Sunday, September 9, 2012

Watch out for that tree...

After roughly six and a half months of travelling we finally arrive in a country that speaks Engish. It is really weird going into McDonalds or a shop and people understand you, it will take some getting used to. I found myself still talking slowly and deliberately looking for understanding, and I can finally watch TV :-) (much to Elizabeth's disgust).

Our travels in the UK started at the house of Elizabeth's old friend Nicola in Sussex. The hugely generous, fun and slightly crazy Nicola and her two fabulous teenagers opened up their home to us for a marvellous week of activities. Warning: If Nicola offers to take you for a short bike ride, please be advised this will normally entail several hours or more of mountain bike riding on steep hills, out in the countryside, off the beaten track on rocky and grassy paths or no paths at all, and possibly/probably in the dark. If told to ignore a 'do not enter' sign on a property you may find yourself being chased out by angry security.

As usual our luck was holding and the weather fined up for us as we fortunately arrived on the weekend of the medieval festival at Herstmonceux Castle. I believe it's the biggest medieval festival in England. Now the British may be crazy but they really know how to bring history to life. This was a huge day of activities that included the re-enactment of the siege of the castle with cannons and rifles going off, bows firing actual arrows (soft tipped I presume as I saw no actual blood), a huge catapult being used and hand to hand combat. A really huge and impressive display. They also had a cannon display culminating in the firing of a cannon that was so big we were told to put our hands over our ears and open our mouths with the resulting shock wave making our bodies shake.

There were flying falcons, medieval plays and more but the highlight for me was the jousting competition. Obviously it was a show but it was done so realistically with lances actually hitting and splintering you could imagine you were in the audience in the Middle Ages.

Moments before being
hit by the icy cold

Another day we went to the beach. Hmm beaches in the UK are not like Australia, they don't have nice soft sand that you can walk on with bare feet, you need to wear sandals on the pebbly beach and we even needed to wear them into the water, which, by the way was freezing, needless to say we jumped in anyway.

Nicola's friend singing in the pub
There were also the marathon  life threatening bike rides and the long lovely drives through the wonderfully green and luscious UK scenery. This was the wettest UK summer in 100 years so the scenery had the benefit of plenty of water and sun to put its best foot forward for us. A night was spent in a typical English pub watching karaoke without a karaoke machine, these amateurs actually knew how to sing, knew the words and created their own music. We had a great time in the South Downs area of the UK and the little town of Hurstpierpoint, thank you very much Nicola, Jill and Mark.

Night before the blue moon, same
bike ride
On one of our bike rides

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