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After being in Devon for a week, I caught the train down to Portsmouth. I’d wanted to visit ever since they had named a street there after one of my favourite authors books (The Ocean at the end of the Lane), and there was a ferry going to the Channel Islands (which I had also wanted to visit for ages) leaving from Portsmouth so it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss!

I had had real trouble finding somewhere to sleep for the 2 nights I was there as I hadn’t realised school holidays started that weekend but I found somewhere on airbnb (a new experience for me!) and got there about 7pm. I had some dinner and then had an early night.

The next day I left fairly early and walked down to The Ocean at the end of the Lane, as I had some guerilla knitting I wanted to put up there. No hassles, one person asked what I was doing was part of an organisation as they had apparently seen a few other people doing it that day too!

As you can see, the guerilla knitting isn’t my best as I wasn’t sure how tall the posts would be, so I had to do all the words separately.

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Words by Neil Gaiman, knitting by me.

After sewing the knitting up, and taking a few pictures, I wandered down to the beach and started walking towards the historic docks. It was a pretty nice day – a bit windy (heaven forbid it NOT be windy at the beach!), and there were lots of people out as there was a running event on that was going on on the road running parallel to the beach. I meandered along, taking lots of pictures (there’s a ton of memorials down there!), and eventually got to Portsmouth Castle.

It’s free entry so I went in and had a look around. It’s a fascinating castle, and I spent a while wandering through, and chatting to a woman working there about Portsmouth.

After I’d had enough of a look, I decided to go to the D-Day museum, as it’s basically directly opposite the castle, and I figured I could always learn more about D-Day! The D-Day museum was well worth a visit! I particularly enjoyed the Overlord Embroidery, which is 43 separate panels depicting the progress of Operation Overlord (the code name for the invasion of Normandy).

Image copyright D Day museum, Portsmouth.

After I had finished at the museum, I was ravenous, so continued along the waterfront in search of something to eat. I eventually ended up in a shopping centre close to the Historic Dockyards, and had a curry for lunch.

As it was getting dark (it was a very late lunch!), I quickly headed over to the Dockyards to have a brief look around.

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HMS Warrior

 

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HMS Victory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a bit of a look around the Mary Rose gift shop, but I didn’t really have enough time to go inside and have a proper look (something for another day), then went and bought some food for dinner and the boat the next day, then walked back to my accommodation.

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I know I’ve been really slack in keeping this up to date, but I recently wrote to my Grandma, and it seemed like it would be easiest to mostly copy and paste what I’d written there into here, rather than stressing out about writing individual entries for all the exciting things I’ve been up to.

Life’s been pretty up and down since my last entry. After we got back from Turkey, Skyring and I came to Edinburgh. We did do a small overnight trip up to Aberdeen to meet some of our mutual friends from BookCrossing which was fun! I think I attempted to sleep most of the way up, so didn’t see much, and when we got there I was still shattered (I hadn’t been sleeping well for some reason) so had a nap in our accommodation while Skyring went out and explored. After my nap, we went for a walk, I took lots of pictures of plaques! Then we met up with some BCers which is always entertaining. Giraffe and Skyring’s Bear (Ringbear) got passed around, and I got a couple of knitted teacakes! On the way back I was still tired, but forced myself to stay awake to enjoy the trip! Lots of good views from the train 😀

AKA Con Hilarity Continues

Melydia and I ride into the sunset on my giraffe

A few weeks later Skyring and I (plus lots of other people obviously!) both went to Gothenburg in Sweden for the annual BookCrossing convention. It was lots of fun. I got to meet lots of new people which was a bit weird. I’m used to knowing most of the people who go to the conventions because we have a steady group of about 20 people who come to the New Zealand/Australia ones. Obviously there’s a much bigger group over here and I don’t really know any of them! There were a few people I knew though and it was great to see them again! Again, we were really lucky with the weather and had a beautifully sunny weekend. Probably the only hiccup was that our (mine and MissMarkey) room reservation was lost, so we ended up sleeping in the conference room on foldout beds for the first night. It wasn’t a huge deal (it was even a bit fun!).

After Sweden I came home, worked in an after school club for a few months and met a boy (E). I quit the job at the end of term because I wasn’t really happy there, and couldn’t see it improving. E and I are still dating though (8 months so far)!

I was also lucky enough to be invited to a Dutch friends wedding in Amsterdam in May and was asked to be one of the witnesses! It was a beautiful wedding, and I had a wonderful weekend in Amsterdam. I visited the newly reopened Van Gogh museum and saw one of my 2 favourite paintings (the almond blossom one). Sadly my favourite one (Starry Night) wasn’t there, so I’ll have to make another trip!

I got a summer job working as a nanny for an English family living in Abu Dhabi, but here in Edinburgh for the summer. They had 3 sons, aged almost 4, 2, and 3 months. The Dad was still in Abu Dhabi, so I just went over for a few hours a day and helped look after the 2 eldest. We had such a hot summer (I think I wore shorts and tshirt for at least 4 weeks solid!) that we didn’t do much other than play in the backyard and inside when it got too bad! It was hard work, but fun at times! The 4 year old had a bit of a hitting/kicking issue with his younger brother which I hated, but the Mum was adamant that the best thing to do was just ignore it. The 2 year old was pretty good but had a bit of separation anxiety from his Mum which was fine if she wasn’t there, but more difficult when she just needed some peace to feed the baby and he was screaming away! The baby was probably the most placid baby I’ve EVER met!

When the job ended the Edinburgh festival had just started so I spent 3 weeks going to lots of cheap (and sometimes free!) theatre! My favourite was a Doctor Who related musical (they called it a Whosical)! I got to see the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra who were fabulous too!

I also had a fantastic time at the Book Festival, where I went to lots of really interesting talks. My favourites were definitely Neil Gaiman (who I saw a few times), Alexander McCall Smith (who was SO funny, and I’m looking forward to seeing next year!). I also got to see John Marsden (who said New Zealand school kids are a lot like Scottish school kids, neither of whom are like Australian school kids!), Margaret Atwood (who somehow recognised my giraffe????), RJ Palacio (who wrote one of my favourite books this year, Wonder), and Judith Kerr, who did a fascinating talk about her husband.

Neil Gaiman was a bit sick of my giraffe by then

(Personally I wonder how I put up with Giraffe photobombing all my famous author pictures!)

Alexander McCall Smith wondered how E put up with me

E and I also went to the Tattoo which was amazing! The New Zealand Army won the Pooley Broadsword, which is given to the top group that has consistently high performances through the whole tattoo period. It had a bit of Gangnam Style in it (just enough to be funny without annoying!). There was a fantastic lighting display over the Castle, fireworks, and lots of different countries did really cool displays.

After that all ended Edinburgh felt very empty (apparently the population of Edinburgh triples at that time of year), but it was nice to be able to get around without lots of people carrying luggage and blocking all the footpaths!

In September, my cousin Megan came to visit me for a few days which was fun. We went up Arthur’s Seat (great views!) and did some other touristy stuff. It was nice to see her!

Don't ask what happened to the icing, I have no idea how I made it do that flecked thing!

Cake in Leeds!

The weekend after Megan left there was a BookCrossing Unconvention in Leeds. My friend Bookfrogster and I caught the train down for the weekend, and it was a fab one! Got to see some old friends, and met some people I’ve known online for ages but hadn’t met till then which was awesome. Again, we had fabulous weather and I even managed to get a bit of a tan! It was Molyneaux’s (and somehow 2 other people as well) birthday that weekend, and despite having no working oven (or heating, those were a fun 9 weeks!) in the flat, I managed to take a cake down for her, no small feat! Amazingly it did actually get there in one piece, and was delicious to boot! I also had great fun icing the cake in the hotel room!

After that my friend Steph came to visit for 2 weeks. She’s a travel writer and managed to get both of us press passes to lots of Edinburgh attractions. My favourite was Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. There was a fantastic audio tour, and a cool plaque showing where David Rizzio (Mary, Queen of Scots secretary) was murdered by her then husband Lord Darnley. It was really neat walking around there, it makes all the historic people seem more real somehow. I mean I know they really existed, but getting to walk around where they walked kind of blows my mind. I also went to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was the official yacht of the Queen until quite recently. It was neat getting to wander around there too, but a bit chilly on deck!

After Steph left I decided I needed a bit of a break from job hunting so went to the Isle of Mull for 5 days. I stayed in Fionnphort (pronounced Finnofort) for 3 nights and spent a day and a half on the island of Iona. Iona was beautiful! I had one nice day where it only rained twice for about 5 minutes each time. I got to see a cool spouting cave (like the ones at Punakaiki), and walked to each side of the island. Columba’s Cove was beautiful, with thousands of different coloured stones on the beach. It was so nice to be able to wander around and not see anyone, just appreciating the beauty. The bed and breakfast I stayed in was fantastic. Amazing breakfasts and super friendly/knowledgeable hosts. Really good value too!

West side of Iona

Still the west side of Iona

After 2 days on Iona, I managed to get a lift with some French Tourists who were staying at the same B&B to Craignure (yes, I’m clearly still alive) so got to spend an afternoon in Craignure (where the ferry goes to/from). I mostly swam (the hotel I was staying in had a pool) and read (the weather was horrendous!). Then on Friday I caught the bus up to Tobermory and did a bit of Birthday/Christmas shopping. Then I caught the bus, a ferry, and 2 trains back to Edinburgh.

Boats in Tobermory

Tobermory

While I was on Oban, I got a call asking if I’d like to do a trial week for a Scottish/Chinese family. They then decided they wanted a live in nanny. Being a live in nanny is really something I’m not interested in (I like having my own life too much!), so they kept me on until they found someone else. They were really nice, and I had a few more days work with them before Christmas, when their live in nanny went home (she’s Spanish). They had a 4 year old boy and a 5 month old daughter. The boy was really energetic, so we spent lots of time at the local park (even though it was getting really cold), and the library. The baby was pretty good, she had just started rolling over when I started, and it was really cute watching her learning the steps to crawling (mostly just lifting herself up off the ground!).

Since then I’ve had a few afternoons work with a Canadian family with 2 sons (aged 2 and 4). The kids are also really energetic, and talk a mile a minute, usually one in each ear so I can’t hear either of them! The Dad is studying, and as they don’t have any family here they just need a bit of help sometimes!

I’ve also now got a job that started out as being before and after school care, and has now morphed into after school care for the time (it’s going to change) being with a 9 year old girl who is very enthusiastic about everything!

I spent Christmas with E’s family, they are SO nice, and spoiled me rotten! Sadly we didn’t have snow on Christmas Day (or even around it!), and it’s been surprisingly mild considering how cold it was in November. We didn’t do very much over Christmas (not surprising considering we only had about 6 hours of sunlight!), just hung out, and ate (much like at home really, but minus the after lunch walk/swim!). I stayed for 3 days, and then E and I went on holiday to Glasgow for 2 nights.

I have slight plans for the Easter holidays with E, but they’re still panning out so I won’t write about those yet!

TL;DR have a link to my picture sets on flickr!

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