A Travellerspoint blog


Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Wales

rain 18 °C

We didn't make much progress in the job hunting, we seem to have hit brick walls in all directions, getting very despondent and decided to rent a car and hit the road southwest! First stop, Stonehenge then joined the National Trust and visited a grand 18th century landscaped garden adorned with a lake rare trees and plants grottoes and neo-classical italianate temples and ridges at Stourhead.

We then ventured south to Lower Godney, near Glastonbury (the place where they have an annual music festival, which was nearly washed out this year due to heavy rain). We found a very quaint and quiet b&b and as we drove down the narrow lane towards our destination at around 6.30pm, Noel commented "you could have found us a place nearer to the village pub" and as we pulled up to this 15th century building at "Two Gates Farm" low and behold a tiny pub called "The Sheppey Inn" was right next door!
We visited Sherborne Abbey famous for 15th century fan vaulted ceiling, Shaftesbury - cute 18th century cottages, cobbled streets, and the ruins of the abbey originally founded in 888 and inhabited by nuns, and later demolished by Henry VIII (a sad story).
We spent a fabulous 2 nights at Lower Godney, the locals made us feel very welcome, we met a famous singer from a band in the 70's called Racy...the song famous "some girls do...some girls don't" a chap called Richard Gower who had many a story to tell and we talked to every man and his dog one night, ventured back to our beds well into the early hours! A lovely place with such warm people. We shall be back!
We ventured south and spent 3 nights in a "static caravan" hey, don't laugh, it was a 3 bedroom lounge/dining with full bathroom with all mod. cons out in the sticks in a place called Lanivet nr. Bodmin a village south of Bodmin Moors. We drove to a National Trust mansion Lanhydrock another grand estate with extensive wooded acres and formal gardens, the house magnificent, quite modestly furnished rebuilt after a fire in 1881, the property illustrates life in a 17th century victorian manor house, we viewed the kitchen, servants quarters, childrens nursery and of course the formal dining banqueting areas, library etc all still original, wow!
Drove to touristy Lands End, on to Mousehole, a maze of narrow alleys and tiered cottages on the sea, up to extremely busy touristy St Ives, a seaside art colony here from the 1920's then met up with Bruce Hawkey who walked us around the coast with spectacular views on a glorious sunny day, near Wadebridge then on to Clovelly, you now pay to visit this ancient fishing village right on the cliff above the sea.
We are now in Wales, a little drier than the Gloucestershire area of England, and will report back further later in the week.
Thanks for the emails, keep them coming, we love hearing from you all. ps Noel and I were fortunate to meet some friendly staff (Mark and Gerry) at Bude Golf course who allowed us in to watch the Bledisloe Cup game on their sky tv here on Saturday morning (8.30am) and to whom we are grateful!

Posted by houghts 02:56 Archived in Wales Comments (1)



sunny 20 °C

Well it's been a slow start here for us Houghtons! After holidaying for so long, we have become quite lazy and are enjoying the sleep-in's on the sofa bed. Who would have thought a sofa bed could be so comfy, but having the tv in the room helps and we are enjoying Breakfast television here, the poms do know how to report the news (so in depth, and so interesting!) .....
We are now making a conscious effort in finding work, we have registered with a couple of recruitment agencies, but the fascinating thing we've learned about all of this so far is that no recruitment agency actually wants to meet you, they seem to want you to email in your cv and then they will communicate with you only if they have a suitable job available! It's a bit off putting as Noel put his cv out to about 5 agencies and didn't get one reply and after 2 days he had to phone them back, all saying that as soon as a job is available they will contact him, and even then that's only to get an interview (along with zillions of others) so it's been a wake up call for him.
As for me, my ego was deflated last Friday when, after sending through my cv full of glowing references with my 25 years plus legal experience the young recruitment agent called "Louise" emailed me back advising that "due to not working in law for the past 5 years she could not place me in any legal position, secretarial, reception, admin or otherwise"!!?? Hell, presuming Louise is paid on commission, chances are she is very very poor indeed! However, both Noel and I have got interviews lined up this week so watch this space...!

We have caught up with Victoria Gibbs having enjoyed a yummy thai meal in Bond Street (Vic knew all the pubs and places to go, she is a sociable young thing) her enthusiasm and energetic spirit was uplifting for us oldies, we visited Edgware, this town is at the end of the Northern Line (north London) and this is where Noel and I first met in 1978! The old house still looked the same, but a couple of the pubs had changed a lot, one had actually closed and was rather run down, a bit sad as we had spent a number of fun nights there in our youth.

We have caught up with John Cock (my old boss in 1986) who is taking me to Covent Garden on Wednesday morning, he is a Friend of Covent Garden, and gets these cheap (or mostly free) tickets and there is a dress rehearsal on for a 17th century opera about two men who go off to war and when they return the men swap places to check on the infidelity of their wives! something like that, I will fill you in after Wednesday, me thinks David Gibbs will know what I am talking about (ghad I love him for that).

We then visited our friend Maria who lives in Burnt Oak (one station from Edgware) whom I worked with in 1977, and she took us out for a curry, it was great, the variety of curries was absolutely amazing, really, we didn't recognise half of the meals (too diverse a range) but just brill and both Noel and I realise that no matter the length of time away from our friends, the distance between, it's so easy to just pick up and carry on where we left off....no one seems to have aged, everyone seems just the same, it's a neat feeling that's for sure!

We met up with a kiwi couple who are estate minders/housekeepers/gardeners in a tiny village in Surrey called Godalming. What a delightful place! We spent the afternoon drinking cider and watching a local cricket match, the sun came out and it truly was a relaxing day. Noel and I then ventured down to Portsmouth on Saturday night and visited the Naval Museum and the Mary Rose, the only tudor warship remaining in the world (at least 400 years old)! The poms salvaged the ruins in 1979 and its a remarkable restoration story, the ship was named after his favourite sister of Henry VIII, and the scientists have found most items intact and in perfect condition (the silt in the water has preserved most of it), truly fascinating. We also visited the D-Day museum, boy what an exhibition of gear, even the original plan of attack (operation over lord) showing location of warships, aeroplanes, bomb carriers, taking up one whole wall, all handwritten and handpainted symbols etc. Quite incredible, very intelligent people those poms! I left there showing great respect for those war heroes, and a half of cider at the Old Port Pub finished off a great day out!
Some more pics for you all to enjoy, the sun's been out now for 3 days, even have the washing outside today! Ahhhhh, London can be a 'home away from home' that's for sure. Plans for the week: find jobs, meet up with a couple we met in Greece, opera, we are hoping to visit a town called Matlock to catch up with Noel's ex workmate and then a Sunday roast back with Maria........til next time, da HoughtsCatching_u..and_005.jpgCatching_u..and_013.jpgCatching_u..and_012.jpgCatching_u..and_033.jpgCatching_u..and_037.jpg

Posted by houghts 05:44 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)


One Extreme to Another!

rain 17 °C

Good afternoon from civilized Mother England! We have been in the most extreme of weather temperatures in the last 24 hours. Greece is in the middle of a heat wave, we were in it, although we were quite oblivious to the fact until we disembarked from the ferry at Athens! We were greeted with the most intense heat Noel and I have ever been in, seriously, we could hardly breathe, and lugging our luggage and backpacks didn't help.

We followed the passengers en masse (100's of them) off the ferry and just went with the crowd, the leader of the pack seemed to know where to go because we arrived at the Athens underground station and its actually quite a simple travel system, we managed to make it to Syntagma Square without getting lost and only for a mere E1.60 for two. We had been approached earlier by a taxi driver to take us to our hotel for E25.00, hey, we are very street wise now and know the value of the euro. One euro equals $2.00 NZ.

We had about a 10 minute walk from the Square to the hotel and in that time we reckon we sweated litres and our clothes just clung to us, the sweat trickled from places we never knew sweat glands existed!!?? Not sure how we looked when we arrived at the hotel reception, but by god we needed a cold beer by then! That's when the receptionist told us temperatures had risen that day to the highest level in 25 years = 460C IN THE SHADE! Can you believe that? Man it was unbearably hot in the room, the aircon was on overtime but we simply stayed in our room with wet towels on our feet, naked and we still sweated! OK moving on....

We arrived in London 24 hours later to a temperature of 16oC....work out the temperature difference!

England just appeared to be so clean green fresh and the rain just washed all that heat from our bodies. We are quite happy to be in temperatures we are used too!

Today London is saddened by the news of a massive bomb scare alert in Haymarket, Piccadilly, and it seems ironic that Noel and I were there yesterday afternoon. We caught the bus to Piccadilly Circus and walked down Haymarket to NZ House, walked past the American Express office where the car was located this morning. We are numbed by the news today, but this is real life London, it is expected, and it brings to one senses the vulnerability of us wee kiwis on this side of the world away from our lovely safe New Zealand haven.

We are flat sharing in a fabulous suburb of Fulham, near Wimbledon, and we know we shall enjoy living here, loads of pubs, parks, cafes, restaurants, and all near to buses and tube. The sofabed will serve us (and our guests) well, we are really looking forward to having guests and are starting the bookings for the sofa bed now, so first in, first served!!!

On a more sobering thought, we are on the serious look out next week for jobs, and are meeting up with some old friends so we shall have more news for you soon. Tomorrow we are at The Slug, a pub in Fulham which is showing the All Black v Oz test at 10am. Noel and I have our all black scarves ready, our first encounter of a rugby match in a London pub. Roll on Saturday!

Thanks for the comments too, enjoy these photos, they certainly brought a tear to my eye when we saw them! Cheerio for now, Noel and Elsie93438Italy___Greece_207.jpgItaly___Greece_181.jpgItaly___Greece_040.jpgItaly___Greece_083.jpgItaly___Greece_072.jpgItaly___Greece_143.jpgItaly___Greece_146.jpg93438Italy___Greece_094.jpgItaly___Greece_174.jpg93438

Posted by houghts 05:38 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)



sunny 40 °C

We are saddened by the fact that all great holidays must come to an end. We have truly felt relaxed and unstressed here, and have fallen in love with all things Greek! We have also had the great fortune of meeting some lovely people, Pauline and Mark our English friends running a bed n breakfast in France to whom we had many a laugh on the beach with a beer, and lovely Nicolle from the bike rental shop who lives here on this little island with a population of only 800, and who kept giving us such cheap rental on the quad, half price, and we never asked it, nor expected it, we enjoyed hearing her stories and her cheerful disposition, farewell our little Greek girl, and Greig from Street in Somerset England who is here for a 3 month working holiday, sweating in the taverna at our favourite beach, Apandima, 7 kms away from the village, for whom Noel has enjoyed as they talk music all night long, and whom we have shared the sunsets with, and many nights and early morning stints at Remember Bar where we drink oozo, amstel and listening to old songs from the 70's til dawn..thank you both for your hospitality and company over the last 2 weeks for we shall truly miss you.

We have appreciated the way the Greeks take their time over most things, its just too damn hot to work quickly, and how they serve huge thick slabs of white crusty bread to you before you have even ordered a meal, the paper tablecloths freshly laden at the table as you sit down, the red wine is served in a tin decanter, the menu may look full but when its time to order, only a handful of meals are available, the way the Greek owner will come to the table and discuss how the meals are made, usually by his loving wife out the back in the kitchen, and how, when they present the meal to you, in one hand is the food, the other a cigarette! And always, well nearly always, a gratus token left by the owner, either an oozo, raki, or watermelon, they are generous and open. We thank the Greeks for that.

The food, well what can we say, simply and plainly delicious, oily, lack of vegetables, plenty of stewed veal and beef and some lamb, their full greek salads boasting always a huge slab of feta cheese covered with oil and fresh oreganum, which incidentally, grows wild here and smells devine. Their chargrilled squid, which we saw drying out on the wooden old boats on the seafront every day, ready to dine on that night. The juicy cucumbers, red full tomatoes, and olives, we truly have savoured their cuisine, and thank them for that.

The sea, the beautiful med. the crystal clear waters with stony bottom and little tiny fish that swim round your feet. The calmness of it, the freshness of it, we have our little 'houghton cove' where we have had so much fun jumping in from the rocks above, snorkelling and finding tiny fish and sea eggs, where the depth of the water seemed never ending, purely magical and we shall so miss that little quiet spot in the sea. We thank them for that.

We have sat and watched the most spectacular sunsets at Sunset Beach, you will see a photo next week of that, every night at between 8.20-8.50pm Noel and Shirley V, together with Greig, would simply sit quietly and watch and absorb the most colourful richness before us as the sun disappeared slowly beneath the horizon.....I don't ever recall seeing such a sunset before, it truly moved me every time. We thank them for that.

We have spent 2 weeks here, Antiparos is quite perfectly our special Greek piece of paradise. Kia ora, we shall love it forever.

We are now heading back to London, full of trepidation and again not sure of what to expect, we are ready to settle with a roof over our heads, having a permanent address, a washing machine and fresh vegetables! Our main aim there is to find work, and meet up with old acquaintances, so let's see what awaits us and roll on our next adventure!

Yasos and yamas!!

Posted by houghts 06:12 Archived in Greece Comments (2)

Our little piece of Greek paradise!


sunny 32 °C

Yee ha, we are in heaven! This little island, 20 minutes ferry ride from Paros is perfect, picture this.....our own 2 bedroom whitewashed studio, covered balcony with purple flowering bouganvillia, overlooking straight out to deep blue sea, brightly coloured wooden dinghys, a blue domed church and an authentic wooden and whitewashed windmill, and more, the two frequent Paros ferries that come and go all day long, then the huge expanse of blue....water and sky, and to the right of us is the waterfront lined with tavernas and rooms to rent, its a very traditional small settlement and the main street is a long flagstoned pedestrian street leading from the jetty with tiny shops and tavernas abound to a quiet courtyard with again several cafes shaded by a giant eucalyptus. Beyond the village is Psarliki, a golden sanded clear water beach shaded by tamarisks, perfect for lying under and watching the topless women (that's in for the men!!). We met a couple from England who now own and run a b&b in France (a 3 hour drive south from Paris) and will meet up with them again, but let's tell you about our wee adventures....We hired bikes and rode 6kms to a quiet stony beach where the water was crystal clear, with the bonus of shade and a neat taverna selling thai food and of course cold beer and right on the beach.....you can imagine Noel's delight! More special though we walked on up a overgrown track to find concrete steps leading right to the water below, and we both jumped in and explored around the rocks underwater, just oh so clear and no one else there but us .....we won't use the bikes again as we were both bitten by gorillas in the butt!!? Another day we trekked south along the coastline where we spotted local fisherman bashing octopus on the rocks (to tenderise we suspect!) and further along the remote and stony trail in the middle of no-where a man with two dogs approached...the man was completely starkers!!! Yes, in disbelief we walked towards him not sure where to look....! We of course got round the next bend and discovered...you guessed it ....a remote beach complete with naked bodies everywhere.....!!!??? We had a great day out on a quad bike and hooned on up past our private little beach (top speed 33kph so don't get excited) to Soros beach and Ayios Yeorios where 3 tavernas were right on the beach all boasting octopus drying on the line out front...we ended up back on our private rocky cove and enjoyed the coolness of the water, temperature has increased over the last few days, apparently it is expected up to 40oC here tomorrow! At Pavlos Place taverna we experienced the best Greek meal so far, as we entered we were ushered to the kitchen to choose what we wanted to eat, all dishes made by the owner's wife, sister in law and various family members...superb atmosphere and the owner shouted us an oozo to cap off a delicious meal of slow ovenbaked lamb, beefstew, garlic potatoes, beetroot and spinach...wow! We have yet to visit the great cave and will report back to you soon. In the meantime we are now off to enjoy a picnic on the beach and for Noel to do more "bird watching"! Yasos

Posted by houghts 01:48 Archived in Greece Comments (3)

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