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After getting the bus back to Edinburgh, I spent the shortest amount of time I’ve ever spent in Edi waiting an hour or so for the train to Cardiff. Train down was uneventful, weirdly I had a seat reservation from Newport to Cardiff (about 15 mintues on the train), but not the previous 2 hours! The train wasn’t busy though, so I just stuck with my seat (isn’t my life exciting lol) until I got to Cardiff. I only had a couple of days in Cardiff, I spent one looking a few historic buildings for Markeroni, including having a look through the Cardiff Story museum at the information centre (super interesting), one doing not very much at all (it was raining in my defense!), and then the last day went for a look around Llantwit Major.


Elizabethan woman plaster panel


Elizabethan jester plaster panel


Llantwit Major was fantastic, the weather was lovely and sunny, and I wandered around looking for blue plaques before seeing a church and going in to have a look. There were a couple of very enthusiastic volunteers inside waiting to tell people all about the church so I let them take me around. I’m really going to miss all these old buildings when I go home, we don’t really have anything that compares. It’s also really interesting seeing evidence of things I studied at school in history, it makes it more real somehow! While I was in the church, a woman (Rosemary) came in and we started chatting about what I was doing. When she found out I was going around photographing historic/listed buildings, she told me that she was off to collect the rent for one of the buildings that was on my list, and would I like to come and have a look around. Obviously I said yes (less dangerous than it sounds, unfit as I am, I could have outwalked her easily!), and she took me around. She had said the tenant was a bit grouchy, and was sick, which made me a bit uncomfortable, the last thing I wanted was to barge into someones house because it’s a listed building, especially if the person living there doesn’t really want me, but I think she must have been kidding about the grouchy part, as he was super friendly! He showed me the inside, and there were some fascinating plaster panels that date back to the original Elizabethan house!



Rosemary, Eddie, and Giraffe


The following day I caught the train to Aberystwyth (I later realised I went around the long way, you can actually get the bus to Aberystwyth from Cardiff!). The train out was gorgeous, probably my favourite part was between Dovey Junction and Borth where the train goes along some absolutely stunning wetlands. I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of red kites too! Sadly I don’t seem to have taken any pictures, I guess I was too busy admiring the view.

After getting off the bus in Aberystwyth, I got on the bus to Aberaeron and was picked up by M there. We drove up to the horse farm, and I was left on my own for a few minutes while Maggie (my coworker also from New Zealand) finished up her jobs for the afternoon. When Maggie came in she made dinner and we chatted.


Backyard view from the farm


This helpx experience was completely different to the one in Hawick (not bad, just different). We worked from 9am till 11am, then had a 20 minute or so tea break, and then went back to work till 1pm. Then we were given a tray of food to eat for lunch in our little flat and had time off until 4pm. Usually M and I (her husband) were going in to town and gave us a ride, which was really helpful as we weren’t able to use the wifi at the farm. In the mornings we mucked out the stables, and gave the horses hay (I got quite adept at using a pitchfork during my stay!). After that we did a whole range of jobs, I got to do some more gardening, respread the gravel over the drive for the winter, did a bit of painting and sanding, and lots of cleaning of tack. I don’t feel like I got to know M and I as well as I did the people at the previous place, but they did have some fantastic stories to tell about other people they had had to stay, as well as their own stories. I did get to know Maggie a bit better, and we had a good time! We had a really good time inventing meals to make out of the ingredients supplied. I had a particularly memorable carbohydrate soup featuring rice, potato, onion, garlic, carrot, and a few stock cubes!


New Quay Pier


On our days off (Wednesday and Thursday) we did a couple of day trips, and a couple of days just hanging out on the internet at the library (I got lots of things booked those couple of weeks). I also had a haircut, which I’d been wanting to do for a while now! The first week we did a trip over the New Quay. They had really cheap dolphin tours (about £12 per person for an hour long one) leaving from there, we decided not to do them though as I’ve seen dolphins before several times, and I’d rather save my money to do things I haven’t done yet. We did have a bit of a wander around, and I took some pictures.

New Quay

I really love seaside towns where all the buildings are painted different colours!

The following week we caught the bus in to Aberystwyth and had a mooch around. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t particularly great, but I had a good look around the castle, and we went up to the National Library of Wales which is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area! My particular favourite was a totara chair carved in New Zealand bequested by the Bledisloe family (who are originally Welsh).


University College of Wales Old College Building



Aberystwyth waterfront



Aberyswyth Castle



Aberystwyth Waterfront looking away from town


On the final couple of days we were given the not particularly fun jobs of both sanding a window that had about 500 layers of old paint underneath, all of which seemed to have started peeling before being painted over again, and of cutting back some brambles/blackberries that had started growing out of the side of one of the barns and had gone unnoticed for some time. I don’t even want to think about how many times I got thorns in my fingers, despite wearing my gardening gloves (wearing 2 pairs seemed to work a bit better!). Thankfully, M and I were really nice about it and gave us a bottle of wine, some crisps, and some maltesers to say thank you! On the sad front I wasn’t supposed to be drinking thanks to antibiotics (you’ll all be happy to know my fungal nail is basically healed now!), but I made a really nice winter pasta with vegetables and some of the wine!

Reviews: my review of them: “I’ve just completed a great couple of weeks with M and I. I thoroughly enjoyed their home baking and their stories! The work was generally pretty easy, I helped out with a bit of weeding, some cutting back of brambles/blackberries, a bit of painting, and lots of mucking out and feeding (I can now add proficiency with a pitchfork to my repertoire!). I and M were kind enough to drive me into town most days (when they were going), as well as being happy to drop me into town on my days off. Thank you again for all your hospitality!”

Their review of me: “DL spent two weeks with us and has a cheerful and pleasant personality. She joined in all the work and activities with willingness and good attitude. She got on well with our other volunteer and we wish her well for the future.”

TL;DR: Worked in Aberaeron on a horse farm with another NZer (who I didn’t know before arriving). High points: making up ridiculous meals with limited ingredients, 2 hobs, a microwave, and a kettle (which couldn’t all be plugged in at the same time!); eating honey ice cream in Aberaeron on nice days (the passionfruit one was amazing!), going on day trips, lots of funny stores. Low points: sanding a grungy windowsill; cutting back blackberries growing out of a barn, making up ridiculous meals with limited ingredients, 2 hobs, etc, etc, etc.


Last week was possibly the most insane and most exciting week this year yet (apart from perhaps the week I moved from NZ to Scotland that is!)

Monday saw me at a job interview with a woman having major surgery in a few weeks with 2 preschoolers. Hubby is massively busy with work for a while yet and so they’re looking for someone to basically be the parent while their kids are awake until the Mum is recovered. The interview went well, I really liked the woman, and we sat and chatted for about 2 hours. One of the longest interviews I’ve been too! She got back to me Wednesday while TCM and I were at the museum (it’s coming up!), saying I hadn’t got the full job, but offering me one day a week on Sundays (actually she meant Saturdays as I found out Thursday) which I took. So YAY for job! Even if it’s just one day a week.

Then after the interview I had to come home and clean, get groceries, AND try and get an early night (it didn’t happen sadly!).

Partly because Monday evening I went to a really interesting talk with Bookfrogster (a bcer also keen on history) at the Royal College of Surgeons for International Womans Day. The first talk was all about ‘the female malady’ and was about mental illness focusing specifically on the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The second talk was about 3 specific woman – James Miranda Barry, Sophia Jex-Blake, and Elsie Inglis, who were all fascinating woman.

Tuesday my friend, The Chief Markeroon flew in for a 2 day visit on her way to her parents house further north. I had agreed to go pick her up from the airport (somehow it took her longer to get here from the USA than it took me from NZ…) so I caught the bus out to the airport to pick her up, arriving earlier than we had arranged, but still after she had got through customs etc and started reading a book.

I was expecting her to be a lot more jetlagged than she was so had only planned one major snarfari, but she was raring to go, so we came back to my place to dump her luggage, had something to eat and were out the door again on what is definitely the longest snarfari I have ever been on. I still haven’t figured out exactly how many historic places we took pictures of, but we have been accused of “tak[ing] a photo of every single building on the entire street!”, which to be honest is what we did!! It’s not *my* fault that almost every house is listed here! For those playing along at home we went along Leven St, Home St, Lauriston Place, Forrest Rd, George IV Bridge, then down the Royal Mile all the way to Holyrood Palace. We were planning on coming back via Queens Drive but we were both exhausted and could barely walk at that stage. So we caught the bus back to my place.

Museum High TeaThe next day I whipped onto the computer and booked us into High Tea at the museum. I was a bit dubious about these, it always looks like a very small amount of food for an exorbitant amount of money, and even this looks that way. BUT, we were both stuffed by the time we had finished all those delicacies. I got to try clotted cream for the very first time (and liked it!). The chocolate mousse (top center) was amazing, even though we both got white chocolate powder all over ourselves, but I think my favourite was the scones with jam and clotted cream.

After fortifying ourselves we went up onto the roof to have a look at the view and stayed up there for about 2 minutes – it was COLD! And we couldn’t really see that much because the low cloud was low.

When the cold got too much for us, we headed downstairs and out of the museum to snarf our way along Princes St. East Coasters I should warn you that pretty much every building on that street is historic as well (I haven’t got that far in logging yet!). We hadn’t really picked our time very well, rush hour had just started and of course (almost) every single bus runs along Princes St, so we had a few problems at the start, but it lightened down as we went further along. Princes St is probably the best road for snarfing along here, there’s only buildings on one side, and the other side has statues/monuments on it, so you don’t have to continuously cross the road to get decent pictures. Unfortunately we were battling with time as it started to get dark, and towards the end all my photos have these amazing balls of light from the street lights attached to the buildings.

By the time we got to the end of PS, it was almost completely dark, so we made our way back to my place for soup for dinner. After dinner TCM took me through the catalogue (which I think I mostly got), as well as some of the new features she’s working on at the moment (they look seriously cool!).

Thursday morning I dropped TCM off at the railway station and headed back to my place for a couple more hours of sleep before heading off to ANOTHER job interview, this time for an after school care at a school. That interview went well too, and I found out Friday that I had got that job as well. Apparently after the interview they had all agreed I was awesome 😀 [small preen] The good news just keeps on going, my old boss from Science Roadshow (he of the wheat allergy aka bossman) has sent me a truly fantastic reference – the woman he sent it too said it was the best she’d ever seen! Thanks Bossman!!

Thursday evening I dragged myself out of the house for BookCrossing meetup (I was trying to keep myself on a slightly normal sleep pattern and didn’t want to go to bed too early, but also I’m a big fan of BC obviously!) which was fun 😀

Friday I did basically nothing – well that’s a lie, I started logging my hundreds of snarfs from the snarfari, and did a bit of reading (just finished Ink Death by Cornelia Funke, it was good!)

Saturday I had a delicious spiced orange hot chocolate at the Chocolate Tree with LittleSuz from BC to hand over my Italian phrasebook. Definitely going back to the cafe!

Sunday I had knitting – there were only 2 of us, but I got a significant amount of my hat finished (all done now!) and I’ve now started my yarnbombing projects to take to Sweden in only 5 weeks (on Friday!)

Monday and Tuesday I was waiting to start work but they needed my references to come in, so today is the day! I’ve done some baking (nothing like home baking to get people to like you right :p) and am super excited to finally START WORK!!! Plus uke tonight and I haven’t been in 2 weeks because of cold and TCM 😀

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Te Papa, it is a fantastic museum, but I’ve found another one that is almost as cool!

Yesterday was my last day off in Auckland, and my friend Alkaline-kiwi asked what I wanted to do, and I chose this museum, because I’m a total War Memorial geek (speaking of which, I must go and log this landmark over at Markeroni!). It was fantastic. I want to go back because there was not nearly enough time to see everything.

The war memorial parts were incredible, and I really didn’t get enough time to see all the stuff I wanted. Partly because we found the childrens area (for new readers I used to work in a family area in a museum while I was studying) which had LIVE animals! Including a moray eel and some really really cute rats 😀

Definitely want to go back, and spend the whole day there!

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