Friday, October 31, 2003


Mutterings continued.

No blog yesterday as I was sitting waiting for a plumber to call to let me know when he'll grace me with his presence to unblock my drains. He finally rang at 6.50pm, just as I was going out to the Ghengis Con Quiz Night (more later). I had to leave work at 11 today to let him into the flat. Two hours, three concrete slabs and a ton of dirt later, and my drains run free! Until the next time.

I miss Jump Point! I used to enjoy going to Murdoch on a Saturday night, watching the latest Bab5 beamed from the US via satellite (yeah, right) and eating pizza with my friend David (who was more interested in scoping the other guys present than watching B5). I miss having a series like that to look forward and discuss with others who are also seeing the episodes for the first time. And I miss all the rough and tumble on aus.sf.babylon5 and Rob's Lust List (not to mention the Church of the Narnly Nightie, with Leece and myself as the only acolytes).

Onto the Quiz Night. We won. That's 3 in a row, 2 Ghengis Cons and a SwanCon. We have no life - official. We won by 7 points, most of which were gained by Leece's effective bribing of the judges. I finally met Elaine (hi Elaine) face to face - though I think we've met before as she looks familiar. (Gus the cat was just scratching around under one of the sofas - I moved it to discover 9 of her ping pong balls!). The QN was a lot of fun and the winner of the fashion parade justly deserved it, though I suspect there are a lot of cars out there today with no sun shades.

It's the weekend.....wheeeee....and I'm off to Leece and Rob's tomorrow night for more Prisoner, Neverwhere (on DVD, whoo hoo), and other stuff. Hope everybody else has a good 'un.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Bloody email

Mutterings continued.

I've been doing battle with Eudora, Outlook and Mailwasher the last few days as they've all decided that they don't want to connect to iiNot. I keep getting "Connection refused, error 10061" messages. All my settings are correct and nothing has changed since the 25th, the last day I was able to download messages (I have to use iiNot's Webmail, which I loath). I'm convinced it's their problem, not mine, but I'm buggered if I'm going to sit on the phone for 20 minutes waiting for a support person to finally answer, as happened the last time.


More bumper stickers:

I have a pot of Lemon balm on the kitchen table and I noticed it was being eaten - I discovered two lovely bright green caterpillars! I've put them outside with some of the Lemon balm as I don't really mind caterpillars and didn't want to kill them. I wonder what bright green 'pillars turn into....

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Mutterings continued.

I have a new favourite word, 'chinois'. It's French for Chinese (as in, non, je ne suis pas chinois - No, I'm not Chinese) and I love the sound of it - shin-wahrz.

Silly internet bumper stickers time, courtesy of

For some people it is, anyway.

There's something in that for all of us.

More tomorrow.

This week sees the chance to add to my already, may I say, impressive Derek Jacobi collection. Revengers Tragedy appears to have gone straight to cable.

That's him, second from left.

Foxtel screened Molokai, another of DJ's that never made it to the cinemas here, a couple of weeks ago, and The Body some months before that.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Bonsoir, mes amis

Mutterings continued.

I'm off to French classes tonight. It's the Beginners' class as I think I've probably forgotten quite a lot in the 30 years since I last studied the language. The schoolgirl French I used in France in '98 got me by, but as it was restricted to "Un chambre de lit, avec DEUX lits" (for some reason my gay male companion didn't want to sleep with me) and "Deux bier" ....

We've run out of MST3K!! R and L are waiting on more from the States but who knows when they will arrive. Last night we watched The Prisoner (Change of Mind) and Mstied the first half hour or so of Godzilla (basically taking the piss out of Raymond Burr). And we watched the Time episode of The Young Ones. Talk about your plethora of 80's comedic stars! French and Saunders, Paul Merton, Robbie Coltrane, Hale and Pace (note I said stars, not talent)... It was only missing Ben Elton. Very funny stuff.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

I hear the plastic calling my name.

Mutterings continued.

The RSC has got the DVD of Antony Sher's Macbeth for sale for 20 quid. And Blackstar has got the Trevor Nunn directed Othello with Sir Ian "God2*" Mackellen as Iago for 17 pounds. It's released the same day as the You Beaut version of The Two Towers, making it a rather expensive week. have got it for the same price but their postage is more expensive. Oooooh, tempted. Yep, gotta have it. Just popping off to Blackstar for a moment.

That's that done. Just when I get my credit card down to a manageable level, things like must have DVDs and cracked teeth requiring a porcelain crown come along. *sigh*

Blackstar have some pretty good bargains at times. I got Longitude for about A$15, ditto Jeffrey.

The ad on my blog page is for tickets to Weird Al Yankovich. It's like they read your blog or something. Spooky.

Thanks to Grant W's heads up, I'm now in two minds about which version of X Men2 to get. Do I want all the extras? I have watched them a couple of times on X Men1. I think the answer is probably rent the super duper DVD to watch the extras and buy the other version to keep.

*God1 being Derek Jacobi, of course.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

I should be doing the housework

Mutterings continued.

Bah, housework! I have another bloody rental inspection on Thursday - they come around every 3 months and it's a real pain in the arse. Not because I've trashed the place but because I'm always worried they'll leave the door open and let the cats out.

Thursday is also Ghengis Con quiz night. Leece, Rob and I won last year's so I was thinking that we should just let them send the prizes to us without us having to turn up and actually do anything.

Last night I was listening to the BBC report on Newsradio of the last landing of Concord. Very sad. The BBC web site has some nice photos and feature articles.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Friday? Again??

Mutterings continued.

An amusing quote from Robert Joske, Steve Waugh's manager, when Waugh didn't accept the invitation to meet Dubya - "Waugh would have liked to have met Mr Bush and talked with Mr Howard, a cricket tragic, Mr Joske said. " "Tragic" is as good a description as any of our PM.

And from an article on Doune Castle in Scotland, site of some of the filming of The Holy Grail - "While preparing to film their irreverent movie about the King Arthur legend, the British TV comedy troupe scoured the United Kingdom looking for castles.

It found two that were suitable – Doune Castle and another in Scotland, Stalker Castle.

A third castle seen in the film is only a model. " That would be Camelot. 8-D

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Mutterings continued.

Just back from the dentist with $800 worth of porcelain in my gob and the right side of my face feels like it's made of marshmallow. Makes talking very unattractive.

My favourite Yes Prime Minister ep, The Key, was on last night. Still makes me laugh. Very sad to think both Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey are no longer with us. My friend Ash saw Nigel Hawthorne's Lear a couple of years ago and said it was very powerful. It was directed by Yukio Ninagawa and set on a formal noh stage and the cast wore kimono and other traditional Japanese clothes.

Today's this time last year:

Last day in Rome. After a very shaky start, I grew to love the place a lot. As I've mentioned before, it's dirty (skin and nose are disgusting at the end of a day's touristing about), it has beggars and pickpockets and you take your life in your hands when you cross the street, but Roman men and women are very beautiful, there were unexpected kindnesses and the history is overwhelming.

I had a very late flight out which meant I had a day to kill. My hosts, Barbara and Guilio, at the B and B let me have the run of the apartment for the day - they were very sweet and took good care of a stranger. Barbara takes photos of all her guests and puts them in the visitors book. She was off to lunch and he was going to work so they said their goodbyes. "I will not be here when you go so I kiss you now!" Big hug and kiss on both cheeks from both of them.

I Metroed to Piazza di Spagni and had another wander around, this time without the film crew. I walked to Piazza Navona and found a divine stationery shop. Being the stationery slut I am I had to go in, especially as I'd found a lovely pen set in the window for only 18 Euro and I HAD TO HAVE IT! It's green and black and made by Niji.

Wandered to Campo di Fiori which consisted of interesting market stalls and called into Lush and bought something in a bottle with an Italian label.

Back to the apartment for a rest and then commenced the trek via, as it turned out, three trains to the airport. More unexpected kindness - a family heading to the airport was on Appiano station and took me under their wing. They helped me get the right tickets and made sure I got on the right trains.

I was standing the doorway of the third train with my luggage with a chap who was also laden down. I took a quick shifty at the Qantas label on his bag and noticed that his address was Kelmscott! Small world indeed. Turned out he worked for Qantas and he and his family were from Italy originally and were traveling visiting the rellies. They were headed to the airport hoping that there were seats on the flight home - being Qantas employees they fly free. He was worried that they may get as far as Singapore and not be able to get home - the flights were fully booked.

We got to the airport before the Qantas desk was open so we had a wander around. We split up when the desk opened but I saw them later on the flight from Singers to Perth.

The flight from Rome to Singapore was pretty horrible - I'd got a door seat but it was next to the door that holds the inflatable slide and I couldn't stretch out my legs. For most of the flight I sat with my legs on the bit that holds the slide.

In flight movie was Bend it Like Beckham, which was a hoot.

Flight from Singapore to Perth also uneventful. I arrived after midnight and had to go through Customs to declare the shoes I'd worn at Hadrian's Wall - lots of sheep raises the spectre of Foot and Mouth.

The wonderful Leece and her mum Ros were waiting for me in arrivals hall and took me to my folks' place.

And that's the holiday done! What will I bore everyone with now??

PS I'd ended up posting myself 6 parcels of souvenirs from England. They all turned up within a few weeks of each other about 3 months later, just in time for Xmas. I'd forgotten most of what I'd bought so it was like getting Xmas presents.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Mutterings continued.

Got up to find the remains of a Huntsperson spider in the lounge - just a crumpled body and one leg. Now, I'm fine when it comes to reptiles, love snakes and crocs, and I like sharks and hyena and all the other critters that most people don't, but spiders give me the heebies! I'm a card carrying arachnophobe and I don't care who knows it! My friend Ash pursuaded me to visit the arachnid display in the butterfly house in Statford, but I ended up standing in the middle of the room, hands clenched into fists and on the verge of shrieking. I'd never hurt a spider (couldn't get close enough to do any damage) but I'm rather glad that Gus dispatched this one for me before I discovered it lurking.

No blog yesterday as I went to see LXG last night. Say it loud, say it proud, I enjoyed it! So there.

Yesterday's this time last year:

Caught the Metro to Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps, home of all the VERY expensive shops in Rome - Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, etc etc. Did a lot of window shopping but not much buying. I discovered a great record shop where I finally bought the DVD of McKellen's Richard III, or rather Riccardo III. It has an English language option but the menu and cover are in Italian. The Euro conversion made it much cheaper than the UK version.

A movie was being shot in one of the side streets off the Piazza. I didn't catch the name of it but think it was the teen flick that was released this year.

More Italian TV - MTV showed Italian dubbed anime - Ranma and Saiyuki. Also saw a game show, the object of which was to work out which guy had the biggest package. They then dropped their trousers to prove it.

Today's this time last year:

I caught the train to Ostia Antica - an ancient harbour city that is being excavated. I spent the day there and could have gone back for more.


Outside of amphitheatre

Mosaics are fascinating.

The museum housed a lot of statues, some in excellent condition, others not. I ran out of film and had to buy a disposable camera as there were so many more photos I wanted to take.

Ostia is another place that takes more than one day to see properly.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Another Monday

Mutterings continued.

Rang Mum to see how her check up went - her blood count is still ok and the whatever it is on her lung that the x-rays are showing isn't getting any bigger, so the doctor is quite pleased with her. She has to go back in 3 months for another series of blood tests and X-rays.

And lo, as the year begins, so is the Gaffa Tape delivered unto the TECHIES, who do revere and worship the Gaffa. And, soon, does the Gaffa Tape leave the store, to be used by the TECHIES in pursuit of excellence in their techie activities, and also in various activites with fair TECHIE maidens. And, the head TECHIES do soon become worried at the amount of Gaffa used, for while much use of Gaffa does surely lead to a higher plane of TECHIE existence, the year must be split in two: 6 months of plenty, following the delivery of Gaffa unto the TECHIES, and 6 months of famine, when the Gaffa must surely run out.

Light Bulb Jokes:
from: The Definitive List Of Techie Jokes: As compiled by readers of RATS newsgroup and Andy Kelk

Q: How many stagehands does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. That's an Electrician's job.

Q: OK, then, how many Electricians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None of your damn business.

Q: How many teamsters does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 15. You gots a f***ing problem wit dat?

Q: How many grips does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 2 one to sweep up the glass and the other to pull out the base.

Q: How many directors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A:, make it 4... on second thought 3... make it 5 just to be safe.

Q: How many interns does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: It doesn't matter, you'll have to do it again anyway.

Q: How many Stuntmen does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 11. 1 to change the bulb, 10 to clap.

Q: How many lighting designers does is take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. It's a carefuly orchestrated blackout.

Q: How many art directors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Well... Does it have to be a lightbulb? Why can't it be a candle?

Q: How many directors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Hmmmmmm.........Light bulb..............Allow me to ponder the changing of the bulb.

Q: How many stage managers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: I DONT CARE- JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

Q: How many actors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: What's its motivation?

Q: How many interns does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: I dunno....I'm just happy to be here.

Q: How many actors does it take to change a light?
A: One.... if he can find it.

Q: How many actors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: One; the actor holds the lightbulb, and the world revolves around the actor...

Q: How many straight actors does it take to change a lightbulb ?
A: Both of them.

Q: How many electricians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None: its a lamp.

Q: How many electricians does it take to change a lamp?
A: None...if it worked once they aren't gonna play with it.....

Q: What's black, crispy, and hangs from the ceiling?
A: An actor changing a light bulb!

Today's This Time Last Year:

Rome. Caught the Metro to the Coliseum. It was amazing walking up the steps, into the sunlight and seeing the Coliseum JUST THERE. It was THERE! Right in front of you! The building was completed in 80AD, took 10 years to build, is four storeys high and could seat 50,000 people. And is really quite awe inspiring.

A large queue, of course, and touts trying to sell guided tours by good English speakers (the good English speakers were the touts, the tour guides weren't so good). 8 Euro to get into the Coliseum and the Palatine across the road.

A gladiator checking out the previous day's results.

The dig in the centre.

The Arch of Constantine, outside the Coliseum.

Walked around for a few hours, bought souvenirs, of course and then went to Fori Imperiali and back to the Palatine Hill. Fascinating place - it was the site of palaces of Roman gentry.

Nicked from the net, " The Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome. It is probably the site of some of the first settlements, as traces of archaic houses from the 10th century BC has been found there. Roman mythology indicates the western side of the Palatine Hill as the site of the dwelling of Romulus, and the cave where Romulus and Remus were supposed to have been raised by the she-wolf was on the western slope of the hill. During the republican era the Palatine Hill was the prefered quarter for the ruling elite, and this tradition was continued when the roman emperors built their palaces on the hill. In the end the imperial palaces covered the entire hill."

The remains show very large and beautiful structures and a working aqueduct.

More notes on Italian TV - incomprehensible game and interview shows that suddenly stop while half naked women dance badly for a few seconds to rapturous applause. Lots of strange comedians, usually in pairs, surrounded by well built blondes wearing very little.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Sunday, Part Deux.

Mutterings continued.

Back from the folks' place, called into the Gosnells Markets on the way home and bought some cinnamon Tic Tacs. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm......... Imported from the States and somewhat pricey at $3 but soooo good. There's just not enough cinnamon in this country! The Merkins can take back their Macdonalds and replace them all with Cinnabons. That's what I reckon, anyway. 8-)

Today's this time last year:

Woke up early after the previous day's excitements, listened to R-K's Shaherazade on Italian radio and had breakfast with a couple who are friends of the B and B owners. They spoke excellent English and helped to translate between Guilio, the owner, and myself.

I walked to the Vatican and stood at the end of a queue that seemed to go for miles. I was therefore very surprised when I got through the front gates in very short time. The Sistine Chapel was amazing, of course and the sense of wonder is heightened by the fact that you're not allowed to take photos or even talk in the chapel, resulting in a room full of people speaking in hushed whispers, staring up at THAT painting.

There probably aren't enough superlatives for the Vatican Museum. The Hall of Maps was fascinating - one long corridor with maps of Italy from, I think, the 16th century, as is the Hall of statues.

I posted some postcards from the Vatican Post Office, which I'd read was far more efficient than the Italian service. I had lunch in a self serve cafeteria and couldn't understand where all the people were. It was lunch time, there must have been hundreds and hundreds of people in the Vatican but very few of them were having lunch in the cafeteria.

The Vatican, like the British Museum, is a place that needs to be explored more than once - one day just doesn't do it justice. Unfortunately I only had 5 days in Rome and there was a lot to see, so I didn't get to see everything in the Holy City.

While Rome may be built in 7 hills, it's still a great place for walking around. I headed east and ended up at Castel Sant Angelo, burial place of the Emperor Hadrian and scene of Puccini's Tosca. A production of the opera was film in the Castel. On the very top is a huge bronze archangel -

What was once a mausoleum and later fort, is now a museum which house frescos from the school of Raphael and other treasures.

The view is amazing, of course.

Views of Rome

The Tiber

Caught a cab back to the apartment, with a driver who had no idea where I wanted to go. Fortunately I'd brought my map and we eventually got there. It was an expensive ride but it was fun as he couldn't speak English and I was mispronouncing Italian and it beat walking uphill!

I had dinner (pizza funghi, four different kinds of mushrooms!) in a cafe near the apartment - the waiter spoke English and was very kind and helpful. Then spent the evening, exhausted, watching Italian tv. They have a home shopping network that sells some amazing tat. Lots of small crystal animals and dust collectors.

I like Rome. A lot! It's dirty and loud and the scooter drivers ignore the rules of the road but it's fascinating.

Sunday again.

Mutterings continued.

No blog yesterday as I was too busy. Shopping in the morning and then on to Hillary's Nodes (snigger) Park for Rob's Birthday Lunch Picnic. Lovely day, though the wind was a little chill. Sausages and salad and a couple of rounds of Boules - Leece and I won the second round 5 - 1 after lulling them all into false sense of security with our poor showing in the first.

It was lovely driving past the ocean on the way up to Hillarys and back again - the sea was grey blue in the morning and aqua in the afternoon.

Back home, quick whip around with the vacuum cleaner before Leece and Rob came over for our regular Saturday night session of The Prisoner (It's Your Funeral) and MST3K (Wild Wild Women of Batwoman). Pizza with Attitude pasta and leftover salad.

Wonderful day.

The Proverbs (by which I, as stagecrew, live)

Behold, my son here is wisdom. Pay heed to these words, and in the days of thy play, in the hours of thy performing, thou shalt not be caught short. For truly, it is said, pay heed to the errors of others and you shall not make them yourself, and again, as we have been told from on old, to thine own self be true.

1.Give not unto the actor his props before his time, for as surely as the sun does rise in the East and set in the West, he will lose or break them.
2.When told the placement of props by the Director, write not these things in ink upon thy script for as surely as the winds blow, so shall he change his mind.
3.Speak not in large words to actors, for they are slow of thought and are easily confused.
4.Speak not in the language of the TECHIE to actors, for they are uninitiated, and will not perceive thy meaning.
5.Tap not the head of a nail to drive it, but strike it firmly with thy strength.
6.Keep holy the first performance, for afterwards you shall party.
7.Keep holy the last performance, for afterwards you shall party.
8.Remember always that the TD is never wrong. If appears that he is, then you obviously misunderstood him the first time.
9.Leave not the area of the stage during the play to go and talk with the actors, for as surely as you do, you will be in danger of missing your cue and being summarily executed or worse.
10.Beware of the actors during scene changes, for they are not like unto you and are blind in the dark.
11.Beware of actors when flying in walls, for they will stand and watch and get crushed.
12.Take not thy cues before their time, but wait for the proper moment to do so.
13.Take pity on the actors, for in their roles they are as children, and must be led with gentle kindness. Thus, endeavor to speak softly and not in anger.
14.Listen carefully to the instructions of the Director as to how he wants things done - then do it the right way. In the days of thy work, he will see thy wisdom, give himself the credit, and rejoice.
15.And above all, get carried away not with the glow-tape, or thy stage will be like unto an airport.

Further to #1, or give them unto another actor to hold and then forget that he hath done so.

Yesterday's This Time Last Year

Rome, eventually.

This day would have to rank among the scariest and most stressful of all my travels. I thought landing in New York, completely alone, and NOT being met by the people who were supposed to meet me, having an Immigration man with a gun tell me that I must give him an address of where I was staying (I had no idea, the people who were meeting me were looking after that! He accepted the address of the friends in New Hampshire I was going to after that) and then standing in an airport terminal that was closing (the only one at JFK that does, apparently) at 11 at night with no accommodation and no transport was scary.

My flight from London to Rome was delayed about 3 hours because there was a general strike in Rome. I'd been emailing the B and B I'd booked in Perth for confirmation of my room but hadn't received any replies. I'd spoken to the booking agent in Rome while I was in London and they confirmed that everything was ok but I was still a little worried at not hearing back from the actual B and B itself. I rang the B and B (my dad had given me a phone card before I left Perth - thank the small gods as my mobile was flat!) and left a message in English on an Italian speaking answering machine.

The plane was further delayed by a terrified child who wouldn't get on board.

Finally got to Rome at about 8pm, huge queues at Passport Control which moved through very quickly (I discovered at the Vatican that the Italians seem very good at moving long queues through quickly), baggage took a while to arrive, walked to the train station not looking forward to having to catch 2 trains to get to the B and B, which was just near the Vatican. The ticket office closed at 9pm and I must have got there at 8.59 as he closed the window on the couple standing behind me.

The first train was 15 minutes late was 15 minutes, first stop Trastevere where I had to get another ticket. An English chap picking up his brother showed me how to use the ticket machine for the next leg of the journey.

The train was due at 10.15pm and I was already getting a little panicky as I was about 5 hours late to the B and B. There were other people on the platform who seemed to understand what the pa announcements were saying but I was completely baffled. They were also getting annoyed at the non arrival of the train.

It was getting later and later and the train still hadn't turned up and I was thinking that if it doesn't come soon I'm on the first train back to the airport and going home! A PA announcement was made and all the people on my platform took off and ran down the stairs heading to another platform - I followed, dragging my suitcases, only to see them all heading back towards me with sheepish grins on their faces. One young guy saw me struggling with my bags, grabbed the heaviest one and dragged it up the stairs for me.

The train finally arrived, one hour late, and I got off at Appiano station, two stops later. I had a pretty good map of the area and found the B and B easily enough, though walking unfamiliar streets in the dark and not speaking the language was a little daunting. I found the building. Or rather, two buildings. The B and B was a pent house apartment in one of two blocks and I only had the name of B and B and street number - not the name of the people who run it or the apartment number. There was also a security gate on the front door which was locked. Fortunately a young man who lived there came along, I gave him the phone number of the couple who ran the B and B and he rang them for me (second piece of unexpected kindness).

I was met at the lift at midnight by two very solicitous Romans who ushered me in, gave me food and wine made me feel a whole lot better!

The apartment was beautiful, full of antiques and cats, and the cupola of St Paul's can be seen from the balcony.

So ended a very scary day. I was convinced that I would turn up and they wouldn't have heard of me and I'd have to sleep on the doorstep until next morning. Fortunately Romans are night owls and were still up at midnight. Had this been Perth, they would have been in bed hours ago.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Happy birthday Rob!

Mutterings continued.

The Babylon 5 Series 3 DVD's I ordered from were waiting for me on the mat when I got home. Yay!! The packaging is different to the Oz series 1 and 2 but I don't care. I've got them and they only cost Au$94.

Wish there was something I could order from New Zealand - the exchange rate between our dollars is very good indeed - A$ = NZ$1.15. Good, eh bro? Unless you're a New Zealander, of course.


Today's this time last year:

Final day in London. Visited a real London laundromat and did a load of washing. No Pauline or Dot cotton, it was run by an Iraqui family. Iraqui take away next door selling some very yummy things.

Took the tube to Covent Garden and had a wander through the lovely stores and the Opera House. A string quartet was busking in the markets and drawing huge crowds - they were very, very good.

London Transport has a museum and shop where you can buy t shirts that say "Mind the Gap". They sell great postcards and posters from the 20's on.

Then tubed to Charing Cross and wandered in and out of second hand bookshops and visited the Virgin internet cafe.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Late night whining, I mean, shopping

Mutterings continued.

Coles was full of old people and mothers with school kids sulking because they couldn't have chocolate cereal. "It has no nutritional value!" said one to her sulking daughter. Said brat ran off and brought back a huge box of puffed rice. Talk about no nutritional value!


Had dinner with the usual suspects last night at Scarb. One of the rugby teams must have been staying at Observation City, or whatever it's called this week, as there was a large police presence and we saw a lot of young men with no necks on a bus.

Today's this time last year:

London, day 2. Cold but dry. Visited Forbidden Planet in Oxford St in the morning and bought a couple of LOTR posters and some other stuff. I found a huge cyber cafe which used tokens in a machine thingie. Very high tech and v. confusing.

Visited the British Museum and had a good look at the Egyptian collection. Then lunch in the courtyard and a browse through the shops.

The Reading Room has been moved from inside the Museum to the
Great Court and it's stunning!!

Caught the tube to Waterloo and called into the Royal National (or just The National as it's now known) to see if they had any copies of McKellen's Richard III. No luck. I'd seen it in the RSC giftshop but it was about 20 Pounds ($60!) which I thought was a bit steep. Ended up not getting a copy of it in the UK at all.

Walked across the river to the BBC Centre and had a mooch through their bookshop. They were selling copies of the BBC Shakespeares at 25 quid a pop in very cheap video boxes and photocopied covers (no pictures). I asked if they were going to sell the DVDs at all but apparently they've lost the rights, or something. The DVDs are available from the States but they're hellishly expensive. I wanted a copy of Jacobi's Richard 2 but they were out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Frink! Frink!!

Mutterings continued.

I'm a heretic!

We are the proud aunties and uncles of Ring-tailed Lemur twins born overnight. They look identical to the parents, just a lot smaller.

Off to Scarborough for dinner with Leece, Rob et al.

Today's this time last year:

Leaving Stratford. The plan was to drive the hire car back to Luton and then train it to London, however the weather report was very scary - gale force winds, rain, etc etc. Not the kind of weather you want to drive on the Motorway in. The hire car company has a depot in Stratford right next to the railway station so I dropped the car off there and caught the train to Marylebone, changing at Leamington Spa. The carriage was a non-mobile phone zone. YES!!

I know there are all sorts of problems with the trains in the UK, but I really like travelling this way. The tube is great, when it works, and the long distance trains have a buffet car and a chap with a trolley selling goodies.

Got into London around noon and caught a cab to the hotel in Earls Court. It cost about 10 quid but it was so much easier being dropped at the door than trying to lug my suitcases up 2 flights of stairs at EC station.

Met up with friend Simon at the Eros statue in Trafalger Square - walked around the city, had coffee in a gay bar in Soho, ambled to the New Tate at Southbank but wasn't allowed in because they were having a function. We sat outside the Film Institute and had hot chocolate and watched the fireworks.

Trafalger was under construction which was causing all sorts of problems for drivers - streets being turned one way, some completely block. A bit of a mess.

I caught the tube back to the hotel - I was a little worried about catching it late at night but there were a lot of people on the train so no worries there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Snotted on by an elephant

Mutterings continued.

Viking kittens!!

One for the lads.

Visited the elephant barn today to get a couple of calico bags painted by one of the eles. We sell them to raise money for elephant conservation. Siput, elder of the two young females, did some very nice work but managed to get snot and dribble on me as she raised her trunk to take the brush. We think it was done deliberately. I was nearly painted a couple of times with a lovely shade of pink. 8-D

Today's this time last year:

Most of the day was spent in the Shakespeare Library watching videos - Richard II in the morning and Hank 4, both bits in the afternoon. This was the Richard 2 that we had seen in 2000 in The other Place (sadly no more). TOP is similar to Rechabites - no stage, raked seating, however TOP has a minstrels' gallery that is used to good effect.

The room was completely white and the set dressing consisted of 6 white chairs, 3 on either side of a large door USC, and pile of dirt SR and a large crate DSC. Act 1 opened with Sam West as Richard sitting on the crate and doing the "I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world;" speech from Act 6 while Jerusalem plays.

The wonderful David Troughton played Bolingbroke as a thug who makes no bones about what he's doing. He is also give the "I have been..." speech at the close of the play. Full circle.

On hearing of the death of Mowbray, Bolingbroke's rival, the latter turns to the audience and tells us to stand, "I pray you Lords, stand." He then turned his gun on us and said the line again. We stood.

Sam West as Richard, doing the 'Hollow crown' bit.

Bolingbroke threatens Aumerle.

And a Hamlet I'd forgotten to post.

The vid of R2 suffers from the use of a static vid camera - you hear Bolingbroke long before you actually see him as he's standing SR.

Richard II is one of my favourite plays - nothing much happens but it happens so lyrically. There are some beautiful speeches, my favourite being,
"What must the King do now? Must he submit?
The King shall do it. Must he be depos'd?
The King shall be contented. Must he lose
The name of king? A God's name, let it go.
I'll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,
My gay apparel for an almsman's gown,
My figur'd goblets for a dish of wood,
My sceptre for a palmer's walking staff,
My subjects for a pair of carved saints,
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little little grave, an obscure grave-
Or I'll be buried in the king's high way,
Some way of common trade, where subjects' feet
May hourly trample on their sovereign's head;
For on my heart they tread now whilst I live,
And buried once, why not upon my head?" Waaaaaahh!!!

Lunch at Bensons - Tomato and Basil soup and a pot of Earl Grey and then back for Henry IV.

The RSC produced all the History plays, from Richard II to Richard III, in one season, using many of the same cast. Which means that David Troughton played Bolingbroke and Henry IV and William Houston played Hal and Henry V. And in a nice touch, Troughton's son, Sam, played Richmond in Richard III.

William Houston and DT.

The cast had 3 curtain calls for Part 1 and 4 for Part 2.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Much rainings.

Mutterings continued.

Happy me, cooler weather and precipitation. I've enrolled in a beginners' French course at Kent St (where I learned French originally, funnily enough) which I suspect will be too basic for me, however I don't know if I retain enough of the language to start with the Continuing course.

When I booked my trip to the UK last year I was offered any other European city for $50 (I chose Rome), and I'm hoping the same offer will be available next year. I'd like to see Paris again as I only had a day and a bit there in '98.

Today's this time last year:
Stratford, Day 4.

I spoke to one of the other B and B guests at breakfast and she told me about her visits to the theatre - the RSC's Tempest was disappointing however their Winter's Tale was great. A raptor was released into the audience in Act 2.

Off to Loughborough to see friends Fiona and Dave. Loughborough, half way between Birmingham and Nottingham, has a university which is doing some really interesting scientific research. The weather was rotten, making the drive up the M1 a little scary but I survived (obviously).

The trip back was even worse and I had to pull into a motorway service station for a while. These are very interesting places with expensive, and not always very nice, food. I stopped in one on the way to Middlesbrough and left one of my bags next to the self serve counter. I went back to get it to find two security guards gingerly poking at it with a stick.

Web site listing motorway services.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

It's getting a little wild and woolly out there.

Mutterings continued.

Much wind and greyness and the odd spot of rain outside. I've just returned from lunch at the folks' place and a visit to Shirley W and David Meadows to drop off a prop for Mozart and Salieri. M and S, at the Blue Room, opens Tuesday for 3 nights. I saw it last year and was well impressed. I kept threatening to run away before the opera bit and whining that there wasn't an interval in which I could do it, but it really is a great piece of theatre. Mozart's Requiem is divine. The performances are part of Pride Month's Cultural Festival. I marched in the Pride Parade a few years back when I was a volunteer at the WA AIDS Council - I was on one end of a banner and a young chap was on the other. And directly in front of us was a buff young man wearing only chaps. The lad holding up the other end of our banner couldn't take his eyes off the well formed butt in front of us and kept walking us into light poles, rubbish bins and other people. It was a hoot!

I'm thinking of taking French lessons at TAFE but am unsure what level I'm at. I took French at school for 3 years but that too many years ago. I want to be able to think in another language. I saw Gerard Depardieu interviewed on Italian tv and he wasn't just fluent, he could joke and ad lib and 'be' Italian and that's what I want to do. Only in French.

Today's this time last year:

Stratford, day 4.

I heard about the Bali bombings on the tv in Stratford and like a lot of people my first reaction was disbelief - things like that don't happen to Australians.

The day was spent wandering around Stratters, visiting second hand bookshops and unearthing all sorts of goodies, including the RSC year books for '79 and 94/95 and a book of artwork by Antony Sher.

I knew I had some postcards somewhere of Antony S and Joe Dixon from Newcastle's The Malcontent but couldn't remember where I'd put them. I got back a copy of the play I'd loaned to David M and they were inside it! So, with scant regard to copyright laws, here they are:

Antony Sher as Giovanni Altofronto

Joe Dixon as the evil Mendoza.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

MST3K tonight.

Mutterings continued.

Beautiful day outside - not too hot, not too cold. Just right. All the bottlebrush bushes are in flower down Labouchere Rd and they look great. One of my favourite flowers, I've decided. Love gum trees too - I really missed them in Europe.

Leece and Rob are coming over for dinner tonight - another episode of The Prisoner and MST3K's I Accuse My Parents.

I've more or less decided to go to the UK again next year. Reading Simon's blog, and my own, has given me itchy feet. Ash wants to see more of Scotland, and I really want to see the Orkneys . Here's hoping my parents' health holds up.

Today's this time last year:

Stratford, Day 3.

MOP Day in Stratford - I can't recall what the letters stand for but historically it was the day the landed gentry would come to town and buy servants. There's another one in 14 days to buy back all the servants that had run away. Apart from a few arts and craft stalls on the banks of the Avon, the rest looks like tacky kids rides, a la Side Show Alley. Apparently a lot of businesses shut up shop for the weekend and board their windows as the vibration from the diesel engines on the rides tend to shatter them. A good day to get out of town and catch the train to Birmingham.

I'd always imagined that Birmingham would be grotty, dirty and downright unpleasant. Wrong. It was in the running for European Capital of Culture this year, just missing out to Liverpool, and is making another bid in 2008. It has a beautiful theatre, impressive library, stunning art gallery and museum, symphony orchestra and ballet, all tucked into one large cultural centre.

Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum

Birmingham Rep

And as Noddy Holder says: "(Birmingham) holds a diverse mix of cultural, musical, sporting and business achievements that should be recognised". Not the most resounding endorsement, perhaps....

Selfridge's (think Myer, Marks and Spencers only more upmarket) were building a new shopping complex while I was there. This is it. Anybody else think it looks like a huge pile of ball bearings??

Friday, October 10, 2003

Mmmm, raisin toast.

Mutterings continued.

And Friday rolls around again. Where do the weeks go? Stinky the penguin was on the telly last night - Michael Shultz was holding on to him while doing the weather report. Stinky stinks of fish.

Today's this time last year.

Stratford, day 2. Cold day but I spent most of it tucked away in a small room in the Shakespeare library watching videos. Today's offering - Hamlet with Sam West and Larry Lamb as Claudius. Modern dress, staged with Denmark as a corporation - name badges, brief cases, etc. 3 acts.

Horatio videos Gertrude and Claudius during the Mousetrap and the images are shown on a large screen behind them.

Hamlet shoots Polonius, drags the body in a garbage bag while humming "Hernando's Hideaway" and dumps it down the trapdoor, slamming the door on "Safely stowed!". Hamlet, Ros and Guil share a spliff.

Duel scene - Hamlet in black, Laertes in white. Claudius gives Laertes' poisoned sword to Hamlet.

Had lunch at the wonderful Bensons restaurant.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Melting Poss.

Mutterings continued.

The air con at work isn't functioning properly - it's actually blowing hot air into offices on the top floor and my office was 30c this afternoon. Eek. I nicked off 10 minutes early and went shopping instead.

Today's this time last year.

Stratford, glorious Stratford-upon-Avon. Friend Simon, who used to work for the RSC, hated Stratford so much that he quit his job rather than leave London. As I was walking across the bridge on the Avon the word "Home" came into my head. I've only ever seen the place as a tourist but I still love it.

The last time I was here was in 2000 with Ash. She resolutely stood, well, sat, in the returns queue for hours to get us tickets to Sam West's Richard II. I'm so glad she did and have dubbed her St Ash of the Blessed Queue. I didn't see any live theatre this time however I had booked 3 videos at the Stratford library. The RSC records all their performances for posterity. They video them very badly - one stationery camera aimed at the middle of the stage - but at least they do record them.

I booked into the same B and B we stayed at in 2000 and ended up with the same room. The poor landlord had broken his leg falling down the stairs and was confined to the kitchen.

Speaking of the RSC and London, it seems that their decision to move from the Barbican and become homeless in London hasn't paid off. They ran up debts of nearly 1,000,000 pounds in their last season and none of the other theatres are willing to take the risk of mounting an RSC production. There's a lot of unhappiness in the ranks.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Get well Patrick, dammit!

Mutterings continued.

No blog yesterday as I was getting ready to go out to dinner and then Weird Al. Yay! for Weird Al. What a fantastic concert. I felt sorry for the stand up guy who opened the show - he was introduced and the audience went, "Who?". He was very funny and shares the same philosophy I do about bonding exercises.

Weird Al was very energetic and full on. I hate to thing how his voice must be at the end of each concert as he seems to sing from the nose and voice, not diaphragm. He did all the goodies - Eat It, Fat, Beverley Hillbillies, etc and the encore was The Saga Begins and Y.O.D.A., complete with singalong. Walked out very happily deaf.

Yesterday's This time last year:

In Huddersfield, not one of your more attractive parts of Yorkshire but it contains my friend Nick and that's good enough for me.

On the way from Middlesbrough to Hudds I called through a town called Thornten-le-Beans. We'd spotted it on the map and thought it sounded a hoot, so I promised Ash I would drive through it and take photos. Turned out to be a very attractive village with large houses behind larger walls.

There had been an awful accident on the A642, the only road out of Wakefield that took me where I was heading, so I had to go the looooooooooong way round. One of the service stations in in Wakefield is also a post office so I posted off two large envelopes of souvenirs, etc. It cost be about 6 quid each to send them surface mail. I did it with some trepidation as I worried that they would get lost in transit but posting them off freed up a lot of space in the suitcase.

Nick had a Spanish lesson that night so I accompanied him and helped him cheat on a pop quiz. I don't think I helped him at all.

Today's This time last year:

Accompanied Nick into Hudds on the bus and had a wander around the city while he visited his shop (he makes and mends guitars). Visited all the cultural sights, art gallery, museum, etc etc.

And bought the I Clavdivs dvd. Had to have it! Bought Curse of Peladon as well, to add to the David Troughton collection I'm accumulating.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Start of the working week.

Mutterings continued.

It's going to be 32c on Friday. Arrrgh! I mentioned this to a couple of people at work and they actually said, "Good!". Deviants. To add my misery, the jacaranda tree in the garden next door is in flower, a sure sign that summer is coming. *sigh*

There are some interesting, and quite heated, debates going on in the various newsgroups and other fora about who will play the next Dr Who. One wag suggested Rolf Harris. "Apparently on Kiljoy they said Rolf Harris is going to be the new Dr Who. Like Star Trek he is going to have a portable communicator called a 'stylophonic '

The tardis is going to make a sound like a wobble board ,and when he arrives at a new planet, he going to turn to camera and say "can you tell where it is yet?" Tee hee. Tom Baker reckons it will be Eddie Izzard (a cool choice, I must say); I rather like the idea of Sam West. Or Rupert Everett.

Whinge of the day - people who don't bother to spell check (manually or using the 'pooter) their posts. This is the first line of a post on one of my fora: "I also watched this prograame at priamry school and there was a wook book to acompany the series." What the hell's a 'wook book', for god's sake?! (yes, I know it's supposed to be 'work book').

I know Spicer eschews capital letters but at least he's grammatically correct and he can spell.

Speaking of spellcheckers, the Blogger version comes up with some very funny alternatives. For jacaranda? Scranton. What?? And for Rolf - relief. Heheh. Relief Harris. Heheh.

Today's This Time Last Year:

Last day in Middelsbrough before heading south. Very sad as I've had a wonderful time with Ash and Mam2. I took them to lunch at the nearby Farm Hotel. Lovely. The rest of the day was spent packing and relaxing. And getting instructions on how best to get to Huddersfield, my next port of call. I realised that I can get around strange places best when I have a navigator and Ash is a very good navigator indeed.

We only got lost a couple of times and that was due to other things, like us both missing the huuuuuuuuuuuge sign that pointed to Lindisfarne, resulting in us having to backtrack through some interesting countryside. Getting lost can be a lot of fun.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

It's a sunshine day.

Mutterings continued.

I had to get the RAC patrolperson out this morning to start the car. I then had to get a second patrolperson out to sell me a battery. I can't complain - this is Freddie Ford's 3rd battery in 14 years, so I've done pretty well.

The sun is shining, there's a nice westerly blowing and Milo Tartkitty and Gus Feralcat are on the balcony chewing their way through my plants.

Today's This time last year:

Back at Middlesbrough and up at 6am to get the busses to Newcastle. We've tickets to see the matinee performance of the RSC's The Malcontents with Antony Sher. Mr Sher is a favourite of mine, though he's one of those actors I've read about more than I've seen. His autobiog, "To Play the King", describing the process of creating and playing his interpretation of Richard III, is fascinating.

Speaking of R3, Branagh had played the role in Sheffield to sell out audiences and critical acclaim earlier in the year.

The Malcontents, written by John Marsten in 1603, is your typical drama - betrayal, political intrigue, very bad disguises that no one can see through. And a lot of laughs. Antony Sher is very charismatic and a delight to watch. Act 1 opened with the actors wandering onto the set, a cocktail party, helping themselves to drinks and having a natter, while the audience was still being seated. As we were leaving the Playhouse we saw Mr Sher in the foyer and again outside, chatting to friends and heading to who knows where.

After the play we had a wander around Newcastle, then back on the bus to Midds, just missing the Newcastle FC supporters (aka the Toonarmy) who were spilling, literally, out of the football ground. Newcastle must have won as the fans seemed quite happy and weren't destroying things.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Some whinges.

Mutterings continued.

Gods but I hate supermarket crowds! And supermarkets! What happened to night fillers? Why do the shelves have to be filled during peak times when the boxes and trolleys get in the way? And why don't the checkout chicks put bags of kitty litter in carrier bags like they do with the rest of the groceries?

This morning I drove behind a Jaguar that didn't appear to have indicators - you would have thought a car that expensive would have them, but obviously not as they weren't in evidence during any of the lane changes and turns the drive made.

Today's This Time Last Year:

We had breakfast at the hotel and then spent the day wandering around Sheffield. Visited Waterstones bookshop and had coffee, visited Lush and then on to the markets.

Friday, October 03, 2003

The day I patted Derek Jacobi's dog.

Mutterings continued.

Friday! I do like these short weeks. Not sure how I'll cope with a full 5 days next week, it's been so long since I've had to put in the full 37.5 hours. Had a very nice lunch with friends at Boccelli's Italian restaurant in South Perth. I had King George Whiting and veggies - superb!

Today's This Time Last Year:

Middlesbrough to Sheffield to see Derek Jacobi in The Tempest at the Crucible. The next time we go to Sheffield I'm taking the bloody bus. Or train. Or anything but driving!! Ash and I have fantasy t-shirts that we intend to have printed up one day - one reads "I survived the Guildford ring road.", another "I saw Richard II at the RSC (and thousands didn't)"- we now have another. "I survived the Sheffield roundabout." Bloody nora! It took three goes of coming in and going back out of town, numerous trips up and down the motorway, and a stop at a service station to ask for help before we finally found the off ramp we needed.

Added to this, Sheffield is undergoing a lot of construction in the centre of the city, resulting in detours and unexpected one way streets. We were exhausted by the time we got to the hotel.

We had a wander around town, a Thai curry at "Eat", the Sheffield Theatre restaurant, a mooch through the theatre shop and then back to the hotel to get ready for the theatre.

Sheffield Theatres.

This was a bumper year for me, Jacobi-wise. I'd seen him in the Hollow Crown in Perth, and was chuffed to see him again so soon. After years of not doing theatre, he is making up for it. We had seen him in Hugh Whitemore's God Only Knows at the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford in 2000 (a chance encounter with him in the foyer earlier in the day had stripped any pretensions of cool I may have had. I was standing in the foyer when I saw him being dropped at the door. He was waylaid by a couple of fans who gave him a toy hedgehog [the man once said that he quite likes hedgehogs {I think he meant hedgehogs, tee hee} and has been inundated with them ever since.]. I froze and hissed to Ashley, "Come here, come here!!". She ran over, thinking something terrible had happened as I'd gone very white, and I pointed a trembling finger at the door. We stood clutching each other, going "Eeek!" and "What shall we do??", while the lad in the box office rolled his eyes. DJ walked into the cafe, we followed and stood next to him in the queue as he bought a chicken sandwich, memorising every detail of his clothing. Thus endeth the story of one sad fan girl and her close encounter with a hero.)

Where was I? The Tempest! We were delighted to see Richard Clifford playing the evil Antonio. The stage is close to the audience on three sides, with the first row so close you'd have to put your feet on the stage if you wanted to stretch your legs. We were in the second row centre, almost within touching range of DJ. Not that we even contemplated it, of course. Ahem. Act 1 opened with the tempest, of course, which was played out on a bare stage with just a large grey backdrop which billowed and a rope going down into the trap door. Scene 1 ended with an empty stage and the backdrop slowly subsiding to the floor to reveal DJ as Prospero in full regalia. The drop finally ended up being sucked into a book that was on the stage in front of DJ, which he then picked up and walked off with. I was very, very impressed with this!

A young Welsh actor called Daniel Evans played Ariel beautifully. Such a lovely singing voice.

Ash and I have never been ones for hanging around stage doors as we reckon that an actor has given us enough by appearing on stage, without having to deal with fans as well. DJ looked exhausted during his curtain call for God Only Knows. By chance we had to pass the stage door on the way to our hotel (no, really!!) and were gobsmacked to see Richard Clifford standing on the step, talking to someone, while trying to control an overactive Airedale. We'd read an interview with Jacobi in which he had spoken about his Airedale, Bella, and so were pretty sure that this was indeed Derek Jacobi's dog. Richard C then said to the woman that he couldn't stay and chat as he "had to take Bella for a wee!". I didn't have the courage to say anything to Mr C (sad fan girl) but I did make a fuss of the dog, patted her and called her a lovely girl. I asked Ash afterwards if I was glared at for daring to touch the knighted one's doggie but apparently he ignored me.

Tripped back to the hotel where I couldn't resist sending a text message that said, "I've just patted Derek Jacobi's dog. PS The Tempest was great." to The Meadoes who responded, "I hate you and I'm never speaking to you again. Ever." Bonus! Tee hee.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Late night shopping

Mutterings continued.

And I didn't buy anything more interesting than ice cream.

Today's This Time Last Year:

Drove back from Cumbria to Middlesbrough. On the way we visited Vindolanda Roman Fort and Museum and The Roman Army Museum. Both museums are fascinating and have a great collection of items both exotic and mundane, including sandals, beautiful glasswear and written materials.

Vindolanda has a reconstructed temple, shop and house and is an active archeological site. Vindolanda web site.

Driving back to Middlesbrough I could see why residents are called, unkindly, "Smoggies" (sorry Ash!). What I thought was mist turned out to be smog that lingered into the afternoon.

The Middlesbrough transporter bridge featured in the last series of "Auf Weidersehen, Pet" where it was sold to native Americans, dismantled and shipped to Arizona. It wasn't really, however some of the locals seemed to think that it really had gone.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Back at Work +1

Mutterings continued.

Barney and Missy, the Syrian bears, are off to Queensland tonight. They had their physicals and weighed in at 265kg (him) and 135kg (her). Lots of media interest in general anaesthetics and examinations. When I left work the bears were in their crates ready to be driven to the airport. Bye guys!!

Off to Scarb. tonight for dinner at Plakas - will it be kebabs or f and c's??

Today's This Time Last Year:

Good run down from Scotland into Cumbria. We were headed for a lovely farmhouse in Haltwhistle on the Western arm of Hadrian's Wall. Construction of the wall commenced in 113AD and the eventual length was about 80 miles, running from Bowness-on-Solway in the West, to Wallsend (appropriately enough) in the east. The wall acted as a barrier as well as a look out as it consisted of a series of turrets and milecastles, behind which were a number of large forts. Hadrian's Wall website. An 81 mile long walkpath has now been construction, so it is possible to walk the entire length of the wall.

First stop was Birdoswald Roman Fort, a live archeological excavation site, and museum. Excavation had stopped for the season as the weather was becoming unreliable. Two fort structures had been built by local school children under the guidance of the archeologists.

Lanercost Priory, built in 1166, was our next stop along the wall. We arrived at the same time as a busload of OAP's from Penrith, Wales so joined their tour group. It was a lovely warm day and it was nice sitting in the shade, eating icecreams and pondering the fighter jets flying overhead. We saw two at Dunkeld, 1 at Birdoswald and 2 at the Priory. Noisy bloody things there were.

The B and B was just lovely - a farmhouse with cats, thick stone walls, that we liked to think were stolen from the wall and solitude. It was at the end of a very long lane and we were convinced at the time that we'd missed it. There were four other people staying - a couple from the south of England, and a couple from Sydney. Sometimes there's no getting away from other Australians.

B and B website.