Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 - We hardly knew you

Sitting here in my sister's house in Glasgow on the last day of the year. The last few months have been rather busy for girlclumsy and myself... just a little :)

Personally I have to say that 2006 was a pretty good year for me. We have travelled many many places and seen amazing things. Yet it was not just the travel for me this year. It is hard to remember my life before August of this year (Haven't I always just travelled around the world randomly? I am pretty sure this is what I was born to do... give me my ready), but I do remember directing Equus at the Brisbane Arts Theatre. Now that was a interesting experience! Everything from intense worry, anger, confusion, hope and elation. In the end the show went brilliantly (if i do say so myself!) and i couldnt have been more proud of my cast, my stage manager, my set builder and even myself. I discovered recently that the play is going to be performed again at the Metro Arts Theatre in Brisbane lat January.. so keep an eye out for it.

Christmas was excellent and relaxing. Eoghann's parents (my sister's parents-in-law) are some of the nicest and most welcoming people you could ever meet. Over the last few months I have cut down my food intake (mainly as we couldnt afford to eat sometimes!) but that wasnt going to happen at the Walker residence.. no sireee! We were well fed to the point of bursting with all sorts of scottish treats and meats.. well I had a lot of vegetarian options but the house was full of freshly hunted pheasant and venison. We played board games, ate, went for walks through the scottish highlands, ate, drank waaaaay to much, ate, slept, ate, watched the Doctor Who Xmas Special (The Doctor can be a cruel man at times!), ate, tasted a few (ie many) different types of single malt whisky (I have become a whisky snob in training ;) ) and ate ate ate! All in all a very successful xmas.

We have spent the last few days bumming around Glasgow. Girlclumsy has been enjoying the January Sales (Now in December!) and i bought a beautiful velvet 3/4 length coat...i will only have to wait 6 months or so until it is cold enough in Brisbane to wear it again!

Finally watched the second series of the British comedy show 'The Mighty Boosh'. Much better than series one, imo. The only really disturbing part was the character 'Old Gregg'. Half man, half fish (or maybe 70/30 ratio) with a 'mix-up downstairs'... one word 'Mangina'. I have been wandering around Glasgow saying 'I'm Old Gregg' over and over in a high pitched voice. Well, it amuses me.

We are going to an indoor skiing field this afternoon. It hasnt snowed here in Glasgow at all and we have had a lot of sun! The scottish keep telling me it is unseasonably warm here. I am hoping i break my leg today so i have to take 6 weeks off from work when i get back ;) After the afternoon ski (or even snowboarding) we are off to a Ceilidh for the New Year's celebration. This is a traditional scottish shindig, with dancing, drinking and kilts! I wore a kilt at my sister's wedding and loved it so much i have hired another one for tonight... Nothing is sexier than a man in a woollen skirt. That may be my love of Eddie Izzard going to far :)

Aaaaanyhoo... I have to go make myself beautiful for the ball.

Best Wishes to Everyone for the New Year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas cancelled due to fog

So... we try and leave Rome and discover that Liverpool airport is closed due to fog. Bummer, hey. So we wait in line.. and wait and wait and finally get a choise between waiting a day for the next Liverpool flight or wait an hour and go to London Luton instead. Thinking that it would bet better to be stuck in London than in Rome for xmas we take the London Luton flight.

thank.. the... gods...

We fly in and manage to hire one of the last rental cars and make our way north. Tagging along with Girlclumsy and I is a Canadian girl we met in the line in Rome who must have decided we were not a serial killer couple (Though GC did start some strange Wolf Creek related conversation in the middle of the Penines... strange girl!). On our 5 hour drive north to Liverpool we here that all the London airports have been closed due to inclement weather.. and so has Liverpool airport! Bloody Hell! As far as we know they airports are still closed but they hope it will all clear by the 24th of December.#

It seems we dodged the sleeping-in-Luton-airport-for-xmas bullet by 24 hours.

We made it to Liverpool safely and met up with MixMaster Mike (last time we saw Mike wasin greece). We spent a fun day and night bar hopping and visiting places from my mum's childhood. I dont mean my mum spent her childhood in bars... i mean she is a Scouser at heart and i managed to track down the very house she was born in!

Wellington St in Garston, Liverpool! Found it! It was funny to think of my Mater as one of nine children (with Nanny and Oupa as well) living in this small house in the rough side of Liverpool.

I even found the house! I won't say which number it was as i dont want you upsetting the nice people who live there now with your pilgrammages to the Mother of The Wah ;)

Today we had to say goodbye to MixMaster and we headed north again until we arrived safely in Glasgow at my sister's house.

Tomorrow we head out to Inverness for a highland christmas.

Best Wishes to you and yours this festive season. Be safe, be happy and be good.. or if you can't be good then be good at it. (Copyright Mika-Monster ;) )

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rome if you want to...

Rome around the world...

ah... the comedy never ends with mis-spelling the B-52 lyrics. Girlclumsy sits behind me in the apartment we are currently staying at cursing me (politely but with venom) for pre-empting her gag title! a-ha!

aaaaanyhoo... Rome.. the eternal city... full of stuff... so much stuff. Ancient stuff, religious stuff, streets, shops and other stuff. We came here a few years ago and pushed ooooh so much into 6 days and still had so much more to see. This time we decided to not run ourselves ragged and just see the things we missed from before.. or we really really liked.

So yesterday (after be rescued from a highway SOMEWHERE in Rome but the man who owns the apartment we are staying in.. we really had no idea where we were or where we were meant to go to ... but Renato came and picked us up from the side of the road in his sexy green jaguar and gave us a tour of the local area... awww.. what a nice man) we headed out to the Colloseum (just walked around it as we have been in before and we are poooooooooor) and then the Roman forum (which i just love) and into the main city area to wander Via de Corso (where the shops are plentiful and expensive). We kept noticing places from Dan Brown,s "Angels and Demons" which imo is a better story than Da Vinci Code and was its precursor and had a little look inside of them... many churches and fountains and suchlike. It is amazing how the outside of a church can be quite dowdy and bland but inside is a riot of gold and woodwork and sure one of those churches could be sold off for billions and used to feed the poor and suchlike but what would a filthy atheist like me know about helping the masses : Had a wander past the Spanish Steps (it looks better by night than by day.. and there are less gyspies trying to sell you tat also) and more importantly went into the Pantheon... oh how i love this pagan temple cum basilica. Everytime i come here i feel 'something'. The age of the place is staggering and all the 'modern' trappings of the church cant hide the fact that this was and still is an ancient place of worship and mystery and general pagan sexiness. The 9m wide Occulus in the roof stares down on you and you know you are someplace special. Also Raphael's remains are in here so that is just a bonus for me! Onwards to throw coins into the Trevi fountain (we shall return!) and this time we were able to enter the church next to the fountain to see the place where the Pope's hearts are kept after they died.. but not the hearst themselves as they are hidden away...poo

Today we went to the staggeringly beautiful St Peter's (My big church is bigger than your big church) Basilica. I love the sense of space in this place.. and it has Michelangelo's Pieta as well... and i have come to really love that sculpture. IMO Michelangelo couldnt paint women to save his life (Sistine Chapel's women are rubbish... men with boobs) but by crikey could he sculpt them... and this Pieta is the best of the bunch and generally a gorgeous bit of artwork. We even went under the Basilica to see JPII's (John Paul the second for those easily offended) final resting place. It was very simple and white marble... which is better than most of the show off burial chambers the Popes used to have. Very similar to JP1 in fact... so well done JP2. Off to the Castel St Angelo which used to be the final resting place for Emperor Hadrien's ashes (the scottish wall guy) but has been a church, a fortress and a papal hidey hole in bad times (also a cracking backdrop for 'angels and demons').

Finally got to see the sculpture 'The Ecstasy of St Teresa' in Santa Maria Del Vittorio (or something similar). Great sculpture.. my new fourth fave after David and 'Rape of the Sabine Women' and Mike's Pieta. This chick basically had endless orgasms given to her by god and Bernini decided to make a sculpture of it.. nice! It is a great sculpture in all seriousness and worth hunting down when you come to Rome.

To top the day off we took a stroll along the Circus Maximus (next to the imprssive runs perched ontop of the Palantine Hill.. where Romulus and Remus were kept alive by the she-wolf) to see the 'Bocca della Verita'. The Mouth of Truth. It supposedly bites the hand off of any liars that place their digits within is marble maw but saaaaaadly my truthiness could not be verified as the place was closed and we could only stare at the marble ex-sewer cover.. shame ;)

2 days in Rome is never enough but we only came here this time as the flights were cheap and we had some time to kill before Liverpool.. which we will be in tomorrow

In the words of Girlclumsy 'Veni, Vidi, Visa' ... 'We Came, We Saw, We did a little shopping'

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wham! Pow! Krakow!

Dzien dobry from Krakow (the cultural capital of Poland... probably the cultural capital as it was one of the few Polish cities not levelled by the Nazis and the Soviets in WW2). Ah Poland... the Parking Lot for german and russian tanks for most of last century... and before that is was used as a major highway and landgrab opportunity for every empire in the area..Prussia, Russia, Austria... even Sweden!

We jet back into Europe and the need to start wearing our fleeces is great as we enter 'official cold' time. Cold and windy.. a fantastic combination. The locals agree it is cold..ish.. but (and you have to thank global warming for this ;) ) they point out at this time of year it should be -15C not +5C! They are scratching their heads and waiting for winter to actually start. Our first day in the Main Square was enlivened with a re-enactment of the anti-communist government riots 25 years ago. Chanting protestors face off the army and it all seemed very real. We were reassured this was all for show by our local walking tour guide... and the reality was further tarnished later on when one of the protestors was broken away from the pack by 4 greenclad army guys who proceeded to beat the protestor with what looked like 14 inch long neon pink rubber dildoes. In the blink of the eye the performance had gone from being GI Joe to Julian Clary... and that amused me no end!

Krakow (and Poland) is steeped in history.. most of it bloody and most of the blood Polish. Being at the crossoroads of Europe they pretty much have had the tar kicked out of them since day dot. For a while they, linked with the then massive state of Lithuania, formed one of the biggest empires in Europe (Everyone gets their time in the sun in Europe history.. everything old is new again and everyone small will one day grow huge and start looking for those that pushed them around and have a 'chat'). Don't get my wrong, i do not believe that the Polish were innocent lambs who hurt nothing and no-one throughout history and I am sure they gave as good as they got... up to a point... and that point was 1795 when the entire country was devided up neatly into three easily digestible lumps and devoured by Austria, Prussia and Russia. They stopped existing as Poland completely until 1918! Holy Crap!

But then it was all smooth sailing until the present day, right? ... right?... um no.. not quite. Uncle Adolph came swanning over the hill and turned Poland into a lovely staging ground against the soviets a(who quickly grabbed as much as they could as well) and Poland stopped existing again. They were forced to be communists after that and have only recently been able to choose something different. You can imagine why they were rather distrustful of joining the E.U originally. But joined they have and I think the future will be brighter for poor battered Poland.

Today Girlclumsy and I went to Auschwitz - Birkenau, the largest and most infamous extermination camp in the world. Just outside of Krakow (nice of the nazis to not put something that nasty on their own soil) this place, i am sure, is synonymous with 'evil' in your mind and i am also sure you have seen the pictures. Piles of emaciated corpses, gas-chambers, execution walls, warehouses of dead people's possesions etc. I don't really want to go into too much detail about the day but the place was exactly as bad as you think it was... maybe worse. To be in a chamber where hundreds of thousands met a terrible chemical end was shocking. The clinical efficieny of the slaughter was terrifying and the number of people killed (1.1 million, 97% of them Jews who walked from off a train directly into a gas chamber) in this place is mind numbing. Visit this place...

For the rest of our time in Krakow we want to visit the world famous 'Wieliczka Salt Mine' and i have heard there are some really impressive pagan burial mounds somewhere nearby. Also there is 'Nowa Huta' (literally 'New Steel Mill'). This is a soviet style steel mill built for propanganda and not economic reasons. Brave sons and daughters of the state toiling for the state and being rewarded handsomely blah blah blah... the usual nonsense governments spout. Actually it is not just a mill but an entire satellite city built to house the workers etc.. and it sounds like something GC and I need to poke around.

The Moroccon and Spanish photos have been added to the many many online travel photos at .

Buboe Watch - The chance of buboes is small across The Wah this week. The already existing High Pressure Left Jaw Buboe front is diminishing and we expect the entire system to vanish by the weekend.

Last bit of news... It seems our little blogs have been noticed by people living in Fez! They left a comment on both our blogs and were very impressed with Girlclumsy's blog about the hammam. Have a look at 'View From Fez' and see our waxing international star!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Spontaneous Camden

With only a few hours left in London I am looking over the buildings of Camden Town and seeing the top half of the London Eye the dome of St Paul's Cathedral and many other buildings that are instantly recognisable as London landmarks but as a filthy colonial i dont know their names. We have been staying with Deb and Tom from the Spontaneity Shop. Thees guys are professional improvisors.. ie they make their living doing Improvised theatre.. and only improvised theatre.. they dont have other jobs! In fact they even have an honest to god office and have hired two extra staff members! Bloody hell! Who says you cant make money out of impro?! We met them a few years ago when Deborah came to Brisbane and taught an impro class for us. It was really good to see how people in other countries do what you do especially in Brisbane where the impro gene-pool was (at the time) a little bit small and, frankly, stale. From then on we have kept in touch and everytime we come to London we like to meet up with Deborah and Tom and hang out.. and do impro workshops and have even done a few shows with them.. and we also have been lucky enough to stay in their lovely apartment in Camden. Sooo.. if you are ever in London and you want to some professional improvised theatre..or you want to learn from some of the best improvisors i have met then get along to a Spontaneity Shop show/workshop! (not that they need a plug from the likes of me :) )

Avenue Q was brilliant. With such inspired songs as 'Everyone is a little bit racist sometimes' and 'Shadenfreude' and the song made famous by internet geeks everywhere 'The Internet is for Porn'. It was funny and, quite unexpectedly, moving. It is amazing how connected you can become to a puppet.

Girlclumsy and I have had a relatively quiet time here in Camden. She has been in an impro show and done a workshop. I watched the impro show and didnt do the workshop because i havent been feeling the best... yes yes.. still run down and slightly icky. I decided it would be best to conserve my energy for Poland, Rome and a real honest-to-god scottish Hogmanay.

The weather here in London has been getting very cold overnight. I even wore my under-jacket for the first time two nights ago. It isnt the temperature that gets you but the bloody awful cold wind that seems to race down Camden Rd and right up my rain jacket.

Okay.. time for Buboe watch. The buboe under my right ear finally succumbed to my mutant healing factor and vanished (or maybe the alien young gestating there finally decided to leave home and get a job.. you decide which is more likely). That means it lasted for about a week and was a minor inconvenience. Unfortunately another one has developed on the left side, further down. Even for me that was getting beyond a joke, and i have been feeling run down and blechy for a few days, so (remembering all the golden positive experiences girlclumsy has had with the NHS EVERYTIME she has been sick over here.. and i do not mean that sarcastically, it has been good) i shlepped along to the soho walkin clinic to have my lump looked at. I was happy to be told that the wait would be 15 or so... and they kept their promise. Within 15 minutes i was seen by a nurse who... did nothing.. nothing at all. She merely went through all the details i had already written down on the entrance form and proceeded to tell me i would have to wait AT LEAST 2 hours for a another nurse who would try and see what the problem was but would probably not be able to administer anything useful (not being a doctor, i was told) and i would be referred to a doctor at a hospital not that nearby and god only knows how long i would have wait for her/him... So with a smile and a happy cry of 'Bollocks' i left that place never to return. Yes, i know i am ill, but it hasnt killed me yet and i keep hoping it is mumps related and will steralise me... Now, before Mater threatens me again with all sorts of horror :) i am not very ill, i promise. The new buboe is diminishing in size and my only other symptoms are a generallack of energy which she would remember from when i lived at home and she wanted me to vacuum the house :)

All in all we are well(ish) and ready to tackle the crazy party history town of Krakow!


Saturday, December 09, 2006

London's Calling...

at the top of the dial...

Greetings from the arguably the world's most urban city.

Getting here from Madrid was a bit of trial. They found 4 extra bags in our flight they couldnt account for so they emptied the plane's hold onto the tarmac! They still couldnt work out which were the wrong bags so they had us all (in groups of 5.. according to spanish law it had to be in fives) troop out of the plane and point our our bags which they then put back in the hold. After 2 hours of messing around on the tarmac they realised they DIDNT have any extra bags and it had been a screw up of the baggage handlers... wheee! I was surprisingly zen about the whole situation.. though it was probably the lump on my head keeping me calm so i didnt disturb the alien young gestating in my head :)

The lump seems to be going away all its own, btw. So i dont want to aggravate by letting some quack doctor get near it. If he/she starts prodding the buboe then the alien queen might take offence and reduce our planet to slag.. see.. im thinking about all of you!

But arrive we did in london. I have always had a love/hate relationship with london. It is an amazing place to wander and discover but after a while i get very fed up with the filthy locals and filthy tourists and every filthy person in the middle... but maybe that's just me :)

We traipsed into the centre of the city lugging our backpacks and the first thing i noticed was that i couldnt hear anyone speaking english... on the train.. in Picadilly or even in our hostel! and even more weirdly it was all spanish! It took us a whole to work out that many spanish people use their 5 day long weekend to fly over to london and have a holiday here... So i am very glad i didnt go out of my way to annoy the spaniards in Madrid as they all seem to have come over here!

We are staying in a backpackers right in the city of Picadilly... just off Pic Circus. It is... okay. That is all i will say about it. Maybe i am getting old but it seems to be filled with uppity, fashion victim, euro-trash teenagers. All glitz, glamour and little to know substance (or brain cells) between them... (and they play their music too loud ;) )

Last night i dragged the poor suffering girlclumsy to Spamalot. Yep.. of all the culture and theatre we could go and see i wanted to see the Monty Python musical! We got pretty good tickets for cheap and it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I have always liked monty python but i will only quote the skits loudly at a party if i am sure i can really annoy someone by doing it. ;) I realised i wasnt the biggest geek fan there as many of the crowd broke into spontaneous song during the performance. Tim Curry plays King Arthur and to be honest he seemed a little tired and bored but after doing the same show for months every day he probably finds it hard to do it fresh and exciting. Most of the other cast members did a bang up job... my faves were Lancelot (he likes to Dance-a-lot) and Dennis Galahad (Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!). Al your fave bits from the movie are there... the vorpal rabbit, Tim the enchanter, the monks, 'bring out your dead', the knights of Ni'... all there... If you like Monty Python and you like kitsch then you would like Spamalot.. i did

Tonight we are off to see Avenue Q... We have been told it is very funny. It is a musical comedy involving humand and puppet.. 'The Sesame Street you needed when you turned 18'

Im sure we will get to see some 'legit' theatre someday ;)

Oh yes.. we went to the Tate Modern on the banks of the Thames. I really enjoyed learning about the surrealism movement. (i am now a big fan of Francis Bacon.. the 20th Century painter.. not the other one) (and also Yves Tanguy... nice!)

but we enjoyed more the installations that let you slide down big slides from the 5th floor... heheh. You have to love art that lets you slide through a art gallery!

It has been an interesting few days to say the least!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Me llamo Bond, James Bond

Hola from Madrid...

Iy has been a lightning few days traveling right across the province of andulusia. We have now came north into Castilla La Mancha.

They are obsessed with Don Quixote here.. you see his picture everywhere. Astride his skinny horse with his tubby page Sancho by his side... tilting at windmills and all that.

Toledo was really cool. As you drive into the city you see the old walled city protected by a river on three sides and a bloody steep hill on the other side. The perfect place to build a city of you are worried about invaders of all creeds and religions coming to steal your stuff. Of course toledo is famous for its steel and swords so that might be another reason to think twice about trying to take the city. The city is full of sword shops and i was sorely tempted to buy many of them but ince again price and bag space reared it´s ugly head. We managed to find a pension for only 20 euro deep in the winding streets of the old city and even found free parking as well.. SCORE! It is gratifying to see these beautiful old cities have managed to enter the modern era with their olde worlde charme still intact.

leaving early in the morning we fought the traffic for 1 1/2 hours into madrid and after a many twists, turns and backtracks (not to mention paying for a parking we didnt even use) we managed to drop off the car, Vin Diesel... who had been renamed Shakira because she was spanish and her backend shook alot. let me tell you that diesel is great! 750-800km on a tank of diesel for slightly less than petrol! woot! diesel cars are now Wah Favourites...

Madrid is a beautiful city designed for girlclumsy and i. it gets up late and stays up to the wee hours. Shops stay open around xmas till after 10pm and the streets are lit with chrissy lights all over the place. you can still have a coffee or beer sitty on the streets.. it is a little cold but not to bad. we have only just arrived yesterday and have spent the morning doing washing but the afetrnoon is for exploring.

Went and saw Casino Royale last night in an english cinema

It is great! soooo good. The best Bond film ever.. seriously. Daniel Craig´s Bond is a true assassin. He is closer to Ian Fleming´s Bond than anybody else and he is possibly the best Bond ever.. yes even better than Connery.

Pater, i think you will like this Bond film. Less messing around and more getting the job done! He is a hard hard James Bond. There is one part in the film where he snatches victory from the jaws of defeat and smiles so coldly at his vanquished foe it gave me chills... go see Casino Royale

In other news I seem to have contracted some exciting mystery illness. I have a largish lump below my right ear that is quite visible... it seems to be too high to be lymph nodes and it doesnt hurt to move my jaw.. in fact it doesnt hurt at all. The only time it causes discomfort is when i eat. The mechanical action of chewing doesnt hurt at all but having the food in my mouth seems to aggravate the swelling... so maybe something saliva gland related. I also have little red welts on my left hand. I thought they were mossie bites from Morocco but they have been around for too long now. I have also been quite tired and run down but 4 months on the road can do that, im sure :) If it doesnt go away by the time we reach englad i am going to go to a doctor. I am hoping it Bubonic plague as i can add it to the list of nasty diseases i have caught and never knew i had.. ah Ross River Virus and Glandular Fever where is thy sting? Maybe it is Bird Flu?? coooool (yep.. i count taunting deadly diseases and dieties as two of my favourite pastimes)

better fly! Madrid awaits!

P.s Big props to our Morocco tour leader Craig and the rest of the tour for making Morocco such an exciting time