Monday, May 30, 2005

I'm here

Well here I am in London - arrived safe and sound and very very tired. Its Monday morning and I'm trying to sort myself out for a trip to the V&A and Science museum. The YH is OK - at least the beds are not uncomfortable, but I think that I'll be using ear plugs tonight. Had some great pasta and a fantastic tiramisu at a place called Strada around the corner and there are lots of places to eat nearby. And Subway - so my lunches are safe.

kate and abs London advice

Hey dude, Welcome to London! Yay! I hope you're not feeling to out-of-it and Earls Court is treating you well! We've have a brainstorm about fun activities worth checking out in London... Markets: - Camden (Camden High Street, Camden tube, Northern line) - more alternative, punky, clothes, food, odd bits n pieces, furniture etc - definitely check out "Cyber Dog" while you're there, it's an experience. - Portobello (Ladbroke Grove tube, Hammersmith and City lines )- more antique themed but some interesting bits and bobs, clothes, retro junk etc - Spitalfieds (Aldgate East tube, Hammersmith and District lines ) - combo of the above two, but much smaller Clothes: - H&M - these are all over, but the main one is in Oxford Circus (the corner of Oxford and Regent Streets). (Oxford Circus tube, Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines) - Urban Outfitters (Kensington High Street, Circle/District lines) - Kensington High Street is generally pretty cool for clothes, but Urban Outfitters is a funky clothes and misc shop. There's also an H&M in KHS so check em out together - Top Shop (Oxford Street, Oxford Circus Tube) - Massive clothes shop with heaps of bits n bobs and reasonable prices (for London) Shoes: Neal Street (Covent Garden tube, Piccadilly line) - Lots of shoe shops and some other funky clothes ones Food: Pizza Express - you'll see these all over London. I totally recommend the Soho pizza. Musuems/Galleries: Science Museum Madam Tussards Wax Museum (Baker Street tube, Bakerloo line) - never went but think it would be a bit of fun V&A Tate (I liked this one better than the Tate) Tate Modern Misc: - Paper Chase (Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street Tube, Northern line) - beautiful papers and stationary - Selfridges (Oxford Street, Bond Street tube, Jubilee and Central lines) - Massive amazing department store with stunning window displays, food department is wow! - Piccadilly Circus is big and has lots of lights. You can walk from Oxford Circus, up Regent Street (which is very British and interesting) to Piccadilly Circus. If you carry on walking up you get to the area where all the theatres and stuff are though my memory of this is sketchy so have your A-Z handy (map of London). - IKEA - I can't praise it enough. A mission to get there, but great cheap stuff! (Neasden tube, Jubilee line) Attractions: - The London Eye (big ferris wheel thing) - this was actually pretty impressive and great to get an idea of how big London is and see the amazing 360 degree view - Hyde Park (Marble Arch tube, Central line) - worth taking a stroll through...a nice walk would be through Hyde Park, into Green Park and up to Buckingham Palace...20-30 mins - Hampstead Heath is a lovely big 'heath' with views over London. Easy to get lost in but lovely. Best idea: Take a day trip on the bus to Stonehenge and Bath. My friend Carol did it and said it was lovely! Check out for details. Other nice nearby places are Brighton and Stratford. Then of course there's the "Jack the Ripper" tour and things like that in London.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Itinerary

Well - just one sleep to go and my head feels like its caving in. never mind... for all those enquiring minds here is a rough itinerary: Saturday 28 May - leave NZ on a flight going through Singapore and Copenhagen at which point Nick and I split up and he goes to Stuttgart and I go to London Sunday 29th May - after about 36 hours of travel time we arrive in our respective ports of destination - probably knackered Min in London sightseeing and staying at the Youth Hostel - an adventure in itself. I'm hoping to get to the V & A, Museum of London (even though the bits that I'm most interested in are closed), and possibly if I'm feeling adventurous a day trip out to Kenilworth castle in Warwick. until Friday 3rd June am - I meet Nick in Stuttgart Saturday 4th - get a rental car and tootle south to Ulm where we'll stay with Chris. Chris was an engineering student when he came to NZ and worked with Nick for work experience/OE Monday - take car and drive to Koblenz which we'll use as a base to visit Cologne and Aachen and castles etc - Mark says to check out Strasbourg on the way past. Friday 10th or maybe Saturday 11th go to Amsterdam where we're staying with my cousin Stefan or Uncle Pieter we're not quite sure yet. We'll use Amsterdam as a base to explore the Netherlands for the week or maybe a bit less so that by Sunday 19th we arrive at Roskilde where we'll stay at the youth hostel while doing the Viking Ship Museum sailing course over the following week. Saturday 25th (and my birthday) we'll shift to Copenhagen for the night and then on to Aarhus where I'm checking out the library for work for a couple of days Wednesday 29th - leave from Copenhagen and getting back to NZ on Friday 1st July.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Land Offer In

Well, what a busy weekend we have had. We has spent Thursday evening with Nick's Dad putting together an offer for this 10 acre block in West Melton - thats about 15-20 minutes from Christchurch. We had to wait to Sunday to actually get the offer to the vendors so we spent Saturday doing stuff at home and then checking out wood burners and kitchen appliances. I finished sealing the hallway after the plastering and then on Sunday I managed to get two coats of the paint ('drought' from resene) on so that's pretty much done. I just need to take the tape off from around the doors. Its great to get that done - I think that I want to replace the horrid pick frilly lampshades, and then once the floors are polished we're all done. Anyway - the land... We picked up Nick's Mum Suzie from her work in Hornby and headed out. The couple selling the land were really nice and we got to have a good look around this time which was great as last time all we did was look over the gate. Its got more of a rise on it than I expected and standing on the highest point we had fabulous views - maybe the tower will go there. When we got back to the house there was time for a chat and I casually dropped about the Viking sailing course and we got talking about historical interests and Mrs ? then jokingly said how she'd always wanted to build a wee castle in her rose garden. Well... as you can imagine that was our in ... we had brought Nick's sketch because they have to approve the house plans and we were hoping to get them to sign off on the concept before we were committed to the purchase. Anyway they, especially she, were very enthusiastic - so huge relief on my part. So assuming that the legalities all check out - and a wee bit more negotiation on the fine points of price and conditions - we should have 10 acres when we get back from the trip (settlement date is two days after we get back). YAY

Friday, May 20, 2005

Wedding day

wedding
weddingday
Originally uploaded by hindins.
This isn't our wedding day - its us at our friends. I'm using it to test my new flickr account's 'blog this photo' feature so that when we're on our trip we can add photos as we go.

So lets see if it works shall we?
Hmmm, not entirely successful... there's a 1px square which I can click on to see the actual photo at flickr... but wait - lets try allowing secondary site images to display from flickr.com instead of www.flickr.com Aha - as I suspected - its that little tweak in Firefox tripping us up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

House planning

Well we're making headway on the big house plans - a few things have slipped into place over the last few weeks. Firstly the commercial property that I share interest in with my sisters has been sold and we should see the balance from it pretty much the same times as Nick and I get back from our trip. That with the money in our savings account should cover most of the land and then we get to mortgage both properties to pay for the building. We've seen a couple of properties that we like. One is in an area which will require a very deep well which is a bit more expensive - like $20,000 but its gently rolling land and square which means that we can situate the house quite centrally and plant so that its very private. And its on a sealed road - off, but not far from a main highway. So the travel time in and out of Christchurch is fairly short. Nick has, just this morning, spoken to an architect who is very keen. Keen-ness is essential to me because what we want to do is a bit unusual so we don't want someone who is going to be trying to force us into a modern style house (although we do want a modern house - in medieval style) and watering down our vision. Anyway its all good progress. Probably nothing real will happen until we're back from the trip but its great to see stuff happening - I do feel a little like Nick is taking all the burden of it though. And great progress is taking place at home with the backyard - Rob is really pulling finger now which is great. Now that my arm seems to be getting better (the boxing last night has really helped - go figure) I can get on with the hallway. I would like it to be all painted before we leave but that should be easy - there's 1/2 a coat of the plaster sealer to go on and the two coats of paint won't take long to apply. anyway - back to work...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Restaurant review

A couple of restaurant reviews today 'cos as Jules says "you eat out all the time". Not true of course but wouldn't it be nice. First up - Indochine Indochine has been one of my favourite restaurants for a while so I was thrilled when they managed to squeeze Nick and Me in on the night of our wedding at very short notice and I was not disappointed. Here's what I had: cocktail: baghdad iced tea - lovely fresh cucumber and minty flavours starter: shared a plate of sesame flatbread with a sweetish sate dip. I really like the flat bread as a starter because its not as bready as most bread starters and therefore doesn't threaten to fill you up. dim sum: shared a dish of salt and pepper squid. Tender and moist and in a very light batter this was just perfect main: pressed duck with mandarin sauce on a bed of wilted spinach and bean sprouts with a side of asian vegetables in oyster sauce. The duck was fully boned and had a lovely crispy skin adn the mandarin sauce was a little sweet and sour which contrasted wonderfully with the vegetables which were savoury and a bit salty. dessert: chocolate tart with vanilla sauce - a description which doesn't do justice to the incredibly light, soft and richly chocolaty tart which is served slightly warm which enhances the flavour. Its just heavenly. I think that this is the best dessert I've ever had. Rotherams Rotherams is a much more formal dining experience and the food is more traditional European than indochine but its just as good - just different (and a tad more expensive). This would be a great place to go for that special event. The feta tart was a lovely start to the dinner as it was light and had excellent feta and lots of mesclun although it was a bit tricky to get the pastry to stay put on my fork. Then I had the salmon steak which came with 3 large scallops and on a bed of spinach again (in season I guess) - all cooked just right with nicely done vegetables on the side. For dessert I had the rum and raisin cheesecake which was wonderfully light for a cheesecake, and suitably rich. At Rotherams the food was great and the service outstanding - a real counterpoint to the seriously under-par showing at Michaels a couple of weeks ago (but we won't go into that).

Monday, May 09, 2005

Wedding tomorrow

Tomorrow Nick and I will get married. We tried to keep numbers to just the required witnesses which was going to be my sister Kate and Nick's Mum but has swollen a bit as couldn't ask Kate without her partner Abs and then Nick felt that if Suzie was there and his Dad wasn't his Chris would get upset, which probably also means Chris's partner Di and then of course if his parents were going I couldn't very well stop my Dad from coming too (especially as he live less than a block from the place) so now its turning into exactly the circus that I didn't want. Everyone else seems much more excited about it than we are. Its just signing a bit of paper after all. Never mind... the party / reception / celebration of us is the main thing and everyone will be invited to that and hopefully we'll have it just the way we want.

Friday, May 06, 2005

No Ding Dong here

So, its May already and our trip is fast creeping up on me. But the big news is that we're getting married. On Tuesday - yes this coming Tuesday at 11.00 at the regsitry office here in Christchurch. Oddly enough whenever I tell someone that I'm getting married they want to know when the wedding is. There will be NO WEDDING. But when we get back we're going to organise a party. I'm calling it a celebration of us. I'm hoping to have it at Nick's Mum's place in Tuahiwi, probably in October or November when nights are getting a bit warmer so that we can put up a marquee and have it outside. I really don't know why people expect us to do the whole stupid (not to mention hideously expensive) wedding thing when we've been together for 15 years already. Anyway, thats it for now. Apart from that we're deep in trip preparation - Chris organised a great deal for us on some pack and sleeping bags so now its just a matter of making a few more bookings and we're good to go. Oh, and we're looking at land at the moment - 10 acres (4 ha) somewhere close where we can build a small castle and have some horses. We thought that we'd found the perfect spot but the guy put so many restrictions on it we figured that he wasn't going to be a very good neighbour so we flagged it. We'll start looking for real when we get back. And I've started making my version of Elizabeth's Robes of Estate - more infomration on my web site. I'm dtafting the bodice right now - I was going to base it on my doublet but that has a curved front and this has to be straight so I'm using Alcega #3 (f14) and the instructions for drafting a period doublet from the collegium class that I did last year in Caid. This is a good incentive to actually finish that pattern.