Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Happy Holidays!

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Apologies for my delayed Christmas post: it has been a busy couple of weeks with much to report!

Traveller has just recently returned from a week's holiday in Belgium and Germany where she caught up with old friends, sampled the local delicacies {namely Gl├╝hwein} and saw many beautiful sights.

But first, without further delay, T hopes that you had a very jolly Christmas and that you will enjoy the upcoming celebrations to welcome in 2011.
Can you believe it? T can't!

It has been a little chilly in England and before all the lovely snow melted, T and RF decided to head to Hampstead Heath to take some pictures...
It was so pretty up there...and a little slippery!

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Can you spot T's lovely braces?

Should only be three weeks to go!

Traveller is ready...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Big Freeze.

You are probably aware that the weather these days seems to be a little out-of-control.

It seems that facebook status updates are about little else...

We are being indundated with snow, freezing temperatures, rain and T even read today that South Australia is battling a plague of locusts!

Unusual!

What is Traveller thankful for?

Despite having to wear thermals and woolly socks to bed whilst gripping a hot-water bottle with icy fingers, T remains upbeat. This is quite possibly due to the frequent use of her very own fireplace!

This evening was spent drinking mulled wine {provided by lovely flatmates}, eating yummy cheese and relaxing in front of a toasty fire.

The negatives?
The flames seem to lure Traveller into a very unproductive bliss-coma; T's washing basket is very full, her room is increasingly messy and her list of administration chores is growing wildly out-of-control, not to mention that she hasn't blogged in a while!

Miraculously, the fireplace hasn't yet affected her exercise regime which is lucky because Traveller certainly seems to be eating in preparation for hibernation!
{those three-course hot school meals really aren't helpful!}

Fireplaces are a definite novelty for this sun-worshipping Aussie and they (almost) make the short days and freezing temperatures of the UK seem worth it at this time of year!


Thursday, 25 November 2010

15 again.

Today, Traveller is going by familiar monikers such as brace face, train tracks,
metal mouth or, as her darling brother so aptly coined, The Grill.

Yep, you guessed right, T has transported herself back in time to that glorious {torturous} moment in her teens where her mouth was full of metal. You see, her pearly whites had started to shift and T decided to nip it in the bud quickly...

The positives?

Orthodontists are so different now! The braces only took 30 minutes to fit and it wasn't anywhere near as uncomfortable as T remembered.

T's orthodontist had a plasma television on the ceiling showing music videos to distract her from any discomfort... {very swish}

The brackets and wire are white so they aren't quite as noticeable...

It should only take a short amount of time: the orthodontist said six to eight weeks!

The negatives?

The picture below is of the many pieces of orthodontic paraphernalia that she was given today...


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Three toothbrushes? Really?

It is now going to take at least 15 minutes to clean her teeth!

Pictures of The Grill to come...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Confession Time.


It appears that Traveller is something of a royalist.

For many of you, the date -29th April 2011- will conjure up nothing more than images of spring time (or autumn, for the Aussies) but for Traveller, it is the source of serious excitement.

Not only will she score an extra public {bank} holiday but T will also be able to witness a significant moment in the history of Britain's monarchy - a royal wedding! However, while Traveller lives in a flat full of Brits, she seems to be the only member poring over news article after news article scouring it for dress, date and venue details. It would seem a confession is in order:

T loves her a royal wedding!

Now there are plenty of naysayers out there who are already bemoaning the loss of tax payer's money and who are calling the bride-to-be a social climber {from a family of social climbers} but to them, T says, 'Sshhhh. Enjoy the holiday and admire the pretty people in the pretty clothes'.

T knows she sure will be.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The 'hood.

This is Traveller's third proper fall in a row and, despite the fact that it's starting to get cold, she still loves it.

She especially loves her pretty little London neighbourhood...

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That's all.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Commercial Love.

Traveller is loving this new T Mobile commerical shot at Heathrow Airport...

Mum and Dad, do you think you could organise a similar welcoming for when T finally arrives back in OZ?

Monday, 1 November 2010

The truth really does stink.

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The souks (markets) in Marrakech are filled with beautiful leather goods, ceramics, scarves and much more. One of T's favourite things to do whilst she was in Marrakech was to barter - there is nothing more invigorating than skilfully and successfully agreeing on a price that is 1/2 {or less} of the original asking price.


It's all down to one's unwillingness to budge.


The one sad reality that Traveller learnt upon arriving back in Britain was that the bags she bartered so persistently for actually really smell. Like really.


It's a mixture between old goat and camel and something else less appealing that Traveller really can't bring herself to type.


As a result, T currently has three very beautiful bags that are hiding in the broom closet in order to protect T from their overpowering stench.


Heart-breaking stuff for Traveller but good news for you - now you can spare yourself from making the same rookie error if you travel to Marrakech!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Marrakech.

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Traveller loved Morocco.

Unbelievably, the Northern tip of Africa is only a mere three hour flight from London and upon touching down, Traveller was excited to be somewhere completely unlike anywhere she had ever been.

T doesn't have many photos which reflect the beauty of Marrakech or the culture, and I guess this is for two reasons. One, you generally have to pay for photos taken throughout the city and two, she spent the entire trip engrossed in her surroundings. The sights, the smells and the sounds were so utterly foreign to Traveller that she usually forgot to take photos!

Luckily, one of T's friends captured some fantastic photographs so she is going to include them (and some of her own) in her post today.

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The above two photos are of the riad we stayed in - Riads are a sort of private accomodation in Morocco. There were eight of us and we had the whole Riad to ourselves. The people who ran it were brilliant and the building and rooms were beautiful.

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Our first night eating in the square - it was worth it for the atmosphere! Sheep's head curry was a popular dish, but we weren't quite game enough to try it...

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The souks where you can buy spices, leather goods (more about that later!), lanterns, ceramics and clothes. You have to barter and that's where all the fun is!

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The square at night...

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Our first and only fancy meal in the new town part of Marrakech.

We ate a Lebanese restaurant called Azar and the food was phenomenal but what we really enjoyed was the unique decor..

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...in particular, their rose covered lift which had plastic grass underfoot

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Endless hours of amusement!

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Our last night at the Riad - the Riads were the best place to eat traditional Moroccan fare. That particular night we enjoyed a beef and prune tagine which was out-of-this-world delicious! The sauce of the dish had caramelised so it was a very sweet-savoury dish. Just the way T likes it!


Thanks for looking at the photos!
One more Moroccan post to come....

Monday, 25 October 2010

Day Trip: Atlas Mountains

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During our long-weekender in Morocco, we journeyed to the Atlas Mountains for a break from the bustle of Marrakech...On the way, we visited the Berber market where we experienced a market unlike any we had seen before.

The Berber Market is a once-a-week event where the Berber people exchange and sell goods in order to buy their necessities for the week ahead. We were the only tourists in the entire market and we were under strict instructions not to take any noticeable photographs. Most of the below were shot from Traveller's hip. You could buy anything from spices and herbs to rabbits and chickens to the almost out-of-place mobile phones and underwear. Many men also received their weekly shave or haircut.

Our least favourite part was the abbatoir-cum-butcher where you could purchase an entire skinned goat, fresh tripe and any part belonging to a cow, goat, chicken or sheep. As you can imagine, the stench was inordinately palpable.

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The Atlas mountains themselves were quite beautiful and we had tagine for lunch before embarking on a perilous walk through to the waterfalls.


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Friday, 22 October 2010

The last remnant of summer.

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Traveller is in mourning.

Summer has officially, and unequivocally left Britain.

Today, Traveller had to extract her winter wardrobe from the depths of her storage container (if anyone has lived in a small room, in a London flat, you know what T's talking about) and replace it with her shorts, singlets and all other summer paraphernalia that she won't see for the next six months.

A solemn occasion.

The good news?
Traveller was able to enjoy one last sunny jaunt to an exotic occasion before hibernating for the winter.

The chosen destination?
Marrakech, Morocco!

Most European countries that T visits tend to play host to a significant level of contrast. Indeed, 'city of contrasts' is a cliche that is thrown around many cities throughout the world. There is always the rich and the poor. The beautitful and the ugly. The delicious and the repulsive. The irritable and the placid. Those that are in a rush and those that have all day.

Marrakech was one of these cities.

The first and most obvious example of this was our girl's visit to a Moroccan spa.
On our last day in Marrakech we decided to treat ourselves by visiting a local spa for a mud scrub, facial mask and massage. There were five girls on the trip and we all woke up in anticipation of the delicious pampering that was bound to occur. We arrived at our destination after our guide wove us through the many bustling, motorcyle-ridden side-streets of Marrakech.

Thoroughly lost, we were pleased and impressed upon arrival at our spa. It was so beautifully designed and tranquil that we almost high-fived each other right in the courtyard. Instead, we composed ourselves and giddily changed into our plush robes and flip-flops.

Our spa attendant did not speak English and instead we communicated through a variety of confused sign-language. She guided us upstairs to a hallway of three rooms which faced the courtyard. Pausing, we all looked at each other, eager for the pampering to begin. With no warning, the attendant put her hand on Traveller's arm and gently pushed T into one of the concrete rooms, stripped her robe off (revealing T's last clean pair of underwear) and left her facing her horror-struck friends. T started to feel nervous. What on earth was the attendant going to do with her? The concrete room had two beds in it, a sink filled with strange looking pastes and a large shower head that was streaming hot water which covered both beds and the ground.

Suddenly, the door closed and Traveller was left in the dark room by herself, wondering what to do. She decided to sit and wait and grew more nervous by the second. One minute passed and then RF was suddenly shoved into the room. T breathed a sigh of relief. At least they could experience whatever atrocities were going to occur, together. They sat on the bed, in their now soaking underwear, and started to giggle hysterically. Tears of laughter started to trickle down T's cheeks as she struggled to compose herself.

Soon, the attendant came in and proceeded to scrub RF down in front of T. As RF's dead skin trickled onto the concrete floor, T started to feel a little squeamish which helped in calming down her severe case of the giggles. RF was then washed down which involved being doused in water thrown at her in little buckets. Copping a splash right in the face, RF struggled to blink and breathe which caused T to descend into giggles once more.

One girl, afterwards, likened it to being reminscent of receiving your weekly prison wash.
A truly awkward experience.

T is happy to report, however, that the massage was lovely.

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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Reasons to smile.

two week's holiday starting in less than twenty-four hours

no aches and pains from the half-marathon

school dinners and, in paticular, apple pie and custard

incomparable friends and family

new possibilities

and...a plane ticket that's heading to Morocco in two sleeps!
{along with Traveller! - yippee!}

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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Hardest Part.

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Now, it may seem like a daft thing to declare (not that that's ever stopped T before) but the hardest part of the half-marathon is running the race. Traveller can handle the months of training, the intervals, the really long training runs but phew - when it comes to actually running the competition - it's quite tough, no?

It's all about the head space. You really need a certain level of mental strength to get you through when you don't want to run anymore. Traveller was astounded that even crowds of cheering bystanders, whooping family members and eager friends who were photographing at every mile or so were not enough to propel her towards the finishing line. To put it simply, by the tenth mile, she was tired. She did not want to run anymore. Of course she did, albeit intermittently.

So, long story short - Traveller finished the race at 201:21 - about 1 1/2 minutes longer than last year! She was on track to finish at about 1:52, but hey, who's counting?!

And, there is always next year.

RF and T did declare that they were finished with half-marathons mere seconds after the race. You do, however, always feel differently about these things once you've had time to recover...right RF? It needs to be said that RF beat her time from last year by five minutes! Winner!

Anyway, T will stand by the fact that the Royal Parks is one of the most beautiful runs you can experience. It has a fantastic atmosphere, is really well organised and passes all of the most memorable and beautiful of London's iconic buildings and landmarks.

So, minus the aches and pains, the anxiety, the interminable mile marks that just keep coming, the long queues for the port-a-loos and the strange dreams that inevitably happen the night before - the halfie is really a tremendous experience!

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One of T's mates who ran the race on his 30th birthday. He came in at 1:39 - champion!

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Love this photo - RF's expression is priceless!

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One of the best parts?

Riding home on Boris's bikes through the beautifully autumnal Hyde Park
{even though T's legs were barely able to cooperate with the pedals!}

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For those of you wondering about the strange dream..

T woke up gasping with fright (and unequivocal relief that it wasn't reality) from a dream that involved her and RF running the half-marathon. This half-marathon, however, wound through a dark and eerie city where escalators rose up to the heavens and indian buffets were on the sidelines and well, T just couldn't get RF to concentrate. RF was standing still on the escalators and worst of all, eating indian food whilst the race was still going. Needless to say, they ended up getting lost and missing the finishing line.

Disaster!

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