01.08.2011 - 19.09.2011 22 °C
i left this at the end of my visit to Germany almost 2 months ago - and i have been on the road most of the time since. From there i'd spent 2 weeks in Zurich, Switzerland, nothing exciting to report as i was staying with my mum's cousin just to stop and work out my next plan of action. I did go to the Lindt outlet (no factory tours there anymore) and buy too much, most of which i have managed to give away. A day trip south to Lugano which is in the Italian speaking part. The highlight was going through the Gotthard Tunnel. Well i'm told it's a MAJOR engineering feat - hard to appreciate as when you're in a tunnel you can't see anything, but the views and infrastructure around the landscape leading up to it was quite impressive.
From Switzerland i did a 1 day/1 night stop at the house in Laives to pick up the majority of my belongings since i was going to England and didn't intend on going back to the family's house there. N & F and the kids were away for a few days so MaryVon and Bernard picked me up in Chalon and took me to the house, stayed the night with me and took me back to the station to get my TGV the next day. I was so so happy that was the arrangement. Just preferred to see and spend time with them - my favourite people in France - rather than N & F.
As it turns out i couldn't fit all my stuff in my bags (i really didn't buy that much, i'm sure... ) and i didn't say a proper goodbye when i went on the '1 week holiday' end of July so i do have to return to see them, collect and probably post stuff home.
Arriving in London was then quite a relief. My bro John was there, just finishing a Contiki of Europe and about to begin another small tour of Ireland so he met me at St Pancras station and we had about an hour to catch up before he left. I was up til after midnight at the student residence in South Kensington that night waiting for Mum to arrive on her flight from Perth due to the plane being delayed several hours at Singapore.
Just over 2 weeks followed of sightseeing some more of London with mum. I learned i can be quite an impatient person. One becomes a bit selfish travelling alone for so long and since we were walking everywhere i did get frustrated at mum's slow walking! Mental note not to get impatient especially with one's close family.
My cousin's wedding at Bournemouth was great, mainly because we splashed out on a room at the Marriott overlooking the sea where the wedding was taking place, and family we never see descended on the hotel also so we had a good catch up.
The ceremony itself? Umm, interesting...
It was my cousin Tim getting married to an English girl. She was lovely but i thought it odd that she had 5 bridesmaids and Tim only had a best-man but apparently they dont need to match the numbers on the bride and grooms sides. The brides dress was beautiful. Outside of that i don't have many positive things to say. And as far as the other guest go - For those of you who watch british comedy think a step above Vicky and her mates. I'm sure they weren't all like that but really, post-ceremony, when called to the reception room to greet the happy couple and their parents, its not nice to be passing the bridesmaids leaning against the wall right outside the door having a fag and a can of beer in the other hand.
Mum and John flew out on the 7th Sept for Perth and i was on my own again. I did find a property on the help exchange website to stay at where i lived in a little caravan next to the house on a small farm. It was cosy, 1970's fit out complete with ripped lino, wallpaper and a musty smell, but i don't know caravan's any other way and it was clean and better than some backpacker dorm's i've stayed in !
So this was up in Suffolk area, outside the little village of Bardwell. The family was lovely, 3 funny boys aged between 9-12 and very christian. But not in an 'in-your-face-way' so it was fine. For a week i helped in the vege garden and to milk goats and make goats cheese (yes, again) - this time actually milking the goats, Holly, Snowdrop and Mara by hand. It's take quite a while to get the hang of it since all the goats needed a different technique but by the end of the week i was a lot quicker and they were lovely-natured patient animals. Picking wild blackberries, apples and pears was a bonus too and i am still not sick of fresh berries!!!
on the Saturday i was with them we drove out to a country fair at Sandringham. That was very country but entertaining enough, how i imagine the Perth Royal Show was when it was about the farmers and agriculture not the rides and showbags.
A few nights stay after that stint with a family friend near London then a day on the coach to get from London to Paris on Saturday 17th Sep. That was the most interesting coach journey i've ever had thanks to getting chatting to this Brazilian person with some smart and deep perspectives on life. Did reassure me that i'm not just meandering through life and the last 6 months may just bring around the experience, lessons and eventual contentment I've been looking for.
I then had 2 nights and day to myself in Paris (walking, looking, listening... that's how i like to do Paris) until Monday morning when i practically RAN to the train station to go to the airport to collect my friend Sara from her Perth flight. I did not even sleep the previous night with anticipation of her arrival. Some company again !!! And a carefully not-too-planned 3 week tour of 4 countries with someone to share it with.
So Monday Sara got a decent whole day tour of many main sights in Paris, and boy are we on the road to fitness with the km's walked! Monday night an overnight train to Rome which i loved, a nicer compartment than previous sleeper trains i've done and was just rocked to a deep sleep with the motion.