March 25, 2007, 9:19 pm
Filed under: england, nature, weather

We’ve been in the UK almost six months, and are here for at least that again… but what are we doing after that? We’re now starting to contemplate our future once Ian’s finished his course. I have so many opportunities here – Cambridge is the perfect place for science communication, London for media. It’s not just about me though.

The weather reflects our indecision. Daffodils are everywhere, but it snowed last week. The weight of the snow forced the spring flowers to bow down, as if they were embarrassed they’d emerged too early.

Ian saw ducklings… a lady observing said “poor things! They’ll freeze to death”.

This photo was taken on a recent frosty evening, clear enough to see smoke furling. I like the crisp, clear conditions – I don’t mind cold, it’s damp that I hate!

I’m coming back to Australia for a few weeks next month for work and catch-ups, stopping in Los Angeles for a few days on the way back! More adventure. Hopefully when I return here the last of the winter weather will be well and truly behind us… I can’t wait for another European summer!


Darwin College is unusual
March 16, 2007, 3:31 pm
Filed under: england

A couple of years ago my friend Lorisa introduced me to Darwin College in Cambridge. Given my initial experience of Cambridge was almost entirely through associations with Darwin College, my view of the university and city was warped.

I’ve learnt that Darwin is exceptional – many other colleges and facilities typify the pomp and self-importance you’d expect.

Now, I live close to Darwin College, which often results in me ending up at the bar around closing time. Running into characters like this is not unusual in Darwin bar late at night.

Darwin is a more progressive college… so progressive it’s the first place I’ve ever been to a 90’s party (80’s is like, so 20 years ago).

Spring has sprung
March 15, 2007, 3:21 pm
Filed under: england, weather

Spring has arrived in England. It’s gorgeous. As much as climate change might have ruined the Australian snowfields, they’re making the East of England unusually pleasant! Although temperatures are a little lower still, this is the first week since I’ve been here that more sun is forecast in England than Australia.Daffodils are popping up everywhere while trees are in blossom. This photo was taken in Grantchester, a tiny town close to Cambridge, accessible via a bumpy path that my Aussie mate Luke and I traversed on bicycles last weekend. Ian was in London, watching one of the guys from his course, the Master Chess player of Jamaica, and more Cambridge crew take on the Oxford chess club. Cambridge won, of course.

I never thought I’d see the day that Ian would choose to watch a chess tournament rather than go to the pub and enjoy beers in the garden on a beautiful day – but there you go. Cambridge has that influence on people.

Norway is amazing
March 5, 2007, 6:50 pm
Filed under: travel

I vowed before going to Norway that if there was no snow, I was giving up snow sports for good. After a disappointing lack of snow during trips to the French and Australian Alps recently, I decided that if Norway didn’t have powder in peak season, climate change had beaten me, and I would have to give up.

Norway has given me new inspiration. It was incredible. The conditions were perfect – dry sunshine on the Friday, consistent snowfall on the Saturday. We went to Hafjell, near Lillehammer, which is a lovely little resort; it reminded me of Sunshine, my regular resort in Canada.

Also it was surprisingly affordable. I’d been cringing in anticipation of the Norwegian krone, which is a currency even more devastating to the Australian dollar than the English pound. Though the food was expensive (which is understandable due to the climate), the ski rental was much cheaper than in Australia, France or Canada, and given that ski passes were included in our package, it was much cheaper to be on the slopes than in the pub!

This was the first trip I’d done in a while where I didn’t speak the language, which was no problem at all. All the Norwegians I met were so friendly and welcoming, most had flawless English, and those that didn’t were so apologetic it felt like they were in my country, not vice versa. After a day, during which I gave locals my usual barrage of language questions, I felt that if I were to live in Norway the language would be comprehensible within a few weeks. I don’t think it’s so different to other European languages.

On the Sunday we opted to stay in Lillehammer as we were flying out in the late afternoon. After a couple of evenings in the town we were somewhat familiar with it, and in any case Norway quaintly closes most shops on Sundays. So rather than wandering, the concierge recommended we visit Maihaugen, the nearby open air cultural museum and exhibition space. We did, which gave me an insight into Norwegian life, as much because of the activities going on as the artefacts. Sunday appears to be family day so there were Norwegians everywhere, bobsledding, skating, building snowmen, drinking varm saft and eating sausages in flat bred.

Between the fabulous skiing and the friendly Norwegian culture Ian and I found Norway magnificent, so much so that we started to talk about moving to Oslo in a couple of years… time will tell.

You can view more photos I took in Norway here.