't open before 10am, I've been to the museum a number of times after walking Ellie to work, so I knew this already) so I got a cappuccino and sat in the Great Court (see link for picture). The Great Court is amazing. The whole museum is worth looking at even if there was nothing in it. Amazing building. It's just awesome to sit in the Great Court and be in it. Sometimes I have a coffee there before everything opens to do just that.

(Going early, before the exhibits open is awesome because everything is just slowly building up to speed. Staff are cleaning and preparing. Early birds are planning their days and preparing. It's like getting up really early and watching a town wake up, and slowly come to life, except you don't have to be there till 9.30am. Perfect really! (All of you who know me well enough, I know you've been missing my stories so that was a little bit of MarkWorld for you. Otherwise known as a delightful detour through the mind of a genius.))

Onwards! So, the Enlightenment tour. I went to pick up the audio tour and decided to change my mind at the last moment and to the British Museum Self-Guided Highlights Audio Tour! This is a self guided audio tour of the highlights of the British Museum. Much like it sounds really.

So. Six-and-a-half-hours later!!! I finished the tour. I've come pretty darn close to seeing everything in the British Museum. Please note: Seeing. Not appreciating! I was traveling pretty fast through a lot of the museum, and about 3-4 rooms were closed for renovation. And keep in mind that I've been there a number of times previously so I've seen a lot of it before (I didn't even stop to breath at the huge Parthenon room).

At the end of it all: Wow! Amazing museum. Amazing!! I saw so much that I hadn't even contemplated before today. The four major cultures of Central America throughout the last three thousand years. The migration of Greeks to southern Italy and their influence on the Etruscans (early native Italians). The different forms and development of money throughout the centuries. The enormity and grandeur of Persepolis (capital of the ancient Persian empire). The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (a wonder of the ancient world). The native Americans of British Columbia. I can't even think of what else. African bronze working. Korean artworks and the influence of Confucius. Buddhist statues. Ancient palace gates. Winged bulls. Stuff I can't even remember the name of. I can't keep it all in my head.

I'm trying to think of more, but I just can't. So I'll name a tonne of other stuff that I saw that I did know about: The Rosetta Stone. Ramases II. Anglo-Saxon warriors. Greek mythology. Mummies. Swords. Scrolls. Pots. Pans. Spoons. Rocks. Ah, bugger I don't know. It's about 5 minutes to 1am. I can't think.

I hardly looked at the Asian and Eastern stuff. A quick run through, that was it. I'm keen to go back and look at it in more detail, and Ellie said she was too, so we'll probably go together. Should be good. The run free 30 minute short tours as well, so I plan to go back and join a few of those to see those things that I was interested in again. You'd think I was sick of the place, but it is really amazing. And free entry. Did I mention that?

(NB: You can do a virtual tour of the British Museum, just click here.)

So, when I left it was about time for Ellie to finish work. I was dead set exhausted. I walked to meet El at her work, and had a quick macchiato while I waited for her. After Ellie showed up, I suggested we go out for dinner. To Strada (see Ellie's post below).

Ellie and I went to Strada in Wimbledon Village last time we were here. It was awesome! This time, we had the exact same meal. The garlic bread was awesome, but I have to say the rest of the food was average. I'm writing it up as unimaginative and lacking soul.

Then we cruised on home and watched "Welcome to the Jungle" with The Rock (GO THE ROCK!!!). Heh heh. The British Museum followed by the Rock! What a combination.

NB I: This post is full of links to more information. Move your mouse over the text or click randomly for more information.

NB II: As we were cruising home (like most other times really) Ellie and I had so much fun, laughing and playing around. Ellie is so awesome, we have so much fun together.

"All that is needed for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

PPS. If you didn't know about Wikipedia, you sure as hell do now.

PPPS. I really hope you enjoy this post. It's now 10 minutes to 2am. As I said, Stick A Fork In Me ...


We had dinner at Strada tonight, for the first time since we've been back in London. That place is great. It's another chain of course, but they do some great food. We had the exact same thing as one of our last meals over here last time - some fantastic garlic and rosemary bread to start with, which was like pizza bread really but had some olive oil and sea salt on it too - so good!!! Then we had an appetiser of carpaccio, which is thin cured beef slices, with rocket, parmesan and olive oil. Also brilliant. Then we had a buffalo mozzarella pizza with tomato for the main course. I love buffalo mozzarella, it's the best thing ever. Such a good pizza... All washed down with a couple of glasses of Italian wine and beer for Mark. Oh yeah baby!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

the world's zaniest cafe stuff

The place we had our big breakfast at on Sunday had the most entertaining stuff ever. There were zany little signs everywhere (the 'closed' sign on the door said "shut happens"!), including on the saucers under the coffee cups - this is a pic of what it said.

And here is their napkin and biscuit. Sorry, their Stupid Little Biscuit!

OK, that's all, just thought these were cool...

Monday, 16 July 2007


Ducked down to Brighton on the weekend. We'd had very mixed reports of it beforehand - varying from 'super-cool' to 'super-tacky'. We got off the train there on Saturday morning and wandered down to the "beach". The "beach" was freezing cold, blusterily wind-swept, and made up of small boulders. There was a crazy old rusted metal ruin just off the beach - very picturesque - and the promenade thingy had a distinctly faded old-school tourist air about it.

But then after lunch when we had a tiny bit of sunshine, we got the hell away from that crap "beach" and went back from the coast a bit into these cool old little windy streets which actually had a bit of atmosphere and were pretty funky. We also checked out the Brighton Pier, which was just a big amusement park thingy that went way out to sea (and had one of the scariest evil take-you-up-into-the-air-and-drop-you-down-and-spin-you-around rides ever - made scarier by the fact that it's effectively out in the ocean...!), so that was kind of cool, but also a huge rip-off with all the total junk that you have to pay lots of money for. We also had a laugh at British surfing, which is apparently done in a 5 metre space between the pier and the jetty - here's a pic.

The we went to check in at the ugliest hotel ever built - a huge concrete block with ugly dribbly stains going down the outside, which also seemed to have the rudest hotel staff ever. We sure know how to pick em! And of course it costs 2.4 times as much for the rude concrete block over here as it does back home...

But after all this doom and gloom, we turned it around. It was a tough morning, so we had a fantastic nap for an hour or so. Yes, we do party hard. And then, we had a brilliant dinner and some drinks at Cafe Rouge (another restaurant chain, but pretty cool - cute little French vibe. The first pic above is from here.), and then we went to see Damien Rice, which was the whole point of coming to Brighton in the first place. And he was brilliant. I didn't take any photos, because (1) photography was banned, (2) stacks of other people were taking photos, despite (1), so I assume I will soon be able to find all their photos on flickr, and lastly (3) it was too good a gig and I couldn't be bothered stuffing around with the camera. Then we had some more drinks on the way home, which was also brilliant, for itself but also because we confirmed that we're addicted to travelling.

Then the next day we slept in (yes, we do party hard), went out for a long cruisy breakfast to read the paper delivered to our room that morning (note, NOT free despite the hefty price tag of the room!), which was pretty decent. Then we wandered around all the funky little shopping streets for a bit, revisited the "beach", which was actually a bit nicer in the sunshine and on a slightly warmer day (pics are from then, not yukky Saturday), and bummed around in a pub for a while. All of which was lovely and left us with much fuzzier feelings towards Brighton than the day before.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Black google - Blackle!

Check this out, it's cool! Some dude had an idea recently that because it takes (relatively) heaps more energy to display a white screen than it does a black screen, if Google had a black background instead of a white one it would save a fair whack of energy worldwide just because so many people use Google. So someone created Blackle - a custom search powered by Google but with a black background. Check it out - click here. There's a little link at the bottom called 'About Blackle' that explains it all too. The funny thing is that evidently someone's started the verb 'blackling' in the same way that there's a verb 'googling' already - eg "I'll blackle it and find out". Love it!! :)

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Hilarious Bergen street signs

Mark swears that he's going to post about Norway tonight, so I'll leave the serious post to him and put a zany post on - all the crazy street signs in Bergen!! Part of it is just bodgy translations (Norweglish??), and the rest is just that things are slightly different cos it's a different culture..

Here's the sign for our local Bergen Now Age Shop - except by the time we got into the shop it wouldn't be Now anymore, so what's the point?

This is the pedestrian crossing sign in Norway. I love it cos the little dude looks so shifty - like an old school spy with his trench coat and fedora. Mark was going to pose underneath the sign in the same shifty pose, but there were too many people around all the time...

And here's our local Netty Undertoy store - this is an underwear store, in case you can't see through the reflections on the window, that's why Mark's looking so happy standing in front of it...

This is technically not a crazy Bergen street sign, but it's still pretty funny - a travel agency ad.

And the last one is just for Ray...

And lastly, Mark's news of the moment is that he is anti-everything-i, except ipaqs. QED.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Tons of photos

Oh, and here is a link to my flickr site, where I'm putting all these photos up too. There are tons more photos up there from Norway, although we'll put more posts up on the blog to explain them all soon.

Here's the link: click here.


Well that was a fantastic weekend!! Despite us both having colds at various times over the weekend, my hearing disappearing in one ear after the flight over, me twisting my ankle, me booking $300 worth of tours for the wrong week, Sunday raining cats and dogs, Norway being so expensive that a bowl of wedges costs $40 AUD, and Mark nearly getting stuck in no-mans-land because customs wouldn't let him back into the country, we ended up having a brilliant holiday.

The fjords were amazing. Here are a couple of photos, but as usual they don't come anywhere near to capturing how stunning the place was when you're actually there.

And happy birthday to gorgeous Mark!! :) Although his birthday is on hold today until he's feeling better, then we're going out to celebrate :) Love you tons beautiful! :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

United Grand Lodge of England

Woke up this morning. Ellie was feeling sick. She said she was feeling ill last night, thought she might be coming down with the flu or a cold.

I went down to the super-market to buy Ellie some orange juice, and then past the chemist for some cold and flu tablets.

Ellie went back to bed, so I had a few cups of coffee, checked the papers (they are still trying to crucify Didak - tall poppy syndrome still at the forefront of the Australian psyche) and watched some tennis on the TV. I might do a poor-mans Wimbledon next week if it's still going. I don't know when it's supposed to finish.

After some lunch, I went out to visit the United Grand Lodge of England (the Freemasons Grand Lodge in England). Went into the museum and library. The building is quite spectacular, but there was lot of ... ah, decorative type stuff in the museum. As luch would have it I was just in time for the free guided tour. It was really good. The Grand Temple is AMAZING! It is massive inside. The entrance to the Grand Temple inside the lodge is through two one-and-a-half tonne bronze doors. The guide said they have not moved a mil since they were hung 70 years ago. Really amazing. And they open with just the push of a finger. Really amazing.

Inside the temple is full of all kinds of symbols and designs, all with allegorical meaning (hope that's proper english). So the temple/lodge was a big surprise. I just happened across it the other day, noticed it was free and thought I'd check it out. It was really good. I'm hoping I can take Ellie along for the tour soon.

After that, wandered down to the gym. Did some stuff. And wandered home.
Cooked dinner. And that's about all she wrote for today.

Tomorrow, if Ellie goes to work, I might go see Die Hard 4.0 and get a burger for lunch in a pre-birthday celebration. Then tomorrow night, We Fly To Bergen!!

Sick :P

Well somehow I've managed to get a cold - that's the second one since I left Australia less than 2 months ago - what's going on?? I'm blaming (1) the dodgy unhealthy food options over here, that force me to eat curry, pizza and burgers at the pub every night so my vitamin intake isn't up to scratch, and (2) crowded public transport in London, combined with (3) the appalling personal hygiene of Londoners, where they think covering their faces when they cough or sneeze is optional. And of course it happens right before we're flying over to Norway tomorrow, so I'll be nice and stuffed up when the plane goes up and comes down :P