Singapore

From London to Singapore. We were so looking forward to the flight experience. Singapore Airlines, amazing service, lovely wine that we have not had for ages, and the sense that our trip was coming to an end, like sliding into your couch by the warm fire burning, with a hot face from being being out in the southerly cold wind for a day. I am sorry if some wouldn’t understand, but it is how I see it. The thought of going into another warmish place before being exposed to the New Zealand blast of winter that sounds like has finally hit, was very appealing.

Well, Singapore….. Amazing Experience!. And having ticked off all the big cities, this one certainly takes the cake, so to speak.

Ast have been there many, many years ago, and it was then that the real Singapore existed.
Some photos to try and give you the feel of the change.

 

A bit of the history

A bit of the history

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Development in reclaming of the land

Development in reclaming of the land

So, you get the feeling of the huge, amazing thing that has been done here.  This is the old Singapore that Ast saw when he was there last.

Old Singapore when they lived by the river and fished

Old Singapore when they lived by the river and fished

Then when we got there, we saw this: !!!

Singapore in this century

Singapore in this century

And just to show you that I can take photos like this, this one is actually mine.

Singapore in 2014 Marina Bay

Singapore in 2014
Marina Bay

What do you think?  Amazing.  We stayed in a hotel complex, fully equipped with a shopping mall, with heap of restaurants, and stuff.  European stuff.  To go out for a drink and something to eat the first night we were there, we walked from where this photo was taken, our hotel, to the other side of the Marina, the left edge of the photo.  A glass of wine was priced off the table, and a bottle started at $100.  Scary stuff.  How are we going to survive here for three days we wondered.  The evening walk was great, and even better the hotel bed.!!!  Night night.  Tell you more tomorrow. (oh, Breakfast included in the rental here!)

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London

London.

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Transport experience:
We last came to London two years ago, and my memories are of rushing down the royal mile, so fast, that fotos were out of the question.

This time we have had five nights here, and in that time we both can say that although London is not the place where we would like to love, we could live here and get around the transport system. We feel really chuffed, and understand if nobody else can appreciate it.

The underground is an amazing system, and I lift my hat off to the techno person(s) that thought up of this.

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All our travel in London experience was sprinkled with meeting up with people at certain destinations. Up in the morning with the prepared plan the night before over a meal, and away we went. The watch lined up with the sun scenario was not used here, but you did have to know where North was, as there are North and  south bound descriptions inside the underground. (Still don’t get that bit of it, but the signs tell you if you have made a mistake). The other thing that you get a feel for, is the times of day to avoid traveling if you are just a visitor. After work is sardine tuna tubes. Seriously major avoidance strategies to be employed at the peak hours between 4.30 and 6.00pm. And I suspect first thing in the morning, we didn’t get tangled there though. Our trip to Heathrow airport was planned to avoid the major junctions like the Victoria one at the lunchtime period. The route was pain free, and my bag wheels lasted the distance.

The unwritten train rules:eyes directed and peoples shoes, keep you space to yourself, no verbal interchange to pass by the time, and smile but don’t expect it to be returned. And the most important one, you must wear white apple ear plugs in your ears, with the little inbuilt speaker, ……. Part of the kit.

Oyster card., pre loaded with rail and road miles, provides you with stress free travel and actually works out cheaper in the long run. By 2 July, there will be no money exchanged on the train and buses, for ticket purchases. So best to adapt now.

The area that we stayed in is Homerton, a lower socioeconomic part of London, which now looking back was a great experience. You can see how the population slowly changed form the street shopping Oxford earners to the benefit livers at the other end.

Homerton stay

Homerton stay

One late nite from a stage production at Victoria theatre, at the Homerton station exit, a lady bailed me up and asked me if I was okay. I replied that I was waiting for my husband in the dairy. She said ” that’s okay, but don’t fuck around in this part of the neighbourhood on your own”! My first impression that people in this area are fitting for survival in any way that they can. The walk back was in half the time than normal! Ast just read In the paper that 52% of the UK population are getting more from the state than laying in tax. !!
Another fact: the royal family don’t pay tax! How do they not?
Another one: set aside: is where the UK government stopped people from producing from the land. Was abolished completely in 2004.

Richmond park was an experience. High in the southern end of London, we could look back and see the London eye and the city! Amazing. Red deer occupied the park, and the walkways and roads supported cyclists and cars that were only allowed a 20mph speed. When we went there with a friend, we we’re talk how the park is owned by the royals, and we are allowed to enjoy the pleasure of walking I. The park. I think that a lot of London parks are lent back to the mere mortals. I am not sure I would live well bowing to royalty here. Everywhere you look there are the royal symbols, Westminster abbey, church, cathedral , the palace, the royal drive, the horses, the list never ends. Perhaps if I was born here, I would have a different attitude. Who knows. Kingston, a lovely city. A good place to commute from, as the train station is right there and accessible right to the middle of London. Lovely huuuuge department stores, that go up five and six levels and the rest. Who needs to go into Oxford street!!!!
The Thames is the major attraction is this place, river cruises from one end of the city to the other, where Hampton court is situated. We never went in, but did go around the gardens, the veggie garden: amazing. Can see this being appealing to Waipukurau and surrounding villages!

 
The surrounding gardens were locked in by a huge stone wall all the way around the estate. A hive of activity as a little way down they were preparing for a garden show of some sort, so the part that had deer roaming around seemed slightly out out as they took refuge from the traffic coming and going, under the trees out of the road. It is still amazing how in the middle of the busiest country in the world they have parks with live deer running around. (All lent to by royalty).

Ast found his cigar case in Victoria , and I got a pair of shoes. These are our treats from London. And the view over the London countryside.
The Billie Elliot show was great. Not quite the explosion of vocal singing glory, but the story line,message, and amazing dancing skills bought its own power to the stage. A bit of a tear jerker for Ast.

As we leave London and all it’s activities, I am impressed that people can operate in this hub. The London news will take on a different flavour on the TV news now. And looking forward to some Wimbledon news, which there seems to be little of.

Some flavours of London, sorry but all the thousands of photos can’t be shared here. There are just so many.

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Buildings, churches, and me and Nelson Mandela.

Will keep adding to this post well after I get home, so don’t go away just yet.

Porthleven-best laid plans

So, as I was saying the plan was to go and get to a Europ car rental office and extend our rental and then head to St Ives for an explore.

We drove into the south east corner of Cornwall, Faulmouth, where Caleb had identified a Europcar agent. Perfect.  Stopped to phone the Faulmouth agent, and was told to phone the original agent that we got the car from to do a longer rental. (All this on cell fone). We told them couldn’t do that. They were foning is back.  Went to restart the car and nothing. Long story short, got towed to the Faulmouth agent, swapped cars, and then continued our journey to St Ives for the pm walk, if you can’t get success from phoning the agency, phone the breakdown people, and they tow you to the company!

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Discussing car issues

Our tow tow truck in Faulmouth

Our tow truck in Faulmouth

fish and chips on the shore at St Ives and a stroll through the shops.  Very touristy, and full of people. Nice for a bit, but soon over it.

Fish and chips at St Ives

Fish and chips at St Ives

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back home tired and hungry for a meal.  Salad and potatoes I think.

I am not sure boys ever  stop playing  in rock pools!

I am not sure boys ever
stop playing in rock pools!

the rest of the days was, strolling in the villages, photo taking, and just resting.  We had a lovely meal in a restaurant the last nite there, seafood and treats.

Nice to dress up really.   All set for an early start tomorrow, heading up to Bath and then London.

Last nights meal.

Last nights meal.

Porthleven – more – (16 – 19 June)

I am fully aware that I cannot post enough photos on this beautiful place to show you, you must all go and visit it

It is made up of locals that were born here or their family was.  The community was a fishing, coaL, net making place long, long time ago.  It is so lovely how the harbour is the centre, every day the huge tides of at least four and a half meters, leave the boats high and dry on the bottom.

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we were chatting to a fisherman that was on his boat cleaning fish on evening.  One success story of my inquisitiveness. Not really taking anybody fishing while we were here he relented, and promised to take is out the following evening fishing!!! (The boat we went out in is the one against the wall) we had to hang around eating fish and chips and a beer, till the tide came in.  Was the night England played its second game, and lost! So a few people in the pub that night. Scheduled to

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Porthleven from the fishing boat

Porthleven from the fishing boat

 

leave at seven, left at eight thirty and back by nine thirty.  Cold, but having seen the sunset.

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And having caught these fish. So much fun.  And he earnt sixty five pounds cash!

So, the next day we headed St Ives, the cornwall St Ives.  We had a plan, and it sort of happened, but not the way we had planned….

 

 

…….Porthleven ………..

First a Wikipedia version on this lovely place.

Porthleven is a town, civil parish and fishing port near Helston in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is the most southerly port on the island of Great Britain,[1] and was originally developed as a harbour of refuge, when this part of the Cornish coastline was recognised as a black spot for wrecks in days of sail. Nearby Loe Bar was particularly infamous, with swimmers and surfers being warned off the area to this day.

This is is a posting that I will find hard to explain.  It was a beautiful experience staying here.  We arrived about four in the afternoon, found out rental, and waited for instructions to get the key to unlock.

Parked the car at the rental, and walked across the harbour to a lovely busy pub, sitting on the sunny so de of the harbour. A few beers and a glass of wine, and a introduction to the locals, passed a couple of hours there while we waited for the instructions.

when we finally got the instructions, and unlocked, what a. Lovely surprise.  A. Lovely clean and welcoming place’ with the whole down stairs dedicated to an open plan living area,and two bedrooms upstairs, with a bathroom and toilet for each bedroom. Carpeted and warm.  I really did want to climb into the lovely bed right there and then!

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Cornwall – Bath – Porthleven, Penzants, St Ives …

The river Thames outside our Bath accomodation.

The river Thames outside our Bath accomodation.

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Monday morning 16th, Ast and I headed off, heading down to Bath to visit a friend of asts.
Caleb stayed behind with Becca who was poorly due to a tummy bug. Hopefully just a 24 hour one.

Drove on feeling confident with the GPS of Calebs and Becca’s. We can go ANYWHERE now!!!! (Mmmmmmm)

River Avon

River Avon

Got ourselves to Bath, prebooked hotel, with half an arms length all around the double bed, and a small toilet/shower. Made for little people perhaps? A twenty minute bus trip into Bath and back costs £14. Cheated!!!! Nice dinner, photos of churches and the Avon river going through Bath. Pretty . Soccer celebrations in pubs as another game is being played.

The  entrance to the Roman Baths

The entrance to the Roman Baths

Back at the weeny motel, tried to speed google an hour/£2 of accomodation and addresses for the rest of the week. Achieved nothing. Try again tomorrow . Shower anyone? Cold, stone cold. This accomodation experience on Trip Advisor is going to get a fat zero.

Headed into bath, that evening for something to eat. It was lovely to have empty streets, the footpaths seems so large and clean. The buildings are very, very old, lovely history, such that I have never experienced before. want to see heaps more, so planning to come back with Caleb tomorrow. After we get him of the train. Exciting.

Caught up with an old friend of Asts the next morning before heading off to Bristol to pick up Caleb of the train. Nice to meet Kevin, who is in good form, a plumber in Bath, with lots of work. After going over old memories of life on the farm when Asts kids were little, he filled us in on the general feeling of the surrounding are. He is in a slightly insular environment, work wise, so not feeling the recession as much as the rest of the country. Nice for him. We left for the train station, with thoughts of seeing him again before we headed out of the area.

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Getting to a train station should be easy with a GPS. But, when the silly machine doesn’t like the address that we punch in, or the roads have changed, or the postcode doesn’t match, there is absolutely nothing you can do. The absolute test of patience and holding of the tongue tested in me. With the help of Caleb on the other end of the cell fone, and reading the sun by Asts faithful watch, we got there. Not our fault the train station added a new bit, and the car machine wasn’t told of the alterations!!!! Point to self: Get postcodes for all destinations, as the machine operates best with that info.

I was extremely happy to relinquish my seat in the front of the car to Caleb, hand him the GPS, and catch up on iPad notes as we drove out of Bristol and down to our next stay in Prothleven. I feel a rest for a few days, coming on.

Bath Cathedral in the square.

Bath Abbey, next to the Roman Baths in Bath

Saint Ives – continued……

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Remember when I said that going to church was out of the question for my crew?  Well, the UK Father’s Day, the Sunday, we headed out to Ely Cathedral. Quite a sad history, but here is a bit of it here. ( extracts taken from :  – http://www.elycathedral.org/history-heritage/the-story-of-ely-cathedral)

Etheldred, (d.679), queen, foundress and abbess of Ely. At an early age she was married (c.652) to Tondberht, but she remained a virgin. On his death, c.655, she retired to the Isle of Ely, her dowry. In 660, for political reasons, she was married to Egfrith, the young king who was then only 15 years old, and several years younger than her. He agreed that she should remain a virgin, as in her previous marriage, but 12 years later he wished their marital relationship to be normal. Etheldred refused and left him and became a nun and founded a double monastery at Ely in 673. Etheldreda restored an old church at Ely, reputedly destroyed by Penda, pagan king of the Mercians, and built her monastery on the site of what is now Ely Cathedral. After its restoration in 970 by Ethelwold it became the richest abbey in England except for Glastonbury.

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So it was this beautiful Cathedral with its rich history that we visited.

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So there you have it. A visit to a Cathedral. And the strange thing is that it was the topic of contemplation and discussion for the next few days. In fact, I am finishing this post a while later, and yesterday, Caleb and Ast had another encounter with the church. And all I did was go to the toilet for a second…..tell you later.

Saint Ives- Caleb and Becca’s house

Headed down to Caleb spot, Warboys, St Ives, Cambridge areas.

imageDome vehicle of Caleb's

Priced train verses rental car from Endinborough, it was a no brainer to take the rental car. 300 pounds per person one way to Huntington. Five and a half hours drive, the road is a major highway, the A1, a lovely drive, though sometimes it was frustrating that I couldn’t see over the prickly hedge that lined the paddocks. Why do they continue to plant these hedges instead of the lovely pittas that we have.

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Arrived to Caleb and Beccas house in St Ives. Blown away by the whole experience. A beautiful town, 1000 years old, having boasted 64 pubs at one stage. It is full of churches, which we heard this morning. Bells ringing through the air for at least an hour. My house hold not keen to experience the inside of the churches, never mind.

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The first nite we arrived the kids took us for a walk, their cottage is literally one street back from the Main Street, so divine. Walked down to the centre.

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“Built on the banks of the wide River Great Ouse between Huntingdon and Ely, St Ives has a famous chapel on its bridge. In the Anglo-Saxon era, St Ives’s position on the river Great Ouse was strategic, as it controlled the last natural crossing point or ford on the river, 80 kilometres (50 mi) from the sea. The flint reef in the bed of the river at this point gave rise to a ford, which then provided the foundations for the celebrated bridge.” (Extracted from Wikipedia )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Ives,_Cambridgeshire

The people all seem to be in holiday mode, long boats on the river, just parked up, taking in the atmosphere. Bakeries, supermarkets, shops street after street.

 

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Scotland – where it never gets dark – (5 – 11 June)

 

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What an experience at Camusrory Estate, down the Loch of Nevis, Scotland. Six days have just flown by. Stayed on a little lodge right next door Tane and Danni’s house. Lovely warm and snuggy situation. All the accomodation has central heating, diesel generated machines, from which is all power and electricity come from. The drive in was by ferry, three hours down the Loch, then Tane picks us up in an inflatable, a fifteen minute ride up the Loch Nevis itself to the estate. Now, where did I see the last dairy?

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The Estate has a large double storey house on it, and sits facing the west, looking right down the opening of the Loch. Amazing English charm on the inside, very comfortable, I can see why they love coming here, even if the weather is inclement. We saw some amazing sun sets.

View down the loch

Tane is in charge of maintanence and setting tasks for the days. A huge workshop has all the tools needed. And because going to “town” is once, maybe twice a week, you have to be well stocked. And well stocked they are. Danny is in control of the cooking, along side of chefs in the busy times. She has an inventory of all the food stocks, and re stocks shelves when needed from a store room full of provisions. She is learning the art of cookings and timing of foods and does an amazing job. Fresh pressed linen are on all the beds for the guests. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared by Danni – ( and chef in the height of the season).

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We did an amazing five hour walk the second day we were there, absolutely the best way to see the country. Apparently a helicopter had spotted a tent a couple of weeks before, and although nobody had been reported missing, it was worth checking it out. We found no tent, so they must have moved on. There are a lot of walkers thought the area, and although the jetty in Camusrory is private, you get the odd drop offs of people.  No sign of deer, which was disappointing.  Just these little ones,……..

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All the staff have radios, and an alert beacon, which is hooked up to the helicopter. Peace of mind for me the mother!

Now the unpleasant side effects of being is a beautiful spot. Ticks and midgies! Mmmmmm. My daughter quietly said, ” mum, there are these things, ticks. They are okay, just don’t try and full them out by hand”. Great, thnks. Spend the next few days fearful of this burrowing ” thing”. Watched the kids extract one out of dan one day with a special tool that one hooks the little beast with then turns and turns, to make them dizzy. Then out it pops. Engorged with blood. When I got one, found on my ankle in the bath one evening, I was excited!!!! From being scared to ‘ amazed’. Just like the size of a flea, a bit itchy, but well healed into sucking my blood. Ast twisted it out, and “bobs you uncle” another experience done and dusted. Very pleased with myself.

Midgies, another thing. After about three in the afternoon, invasion. Up your nose, in your ears, in your hair…… And apart from stopping work, and going to have a cuppa inside, there is nothing you can do. Don”t think I dan hack being Scottish.

Amongst the trials of day to day living, Ast and I managed to repair a brick wall, paint and internal wall for the kids, and plaster a concrete internal lounge wall, (for the kids). Fun. Oh , and take the bottom of a door.
Caleb ……. Well, we know where Caleb ended up. The workshop of course! Repairs, bring them in. Especially greasy ones! Yuck! But he is so good at them.

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Fishing: nothing. The last generations have managed to fish out the entire lochs. A few scalls if you want to dive for them and you can pot for Crays and languastien (like large prawns). Otherwise nothing else.
Game: well the five hour walk produced no sign of deer. And there are the odd wild sheep from next door, and a couple of pigs that the kids are fattening for the pot in a couple of weeks. Tane keen to get a hold of Scottish highland cattle, as they have a walled off paddock that was left by the crofters way back. Good idea.

Our chef, Danni produced lovely chowder, to die for. Muscles in a tomatoe saucy juice, amazing,and lots of other delishious tucker. We have eaten like kings for the whole time we were there. Priceless.

Evenings were spent preparing food, showering, checking emails,( there was connectivity) and the occasional TV.

Bed…. Well it never gets dark here, so bed? Twighlight at three in the morning and dawn at four. Just as well I am no tying to put Jasper and Olive to bed!!!!

I cannot jot enough down to describe the amazing experience. You will just have to go and have a taste yourselves.

THANKS DANNI AND TANE. AN EXPERIENCE WE WOULD NEVER HAVE HAD EVER.