Monday, May 31, 2010

31 May 2010 Froghall Steam Train ride and Lock Operator

Mick winding sluice gate

Mick and Roy working a lock


Lyn by a Canal and Narrow Boat

Pub Lunch at the Boat Inn

Lyn outside a country pub The Boat Inn

English Song Thrush

Davina Lyn and Roy on a Steam Train

Dad's Army at Frogall and Cheddleton Railway Station

View of Steam Train whilst travelling in a diesel car

Roy at Kingsley and Frogall Railway Station

Lyn with Station Master at Frogall Station

Steam/Diesel Train Ride and Canal Lock operation - 31 May 2010

Today started off sunny but it didn't last long before it became overcast. We went out to Froghall to the Kingsley and Froghall railway Station near Stoke-on-Trent for a ride on a restored steam train and then on the return journey rode on a first generation diesel powered train. At the end of the line before we turned round to come back ,we went to a local pub called the The Boat Inn for lunch. I couldn't believe how small the pub was inside. Even I almost had to duck to walk under the beams. The place was quite busy and the food was wonderful though. It takes some getting used to listening to the Manchurien accents. It's almost like you are part of an English TV show! Lyn had to keep saying to me "What did he/she say?" Unfortunately she reckons I am starting to talk like them - reverting to being a pom.

Anyway after the pub lunch we went for a walk down the side of the canal to a flint mill now closed but they still have the grinders being turned by paddles using the water flowing down the river. I suggested that they harness the drive of the wooden paddles to generate their power.

On the way we bumped into a couple chugging down the canal in their boat and offered to help them negotiate the locks. One thing is for certain, it's not the way to travel if you are in a hurry.

Back home at 3pm to catch up with the French Open. Hey, go Stosur!! (She beat Justine Henin) That's for those who are not tennis fans.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

30 May 2010 Visit to Trentham Gardens Near Manchester

Roy Lyn Davina Mick at Trentham Gardens

Lyn at Trentham Gardens sign

Lyn with Bluebells

More Bluebells

Canada Geese

Canada Geese chicks

English Bumble Bee

Today we went for a walk around Trentham Gardens and expansive lake and recreation area not far from Manchester. There are a couple of islands in the lake where Herons breed and the RSPB set up Swarovski telescopes to enable visitors to view the Herons which nest there.

The weather was sunny but chilly and all the families and children were out playing as if it was a summers day when it fact it was freezing cold in the wind.

We left at about 1230pm to get home to watch the Formula 1 race from Turkey on the TV. It was on the BBC with no ads. How good was that. Except that the German idiot Vettal tried to run Mark Webber (his team mate) off the track when Webber was leading.

Shepherds pie tonight. Now there's a good old English meal. Davina doesn't seem to mind cooking after all Joyce.

Still waiting for the tickets for the Goodwood Festival of Speed to arrive. But I do have the receipt.

29 May 2010 A rainy day in England

Raining most of the day today so stayed home and watched the Formula1 qualifying before going for an evening walk.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

28 May 2010 Visit to Buxton, The Peak District

Lyn in Buxton in the Peak District

Lyn at an English post box in Buxton

Shop Michael Angelo (Micks father's given names)

Deceased Badger

28th May 2010
Today we drove out to the Peak District. What a green and pleasant land this is. We visited the town of Buxton where like everywhere else parking is a problem. It was lovely once we had negotiated the maze of roads to get into the country. We were asking about badgers and Roy said you are not likely to see one unless it was dead. Very prophetic, see the picture.


Lyn was excited because we saw a white swan which are protected here as they are the Queen's bird.

Mute Swan

We saw all sorts of other birds including Jackdaws. They have Magpies here but they are not like ours.
We got a long range photo of the Jodrell Bank telescope.

Jodrell Bank telescope from a distance

We went into a few of the shops and the Marks and Spencers store had an ATM inside which I got £500 from and it was in £20 notes. By the way the reason I am taking large sums is that it cost £1.25 each time you do a withdrawal. Using the travel card at stores to buy goods costs nothing and the transactions are visible on the ANZ site immediately so you can keep a track of the cards use.

27 May 2010 Sightseeing at the huge Bridgemere nursery/cafe/supermarket

Bridgemere Nursery

Old Cottage at the Bridgemere Nursery

Mick with Dog Statue

27th May 2010

Another relaxing day visiting a local nursery which is supposed to be the biggest in the Northern Hemisphere. It was pretty impressive and expansive with a few shops thrown in. The plants seemed very expensive. We even saw Bottle Brush for sale (Calistemon?).
As an aside, our travel cards which we got from the ANZ bank work really well except that many of the ATM's around have a low limit. We could only get £400 from the first one we tried and the notes were £10 denominations.

26 May 2010 Newcastle-under-Lyme Familiarisation Phones/Internet

Looking around the area getting phones and Internet sorted 26th May 2010.

Today we had a relaxing day and went with Roy and Davina to the local shopping centre to do some shopping and organised our Mobile Phone and Internet.

We got the best deal at the O2 mobile phone shop where we got two SIM cards for our phones which we had brought with us from Aus. It cost £19.99 for the two SIM cards with 50 minutes free international calls each and £10 of local credit each. The Wireless Internet Dongle cost £5 and a months use with 3GB download cost £15. Easy.

Spent the rest of the day relaxing. Jet lag doesn't seem to be a problem perhaps because we slept for most of the flight from Hong Kong to Zurich?

23-26 May 2010 Hong Kong to Zurich then onto Manchester

Davina and Roy's house at Newcastle-under Lyme

Lyn learning Sudoku

Davina Perrier

Vauxhall Astra - hire car


Late evening 25th May 2010 and 26th May 2010.

Got to the Hong Kong airport after the 1 hour drive from the Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Island in plenty of time for the Swissair flight. When we got on the plane (Airbus A340) we were disappointed to find that it was an older style plane with seats that still had a slope forwards when tilted right back. I guess we had been spoilt on the earlier flight which had these beautiful cubicles which turned into full beds on Cathay Pacific. Anyway since it was 11pm we were going to sleep no matter what. Then of course the hostess arrived with the dinner menu which had heaps of choices but since we had already eaten in Hong Kong we declined the meal, layed back our seats, put on our earphones and masks and settled down to sleep. The beds were very uncomfortable to start with and it seemed that we didn't much sleep but when we opened our eyes at about 9am a lot of things around the cabin had changed so we must have slept. The flight was quite bumpy through the night and the pilot apologised for the turbulence.
Anyway we had a good breakfast about 90 minutes before we landed so it seemed to be a very quick flight. The Swiss style breakfast was excellent. We landed in Zurich on time and had to hurry to catch the connection to Manchester as we only had 50 minutes before the connecting flight was leaving. There were even Police waiting in the tunnel when we got off the plane to check our passports.

The A320 left on time and we were again offered breakfast of bacon and eggs, muesli with yogurt and/or fruit followed by Swiss chocolate bars which we grabbed 4 of!

Arrived in Manchester on time and sailed through customs to find our relatives waiting for us.
Then onto Hertz to pick up our rental car which turned out to be a Vauxhall Astra Turbo 6 speed manual which cost us $30 per day for 107 days, a bargain.

The drive to Newcastle-under Lyme was different but since Roy knew the way it made it much easier. We turned Lyn's Nokia N95 phone/gps on to see if it matched Roy's directions. (It didn't).

But it probably would have got us there as it wanted us to go down the motorway and Roy took us by the back roads.

The roads seemed very narrow to what we are used to and on the 'A' roads you can do 60 mph (100kph) which seemed much too fast. We arrived safely at their place and spent the day settling chatting and catching up with news.
They have a small house (by Australian standards) which is semi-detached IE 2 houses in the one building. It is very quiet here as the house is on and estate so there isn't any through traffic but the house is double brick with double glazing which makes a huge difference. The weather has been cool and today it is raining. Everything is so green and lush, but very small.

Monday, May 24, 2010

24-25 May 2010 Hong Kong

Cathy Pacific Airbus - Adelaide to Hong Kong

Lyn making herself comfortable in her business class seat

Mick making himself comfortable in his business class seat

Lyn in her business class capsule

Lyn at The Peak overlooking Hong Kong

View from the Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong

Traffic in front of Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong

Lyn and Mick Hong Kong Skyline

Lyn and Mick on a Sampan in Hong Kong Harbour

Lyn relaxing in the hotel Lobby

Hong Kong Harbour floating Restaurant

Hong Kong cab

Hong Kong food market

Plenty of electrical shops

Hello from Hong Kong,

The flight over from Adelaide to Hong Kong was fantastic, business class is well worth the money, the crew were lovely. We each had our own capsule to sit in which had it's own entertainment centre and seat/bed. It converted into a nice bed which was great for watching the LCD display. They made interacting with one's partner somewhat difficult though but I could reach over and massage Lyn's head during the flight which the air hostess thought was a lovely thing to do. My suggestion to Lyn for us to join the mile-high club was soundly rejected though.

As we were flying during the day we didn't need to sleep but it would be an excellent way to fly overnight. Lyn watched "Up in the Air", with George Clooney, then "It's Complicated" with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin, next was (forgot the title) about 4 couples learning about each other, it was OK. Michael watched "Avatar" he enjoyed it, plus other stuff. The food was fantastic as was the crew. We felt good when we got here, although Lyn felt a little queasy after dinner, but that soon passed.

We didn't leave the Hong Kong airport till about 10.15pm and it took about an hour to get to Cosmopolitan Hotel in Wan Chai which is on Hong Kong island. Hong Kong airport seemed huge as we had to walk miles when we got off the plane although they did have some moving walkways.

The hotel accommodation was great, 20th floor overlooking the Hong Kong jockey club and the actual race course. Very tired after the trip up from Adelaide. Got to bed about 12.30am which is about 2.30am Australian time. Good nights sleep was needed. Going on a tour of the Harbour, Victoria Peak etc this morning. Waiting for the transport. The traffic looks mad out there.

Found this free wireless Internet in the lobby. You have to pay for the WiFi in your room. Bugger that! the lobby is free as is the dining room

Monday morning: 24/05/10

We have just spent the last 5 hrs touring around. We Visited Victoria Peak which overlooks Hong Kong, fantastic views of the sky scrapers and the city. Smog spoiled it a bit but it was about the same level as Adelaide from Mount Lofty. Went to the Stanley Markets, quick stop to have a look around, bought Michael a lovely grey Cashmere jumper. Passed Jackie Chan's house where he lives when in town. Hong Kong is a great place, we just love it. The people are very friendly and the city is very clean, except for some of the high rises. Just loving it. We went to a jewelery place this morning, I was very good and didn't buy a thing but the very attentive staff did try hard. We also went on a Sampan cruise around the harbour, Aberdeen I think the area we went to was called. They are going to fill part of it in to create more building space, they sure need it.

Monday afternoon 24/05/2010

Evening from Hong Kong

We have just got back from the Laser Light Symphony. We caught the ferry over, walked the "Avenue of Stars", saw Jackie Chan's star and hand prints. Went and had a fantastic Chinese feed, We walked around the Harbourside Shopping Centre.

We had the hard sell at various places, Rolex watches included!!!, we declined all offers. We caught a taxi when we got off the ferry. It cost $A4 for a hair raising ride back to the hotel. Boy those guys can drive. We didn't hit a thing! They would put Mark Webber to shame. All the taxis are the same, white roof red body and Toyota Crown Comfort models.

Having a great time, off to bed now. As we will have another big day tomorrow. Going to the Ladies Markets etc etc.

Tuesday afternoon 25/05/2010:

Been to the Ladies Markets in Mong Kok. We went over on the Metro underground rail link. It was a bit like the London underground only much cleaner. And they have glass panels with large doors so you can't fall or be pushed onto the track like they do in the movies when the train is coming!! What a place, old and new buildings. The place was, cramped, hot, sticky, busy, crowded and for the hundredth time "I don't want a Rolex". You could buy anything you want there. Plenty of bargaining to be done though.

We came home on the Metro again but changed lines to get close to the hotel.

Since we weren't sure whether we were going to be fed on the plane which was to leave at 2255, we walked from the hotel to the food markets just 5 minutes away to get something to eat. Was that an eye opener. An Australian food inspectors worst nightmare or heaven depending on his perspective. All the fish, prawns, crabs and other seafood we had never seen before was alive and leaping about. The meat wasn't alive obviously but although it was hanging out in the open it looked very fresh. Anyway we chickened out and bought a sandwich and some fruit. It took quite a while for us to find anywhere to sit down but we eventually found a little park amongst the traffic chaos.

We got back to the hotel for our late checkout a 6pm and then sat in the lobby using their free Wi Fi to send catch up on emails before leaving on the airport shuttle to catch the A340 to Zurich.

Hong Kong is a great place. Well worth a visit but 2 days isn't enough time. The place is very clean and the people were exceptionally courteous and helpful.

15 minutes to go before the shuttle comes to take us to the airport. Not looking forward to 13 hours on the plane, still there is plenty of in-flight entertainment and we hope to sleep. After all we do have beds! and a warm doona on Cathay Pacific, not sure what to expect with Swiss Air.

Now onto Newcastle-under-Lyme.