Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Three Weekends. Three Walks.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


Since the start of the 2016 I have managed to go on three consecutive Sunday walks. When I first moved to England I was determined to become one of those ‘outdoorsy people’ who makes rustling sounds when they walk thanks to their appropriate wet weather attire. It has taken me over two years to get anywhere near this dream and while I have been on various walks over this time, it hasn’t been until the most recent sales that I invested in a “wet weather jacket”. Amazing things! Not only do they keep you warm, they also STOP RAIN. This was particularly useful on

Walk #1

Some of my Yelp mates have decided that regular outdoor exercise is a good way to balance the regular indoor eating that we do. On the first Sunday in January, I headed north with Michael and Lucas (everyone else had dropped like flies as the weather forecast rapidly worsened) to Rivington Pike – a small(ish) hill near Bolton. We left early to avoid the rain and as we pulled into the car park to start the walk it began to sprinkle. It then proceeded to becoming increasingly wetter and windier the higher we climbed.

Rivington Pike

Walking up the hill.

It was all worth it – reaching the top to eat a piece of homemade carrot cake that I had brought along and pretending to be in the Matrix (while facing the wrong direction) in the wind on the top of the hill was great fun. We couldn’t see far as the rain and clouds were covering most of the countryside but hey – we made it. And we didn’t drown.

Plonkers

Posted by Lucas Smith on Sunday, 3 January 2016

Rivington Pike

My cake, Lucas’s hand.

We did get saturated EXCEPT as I removed my rainproof jacket I was delighted to discover that my inner layers were dry! Now all I need are some water proof trousers. I can’t wait to hear the rustle.

Our walk ended with a slightly snooty lunch at a local pub where I had soup that was served with two rocks that were apparently my ‘bread’.

Rivington Pike

Soup and rocks.

Walk #2

The following Sunday, Garden Boy took me to Entwistle reservoir for a good old stroll around the water. The sun was shining and it was a remarkably warm day – surely there’d be no water worries today! WRONG.

Entwistle reservoir

Entwistle Reservoir with giant, man eating bird.

Recent flooding in the Yorkshire region had resulted in the reservoir breaking its banks in a few sections and there were many puddles for us to get through. And by the time we had made our way around the reservoir we had climbed muddy banks and jumped fences in order to not drown. It was definitely wettest walk on a path around a reservoir that I have ever done and even Garden Boy was surprised by the amount of water. Turns out that my second hand walking boots are not so water proof if you walk ankle deep in a puddle.

This walk ended with lunch at another local pub called the Strawbury Duck. Despite the clear spelling mistake, the food was good, the beer was good and the service was great.

We then drove to nearby Summerseat where the recent floods had washed away a 200 year old pub that was sitting on a bridge over the river Irwell. Sad. We also managed to arrive at exactly the time that the Flying Scotsman train, zoomed through. It was only going to happen once. We were there. Awesome.

Summerseat

The Flying Scotsman above. Missing pub below.

Walk #3

The final walk was to Dovestones Reservoir with more Yelp folk. It had snowed the night before so some were nervous about the slippery road situation but we were keen to give it a go. Michael managed to keep the wheels on the road and we walked around the beautiful snow-covered fields and paths around the reservoir.

Dovestones Reservoir

Dovestones Reservoir

Dovestones reservoir

So pretty.

Having discovered my water + shoe = not so good, issue the week before, I had popped into town and bought myself some cheap wellington boots. BEST PURCHASE EVER. I am in love with my wellies even though they’re not stripy like I would ideally like. But they do say Dunlop which I like to believe is vintage cool.

Dunlop wellies

Looking cool.

My boots and I went stomping through snow, puddles and mud and not wet feet were had! On this walk I was warm AND dry. I am almost British!

Dovestones reservoir

Snow in them there hills

The pub this week was the best yet – we headed to a local pub in nearby Greenfield and waited over an hour for our hot Sunday lunches but it was so worth the wait! I had a fantastic beef suet pie with mushy peas (I weirdly like them now. I really am a POM.) and chips and gravy. So so good.

Suet pie

We’re fairly certain there was an entire cow inside that suet pie.

So as you can see, I am getting steadily closer to becoming a local. Soon I will rustle with the best of them.

Two-month-iversary

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Today I have been back in Manchester for two months which currently seems like the longest two months in the history of time. So much has happened in those 60-something days that it feels like I have really been here for at least a year.

Things are settling down nicely now – I have steady work, uni is really great, I’ve been going out lots and continuing to have many adventures. Fun times!

University of Manchester

Blue skies at the University of Manchester

Last night my housemate, Alice, and I went to the Royal Exchange to see the latest show, Pomona. It is a dark and gritty tale about an underworld that exists beneath Manchester and an abandoned plot of land called Pomona. This area actually exists and I used to run past it when I went along the canal towpath, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if organ harvesting really was happening underneath there. Anyway, it was a great night of theatre and if you like swear words, sexual references and a bit of blood and gore then this is the show for you!

On the weekend I went for a walk in Delamere Forest in Cheshire with Garden Boy (Jon) to make the most of the autumn colours and to forage for mushrooms. The trees are incredible at the moment although some recent rain has meant the footpaths are now covered in very soggy leaves that are making their way through the soles of my boots (because, of course, yet another pair of my shoes now have holes in the bottom of them. Bah.) It was nice to get out of the city and wander through some woods, although I did keep pointing out to Jon that this supposed “escape from the city” did include seeing lots of other people and hearing the motorway. We also didn’t find any mushrooms which I entirely blame Jon for. Calls himself a Garden Boy…

Delamere forest

All the pretty leaves.

And in other news, I have signed up for the Manchester Marathon in April next year. Oops.

Facts and Fallacies about Cambridge

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

This somewhat ignorant Australian went to Cambridge on the weekend and discovered the truths and not-so-truths about her preconceived notions on the city.

  1. When people say “I went to Cambridge.” you should ask them for more information. There are 31 colleges connected to the University of Cambridge, most of which are located within the main city centre. King’s, Christ’s, Darwin’s colleges are all autonomous colleges within the University. So there you go.
  2. All men in Cambridge have floppy hair parted to the side and they wear chinos, boating shoes and have sweaters tied around the necks. TRUE.
  3. Cambridge is a very pretty city with a ridiculously large number of ye olde buildings where smart people sit around learning. TRUE.
  4. All eating establishments in Cambridge are just plain fancy. Not so true – we ate lunch at a fairly average pub where we’re reasonably certain Sir Pubert obtained food poisoning.
  5. Everyone punts in Cambridge. True, particularly if you’re a tourist or at a hen’s party.

I liked Cambridge but I felt a little bit like a northern intruder. I don’t think my creative thought processes and dislike for structure and hierarchy would fit in well.

King's College chapel

King’s College chapel

Back in the Manchester Groove

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Guess where I am, kids! Row M, position 1 of the reading room spiral at Manchester Central Library. My favourite room in the city has welcomed me back, providing me with ergonomically inferior seating in a deliciously silent setting.

Central library

I took this photo the other day. I have since moved.

Currently in my direct line of sight is the arse crack of a man who looks weirdly like Sir Pubert Gladstone (oh good, he just changed positions so my eye balls aren’t hurting quite so much), and earlier I was sitting opposite a guy who was eating away at the skin of all of his fingers. He had to occasionally mop up the blood he was discharging with a dirty tissue. The library attracts all sorts.

I have been in Manchester for over a week now and I am feeling surprisingly settled. It is much, much, much easier to move to a city that you are already familiar with and that is home to people you have already met. I don’t have to start from scratch this time and I know where to go to buy the best value avocados. I have been able to catch up with some of my friends and I am no longer having to whinge to Sir Pubert via text messages. Now he is just a £1 bus ride away and I can nag him in person.

I am living in an area called Victoria Park which sounds fancy and once was. It used to be home to some well known and well to do folk – Mr Charles Dickens used to come and visit on occasion. Of course, that was then and it definitely isn’t now. It is now home to a largely student population and people whose incomes will only let them afford to live in student-like housing. Loads of character and plenty of potential. The apartment that I am sharing is in a building called The Gables which I am certain must have some sort of interesting history. It is next to a pub called The Rampant Lion which has recently reopened as a hotel/pub/trying to be fancy Halal Italian restaurant/beer garden/coffee shop/downstairs Middle Eastern restaurant/take away food outlet. The building is nice, the garden is nice, the beer menu is terrible.

Rampant Lion

View from my apartment window looking at the back of the Rampant Lion

The last week has mostly involved attempting to register for university but discovering that it is harder than it looks, and so doing some writing work in the library instead. On the weekend, I made use of the Heritage Open Days and visited a few historically and culturally significant buildings that were open to the public for free. This included a trip to Halifax with Sir Pubert, continuing our tradition of weekend outings involving a picnic lunch.

England countryside

England sure knows how to do ‘countryside’

Halifax wasn’t great, but the blue cheese, walnut, tomato and onion chutney sandwich that Sir Pubert made me certainly was.

Sandwich in Halifax

Yum.

Stories From the Sky

Monday, September 7th, 2015

The last few weeks have been somewhat manic – my decision to run a marathon, turn 30 and move to the other side of the world turned out to be quite the challenge. I don’t regret it but next time I might reconsider doing so many physically and mentally strenuous things all at the same time.

I am currently writing to you while flying somewhere over the Indian Ocean. If the plane goes down now I’ll try and float towards Jakarta. That seems to be the closest land mass. I have already watched two films – Aloha and Frozen. You’ll be pleased to hear that both ended happily and resulted in me tearing up a bit in the lovey-dovey moments. It’s my old age.

I had the beef for dinner. We apparently get another ‘light dinner’ later. I’m likely to get yet another one on my next flight from Abu Dhabi to Manchester. Great. Three dinners. Normally I’d love this concept but when it comes in a foil container and you’re not entirely sure what you’re eating, it is slightly less exciting.

I figured I’d take the opportunity of me not doing anything to catch up on some blog posts so that people may or may not read them later when I have a chance to upload them. So here we go. Let’s catch up, friends!

Here I come, Manchester

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Exciting times in the Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess (although less exciting for my bank account.) This afternoon I made a substantial investment in a plane ticket, travelling from unusually sunny Perth to as-rainy-as-expected Manchester. My last day in Perth will be 3 September, giving me enough time to get old and most likely complete a marathon before I depart.

It is great to have a date for exactly when the next ‘bit’ starts. Having something to work towards makes a big difference to how I see my time in Perth as now I only have a few weeks left to soak up the sun, see my friends and get lots of hugs from mum and dad.

So get ready, Manchester – please at least attempt to bring out some sunshine for me. I will be eternally grateful and announce to the world that you’re not THAT grey a city after all.

Escape from Penguin Island

Friday, May 15th, 2015

On Sir Pubert’s last day in sunny Perth, I took him to one of WA’s most prized tourist destinations – Penguin Island. As the name would suggest, Penguin Island is a small rocky island that is home to around 1000 penguins. We were staying in my aunt’s beachside apartment down the road in Shoalwater and headed over to PI around lunch time. While it is possible to walk across a sandbar stretching from the mainland to the island, the extensive “DO NOT WALK ACROSS THE SANDBAR” signage and the fact that we were carrying delicious sandwiches for lunch that would run the risk of getting wet, meant we decided to catch the ferry.

Heading off to Penguin Island

Heading off to Penguin Island

As soon as we stepped off the ferry and onto the poop-covered jetty, hundreds of pissed-off seagulls rose from their shrubby nests and hovered menacingly above our heads. Within the first 30 seconds, Sir Pubert had been pooped on and I was laughing at him.

It didn’t take us long to realise that we weren’t going to see any penguins that day but we were going to spend a lot of time trying to stay away from sharp-beaked seagulls. It would appear that it was mating/nesting season for the thousands of screechy birds who had built nests and laid eggs alongside the designated tourist walk paths. This meant that every step we took was one closer to another protective mother. It did make for some light entertainment watching nervous tourists trying to escape from attacking seagulls.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Apart from the grumpy gulls, our visit to Penguin Island was great. Despite being located so close to the industrial zones of Kwinana and Rockingham, the rocky coastline is surprisingly pretty and we managed to find a quiet spot to sit and each our lunch. We were also welcomed by a sleepy seal who had found a sunny spot on one of the island’s beaches. He flopped around on the sand and provided some excellent photo opportunities for the island’s visitors and reminded me a lot of Sir Pubert in his somnolent states.

Show off.

Show off.

The Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess Continue

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Did you know that one in every 50 to 100 million lobsters are born with ‘split cells’ – the cell in the egg splits in two and one half of the body is formed from one cell and the other half from the other. This means that half of the lobster can be bright orange and female while the other side is black and male. Pretty cool.

This is Sir Pubert Gladstone’s current ‘Favourite Fact’ and each time he tells his slightly exaggerated version I can’t help but feel somewhat connected with how these lobsters must feel. The left half wants to build a home, settle down, have friends over for dinner and make lots of lobster babies, while their crazy right side wants to explore the seabed, try new algae and see what’s happening on the other side of the ocean.

I have spent the last four years letting my ‘Crazy Right’ take control – moving to Paris, refusing to leave, and then deciding that a sojourn in Manchester was a better option than going home. My left side has accepted this right sided dominance by simply insisting on having a nice apartment to come back to and, lately, a form of employment (sort of). While I love the adventure and excitement of discovering new places, I don’t particularly enjoy change, I hate the unknown and I would really, really like to know what I am doing with my life. Ha.

A year or so ago, I was quite sure that my country hopping was coming to an end and that the sunshine and warmth of the great southern land was calling me home. Around this time I recall telling my friends that I thought I would be heading back to Australia but if they asked me again in six months time I would most likely be working out how to stay. How correct I was! As the end of my time in England drew dramatically closer and the more I thought about leaving, the more I wanted to chain myself to a lamp post outside the Manchester Town Hall.

And so I have spent the last few months working out how to stay or at least return in the near future. My only feasible option, that doesn’t involve breaking the law, is to become a student. Luckily, my extreme dissatisfaction with my current lack of career path and the fact that I don’t actually want to be a copywriter for the rest of my life (ooh, controversial) has meant that I have been contemplating a change of direction for some time (since about 2009 to be specific.). What appropriate timing! So I sent in an application to study at the University of Manchester and then sat back and waited to hear if I had been accepted.

And yesterday, I heard back.

Good news, kids – I, Jessica Davies, will be returning to Manchester in September to study a Masters in Art Gallery and Museum Studies. This is, of course, unless the UK Home Office comes up with some ridiculous new visa law preventing Australians from completing educations in England and paying exorbitant amounts of money to do so.

So the Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess continue. In this episode we will watch as Jess, having turned the ripe old age of 30, returns to university to start an entirely new line of career. Not only will she not have any money, she will also be even further away from the more acceptable life path of ‘husband/children/white picket fence/promotion to senior management’ that one would expect of a 30 year old. Her most valuable possession will be her suitcase and even that was given to her by her parents.

Now all I have to do is go back to Australia, wait for a few months, and come back to hang out with people half my age. I’m somewhat disappointed that I will not be allowed to complain about the influx of students in Manchester in September as I will be one of them. I will try and be less annoying though.

The End is Nigh (Again)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Dear Scientists,

You’re a smart bunch of people. You have done some really neat things that have been particularly useful such as inventing computers, harnessing the power of electricity and finding cures for stuff. Do you think you could please invent a way of slowing down time? I would be most grateful.

Cheers for that.

Love Jess

So it would appear that time has done its thing and passed with rapid speed once again. The expiry of my UK visa is looming, becoming more and more real every time I wake up in the morning. Last Thursday it all became terrifyingly real when I bought my plane ticket home. The culmination of paying an excessively large sum of money for something that I didn’t necessarily want and the fact that I now officially have an end date AND time, made everything sink in.

Mum, Dad, don’t get me wrong – part of me is very excited to be coming home. I haven’t hugged my mum in 2.5 years, which for someone who thrives on Mum-hugs is a really, really long time. Plus I have heard rumours of this thing called a ‘sun’ that delivers ‘warmth’ – that all sounds rather good. Plus I can ride my bike, be babysat by my parents, see my friends and meet some of the new additions that have been produced while I have been away. All of these things are great. But I still don’t want to go.

I have had this feeling towards the end of all of my visas and it is the fear of change, the unknown, the “what the hell am I doing with my life?” that rears its ugly head as the days count down. At least this time I haven’t made myself sick, unlike when I returned to Perth to apply for Paris Visa #2 and spent the month before my departure with a stomach ache. Maybe I am getting used to it and learning that no matter what happens or how hard I try and slow down time, life soldiers on. There’ll be another great adventure and I just have to wait and see what it entails. Still sucks though.

Australia puddle

This puddle that looks a bit like Australia has been outside my office window for over a week. This is the most exciting part of my day.

This morning, like many mornings, the question of “Why didn’t I just settle in a normal job with normal working hours in a normal office cubicle doing something like marketing?”. Then maybe I would be like many of my friends who seem to have found their place in the world and who have real careers, babies, families, husbands, houses, mortgages and sanity. Or I would have gone nuts, smashed down the office cubicle in a fit of rage and run off to deserted island. Hmmm…

So perhaps I should just stop fighting the fact that I need change, I crave adventure and I don’t like sitting still. I always want more, more, more and the purchase of this plane ticket is just that – it is the start of Jess’s Great Adventure #4 and the search for something more. I just wish I didn’t have to pack up all of my possessions every year or two. Fun fun fun.

AONBs

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

While visiting Northern Ireland, I had the absolute pleasure of staying with Sir Pubert’s aunt, Lady BonBon. One of the kindest and most generous people that I have ever met, we were treated like royalty during our three night stay. I wasn’t even told to write this – I honestly mean it.

Lady BonBon had collected a range of maps and tourist information for Pubert and I to use to plan our day trips out and about. One of the maps was of the Areas of Natural Beauty (AONBs) to the north of where we were staying. So on Friday, Pubert and I headed out in Lady BonBon’s automobile (a Skoda) to discover them for ourselves.

ANOB #1 – The Dark Hedges

The map was what I would call “diagrammatical” or “lacking detail” and so we took a few scenic detours before finally reaching our first destination. All we knew about the dark hedges was that they were a bunch of trees covering a road and that they were near a golf course. Thanks to perseverance, a bit of GPS Jess map reading, and a lot of good luck, we finally found what we were looking for. A road in the middle of no where with over hanging trees. Thanks to some good weather and a little bit of sunshine, we managed to see the road in great light. Definitely an ANOB.

Dark hedges

The Dark Hedges. WoooOOoooOOOooo….

ANOB #2 – The Giant’s Causeway

I had heard about and seen photographs of the Giant’s Causeway but didn’t know a lot about it. I was thrilled to discover that it was a short drive from where we were staying and that it was an official ANOB on our tourist map. After parking the car and slightly fraudulently getting into the National Trust visitor’s centre thanks to Ken and Katy’s membership, we walked down along the coastal road to the famous site.

Giant's causeway

Walking down to the Giant’s Causeway

Thanks to a volcano, the ice age and various other earthly movements, the Giant’s Causeway is a collection of rocks that have magically formed in hexagonal pillars. It is absolutely remarkable – as I walked across the rocks it became more and more phenomenal how these unique shapes formed. And on top of that, how they have lasted in this manner for hundreds/thousands/millions of years.

Giant's causeway

Giant’s Causeway

My favourite rocks were those that were speckled with what I presume is some sort of algae. The white specks reminded me of the pyrite encrusted ring Pubert bought me for my birthday.

Giant's causeway

Hexagons

After an overpriced and average tasting lunch at the National Trust cafe and having been chatted up by one of the elderly gentlemen volunteers in the visitor’s centre, we headed off towards our next stop on our ANOB discovery tour.

ANOB #3 – Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Once again, thanks to a slightly inappropriate use of a National Trust membership (“You don’t look old enough to be a senior…”) we made our way to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. My new boyfriend from the Giant’s Causeway visitor’s centre had said the walk to the bridge was at least 40 minutes, so imagine our surprise when we managed to do it in around 15. Clearly we were keen to get there.

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

A long way down.

The rope bridge connects the mainland to a small island off the coast where fishermen used to go to check their salmon nets. They have improved the quality of the bridge, however it is still a hair-raising experience as you step out onto a wobbly bridge, the sea below your feet and a bunch of tourists watching, hoping you’ll slip and fall for the perfect photo opportunity. Unfortunately for them, we both made it across safely.

Carrick a Rede

Nice.

Once again, the views definitely rated high on the ANOB scale.

ANOB #4 – Dunluce Castle

The problem with being a tourist at this time of the year is the extreme lack of day light. The sun is going to bed before 4pm so we were restricted by how much we could fit into our day. We headed back along the coast to Dunluce Castle, old castle ruins sitting precariously on top of the cliffs. We discovered that the once free to enter attraction now had a £5 per person entry fee. We were running short on time, so decided to head down a path to the side of the castle that took you underneath the ruins.

Dunluce Castle

A castle with a view

Below the castle is a cave where boats would come to the shore after being out at sea. Despite signage recommending No Entry and some encouragement from a local man who happened to walk past, we ventured into the mouth of the cave to listen to the waves hitting the shore.

ANOB #5 – Bushmills Distillery

While not technically an ANOB, I am going to classify the Bushmills distillery as a natural beauty unto itself. Anyone who creates a drink as glorious as Irish whiskey deserves a classification like ANOB. We had hoped to do one of the tours and my Giant’s Causeway boyfriend had said that the last tour was at 4.30pm. Turns out his knowledge of tour hours is about as correct as his knowledge of length of walking times. We arrived at Bushmills at 3.49pm. The last tour had started at 3.30pm. Dang.

We went inside anyway, checking out the gift shop and then wandering into the cafe area. We were contemplating purchasing a whiskey to drink to help us get over our disappointment for missing the tour, and the lovely girl behind the bar offered us a free sample.

Thanks to this knowledgable wee lass, we managed to get a lot of the tour information and learnt a lot about the Bushmills range. We sampled four whiskeys, debating on which were our favourites. We managed to agree on our number one choice while the other three were a mixed bag.

We left without buying anything. So overall a very successful visit.

ANOB #6 – ASDA

Our final stop for the day was an ASDA supermarket where Pubert and I were given the task of purchasing ingredients for Lady BonBon to use for a funeral catering service she was preparing for the following day. We wandered around the supermarket looking for square bread, salad cream and crushed pineapple.

And then it was home for a delicious meal with Lady BonBon and an evening in front of the fire. Good times.