OE

Kia ora.

For anyone interested, please see below my best attempt to have some kind of systematic record of things that have happened since we left New Zealand in August 2016. Notably omitted is anything that happened after 2am, or in the Dundee Arms pub, nothing good ever happens in there.

This is The Meadows in Edinburgh, near the University. It’s where Jeanne and I slept off the jet lag from 26 hours of economy class goodness. It’s also where Renton and Sick Boy shot at people with their slug gun in the first Trainspotting film.

We were accommodated in Edinburgh by Rachel and Rob Forster..

Had some luck with an early job interview so had to promptly get down to London to start work. Having left NZ with nothing more than an Annual Leave payout, this was a good outcome. Rhiannon and Caleb McConnell were kind enough to allow us to occupy their lounge. They took us for a sweet cruise on the Boris Bikes featured above.

This is taken from a hill in Greenwich Park, looking at East London, which is very much home now (despite Porirua always being home). The giant financial houses of canary wharf don’t really have anything to do with the East End, I’ve found.

Here’s a photo of Jeanne in front of the Tower Bridge, taken from the Tower of London. Tower of London is a useful place for anyone contemplating referenda on the re-definition of marriage (Australians).

Same bridge. Different angle. This was on our first ever day trip to the luscious seaside resort town of Brighton. Unfortunately there are no photos (there are photos).

This is Jeanne and my friend Nathaniel Fairnington at Victoria Park. Victoria Park impossibly beautiful, and Nathanial Fairnington is more luscious than Brighton.

London has an absolutely bangin’ theatre scene. This was just before 1984 started at the Playhouse. Great play but I forgot how tough the ending was. Had to go for a massive riverside tilt walk after the boot crushing humanity forever.

Snapped this guy (Big Ben Mclachlan) on said post-1984 tilt walk.

I think I posted this to Facebook at the time, but the Paddington Station Band was comfortably the most British thing we’d seen at that point. Little did I know that lengthy and lively discussion about who was bringing the tea to a little community choir I joined, was only just around the corner.

This is the Roman Bath at Bath Spa. Capital of Roman Britain, I cannae remember?

Work got pretty disappointing in the Autumn of 2016. So I gapp’d it one Friday night to Scotland. Mr Rob Forster was waiting on the platform with a flask of whiskey, and we marched through the Edinburgh old town shortly after midnight. That was a good moment. The photo above is outside Roslyn Chapel near Edinburgh. If you like Wikipedia deep dives…

Went back to London, got a ticket to a rowdy Halloween Party, went as a werewolf. Thanks for the make-up to the high school friend, Jenni Philpott.

Ricoh Arena, Coventry, East Midlands. There’s a geography dissertation to be written about the relationship between the infamous book ‘Crap British Towns’, and the Super League?

As temperatures began to fall, time in pubs trebled. New friendships began to brew. Beer guts (mine) began to extend.

… and no place was more responsible than the Redchurch. It’s venture capitalist owners destroyed something beautiful when they fired the legendary staff and closed it over the summer just gone. But in the Autumn and Winter of 2016 it’s “DERT” (that’s Limerick for ‘dart’ )board was treated like Kim Jong Un’s least favourite seagull in the Sea of Japan.

A great winter/Christmas activity that was sans Bethnal Pale Ale, was joining the London Dockland’s Singers. Here we are at St Clement Danes singing Mozart’s Requiem. Stirring stuff. It took me 28.5 years to work out that all requiems have the same words.. BOOM.

Vienna. Capital of Austria. It was the weekend they rejected a far-right candidate for President. Merry Christmas. These Christmas Markets were like stepping inside actual Christmas. There was an extraordinary ice skating park, where one gentleman said to his ice-literate son “that guy is in a permanent state of crashing”. Bit rude mate.

Mr Baigent (Snr) liked this photo because he stood in the same spot in 1972 when the Heldenplatz probably looked exactly the same.

Christmas in Glasgow. Cousin Nick left nothing on the court with his roast making ability. Stayed in a very old family friend’s apartment. Left her a case of Irn Bru. Seemed legit.

In that gap between Christmas and New Year said family friend Jackie took us into definitely the most accessible and entry level part of the Scottish Highlands (Loch Lomond). And we made spears, twice as long as a man.

Happy Hogmanay!

Squad goals with the bros at the British Museum. Full credit where full credit is due, the British do an outstanding free-of-charge museum.

Courtesy of a 10-pound Ryanair Flight (melt that ice), the next adventure was to Bansko, Bulgaria. It had been snowing all the week before so the powder was completely wasted on a two-runs above beginner snowboarder like myself. Jeanne absolutely shredded. It was quite attractive. We were also with a gentleman called Sam Hawkins.

British friends from NZ, Dorothy and Neil showed us around their neighborhood of Ferring, near West Worthing. Lovely spot. This Church was near some kind of old world saxon settlement called Clymping. 10th Century Saxon height difference noted.

Here’s Jeanne Barnard absolutely in her element at probably the most entertaining restaurant you could go to. This was in Lisboa, Portugal. We sat in the smoking part of the restaurant on purpose just for the novelty, and it ended up being a rowdy lock in with locals. Made for a wobbly bicycle tour the next morning.

Lisboa. Get it on the list mate!

The xx at the O2 Academy Brixton.

Ice accumulating on the hood. Reykjavik, Iceland.

Making friends with Nordic statues. Conversation kind of only goes one way.

A thermal pool you can walk up a river valley to. Definition of thermal applied very loosely. (Still in Iceland). Was a mean swim. We were there with Ailie, Janneke, and Emma.

The Reichstag. Ran past here on the Berlin Half Marathon. Went way to fast at the start because of the quite epic nature of the first part of the course. We stayed with Michael and Katya and their delightful girls. The Vietname food in that area was delicious.

British people say unkind things about Hastings. I loved it. Would go back. Would recommend to others.

We took quite a few photos in Barcelona, but in view of current affairs at the time of writing. The Catalonian Parliament seemed most legit. We were there with Anna (right).

The Barceloneta Beach. First ever swim in the Mediterranean.

The Edinburgh Marathon. Was quite an undertaking. Absolutely amazing course along the coast. The locals in the villages all got really into it, so had a great atmosphere. Managed to complete it in 3 hours 37 without walking, which is almost an hour slower than my brother-in-law who I was aiming to beat.

St Margret's-at-Cliffe, after quite a decent walk over the white cliffs of Dover, in about 30 degrees.

Glastonbury, Somerset. There are very few photos due to special battery conservation measures. But my goodness, not really sure what to write for fear of leaving something else out. Other than that a fully fledged study in Leadership needs to be commissioned into the methodology and approach of Josh Apperley.

This one is noteworthy because it leads to our new flat. For the first year in Britain we lived somewhere called Vawdrey Close, in the worst flat with the worst people I’ve ever experienced. There will be a rhetorical genius’ out there who could capture visceral hatred better. There were degrees of disappointment. One guy who was there at the start was fine. However, it was the first time I’ve ever had Police in a house I’ve lived in because this Italian girl (with the personal hygiene of the Spicer Landfill) was harbouring an illegal immigrant in her room. Could have been a Brexit Voter after that. When the delightful Canadian called Amelie moved in we made our escape together. She and her extraordinary bf Elias are outstanding. Now we live off Bethnal Green Road in quite a reasonable little apartment. It’s a real rags to riches story.

A flourishing friendship with a workmate led to some great live cricket. Here’s The Oval for Surrey vs. Kent.

.. and Lords for Middlesex vs. Hampshire.

The gentlemen on the right has been like the Rosetta Stone to this OE. I’m not certain that’s even the correct analogy but here he is in his present hometown of Dublin. That was a rowdy weekend with Redchurch alumnus Jof. Worth forking over for the Jamieson’s Distillery Tour if you get a chance. Triple Distilled.

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire. As beautiful as you’ll get anywhere and there’s a conclusion to be drawn that the Welsh are some of the friendliest people on earth. Don’t believe me? Watch Valley Cops. We were taken there by the brilliant Steve and Paula.

This is Polish port town of Gdansk. Which was home to the Shipyards that saw the formation of the Solidarity Trade Union that rocked the USSR in the late 70s and early 80s. The Museum of Solidarity is, with some ease in my view, the best museum if be to in Europe (incl. UK). Extremely well done.

This is a photo of Jeanne I really like, from Gdansk Glowny (Station). Awaiting a super comfortable high speed train to Warsaw.

The centre of Warsaw’s ‘Old Town’. It was painstakingly restored based on photographs, as during WWII (after the Warsaw Uprising), Hitler ordered the city erased from the map. This meant an estimated 85% of the city was leveled.

Krakow’s famous market square. Jeanne took better photos that do it more justice. In summary, there’s a good reason why it was the town in Poland most well attended by tourists. It was from here that we visited the Salt Mines (would recommend to anyone x8000) and Auschwitz which was as grim and somber as any place on earth that has seen such systematic evil.

From here we caught an overnight train to Budapest and met two extraordinarily interesting and entertaining Americans called Yoshi and Dave.

Apparently there’s some kind of rivalry between Vienna and Budapest as to which is more beautiful. Budapest wins. Vienna more sophisticated, and we were told there are some seedy political undercurrents amidst the current Hungarian regime (xenophobic / blood-and-soil nationalist type stuff). Each night we attended a different steam bath (lots of thermal springs under Budapest). One was set in an Austro-Hungarian palace type of place. It was epic.

Zagreb, Croat Capital. It’s actually not a bad town, but definitely not the Croatia you see in travel agencies. Normal Croatians living normal lives were in the vast majority.

Plitvice National Park, Croatia, or as a friend said ‘could be the foothills of Pandora’.

Near Vodice, Croatia, and the water was as good as it looks. Several swims along this coast as we worked our way to Split (a disgusting confluence of super yachts).

The famous Mostar Bridge, of Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina. The armed forces of Croatia destroyed in the 90s but it was re-built about the time I was in the third form (not un-recent history). There were people jumping. I’ll openly admit I lacked the fortitude and would like to have children at some point.

This mosque had an ornate 300 and something year old fountain the poured ice cold water. It was about 35 degrees that day so kia ora for that.

I took this standing on ‘The Latin Bridge’ in Sarajevo. Looking across at the intersection where WW1 had part of its genesis. Sarajevo, is one helluva an interesting place. The description as the Jerusalem of Europe was accurate. West meets East. Half Austria, Half Turkey.

Please put Bosnia on your list!

Half Turkey, Half Austria..

“Chaos is a ladder”. Dubrovnik, Old Town. Not sure what scheme the late Lord Baelish would have developed to handle this enclosed space after three cruise ships have discharged their passengers on this remarkable Old Town.

Snapped this on the last day in Dubrovnik. Seemed appropriately moody to end that 2-week Central / Southern European jaunt.

Conclusion.

Full credit to Jeanne Barnard. It was all her idea.

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