Friday, December 24, 2010

6 Canynge Road, Clifton - Xmas Eve 2010

Nicky is now home from overseas, and has chipped in with the work to get the house straight. We moved the cats over and stayed the night for the first time on Sat 18/12. Either side we spent many hours moving stuff from 2 Red Cottages, doing the unpacking work for the removals company, who in true Pommie style whinged about how many stairs there were and how understaffed the team was, and generally setting up home.

The house is similar in style to Gatehouse St, but turned up on its front - both are narrow, but Gatehouse St was long and on 2 floors, Canynge Road is short but tall on 5 floors:-
Basement - self container flat, in need of a reno in 2011
Gr fl - kitchen and dining room
1st fl - lounge and music room
2nd fl - master bedroom, en suite and Stuey's office
3rd fl - two guest rooms (one doubling as Nicky's office and a general dumping shop right now) plus Jack and Jill bathroom between the two. The bathroom can be accessed from both bedrooms, so we hope Jack and Jill get on well!!

We all love IKEA furniture, especially putting it together, which is difficult enough with the instructions, you know all those smily faced diagrams with no text. Well if you want a challenge over the Xmas holiday, try putting some of it up without the instructions!

The cats have settled quickly. The previous owner didnt have a pet, so there is no need to wee in every spot that smells have the past owner's hound or mog. And they are loving having thier stuff back from Australia, particularly the bed, ottoman and rugs, with thier smells and fur. So we are all feeling better as a result of getting our toys off the boat from Melbourne.

The kitchen has lots of flash gismos. There is no need for a kettle as the is a contast boiling water tap. The video shows Nicky opening her plate warmer! Our Mrs Beeton books seems like anacronystic in here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New House - Sat 11/12/10

After a few false starts we have finally bought a home, in Clifton, Bristol.

Our postal address is 6 Canynge Road, Clifton Bristol BS8 3JX.

Nicky is still in Australia, returning to Bristol on 16/12 after a work trip to Qatar.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Travel Woes, of a different kind!!

This week has seen some crazy weather, and both Nicky and Stuart had transport disruption. Nic flew to Australia on Tues 30/11 - the plane to Doha was delayed and she missed her connection. She was treated to a day in Doha. On the same day Stuart drove to Leeds to work with Opera North, on an all Russian programme including Stravinskys The Firebird. Yorkshire had some of the worst of the recent cold snap, only second to the Scots. The photo shows the view from the car going to work on Wed 1/12. As Stuart watched a huge snow dump thro the rehearsal, Nicky was watching the desert in Doha. Odd indeed!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snow in November - 27/11/2010

In case we were not sure what country we were in, the snow on 26th Nov made it very clear. We are on the North Pole! We are flattered to have had two requests for a snow report, thank you Sheena and Loch!

We were meant to be doing a Faure Requiem concert in Powys, mid Wales this weekend, but it was cancelled due to the weather. We are hoping for snow in Brisbane too, to save the first test!

The video demonstrates Stuart clinging onto his Auzzie stuff, sporting an Akubra, North Melbourne scarf and R M Williams boots, all designed for very different conditions, but all doing a fantastic job.

Being an academic cat, and now living in the country of Sir Isaac Newton, Wodonga is learning about gravity. He has established that however much he tries it is impossible to get all four paws off the snow for more than a second!

The footprints in our garden are not ours. We met Jock, our local policeman this morning, who was checking up on reports of crooks in the neighbourhood. Abbots Leigh church has had £10,000 of lead nicked off the roof recently, and Jock believes Leigh Woods church, right next door, is about to get a bit leaky and draughty. Might check the household insurance policy. Welcome to Britain!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brugge und Koln - 19-21 Nov 2010

One of our goals in returning to the UK was to "do" Europe. So we nipped across the channel and sampled 5 countries, in a single day!

Axel knew a great farmhouse near Damme, which is just North of Bruges, Belgium. Nic was working in Manchester and flew to Brussels - Stuart drove to Folkestone then thro the Eurotunnel to Calais, on to Brussels to meet Nicky, then back to the farmhouse. Eurotunnel is remarkable - slick, efficient, even if a few trains were cancelled each way. They left on time and took 35mins - much quicker than other methods of getting to France. We met up with Axel, Chloe, Matilda and granny Dorothy - had a great dinner, sleep, breakfast then hooned into Bruges on Saturday morning.

The Bach cello suites have been borrowed by many other instrumental groups, violas, basses, even tubas, but if you listen to the video clip carefully you will hear a version on the church bells in the Belfry in the market square. Even a bass player thinks this might be going a little too far!

Belgians have a wonderful diet - they are famous for very strong beer, waffles and chocolate. It is amazing they live past 50. Stuart had a hot chocolate, made from a cup of hot milk with a block of chocolate on a stick, melting in the milk. Yum. And the choccies are made in many shapes and sizes!!

After a trip the museum to see some amazing sacred Dutch and Belgian art, it was time to drive to Koln, and Nickys first trip to Germany.

Stuart and Axel were bass-bores for an hour on Sunday morning, then met up with the girls for coffee by the Rhine. The Dom is huge and magnificent - we need to return to Koln to do it properly.

Carrefour in Calais was visited and the supermarket trolley was load tested with grog for the train ride back to the UK. On Sunday we drove thro parts of five countries, Germany, then 20 mins of Holland close to Maastricht, right across Belgium and a little bit of France, passing Dunkirk and then Calais, before returning to Old Blighty.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cardiff - 6 Nov 2010

A fantastic weekend was had in Cardiff, staying with Alyn (very odd calling him by his first name, as he was always Humphreys when studying dentistry with Nic) and Ruth. Astute reader will have noted that Alyn might be welsh - well done. The Humphreys family are a bit of an institution at the Glamorgan Wanderers club - both Alyn and his Dad were Presidents and stalwarts of the club. So he gets access to rugby tickets...

...hence we went to the Millennium (with two n's apparently) Stadium for the first time. It is magnificent, a stadium worthy of world class sport. So it was a good job the Auzzies were on the pitch!! Stuart annoyed some of the locals by shouting for the Auzzies, and we both struggled with the national anthem, but I have it on good authority that it is un-Australian to know all the words to the NA. Phew.

The Auzzies played well, the Welsh dominated the scrum and there were some superb back moves from the men in green and gold. All in all a great day out.

I like Cardiff, and if things work out I hope to be spending more time there. We had lunch at an awesome tapas bar very close to the ground, a monster curry in the evening then a Humphreys special brunch on Sunday - we didnt starve! And we even got chance to catch up with Marion, Beth and Frankie before heading back to Brizzle. An awesome weekend - but we were shouting for the Poms the following week at Twickenham!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jan Nicholson in Bristol

No sooner had Pip left, we had our next Auzzie (well kiwi actually) visitor - Jan Nicholson. An admirer of our blog from the Big Lap days, Jan has finally made the big time with her own video clip. Years of lecturing and conference presenting are clear for all to see - Jan is a true professional in front of the camera.

Jan stayed for a week, working in research projects with Nicky. We sample the amber nectar, as is clear from the photo. And as Jan mentions in the video (note leaves dropping in the garden) one of the highlights was the Clifton Sausage - great English fare.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pip in Bath

Q. what do you do when you have a week off from your Melbourne Symphony Orchestra job?
A. go visit friends in London, Paris and Bristol!

Pip popped across the world for a week, and came down to Brizzle to stay overnight. It was wonderful to catch up and show her the sights, including the Roman Baths, an english pub, a curry and the delights of medieval Bristol. A lot in a day and a bit. And that was just the 30 or so hours Pip had in Bristol!

Pip - it was great to see you darl.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

9-10 Oct 2010 - Exmoor

You'd have thought that Nicky would have had a gutful of travelling after a week at work that involved trips to London, Birmingham, Glasgow then Edinburgh, but no, she was up for a weekend away. Stuart had his first taste of West Somerset back in late July with the Minehead Festival. Nicky, being from Tavistock, knows Dartmoor very well, but had never been to Exmoor. This was about to change.

The weather was "English" - grey and misty. This blog entry is fairly "English" as we are discussing the weather!

First stop was Dunster Castle, where as Nicky explains on the video, we joined the National Trust. And that was just about all she got right. It is in the Doomsday book, owned by the Saxon Aelfric. A Norman castle went up in 1068 - Bill de Mohun was a big mate of Bill the Conqueror, who had done his stuff at Hastings two years earlier. It has been in the Luttrell family for over 600 years, the most dramatic era of which was around the Civil War. The castle changes hands several times, as the owner caved in to first the Royalist army, then Cromwell. But why am I writing this, you too can do a Google search!

It is rutting season, apprently, but you need to be able to see more than 10m to see the stag giving it large in the horns department. But we did see a lot of pheasants - literally 1000s of them. After Dulverton, we went to Tarr Steps before heading for Porlock for tea. Next was Minehead to meet up with the wonderful Penny, birthday boy Ian and Emma. P &I took us to their work in progress beach hut called SOALMA (see video for explanation) on Dunster beach, for a G&T and glorious views as the mist slowly burnt off. Having watched some of Nickos exploits in Australia last year, Penny and Ian have now made it to the dizzy heights of the blog themselves. Woooo Hooo!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

8-11 Sept 2010 – Gra visit to Bath and Battlefields

The visitors are coming thick and fast now. Last week we have Lawrie and Vicki Jacks, Adam and Gerry Skinner then Glenn Prohasky, all from Australia. We returned to Bath – Stuart belatedly bought a season ticket as it is the 4th time he has been to the Roman Baths. Its the sort of place you never tire of. Next was an open top bus tour of the City to enjoy the Georgian architecture including Royal Crescent.

Friday was a trip North to two historic battlefields, Tewksbury (1471) and Evesham (1265). The former was much better set up than the latter. At Evesham, Simon de Monfort came up again Prince Edward, who would later become King Edward I. Simon was keen on taking power from the King and setting up a parliament. The King was none too chuffed about this, and the resulting stouch at Evesham saw Simon coming 2nd, and it was not just the battle he lost – his arms, legs, head and a few other sensitive bits were chopped off on the battlefield.

Tewksbury is a wonderful medieval town. The history of the battle and the wonderful abbey are not lost on the locals – the high street is full of colourful banners replicating those used on at the battle in 1471. The only way to work out which knight was who was via their flag. The video show the boar emblem of the Kings brother, the future King Richard III, who fought with the King at Tewksbury, who was to die at Bosworth Field in 1485. Bosworth was the big victory for the Lancastrians, that saw Henry VII become king and the start of the Tudor era. But Tewksbury was a big win for the Yorkists. Margaret of Anjou (Lancs) had returned from France to try and put her son Edward on the Thrown. King Edward IV (Yorks) wasn’t having any of it, and chase her army to Tewksbury, where they rested before crossing the river Severn, by the Abbey.

Edward IV was a brilliant strategist, and routed the more heavily numbered Lancs, who were cornered as they crossed the river, and slaughtered. Others were caught taking refuge in the Abbey – they were removed, tried and beheaded. Prince Edward died here and his remains are buried in the Abbey. On the ceiling right above Edwards plaque is King Edward IVs emblem, just in case the Prince needed any reminder of the result.

We walked the battlefield, eating blackberries along the way. Wonder what the fertilizer was, Lancstrians perhaps?! After a trip round the Abbey we had tea and stickies!

Tues 17/8/10 – Meet the neighbours

The clown on the video got the date, or day, wrong. Probably both. Anyway, the wildlife is worth viewing!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sun 15/8/10 – Bath

On Sunday we visited the Roman Baths in, er, Bath with Nor in mid August. This was not the last time Stuart was to visit this wonderful monument. This place is truly remarkable. The built history dates back 2000 years but it is possible that the water coming up from the ground at over 100 degrees C fell as rain 10,000 years ago. Wow.

Thurs 12/8/10 – Balloon Festival, Bristol

Our first visitor in Leigh Woods was Stuart’s mum, Nor. She popped down “Sarf” over the International Balloon Festival weekend in mid August, which of course meant is was a mix of glorious sunshine and howling rain. The balloons take off from Ashton Court, Leigh Woods and given a prevailing Westerly there are spectacular views from the Clifton Suspension Bridge as they wend their way East, over the Avon Gorge and Bristol. Ashton Court is a beautiful old manor house in massive grounds complete with Deer Farm. Get the barbie on, I smell venison...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Paris Aug 2010

Aug 2010 is the month of our 20th wedding anniversary. We were together for 5 years before that, so its really our silver wedding. So we celebrated in style, with a trip to Paris, the first of our European trips, for the princely sum of 60 quid! We stayed in the Latin quarter, close to Arenes des Lutece, the roman arena. Saturday saw us on our feet for 8 hours - first to Notre Dame, then into the Congierge, which is not the nice boy at the front of the hotel, but a palace built for French kings that was then used to house prisoners just before thier appointment with the big blade, including Louis 16th, Marie-Antoinette, Danton and Robespierre. The list of 2000 who copped it included a musician - Stuart will be careful to play in a Republican style from now on.

Next was the Tuilleries quarter, past the lourve, thro the gardens to place de la concorde, the site of many of the guillotine executions in the late 18th century. Place de la C is 20 acres, the gardend much better, then lourve probably bigger still - the space in Paris is quite remarkable. Marie Antoinette was beheaded in site of her Paris appartment - how apt.

The Orangerie is in the SW corner of the Tuilleries Gardens and houses the spectacular water lillies by Claude Monet. Two rooms have been built to house the most amazing 3d effect artwork that reflects the lillies at different times of day. And downstairs there were impressionist paintings that we could get round.

It was not beer-o'clock, so we headed back home, failing miserably to get the Velib bike system working. There are many stations around Paris with lots of bikes parked there, and the idea is that you pay a few euros to use a bike for a short term trip. Great in theory, crap in practice as half of them have no pedals, brakes, air in the tyres etc.

Stuart ordered Steak Tartare, by mistake - do the French really eat a pile of raw mince??!!

Sunday was much of the same - we headed off to Gare du Nord to drop off bags, then schlepped up to Monmatre and Sacre Coeur. The cheese wire fiddle playing has to be heard to be believed - see video! After and amble thro the streets of Monmartre we ended up at the Moulin Rouge (yes, you know the tune, get those knees up). Having bought a musee passport, we went to Musee D'Orsay to be totally overwhelmed by impressionist art and Rodins. We got to the stage where we walked into a room and commented, "oh right, another 20 Renoirs..." What an amazing gallery - so rich.

The Velib machine then did its stuff and we cycled past the Louvre, up to Opera Garnier, and onto Gare du Nord, before heading back to Charles du Gaulle airport and back home to Bristol. Legs were aching, diets needed to be restarted but a wonderful weekend was had by both of us.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Our Hoos - 21/7/2010

This short video is for family and friends to show our house, car and new surrounds and the very beautiful Leigh Woods, just to the North West of Bristol, across the Avon.

Living here is a bit of a deja vu for Stuart - in 1983 he visited as an civil engineering student, to see the bridges. Brunel's masterpieces is truly stunning.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Langton Matravers, Dorset 10-11 July 2010

Nickys dental student buddies are a quite amazing lot. They developed strong friendships almost 30 years ago that are just as strong today. They get together for a camping holiday once a year, and this year we were lucky enough to be invited along to Langton Matravers in Dorset on the South Coast.

It was hot, and we were unprepared - embarassingly we burnt! So we blend in with the Poms now, like Hamish!!

Nothing much has changed over 30 years. The boys all have hair albeit more grey. The girls all look gorgeous and spunky. But there is one slight change - lots of little people running around the place! And playing cricket, it was only the little ones, ie those with functional knees, that could run around.

On Saturday we went to Dancing Ledge, a rocky spot in the coast that is a favourite with clim bers. We were turned back by emergency services as a helicopter was landing to pick up an injured climber - see video. All very exciting.

The people on the videos are (in order):-
Stuart and Sonny, Jason, Debbo and Helen
Marco and Hamish, Archie and Will, Sonny, Frankie, Sue, Helen and Will, The Boys - Marco, Jason, Hamish and Budge, Hamish and Budge, and finally Marco the arsonist

Deer in the garden at Leigh Woods

We have moved to Bristol in the UK. We are renting a University House in Leigh Woods, which is a beautiful suburb just on the West side of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, which is walking distance from us. In fact we walk over it every time we go to the pub in Clifton. Which is often.

The wildlife is spectacular - robins and tits in the garden, a bold fox who clearly thinks he owns the place, lots of squirrels and a family of deer who stroll into our garden for a feed, from the Avon Gorge Nature Reserve.