ALLO, Eat Travel Divers!
It has been a while since our last post, and it's been a fairly rollercoaster style journey. It is my intention to update you on our trip (post Scotland) and then bring you up to date on the happenings here in Dahab, Egypt.
Winnie "2 Cones" Au Yeung
SO... Where to begin? I guess leaving Glasgow with sore bums and achy legs is as good a place as any! So, as you may remember from our amazing day out at SNO!Zone in Braehead, Winnie and I did a beginner to intermediate Snowboard course...which was fun, but left Winnie with a sore bum for many weeks! After leaving Glasgow, we headed south of the border in the direction of Lake Windermere in the heart of the Lake District. On arrival, after a couple hours sitting on a train, we decided (in our infinite wisdom) to go Mountain Biking!!! The funniest part of this is that when offered a soft, gel saddle for an extra 1GBP - Winnie got her cheapskate hat on and said "NO, I wont need one of them"... FAMOUS last words...
"..I want to ride my bicycle.."
Mountain Bikers on a...Ferry?
So we headed out on our rock hopping adventure, which involved lots of downhill and rocky boulders uphills, a ferry ride and lots of mud....We covered close to 20miles of rough terrain - with a short pause for lunch in a quaint little country town - where we ate sausage, egg and bacon rolls...yum... In this small hamlet of a town, Winnie found her new favourite Ice Cream Flavour: Cinder-toffee - which she still pines over now.... Back to the bikes. At the end of the day we returned our Trek Front Suspension Bikes, Helmets and Map....a little tired (in my case) and with an even sore bum (Winnie). I have to admit, there were a few occasions on the return leg where I went off-track making the trip from 18miles extend to 20miles....oops!
"..A Big Hi to Winnie's Bro RAVE.."
Next day we spent the day sitting in the sun beside Lake Windermere, reading, doing puzzles and drinking cider and beer....a great chillax day well earnt. After this plus sausage & chips on a tray with curry sauce... we decided to row around Lake Windermere in a traditional wooden rowing boat...with oars and no engine. So the way this worked was simple - Winnie was Queen Bee, and I was the rower...great upper body workout I might add.. 1 hour later we had rowed around the lake, which aint small, twice, and completed a figure of eight around the far side of the lake. I return the boat to the dock via weaving in and out of the anchored sailing yachts...which was fun...
Sausage, Chips & Curry Sauce...
My thinking face
My beautiful girl, my sunshine x
My Rower's Hug
Working hard on Windermere
After the Lake District we headed to Manchester for a night, where we had a great Curry at East is East (totally recommend) and walked around dodging the rain..boo! After Manchester we visited Liverpool (Albert Dock was the main attraction on a very very wet day). Grey skies and damp clothes led us to head to Chester (home of Hollyoaks). Chester was an attractive old city, with a nice river (with aggressive swans) and some fine architechture - even a roman ampitheatre in the heart of town which was interesting. The next leg of our UK adventure saw us heading into Wales, and for this we needed a car, which we organised through Europcar. When we arrived to their depot (in the middle of whoop whoop nowhere's industrial estate of doom) we were forced to wait nearly 2 hours, then told we were getting a shitty crap box car...I went into complain/winging pommie mode and got us a double upgrade to a brand new VW Gold TDI with the new Blue Motion economical engine - which was awesome. It was also an automatic which meant easy driving for me...like an expensive go kart!
In our new vehicle we travelled to Snowdonia, and decided to go to the summit of Mt Snowdon.....the easy way (due to strong winds, rain and a generally gloomy morning)...the easy way being an old rickety steam powered mountain train. The trip up was nice, not as active as we were used to, but we were glad of the slower pace. On arrival at the last stop on the track to the top, we exited and walked in the strong wind to the summit. At the top, we were literally holding on to the milestone marker, for fear of being blown off of the mountain!! The view would be amazing (I imagine)..but on this day was a blank canvas of thick, dense fog!
The Mountain Train
The Amazing View from the Summit of Mt Snowdon!
After returning to the base, and warming up we headed to Idwal Cottage YHA. This YHA was out in the middle of nowhere, deep in Snowdonia - a retreat from the busy. The poor weather, heavy rain and wind sort of held us back....we did try hiking but got so wet we needed to put all of our clothes in the drying room!!! Newspaper in shoes, and so on....We focussed on spending time in our warm cosy car. Driving to Holyhead, and all around the country lanes of Snowdonia...very pleasurable.
After Snowdonia, we headed south to meet up with my cousin Fran in Becon. Being greeted with a lovely cooked breakfast was a nice touch Cuz! Thanks for that, and for the loan of your extensive maps for our hiking trip to photograph waterfalls... Oh and Thanks Mr Shrimp for your tips on Waterfall Photography that really helped me get some of the best images. If you avid readers out there wanna see awesome photos check out some of Mr Shrimp's Images on Facebook - he's a real inspiration I promise you'll like what you see.
So a nice day hiking in Brecon, followed by a freakishly hot Vindaloo (which made my face and tongue swell up - see photo) and some cold beers was a lovely treat...we LOVE curry, it's best in the UK, no competition..one day I will go to India and try theirs and really compare!! Next day, Winnie and I had our first White Water Canoeing experience, thanks to Fran. We had such a fun time catching up, spending time finding out all of the family gossip...It was nice to visit, without all the tea, biscuits and arm chairs!!
"Freakishly Hot" Vindaloo!
After a very relaxing trip to Brecon, Winnie and I headed south to Cardiff for the evening. We got there early in the afternoon, and saw some of the Cardiff Uni graduation ceremonies and went shopping for another of Winnie's t-shirts - she's collecting a t-shirt (usually a child size) from each country ;-)
After Cardiff and the return of our new travel buddy - V-Dub Golfie; we headed West, back into England, to Bristol. We arrived in Bristol early, too early to meet my other Cousin Sam, but instead headed to see my Grandad Jim Bateman, and his Wife Dot. It was so nice to see him, even though he wasn't 100%. It's been soo long, and it was Winnie's first chance to meet them. It was nice to see them talking etc... This time there was tea and arm chairs - we provided the hobnobs! After a short while, Sam arrived and took us out for the day in Bristol City (ha ha ha Bristol Cities...titties!) where we played Crazy Golf (putt-putt) and I let him Win!! Another great day of simple fun, catching up with my Cousin..followed by catching up with Sam's brother (my other cousin) Lee and his girlfriend Kim...I even managed to catch up with my cousin Stephie on the phone...so I was going strong!!! When my uncle Garry Bateman arrived home from work we headed to the local pub to drink cider, play darts and generally have a giggle...After a few Ciders, and a lot of practice (plus some coaching) I started hitting the treble 20's and the bull's eye - maybe this darts mallarky does run through Bateman Blood? Winnie lost interest in the Darts almost straight away, but got excited when the pub quiz kicked off.... It was cool to meet my Uncle's new girl (Miska) and try her extremely strong alcohol shots with kebabs at the end of the night...blurry!!!! Next morning we headed back to say our goodbye's to Sam and I managed to catch up, with my other Cousin Amanda! I'm very proud of her, she's working as a Staff Nurse in Bristol, after recently graduating from Uni - YAY!!!
After Bristol, we headed to Bath.... On arrival in Bath, we did nothing less than have a BATH!!! hehehe!! We went to a luxury spa day, recommended to me by Chris (my unofficial lil'bro) and his awesome girlfriend Kimberley (Kimbo) who had recently stayed there for a hint of "romance" ;-)
So after a few hours relaxation in the bubbles, steam and warmth of the luxury spa pools we headed to Sally Lunn's for a bun. Sally Lunn is a famous refugee from France circa 1680, over 300 years ago. A girl finds work in a bake house, creates a bun recipe that can be enjoyed with sweet or savoury accompaniments - which made for a very versatile bun in Georgian England. After our delicious bun, which we had with tea and a dandelion and burdock soda, we headed underground into the basement of the oldest house in England, to see the original kitchen of Sally Lunn's "house" and see some exhibits of how she worked and lived...and interesting gastronomic delight! Well worth a visit, if you're in Bath. Waiting for our train south, we sat in the grass and chillaxed, reading books and doing some more puzzles.
We arrived back in my home town of Gosport just in time to have a whisky with my parents and see my 31st Birthday in. :-)
My birthday was a slow paced affair, with a simple pub dinner with my whole family (Mum, Dad, Nicola, Marcus, Harry and Winnie). Harry my young god-son (2.5years old) was a very good boy and we went for a walk around the pub after. I fear my birthday was overrulled by the headline news - Amy Winehouse's death seemed to dominate conversation and I guess that's what I'll remember of my 31st!! After my sister and her clan left, we waited for a drink with my parents, then met Kimbo and Lil'Chris for drinks... So after a few jugs of "Spoons" cocktails we headed to another location in Fareham - which was dead - then to another where a fight broke out and I became a human barrier to protect my group of closest friends....Poor Kimbo got slammed into a radiator...so we left and went back to "Spoons" for more cocktail jugs... I gotta say at this point Chris and Kimbo have made my UK stay so fun, I love you both.
Another important thing to mention is that FAMILY is IMPORTANT. Remember to catch up, take time to give your rello's a call and tell them how much you appreciate them. It is where we come from after all.
So after my birthday, Tasha, Mike and Irina (my oldest Diving Peeps) organised a birthday BBQ for me. It was great seeing my old Dive Connection Friends - the people who started me off on my diving journey..Even Steve Nash and Jen came which was cool. We all went for a walk around Fort Purbrook and showed Winnie the view from Portsdown Hill. After a few vodkas (Irina is a Russian from Siberia) and some tea we headed home.
A couple weeks spent sightseeing around Portsmouth "Pompey", Southampton "Scumville" and the smaller towns near home (of note: the Historic Dockyard, Submarine Museum and Old Portsmouth) and we were getting involved in a PADI IDC. I had the pleasure of being involved in Steve's Assistant Instructor course. I assisted in preparing the materials, presentations, and organised the weekend with Steve. It went quite well, and meanwhile Winnie got involved with some Skills Demos etc and then taught her first Junior Scuba Diver Certification - YAY! Which actually seems an age away..she's racking the certs up now!!!!
After this we headed south-west to Cornwall - Mevagissy, for a week with my family. "Meva" was beautiful, there was time for windsurfing, walks and trips to Newquay, Fistral Beach (where the international surfing scene dominates each year), Tintagel, Padstow, Lizzard Point and Lands End. We finally signed in at Lands End, to tell of our journey from John O'Groats to Lands End... by train, bus, car, bike, snowboard, rowing boat and my parents car...the most non-direct route ever!!
Fully Stocked Fridge
Time for quick pint in Newquay
Beers with the Parentals
Relaxing in the Hot Tub....Ohh Yea!
Just us....and lots of water....
Just three days later we were embarking on another airplane to South Sinai, Egypt (Dahab) on a journey of potential. I'll leave it at that for now, and tomorrow I 'll give you an update on Dahab - where we are currently staying.
I hope this keeps you interested, and until then (apologies for incorrect translations):
"Ma es sallama!"