Tuesday, 9 August 2011


I went to Bordeaux. It was a very nice time. Two months living with Isa, Matthieu, Buzz the dog and Isa's bump. They're going to be parents in October (that's not their kid in that photo up there).

I worked in a primary school, then in a centre de loisirs as a stagiaire. It was nice to go back to France and start speaking French again. It's been a long time.

I ate an awful lot of good, good food and drank an awful lot of good, good wine.

More here (click on French Bred):

French Bred

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Surprise Visit, London to Melbourne

'Course I didn't disappear. I went on a trip. Here's the short account:

The plan: London to Melbourne overland as much as possible to surprise visit my sister and meet my niece. Thanks to the usual culprits (time and money), I have 31 days.

DAY 1-2
Riga: bad start. I've brought the wrong money. Who knew Latvia has its own currency? Still, it's Ratification Day. Right time right place, I meet the Prime Minister of Latvia. He has a firm handshake.

DAY 3-7
I bus overnight to Moscow. Not the best preparation for 4 days on a train. I have 3 hours turnaround in Moscow, so I change socks in Red Square.

DAY 7-9
Irkutsk, Siberia. Mayonnaise is ‘Mayonnaise’ in Russian except spelt with a backwards N, an H and a 3. Apparently swimming in Lake Baikal gives longer life. It's snowing when I arrive. Not a snowball's chance in hell I'm going in. Eternal life be damned.

DAY 10
I spend more time in No Man’s Land between Russia and Mongolia than I did in Moscow.

DAY 11-12
Ulaan Bataar. I get fleeced for 10,000 Tugriks by a monk. All he says is, 'Ho!'. I admire his salesmanship. Could you make 10,000 Tugriks with 1 word? Ho. I thought so.

DAY 13-15
Terelj National Park. I stay in a ger. I have the park to myself. Each morning I pick a peak from the horizon to hike.

DAY 16-18
Rolling out of UB, we enjoy our large, clean train window. Then a Mongolian lady hurls milk all over it. Good luck, apparently. Me, I prefer milk with cereal.

DAY 18-20
Beijing. I hit the great wall, swept up in a million Chinese tourists. They hawk, clamour, shove, spit. It's an experience. It's part of the experience.

DAY 21-23
Yangshuo. I rent a bike. The lady hands me a map. I think, 'Lady, I eat maps for breakfast'. I get lost, the trail gets technical, I fall in a rice paddy. My shoes grow mouldy.

DAY 24
I have to cancel my train through Vietnam: there’s no visa on arrival by train, after all. Instead, I fly to Kuala Lumpur to fly to Saigon. Beats me why.

DAY 25-26
I book a tour on the Mekong Delta. We ride various forms of transport: bus, big boat, little boats, bus. We all wear pointy hats on the little boats and float along like perfect asses.

DAY 27-30
I fly to Melbourne via Darwin. They ask why only 4 days. I give them the short version. I tell them work.

I surprise my sister and her husband on their doorstep. They're skyping Dad. I walk into shot and surprise him too.

I meet my niece, Bella. She's 8 months old. She's the first 8 month-old person I’ve ever met. It's a pleasure.

DAY 31
Endings- never drag them out. Keep it clean, keep it quick, don't ever stop in Perth for 1 day returning from Melbourne.

I wander. I eat half a roast chicken. I sleep for 3 hours. Then I go home.