Monday, 12 September 2011

Paris or bust.

Cycling the 300 kilometres from London to Paris is generally a four to six day adventure. Traveller and her friends did it in two. We left Saturday morning at 3:30am and arrived in Paris on Sunday afternoon - sweaty, hungry and beyond thirsty.  It was a gruelling, dramatic and beautiful ride that brought an intense sense of achievement but also, unfortunately, had a rather upsetting ending.
The six of us woke early on the Saturday morning {Traveller had little sleep, too excited and nervous about the day's events} and cycled just under 100 kilometres to Newhaven port to catch the ferry to Dieppe, France. Riding very early in the morning on little sleep was an interesting concept but we managed to arrive in Newhaven before schedule and indulged in a bacon and egg sarnie before jumping on the ferry.  The ferry was a four hour journey which was an excellent amount of time to sleep, eat and stretch before the riding the next 75 kilometres that were stretched out before us. One of the tremendously positive things about riding kilometre after kilometre is that you can eat pretty much whatever you want! Traveller ate almost every hour on the weekend and definitely didn't seem to put on any weight.
Photobucket We arrived in Dieppe and were amazed by the change in weather - a mere crossing of the channel resulted in a temperature change of at least 10 degrees which was accompanied by glorious sunshine  We rode on to Gournay-en-bray {where T's legs started to feel like led - particularly by the last two hills or so!}and we were pleased to shower, eat and laugh over the day's events.
We woke early (5am) the next morning and prepared to make the final 100+ kilometres to Paris. Traveller couldn't believe how fatigued her legs were and she started to wonder if she was going to be able to keep up. We were travelling at around 28 kilometres per hour! Eating an energy bar every hour helped and soon they only had 30 kilometres to go. This was where things went awry.

We were travelling down a very steep, long, windy hill when one member of our cycling group met a car head on. He was sitting by the side of the road as Traveller came down and parts of his bike and kit were scattered down the hill. He knew fairly quickly that it was serious and, being a physiotherapist, had diagnosed himself with a shattered knee-cap and a broken pelvis. Luckily for us, a tremendously helpful Frenchman arrived on the scene moments later and, acting as our translator, he spoke to the emergency services and the police on our behalf. He even drove a couple of bikes to the hospital and helped us communicate with the hospital staff. A true gem.
The next few hours were spent waiting anxiously at the hospital while our patient had x-rays and scans and we tried to make a series of plans, depending on a variety of outcomes. After about four hours, we were told to ride to Paris and were assured that he would probably make the trip, as they wanted him to be in London for any surgery. So, a little shaken, we cycled on.
We felt sad riding without a key member of our group (he had helped organise the ride) and the rest of the journey was a little bitter-sweet. However, on catching the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower there was still a tremendous moment of pride at having achieved such a crazy goal and when we finally reached it, there were hugs and kisses as we celebrated 300 kilometres of adventure. We also - stop reading mum and dad! -  cycled down the beautiful Champs-Elysées and around the ever-scary Arc de Triomph. Needless to say, we shared a glass of Moet {or beer in the boys' case} and the most expensive Croque Monsieur Traveller has ever bought {it was delicious though and very welcome after hours and hours of energy bars!}
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Sadly, our friend didn't make the trip home and was instead lifted by a private jet two days later to a very fancy, private London hospital on the river Thames. He had diagnosed his injuries correctly (thereby being unable to travel by train) and is now in the midst of rehabilitation. He is very positive though and has amazed us all with his consistent, cheery disposition.

So, it wasn't quite the trip we imagined but will definitely be something that we remember for a very long time.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


Photobucket   Traveller is a lucky girl to have a father like you. The love, support and understanding you have given her is cherished beyond words. T has found tremendous comfort, especially in the last year, in knowing that you {and mum} love her no matter what. December is too far away; may the months speed by!

Happy Father's Day, Dad! 
I love you a billion; please take good care of yourself.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Hills are the enemy.

Photobucket Traveller's exercising regime has evolved exponentially since arriving in London. Upon reaching these sunny shores, in an attempt to battle the Heathrow Injection, T took up running. It was a slow process to begin with; she was quite unfit and could only run a couple of laps of the local running track. Then she started on the slippery slope of entering competitions: first a 5k, then a few 10ks, then a couple of half-marathons, until finally she found a sport that required an even more ridiculous level of fitness - the triathlon. As she writes, T has only completed one sprint (mini) triathlon and is currently training for a 3/4 event which will happen in a couple of weeks.

Between the two triathlons, Traveller was preparing for something even more insane...

It all began one beautiful, sunny day in Majorca, Spain; RF's husband and another friend hatched the mad plan to ride from London to Paris. Now, before T continues, RF's husband must be explained: he is one of those peculiar breeds of human that loves to exercise; he rarely goes a day without it and is only really happy when he's pushing through some kind of pain barrier (Exhibit A: he rode through the Pyrenees while T whisked his wife off to the Greek Islands) He has been a sort-of-coach to T and RF throughout the last few years, always telling us to 'harden up' and to get moving (we have a habit of talking too much while we exercise!). So, with that in mind, you can understand that the trip to Paris would not be a luxurious, relaxing week long adventure stopping in local towns and sampling French wine and food along the way. It was going to be a hell for leather two day sprint where they would eat on the bike and stop over just once for a sleep, a shower and a nice big dinner.

Without really understanding the sheer extremity of the task before her, T, very enthusiastically, asked to join in. This resulted in a serious discussion where she was told that she could do it if she trained really hard and where she was promised that she would be left behind if she couldn't keep up. Traveller agreed to these dramatic conditions (still not really understanding) and commenced training.

 So, back in May, T was given a training schedule which included four sessions of cycling a week: a one hour paced ride, an interval session, a hills session and a long ride which grew gradually from seventy kilometres to one-hundred and twenty kilometres. It all seemed possible, except T grew very busy at school, started to get sick and missed a few sessions. Quite a few sessions. Then, in July, they had a practice ride to Brighton; a 100k ride from London which involved quite a few hideous looking hills and let's just say, T did not do so well. She even had to walk up one hill. For shame! She was then told that she could still come to Paris, but she had a lot of work to do. Her schedule grew from 4 sessions a week to 6 sessions a week and totalled 400K+ of riding which translates into hours and hours of pedalling! Luckily, she was on school holidays!

Without expanding too much on the grim hours of painful, solo pedalling that ensued, T is happy to report that she did complete the training schedule and reached the level required for the Paris ride! She was, of course, nervous but felt proud that she had managed to improve her fitness so quickly.

Next up was the ride itself which did not go quite to plan...

Friday, 26 August 2011

Awkward holiday moments.


When T and RF initially decided that they wanted to holiday together, they had a few simple but concrete requirements: sun, surf and good food.

We tossed around a few ideas, but were left with two high on the list: Greece and Sardinia. Both were sunny, both were defined by their beautiful clear water and both were synonymous with delicious food. If we were to go to Greece, we wanted to sail around the islands and RF (having been to Greece before) wanted to steer clear of the more touristy spots. Eventually, Greek sailing won and RF found a company that sailed around the Dodecanese Islands where we could learn to sail and visit a different island each day. It was exactly what we wanted.

We were very fortunate with our pick - we shared the sailing boat with one other young couple, the skipper and the cook. Everyone was very easy going so we were able to dictate what we wanted to do to a certain extent and, as a result, we were able to swim as much as we wanted in some of the most beautiful bays in the world.


One slight hiccup occurred through the booking and it's probably something that T should have reiterated whilst sending in her details. You see, T's Christian name is androgynous and it is always assumed that she is, in fact, a he. So, instead of facing the initial interesting experience of rooming with a good friend in a tiny yacht's room for a week, they then faced the reality of sharing a room that could be likened to a honeymoon suite with a bed that was more single than double. In the heat of summer. In the heat of the Greek summer. In the stuffy cabin air of a yacht. For a week.

It was 40 degrees in there, people!


Luckily for T, she can sleep pretty much anywhere. She is small and can sleep in noise, in heat and in all modes of transport - even rocking boats. Unfortunately for RF, she does not have this ease of sleeping and she also (gulp) had to put up with T's very ladylike snoring. Needless to say, she spent most of the week sleeping on deck whilst T snored happily away below. Now friendships have been ruined over much less, but T is happy to report that she and RF are still fast friends.

One of T's most favourite memories from the trip was when RF attempted to sleep downstairs during a particularly hot night and T, as an olive branch of sorts, made them both ice-packs to cradle in the desperate pursuit of cooling down. Needless to say the ice melted everywhere and T and RF were almost delirious with heat and spent the best part of an hour giggling about everything around them, including the very noisy young couple who were saying their every thought so loudly that the whole boat was privy to their private {and somewhat, inane} conversation. T remembers haircuts and styles being discussed for at least ten minutes.


So, the good part of the story is that T truly lucked out. She has a travelling friend who enjoys the same things that she does {food, sun, wine and swimming} and with whom she can have a good laugh (and without gushing, she is also lovely, generous and wise beyond her years!).

Also, said travelling partner has kick-ass photography skills which you can see as all the photos today are taken from her camera.


Cheers, RF, for a most memorable trip!

The above photographs are taken from T's favourite islands - Chalki, Symi and Rhodes.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Swimming in the Med.

One of the most wonderful things about sailing around the Greek Islands was the opportunity to swim in many beautiful bays along the way. The landscape was always stunning; sometimes it was stark and barren and at other times it was green and verdant. The water, however, was always reliable with clear colours of turquoise and azure and a perfect temperature. The most breathtaking part was the visibility - at one time we were in a bay where the depth was thirty metres and we could see right to the bottom.


Traveller and RF are still in training; this time training for a 3/4 triathlon which starts with an ocean swim in freezing Cornwall. They used their time in the bays to explore and then to complete some swimming training, goggles and all. The salt levels in the Mediterranean make you unbelievably buoyant; there is no struggle to float and you feel like an Olympic swimmer with each stroke. We swam around 2-4 kilometres each day and barely broke a sweat; it was the most satisfying swimming that T has ever completed and was hands down the most beautiful group of islands T has ever visited.It's going to be hard getting back in chlorine-filled, pool water!

Friday, 19 August 2011

It's the people...

A couple of Traveller's favourite moments in Greece involved meeting the locals. The people in Greece were so friendly. T's not sure whether it's the sheer amount of people in London or just the way culture has developed, but they don't tend to talk to each other or look at each other in public. There are no smiles, no waves and no small conversation so it was surprising to Traveller when people started to talk to her in Greece.
One example of this was when the above gentleman noticed T and her friend looking at a fruit tree. We couldn't work out what fruit was growing on the tree and he came up to us and asked us if we knew what it was. When we responded that we didn't, he proceeded to tell us the Greek name for it. Still noticing that we were confused, he took a piece of fruit off the tree and using his pocket knife, opened it up for us. We immediately saw that it was a pomegranate and he was so pleased to see us recognise it. We then had a chat with him and he told us a little about himself and where to eat in the beautiful town of Chalki. We followed his advice and T had her first delicious Moussaka of the trip.
The second moment was on the island of Kalymnos; Traveller and RF wanted to head out to the local beach. As they both had never driven scooters before, they were reliant on local taxis and buses. They asked a taxi driver how much it would cost to get to the local beach and when he said 10 Euro - we were in! It was a half an hour drive and the taxi driver told us the history of Kalymnos while we were in the car and about the local industry; he also took us to an outlook so we could take a picture and stopped at a fig tree (above - how cool is he!) so that we could try the wild fruit. It was delicious! He was so sweet and really made our day.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011



Needless to say, Greece lived up to its expectations without question.

The islands were picturesque, the food was delicious, the temperatures were reaching 40 degrees Celsius (but mostly manageable!) and the water was extraordinary. Never has Traveller floated so easily (got to love all the salt in the Mediterranean) and seen so far to the bottom. We docked in one bay around the island of Symi and it was thirty metres deep - unbelievably, we could see all the way to the bottom.

T had a lovely travelling partner and couldn't have hoped for a more wonderful trip.

It's a little hard to be in grey, chilly London with only a tan as evidence that somewhere it is summer...




Friday, 29 July 2011

Travel Bug.

Traveller's first overseas trip was when she was 13.

Her dad sent her mum and her to California to visit Disneyland and L.A.
T loved it.
She loved the different accents, the different foods and the way that you could be on a plane for a few hours and end up somewhere so completely new and unusual.

A few years later, Traveller went back to North America and lived in Oregon for a year as an exchange student. It was one of the best years of her life and gave her a deep-seeded, irrevocable need to travel. Since then, she has visited many continents and countries and the need has grown rather than diminished.

There has been one country that has been on her 'list' for years. In fact, it has been on the top of her list. Traveller can't remember when or why it was added but she knows that since her late teens she has always imagined her visit there as being perfection and well, it's going to happen tomorrow!

Traveller is flying to Greece tomorrow to sail around the Docadenese Islands for a week with a dear friend and she can.not.wait! Learning to sail, eating seafood, swimming in the sea and taking in the beautiful landscape are all things that are high on her to-do-list and T does not know how she is going to sleep tonight!

The only worrying thing is being able to survive the high temperatures; Traveller is, of course, a weather-hardened Aussie, but London has weakened her ability to handle the sun and with temperatures in Britain never really rising above the early twenties, T is a little overwhelmed at the thought of being in the high 30s without air-conditioning! Oh well, at least she'll be on a boat and clear azure water will be around her for days and days.

Sounds tough, doesn't it?

Thursday, 28 July 2011



It was one of T's friend's birthdays this week so she decided to make her some pretty cupcakes using this recipe, with a few adjustments.

T infused the chocolate butter-cream icing with rose and the sweet taste made the dense, rich chocolate cake even more delicious.

It is with much self-control that T is ignoring the leftovers as they sing her name from the fridge.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Hard Day's Work.


Teaching, marking, writing reports... or white water rafting in Italy?

Don't have to ask T twice!

This was the boys' favourite activity and it was pretty high on the list for T as well. The rapids were fun and frequent but not too scary and the weather and location were pretty perfect.






Funniest part?

We rafted the whole day with two hours in between for lunch and the boys were instructed to drink about a litre of water over lunch to make sure they were hydrated. Before they were suited up again, T warned them all to visit the bathroom. Half an hour later, T was faced by a panicking boy and the following conversation:

Miss, Miss, please help me take off my life-jacket, I need to go to the toilet.

Sure, sure; you know, I did tell you boys to go before...

I did! I need to go again!

{both T and boy are working quickly to release him from the sticky, wet jacket}

Oh no, Miss! I'm going to go....I can't hold it! It's happening!

Needless to say, the poor kid didn't live that down for the entire trip.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Pizza love.

T's back from her adventure.

Best. School. Trip. Ever.

The evidence speaks for itself; here's a photograph from their night out in the Italian Alps at a local pizzeria. They were in a teeny town called Villeneuve where little English was spoken and the pizzas cost around four euro.

Besides food, the adventure had it all - sunshine, hot temperatures and the beautiful backdrops of the Italian Alps and the south of France.

Friday, 10 June 2011


Today, Traveller is heading off on another overseas adventure - this time on a school trip!

This is quite possibly the biggest perk that T has experienced from her time teaching in England. T, along with the games teacher and organiser, is taking her Prep Eight boys to Italy and France on an adventure trip!

They will first stop in Villeneuve in Italy to mountain climb, go white-water rafting and abseil (among other things) and then they are heading to the Ardeche, in the south of France to complete a 2-day descent in canoes!

T, while a little nervous at the prospect of being around 13-year-old boys for over a week, is quite excited!

She may be able to blog on the road at some stage but if not, there'll be plenty of stories and pictures upon her return.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


The age 30 is quite a milestone.

For some, it can be an age that comes exactly as they have all their so-called ducks in a row.

For others, it can be a flashing beacon highlighting all the ducks that aren't in a row... or anywhere near a row, for that matter.

For Traveller, it was a very good excuse to get together her lovely London friends and enjoy a weekend in sunny Spain.

Last weekend, T and a few friends headed to Majorca (in the Balearic islands) for four nights of sun, surf and yummy Mediterranean food. T and RF spent many hours trying to find the best possible spot in Majorca and together they found a villa in Cala Santanyi which was beyond perfect and close to many beautiful, sometimes secluded, beaches.



One of the best moments was when they saw the villa for the first time and spent quite a few minutes jumping around, ecstatic at how pretty it was (it even had a pool which lit up at night!).





Another was the amazing fresh produce we found at the local farmers' markets - there was an endless supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and cheese.





The beaches were, needless to say, phenomenal.

Traveller and her friends spent the majority of their time swimming and laying by the beautiful beaches.


The most memorable moment?

A late night game of Marco Polo and Battleships and Submarines in the pool - fully clothed.

If the weekend in Majorca is any indication - 30 is going to be the best decade yet!


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