Monday, 19 August 2013


So haven't been here for a while, and technically I have a lot of catching up to do - I haven't even uploaded pics from my final holidays onto Facebook! I have a post titled 'Goodbye England' that I haven't finished, and to be honest probably never will. But here is a video from a triathlon I did sometime after March 16th. I can't remember the exact date, but judging from the length of my hair, not long after!

I feature in the video quite a lot, at 3, 4, 5, 18 and 26 seconds! To get the video into this blog post I had to play around with html, even changing the height and width. Quite proud of my computer literacy, haha!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Butterflies, Birds and Beasts

On the 30th April I went to Earnley Butterflies and Gardens. They have a butterfly house, which is VERY warm, an aviary, with quite a few Aussie birds, including diamond doves (I used to have a pair for pets), and beasts! Although I don't know you can really call the likes of rabbits, turtles and guinea pigs beasts! They also have a maze garden with some pretty flowers in bloom. Here's some picture and videos from the day :) (yes I realise there is a lot of video, so pick and choose :) but I do recommend the feret, he looks just like one of those ferret on a ball toys, except no ball :P)

Giant Rabbit!!


Diamon Dove :)

Here's a giant rabbit

Here's the ferret :)

Beautiful Weather

Blue Sky!
Every now and again the UK does provide nice weather. We had one of the warmest Marches on record (followed by one of the coldest Aprils - go figure!?) so I took advantage of the sunshine and went to West Wittering - a sandy beach on Wednesday 28 March.

Not a cloud in the sky!
Some animal was making lots of these sand worm thingies
On Friday 30 March, M and I went to see the newborn lambs. They are sooo cute. While we were there a ewe was in labour, but somebody got bored (?!), so we (I) missed out on seeing a lamb being born :(
That's as much of the newborn lamb I got to see

A few hours old lamb

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

London Baby - yet again!

Nice sunset before going to see Legally
Claire and I arrived back in London from Iceland on Thursday 22nd March, where I got some trains and tubes to Colliers wood, where I met up with Vicki. We went to the library to find times for Legally Blonde for Sunday, but it turns out they have a day off on Sunday (how slack!?). So it meant I would have to go by myself. The next day I went to visit J, my previous client, as I had left my scales at her house. then it was off to see the show! It took a little while for me to warm up to it, but in the end I really enjoyed it - it was a lot of fun :)

On Saturday 24th I had a bit of a girly day - I got a haircut (just a trim) a new outfit (a dress, cos the weather was so nice! and some strappy shoes) and met up with Claire for a bit. After meeting up with Claire I got a 'facial'... at a Chinese herbal place. So first I got acupuncture. This was the first time I had had accupunture. The 'Doctor' put 8 needles in my face - which was alright, I didn't really feel anything. I was given a buzzer to use if I got uncomfortable. I wasn't sure how long the needles were supposed to be sticking out of my face, so after 30 minutes I thought it was long enough. I used the buzzer and the stupid thing didn't even work!! I had to get up off the bed, with the needles still in, and that was a little uncomfortable.

The acupuncture was followed by a face and full body massage - which was actually quite good :). I then had 'cupping' done, which is a really weird procedure where they used suction to stick cups to your back. I had a cough at the time, and the Dr said it would help clear me out. Vicki had had it done, so I thought why not. She said there was no point in having an actual facial, as my circulation was not great (but to be honest the massage was probably better then a facial anyway). Vicki ended up with great red circle bruises on her back, but mine only had slight bruising!

Sunday Vicki and I went to Kingston upon Thames (because it is along the Thames, funnily enough) where we did some shopping and went for lunch at a pub. The sun was shining, so I wore my new dress, even though it was probably still under 20C - oh how I've acclimatised! And that was my last day of freedom before going back to work on Monday 26th March...

Amazing Iceland - Trivia (plus some other musings)

Here's some trivia for you. Iceland has no McDonald's. Yes, that's right, not a single Macca's, or Mickey D's in sight. There used to be 3 McDonald's but it wasn't financially viable. It is very refreshing to go to a place that hasn't been overrun with big American corporations (Although in saying that KFC was still there, as well as Taco Bell!). It also means that you have to be a bit more adventurous with the foods you try.. although apparently Iceland also has Europe's best hotdog, so I suppose you can stick to 'safe' food if you want :P

Another surprising thing about Iceland is that besides Claire, I didn't see another single Aussie. On all the tours I've been, and all the other countries I've been to, I meet up with at least 50% Australians, sometimes even up to 90%. But not in Iceland. Granted we didn't do a tour, but we did go on day trips, and none of our room mates where Australian. We did meet lots of Germans over there, and quite a few Americans too, so it was nice to see a more multicultural spread of people.

As an Australian I get asked quite a lot by non-Australians why there as so many Aussies travelling around. My answer to which is because Australia is so friggen far away that when we come over here we do it right! We appreciate that Europe (and I suppose any where in the world really) is a long way to come. So we aren't just going to go away for a weekend. In fact most of the Aussie's I've met are travelling for a minimum of 2 months, with a lot working in London/around the UK. People also ask me why England? The answer to that is simple... They speak English, and it's close to Europe.

That is one of the disadvantages of living in Australia - we don't have the availability to just go to another country for the day or weekend. I suppose you could go somewhere in New Zealand, but it's expensive. Flights are so cheap around Europe, especially if you buy them far in advance or get them while they are sale. For example, one of the longest flights you will do between European destination is from London to Istanbul (4hrs). I found RETURN flights for £59 just now.. that's less than $95 (AUD). You fly from Brisbane to Perth (which apparently takes an hour less flying west to east), cheapest flights are £176, almost 3 times the price! We take advantage of those cheap flights!!

Another disadvantage of living in Aus, is that we don't have are large range of cultures... you can't drive for a few hours and end up in a country with a completely different culture or language to the one you just left. And that's what I like about Europe, there is so much to see, so much different stuff to see, and I want to see it all. You can't get that in Australia. Of course it is also possible to see too many cathedrals and castles...

So, this turned into slightly more then an Iceland post, but I've wanted to write about the influx of Australians in Europe... and the lack of Aussies in Iceland provided the perfect intro to that, so it fits - sort of.

Amazing Iceland - the Food Tour

Iceland is another place that needs it's own post for the food we ate... and we tried a lot of different and strange food. One thing I need to say first up though is that Iceland is NOT for vegetarians. We ate mostly meat, with a little bit of potato the whole time we were there!

The dark meat is whale, the one with
the pale sauce is lamb
Our first meal on the food tour was after we visited the Blue Lagoon. We went looking for a place and came across 'Paris Bistro'. I think the theme is Icelandic with a French twist, rather then a French restaurant... after all, I don't think you will come across whale (yes, you read that right) in Paris! We shared a portion of Minke whale, and the Icelandic version of surf n' turf - Icelandic lamb and lobster tail. I must say I quite enjoyed the whale. It is a very dark meat, and reminded me of kangaroo (however less... earthy). The lobster tails and lamb were yummy too, however I did think that the lamb was a bit too rare - the bits that would more well done were much more tender and nicer. 

Now before you say how horrible it is that I ate whale, here is a comment that Sjon from Iceland wrote on the topic of whaling on another blog site:

I don’t know how i came to this site but I am glad I did. I am Icelandic and want to say something about Icelandic whaling.
I eat whale and love minke whale stake like almost everyone I know. Many things you read about whaling is so far from the truth and just for example we are 320.000 in whole Iceland and Sea Shepherd has 380.000 fans on facebook so go figure were almost everyone get the information from.
In the Icelandic EEZ (200miles) we have over 500.0000 whales and we hunt 52 a year and its local commercial whaling we do not sell minke whale out of the country. All of it ends up in Iceland.
We have been eating whale since we came to the island in 874 and an old saying is Hvalreki that means a whale that swim to the beach as a free food so Hvalreki means to get lucky. The oldest law we get on whaling is since 1261.
Whale meat is one of the healthiest meat you can put in your body. Low on fat and a lot of protein as seen here
I will not tell a tourist to eat whale meat as I dont know were they stand on whaling. I dont want to be unrespecful and offer them something they dont want to eat. But if they do then fine. There is nothing wrong eating whale and dont get me wrong I love whale and think they are nice to have around and I will not eat the last whale. They are cute and they are big but for me they are food source like chicken, pigs, sheeps and cows and they are factory making them. Good to see so many comments from people with open mind and go with their gut feeling on the matter not what is forced up on them by others. 

As you can see they only hunt 52 whales a year, compare that to Japan, where they hunt THOUSANDS a year, and it's not so bad... And now that I've tried whale, to be honest I don't think I would eat it again, even though I did like it, because yes, I do realise they are whales.

Clean plates

Putrified shark
After the Pearl tour we went to an Icelandic Bar (in fact I think it was called Icelandic Bar) and tried more weird and wonderful food. Here we had something called Hákarl, puffin, Icelandic lamb shank and reindeer burger. For those of you who don't know, Harkarl is often referred to as putrified shark, and it is ABSOULTELY. COMPLETELY. DISGUSTING. I took a swig of (Icelandic) beer before putting the 1cm cube of grossness in my mouth. The texture is chewy, and as I chewed the taste of beer was replaced by a rotten, fowl taste. Eventually the taste got that bad you had only 2 choices... swallow it whole, or spit it out. Both Claire and I were brave and swallowed it, but I will never again have Harkarl.

Cheers?! Looking a little worried..
You're supposed to wash it down with Brennivin, also know as black death, but we didn't have it that night. We had the Brennivin shot after I got back from diving, to help warm me up. I was expecting it to taste horrible, but I actually like it. I even bought a small bottle at the airport on the way home, duty free of course. Why wouldn't you, when the whole bottle was approximately the same price as a single shot in a bar!

The Puffin was nice, again a very dark meat, like kangaroo. The lamb shank was also nice, when you could actually get to the meat. I don't think it was slow cooked, as it did not fall off the bone like it should. The fat hadn't been rendered, or whatever the term is, and was still tough and chewy. I've had reindeer before, and the burger was yummy.


Much better then the shark
The next night, after diving the Silfra, we ran into Amanda, who had gone on the Pearl Tour with us. Amanda also has a travel blog, however she makes money from hers! You can see it here (that's her Iceland food blog post). We invited her to join us for dinner, where we went to a place called the Sea Baron, which sells mainly seafood (Everything is seafood, except for potatoes and drinks!) We share between the three of us: prawns, scallops, salmon redfish, and some potatoes. It was all so fresh and delicious, espeically the scallops and salmon. The lady who was serving forgot our redfish, but she was busy and very apologetic when she found out. She offered Claire some free potatoes or prawns. The spuds were 200ISK, while the prawns were 12 or 1400ISK, so she opted for the free potatoes, which I would have done too, as the lady felt so bad about forgetting our food, which was easily done.

While we were waiting for our dinner this little old man, who I think was the own, and spoke very limited English came around offereing some 'Moby Dick'. Now after the fermented shark you would think I could eat anything - but not this! The texture was all wrong, and it was white, so while I think I was eating whale it wasn't like the whale I was eating before. I think it was maybe blubber?! but the fact that I didn't actually know what it was certainly didn't help. So I ended up only taking the tiniest of nibbles, and couldn't stomach the rest!

Our last night in Iceland we ended up going to a Tapas bar - again Icelandic food, some with a Mexican/Spanish twist. We had a variety of food and I will order them from least favourite to most favourite:
  • Salmon Creviche - I love salmon, but not when it is raw. I had raw salmon sushi for the first time at the Blue Lagoon, and it didn't do much for me either. Cooked or smoked please!
  • Marinated lamb with liquorice sauce
  • Smoked puffin with blueberry - along with the lamb, they were both nice, but not my favourites
  • Sweet potato and chorizo - anything with chorizo is bound to taste nice!
  • Calamari rings
  • Scallops and dates wrapped in proscuitto - tied with the calamari rings. Both tasty :)
  • Lobster tails with garlic crumb - O.M.G. these were DELICIOUS!!! They were sooo good, it's a shame we had to share them...
We also shared a jug of passionfruit sangria which was yummy. Unfortunately no photos of all the yummy food :( But if you have a look at Amanda's blog, she has some pics of the smoked puffin and lobster tails :)

And that concludes the Iceland food tour. I tried many things, including some things I've never seen alive (I don't if that makes it better or worse :S), and enjoyed most of what I ate.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Amazing Iceland - Caving and Reykjavik

Had to wear hats and headlights
Our last full day in Iceland, Wednesday 21st March, we went caving in the lava tubes. It was pretty cool - we had to climb through a snow covered entrance, and there were icicles hanging off the roof. Although, they were starting to melt. It would have been amazing to see what the caves would be like in the middle of winter.

Going down!

Some poor sheep made it in...

Lava turd. hehehe

Climbing back out

Friendly kitty - love the bandana!
That afternoon we had spare, so we spent a bit of time exploring Reykjavik. It's a small town, but very pretty. We met a friendly ginger cat, who decided to follow us for a bit. She even followed us up the stairs to the little cafe where we had lunch - naughty thing!

The church

Beautiful afternoon in Reykjavik

The Glass panels of the Entertainment Centre

Sun halo :)

Giant puffin!!

This ring is practical... if you've forgotten your cup

Reykjavik Harbour

After dinner (more about that in the food tour post, coming soon!) we went back to the hotel to get ready for the early pick-up (5.30am) the next morning for our flight back to London. And sadly our time in Iceland was over :( It was one of my favourite holidays though, and I would love to go back and explore more of Iceland - there is lots more to see and do. I'd especially love to see Iceland in the summer, with it's extra long daylight hours, and when the puffins come! If you're ever over Europe way, I would definitely recommend a stop in Iceland, it is well worth it!!