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This weekend we managed to catch the 10th annual Thames Festival. Luckily London turned on some beautiful weather for us, so it was a pleasure to head out in the sunshine to hang out by the river. The festival was huge and was divided into six sectors, each with its own theme. As with any event in London, it was very busy. I only had a few squished in the crowd panic attack moments. The pleasant weather made it easier to deal with the crowds.


Feast on the bridge
They closed Southwark Bridge off to traffic (for the first time ever), set up a bunch of food stalls and then went crazy with the decor. There was a beach area, complete with sand and deck chairs. There was a gingerbread house and forest of gingerbread trees. There was a tent decorated with draping curtains where you could sit on pillows and eat Indian food with your fingers. Dotted along the bridge were clusters of couches and armchairs; a perfect place for a much needed rest.

It was a fantastic idea but the place was packed. You can't really admire the decorations when you're shuffling at a snail's pace through the beach area. The only thing you can see are the heads and shoulders of the crowd around you and the sand beneath your own feet. When we walked past the bridge later in the afternoon they had limited the number of people allowed on the bridge and were forcing people to queue to join the feast. Maybe they'll have to rethink the organisation of Feast on the Bridge for next year.

Korean Lantern workshop
Natalie booked us into the Korean village for a workshop to make Korean lanterns. We were given the frame, a glue stick and some safety scissors and given a few minutes instruction. Natalie and I set to work, gluing the thick, white paper to the bell shaped frame. After we had finished gluing white paper on to each side of the frame we then decorated the lantern using coloured paper. It was kind of fun. Unfortunately I couldn't get past having sticky hands to really enjoy myself.

Glue and safety scissorsNatalie at workNatalie and Jess at work
Natalie at workNatalie and Jess at workFinished product
Finished productFinished productBeautiful lantern

Korean drumming
After the lantern workshop, we stuck around in the Korean village for a bit to watch the Korean drumming. Such enthusiasm and energy! It was exhausting just watching them.

Korean DrummingKorean DrummingKorean Drumming
Korean DrummingKorean DrummingKorean Drumming

We had such a lovely day. We also got to see Tower Bridge open, which was pretty exciting! London is a different place when the weather is nice. Pity we're heading into Autumn. Hopefully we'll a few more pleasant London days before winter sets in.

Tower Bridge openingTower Bridge openingTower Bridge opening

jess - 19th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: london explore_london thames_festival

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Seeing a cricket match at Lord's, the Home of Cricket, was one thing we wanted to achieve this summer. I'm not sure a 20/20 match qualifies as proper cricket but that's all we could get tickets for. Let's think back to the first week of July.

The weather had been horrible all week, sunny periods followed by rain storms, followed by sunny periods, followed by rainstorms. Repeat. The weather that day had been mostly sunny. We had our fingers crossed but when we emerged from St. John's Wood tube we were disappointed to find that it was raining. Not a typical English drizzle, but a torrential downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. We headed to Lord's anyway to suss out the situation.

Our first pleasant surprise at Lord's was the full strength beer available at the bar. Lucky poms! Although not too lucky, as it was only fosters and it cost 3.30 poons a can.

Eventually the rain stopped, they supersoaked the ground and the cricket got under way. The game was between Surrey and Middlesex. We decided to cheer for Middlesex, as Lord's is the home ground for the club, and the team had decided to wear pink uniforms to raise money for breast cancer research. Any men's sporting team who decides to wear pink deserves my support.

MS won the toss and sent Surrey into bat. 20/20 matches were created for those with short attention spans. The idea is to limit the overs (even more limited than 50) to encourage the batsmen to get out there and slog the ball. Fours and sixes excite the masses.

Unfortunately, Surrey hadn't caught onto the 20/20 concept yet. Their run-rate wasn't even decent for a one dayer. We watched the batsmen play defensively and get out. After only 13 overs it started to rain again. The covers came out; we sat around and did nothing.

After an hour, the rain stopped and Middlesex came out to bat. Duckworth Lewis had set them a target of 70 odd in 10 overs to win the match. And Middlesex did it in style. Finally! Some proper 20/20 cricket. The batsmen hit a number of 4s (no 6s though) to reach the target. Yay Middlesex!

We can't say that we found our first 20/20 match a satisfying experience. We saw less than 25 overs of cricket! We'll be back next year. Hopefully for a 1-dayer or a test match.

CoversLord's and RainbowMember's standSurrey batting
Middlesex bowlingCongratulationsUmbrellas in the rainScoreboard
Andrew and Jess drinking FostersSurrey bowlingAndrew at Lord'sEton vs Harrow

Lord's panaromic
Lord's panaromic

Some trivia about Lord's:
  • Lord's today is not at the original site. There have been three Lord's Cricket Grounds. The original was founded by Thomas Lord in 1787.

  • The oldest fixture at Lord's (and in the world) is the Eton vs Harrow cricket match first played in 1805.

  • Lord's actually has a sloping ground. The north-west side of the playing surface is almost eight feet higher than the south-east side.

jess - 15th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: london sport explore_london lords

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It's actually been a little bit hectic since we've returned to London. During the day we're looking for a new place to live (without much success.) We've looked at places in Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Bayswater, Brook Green, Stamford Brook and Ealing. We've only been searching for a few days but it feels like forever!

In the evening we've been catching up with our London buddies and also making new friends. Our social calendar has included:

Roller Disco
Natalie took me along to this fabulous place, Roller Disco. It's a nightclub combined with a roller skating rink. It leans more towards nightclub though. The rooms are nightclub sized and have a very funky decor. Because the rooms are night-club sized and not rink-sized it can get quite crowded on the floor. They also serve alcohol, but sensibly in plastic cups and bottles.

Roller Disco is a great idea but I'm not quite sure that alcohol and roller-skates mix. There were lots of spills and crashes and one girl, who had been part of a hens night, was carted away in an ambulance. I'm quite pleased that I didn't fall, even though my skill level does not extend to dodging or even stopping. I believe the trick was to stop drinking after two beers. It was enough alcohol to increase my confidence but not too much to head into the dangerous over-confident territory.

Roller DiscoRoller DiscoRoller DiscoRoller Disco

BBQ London style
On Sunday arvo, we squeezed in Juzzy's famous annual BBQ. A London style BBQ is a little bit amusing. The normal London BBQ pales in comparison to the Aussie monstrosities. Usually, it's just a disposable BBQ from Tescos and it costs only a few pounds. These disposable BBQs are really aluminium trays with charcoal in the bottom. Juzzy had splashed out and got a 13 pound kettle BBQ as well. The poor poms, they miss out on the true BBQ experience. Now I understand why Duncan is so obsessed with his BBQ.

Love Argentina
Another event care of Natalie. She invited us to Love Argentina, a night run to raise funds for underprivileged children in Argentina. Andrew and I were more than happy to tag along, not only because we got to hang out with some really fun people, but also because we got to drink Quilmes (my favourite South American beer), eat Lomito sandwiches and crepes with dulce de leche. We scored a jar of dulce de leche for only 2 pounds. This is great news because we left a tub in the rental's pantry in Pyrmont. Hope you're making good use of this Paddy!

Love ArgentinaLove ArgentinaLove ArgentinaLove Argentina

(We discovered dulce de leche in Buenos Aires. It's a very sweet, caramel-like sauce which bonaerenses eat spread on bread at breakfast time. Snaps to the Argentineans for their sweet-tooth prowess.)

Last night we caught up with Tash and Matt to watch Atonement at the Gate cinema in Notting Hill. Atonement is a beautiful film (love the green dress) but read the book before you see it. It's one of my favourite novels and you'll definitely spoil the impact of the book if you see the film first.

jess - 11th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: london social explore_london

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If anyone would like quality copies of the kiddies photos they are also on Flickr in the Aussie Kids 2007 set. The Flickr versions should be big enough to print photo quality. (Click on the photo, select All Sizes from above the photo, select Original from Available sizes, click Download the Original size and print.)

jess - 11th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: travel

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Kiddies! It was great to catch up with all the kiddies while we were home. We met the newbies Isaac, Jude, Summer and Ella. Lots of cuddles there! The big kids are lots of fun. Sarah, Hannah, and Oscar are now old enough to take part in some playground games. I can't remember the last time I played "What's the time Mr Wolf?" or "Red Light, Green Light". I struggled to remember the rules. (Sarah and Hannah made us play "What's the time Mrs Wolf". They must be entering the "boys have germs" stage.)

Most of all I enjoyed hanging out with my nephews. Leo has changed so much and is an adorable and very affectionate little boy. One very special memory is of Leo throwing his chubby little arms around my neck and covering my cheek with kisses. It makes me happy and just a little bit sad. Oscar is very talkative and a little precocious. His reasons for getting his own way weren't always entirely rational but always amusing. My favourite reason was "but Daddy is always right." Nice training Richie!

Isaac! A new nephew! Cause for celebration. Baby Isaac is only 6 weeks old. There is nothing quite like a little one falling asleep in your arms. I love how he struggles to stay awake; he doesn't want to miss out on all the fun.

Of course, we took lots and lots of photos of the kiddies. I've put them all in a gallery for your enjoyment. (Just for you Alison!) (photos)

jess - 10th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: travel photography hsev oscar leo family

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