Saturday, August 20, 2005

My 35th Birthday

I turned 35 on Tuesday 2nd August 2005.

I had the most wonderful day with Row and she was so sweet and thoughtful. She even decorated her house with bunting and banners for me when we arrived home later in the day. And as you can see above, Row even baked a lovely birthday cake for me. It was a marmalade cake and it was absolutely delicious.

When we woke up on the day of my birthday, I opened my presents, which were all ace. I particularly liked my book of New York photography that Row gave me. Its truly fantastic! It has really made me want to go back to NYC as soon as possible. I really can't wait to share my favourite city on the planet with my favourite person on the planet (sorry AJ!).

My Birthday - Devil's Dyke

As it was such a beautiful sunny day, we decided to get the open-top bus from Brighton to Devil's Dyke.

Our plan was to walk from the Dyke to Poynings and then back. This was a walk that featured in a book of Sussex Walks that I had been given for my birthday.

Its really odd, but these days there is nothing I enjoy more than walking in the countryside with Row and that is the way I wanted to spend my birthday. If someone had suggested to me 10 years ago that I would enjoy a country walk on my 35th birthday I would have laughed in their face ...

and then called them a wanker.

Or possibly a cunt.

My Birthday - Devil's Dyke - Poynings - Devil's Dyke

The route that we took from Devil's Dyke was kinda circular.

We started at the pub and walked back briefly along the road past the Dyke itself before turning left and walking east for a mile or so towards Saddlescombe.

As we reached the main road at Saddlescombe we turned left again and walked along the road for a few yards before going back into the fields and walking in a broadly southerly direction. This took us through through some woods and across a small bridge before we finally reached Poynings village and our stop for refreshment at The Royal Oak.

On this section of our walk:
  • we saw a very sweet and tender deer that bounced away and hid in the long grass when he/she saw us
  • we saw a Vole (or similar rodent) going about his/her business along a wooded pathway
  • Row almost got stuck in some mud which I found quite funny
  • I trod in Sheep Poo which Row found very funny

My Birthday - The Royal Oak at Poynings

We decided to get a drink at The Royal Oak at Poynings. We sat outside in the sunshine where I enjoyed a pint of Harveys and Row a pint of shandy.

If you look closely, you can see a ketchup sachet on the very bottom left of the picture. When we left, it was safely stowed away in Row's bag, along with 279 others.

Shocking behaviour.

My Birthday - The Royal Oak at Poynings

My Birthday - Killer Climb Back to Devil's Dyke

We decided not to follow the book route back to the Dyke (i.e. we went the wrong way) and ended up walking out of Poynings towards Fulking instead.

The only apparent way back to the Dyke was up this absolutely killer climb. It didn't start off too badly but by the time we were half way up it was clear that this would be tough.

But there is no way to get back to the Dyke that avoids a steep climb (well, not since 1909 when the Cable Car from Poynings to Devil's Dyke was closed) so we battled onwards and upwards valiantly.

The view from the top was certainly worth it.

My Birthday - Our Ice Cream Reward

Our reward for climbing the hill.

My Birthday

We had such a lovely time at Devil's Dyke and it was a really special day, thanks in the main to my sweet Row.

I really am a lucky fellow.

And I strongly urge anyone who lives in Brighton or surrounding areas to pay Devil's Dyke a visit. The bus service is very regular during the summer and a standard Saver ticket (£2.60) gets you there and back with room to spare. And in high summer, the buses are usually open-top too which is great fun and a really cool (if a little blowy) way to travel.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

New Forest Day Two - Nice Ass!

After a truly wonderful cooked breakfast at our B&B we headed off to spend our second day in the New Forest.

We decided to drive to Beaulieu first where Row stroked this rather lovely creature. I think its either a Mule or Hinny or an Ass. Or maybe just an odd looking Donkey. Not sure which.

Buckler's Hard

It costs a rather extortionate £5 to get into Buckler's Hard. We walked across the countryside and along the river from Beaulieu and got in for free! Hurrah!

Len at Milford-on-Sea

After we had walked there and back from Buckler's Hard, we decided to go for a drive, ending up at Milford-on-Sea on the very outer edge of the Forest.

It had started to rain a little but we still enjoyed a walk along the low cliffs. Sadly, the rain was accompanied by sea mist which rather ruined the view of the Isle of Wight and the Needles.

Still, I think the Needles have got nothing on our very own Seven Sisters.

Row at Milford-on-Sea

After our walk at Milford we decided to start heading back towards home. On our way we stopped off at Lyndhurst for a couple of hours where the sun was shining again and where we shared a delicious cream tea.

Closer to home, we stopped off at Chichester where we tried in vain to find somewhere nice to eat and in the process nearly ran out of petrol. We also had a drive down to the Witterings where we wanted to go on the beach but were thwarted by a criminally high entrance fee. To a beach? An entrance fee to a beach? I ask you? *rolls eyes*

In the end, we decided to stop off at The Black Rabbit at Arundel, which, as it transpired, was an inspired choice by Row.

All in all, a wonderful weekend away.

Berlin beckons in September. Can't wait.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Trip to the New Forest (Day One)

We enjoyed our trip to Cambridge in our hire car so much that we decided to do something similar the following weekend (thanks to my Mum & Dad for paying for the car hire).

We got up really early on the Saturday and drove to the New Forest where we spent a fantastic morning morning at the street market at Lymington. The highlight for us both I think was the fabulous local ice-cream that we had from a shop on Quay Street. I had a double scoop -with maple & walnut on the top and rum & raisin underneath. I don't recall what Row had but I do remember her waxing lyrical about it.

The main disappointment was perhaps the world's worst cafe. We can't speak for the food as we didn't get round to serving us. We wanted to eat there as it looked very nice. But it appeared that they only opened after noon and even then had very little or no food with which to serve us. A sure-fire recipe for bankruptcy me thinks. Anyway, we went and had a pasty instead. You really can't go wrong with one of those.

After lunch we drove back north to Brockenhurst where we checked in at our B&B. The B&B seemed quite nice although the room was rather small and the bed 'noisy'. But we were rather glad to have found somewhere nice at such short notice.

It was a lovely afternoon so we went for a fantastic walk in the Forest where we saw some deer and some oh so cute ponies.

New Forest Ponies

So so cute.

Len in the New Forest

New Forest Dragonfly

Mel Got Dumped By Tom - Or Did She?

Found on a bench in the middle of the New Forest.

And the truth - perhaps we'll never know.

Row in the New Forest

New Zealand First World War Memorial @ Brockenhurst

During the First World War, Brockenhurst was the site of No1 New Zealand General Hospital. This hospital housed the New Zealanders that had been wounded on the Western Front.

Those that died there are buried in the CWGC cemetary at The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Brockenhurst.

The war graves of New Zealander's at Brockenhurst.

A New Sauce Eating Record

We walked out to The Filly pub just outside Brockenhurst for our dinner. The pub was highly rated on the Internet but we thought that it was actually pretty average and didn't warrant the rather long and frankly dangerous walk along the main road to get there.

Hot, loud and oppressive inside, we decided to sit outside where it was cool and calm and devoid of Hen Parties. The food was pretty much ok but we went a bit overboard with the condiments, as you can no doubt see.

And this time, it was me rather than Ketchup Girl that did the damage.

Glenn McGrath at Arundel

This was a few weeks ago but the cricket is now in full flow and I thought it would be good to add this picture now.

More than few weeks back now, I went to Arundel with my pals (Ben, Ian and Coley) to see Australia's first match of their Ashes tour of England.

A super evening of cricket, beer and curry was had by all and here is a picture of cricket legend Glenn McGrath. A brilliant cricketer and after his team-mate Shane Warne, perhaps the most Australian man in the world.