Monday, December 05, 2005

Edinburgh weekend

Well it is all gearing up towards Christmas here. The days are getting shorter, there are Christmas lights up in town and the shops are manic! It is certainly a different Christmas here than in Australia.

Last weekend Chris and I went to Edinburgh. On the Friday night we met up with Nita and her sister Sarah who was visiting, and some Canadian friends of Chris's. We saw the Geordie (Newcastle) comedian Ross Noble. Very funny show. Nita and Sarah caught the bus back to Glasgow at 1am as they were off to Chile the next day. We had a few drinks in a pub called the Conan Doyle and tried to understand some Scottish accents.. They are so hard to understand!

Chris and I stayed at his Canadian friends place quite near the town. Chris met them on his bus about trip.

On Saturday we went to Edinburgh castle. Very impressive. It did cost a bit to get in (10pounds each!) but there was loads in there - some interesting war museums and some national jewels. Pity the weather was quite miserable! To warm ourselves up after the castle we went to an awesome cafe called Plasir du Chocolat. We had some amazing hot chocolates and incredible cake that was layers of meringue and chocolate mousse... Just the thing you need on a wet Scottish day!

We had a quite night in that night with a few bottles of wine and some yummy pasta. Before we left on Sunday we checked out the German Christmas markets. Chris of course sampled some german sausages.

There are some pics attached of Chris and I at the castle with the view of Edinburgh behind us.

Also attached is a picture of me and my house mate Gez dressed up at a 60's/70's party. I'm dressed up as Daphne and Gez is Velma from Scooby doo! I won best dressed at the party, hilarious.

Nicole (from the circus) is coming up next weekend and I'm most excited.

Chris is staying with me till the beginning of February. He managed to get his old job back but is getting paid about double what he was being paid before - nice work there. His work is 3 minutes work from my house, and he is helping to develop an online ordering system website for a shop called Ann Summers, which sells lingere. Poor him ;)

It is great to have him back here again, although the next month and a bit will go super quick! Christmas (lancashire) and New Year (Edinburgh) and then I picked up a 10pound return flight to Dublin so Chris and I are going there in early January, then the weekend after that I'm off to Berlin! A real jet setter over the next month. That is the great think about living in England, there are so many awesome places to visit near by, And of course England is a lovely place, but it does have terrible weather.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

castles and the cold

I'm getting back into real life and Italy is seeming a long time ago. I'm also got more over my compulsion to jump on the next plane and continue travelling! Well, the idea does pop into my head occasionally, but I am enjoying just being in one place with familiar people and things around me.

It has got really cold here. Tonight it will be below zero and I can't go out of the couse with out about 4 layers of clothing along with a scarf and gloves. Montreal was cold, with snow all the time and everything, but it really does feel colder here, with the strong cold wind and the dampness. Fingers crossed I survive the winter without too much trouble!

There is an ice rink in the square outside my work. Very fun to watch people gliding (well more wobbling) around in circles. I'll have a go soon, with some spare clothes in case I stack it!

On the weekend my old house mate Ken took me, Baz and his girlfriend for a drive in the countryside up the coast to Bamburgh Castle. It is very pretty up there, a castle over looking a white sandy beach and out the the farne islands. We had a pub lunch to prepare us for the cold, checked out the very old chruch where apprently St Aiden died (they have the cross beams that he apprently died on in the church), and looked at the graveyard because Ken is a stone mason and had carved many of the new headstones. Random I know.

We went for a bit of a walk along the beach by the castle. Not for too long though as it was so cold! In the picture you can see the sand being blown along the beach like mist.

On the drive home we stopped in Alnwick to go to Grannies Tea Room. We had visited Grannie's on the first drive we went on with Ken so the picture of him and me with our lovely english tea might look a bit familiar.. This time though that had scones so we had a proper english afternoon tea with scones, very quaint.

Chris arrives back in Newcastle on Friday! Hooray! Will be so good to see him after his travels around Europe. It has been almost 6 months since he left. He's not sure where he'll stay for the next 3 months, but fingers crossed he gets a job in Newcastle so he can stay here with me.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some questions...

An email quiz...

1. Time of starting this test? 7.59pm, Sunday November 6.

2. Were you named after anyone? No

3. Do you wish on stars? Shooting ones yes

4. When did you last cry? can't remember

5. Do you like your handwriting? Yes

6. What is your favourite meat? Roast pork

7. What is your most embarrassing CD on your shelf? zero CD's on my shelf, most embarrasing album on my iRiver could be... Wham

8. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? Most certainly

9. Are you a daredevil? No.

10. Have u ever told a secret you swore not to tell? Yes.

11. How do you release anger? sing, write.

12. Where is your second home? Home at the gold coast.

13. Do you trust others easily? Yes.

14. What was your favourite toy as a child? My doll.

15. What class in school do you think is totally useless? When we had to go to chapel twice a week.

16. Have you ever been in a mosh pit? Yes.

17. Would you bungee jump? No.

18. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No.

19. What's your favourite ice cream flavour? Most things with chocolate fudge in it.

20. What are your favourite colours? green, purple.

21. What is your least favourite thing? being cold.

22. How many people do u have a crush on right now? Only the one.

23. What do you miss most right now? Chris, good weather, family and friends back in Aust.

24. What colour underwear are you wearing? Black.

25. What are you listening to right now? Gez and Mike chatting, while flicking tv channels.

26. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? vermillion. I love the name.

27. What is the weather like right now? Cooooolllllldddd and damp underfoot.

28. Last person you talked to on the phone? Chris from Contiki.

29. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Smile, eyes.

30. Do you like the person who sent you this? Yes, I like both of them (Neet and Row).

31. How are you today? Feeling a bit out of it after sitting on a train for 7 1/2 hours and eating sugary and salty snacks and drinking tea.

32. Favourite drink? Water.

33. Favourite alcoholic drink? Good red wine.

34. Natural hair colour? Red/strawberry blonde/ginger(if I'm in scotland).

35. Eye colour? green/blue.

36. Wear contacts? Yes.

37. Siblings? one sister.

38. Favourite month? November in the southern hemisphere, September in the northern hemisphere.

39. Favourite food? Roast pork with lots of veges. Okonomiyaki. Chocolate.

40. Last movie you watched? Broken Flowers.

41. Favourite day of the year? A hot summer day (so missing the warm weather here!).

42. Have you ever been too shy to ask someone out? Yes.

43. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy.

44. Summer or winter? Summer.

45. Do you want your friends to write back? YES.

46. Who is most likely to respond? Unsure. Maybe Lizzie?.

47. Who is least likely to respond? Chris, cause he's on the road

48. What book/magazine are you reading? The Morality of Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith.

49. What's on your mouse pad? It is a piece of newspaper from the travel section.

50. When did you last tell a lie? I don't tell big lies.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Arrived home yesterday from an awesome 2 weeks in Italy. I spent 2 days in Rome before joining my Simply Italy Contiki tour around he country.

The tour was fantastic. there were 48 people on the tour, which did seem like a lot at the start but it as a fine amount of people. There were lots of great people, ranging in age from 20 to 35 from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, USA, Japan, Taiwan and Israel. On the tour we travelled from Rome to Tuscany (San Giminiano), Florence, Pisa, Lake Como, Verona, Venice, Urbino, Assisi, Sorrento, the Island of Capri, Pompei and back to Rome. And the Vatican if you count that as separate to Rome. It was amazing to see so many incredible places, all so different. It was really interesting to see the differences between the different regions of Italy. Each place was quite different in looks, food and people. The tour manager was excellent at giving a background on each of the places we visited and an insight into the small differences in culture and language.

I took loads of photos, so it is tough trying to choose which ones to include on this email!

I had such a great time. I'm sure I could write a massive epic on how everything was and what I did, but I am honestly so tired right now. Still need to catch up on some sleep! I'll write something brief now and will write it all down later (maybe on my way to bristol on thursday for work. 4 hour train ride here I come!).

Highlights from the trip:
Favourite spots: Venice was so incredibly beautiful, just like all the pictures and movies that are from there. The gondola ride was great fun.
Capri- a stunning island, so beautiful, house built on hillsides with white cliffs. Gorgeous day too, 24 degrees, sunny, and I even had a swim!

I have put lots of great phots onto the online photo album for you to have a look at.

If you have troubles looking at these, give me an email and I'll send you my email and password so you can look at them :)

England has just finished summer time so it get dark at 5pm while I'm still at work! It feels so very strange. Not that happy to be back at work. Would rather be travelling still, I has such a brilliant time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pictures of the real Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

I have taken some pictures on my walk to work in Newcastle. The idea of it is to give you an idea of what everyday things look like over here in the North of England. The idea was suggested by Bolt, who was interested in what it looked like over here. So this is how I see it, every morning (except this morning, when it was pouring down with rain and I caught the bus with the fogged up windows instead of walking).

Click on this link to view the side show:

I'm super busy at the moment with work, trying to do lots of things before I leave on Sunday for Italy. Italy! Hooray! Very excited about my 2 week trip to Italy. I'm going on a contiki tour there called "Simply Italy" which basically takes me around the whole country on a bus with a bunch of people, who will hopefully be a lot of fun. I've got a couple of days extra in Rome. Chris was just there and said it is such a beautiful city, even more beautiful the Paris, which mean it must be amazing!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Whitby weekend

Had another great weekend, this one in England. Nita came down from Glasgow on Friday. That night we had some very yummy tapas and wine at the Salsa Cafe. I will have to visit there more to practise my spanish! Nita is also learning spanish as her parents have just moved to Italy, so hopefully next time we go there we will be able to say more than Beunas Noches!

On Saturday my old housemate Ken drove us two Aussies to Whitby. Whitby is a gorgeous seaside town - very english, very cute. It is famous for a few reasons:
1. It is where Captain Cook is from, where all his ships were built and the starting point of his voyages of discovery (see pic of Nita and me underneath the Capt Cook statue)
2. It has great Fish and Chips (see pictures, very tasty)
3. It is where St Hilda built her abbey. This is important because Nita and I went to high school at St Hilda's. It was great to go there to see all the history we were taught at school. And the ruins are beautiful. It is no longer the abbey that St Hilda built in the 600's, but amazing medieval ruins.

It was a lovely day, a blue sky, but just a little windy.

That evening we went out on the town to celebrate Gez's birthday. It was a great night, lots of people lots of fun. We ended up dancing at World Headquarters until 3am.

Sunday was a nice quite day. Nita and I went to lunch at the local pub The Carriage for a 3 course Sunday Lunch for 7pounds. Very yummy and very a very good hangover cure!

I'm off to London for a night this week for work, then to Cumbria to visit Tim this weekend, and then the following weekend I head off to Rome for 2 weeks! All very exciting :)

Everything in Newcastle is going well. With Spanish on Tuesdays and Netball on Thursdays I feel quite busy and I'm enjoying everything. Work is improving, with me just managing myself rather than trying to get instruction... Work is interesting and diverse, and I get along really well with Jenny, who has the same job as me. The Science Festival coordinator, who I sit next to, resigned today, citing her problems with the management as her main reason. I can totally understand... Anyway, it is all going well.

Chris is currently drinking too much beer at Oktoberfest in Munich. Wont be seeing him till mid-November... But I've managed to keep myself very busy in the mean time! Miss him heaps though.

Hope you are doing well,

Love Jo

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A weekend in Paris

I just spent a fabulous weekend in Paris. After only 80minutes in the air, direct from Newcastle, I arrived in Paris and was immediately confronted with the fact that I don't speak French! Luckily I had company on the flight - Harriet who I play netball with just happened to be catching the exact same flights as me to Paris. I managed to catch the correct train to Gentilly to meet Bolt (science circus) and Tom (her boyf). It was so great to see them both, and they are the best tour guides of Paris! I can't tell you how amazing it was to be shown around Paris by someone fluent in the language, and to be taken to the best parts of the city.

On Friday night after I arrived we jumped on the train and went straight to the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful, all lit up, as you will see in my pictures. We sat on the grass and ate baguette and cheese and drank French wine, and it was topped off by some devine French chocolates. There were lots of people doing the same as us. I love how people in Paris use the outdoors. We wandered down some side streets and found a place for dinner. We didn't finish eating till 12am!

Saturday was a very full day- It began with going to the local markets and wandering around, buying baguettes and croissants and pain du chocolat for breakfast. Delcious! We then headed to the Louvre. Bolt and I were wandering what was so good about the Mona Lisa... And we decided that although unimpressive at first, she is just so intriguing. The more you look at the painting, the more intrigued and mesmerised you become. It was great. On the opposite wall was a fabulous painting by a venetian artist (whom I have forgotten the name of) and we spent ages looking at that because there was so much to it. It was a scene of the last supper, but so scandalous because it featured drunkards and brawls and animals that it almost got Venice ousted from the Catholic Church back in the 1400's I think.

Bolt and I were also amazed at some bottecelli paintings. The girls in the pictures had similar colourings to us, which we though quite interesting for Italy...

We did so much that day I am having trouble remembering it all! It was fabulous though, I hope you are enjoying reading this.

We then went to a famous tea house called Angelina's. It was frequented by Coco Chanel amongst others, including prominent politicians and all sort of famous people who went there to discuss politics and other important things. Bolt and I discussed cultural differences, and indulged in the most amazing hot chocolate (almost liquid chocolate I would say) and an amazing desert called a Mount Blanc, which had chocolate, coconut, cream and meringue in it, but I can't describe the most unusual texture it had. All very incredible and we were on a sugar high for the rest of the day from that.

We went to Montmartre then and saw the Moulin Rouge, and as we meandered up the gorgeous windy streets to the top of the only hill in Paris we bought a baguette and cheese and wine. The wine seller thought we were Irish, as he though we certainly didn't look like we were from around there.

We walked through the streets that featured in my favourite movie Amelie and arrived at the Sacre Coeur. It is a stunning view from the top of all of paris. The white city sprawls away into the distance...

Bolt and I sat and ate and drank there. We then met Tom who had been working all day and went to a few very cool bars in Montmartre. We even met some Aussies - fancy that :) One was from Canberra and the other from Logan (near gold coast). Great fun.

Sunday we went to the Notre Dame Catherderal, which was spectacular. There was a service happening there at the time - incredible acoustics. We saw the centre pompedeiu with all its pipes, ate chocolate crepes and watched a street performer. There are things I haven't mentioned, but you can see what I did in the photo album I have made. I couldn't just put a few pics into the email like I normally do, as there were so many I wanted to share!

This is the link the album. I hope you go and view the pics, there are some great ones.

I made it home and was in bed at 10pm on Sunday. I can't believe I fit all that into a weekend in Paris! Thanks so much Bolt and Tom for having me and showing me around :)

It is amazing how going away for only 2 and a half days can feel like it has taken up a huge part of your life. And that is how I feel. Paris is such a beautiful city, so rich in culture and history. It feels special just to be there and walk down the elegant streets. I can totally understand how people fall in love with it - I was definately under its spell. Not only is it pretty, but the people were very friendly, and it seemed that everyone just enjoyed being there. It is a bit of a contrast to England, where walking along the streets people look quite glum, and not at all like they want to be walking down a grey street in Newcastle for instance. There is also a great contrast between Paris and London- you really know where you are in Paris- you are in Paris- but in London you really could be any big city in the world.

Paris was amazing. And now I'm back in Newcastle it also feels good because I know that Paris is so close, and there is so much more of Europe to see as well. Can't wait!

Love lots,

Monday, September 19, 2005


I was in London for the weekend to visit Katie (friend from uni) and to go to Anna (family friend)'s birthday. I had a great weekend. It only took 3 1/4 hours to get down there on the train from Newcastle- very convenient!

On Friday Katie met me at the station and I stayed at her place in East Acton. She has a really nice apartment there with two other Australians and is enjoying the London life. We went out for a quite drink in Shepards Bush, after fending off the drunk Aussie guy who was insisting we had a drink with him and his mates. But really he looked well dodgy and was very drunk so we thought better of that one.

On Saturday we ventured into the city to St Paul's and across the millennium foot bridge to the Tate modern. We watched "the Budgieman" do a little show beside the river, so very hilarious! He has about 10 budgies trained to basically be really placid while he picks them up on a stick and waves them around in the air. Then he gets a couple of the little things to run up ladders and across ropes. All the while he's singing some tunes that go something along the lines of "I'm the budgieman with the budgies in old London town, been here for 20 years with the little budgies...etc". It was hilarious!

The Tate was very interesting. Saw some great Picasso's and an interesting display of propaganda art from the Stalin era. The moving image art wasn't totally my thing, and neither was the piece of cardboard with holes punched through it with a pencil, but I totally loved Rodin's The Kiss. Fabulous.

Katie and I made our way across town then on the tube to Anna's place in Greenwich. She has a BBQ from the afternoon and afterwards we went into town to a club called Tiger Tiger. It was really nice seeing all of Anna's family at her place. The most hilarious part was getting a group of 20 people from Anna's place via bus and 2 tubes. Good fun night.

On Saturday, after a restless night's sleep on the couch, Katie and I went for a walk to the Greenwich museum and observatory, and ended up chatting outside under the grey sky for a few hours. Was really nice catching up. We will have to go back to Greenwich again to do it properly and see the museum and Cutty Sark. I spent the afternoon chilling out at Anna's with her family, before catching a late train home, arriving into Newcastle at 12.30am.

I enjoyed going down to London for the weekend. It is very different to Newcastle though... London is such a huge city, and so multicultural. It doesn't feel very English though. In London you feel like you could be anywhere in the world with the variety of accents and sprawling suburbs. Newcastle is much easier to handle, and so easy to get around. And it is quite English here. It has made me appreciate how easy and good I have it up here, not having to tackle crowds and the tube everyday. But it is exciting down there. Would be fun to live there I think, but I would have to be earning the big bucks to enjoy it properly- my Newcastle wage wouldn't go too far!

Tomorrow night I start my Spanish class- 3 1/2 hours of it every week. I'm really looking forward to it. And seeing as I think I will visit Lizzie (my sister) in Costa Rica early next year I should be able to put it into practice too! Most exciting. Lizzie has just moved to San Diego by the way to be a nanny for a family whose parents work on a marlin fishing yacht. So she there until December when they go to Costa Rica for 4 months. I am somewhat jealous and hoping that some other position will open up on this luxury yacht :)

Chris is still travelling around Europe- currently in Berlin I believe after a hazy few days in Amsterdam. I am off to Paris this weekend to visit Bolt. Very excited to see her and also to see Paris as I've never been there before. I'm catching a direct flight from Newcastle and taking a half day of work of Friday to go- so very easy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A walk home in Newcastle

Walking up from the station I noticed a large number of teenage girls in mini-skirts and boots. A loud honk of a horn signaled some of these girls walking in front of a bus. A bit worrying.

Then there was a group of young boys on a corner in front of me, and the next thing I know one of them has swung a punch at another and there is the sound of a crunch of a bone, and the hit boy runs off up the street. I walk up the street and look across the road, where I see the hit boy covering his face, and there is blood flooding out from his nose and has made his face red and streaky. He has the look of fear in his eyes.

In a bit of daze I continued up the street, wondering what kind of city this was that young kids punched each other during rush hour. I was snapped out of my deep thoughts by the realisation that there was someone I knew beside me. A girl from netball. I don't see people I know very often in Newcastle, so it was a pleasant surprise, and made me think that perhaps I was settling in here.

I said goodbye to my new acquaintance and dashed into Marks and Sparks, picked up a lovely green looking piece of broccoli, took it to the self check out, paid 42p, and walked out again. So amazingly easy.

I continued my walk home to Dinsdale Road, pressed the doorbell and was greeted by a jumpy Chris, who had drunk too much coffee.

Friday, August 19, 2005

today at work

My favourite article in NewScientist today was about food- The Amazing Food Replicator- a machince which could recreate a meal, say roast pork, using its molecular structure. The article explores the amazing possibilities for food technologies.

Made me think I would love to have a job to do with food. But if I did would food loose its magic? Or would I appreciate it more? I guess that is the problem when you think about spending your working time doing something you love. Do you get sick of it after a while? I'm not sure. I'll just have to wait for the day that I work doing something I love...

And this picture above? Well it is the image on my desktop at work. Home sweet Home.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

5/7/05 The Lakes District

Moving house has been weighing on my mind. But now we are all moved down to 141 Dinsdale Rd ( a whole 30 houses down the road) into a town house that is virtually identical to the last place except for minor differences, like there are no leather couches in the lounge, and a banister is missing, and one bathroom is slightly smaller and the other slightly bigger… enough to make the world look a little strange sometimes, like a bad case of dejavu. Gez and Baz have officially moved over here with me.

Chris is still bunking with me and Adrian is staying in Baz's room as Baz is in Teneriffe and India for the next 6 weeks. I don't know what will happen then, they may find somewhere else before going to Europe in September.

The weekend before last Chris and I had a gorgeous weekend in the Lakes District and Lancashire. We hired a car and drove across the country (in 2 hours) to stay with Chris's Aunt Theresa in Lancashire (near Yorkshire and at the bottom of the lakes district) for the Friday night. His two little cousins Emma and Katie (9 and 7) are very cute and it was fun staying in their house in a very small town. Before heading off to Keswick in the Lakes District the next day we visited Chris's grandma who lives nearby. She is originally Polish and was very lovely to us. She did think it was odd that we didn't drink loads of tea… I haven't taken to that famous English past time yet! We stayed in a very cute B&B in Keswick. Keswick was beautiful – the lake with the surrounding mountains and a quaint little town. The weather was just perfect – sunny and up to 25 degrees. I'd had visions of trekking up hills in pouring rain but luckily we had none of that, just me complaining about how high the Catsbells mountains were! Have a look at the pics to see more of us climbing and wandering round the lakes district. On Sunday we drove back to Theresa's via the road through the lakes district. Absolutely gorgeous scenery. Lots of people around too but even that didn't damped how it looked. We stopped at a country pub and shared a Sunday roast. Yummo! I so love the Yorkshire puddings over here. You can buy them frozen and wack them in the over for 4 mins for yummy goodness. One thing that Australia is totally lacking ;) That evening we went to the pub with Theresa and the cousins, and chased a hot air balloon that was frightfully low on our way home. Monday we took Katie for a walk to see another of Ruskin's views by a river in Kirby Lonsdale and then had an ice cream. We then drove back via Barnard Castle, passing by the moors and a few other castles on the way.

13/6/05 Day trip to Tynemouth

I was beginning to think that summer had arrived last week with most days reaching about 17 degrees, and I ditched my coat... But not for long. It turned cold right in time for the weekend. In an attempt to ignore the English weather Chris and I went to Tynemouth (ie (for the non-Englishmen amongst you) mouth of the river Tyne which Newcastle-upon-Tyne is built around). It only took a 1/2 hour on the metro.

There were some cute little markets at the metro station. They were different to Aussie markets, which are usually filled with arts and crafts and food. These markets were filled with old jewelry and books and artefacts like old war uniforms. And there were loads of second hand books which was great, Chris and I picked up a few good ones.

We went along the street and found some ruins. It was a great historical site, with the ruins of a priory (founded in 1090) and a ruined castle which had been attacked by the vikings, medieval Scotland, Napoleon and 20th Century Germany. The site played a part in WWI and WWII as well (hence Chris on the gun :). It was amazing to see so many parts of history in one place.

To get out of the rain and wind we had cake and coffee and a cute pub by the cliff called Gibraltar Rock which was serving up some yummy Sunday lunch too which I'll have to keep in mind.

Chris has a job now working for a small IT development company. He is enjoying working with a small team, and it is located 3 mins walk from my house, which is very handy!

My work is going fine. Quite busy with a new travelling exhibition 'Mars Quest' opening at the end of the week. For the exhibition we've had to create the science content for the supporting material, which has included writing a science show, developing the hands-on activity zone (explozone) and the education workshop, amongst other things. Hopefully it will all go down okay.

Great to hear from some of you. I'm off to the moors for a day trip next weekend, and the weekend after I'm going to the Lakes District with Chris which should be lovely. Hopefully the weather will get a bit warmer!

19/7/05 Latest news from the north

The Hoppings

The Quayside

Only in England

The other day while walking to work I saw something very English. There was a man walking along who had a grey beard, trimmed perfectly. He had a hat, a tweed jacket complete with the leather patches on the elbows, a curvy pipe dripping from his lips while he puffed on it, and he was swinging a very thin, long black umbrella. As he puffed on his pipe as I passed him I realised that this could only happen in England. You so would not get away with that in Australia!

The Hoppings

The week after Chris and I went to the gorgeous lakes district there was a huge carnival in Newcastle called The Hoppings. It has been happening for over 100 years, and is the largest gathering of gypsies in Europe. They converge on the Town Moor, where they set up the spinning rides, fortune telling caravans, 2pence skill machines, and then all the games where you can win huge stuffed animals. The highlight of all the flashing lights was the huge ferris wheel. You can see the great view from the attached piccies. Chris, Adrian and I ate dubious roast pork rolls, and I ate the greasiest donuts ever. Chris and I also went on the lamest ghost ride. Unlikely name for something that rates glow in the dark paint as scary!

Interesting fact: if you have a cow, you can graze it on the town moor totally free! I want a cow.


I’ve been working away at the Life Science Centre. The Mars Quest exhibition is now installed and I’m producing material to extend what is there, so activity sheets, trails, hands on activities, powerpoint slides to rotate around, and info on all the latest space missions. I can’t say I’ve been much into space before, but it is interesting and exciting stuff so I don’t mind suddenly becoming in the know about all the latest space missions. Man there are some space-nerds out there though!

I had my 3 month review with my boss Linda today. She said I’ve been doing great work- much more hands-on than they’ve ever had before. Probably a result of the science circus I think… And the fact that ideas from Australia are deemed ‘original’ when you bring them to this country! (I haven’t stolen too many of the circus tricks ;) The only thing she was concerned about was that I sometimes look very sad when she sees me apparently, and she was wondering how I’m settling in. I think that’s just how I look when I’m concentrating! I guess it has been a bit tough adjusting to the work environment over here, but things are going fine now. I’m going to take up a few hobbies soon which should keep me more busy.

This week there is a science communication conference at my science centre – the British Interactive Group conference. I’m really looking forward to meeting science communicators from all over the country and going to some interesting sessions. The networking should be fun too.

The no-trip to Whitby weekend

The other weekend Nita came down from Glasgow and the aim was for us to meet up with out old Modern History teacher Mrs Pride from high school and take a pilgrimage type trip to Whitby, the home of St Hilda and the name of my old school (St Hilda’s). The morning we were to set off Mrs Pride stepped outside to no car. Walking down the street she discovered some crafty (drunk) young un’s had kindly pushed it down the street. After having the police come etc there wasn’t enough time to go to Whitby. We’ll have to go some other time. Nita and I went to Whitely bay instead where we had a proper English roast beef lunch with 5 veges at the “Down Under” cafĂ© (themed aussie style) which was perched right next to the beach. Went down to the beach and my toes touched the water and that was enough cold for me!

That afternoon we has afternoon tea with Mrs Pride and the people she was staying with at their house in Jesmond (the next suburb from me). She was staying with an old student of hers Penny who is now a Professor in English Literature at the University of Northumbria. Penny is also an author and Mrs Pride gave me a copy of her book ‘Tree of Angels’ which was a great read and I now have to pass on to Nita.

That week Mrs Pride came to the Science Centre and I showed her around which was good fun.

Also that weekend Nita, Chris and I went to the theatre to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform all of Shakespeare’s 96 plays in 2 hours. It was great fun, a hilarious performance. We treated ourselves to some Thai food after that. Thai restaurants are few and far between in this country. Quite tasty.

The weather (can’t live in England without discussing it extensitvely!)

We have had lovely weather here the past few weeks. Makes me feel much more at home when the sun is shining and the sun has some warmth! It has been around 24 degrees in the day time and mild at night. Quite summer-y. Although everyone says it wont last, which puts a bit of a downer on it all.

The parks

One Sunday Chris and I went for a walk/run through the parks around here- Heaton Park and Jesmond Vale. It is really beautiful in the parks, with their giant trees and overgrown greenery. In Jesmond Vale we randomly came across a petting zoo which had quite a good aviary. We said an aussie g’day to the lorikeets and rosellas. We had giant English breakfasts on our way home at Belle’n’Herb, well deserved at 2.30pm!

Tim and coffee

This past weekend Tim from the science circus came to visit. Was great to see a good friend in my new stomping ground. We sampled a few bars, went down to the quayside, checked out some art galleries and drank a few cups of coffee of course. Had great weather too. He’ll be passing through again soon and will be working in Cumbria, which is only around 2 hours drive from here. Another mate near by!

My Plans

I’ve booked a contiki trip around Italy for 12 days at the end of September. Very excited! Will be great to see some of Europe, and I’m sure it will be fun touring with a bunch of 18 to 35 year olds. I fly direct to Rome from Newcastle, only ₤96 ($250) return which I think is quite good, considering you pay that to fly within Australia. It is highly likely that the trip will give me a bad case of the travel bug, but with Europe so close I’m sure I’ll plan loads more trips soon.

Through some tourism initiative and as my work is a tourist destination I’m taking up Spanish classes. It is an intensive course for a year through Northumbria University that will give me a language certificate at the end of it. There are 4 hours a week of classes after work, and I will be a student again (ie. Student discounts)! I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into something like this. I walk through the Uni on my way to and from work everyday so the location is super handy too.

I was a bit hesitant at first about it cause it is a year long, but I figure I can always just leave if I feel the need to get out of Newcastle before September next year. I think I’ll stick it out till September next year, but I’ll see how I go. The only thing that I’m missing here is some good friends. I’ve found it difficult to meet people here, and although my housemates are great and friendly, a good group of friends is missing. So I think I’ll take up Pilates or yoga as well, to give me some more avenues for meeting people.

Chris and Adrian begin their 2 months around Europe at the end of September, so I’ll have my room back to myself then, and much more time on my hands too! They return in November but they’re not sure what they’re doing then.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Beginning

Okay, a blog, and what to do with it. Will figure something entertaining out for it hopefully. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

catch up

Here are my adventures so far in England. I've copied my old emails to keep a record.

1/6/05 Northumbria

Another update from a slightly warmer Newcastle. Last weekend was a long one, and Nita came down to visit from Glasgow. Friday night we went out to the local 'The Carriage' for a beer. Saturday it was blowing a gale and Nita and I went shopping, and tried not to get blown over while we were there. Bought a pair of shoes which was very exciting.

Sunday was a great day. My housemate Ken (a stonemason) offered to take us on a bit of a sunday drive. Gez, another housemate (charity fundraiser) and Nita and I all set off for the day to Alnwick. The castle is the second largest in the UK after Windsor and features in the Harry Potter movies. Very cool castle, and a very quaint town. We had 'high tea' at 'Grannies Tea Room'. So very quaint, we had tea and sanwiches and cake. Yummo.

We got in the car again to go to Bamburgh castle, which is an awesome ruined castle by the ocean. We walked through fields to get there, and there were daisies and buttercups in the fields, bright yellow gorse bushes, stone walls and wooly sheep. It all felt very English. It was a very picturesque day.

Monday Nita and I wandered around Newcastle. It was nice to be touristy again in the place I live, and discover new places.

After Nita left on the train I met Gez and Ken and some other friends down at the Quayside where there was a free concert. We saw the Futureheads play which was awesome.

Chris was in Manchester and visiting relatives in Whitehaven for the weekend. He returns tomorrow, horray! He has not had luck finding work in his field yet. Fingers crossed he'll find something great soon. His mate Adrian is working in a night club and starts work at British Airways call centre in a few weeks.

22/5/05 B'day

All is going well here. Had a fun b'day down at the local pub 'The Carriage'. Very funny place complete with floral wall paper and a fake tiger - very random. On friday night Baz, Chris and Adrian and I went to see DJ Nu Mark after seeing starwars - anyway, the DJ is from Jurrasic 5 and it was a fun night of dancing. Still getting used to every club closing at 2am at the latest though - very odd, but good for getting more sleep on the weekend! Work is going fine too, and I'm enjoying doing lots of varied things there. Chris and Adrian are still job searching but are getting close to finding some good ones. They are still staying with me, which is lots of fun and not too squishy cause one of my housemates Nick has moved to london so Adrian is in his old room. It has worked out quite nicely really.

Next weekend is a long weekend and there is loads of good live music happening, including a huge free concert down by the quayside which should be great fun. Nita is coming down from Glasgow for the weekend which will be great fun. We'll have 4 aussies in one house on that weekend - that will be entertaining!

4/5/05 Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Another update on the adventure of Jo in the UK. I didn't think that much had happened, but when I write it down I guess it has.

Things are going well here. I have settled in just fine and am even feeling very English in some ways, like the sun is now a miraculous thing and I absolutely love when it is out cause it feels so reviving on my face (it sees no other skin cause it is covered in multiple layers of tops and coats and trousers and boots and gloves etc..).

Newcastle is a great city. The Quayside (by the river) is lovely, and every time I see the bridge there I freak out cause it is identical to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, except it is 1/3rd the size and a dark green colour. But it is also nice to see something so familiar. The story about the bridge goes that the Newcastle one was designed before the Sydney one, but Sydney was built first.

Today I had lunch with some work colleagues down by the river at a nice place called the Slug and Lettuce which served up some yummy food. The people I work with are very nice, interesting people. I think people are still trying to figure out why on earth I ended up in Newcastle, but it doesn't take too long to explain, and I think they end up thinking that I am really brave doing what I did.

But don't think I am that brave being here. England is very similar to Australia. We all speak the same language, we have a very similar sense of humour, the tv shows are familiar, the shops are similar and people look the same (except a more pasty white colour, or orange with bad fake tan). So it has been quite easy to adjust to the UK.

Work is going well. I am developing activities to go on "Explozones" at the Life Science Centre, which are stand alone activity centres that are sometimes manned by science explainers. Nice idea and it gives a lot of freedom. I also do things like update a science news section of the exhibition, develop the shows, buy/make props, and be a general fountain of science activities. So I like it, it is hands on and fun. There is another girl in the same position as me - Jenny -
and we get along really well. She has just been lecturing at a uni in Ethiopia for 2 years, so is a very interesting person.

On the long weekend just gone I went to Glasgow to visit Nita for her birthday. It was loads of fun, Scottish people are very nice. We walked around the city, went out at night, ate yummy food, and went to Loch Lomond, the biggest lake in the UK. The sun even came out while we were there, so it was quite a gorgeous day out of the city.

Good luck reading all of this! It is my update before I get all overwhelmed and busy as Chris arrives tomorrow! Hooray! Will be sooooo awesome to see him after 7 weeks. Seems like longer than that though, as I've managed to move to another country and set up a new life in that time. And he's travelled across the US of A having a ball.

21/4/05 Newcastle beginnings

All good here - I've started work and have some where to live so it is all falling into place! Still not sure what I'm doing at work exactly, but I should find out soon! It is kind of nice not having much to do in a way ;)

It is cold up here though, I have to wear coats outside all the time, and all the locals say this is good weather! I'm like, hardly! Hopefully it will get warmer as we approach summer though :)

Newcastle is a nice city - it is big but the city is compact, and transport is great - there are buses, a metro (underground train thingo) and there is a major train station. There is even an airport where I can get cheap flights! Very cool.

It takes me 30mins to walk to work and it is a nice walk through the city centre. I can also catcht the metro or bus in bad weather (apparently there is lots of that :(

Went out to the local pub last night. Its called The Carriage and it is very cute – floral wall paper and curtains, a fake tiger complete with decorative flame, and some nice beer. A great atmosphere overall, and very English so I liked it.

I went with a few of my housemates and their friends. We played some dominoes and cards there (provided by the bar) and it was a good night out. We went to another pub around the corner after that and played pool (I played terribly of course, but I think I'll improve if we go every week!). So all is going well at the house and my housemates are quite cool.

I've got my ticket to Glasgow. Very exciting to be heading off to Scotland for the first time on Friday week. I'll be visiting my friend Nita (from high school and uni) for her birthday, which should be heaps of fun. We may go into the Scottish countryside too - lots to look forward to.

Chris gets to England soon and I'll be seeing him in 2 weeks time - can't wait!

16/4/05 Arriving in Newcastle

I'm in my new place in Newcastle! Very cool because I have wireless internet at the house, so I can have internet all the time I am at home .

I had the craziest day yesterday though.... I woke up, and was making so b'fast in Tania's kitchen. I had my phone in my pack pocket of my jeans. All good. Then I went to go to the the toilet and in the process of pulling down my jeans my phone fell into the toilet. Not good. My phone drowned unfortunately, and no amount of drying out with the hairdryer would bring it back to life. So I went out and bought another one, which is very small and flips and has a camera too. A sagem. It cost 60 pounds, which is about $160, which I wasn't planning on spending but hey, these things happen. So that was a bit crazy.

Tania took me to the train station to get on the train to Newcastle. I had all my luggage which seemed to have grown without me buying hardly anything.. Well I only just got on the train apparently, as Tania said they stopped letting people on as soon I boarded due to the train being so full. So lucky there, would not have wanted to wait another hour!

door and started getting ready to go out with my new housemate. We went to a bar for a few hours and that was lots of fun - everyone was really nice, so it was cool, although I had to strain to understand some Newcastle people - the Geordie accent is so strange!I went shopping today and there were sooo many people around. I bought bedding and the basics I needed to survive in my room. I now have my iRiver attached to some speakers which cost $25 and they work excellently. Going out to another bar nearby with my housemates tonight. I've only met 4 of them so far, there is one more to meet! They are all around my age 23, which is very fun.

I start work on Monday. I'm looking forward to it cause the job sounds so good. There is another girl who is starting on the same day as me, and we have the same job, so hopefully she is nice cause we will be working together heaps!

I arrived in Newcastle to blizzard-like weather, it was freezing cold and the rain was pooring down and a fierce wind was blowing. So that made juggling an umbrella and five bags interesting walking from the metro station to my new place - about a 5-10min walk... I got in the door and started getting ready to go out with my new housemate. We went to a bar for a few hours and that was lots of fun - everyone was really nice, so it was cool, although I had to strain to understand some Newcastle people - the Geordie accent is so strange!

I went shopping today and there were sooo many people around. I bought bedding and the basics I needed to survive in my room. I now have my iRiver attached to some speakers which cost $25 and they work excellently.

Going out to another bar nearby with my housemates tonight. I've only met 4 of them so far, there is one more to meet! They are all around my age 23, which is very fun.

I start work on Monday. I'm looking forward to it cause the job sounds so good. There is another girl who is starting on the same day as me, and we have the same job, so hopefully she is nice cause we will be working together heaps!

9/4/05 Stratford-upon-Avon

Well I have moved on from London now after 3 days wandering around and am now in Stratford-upon-Avon staying with Mum's best friend from school and her daughter Anna who is my age. We are getting along very well.

I had a good few days in London. I went to Kew Gardens on Thursday and had a look around the famous botanic gardens. It was beautiful there, particularly the greenhouses, which had a great variety of plants in them (and were heaps warmer than outside!). Yeah, it was a pretty cold day. But not as cold as Friday which was freezing. I met up with Nadia (from the science circus) at the Science Museum and we had a look around there (very museum-y, not as fun as Questacon) and then went and had some lunch. That evening I caught the train up to Stratford with Anna, along the way seeing the very pretty and very green English countryside.

It is gorgeous in the countryside here. England isn't that different to Australia really - we speak the same language, have similar shops - there is just more old stuff here, and it rains more and it's colder! Lucky it is coming into Summer I say!

On Monday I'm heading to Worcester for a night, then up to York to stay with my friend from school Tania. York is only an hour from Newcastle, so I plan to house/flat hunt from there. Hopefully I wont have too much trouble! I will probably start work on Monday the 18th, but they said I could start whenever I like so I'll see how I go.

So far it has been so easy travelling here and around the place. And I've met cool people along the way. I haven't had a chance to be home sick, and I doubt I will be.

5/4/05 Japan

Ive just spent a night in Japan and am on my way to London in about an hour. Arrived here after a painless flight from Brisbane, where I watched a few movies and the time passed just fine.

Arriving at the hotel I organised with a people around my age to meet up and venture into the City of Narita (with my claiming that I speak Japanese so it wouldnt be too scary). So we caught the bus in - about 6 of us ranging in age from 18 to 26, 3 from Australia, 1 from New Zealand, another from the UK and one from Columbia. We walked around a bit, and managed to find our way into a cool little restaurant where we had our own private room with tatami mats and everything. I ordered some random dishes from the menu and we drank bottles of sake and beer. It was great fun, and completely random seeing as none of us new each other at all, we just all happened to be on the same flight! We bought some more sake from a convienience store and went back to our free hotel and sat around drinking and talking in hours about everything. So much fun, and so very random.

Four of us are heading onto London now, so hopefully the flight wont be so boring! It really helps to have people around, rather than being bored travelling alone.

It is very cool being back in Japan actually. I havent been here for nine years, but the memories of the country came flooding back when I stepped off the plane. I definately want to come back here again for a few weeks and see more of the place- it is quite amazing (and the food is the best!).

28/3/05 Adventure plans

Well, I'm leaving Australia next week! I have a job in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, located in northern England at the Life Science Centre as a Science Development Officer. So I'm sticking to science communication, just in another country with apparently a very odd accent! I hope I'll be able to understand the northern accent :)

I'll be leaving Australia next Monday the 4th and going straight to the UK. I'll stay in London a few days before heading north to sort out accomodation and where everything is in my new city. I think I'll start work on the 11th.

I am currently at home on the Gold Coast, spending time with my family and sorting out all the stuff I need to do before going. It is gorgeous up here right now, sunny warm weather, and the beach is stunning. I'm getting my dose of sunshine before heading to the cold north...

Chris (my boyfriend) is in the USA drinking beer with the locals and having all sorts of adventures with his friend Adrian. He gets to the UK on the 22nd, and I think he will be living in Manchester or Sheffield, which is not too far from Newcastle I believe. Missing him heaps. Hopefully we will work out in the UK...

Not sure when I'll be back in Australia - maybe a year, maybe 2. There is so much to see in the UK and Europe, and I'm looking forward all the great trips I'll be doing on weekends and holidays.