Monday, 29 September 2008

A wheelchair would come in handy

I am in London. London is a large city if you have irrational fears of the underground as I do. Okay, I'm not so afraid of the underground, it's more a dislike for it that I have. The crowds of people all knowing exactly where they are going, the trains that come swooshing by when you aren't expecting them too and making you get the idea.

My. Feet. Hurt.

Tomorrow, I'm making use of the public transport.

I arrived yesterday at around three. Checked in to the Generator Hostel and took a look at my room. I was pleasantly surprised, after the horror reviews I was reading the day before, I was really starting to get a bit tense. The room is large and clean, as are the showers, bar, reception and even, oddly enough, the people. I took myself off on a walk and ended up at Westminster, Parliament and Trafalgar Square where an Indian man from Durban offered to take a photo of me. He then insisted on taking me for a quick tour to Covent Garden and buying me a pint at The Harp. Very nice friendly chatty man. I then realized that I was miles from the hostel and didn't really have much in the way of a clue on how to get back. Instead of the more obvious approach - take the underground - I started to walk and was rescued by a nice Columbian bloke on a bicycle around half an hour later who took me back to Bloomsbury :)

I'll have to add photos when I get back to MK as I can't seem to do it here. Sigh.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Last days and nights in Milton Keynes

My time in Milton Keynes is at an end. The 7 weeks that I've stayed here have been rather contrasted with regards to my emotions. I arrived in utter despair, sad, weak, miserable and hopeless; and I'm leaving strong, excited, renewed and positive, and I would never have believed it a few weeks ago. The decisions that I've made in this time have been the right ones and whatever I've done has been the best things for me. I can move on now, confident and without looking back or wishing for things that could and never would be. For once, I feel empowered. Waiting for the bus on Bradwell Road, Bradville. So different from when I first came back to Milton Keynes...with a hastily packed bag, desperate, crying and with a mission to head to the train station, to get either back to Wales or the airport to go home! Too much drama.
The Barn in the city centre where I had supper with Aga.
I'm so glad to have made a friend in Milton Keynes, what a great person.
Leanne and John and I went for supper at the Old Green Man in Little Brickhill.
I couldn't have asked for more support, good company or anything else for that matter. I've over stayed my welcome and Lea and John get their house back to themselves again! The best folk :)
Cheers. A lesson in holding the glass properly, by the stem and not wrapping my hands around it. I'm a laydeee.

Monday, 22 September 2008

A thought or two

It would seem that inspiration has struck yet again. I warn you though, dear reader, before you go on, that this particular blog may be filled with gushy and gooey sentimentality, cheesy clich├ęs, and may tug at the gag reflexes oh so gently.

And so, for those brave of heart and strong of stomach and disposition, I continue…

I’m not quite sure when it was that this latest realization hit me…I think I may have been leading up to it for a few days, weeks perhaps. I’m starting to acknowledge my anxiety triggers and do something about them before they manifest themselves in a huge swirling ball of jealously, inadequacy and general gloom. Take earlier for example: I received a message from my dear sister saying that they were in Graskop yesterday, and I immediately felt as though, her, along with everyone else, is having soo much more fun than I am. I had to stop and remind myself that yesterday I was in Cambridge, lazily and dreamily sitting back in a punt been chauffeured along the river by the prettiest and most angelic-looking punter. I had a great time yesterday!

…And of my constant fretting about not been pretty. I may not be beautiful, but that doesn’t make me ugly, and I can most certainly deal with that. I feel as though my life has been on hold for so long and I’ve been so afraid to do anything, so shy and scared and terrified of not been good enough and therefore not doing anything at all. But I think that I make a damn fine Karen and really, what more can I aspire to? There will always be those a lot better off than me and good for them I say!

So…now armed with my new sense of value, self worth and newly acquired confidence, I’m off to the city to wow a few more people, earn some money and spread a little fabulous. Right after I compulsively check my e-mail again.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A punt on the river Cam

I was up at some unearthly hour this morning, washed, dressed and at the bus stop by half past seven...only to find that the buses run once an hour on a Sunday. So I got myself comfy on the cold and hard bench and waited the hour for the bus to arrive. And then again for another half an hour at the train station for the X5. I finally arrived in Cambridge by around half eleven and spent the next six hours exploring.The view towards Magdalene Bridge, originally known as Cam Bridge, after which the town was named. It seems that it is a prerequisite for punters to be beautiful, I cannot think of one unattractive punter. punt.

Scudamore's Punting Company. A perfect way to see Cambridge, from the River Cam.
'The Backs'. The backs of all the colleges along the River Cam. Kings College.

Clare Bridge, which is the oldest surviving bridge on the Cam. It was constructed in the mid 17th Century.
Mathematical bridge by Queens College.
The only one I have of me in Cambridge.

The Bridge of Sighs. Oxford has a bridge of sighs too, as does Venice. I prefer this one to the one at Oxford, I still cannot comment on the one at Venice. More a picture of our 'chauffeur'...isn't he pretty? Bless, he can't be older than 18.

The entrance to the Fitzwilliam Museum. I must confess that I spent more time in the gift shop and cafe than I did in the actual galleries. After my punting tour I was feeling very light-hearted and well...frivolous really. I had a lovely tomato-y lunch washed down with a Cambridge Bitter - because it seemed appropriate. It comes highly recommended.
Marcus Aurelius' bust at the Fitzwilliam museum. I sneakily took this picture after been told photography wasn't allowed. Aren't I a rebel?
Cambridge also has a Jesus College and a Jesus open park land for informal sports.

Cycling seems popular in Cambridge, as it is in Oxford. I find it a little unnerving having a bicycle riding up behind me and hooting. I'm really quite concerned that one day I'll be listening to my music so loudly that I wont hear the approaching bicycle and a nasty accident will ensue.
It's true too. Nowadays, nobody says anything if you wear black and brown together. Gold and silver rings can be worn on neighbouring fingers of the same hand and no one will even raise an eyebrow.
Kings College.

It was a wonderful day in Cambridge and I think that I'm awfully clever and brave for doing it alone. Not that it's particularly difficult, of course, but still, I'm pleased with me. Next...London!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

All things nice.

I've been attempting to make the most of my days, and using the time I have in Milton Keynes to explore. Yesterday, I went shopping for birthday and congratulations cards in the city (and explored another two flavours of Krispy Kremes), and this morning I went looking for Bradwell Abbey.

I walked past the Roman ruins at Bancroft, through Bancroft park and the famous concrete cows in the field and found Bradwell Abbey easily enough. There wasn't much to see, and I didn't have much time, but I'm glad I went anyway...and of course, I took photos along the way.

Yesterday was such a good day. Everyone was so friendly and pleasant. I chatted to a lady on the bus, the Krispy Kreme man gave me an extra doughnut for free, 'to make me happy' (and who am I to turn down his gesture of kindness?) and called me beautiful, every phone call went really well and no one had anything bad to say at all, the boss pulled me into the board room and chatted to me for ages (and felt the need to tell me of his fondness of goth music) and then I got to go home early because the systems crashed. I was smiling both inwardly and on the outside the whole day. I even put aside my internal fighting for some of the day...I'm hoping that one day, the fighting will stop all together. But for now, that seems like still a long way away.

Rather self explanatory. Leanne says it's rather sweet how I've come to England only to fall in love with American doughnuts. I think Krispy Kremes should be all over the world, why put a limit to the amount of stores and locations?
Been a cow-girl early in the morning.
They're not very realistic at all, but they do add something to a bare field if there are no real cows to be had about.
Yes I know, it's silly.

The farmhouse at Bradwell Abbey.
A more distant shot of the farmhouse and the chapel at Bradwell Abbey.
This be the chapel...St Marys I think, probably, they all are. It's 14th century.
A pretty horse. A real horse, and not just one made out of concrete.

I'd left the house soon after nine o' clock, walked for two hours, got to work by twelve and got home by nine o' clock again, slightly earlier than usual. By the time I got to work, however, I felt as though I'd already put in a full day. And so, I'm going to get to bed.

So long, farewell auf wiedersehen, goodnight.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Sunshine again - Willen & Stony Stratford.

The weekend is over, and quickly again. It was two days of perfect weather, sunshine, slight breeze, no rain and hardly any clouds. It was taken advantage of. After Leanne and I watched 'The Women' at the Odeon at the point, I met Aga at the centre and we got on a bus headed for Willen Lake. It was a nice afternoon of walking and chatting. We later had supper at the Premier Inn restaurant and bar. Nice two for one veggie lasagne and a Stella. The sun setting over Willen Lake. There were loads of swans on the lake, and some water-skiing people too.Aga, my Polish friend I met at the bus stop at Kingston a couple of weeks back when our bus broke down. A small stone circle the people of Milton Keynes made. Something about peace.

A peace pagoda. The first one to be built in the western hemisphere apparently. I like the lion statues in front.
My fake ugs are actually not as comfortable as I once thought them to be, walking all the way around Willen Lake brought that fact home to me, in rather a harsh way.

The Buddhist temple at Willen. It had a pretty garden, but we couldn't quite figure out how to get inside, so we peeped through the window. We then walked back towards the restaurant. After we'd eaten, we got a taxi to take Aga back home and to drop me off at the Barge Inn where Leanne, John, Rachel and Chris were having a celebratory drink for Leanne getting her 'solicitor-ship' on Monday. What a clever girl :)

Lea, John and I went to Stony Stratford this afternoon for a nose about. We parked at the car park by the River Ouse and walked along the river and green fields towards the high street.
Where we had a drink - The Cock Hotel. This is what Wikipedia says about it:

The common phrase a cock and bull story is said to have originated here. Two pubs in the centre of town, The Cock and The Bull were originally coaching inns on the main London to Chester and North Wales turnpike. Travellers gossip and rumour that was exchanged between the two, was renowned for being far-fetched and fanciful. Today, there is an annual story telling festival to celebrate these Cock and Bull stories.
A picture of how it looked back in the day. Pretty much the same today...only now in colour.

My tour guides, John and Lea.

The high street at Stony Stratford.