A Travellerspoint blog


Parkour Demonstration & Skatepark at London's Southbank

sunny 25 °C

Yesterday we took a trip to Southbank, in London, to check out a Parkour demonstration by the Urban Playground Group. It featured Charles Perrière and Malik Diouf - two of the original members of Parkour founder David Belle's 'Yamakazi' group.

Parkour is also known as PK or l'art du déplacement (the art of movement) and first appeared in France. It focuses on moving from one point to another as smoothly, efficiently and quickly as possible using the abilities of the human body. It is built on the philosophical premise that any obstacle, physical or mental, can be surpassed. Parkour practitioners are often called traceurs (males) or traceuses (females).

The demonstration was impressive and, as a result, we are now unable to look at the urban landscape without imagining ourselves leaping, climbing and balancing our way through, over and accross it. I would encourage anyone young and fit enough to give it a try to do so.

We also discovered a skatepark along Southbank (East of the London Eye).

Ahhh... takes my mind back to Nicole Kidman's mad skills in 'BMX Bandits'.

Posted by StephenJen 15:48 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Wednesday Night Football... live from Wembley

"Who are ya?... Who are ya?... Who are ya?"...

semi-overcast 5 °C

Wednesday night brought our first ever World Cup Qualifier - in the magnificant new Wembley Stadium.

Over the past few weeks more and more people we know were slipping into conversation that they had tickets to see Ukraine vs England in this World Cup Qualifier, and we started to wonder why the heck we had not tried to get tickets for this. Anyway, the final straw came two days before the match, and Jen logged on, went through the process to become an Englandfan (the only way left to get tickets) and puchased two for us to go for our first ever major game at Wembley.

Walking from the Tube Station towards Wembley

The walk down from the Tube to the Stadium was insane, a sea of football fans singing and kicking footballs, loading up on overpriced pizza slices and hotdogs (just like at home!) on the walk towards this massive stadium.

Our seats were quite high but allowed us to see the entire ground clearly, even if we couldnt see the players sweat covered faces! Just like playing on Playstation - we could clearly see the passages of play - all we needed were our controllers. The atmosphere was amazing, we learnt a few new football chants during the course of the game and its impossible not to get caught up in the emotion of an international match.

Ukraine and England Teams enter the Ground

Stephen Checks Out the View of the Ground

The Flags Come Out

God Save The Queen

England looked very sharp early on, and were rewarded with a goal by Paul Crouch at around the 40 minute mark. Then they switched off. It appears that the English play football much like a workday... A bit at the start, not much through the day, and then a bit at the end. Suffice it to say, as they were relaxing in the middle, Ukraine managed to steal a goal to equalise (we could tell they had scored by the deafening silence of the crowd). Instantly, England switched on again. They brought Beckham on, without about 20 minutes left in the match, his impact was felt immediately. A couple of free kicks gave us the chance to see him Bend it Like.... well... him. He delivered a corner from the far side and John Terry sent it into the back of the net. the crowd sang "two-one.....two-one....." followed by a standing rendition of "You're not Singing Anymore" whilst pointing at the small section of Ukraine Supporters.

Chanting Crowd

Game Play


A few minutes later the referee signalled the end of the game and we began the crush back towards the Tube Station. Lines of Mounted Police prevented too may people getting into the station at one time, and it actually went quite smoothly. We were home by 11:30 and are now dedicated followers of the World Game.

Posted by StephenJen 03:30 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (3)

There's no business like snow business

Britain's coldest winter for 18 years

-4 °C

We have routinely whinged about the cold Melbourne winters. Never again!

Winter in London, this year, has been one of the few times that we have been cold through to the very marrow of our bones. Not suprising as we are experiencing the coldest winter in 18 years. Last week saw significant snowfall right across England.

We awoke in the middle of the night to snow bucketting down and by the time I was ready to leave for work on Monday morning (05.00am) there was a thick white blanket covering the entire neighbourhood. Unfortunately, I had to drive to Barnsley, in South Yorkshire, some 190 miles North. Whilst I made it there and back in treacherous conditions I shant do it again. That said, provided we don't have to get to work, we still LOVE waking up to snow!


Posted by StephenJen 13:57 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Movin' on up (to the North Side)

The land of the iron lady

semi-overcast 18 °C

Hello folks,

Much has transpired since our last blog entry. We have left our maximum security residential unit in the picturesque White City Estate. We were sad to say farewell to our lovely nieghbours. We will miss the warm smiles and occasional items of food that Aunty Sha brought over to us. We won't miss the police sirens, loud parties on a sunday night, screaming teenagers, screaming couple downstairs or the subtle fragrance of the lift. We also said farewell to our Australian housemates Lou and Dave. They are heading home to NSW in August to get married before returning to London. We thought it might be more appropriatefor them to spend the beginning of married life on thier own. They are living in South London now and planning for the big event.

We decided to head a bit further out of the city and found a beautiful part of North London called East Finchley. It was the iron lady, Maggie Thatcher's, old constituency. It has a small independant cinema, The Phoenix, and a great pub with jazz and trivia... heaven! We have found ourselves in a really nice, quiet street and have Cherry Tree Woods within minutes, which makes for a wonderful start to Saturdays. We take an occasional amble through the greenery first thing in the morning. We get to wake up to the sounds of birds again! It sounds strange to anyone living in Australia but we had no birdlife in White City.

Our flat is a real contrast to the last place. It is a very modern remodelled victorian house. We have the very top flat comprising a laundry, loungeroom, modern kitchen and upstairs bedroom & Bathroom. We are feeling enormous benefits from being on our own as a couple. We are able to really relax, which is the essential antidote to working life in London. We have had a couple of trips away since moving in but I will leave those for the coming entries.

Here are some photos taken around our neighbourhood.













Posted by StephenJen 14:07 Archived in England Comments (1)

A London Eyeful of New Years Fireworks

... happy New Year from England

overcast 5 °C

'Hello London. Are you ready for the greatest fireworks show on the planet?' That was the question booming out of the loudspeakers around Big Ben and Westminster Bridge. It was met with a resounding 'Yeah' from the crowd. We were... and it was!

The crowd gathers as the New Year approaches

I've seen my share of impressive fireworks displays from the Sydney Harbour Bridge but the show we witnessed at the London Eye was unmatched. It was an amazing feeling to stand at the feet of Big Ben as the bells tolled midnight. Then to be treated to an unbelievable display of colour and light, with the booming sound of the charges echoing off the banks of the Thames, made this a truly memorable night.


Fireworks shoot from the London Eye

Fireworks show in London

London Eye fireworks

More fireworks

Fireworks shoot from the London Eye

London Eye bathed in red

We welcomed our second year in England with tremendous excitement and anticipation.
We hope it is our best yet. We hope it is your best also.

Happy New Year everyone.

Posted by StephenJen 03:20 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (2)

The night before Christmas

...a monologue on fog on a blog

overcast 0 °C

T'was the night before Christmas
all pudding and nog
whilst around us, in London,
a pea soup thick fog
had decended and ended
all feel in our limbs
We left midnight mass
saying "Bugger the Hymns".



Despite our brave plans to enjoy some traditional Christmas carolling. We spent only a short time in town tonight before retreating to the warmth of home and the burning of frostbitten digits. Jen met me after work and we made our way to Trafalgar Square. It looks beautiful at night and the large Norwegian Christmas tree in the center of the square looked a treat. We took a few pics before walking along Whitechapel to Big Ben and then on home.








Let us take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy festive season and lets all work on making 2008 the best year yet. To our dear families, we miss you and love you enormously. We will drink a toast, and eat our bodyweight in chocolate, in your honour. Talk to you all soon. See some of you before long. Until then, throw another turkey on the barbie!!

Love Stephen and Jen xxx

Posted by StephenJen 12:09 Archived in England Comments (1)

Jerry Springer live

... polygraphs, porkies & penile dementia.

rain 8 °C

A few weeks back Jen, Lou and myself toddled down to the Riverside studios in Hammersmith to be part of the live audience for Jerry Springer's new show 'Nothing but the truth'. In spite of the fact that this show didn't feature a crack addicted secretly cross dressing bi-sexual out of control teen hillbilly deadbeat dad secretly been sleeping with the now pregnant mother of his long term girlfriend... his midget stripper cousin, We did have a lot of fun and even got to chant "Jerry...Jerry...Jerry".

The format of the show is this: Contestants subject themselves to a polygraph and answer increasingly personal and challenging questions in an attempt to win up to £50,000. Pretty straightforward wouldn't you say?

We arrived a little late and, once inside with our tickets, found ourselves at the end of the line. When we entered the studio there were only a few scattered seats left and it looked like we were to be separated. Dame fortune smiled upon us as we were ushered to 3 reserved seats. They were in the front row directly behind the area onstage where the contestants family members and friends are seated. Nice... happy with that.

We were feeling excited because we figured we were positioned in an area of the audience where we would get our heads on TV quite a bit. It then dawned on me that, as it was mid November, I was sporting a very Village People moustache as part of the Movember charity event. Not really the way I wanted to present myself to the viewing public.

After a bit of applause practice and some jokes from the warm up guy, we were ready to roll. "Ladies and gentlemen would you please welcome... Jerry Springer" we clap like crazy and all start chanting "Jerry...Jerry...Jerry". It is then explained to us that this is a DIFFERENT show and, whilst we are encouraged to get involved, we can leave the Jerry chanting alone. So we did. Jerry had a bit of a chat to us and then taping started.

The first contestant was a self important London tour operator in his 50s named Peter. He was a total tool. He starting trying to do gags from the first question. He had his ex wife, step son, elderly father, and current young Russian girlfriend sitting onstage with him on the family and friends couch. The first round of questions were a walk in the park...

"Do you lie about your age ?"
A long pause followed by a Hal 9000 style voice saying "That answer is .... correct"

"Could you be considered a Bull##itter?"
"Do you use your job to pick up women?"

After two rounds of questions, we had learned that he joined clubs to network for his business, Said he gave to charities without doing so, thinks his divorce was the best thing that could have happened because now his friends are envious of all the women he gets. Peter had picked up £5000 and the audience was turning on him. He was revealing himself as a sleazy, over confident pratt who had little regard for anyone else. Jerry asked if he wished to continue and answer another four questions to get to £10000? Peter played on. The questions got more personal and more challenging.

"Did you pick up your current girlfriend on one of your tours?"
"Are you currently cheating on her?" At this point the camera zooms in for a close up of his girlfriend smiling and laughing nervously. Peter pauses before telling her that they will have a long chat after the show. She is still smiling but now her eyes are filled with tears.
"Yes" he answers. "That answer is ...correct" says the computer voice. We all hoot and boo. "Dump him" we all shout. At this point we realise that we are not being told off for yelling out... so we all compete to try and get our voices heard on the telly.

The next question made us hate him even more. "Have you ever had a sexual relationship with one of your step son,Carl's, girlfiends?" asked Jerry. "We will need to have a talk about this after the show" Peter says "Yes I have". This time the tears are Carls. "They had split up" Peter protested. "NO we were together" replied Carl.
Jerry then tells Peter that Carl would like to ask the next question. "Have you ever had a homosexual experience?" the crowd starts to cat call and waits with baited breath for the answer. "It's a long story" he says, "I was tricked at a job interview when I was younger" he says, "It was supposed to be a massage" he says, "Yes". The audience takes to him mercilessly. Jerry explains that there is nothing wrong with having a homosexual experience bat does wonder how you can go for a job interview and wind up 'accidently' having sex with a man! We now have only one question to go in order for Peter to reach £10000. "Are you satisfied with the size of your penis?" asks Jerry. "I didn't realise until I left my wife just how above average I am... she kept it a secret for 18 years of marriage" he replies. His ex wife laughs at him and shakes her head. "Since the divorce", says Peter, "I have had the chance to actually ask a lot of partners that very question". He pauses. "What did he say?" I yell out. The audience roars with laughter, Jerry starts laughing and Peter looks embarrassed. "For those of you at home, our audience member asked what did he say" says Jerry. He tells Peter that he needs a final answer and notes that if the item inquestion is anywhere near as long as his answers so far that he would clearly have no issue. "I'm very satisfied with the size" says Peter. The room is hushed. "That answer is... FALSE" says the computer. The audience erupts in laughter and the jibes start. A great many pinky fingers are waved at Peter and his family can't help but share a laugh too.
The rules of the show are clearly stated at the outset. A false answer results in the contestant going home empty handed. So Peter had revealed himself as a total pratt, probably lost his girlfriend, ruined his relationship with his step son, all on television. And gone home without a single pence. Now that's entertainment!


Posted by StephenJen 11:32 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (0)


... a hair lip gets hip!

10 °C

(Cue Barry White's 'My first, my last, my everything')


Movember Day 8

I ask you, is there anything sexier than a man with a moustache? Hell no (I hear you say). One need only remember the unabated sex appeal of Magnum P.I or Jason King or any number of international cricketers in the 1970s. The evidence is clear, a man simply looks like a heavy set woman with a gut unless he is sporting a mo. That's what makes Movember the sexiest charity event on the calendar. How could I resist then when the cause of mens health issues came knocking on my bathroom door. I stood tall, put my razor down and put my hair where my mouth is!

I am now proud to be one of the members of the 'Fantashtics', growing a 'Village People' mo for charity. Mind you, it's a little easier for my team mate, Adam, he is currently living in Turkey. Now everybody knows that Istanbul is Motown. Everyone over the age of 8 has a moustache there. I, on the other hand, am subject to quizzical and envious looks from strangers on the London underground as I commute to work each day. I have explained to the people at my workplace that I am growing this bad boy to raise awareness about mens health, and that they must now refer to me only as 'Cougar':

"Stephen can you fix a paper jam in the 6th floor copier?"
"Sorry, Cougar can you fix a paper jam in the 6th floor copier?"

I should point out here that I was originally to be known as 'The Cougar' but after lengthy discussion with my boss, Craig, I decided to drop the 'The'. A good decision I think you will agree. I mean... they don't call him 'The Prince' or 'The Skippy' do they?

The rules for participants are easy. Be clean shaven on Movember 1st and get growing for the month. Along the way, encountering the perils of in-grown hairs to unwanted advances from women in the street. It's a dirty job alright. Especially after soup!

So next year, why don't YOU consider becoming hirsute for health. Get onboard and grow a mo for charity!


Posted by StephenJen 11:35 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

A cracker of a night.

For Fawkes sake... I've burned my thumb!

overcast 13 °C

Well one of the enjoyable things about life here in London is the flagrant disregard for public safety. This weekend that disregard came in the form of Guy Fawkes night. It brought back memories of childhood in Australia as the neighbourhood flashed and echoed as hundreds of fireworks were set off. Never ones to shirk our responsibility to embrace local culture we hit the local Tesco supermarket and purchased a modest supply of fireworks.


We thought the safest location would be a large park, located next to a hospital and a prison. The plan was to brighten lives and get the blood pumping for the heart patients, and bring memories of violent crime and life or death gun battles flooding back to prison inmates, through the use of loud bangs, flashes and smoke. Job done!

We were armed to the eyeballs with all manner of fountains, catherine wheels, rockets, bigger rockets and assorted other stuff. Apart from an over ambitious multi rocket thumb burn, everything went off with a bang. The sky was filled with colour and the grass oozed smoke for ages. We could feel the patients and prisoners joy increasing with every explosion. We were so inspired that we raced home and employed a long piece of pvc pipe to launch several of the big rockets from our balcony, over the primary school next door and into air space over the BBC garden.

We had a lot of fun this weekend. Next year we will be better prepared and go even bigger!


Posted by StephenJen 08:58 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (0)

Our favourite Prince

overcast 19 °C

Greetings all,

The story starts like this... On friday morning my boss, Craig, came into work boasting about how he had got tickets for Prince the previous night. He had managed to hook up some tickets via the drummer in his band, CC Dunham. He described in detail all the aspects of the show. I was really jealous but happy for him. He also mentioned that a little bird had told him that unclaimed tickets were resold at aroumd 8.30pm, shortly after his purpleness hit the stage. At a little before lunchtime Jen called me and told me she was in central London and was meeting a girl who was selling 2 tickets for the show that night, the LAST show of his 21 night run. The tickets were selling for £160, which is about £100 over face value... I was concerned about them being the real thing. I told Jen that we should give them a miss but suggested we head to the O2 arena and hang out in the hope that some tickets are released late. So we did.

When we arrived, I spoke to the girl at the ticket counter and she indicated, in a very subtle manner, that if tickets were to become available we were in the right place. We waited for some time and then... the unbelievable happened... WE GOT TICKETS!! Now let me put this in some perspective for you, we got tickets on the final night, we got the new CD included in the price, and the price was £31.20 each! We headed into the arena and were ushered towards our seats. We walked from the top section down, further and further...5 rows back in the middle. Amazing seats, we were behind the VIP floor section and were close... very close to the stage. We had also each been given a purple glow stick, so when the lights came down everyone cracked them and the audience was a sea of purple, it looked fantastic. The band started up and the crowd lept to its feet. Under a single spot and through the smoke Prince rose on an elevated piece of staging. The music stopped and he stood there, the crowd screamed. He leaned into the mike and said "London... what you feel for me, I feel for you" and they belted out 'I feel for you' as the opening number. They kept the music going as they went into 'Contraversy' and Jen and I, along with the rest of the packed arena, were jumping up and down at Prince's command. Awesome!

This has been a particularly significant tour because he has been showcasing all his huge hits. He has also disallowed any media coverage and has vowed never to play them again. As a result, we feel especially lucky to have attended. The gig went for ages and the songs kept coming. We were presented with '1999', 'Let's go crazy', 'Purple rain', 'U got the look', 'Cream', 'Little red corvette', 'Take me with U', 'Sign of the times' and a heap more. I tried to remember them but it is all a blur now. About halfway through the gig the band stopped and he startedchanting "Pass the peas, like we used to say" and Jen and I looked at each other in suprise. We had seen posters for Maceo Parker's upcoming tour and here was Prince singing one of his signature tunes. Suddenly out of the smoke came Maceo. He belted out an incredible sax solo as Prince gyrated around the stage in James Brown fashion. The set also saw Prince take to the stage alone with a keyboard and play a selection of tunes stripped back and very personal. It is a truly amazing thing to see one man stand at a keyboard and, before playing a note, have the entire stadium applaud and scream thier appreciation. The band came back on and when he said goodnight, we had heard one of musics great artists perform some of his greatest hits. We all stayed in our seats and chanted, whistled, clapped and cheered in the hope that we would get more. As we did, a group of latecomers arrived and squeezed past to a group of empty seat along from us. Let me tell you, it is pleasing enough to be in great seats at Prince let alone has Naomi Campbell five seats along from you. We looked around and noticed that Sadie Frost was dancing in the VIP seats, and One of the Jagger daughters behind us too. Very surreal.

The lights went to black again and Prince took to the stage again. "If you ain't going home London... neither am I" he said. And away he went. We got 'When you were mine' and 'Nothing compares to you' and others I can't remember now before he again thanked London for having him and said goodnight. We stayed in our seats and after about 20 mins we got one more, final, encore. "You're not ready for me" he said, "I've got more hits than you have time". We got purple rain again, this time with the full band and small purple and gold hearts rained down from the top of the arena and fell amongst us. I can't even remember what he closed with now, but it was an unbelievable gig.

This year continues to be the most amazing of our lives and, at times, we have to pinch ourselves to make sure it's all real.


Posted by StephenJen 12:47 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Le Tour - part one

From London to Dover.

sunny -17 °C

Hi folks,
after a long period of recovery we are finally ready to start our blog of Le Tour. We have been sleeping at every opportunity and struggling with being back at work. We hope you enjoy reading this. It was an amazing trip and will take a few entries to describe.

Our adventure started here in London with a Friday night presentation of the teams in Trafalgar Square. It gave us a chance to get a look at the team colours and also got me a Stuart O'Grady autograph. A huge crowd turned out and the scene was set for an exciting time trial on the following day.

Crowd at Trafalgar Square

Team AG2R

Crowd at Trafalgar Square

Team Caisse Depargne

On the Saturday we headed down to Hyde Park. We settled in beside Serpentine Rd, where we usually rollerblade, and positioned ourselves in front of the big screen to enjoy the event.

Big Screen at Hyde Park

CSC Time Trial

Hyde Park Crowd

Liquigas Time Trial

The first bit of bad luck for the Australians was Stuart O'Grady taking a corner too wide and enjoying a short flight over the handles and onto the road, he lost a lot of time but was able to get back on the bike and finish the stage. Bradley Wiggins was the local boy and when he went past our position a huge roar went up and the air was filled with excitement. It was all very enjoyable but over such a short distance (about 5 km) each ride was over very quickly. We were eager for the first proper road stage to begin and for our own road trip to commence also.

The van was filled with all the provisions and we were finally on the road. It was nice to see the city slowly give way to more open expanses as we headed south east toward the coast. We decided to have our first look at the race at a little place in the country called Sellinge Common. We parked the van and walked up to the route. We found a good position on a bend just before the end of one of the "King of the mountain" climbs. It was a good photo oportunity and we had the added drama of riders getting tangled up right in front of us. We got a taste of the despair a rider experiences when losing time due to an accident. One of the riders had to have his bike repaired and was almost in tears as he stood watching the peleton disappear up the hill in front of him. We all gave him heaps of applause and encouragement as he recommenced his climb. He looked broken.

Walking up to Sellinge Common

Our spot at Sellinge Common

The Peleton zipping by at Sellinge Common

We ended the day at a caravan park a few miles inland from Dover. It was a nice quiet spot with lush green grass and was crawling with rabbits.


First Tent Set Up

We bought some fish and chips and sat atop the famous white cliffs to consume them.

White Cliffs of Dover

White Cliffs of Dover

Jen on a Fence atop the Cliffs

Stephen at Dover

As we gazed across the water toward Calais I wondered what the next 22 days held for us.

I could only imagine what this amazing race would bring us. And the best was definately yet to come!

Posted by StephenJen 05:47 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (0)

Housewarming get-together...

Where the stars come out to play!

16 °C

HI all,
As you know, we are in our new place now. We wanted to get together with a few close friends to celebrate finding a new dig. What better way to start our summer than with a low key soiree with a few familiar faces. So, come on in...

Posted by StephenJen 20:32 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (0)

Da White City Massive innit!

We dig our new dig

23 °C

Hi everyone,
big it up for our new dig in White City! We finally found a place to call home. After looking at countless places all over London, we decided to go for somewhere very close to central London so we can take advantage of proximity to all the action. White City is about a 20min tube ride from the heart of town and is about to undergo a massive re-development. We are aptly living on Australia Rd, not far away from Canberra Primary School (bizarre). We are nestled in amongst a predominately Caribbean community. We have met our immediate neighbours - Rene, "Pansy" and Auntie Shah, who are very friendly and quiet (as is the whole block). We do, however, also share the block with a somewhat "Clampett like" grubby little white kid (in-bred, semi retarded, with a face like a bucket of smashed crabs) but he mostly keeps to himself and has only once mentioned to us that we "like sheep"! We pointed out that we are Australian not Kiwi but he just did a "what's eating Gilbert Grape" impersonation and left. We are in a pretty good spot here. We are a short walk from Shepards Bush which has a selection of pubs and shops we can frequent as well as a cinema to keep Jen happy.

We have continued our rollerblading and, apart from what we thought may have be a broken arm (Xrays determined severe bruising of the bone but no break), are progressing quite well. We are getting down to Hyde Park several times a week, when the weather permits, and we are hoping to skate a bit when we go abroad again.

Adam and Megs will be in town in about three weeks. We are very eager to see them again. Making new friends in a new country is great but family makes you feel safer and connected, thank goodness we have had Jane here, she has been a great support, fun to spend time with and a great tour guide!

We are saving like crazy for the next few weeks because, when A & M arrive, the four of us are going to head to France and follow Le Tour around. We have also spied some very cool music festivals, in several European countries, in August so we are hoping we might all be able to quickly head over for some live music.

respekt to the downunder massive,


Posted by StephenJen 19:58 Archived in England Tagged lodging Comments (1)

Update coming soon! Promise!

sunny 23 °C
View Our Big Adventure on StephenJen's travel map.

Okay - so apologies to those few who have been hopefully logging on to this site to see the much anticipated Belgium trip and other adventures detailed!

For the Evans and Winkley families - you know the crazy mis-adventures we have been having over the past 6 or so weeks, but for those that dont... look forward to the updates on our new flat (we "grew out" of the old one), our trip to Belgium, Jens hospital adventure, Stephens job as a receptionist, "London Swelters in a heatwave" and a beautiful day at Richmond Park to name a few....

We are staying at the Hilton at the moment (how posh!) and moving into our new place Monday & Tuesday with our best buddy Dave so will get our internet sorted out and update the site the second we do!

Hope you are all well and look forward to more email from each and everyone of you - its always nice to get news from home - though Aunty Kath - you need not have gotten into a car crash to get one from us - we would have sent you one anyway! Hope you are feeling better and that Arthur is waiting on you hand and foot (sorry Arthur....)

Take care all and we will update properly soon

Love Always & Missing You all Heaps

Jen & Stephen

Posted by StephenJen 11:08 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Hyde Park... home of the unbalanced

or...why beer is good and God hates me.

sunny 14 °C

We have been working very hard over the last couple of weeks and it occurred to us that we were already falling into the trap of using the weekend simply to recharge for more work on monday. With this in mind we sat in bed and wrote down a list of places, here in London, that we wanted to see. We made a pact to ensure that we cross something off the list every weekend.

First cab off the rank was Jen's desire to visit Hyde Park. Now, as we may have mentioned before, we live with a guy named Dave. He's very nice and also loves in-line skating (and is very good at it) so he suggested that we all go out for a Saturday afternoon of skating at Hyde Park. Sounded good. Jen likes skating, so do Kelly and Mark, and they assured me that, even though I had never skated in my life, that it would be fun and I probably wouldn't kill myself. I viewed that as a positive!

We boarded the tube and headed to Marble Arch. Dave took us to a store run by some skater dudes he knows and in no time we were tooled up with wikid skates..innit! Jen and I decided not to skate from the shop to the park - alongside the road... down a long flight of stairs - and opted to put the wheels on when we got there.

Jen looked very comfortable and competent, how hard could it be, I thought. I was about to find out. Now, I don't know how many of you have skated, but I found the journey from sitting down on the ground to standing up on wheels nearly impossible. However I soon got the knack of standing... still that is. It was really only when I commenced any type of movement what-so-ever that I ran into a wall of fear and an acute awareness of the frailty of human life! I needed help! And help was not far away. All it took was a slow, romantic skate... hand in hand. Good old Dave (cue first very gay looking moment). That good old housemate of ours babysat me the whole day. He explained the basics and pushed, stopped, guided or stopped me skating into the water. I was slowly getting better, and Jen kept telling me I was doing fine, which helped.

Stephen & Dave in Hyde Park

And again....

Halfway through the day we stopped for a drink by the lake. Now this is when I discovered why beer is good. We each had a long neck of Stella before starting off again... it was a miracle... I could skate a bit! I felt like I had been doing it my whole life. It was wonderful! A few moments later I remembered that, in fact, it wasn't, I couldn't, I hadn't and got all wobbly again.

By the time we got to the Princess Diana Memorial I was feeling like I was going to survive the outing. The memorial is very simple in design and was surrounded by kids. It seemed appropriate that this place would enable kids to relax and enjoy themselves, given her dedication to children.
Jen was still telling me I was doing well... as she skated around me... backwards! Anyway, I survived the day without a fall and we have decided to give a go again really soon. We loved it.

Beautiful daffodils everywhere in Hyde Park and in full bloom....

Hyde Park....

After skating we headed along the Lebanese strip and, on Dave's recommendation, entered a restaurant for a drink, some tiny cakes, and shisha. Shisha is that glass lamp looking device with a rubber tube coming out of it, the guy brings it out and gives you a disposible plastic tip for hygiene. It didn't know quite where to place the rubber hose... in your mouth apparently! There is water in the bottom (of the device that is) and tobacco mixed with dried apple near the top. They place hot coals on the top of a vented thingy and you smoke it like a pipe. After a bit of effort and adjusting how much we drew in, we were smoking like we were back in Coburg. It was ok, although our throats were a bit dry. Can't see us taking it up professionally.

Stephen smoking double-apple Shisha

Sunday morning we crossed one of my items off the list. We headed back to Hyde Park to visit 'Speakers corner'. The lonely planet described this place as being facinating 'especially if you like nutters'. Well, they were in abundance that morning. Essentially, anyone who has the inclination, brings along something to stand on and starts to rant on whatever subject they like.The crowd ebbs and flows as people tune in or out to the speaker. The area is predominated by religious orators.

The first speaker we encountered was a guy on a small step ladder ranting at the crowd. We decided to stay and listen. He was a sunglass wearing cockney and was angrily attacking the crowd.


Yelling at the top of his voice that they were stupid, had no morals, and that they believed in a "namby pamby Jesus". He was there to let everyone know that he loved God... and God hated us. "You are all going to an endless, painful hell" he told the crowd. Not me, I thought, if God hated me I would have crashed into the lake yesterday!




Jen getting a free hug...

It was not all fire and brimstone though - and Jen managed to get a free hug from the free hug guy.... they will both, no doubt, be going to hell as a result! The guy told Jen "that's a good hug", and he would know... he hugs professionally! I have to agree with him too.

Learn more about the Free Hug movement here

Posted by StephenJen 01:57 Archived in England Comments (1)

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