English Countryside

Trip Start Jul 23, 2002
Trip End Jul 23, 2003

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Monday, April 21, 2003

After leaving the city, the countryside was a nice change with it being quite different to Oz countryside, but very much like I had imagined given what I had seen on TV. The main difference to what I imagined was the roads were even narrower and windier than I thought. But that doesn't slow the dashing down them in the cars, although in the towns there is a lot more stopping and pulling over to allow cars to go down the road in the opposite direction.

I spent about a week staying with Rodney and his family and ended up at a couple of pub quizzes (the first within half an hour of my arriving, and being based on Australia), saw a couple of movies, went to a farewell dinner for people heading to Cameroon on a volunteer exchange, a work farewell lunch, a table tennis match, plus had an Easter Sunday carvery lunch. Then of course was the luxury of life in a house with homecooked meals and having someone fuss around making sure I had everything I wanted - not quite what I'm used to anymore, but very nice for a change.

After a day exploring the South Petherton with Pauline, we took off in Rodney's baby, a MX5 and went around the countryside for most of the week. Luckily there was some of the best April weather England has had (high's of 25C!!!!) so it was perfect for driving around with the top down. We went through many towns around Somerset, and I really have to have a map in front of me to work out just where we ended up, although trips took us to Taunton - for a look in the shops and wander in the park, followed by a visit to the
Glastonbury Tor for a view of the area.
Visited the nine-springs around Yeovil, after a visit to the pub in town for a farewell to one of Rodney's workmates.
Spent a day in the cliffs and hills around Cheddar, finding that maps were a little out of date when the trail we were looking for had disappeared into a quarry. Followed the day out with a BBQ at one of Rodney's friends place.
Went for a visit to the coast around Lulworth cove walking past Durdle Door and through Scratchy Bottom. Wasn't quite warm enough to be tempted into the water though, and not many locals were braving the water, although the beach was appealing to many families.
There was also a visit to Exmoor with the wind picking up and becoming much stronger compared to the previous days. Even found out that one of the places Rodney spends time outside waiting for hiking groups to pass by is actually a pub - so have a feeling he may not be spending so much time sitting outside from now on.

So after a week wandering the countryside it was time to head on, and catch up with a few more people before getting back to London, raeady for more flights. The break there had been good with nothing that needed to be done, and being able to stay based in one spot for a while. Also the chance to catch up with people I haven't seen for 18 months or so is always good.

Next stop was Bristol to see Sandra, and see some of the places and meet some of the people that she'd been talking about in the ten weeks together in the jungle. See where she is Living it Large. Kind of strange to see each other out of the jungle and back in the western world. Got to see the video she made of the jungle and she had her birthday BBQ and caught up with people. We also headed into town for some exploring and shopping, before a quick tour of the town with some of her friends.

Then it was onto Reading for a catch up visit with Tez, also from the jungle before heading to Newbury to see Lou for a couple of days. Some catching up on the sofa with junk food, meeting of the friends, town tour and nothing too strenuous. That was followed by a dash into London, find somewhere to drop off my camera to get fixed before heading to Cambridge to meet Graham. After a very quick tour of Cambridge, it was off to Culford public school for their last minute meeting for a Duke of Ed hike on the weekend. Got to see what a public (private) school is like in England, and it's certainly a little different to where I went to school. Then back to Grahams place in Haverhill for some catching up that night.

The last leg of the time in England was filled with some chores in London and a visit to Jersey. Jersey was one of those places I'd heard a lot about from some of my lecturers and I'd wanted to go there for the zoo to see what it was that they'd been talking about for myself. I didn't get to see much of the island itself, but it seems to have a fair bit to keep you entertained if you want to spend a decent amount to time there ie more than two nights. Not feeling 100% meant I didn't explore as much as I'd liked, plus the weather was cold and wet, but that's the way things go.

The zoo though was what I expected, although small and not quite the typical zoo it is one of those places who's main emphasis is actually on doing something to protect the animals where they belong in the wild, And so a lot of their work with the animals is done in situ in the native areas where it has a chance to be more effective. I spent the day exploring the zoo and listening to some of the education officers talks which explained more of the work they are trying to do there.

And that was the end of a brief trip through the UK. It was more a chance to catch up with people than to do a lot of sightseeing, and was in some ways a bit of a break from hostel life, which I'm now back to in Africa. It was fantastic to see people again, many of who I haven't seen in a long time. It was also a bit of a reminder that with only three months now left on my trip that I'll soon be back in Oz and be able to see people there again. The last months are going to fly by if the first part of the trip is any indication. But for now I'm looking forward to the African experience.
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