Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Je ne comprends pas?!

This became a frequently used expression over the weekend as Traveller and her husband embarked on their first European adventure - to Brussels, Belgium! For those of you surprised by this adventure - yes, it was unplanned. It was a last minute, impetuous decision made at midnight last Thursday evening when hubbie discovered some cheap deals on the net. Traveller, of course, got zero sleep on Thursday night as she was positively busting with excitement! Hooray - our first trip!

That Friday we made all our plans, and then took the Heathrow Connect train from Paddington to Heathrow. We arrived in Belgium and quickly realised that we no longer understood anything or anyone! (Although, much to hubbie's annoyance, Traveller did spend the whole trip from London to Belgium learning as many French phrases as she could while practicing them aloud in her most obnoxious French accent - well, hey 'Je ne comprends pas' (I don't understand) came in very handy!

We somehow found our way into Brussels via a train and then dropped our stuff at our very cheap, swanky hotel (we love lastminute.com!). It was around 11:30 at night, and Traveller was desperate for some nosh - so we traipsed through the town looking for some famous Belgian fries and some beer. It was freezing, and wet as it had been snowing all day - so we found the closest open restaurant and ate, before turning in for the night.

Much to our delight - the sun came out on Saturday and we were blessed with a very lovely day. We started the day off right with chocolate waffles from a nearby vendor - and boy, were they delicious! This was not a good weekend for Traveller's waistline. We then took a train to Waterloo - the famous battlesite where the Duke of Wellington defeated Napolean in the 1800's. We had found out the previous day that they were doing re-enactments all weekend, so Hubby was super excited for a day of remembering and watching fighting. As we found the site it was clear where our thoughts differed - Hubby was dreaming of war and guns and becoming increasingly more boisterous, while Traveller was busy humming a certain Abba song and dancing her heart out (in her thoughts, of course). However, much to both our enjoyment, the battleground was breathtaking - the green expanse and the famous image of the lion on the hill were impressive. The most fun part was yet to come, however, with the re-enactments featuring men dressed in traditional costume completing cavalry training, which included chopping cabbages with swords! Very amusing!

We then had lunch at a nearby traditional pub - which served Belgian food and this was where we had our first beer. Belgium is famous for its beer (over 800 varieties) - and Hubby was most excited as he found one that he actually liked. Forgive him for his girly tastes readers because, yes, it was a pink, fruity beer!

From here, we went back to Brussels, had our first Belgian fries with mayonnaise and toured the city. It truly is a beautiful city - and sites such as Grand Place, Brussels Park and the Royal Palace did not disappoint. Our most favourite part was the architecture of the city and its unique nature where half of its citizens speak Dutch and the other half speak French, so everything is written in both languages. This truly makes for interesting navigating!

So that is the tale of the first couple of stamps in our passports - all in all, Brussels was a surprising and merry adventure and Traveller really can't wait for the next one!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

The Warrington

As Traveller has been blogging incessantly about Ramsay's new pub - it is only right that she should blog about the actual experience, and do not fear readers, it definitely surpassed expectations. The most satisfying part about the night was the fact that there were four others to share it with - which meant we were able to try four times the amount of dishes. While Traveller calls herself 'Gourmet' - she must admit that she hasn't tried all the weird and wonderful food that the world has to offer. However, on this lovely night, she was able to taste many new things and they were all heavenly.

As it was a new experience for all of us (the restaurant only opened around five weeks ago) we all decided to eat as much food as possible - which meant starters, sides, mains and dessert! :) (Luckily, as the restaurant is only new, and a pub - it doesn't have typical Ramsay prices - only around £12 for mains.)

For starters we shared escargot, smoked eel, potted duck and a grilled goat's cheese salad. On all accounts, the dishes were absolutely stunning. Traveller was a little nervous about the snails - but they were her favourite part of the evening - memorable and delicious!
Our dishes for dinner were roasted baby chicken, confit duck, Choucroute garnie (sausage) and rib-eye and all plates were left very empty. Dessert saw three plates of chocolate fondant, rhubarb and apple crumble and a treacle pudding . Traveller had the chocolate of course - and it was lovely.

The best part was, of course, the company - Traveller loves being around the other half of her family that has been away for so long. Oh, and the worst part? The niggling feeling that I would have to run a few more laps of the ol' running track.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Now it's time for the good stuff...

A list of things that Traveller and hubbie have been up to over the last week or so...

1. Hubbie got a great job working in the finance industry doing computer stuff- he is very happy

2. Traveller and Hubbie moved in to their new flat - with the help of lovely brother + wife

3. T's brother ran in Asics Half-Marathon and wooped it up :)

4. Hubbie's brother, Jord came to visit (and is still visiting) - sleeping on our very cosy floor

5. Traveller, Hubbie, and Jord went to their first west end musical - Lord of the Rings! (Phenomenal set, costumes, props - little lacking in some of the acting, songs and script).

6. T finally got to experience the Gordon Ramsay Gastro-pub, along with hubbie, Jord, T's brother and his wife.

7. The London Flu has (finally) gone!

8. The plans have started for the first European holiday...

9. Saw a great chick flick - 'Definitely, Maybe'. Traveller loves her flick chick compliant hubbie ;)

10. Traveller (without hubbie) did some serious shopping on Oxford St. with a flatmate and has decided she really loves London shopping - yay Topshop, Zara etc!

11. Hubbie found out that one of our flatmates loves 'Settlers of Catan' (our fav boardgame) and so we played it with a few of our flatties over a Sunday lunch.

12. Went to our first London church (we know - it's been way too long!) - Hillsong London was awesome! Great music, excellent speaker and great location - The Dominion Theatre.

13. Went to the Australian Film Festival at the Barbican and saw a great movie (this is not the group consensus - as it was one of those movies that didn't really end). It was called 'Monkey Puzzle' and was set in the Blue Mountains.

14. Traveller went for her first proper run (with new headphones) and ran 4k's around the track - not bad for a Sunday! It's only the beginning....

15. And now for Hubbie's most exciting event - H went to watch a mixed martial arts/UFC tournament called 'Cage Rage' :). He was very excited about this event, and in his excitement got chatting to another attendee whom he sat next to on the tube. The man told Nathan that he might have a better ticket for him, so they swapped numbers. Long story short, Nathan ended up going from a 25 pound ticket, to a 200 pound ticket, sitting amongst London's C-grade celebrities! He was most chuffed!

Well, that's all the news for now. Traveller and hubbie send much love... xxxx

Traveller's brother is in the orange shirt - this is right near the finish line. He ran his first half marathon in 1 hour and 37 minutes - not bad!

T's brother after finishing - they wrap the gold foil around the runners after the race to keep them warm..

The Heathrow Injection

Moving to a land which is predominantly cold seems to be synonymous with putting on about 10-15 kgs of weight. In the UK this is fondly known as the Heathrow Injection - meaning once you grab your luggage off that conveyor belt you are destined to gain an extra layer of fat. With so many croissants, pizzas, curries, and mash - one is bound to put on weight. And on a side note -whoever said that British food is bland, has obviously not been here lately - it is fresh, delicious and oh so tasty, which of course adds to the lure of the Heathrow Injection.

Traveller has been trying to avoid the 'injection' during her first four weeks in London - well, trying is a strong word - mentally trying, but physically still smelling, tasting and ultimately, digesting loads of 'not so healthy' London food.

'It just tastes so good. and all of this walking that I am doing should surely count for something', Traveller convinces herself. 'Oh, and the cold, surely my body is working overtime to warm itself up and in the meantime I am losing loads of calories.

This is not good. For those of you familiar with T's experience in America - you are probably envisioning terrible pictures of double chins and chubby bellies. T assures you, this is not going to happen. It's not. Really.

The good news is that in lovely Maida Vale there is a beautiful park called Paddington Recreational Park - and it is full of really fit people running (there is a track), playing tennis, soccer, hockey, bowls or simply meandering around. There is also a gym in the middle, with an attached cafe. This gorgeous park is where Traveller is going to earn those croissants! The new flatmates and T have already planned their first running session - so, there will be no double chin, no muffin top and no chubby cheeks.

(NB: Traveller is also feeling really motivated after watching fit Londonite brother run a half-marathon in an excellent time and condition).

So, there will be no injection. Really.


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