A Travellerspoint blog

Where the wild sorrel grows

Wales

sunny 20 °C

Our first taste of Wales, was in an idyllic green valley near Abervageny. We were so fortunate to be staying with the sister of a lovely lady who Stew has worked with for years. Rhiannon had recently moved into a cottage in a tiny village with a pub called the Goose. She was so hospitable and warm, immediately welcoming us by introducing us to the locals at the pub and holding a dinner party in our honour. She is an amazing cook and we were spoilt with fabulous produce. On a mundane note, it was a bonus doing washing and hanging it on the line . Funny when dreary tasks become a source of joy ! She took us on beautiful walks that explored the scenic world she lives, amongst the wild moorland of the Brecon Beacons and picturesque wooded glades. Rhiannon and her friend Susan were so interested and informed about the surrounding countryside. We learnt so much from their incidental chat and learned to identify a wood pecker and skylarks, very exciting. We stayed longer than planned before we headed off to Machynlleth via Hay on Wye a pretty village preparing for their annual writers fest, 30 book shops or so in a little village each with their speciality. Our exploration through the mountains on tiny one lane roads were spectacular and we explored the coast of West Wales. The Welsh people were warm, patient and kind without exception, not to mention the glorious weather we had.

Posted by Pips trip 08:58 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Don't be blasé about bluebells

A walk in Wiltshire

overcast 14 °C

We met up with Cookie and Dougal in Bath, a joyful reunion. The plan was a gentle walk in the southern Cotswolds, south of Bath. 77 kilometres over 4 days. Though we all love walking and are at a reasonable level of fitness, none of us had done anything this big. I was hoping I wouldn't fall in a heap somewhere unable to go on. Luckily this wasn't to be, i only had one jelly moment when faced with a herd of what i believed to be killer cows. A story for another time.
The legs of the journey were very different, from canal tow paths to fields and wooded glades. We saw so many beautiful sights; as well as the natural beauty, there were numerous ridiculously beautiful villages. Stew was in his element with the camera in a way reminiscent of his preoccupation with France's beautiful villages. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing and after the day's walk, sipping G and Ts and recounting the days events over delicious meals. England's food has improved remarkably since I was last here, lots of local produce, well cooked.
This walk has certainly been a highlight so far. Challenging enough in parts not to feel like child's play but eminently gettable and the most wonderful way to see the country. Ah, the blue bell reference ! The first blue bells in a glade created a big commotion and many photos. As we were walking the sight of blue bells became so common that at times we were not even noticing them. Stewart made a salient point, not to become blasé, this became a metaphor for the trip itself. We are seeing so much and doing so many amazing things, it is easy forget how lucky we are, so our maxim is never to be blasé about blue bells !

Posted by Pips trip 14:57 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Spring is in the air

London

sunny 20 °C

So much to do and see in this busy city. We arrived on a warm bank holiday weekend and everyone was out to play. We met Lew and took Tea at Fortnum and Masons, a quintessential London experience which was filled with memories. We were very chuffed at the whole experience as we squeezed in yet another coronation chicken sandwich and cup of tea. This afternoon was capped off by a visit to the theatre. Matilda was fun, poignant and we were all awestruck by its magic and Tim Minchin's music. We proceeded to pack the next 3 days with theatre, eating and catching up with friends. We loved wandering along London's South Bank sipping beer in the OXO tower overlooking St Paul's, sampling delicacies at the Borough market and checking out the Globe. I was beside myself with joy, experiencing this theatre for the first time and having the privilege of seeing the Tempest here, so lucky. We met up with an old student of ours, Nathan and his wife and had a really fun night with them. We also met Steph Bacon at a wonderful old character filled wine bar called Gordon's.
Our final London experience was seeing The curious Incident of the dog in the night. A play full of technology and simplicity that conveyed the narrative of the book with perfection. When the tiny puppy came out on stageStewart and I wept, oh we do miss Jet !
Spring had definitely sprung i. London! gardens are full of spring bulbs, blossom everywhere and the locals in short sleeves !

Posted by Pips trip 14:37 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

In search of Amsterdam

Amsterdam

semi-overcast 15 °C

Amsterdam seems to churn out images and ideas that are a parody of themselves, ideas that no longer seem to represent the people or the culture. Though I am sure there are still tourists who want to clogs, tulips and windmills many have come to experience a different Amsterdam which is neither twee nor seedy.
We were so lucky to begin our Amsterdam leg with some local knowledge. A friend I used to teach with, lives here and over a few beers on a very fun night sketched a great program full of delicious food, good coffee and some healthy exercise. We spent time walking around the canals and checking out the architecture, very enjoyable taking time to stop for a beer and soak up the weak rays of sun. No better time for this than on Queens day. this is a huge celebration for the dutch a mixture of Australia Day, St Kilda Festival and Melbourne cup day multiplied by 100. what ensued was a riot of Orange and loads of beer. Stew and I wandered the Amstel and Prinzgracht in awe of the spectacle and enjoying being the audience.
Art was plentiful as we're lucky enough to catch the Rijks museum, having been closed for a decade and also the Van Gogh museum, only just opened again, along with the Stedelijk. Exciting buildings and great collections of Art, hours of pleasure, only marred a little by the throngs of crowds wanting to photograph Vermeer Girl with the jug or Vangogh's Sunflowers.
One of the highlights was hiring bikes, just like the Dutch ! and riding to Brokeinwater and Monikadam, very pretty villages North of Amsterdam. We took the free ferry with our bikes and spent hours riding on the wonderful network of paths past swans, fields of fluffy sheep and navigating from village to village using church spires. The day was perfect and we had the loveliest time, a good sign for our future Danube adventure.
On the food front, we had a special meal at Da Kas, a beautiful restaurant in Green house using their own home grown produce, very special, our 25 th anniversary meal ( well one of them)
Our little airbnb place was so sweet and in a great area, a big success overall. Perhaps not enough tulips seen, many incidental ones, street planting a and pots in front of people's houses, no clogs but we did love Amsterdam for its vibrancy, food and sense of fun, so much more to the city than meets the eye .

Posted by Pips trip 14:42 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

The hunt for currywurst

Berlin

semi-overcast 17 °C

Feeling like I have walked out my door in Elwood, Prenlazerberg is a very cool place to stay . Full of bars, cafes and quirky boutiques we have enjoyed exploring the streets around our hood. We had dinner at the most amazing Italian restaurant, the other night, just rocked in off the street, gotta love that.
But now less about food and more about history and politics ; being post war babies we are so familiar with stories of the cold war and the wall, but I have learnt so much in the past week. What a facinating and deeply sad history. So much was revealed in the unpeeling of the events of the last 80 years, so many stories told so articulately. The Jewish museum and the Holocaust museum, both highlights for their poignancy and clarity in the way the physical space can tap into our psyche and convey feelings through the space itself. Each museum we visited added a few more pieces of the puzzle and deepened the understanding. A two edged sword, as it is an understanding I would prefer not to have, but at the same time, one that i feel necessary for humanity.
Family, another aspect of the Berlin chapter. Over the top feelings of joy and elation, seeing our boy and what a buzz celebrating at Margaux near the Brandenburg Tor with an over the top dinner, just the way he likes it ! Though the week had it's moments, 3 Bell adults trying to agree on how the days would roll, the week was full of fun and laugher particularly putting Caitlin Jane and her friend Alex in the mix. It was fun exploring with others and so many memorable moments. As a bonus we shared a few very fun times with Olivia who I used to work with and some cuddles with her baby Artie.
Where we had immersed ourselves in old masters in Madrid, Berlin was about contemporary art. We saw many galleries with pieces ranging from Warhol's Mao to some very challenging and curious pieces of foam and rock ( I wish we had the English tour as I am sure I would have gained a far deeper appreciation !) really enjoyed the ME gallery in Mitte as it was a small collection playing with the theme of memento Mori, old and new art and artefacts juxtaposed in a really interesting way, reminding me a little of MONA in HobArt.
All in all just a taste of what Berlin had to offer.

Posted by Pips trip 07:34 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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