Friday, February 12, 2010


On a mission to reinvigorate the travel spirit and break the bonds which keep us tied to the desks where we toil we upped anchor for a long weekend and set sail for Amsterdam with Jess in tow as carry on luggage.

The financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is “well” impressive. Of course we were there for the red-light district and the many cannabis coffee shops so the weekend was a smoked filled blur of excess - excess in art and culture that is mum...

In seriousness we took in Amsterdam’s main attractions including its historic canals – yay town planning.

The Rijksmuseum was good for a morning of arts, crafts and history and is most famous for its collection of Rembrandt paintings, especially The Night Watch and its collection of Johannes Vermeer pieces.
Likewise the Van Gogh Museum (pronounced Van Gock by the Dutch) was also a good few hours. Showcasing work through VG’s life and his various emotional ups and downs right up to his death, it's home to the largest collection of VG paintings and drawings in the world.
One afternoon was spent on bicycles as we took to the dangerous streets for a fast paced look around. Driving on the right hand side of the road with trams, cars and bicycle lanes is no easy feat and apart from the occasional mishap like Jess and Clint colliding on takeoff it was incident free – or close enough to it.

The Anne Frank House was also on the cards as we toured the home of the Jewish wartime diarist who hid from Nazi persecution with her family and four other people in hidden rooms. Grim is a pretty good description of the place which is devoid of furniture. The mystery of who tipped off the Nazi’s still remains but my money is on Johannes Kleiman. I'm yet to meet a good Kleiman, they all seem to be a bunch of cheese heads!

Random Fact: Van Gogh didn’t start painting seriously until the age of 26. This means thats for Dan and I it's not too late to quit the day jobs and take up a brush.
Lessons Learned

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Keen for a weekend away we jumped a train to Bath. Joining us on our adventure were fellow New Zealanders, Jess and Leighton and our resident Bathonian travel buddy, Holly.

Bath is steeped with ancient history. It was first established as a spa resort by the Romans in AD 43 who took full advantage of the UK's only naturally occurring hot springs.

The must see attraction in Bath is the old Roman Baths. The complex is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. What started off as a temple between 60-70 AD gradually built up over the next 300 years. When the Romans ruled the roost bathing was hugely social and with a hot bath, warm bath and cold bath (the frigidarium) on offer they knew what they were doing.

When the Romans left in the 5th century the things went down hill and the baths fell into disrepair and were eventually "lost" due to silting up.

Audio tours are the norm so we hired some phones and set off around the baths. Type the number on the wall into your phone and it tells you all about what you're looking at. Dan and Jess really liked the phones.

Brilliantly Bath is a World Heritage Site and the architecture is superb. All of the buildings are made out of bath stone which gives the city a unique honey colouring.

Bath has an impressive looking Abbey however there is just no pleasing some people.

By this time we were thinking Roman Baths, architecture, funky stone, arguably impressive Abby, what else can Bath conjour up? Then we discovered the canals and locks.

With the dream of owning a home in Bath beyond the reach of the average Joe, we think more people should take to the water. After the initial setup fee of buying the boat (a fraction of the price you'd pay for a house) all you have to do is pay for a mooring. The locks are easily navigated so if you don't like your neighbours you can up-anchor AND technically you're a Skipper!

No trip to Bath is complete without a staunch photo next to a canal.

Leighton is easily lost but luckily he isn't afraid to ask for directions.

Random Fact: There are large statues of pigs all over Bath. Curious, we decided to get to the bottom of Bathonians love for the swine. Legend has it that Bladud, king of the Britons contracted leprosy in Athens. When he returned home he was locked up as a result but being cunning he escaped and went into hiding. Working as a swineherd just outside of Bath he noticed his pigs would go into a moor in cold weather and return covered in black mud. Being a good swineherd he found that the mud was warm and that they did it to enjoy the heat. Bladud tried covering himself in the mud bath and found that it cured his leprosy. He was promptly restored to his position as heir-apparent to his father and founded Bath so that others might also benefit.


Lessons Learned:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

St Albans

We decided to end our travelling hiatus with a day trip to St Albans. Located only a short distance from London, St Albans is a hot spot for well to do professionals who don't want to live in the city.

St Albans is very old and rich in history. It was inhabited by the Celts before the Romans came and was the secondest largest city during Roman times (behind Londinium). It is alse where Magna Carta was drafted.

In religious circles, St Albans is on the pilgrim trail for its very impressive Cathedral. Measuring roughly 170 metres long, there is a lot of different bits and pieces to see.

The Cathedral is built on the spot where tradition has it that St Alban, the first British Christian martyr was beheaded (apparently before AD 324).

England turned on a beautiful summers day for the occasion and we were "well" impressed by the weather. St Albans is a market town and Saturday is market day so we took full advantage and picked up some cherries and blue cheese, amongst other things.

Random Fact: Too many facts to pick just one

- English summer
- Market produce
- The £1 a bowl guys

Lessons Learned
- St Albans is steeped in history and one day wasn't enough. There are Roman remains we didn't explore and one of the oldest pubs in the UK.