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June 1, 2003

Wales in a Blur

biking in wales
Yesterday we took Chris's bike for a blast over to Wales and back. The sun was shining and it was a lovely day as we came into Abergavenny and met up with Pedro, Anna and Andy. I seem to recall making some comment to Chris about him riding like an old woman, becoming old and boring, which in hindsight was probably not a good idea.

From there we carried on through the lovely Brecon valleys where the roads were empty and things quickly began to hot up. Chris decided to push the tempo up a bit and we soon ended up in a full-blown race through the country lanes against Andy (without a passenger) on his Daytona 955. Although I normally have 100% confidence in Chris, I did begin to wonder when he pulled a 100mph+ wheelie, neatly dodged some oncoming traffic, then flew through the next bend on a road he'd never been on before in flat out pursuit of Andy. It was becoming very difficult to hang on as a passenger, even when both wheels were on the ground, my arms had gone completely numb, and the scenery had just turned into a complete blur as I fought to stay on. I was quite glad when we finally pulled into a pub, seconds behind Andy, for a break and a chance to empty my pants. Essentially realising that we were fairly lucky to be alive, or at least that I'd managed to hang on until the pub, we took it just a little easier going back on a lovely road through the Wye Valley. I still haven't got feeling back in all of my fingers today though.

June 2, 2003

Scotland Trip

Pleasant as things are down here in Bristol, I realise that I do in fact need to go up to Scotland to catch up with everyone there as well. Hence, have booked a flight up there for next week, though I promise to leave the whiskey well alone this time.
[for flight details click MORE]

Your outbound flight: Monday 09 June, flight 401
departs Bristol at 07:10, arrives Glasgow at 08:25

June 3, 2003

Laos Photographs

I've just finished uploading the pictures I took on my trip up to Laos. Still photoshopping my way through the thousand or so of other shots I took over the last couple of months.
Laos photographs

June 4, 2003

British Wit

Now that the initial shock of arriving back in the UK has worn off, it is actually quite lovely to be back... at least for a short time. Being able to make random witty comments to strangers in the street, walk into pubs, then get kicked out of them, pissed, with random, witty strangers at 11pm is what British culture is all about. And I do love it more than anything else in the world. Just a shame about the licensing laws.

June 7, 2003

Videos

I've just uploaded some of the videos I shot in Oman and Thailand on the video page though they'll be slow downloads unless you've got a broadband connection.

June 8, 2003

Fear and Loathing

Well, my time in Bristol seems to have come to an end and I fly up to Scotland tomorrow. It has been an incredibly good couple of weeks down here, though I'm sure Colin will insist on continuing the partying once north of the border.

The one thing I'm really not looking forward to is that I have to go for a small operation on Tuesday, which I've been putting off and putting off due to my dislike for hospitals since most of my family died in them. So I'm beginning to get a bit nervous about it. Still, guess I have to face my fears.

June 10, 2003

Under The Knife

The operation went fine today though I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. Colin came along with me, which was nice of him and made it all a lot easier. When I was handed a cup of tea afterwards I was still shaking enough that the cup rattled against the saucer.

June 11, 2003

Southward Bound

Have decided that I've been back in Scotland long enough so I've booked a flight down south again for this weekend, from where I'm planning to head on to Spain.
Flight details under 'MORE'

Saturday 14 June, flight 402
departs Glasgow at 08:45, arrives Bristol at 10:00

June 16, 2003

Another Chance

Tomorrow I'm going to make a second attempt to escape from Scotland's grip, and take my chances on Britain's dodgy train system. As it's my last night, of course, I do have to meet up with the lads for a large cup or two of beer tonight, but my train isn't until the afternoon so hopefully I should be conscious again by then and manage to catch it.

June 18, 2003

Virgin Ride

The trip down from Scotland yesterday with Virgin trains was actually quite pleasant until we got to Birmingham. Finally, it appears that British trains have caught up with the rest of the world and installed sockets next to the seats which meant that I could mess around with my long neglected laptop on the way. At Birmingham, however, the inevitable happened. A woman with two screaming children sat next to me and the most boring man in the world talked incessantly about life on a council estate in the seat behind me.

Chris picked me up in Bristol and helped rescue me from a security barrier which had closed into my groin as I fled from the platform with bags in both hands, such was my rush to escape from the train. He's just moved into a lovely new flat in close proximity to all the essential bars and clubs in the city with Kryn (and soon to be joined by Berit). The only problem is that they're still waiting for all essential services to be connected (broadband, landline, porn channel...) so I'm having to write this in town on my laptop from a cafe which is covered by a nearby wireless network - 'wi-fi for the homeless', as I believe it's called.

June 23, 2003

London Calling

I've been unable to blog over the last few days due to having been away from internet connections of any kind - strange how it can be harder to get online in the UK sometimes than in developing countries. I had the stitches from the operation removed from my back on Friday, which wasn't terribly exciting, thankfully. Chris and I drove down to Heathrow on Sunday to collect Berit who's begun the arguable pleasure of co-habiting with him (good luck, Berit). I stayed with Claire (Chris's sister) and her boyfriend Henrik in Watford last night, who were lovely enough to feed me beer, food, and put me up, and today I'm off into London to catch up with Anne Marie, who I was travelling with in Laos and who's just got back into the country.

June 24, 2003

Off to Menorca

I'm in Islington right now. Anne Marie just went off to catch a flight to Ireland and I'm meeting up with Simon in the next hour or so to head to Luton Airport, spend the night there, then catch a very early flight tomorrow morning down to Menorca and Zamindar.

June 26, 2003

Back Home

Simon and I managed to catch a coach which we thought went up to Luton Airport, but once we were on board it turned out that it only went to Luton. We were then quite amazed when the bus driver offered to make a 5 mile detour to the airport for us once everyone had got off. We spent the night sleeping in a corner of the airport close to some Irish guys getting pissed noisily in the bar, but we still managed to get some rest.

I passed out on the way down to Menorca, which made it feel like a 20 minute flight, and woke up as we were landing. We caught a taxi into Mahon, and got a lift over to Zamindar. She looked fine, even though a 56 foot Farr had squeezed in as our next door neighbour. We spent yesterday sorting things up a bit on board, launching the dinghy, and wandering around town in the stifling heat. Id almost forgotten how much I loved living on board the boat, being in Spain, and next to the water, and it feels really good to get back home after months of travelling.

June 27, 2003

Tidal Waves

After being on Zamindar for a while I noticed some scratches on her bows and on the wooden pontoon, which shed obviously been scraping against, so I complained to one of the marineros who were supposed to be looking after her. Only afterwards did I find out that due to the large earthquake that hit Algeria in May, a tidal wave had crossed the Mediterranean and upon hitting the Balearics, sank 87 boats in Mahon harbour. So I stopped complaining.

On returning to the boat yesterday afternoon, however, I discovered that Ithaka, the Farr 56 which had been next to us, had left its berth and caused considerable damage to some of the safety equipment on Zamindars stern in the process of doing so. Even though their boat must be worth a fortune, theyd decided to do a runner and not even leave a note for me so Ive got their details from the marina and Im in the process of trying to contact the bastards.

June 30, 2003

Jellyfish Attack

I was having a swim in a bay just outside of the harbour on Saturday when I suddenly felt a really sharp pain in my left leg. If Id been at all worried about sharks I would have thought it was a shark bite as it hurt so much. I managed to swim over and crawl into the dinghy, half expecting to see my leg bleeding, but luckily it was just a bad jellyfish sting - though the worst Ive ever had. I was in quite a lot of pain so I thought it was a good idea to head back to Zamindar, but as I tried to pull the anchor up it wouldnt budge. It had lodged into some rock. I got back into the water, watching out for the jellyfish that were still swimming around, and dived down to try to free it. We were in about five metres of water, however, and I didnt have a mask, so once I did get down I couldnt see what I was doing and I was beginning to feel pretty rough from the toxins in the sting. After some more tries to dislodge it, we finally decided to untie it and come back with snorkelling gear once Id recovered.

Zamindar is still on Isla Clementina, though incredibly, I was told off yesterday by one of the marineros for showering naked on the pontoon. Last year it was de rigeur not to wear anything there!