A Travellerspoint blog

ENTERTAINING IN LONDON - KIWI STYLE!

Sunny and Warm Afternoon Delights!

sunny 21 °C

Our feet have not hit the ground! Noel and I need Pluravit multi vitamins to keep up! We have had the pleasure of 4 lots of kiwi visitors starting with Wanda & Glyn Pemberton (Raglan) who are estate keepers in Godalming, Surrey. They arrived for the Notting Hill Festival, arrived with backpack and walking shoes, checked in to the Fool 'em Flat and off they went to explore London and all that it provides. Thanks guys for the chocolates and comments (cheeky as they were) left in the Guest Register.
Paul and Rae Ewing provided us with some fun nights, we think Paul is the King of the Cheap Wine Brigade, always seems to find a real "bargain" and is always ready to get the party going, and dear Rae who is the Queen in the kitchen, her white cheese sauce (out of a packet) is the world's best, and one never goes hungry when she appears with her crackers dips and cheeses - we miss you Rae! They were also satisfied no matter what! Great "roomies" who appreciated the cheaper things in life .....Paul knows his potato chips!
Dave and Wendy Timms (Howick) duly arrived, duty free Pimms, kiwi potato peeler and a laundry scoop (I had bought a super king size packet of laundry powder to last us about 2 months, and the damn thing didn't come with a scoop!), in hand and the party began.....we had our first real kiwi bbq in the back yard (see photos), we nearly set the smoke alarms off, the smoke didn't stop, the poor neighbours must have wondered what we were up to, loads of activity, noise and laughter, ..... but the chicken drumsticks and cheap steak tasted great, all washed down of course by Pimms (made with Mint and Cucumber thanks to the boys from the canal trip), and cheap red wine. We sat outside til the wee small hours, listening to great music, Dave particularly enjoyed re-living his youth with Steely Dan!

Noel and I hired a row boat whilst Wendy and Dave enjoyed peddling a canoe in the Serpentine (Hyde Park). The weather perfect, sunny, warm, 21oC, and suddenly Wendy voiced her rendition of a poem starting with "there was a young man from Ealing....who had an incredible feeling ......great fun! A leisurely stroll through Hyde Park on a Sunday afternoon lead us to Princess Diana's memorial fountain...this is the controversial one that didn't operate properly and people had accidents slipping over water cascades! But we must say, it was a rather serene and peaceful and a sight to see everyone with sox and shoes off dabbling their feet, kids paddling and giggling, and the oldies (like us) sitting on the grass and people watching.

Denis and Liz Signal (Howick) now living on the Wirral, Liverpool area, joined us for the weekend. We spent a lovely afternoon at Buckingham Palace and toured the magnificent State rooms all lavishly furnished with the world's greatest treasures, the finest porcelain and English and French furniture, paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Poussin and others, and the epitome was the special exhibition of the celebration of the Diamond Wedding of the Queen showing all the wedding costumes, archive film footage and gifts, a well organised worthy tour of this magnificent "living" palace.

Thanks to Denis for driving us in his mercedes to Tunbridge Wells to visit Scotney Castle, a late 18th century castle set in parklands, beautiful gardens, vistas and views. We topped off the weekend with another bbq together with Paul and Rae and again sipped on Pimms, wine and cold beer and chomped on salmon sausages and chicken - another fun night with loads of fun laughter and frivolity. We are making the most of these warm summer evenings.

Our quiet little flat in Fulham needs more activity, so who's our next victim....er house guest....BRING IT ON!!!
PS: An absolute cracker for you : Denis rang Buckingham Palace Tourist Office on Sunday morning regarding the palace tour, overheard Denis in his finest kiwi accent ..."Yeah Gidday, I'm enquiring about the tours of Buck House..." you just gotta laugh - well done Denis!!Canal_Boating_008.jpgBBQ_Weather_006.jpgBBQ_Weather_033.jpgBBQ_Weather_036.jpgBBQ_Weather_040.jpgBBQ_Weather_041.jpg93438BBQ_Weather_052.jpgBBQ_Weather_054.jpgBBQ_Weather_062.jpgBBQ_Weather_072.jpg

Posted by houghts 03:37 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

CRUISIN' ON THE CANAL

Land Ahoy or is it Man Overboard??

sunny 24 °C

Hands up to those who have ever tried steering a long narrowboat (otherwise called a canal boat) down a creek? Bloody hell, it's not as easy as it looks! We had visions of getting on the boat, steering out into the calm still quiet canal and meandering along at a leisurely pace, sipping on a cold beer or perhaps on a polite French red, friendly nodding and waving to our passer-by comrades and continuing on our journey from Napton following the Hawkesbury canal.........
HELL NO! We arrived at our destination (an hour and a half train ride from London) to a place called Rugby, right on schedule, we were blessed in having a really hot summers day, no wind, temperature around the high 20's and facing a rent-a-crowd London Piccadilly Circus welcome - remembering it was August bank holiday weekend! There were people, (and dogs) everywhere at the departure marina, cars, taxis, luggage, people, boats, bedlam ......and queues .......

Don't be mislead however, remembering that we four, Paul and Rae Ewing, Noel and myself, were in no particular hurry, after all, we had no pressing engagement or regimented schedule we needed to follow, hell no, we had all the time in the world to check in and get started ....

Well "Hannah" our lovely boat was presented to us and she was parked about 4 deep, which meant we had to wait for 3 other boats to be processed and depart.....we were invited on board to unpack and famaliarise ourselves with the lovely lady. WOW! Again, the English do things so damn well, "Hannah" was beautiful inside and out....2 double beds (separate bedrooms), modern bathroom with shower glass-door and toilet and handbasin, a built in modern kitchen (room to swing a healthy kiwi cat in) but boasted full oven/grill, fridge (perfect for the beer and cheese), sink and bench, cupboards with all utensils provided, and a sitting room and dining table with tv and radio. French doors leading from the sitting room to a front deck (big enough for Rae and Elsie) and a rear deck for the captains. What more could 4 kiwis ask for ........?

We were the last to leave the marina, by now it was quite late in the afternoon so being the tired and thirsty kiwis that we are, our first question we asked the boat keeper was the location of the nearest pub....and we found it, thanks to Paul and Noel manoeuvering a 30 point turn right in front of it in full view of other boaties and locals sitting in the garden bar - but hey they did it, and we eventually moored and enjoyed a really well-deserved cold beer or two, then plucked up the courage then to continue on with the trip and after a peaceful chug-a-long the canal passing loads of traffic, overlooking cows and bulls, sheep, freshly mowen hayfields and spying loads of ducks, ducklings and little birds which resumbled our kiwi pukekos, low bridges, sleepy marinas and quaint picturesque church steeples and serene inlets, we moored securely and safely and opened the bubbles, hooters (you know the ones, Elsie enjoys the birthday hooters just for the fun of it!!) and the pirates hats!! Great fun enjoyed by us all. We really were the experienced canal boaties now, but hang on a minute, what about mastering the locks, of which there were only 3 in total ......

Rae and I were designated the responsibility of firstly, jumping off Hannah onto the 'toe path' and tying the middle rope which "held" the boat close to the bank, and then opening the gate in order for Noel and Paul to sail into the lock, and undoing the paddles (this lets out the water) and then closing the gate and paddles, and opening the otherside and doing the same thing, making sure that all is done methodically and without incident - Noel came over to help us and nearly got his hand ripped off because he hadn't secured the paddle with the "key"! Of course, Rae and I knew exactly what to do ......!!

What a lot of fun and excitement, it seemed that at every lock there was a whirl of activity, as the locals seem to come out and watch the world go by and enjoy seeing everyone attempt the process, honestly we saw dogs jumping off their boats with the owners screaming at them to get back on, kids casually leaving behind their lock keys and would have if we hadn't told them, a longboat which had to stay inside the lock as its rudder had popped, just loads of noise, buzz and non-stop action. We loved it!

We met up with an incredible lot of people, thanks to sweet Dave, Guy, Kevin and Frank from Air New Zealand, who introduced us to drinking pimms on board, and to their wayward antics - believe me they had us in stiches, they had 2 NZ flags flying high on their boat, but they managed to hit other boats, (or was it the other way round), got yelled at by other captains, lost their buoy overboard,Guy talked to every Tom Dick and Harry, and who knows what else, but they truly delighted us with their stories, and we hope we can meet up again soon. And to the lovely English family (the Martins) from Doncaster (and their smelly dog!) who were so friendly towards us kiwis and made us feel so welcome in their mother country.

What an experience, please, if you are intending to travel to the UK, make it a priority to sail on the canals, it truly is so much fun, both Noel and Paul mastered the art of steering, reversing, manoevering, parking, locking, and drinking and eating whilst achieving all that!! What a memory for us all, and it was rather sad having to return to London after our 3 night stint - we kiwis are born to sail!!

We are now back to our "Fool 'em Flat" in Fulham, Paul and Rae have set sail on their Baltic Sea Cruise, and we are expecting Dave and Wendy Timms from Howick to enjoy a week on our comfy sofa bed. No doubt there are more stories to tell ........Canal_Boating_012.jpgCanal_Boating_028.jpgCanal_Boating_039.jpg

Posted by houghts 11:11 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

DENMARK, GREAT FRIENDS REVISITED

The Danes With their Warm Hospitality and Huge Hearts

semi-overcast 19 °C

We have had the most incredible experience in Denmark - a big heartfelt thanks to dear Jorgen and Kirsten Clausen (who lived in Howick in 1994) who entertained us for a week and who introduced us to all their friends and family. We were delighted to be invited to Kirsten's 50th birthday party, and we were overwhelmed with the welcome we received from them all (30 guests). Kirsten and Jorgen had politely requested before our arrival to Denmark that their guests speak English to us for the evening, and everyone obliged, and although it seemed easy for them to converse with us that night, we are aware that it was very exhausting for them at times. We still think our pronounciation of "Dybbol By-gade" sounds better than in Danish - so there! The men were so handsome in their suits, the women in their Sunday best, and well, er Noel was out of place in his sports shoes and despite that, we both managed to stay up til 4am with the Danes! We enjoyed hearing their singing, recital of poetry, stories, speeches, jokes, laughter, and dancing. Rock on "the Handyman"!

There was much to be excited about, Kirsten had decorated her "party room" adorning the 4 tables with the finest of linen, candles, flowers, glassware and china. Thanks to Kirsten number 2 for folding the serviettes ever so fancy for the tables, and to Regina for dragging Noel up onto the dance floor and giving us a little bit of "Icelandic cheek" and to dear Grandmother for her delicious home made baking, wow .....her fabulous Kransebage (marzipan ring cake), American chocolate chippy cookies (with the HUGE) chocolate bits in just for Noel, her jam "swiss roll" sponge cake (yum) and her spicy cinammon loaf, Grandmother was simply lovely and we shall always remember her generosity.

We were educated in the art of eating and enjoying Danish lunches, we were each given a wooden bread board and a plate, and we experienced eating herring, rugbrod (rye bread) and karysalat (curry sauce) and red onion followed by Danish cheese, and always saluting with a glass of schnapps! Scholl! There is always a sense of order and tradition in eating the meal, no one ever left the table at any meal time without the last person finishing, and the plate of food was handed round to each person, no one was left to stand and hold the plate out, it was always passed from person to person.

We just loved every part of the holiday, we loved seeing Rune and Thomas all grown up now, and to Kim and Lis, Tina and Benda, lovely Christian who was terrified of dancing with Elsie and almost ran from the room as she approached him to dance - we joked about that the next day, it was all great fun and the memories will be for us forever. Sorry for missing others out from this blog, you are not forgotten and will always be remembered - we truly loved meeting and talking with you all.

We hope to see our lovely friends again, they will always be welcome here and in New Zealand - Denmark is a country surrounded by water, and is very flat and green with dairy and pig farms everywhere. The fertile land and farming industry is evident everywhere, corn crops, rye, windmills generating power, recyling plants, fresh and invigorating sea breezes, and blue skies, and long straight roads that always seem to lead to the sea. We visited the West coast past Esbjerg and there was a sense of familiarity there as it so reminded us of the east coast beaches of home.

We had a fun night on the ferry from Harwich-Esbjerg and home again, its a first class hotel on the water, it boasted a twin cabin with tv and ensuite, we took on board our own picnic (cheap skates) but great to have our own bottle of red with a vegemite and cheese roll! Ahhhhh, we are such the travellers now. A great experience and one we wish to do again.

We now have Paul and Rae Ewing from Howick with us and are heading off to Coventry for a 3 night stay on a canal boat, so no doubt there will be more adventures in store for us Houghtons.

Thanks for the emails, we are thankful of our many friends and family who are keeping in touch with us all the way through our travels, and we just love to hear from you with your goings on, a little goes a long way! Take care, til next week, Noel and ElsieDenmark_Au..007_023.jpgDenmark_Au..007_033.jpgDenmark_Au..007_082.jpgDenmark_Au..007_088.jpg

Posted by houghts 14:38 Archived in Denmark Comments (1)

ENGLAND, LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY

Oh We Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside!

sunny 22 °C

The answer to our last question in our last blog ...."The Englishman who went up a Hill and Down a Mountain" starring Hugh Grant, at a tender young age of 19 or so! Get the dvd its a great movie!
We have had a great holiday in Wales and Southwest England. The weather was kind to us in every way. We weren't at all affected by the floods. We had the sun shine at every destination, yes really I tell no lies, we had a very warm and pleasant climate throughout the 3 weeks. Most days mid 20's, the hottest was 34oC (in the car - does that count?)!

We visited many beaches, and can genuinely say they were rather picturesque, pretty and even swimeable!! Don't laugh, we were sorely tempted on many occasions to dab our toes into the water but it was the scrambling across the stones that put us off! We saw many a beach-hut, deckchair for hire and wind-protectors on the coast, topless Englishmen, god do they love to take their shirts off even when they are not on the beach, surfers....can't see what they were surfing on, there was certainly no surf in sight! Plenty of full cream Devon ice-cream, hot stuffed potatoes, scones with jam and cream, and beach "rock" on sale!

We have sighted historic mansions, churches, cathedrals, abbeys, castles, gardens, ruins and pubs! We have walked many a cobbled street, not suitable for heels ladies! We have ventured in the many city centres, got lost, blamed each other for that, paid exorbitant parking fees, mastered the carriageways, the extremely narrow hedge-bordered one way traffic lanes in rural Cornwall where one takes a breath approaching a blind corner, never knowing whether to expect a tourist bus or not, motorways, A and B roads and the numerous roundabouts at major junctions, tunnels, (yep the Mersey), and those graveled country roads just marked with a white line on the map! We only had one slight traffic hold up on a dual carriageway, but overall the traffic flowed freely and easily for the 3 weeks. Great, better than Auckland!

We had great pleasure in seeing our dear friend Margaret Glover (who worked for Richard Still in Picton Street in 1989 where she and I met), who showed us Southampton coastal area, and the very pretty and quaint Bishops Waltham, who took us to the coastal resort of Hayling Island where we walked the coast track past sleepy inlets, through a cemetery, enormous holiday homes with huge gardens, and meandered to a grand little pub serving great traditional English fare followed by a well earned cold cider - thank you Margaret for your energy and expertise on the area, you are a gem, and to Greig Nicholls whom we met in Antiparos and who entertained us til 5am with his vast array of music and Belgium beers, and to our dear friend Maria Casaletto from Burnt Oak who filled us full of homemade roast and veges. and wine and who has made us feel extremely welcome in this far-away-land. Thank you guys, you are making our trip so worth while, we love you for your hospitality and friendship.

There is no rest for the wicked ....we are heading to Denmark on the overnight ferry from Harwich on Tuesday (now, that will be interesting?) .........yes, the travelling continues for us Houghtons, we are off to a 50th birthday party and seeing long lost friends, who incidentally, we met in Howick in 1996 and who now are living back in their homeland of Denmark! Can't wait! So wait up for the next instalment of life with the Houghtons.....! Keep those emails coming, we do miss you, really we do...! Love Elsie and Noel England___.._07_111.jpgEngland___.._07_120.jpg

Posted by houghts 12:59 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

WALES, YOU SO REMIND US OF HOME!

Spectacular Scenery, Vibrant Culture, and their Passion for Rugby!

sunny 20 °C

We love this wonderful country, and its made us extremely homesick, then happy to be here seeing its outstanding natural beauty of dramatic mountain peaks, national parks and forests, unspoilt coastline and clean green countryside. It has so reminded us of our lovely New Zealand. We had a very welcoming stay at Llanelli, a tiny suburb called Furnace, named for the area's production of coke (from coal), in the local wee pub was a signboard headed "the greatest victory of all" then beneath it, Allblacks v. Llanelli October 1972" truly they won't let it go, they won! Their full team and photos plastered all over the wall, they thought we were just great being there, wanted to know our views on the upcoming rugby world cup.
We of course had to visit the Millenium Stadium (WOW!) lucky those who are going for the World Cup Rugby, the tour took us into the dressing rooms (we saw where Daniel Carter limbered up before his last game!) ahhh, we marched through to the stadium (with authentic crowd noise blaring through the speakers) it gave us goosebumps! WOW! It seats 74,000!
We joined the National Trust here, this is a registered charity and is independent of government, they look after special places for ever, and for everyone, well we have gone to cathedals (Cardiff, St Davids), abbeys, mansions, estates,castles, churches, blah blah blah....but wonderful, truly magnificient grand mansions, all perfectly intact, including the linen, kitchen utensils, the table settings at the formal banquet rooms, the paintings, the books in the libraries (dating back to the 12th century ....)just perfect, you wander through these places, and feel as if you are disturbing what is real, and it is us, the visitor that is out of place.....I am in awe of Great Britain, for its history, its wealth, its culture, its magnificence, it makes one realise our very young our New Zealand really is as a country.

Who knows what "Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant" is famous for? Come on, one of you must know! Winner gets ....Mike McKenna you know the story...but better keep it clean, a warm welcome at our Fulham flat!! Give you a hint, a film was made there! ahhhh, but which one.......??

I am keeping short the blurb and wanting to give you more photos to cast your eyes upon. This wonderful country is still developing, it needs to, we have discovered it is well behind us kiwis in a lot of ways, banking, processing of crowds, queing, etc. etc. but we discovered today though that one can purchase spirits and port at the local supermarket and what a selection.....! yes the Houghts are still doing what they enjoy best, drinking the wines (we have acquired a taste for the cheap french and italian ones in the supermarket). It's all good.
ps I phoned Denis Signal from Howick whose living just out of Liverpool, he sends his regards, he and his family are in a 4 beddie house, have bought a car, toured France, and like us, are getting jobs and endeavouring to settle here for a wee while. All is well in his camp....go us kiwis!

Please keep sending us the emails, we truly do get homesick, we miss you lot (sometimes) and we appreciate our family and friends more than we ever have in the past.....hurry up and visit, a wine and bed await! Love you lots, Elsie and NoelEngland___.._07_080.jpgEngland___.._07_002.jpgEngland___.._07_005.jpgEngland___.._07_010.jpg

Posted by houghts 11:26 Archived in Wales Comments (1)

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