The Experimentarium | Viking boats at Roskilde

Big bubbles at the ExperimentariumLast Saturday we headed out sans an under-the-weather Glen to the Experimentarium, a terrific science activity center for the kids. When, on entry, you are greeted by a couple of guys flying a 2-storey high remote-controlled hot air balloon, it's a pretty positive sign. We skipped past the espionage exhibit and headed upstairs, where Aleks was in heaven in the water park and the kids construction area. Marie also had a great time cruising around & playing with the giant Lego blocks.
Viking ships at RoskildeOn Sunday we jumped into the car and headed for the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark's old capital. For many years there was a rumour that there were Viking-era ships sunk in one of the fjord channels linking Roskilde to the sea. When someone actually got around to checking out the rumour in the late 60's they discovered five vessels buried in one of the channels, presumably to protect the city from seaborne attackers. The recovered ships are now on exhibit in the museum, and craftsmen are also making and sailing new vessels based on the old designs.
Jasmina & AleksAleks mostly enjoyed the model dioramas and throwing rocks into the water, while
Velinka & Mila at RoskildeMila was a bit bewildered by the whole thing

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Beautiful Copenhagen

Aleks and the elephant Last weekend was sensational, despite the lingering effects of jetlag. Saturday Glen & Anna took us to the zoo which was wonderful even for me. I saw quite a few animals I'd not seen before (tapir, red panda) and there were even a few familiar ones: kookaburras and a Tassie devil. Aleks in particular had a ball, loved the tigers, rode a pony, and of course visited the gift shop. Velinka had arrived that morning from Serbia & will stay for about 2 weeks to help us out, so she came too.
Nyhavn (New Harbour)Sunday we headed back out for a canal cruise, which was lovely (but went on a little too long for poor Aleks). Parts of the city are very reminiscent of Amsterdam, by design it turns out. We saw beautiful Marmorkirken, the Little Mermaid, the amazing new playhouse and opera house on the harbour, as well as the royal yacht.
We ran out of food on the cruise, so we were forced to eat each other's nosesAfter that hunger got the better of us and we headed up to Kongens Have (King's Gardens) for a leisurely picnic in the sun

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Arrival in Copehagen

I'm delighted to be back in Copenhagen, this time with the whole family. We touched down yesterday morning after a gruelling 30+ hour trip (although including an 8-hr rest in Singapore) and were met by our friend from Boston Glen, who looked after us wonderfully and dropped us at our ikea-decorated 5th floor apartment in Vesterbro. So far we have done little but try to recover from the trip and spend some time with Glen, Anna, and their lovely daughter Marie. But Aleks and I also got a chance to explore the playground in our block. We had great fun playing on the swings and in the playhouse, as well as climbing...
the mountain...
There's a terriffic mural on one wall of the building which, along with ours, encloses the courtyard and the playground.

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Mila Grace Galloway

Sleeping like LarryOur daughter Mila Grace was born last Tuesday afternoon (Melbourne Cup Day!). Jasmina was induced beginning Monday night; Mila was originally due on the 16th, but our obstetrician thought that as she was already on the 95th percentile for weight, we should get things going earlier. The labour went pretty smoothly through Tuesday morning & early afternoon, and Mila loudly announced her arrival at about 4:20. She was 3.8kg (8lb 6oz) and 52cm (20.5in) long.

We got home late on Thursday and had a pretty rough night, juggling incompatible sleep schedules for both kids for the first time. Jasmina's mum arrived yesterday to help out and last night was better. Photos are here:


Duncan & Jasmina & Aleks & Mila

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Aleksandar James' arrival

Aleksandar James GallowayI am very pleased to announce that our son Aleksandar James arrived at 1:20am Friday morning (October 6th), 54.5 cm long and weighing a whopping 4.4 kg (9 lb 11 oz in old-skool units). Alex (aka Sasha, or Jimmy) is feeding and sleeping fairly well, and Jasmina is doing great after a reasonably trouble-free labour. Alex has already exhibited strong personal likes (sleeping and eating) and dislikes (everything else). We are staying at the hospital (Frances Perry House) for the time being, but expect to be home around Tuesday. We have no email access there, but feel free to SMS or call. Attached is a photo - there are more at Flickr.com
All the best,
Duncan & Jasmina

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Started labour

Jasmina had her first contractions this morning around 3am (while I slept on, oblivious). We've been taking it easy today, watching a couple of videos and lamenting the lack of internet access (I "fixed" it just now by plugging the modem in). Things seem to be getting a bit more serious for the last few, although we're still not quite ready to head for the hospital. Will keep you posted - wish us luck! Duncan & Jasmina

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T plus 1 day

Us at Brunetti's, CarltonWell, we were due yesterday, but the little guy is showing no signs of coming out yet. We went round to a friend's housewarming/grand final barbeque, and hung out at home for the rest of the day. Today we cleaned house a bit in preparation, and then went into the city to have a coffee and then check out the Earth from Above exhibition between Federation square and the Yarra. Worth a look! Now... it's a waiting game...

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T minus 4 days...

Baby car seat installed: check. Bags packed: check. Crib, nappies, and tiny little hats: check. This Saturday is our due date (30th September) as well as the AFL Grand Final. Perhaps the excitement will be enough to trigger labour (although Jasmina's not exactly a big footy fan). Since the fraction of first babies that arrive on time or early is about 3%, we probably still have at least a week...

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T minus 10 days and counting...

19 week ultrasoundNine months seemed like a long time to begin with, but it's almost over, and we are rapidly approaching our due date of September 30th. Our friends & family have begun to ask "so, have you had the baby yet?" so I thought to keep everyone up to date here. If you know about such things, you could even subscribe to the RSS feed for future updates as soon as they are posted...

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Life in Brunswick

Kind of old news by now, but we've moved from Carlton to Brunswick. Nice and handy for Sydney Road, trams, trains at Jewell Station, and shopping at Barkly Square. All this and only 3km from Uni.

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2005: the year in review

Family photoHoliday greetings and best wishes for the new year! I'm writing this from Maroochydore QLD, where we've been for more than a week now; since arriving I've been very unmotivated to do much else than swim, eat, drink, and sleep, hence missing the chance to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Hope you all had a good one anyway - we certainly did. We spent the day at a unit we rented at a local resort, with Jasmina's brother Goran and his wife Lidija and the rest of the Galloways; unfortunately Stu's fiance Belinda had to stay in Melbourne to work and was very sorely missed.
2005 has been pretty eventful, the most significant milestone for us was moving back to Australia in July. Following a visit to Melbourne in late 2004 I applied for a Centenary Fellowship at U. Melbourne, and was offered the position around the same time that Jasmina's "temporary" permanent Australian residency came through. The timing seemed fortuitous, and after much soul-searching and discussions we decided I would accept and we'd go home.
The next six months were pretty full on. Some highlights:
  • our friends Glen & Anna's engagement party in Jan; we are now looking forward to joining them in Copenhagen in the new year to celebrate their wedding The Trysil crew - Jasmina, Olaf, Jill and Marco
  • our combined skiing trip to Norway followed by a visit to Serbia in March. The skiing was great, as usual, and our Norwegian friend Olaf's hospitality was first class. We continued on to the Netherlands where we stayed with Jasmina's friend Dana & her family.
  • we visited NYC in May with Rohan Storey (another Aussie, living at the time in Seattle) and his friend Sam. We are sufficiently slack that that was the first time Jasmina had been there, despite living 4 hours away for the previous 3 years.
  • Jasmina's cousins Bora and Tamara came down to Boston from Toronto for the weekend and ended up driving home in a car chock-full of household goods we weren't going to take home with us.
  • Yuri, Jon, Glen & I (the midweek drinking club) took off for a road trip to Maine, Vermont & Montreal, which was a lot of fun.
  • Our friends Mike & Cara got married in a beautiful ceremony on the beach in Rhode Island in June.
Glen & Anna at our going-away partyWe had a huge going-away party on July 16th which was probably the biggest night ever in the house - our poor old rickety deck was probably never closer to catastrophic failure. Our Watertown buddies Yuri and Eliza arranged for us to catch a last Red Sox game the week before we left, and Jasmina finally got to see her idol Ortiz in action. The day we left was a frenzy of running around from the cable company to the post office; Jasmina enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with our other Watertown friends Jeno, Paul and Jordan at our local cafe instead. We had a very sad goodbye to Yuri, Eliza and my ex-flatmate Matt - our friends in the US are what we'll miss the most. Finally we were on the plane and on our way.
24 Pitt St. CarltonWe stayed with my brother Stu for the first week in St. Kilda, and for the next two weeks in a flat owned by the Uni. We found a flat in Carlton not far from Uni and moved in mid-August, with many many trips to Ikea and back before we were anywhere near comfortable. The new job has worked out pretty well for me, and Jasmina continued working with the MIT folks as well as teaching first-year astronomy for 6 weeks at Uni.
Goran & Lidija were our first visitors in August and we had a lot of fun exploring our new home with them. We have spent the time since catching up with family and old friends, including a visit to mum & dad in Maroochydore in September. I had several work trips, to WA, Korea, Orange NSW, and Brazil; Jasmina went to Sydney instead and hung out with Goran & Lidija. For our final trip of the year we drove up here to Maroochydore, picking up Goran and Lidija in Sydney on the way. Since then it's just been sun, sand, lots of food and drink, and fun with the family.
Duncan & Jasmina in MaroochydoreHaving reviewed the year and written this I suddenly feel very tired — I hope you have read this far! Best wishes for the holidays and a great new year — hope to see or hear from you soon
Duncan & Jasmina

[ You can see more photos from 2005 at http://www.flickr.com/photos/94165679@N00/sets/1695720 ]

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The move to Melbourne...

... is all but complete. The most recent step was when Comcast removed my webpage, hence the move to the new address http://home.exetel.com.au/outsider. We have settled into our terrace in Carlton, more-or-less fully furnished from Ikea. The movers delivered most of our stuff from Boston last Friday, we are now just waiting on the boxes I mailed in the days before we left.
We are really enjoying life just a short walk away from Lygon St. Great cafes, huge choice of restaurants, and only a 10 min walk from uni. Also within walking distance we have Cinema Nova, trams, Royal Park, and the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building.
Next week we're off to Maroochydore for a week to visit mum, dad & Morag. More soon

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Trysil 2005

Olaf's grandparents house in TrysilWe just got back from our second trip to Trysil, Norway, having experienced a skiing extravaganza hosted by Olaf. We flew into Oslo and took the bus up (about 3h), as before. Stayed at Olaf's grandparents old place, just a short walk from the bottom of the ski lifts.
The Trysil crew - Jasmina, Olaf, Jill and Marco Had some really great weather, great skiing and good company with Olaf, Jill and Marco. We also learned some interesting facts — for example, the spice cumin is frequently confused with carroway. Long story.

Dogsledding in TrysilHighlights included dogsledding, the skiing of course, and playing Norwegian Trivial Pursuit (only Olaf speaks Norwegian, so you can guess how that went).

>> More photos
We continued on to the Netherlands for three days and then on to Serbia to visit Jasmina's family. More on that later.

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Merry Christmas 2004

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all of you, from both of us

A lot has happened this year that I kind of forgot about until now. Some highlights: Jasmina's mum Velinka stayed with us February-May, which was fantastic. We thought she might be bored, since she doesn't speak any English & we had to work during the day. Actuallly she really enjoyed her time and would have stayed longer if it had been possible to delay her return flight. My Serbian is not so hot, sadly, but we have a wonderful relationship despite the communication difficulties — she likes to cook, and I like to eat. It's a wonder I didn't put on more weight than I did. We did some fun touristy things, went to the aquarium, toured Harvard, & went up to Ipswich to visit Glen's family. Our friends also appreciated her cooking at parties, dinners and birthdays!

The biggest thing was switching jobs, both our current ones finished this year so at the end of last year we were madly applying for new ones. Imagine our surprise in March when we were both offered the same job at MIT — we'd thought there was only one position when we applied. Things became a bit tense when we discovered that a bureaucratic stuffup at Harvard meant that Jasmina would have to leave the country for a minimum of 2 years before she could ever work here again. It was really looking like she would not be able to take up the job at MIT, which would have been bitterly disappointing to us both. Luckily we managed to correct things and she switched to a new visa without the 2 year requirement. Oh, the joy of being a nonresident alien exchange visa holder. I started my new job in July, while Jasmina had to wait until November. She's been loving it so far, & has big plans to make the most of the gym, sports clubs, anime society etc.

We did quite a lot of traveling over the year; I had trips to Atlanta, New Orleans, Tucson & Santa Barbara for various conferences and visiting collaborators. New Orleans was fun — insane, but fun. More recently we took a trip up to Vermont for a weekend, visiting several local food and drink producers, including the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory (mmmm). We inadvertently took separate holidays; Jasmina back to Serbia, where she visited with her mum and all the relatives, and also managed to get down to the Adriatic coast for a week. I was too busy to go with her, but I managed to wangle a trip back home of my own in September. I stayed with Stuart & Belinda in Melbourne, Stuart now has his own graphic design business which is going pretty well. I also had 5 days up in Maroochydore, hanging out with mum & dad and Morag. Because Jasmina's permanent residency visa was still processing, she couldn't come with me; however, we just heard that her visa was approved, so now there's nothing stopping us returning to Australia permanently.

Here in our suburb of Watertown we have a growing group of friends who live close by, which makes entertaining etc. convenient. The social highlight of the week is the semi-regular mid-week drinking club meeting down at Conleys, our local. We also had everyone around to watch the fourth (and what turned out to be the final) game in the World Series, which the Red Sox won — first time in 86 years. They take their baseball pretty seriously round here, it was truly a momentous occasion.

Arrivals & departures — everyone seems to be having babies at the moment. Dimitrios & Feryal's new daughter Deniz arrived on April 14th (also my birthday!), and also Paul & Jeno's new son Jordan in December. Roberto, a friend of ours who studied with us in Australia, arrived from the UK on a 1-year fellowship at Harvard. Sadly for us (but happily for them) two of our closest Australian friends here both left, Lisa & Reuben for Hawaii and Andrew, Riki and Jessie for Sydney.

The biggest news of all for us was when I was offered a 2-year fellowship at the University of Melbourne, to start in July 2005. This week I accepted! We have a lot of details to work out before the return, Jasmina may stay for a bit longer to serve out at least a year at MIT, after the epic battle we went through to allow her to take the job. We are incredibly happy to be going home, the work here has been fantastic, and we have met some wonderful people, but it is just not home and doesn't have anywhere near the same quality of life as Australia. Being so far away from all our family and friends doesn't help either. So with a bit of luck this will be our last long-distance Christmas communiqué, hopefully in a year's time we will be more or less settled in Melbourne and making the most of it all.

We hope this letter finds you well & happy, all the best for the holiday season and may the new year bring you everything you wish for

Duncan & Jasmina

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Dundee - Perth - Edinburgh

This morning we went into Dundee again to do some more shopping (naturally, we eventually ended up at a pub). I couldn't find anything for Jasmina but bought a nice little crystal trinket for June. Around 11 we went over to June's place and then I went with Tracy to visit grandma. She was in a pretty good mood, pretty bright and cheery. I gave her Morag's present &emdash; a picture of Jasmina & I at our wedding, very thoughtful gift. After a little while I bade her goodbye - Tracy's strategy is to say she's going to work - and we went back to Junes.
I raided her photo collection, Susi is going to scan the rest of the old photos of grandma's and send them to me on a CD, hopefully. This technology is wonderful. I gave June the present and she gave me everyone's birthdays, as well as Susi's address (incl. email). Then we headed off for Perth. Moira was there with Ian and Cara and a friend of hers. She's much better now but wasn't yet up to coming with us on a walk along the riverbank. We went up to the railway bridge, crossed over to the town side, down again and back over on Perth bridge. Nice little town, lots of flowers around at the moment (Ian said that's just a temporary thing). We ordered some delivery Indian food for dinner and had a few drinks and chatted. Got back to Kinross about 10:30, threw the bags in the room and called Jasmina, then went to sleep. Set the alarm for 4:30 the next morning... ugh. London Dad dropped me off at the airport the next day, foggy and rapidly brightening as the sun rose. Got into London very early, Sunday morning and nothing was open. Wandered around listlessly for a while, there was a market of some sort setting up so I hung around for a while and checked it out. Time was running out so I headed back to the airport by tube and home to Boston. Great trip.

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Dundee and St. Andrews

St. Andrew's, Scotland 2Got a reasonably early start and headed into Dundee to do a bit of shopping. Some nice shopping centres and one touristy shop but couldn't find anything really appealing. Did find a starbucks though.
Back to June's and then to the home to pick up grandma. She was in good spirits, a little more energetic at 11 o'clock in the morning. We took her round to Emma's and saw her and Emily, then Susie came round for lunch as well. Watched Monsters Inc. and chatted for a while, managed to get in touch with Steve K. and arranged to meet that evening. Grandma was getting a bit anxious, perhaps because she was in a more unfamiliar environment & surrounded by more people she didn't recognize, so we packed her back off to the home. Dad & I were at a bit of a loose end so we headed out to St. Andrews, too early to meet Steve but we did some sightseeing and some shopping (some nice stuff but expensive!) The town is rather nice though, very quaint and with the abbey and the castle. Apparently Chariots of Fire was filmed on one of the nearby beaches here.
Duncan & Steve Kane, St. Andrews, UKHad a nice pint in "The Keys" and then headed back to Dundee to drop off dad. Came back and met Steve & Teresa and went to the Inn on North St., which is a pub/restaurant upstairs and nightclub downstairs. Food was OK, beer was better. S & T are doing fine, and little Saskia is a cutie. She was very well behaved throughout the meal but we left after a while, worried about the smoke. Went back to their place in Strathkinness, a small nearby village, and chatted for a while, saw Steve's collection of Star Wars stuff and Lego (!). He will never grow up.

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Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth

Dad and the MalcolmsDad slept late this morning so we got away a bit later than we expected. Drove down to Preston Pans in the morning and saw Grandad Penman's old house. Drove around the neighborhood a bit but nothing really looked familiar. The church where mum & dad got married has maybe been knocked down, where dad thought it was there was a much newer looking church. Drove up to Grandma Galloway's old house, but it didn't really look familiar either.
Next headed up to Dundee, stopping at Kinross for some lunch and then found Aunt June's place about 2pm. Saw June, and Susie, and Emma; later on Rachel & Tracy dropped by as well. We went out to the nursing home and picked up my grandma. She has advanced Alzheimers and short term memory only, but she is in good shape physically and in good spirits. We took her for a little walk around the garden, she is particularly enchanted by little Emily (Emma's daughter), who is quite good with her too. She had a little bite to eat and June made some dinner (cold meat and salad - a tradition at home!) for us, which was very nice.

Ian Russel and Dad, PerthWe left around 7pm to visit Ian & Moira in Perth. Alas we took a wrong turn and had to go through the center of Perth, which slowed us down enough so that we missed him at home. But we did meet Cara (Ian & Moira's daughter) and Anna (?) who gave us some beers and chatted until Ian came back with son John. Lovely family, and beautiful house near the Isle of Skye hotel in Perth, just 20 min away from Dundee. They offered us some dinner but we gave our excuses and came home, both of us buggered. We checked in, I called Jasmina and wrote this.

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Skeevy to Edinburgh

Me and the famous It was only about 100 miles to Edinburgh via the A1 - dad usually comes up from Leeds, which is much further, and so overestimated the time we'd need to drive. We stopped briefly at Carter Bar on the border, where you have a great view both ways over the fields. Not much difference apparent either way! The "Pipers of the Border" welcomed us home with Scotland the Brave.
Quick piss-stop in Jedburgh and a photo of the abbey there. Drove to the centre of Edinburgh and parked in a multistory carpark there at St. James shopping center, and also grabbed some lunch. Next it was up the Royal Mile (aka High St.) towards the castle. Lots of tourist shops, cafes, restaurants etc. We arrived at the castle just in time for a free guided tour by a possibly local fellow called Ian Bruce, which was very informative and entertaining. The tattoo and the festival were just finished, they were dismantling the bleachers on the esplanade as we arrived. Edinburgh CastleThe castle is fantastic, very beautiful and in excellent condition. In fact it's still fully operational, with a garrison and a military prison. The cannon is fired at 1pm every day from the battlements. Only one building remains from the oldest time, the 12th century St. Margaret's Chapel. The rest has been rebuilt or deliberately destroyed at various times thoughout the castle's tumultuous history. I bought some postcards and a very small bottle of Laphroaig for my computer (which is so named) back at work.
Back down the hill and past the university, saw some of the old buildings dad used to study in. We were short of time a bit so we hurried back to the car and went off to an old haunt of dad's in Morningside, "The Canny Man's". Beautiful old pub with a truly astounding abundance of portraits, old bottles, skis, swords, musical instruments, and every other thing you can imagine on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Had a couple of great pints there and then went for a sombre visit to the cemetery where many on my mum's side are buried.

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Richmond, Hudswell and the moors

Richmond Castle keepGot going around 9am and headed into Richmond. The castle wasn't open until 10, so we went down past dad's old school. Lots of changes and new buildings, although dad had mentioned it was closed it looked like it was just school holidays or something. The playground is now ashphalted (in dad's day it was grass). Back up to the castle and had a very nice time wandering around it. The keep is in very good condition and you can climb right to the top. The great hall (3rd floor) has a re-created medieval feast set up with lots of rubber (not rubbery) food and simulated messiness. We walked right around the walls, on one side the ground drops away steeply to the Swale, many of the buildings on this side fell away into the river many years ago.
Had a sandwich for lunch at the tea room as part of the Edinburgh wool shop, and then went off to Hudswell. We walked around the cemetery at the church, and found graves of some of the people dad knew, and some who he hadn't known had died. Earliest grave we found dates back to 1711, but there are possibly older burials there. The cemetery is in pretty bad condition, very overgrown and many graves fallen over and in poor repair. Later at the pub (George and Dragon) in the village we asked one of the locals about it, they are open for evening sermons there once every few weeks. But otherwise it's unused. The bloke who had the key wasn't home, so we tried coming back later on our way back but no luck. Dad wanted to show me a commemorative plaque listing those men from the village who had gone to the war, which included his dad.
Yorkshire moorsWe went for a drive up the Swale Dale on the B6270, pretty hairy. There are little villages every few miles, Grinton, Reeth, Healaugh and Low Row, with grey stone buildings set literally right on the road. Of course, they pre-date the road, but it still seems unnatural. We noticed the hamlet of Crackpot on the map and determined to find it, we probably went through it but it's just one or two farms and possibly a bed & breakfast. We took a very poor road up over Redmire Moor to the south, had some incredibly steep places. Up on the moors the view was beautiful, right up the dale; and quiet, just us and the sheep. Came down past Castle Bolton and joined the A684, then the A6108 back to Richmond via Hudswell. It was early but we didn't have much else to do, so we had a pint in the Fleece (trendy bar, with ribald shooters shaped like spermatozoa) and then some more beers and dinner at the Town Hall Hotel. Still early , but we'd had it so we came back to the Travelodge. Off to Edinburgh tomorrow.

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Day 3: Ferrybridge to Richmond via York

The house where dad was bornA final trip round the service area and then onwards. First stop was Pontefract/Featherstone and the house Dad was born in. We also saw his grandad's old place, but it had changed so much it was almost unrecognizable. We drove around a bit more and saw a second house where him & grandma lived, a lot has changed dad said, probably because the area was re-engineered to admit cars. We also went up to North Featherstone cemetary where both dad's grandfathers are buried, Tom and Fanny Keenan as well as James (their son) and his wife Emily. On the way back we had a quick look at Pontefract castle, which dad had never seen! Pretty bad condition but the ruins and surrounding buildings are rather impressive.

YorkWe returned to the A1 and took the A64 into York, a bit of stuffing around finding a park and then walked in through one of the gates remaining in the almost complete city wall. The city is incredibly dense with narrow streets and close 2-3 story buildings. Some beautiful tudor houses overhanging the street. First had a look at Clifford's tower, shell is complete and you can climb up within the wall and walk along the top. Southern wall has a noticeable outwards lean to it, possibly due to damage of the foundations due to a big flood. Next on to Jorvik which is a rather cheesy recreation of the Viking village which preceded the modern city of York, circa 985 AD. Poorly animated mannequins but the smell was unfortunately authentic! Recreation is based on actual archaeological excavations on the site, from which they have apparently got a very clear idea of how life was on the site; have uncovered well-preserved houses, leather goods, you name it. We were peckish by this time so ducked into a likely-looking pub (the Golden Fleece) and had an awesome Yorkshire pudding with roast beef, potatoes, vegetables and onion gravy. I'm telling you, this meal was incredible. Washed down with a pint of Guinness.

YorkminsterFinallly we took in the cathedral (York Minster) which is beautiful and impressive. We went down into the undercroft, where they have shored up the foundations and in doing so uncovered the previous Norman and even earlier Roman foundations. Supposedly this site was where Constantine was declared Emperor around 300 AD(?). This was really amazing, the way they have built and re-built and overbuilt on the site to create what is there now. One funny story about Saint William, who was (I think) just a regular clerk who got hit on the head by a stone falling from high up within the cathedral. He survived, and became a saint by virtue of this "miracle". They even dug up the stone much later, which is about the size of an overnight bag, inscribed with the whole story. Saint William is interred in the crypt below the altar.

Richmond town center from the castle keepDashed back to the car and headed north again towards Scotch Corner on the A1 and our Travelodge for the night. After lots of driving around stupidly we finally got there and dropped off our bags, then headed over to Richmond. We went through Richmond and on to the hamlet where dad lived. It's tiny, just one street, a pub, a tiny school and a disused church. Grey stone buildings set close to the road, which is incredibly narrow. Dad's house was "Rock House", now a somewhat done up "Rock Cottage". Continuing on through the town and the road opens up again onto the moors, dad was perplexed by the absence of heather. A couple of "warning - tank crossing" signs testify to the nearby presence of the army. Lots of sheep. The pub had no food on Mondays so we went back into Richmond and had a bit of a walk around before settling on the Turf Hotel for dinner. Cod & chips for me and a gammon (ham) steak for dad. And more Guinness of course. Great meal, I am going to be fat at the end of this trip!

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UK Trip, September 2003 - day 1

Duncan at Tower BridgeGot into London yesterday about 10:30 am after a pretty brutal trip. Dropped off my luggage and went into the city via the tube. Things still coming back up to speed after the power blackout yesterday, I think; the train was packed. Got off at Picadilly Circus and walked down Regent St., some lunch at Marios Cafe (₤10), not bad. Turned right on Pall Mall and walked down the other Mall and past Buckingham Palace. Hordes of tourists, but everything is beautiful. One poor copper at the open gate, you have to wonder how many photos he ends up in every day. Turned left around the park towards the river. Walked through horse gate, and then down past Westminster Cathedral and the houses of parliament. Weather was great, a bit cool but mostly sunny. Crossed over the river and walked along the embankment, past the big ferris wheel thing, Saatchi and Tate galleries, and a cool under-bridge book market with some beautiful old maps.

Tower of LondonWent over to have a quick look at St. Pauls, currently being restored so where it's not filthy it's covered in scaffolding. Should be nice when it's done. Someone was getting married there as I arrived. Some beautiful llittle streets nearby, a lovely old building with distinctive writing on the outside was actually a hostel, very nice looking! Had a Kronebourg in what looked like a pretty authentic pub the "Rising Sun". Finished up at the tower of London, ₤13.50 to get in but worth every penny. Very cool.

Got back to the airport a bit late, more than an hour on the tube again, Dad was already there. He was in pretty good shape, came over first class so had some nice food and comfortable seat and everything. 8h stop in Bangkok but they put him up in a hotel, so that was nice. We went and picked up the car, a Toyota of some description and headed up the M25 to a service area near Toddington. Travelodge is basic but comfortable. Dinner at the "Little Chef" (always present with Travelodges!) not too bad.

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Toddington-Ferrybridge via Campton

Dad's Bradford familyToday we left Toddington after a reasonable breakfast at the service centre. Had about an hours drive to Mac & Gillian's place in Campton, in Bedfordshire. Met Dad's Aunt Alison for the first time; Gillian is her daughter, and also her brother David. We had some coffee and sat out in the garden and took some photos. Then we went to the White Horse pub for lunch, after a little tour of the area courtesy of Gillian. It's really beautiful, lots of little villages with names like Inkworth and Ireland, thatched rooves, village greens and that sort of thing. Had a pretty nice steak and some NZ wine, "Montana". After lunch we went back to the house and chatted a bit more. I booked my flight Edinburgh-London for Sunday, ₤68 by British Midland, not too bad. Then we jumped in the car and followed David to the A1, after which he headed south and we north. Kept going with just one stop before the next Travelodge. Reception lady gave us directions to a local chain pub/restaurant which wasn't bad, had a nice IPA (Flowers) Our route so far has taken us up the M25 from Heathrow, across via Campton to the A1, and then just straight up to Ferrybridge (junction of M62 and A1). Also known for a bloody big power station within half a k of the junction!

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