King of Hamstead Heath ?

I was looking through the Times Online site and found a wonderful article. It seems that a rather pricey piece of land in the middle of London, part of Hampstead Heath no less, has been given to a vagrant that squatted there for almost 20 years. I think that’s rather wonderful. A developer was trying to evict him to ease the conversion of a nearby abandoned hospital into luxury flats and after three years of court he was awarded the title to the property due to his uncontested possession of the property. It’s worth around £3 million but he’d be unlikely to sell it as it wouldn’t get the planning permission necessary to sell. Still, good on him!

A farewell and a re-acquaintance

Today we got up early and to head off to Adelaide airport. No, no, we weren’t getting onto a plane ourselves, though it was tempting. We were there to see my Mum off on her three month world tour. Yes indeed, she is going round the world in probably just a bit more than eighty days.

So we were down at the airport. The weather was grey, chilly and slightly wet, so of course, being in an airport in that weather, I thought of Scotland. And England. Having been to airports in both countries and almost always in that kind of weather, the parallel practically drew itself.

An interesting thing about the Adelaide airport is just how much many people we know don’t like it. When it was built there seems to have been quite a lot of complaints about the style and facilities. I would have to say though, speaking as a seasoned international traveller, the airport is really quite nice. It’s definitely on par to most of the modern airports I’ve been through recently. Stansted, Hong Kong, Charles-de-Gaul, Glasgow International. They all have the same cool but not cold, high and airy feel that is never claustrophobic.

The only criticism I would put forward is that it’s perhaps a bit small. For a city of around 1.5 million people, and one that wants to attract more direct international flights, it was, I believe, built to only handle the capacity it was already managing. But that is a small point really. Well, that and the fact that the facilities only accept Australian dollars. I wouldn’t mind being able to spend my spare euros/pounds/yen that I have left over from my travels there and I’m sure others would too. But still, a minor point as well.

So anyway, we sat at the airport with my Mum and my brother Joseph and had a chat for a while, had coffee and cake and things from Cocolat, a very nice chocolate, cake and other things shop with branches around Adelaide. We chatted about the upcoming trip and where she would be staying. She’s heading off to a stopover in Singapore first, then to London for a week or so, then to Paris, then Lourdes, then somewhere north of Paris, back to London, to Scotland (in and around Glasgow) then to Seattle to visit my brother Peter, another stopover somewhere or other in the Pacific, then back home to Adelaide. Whew! All up, just under three months.

When she finally set off to get ready to board and we did the traditional looking at planes with the kids bit, we headed off out. Since we were all the way out at the Airport, a not too small deal for people without cars, we thought we’d notch up another bird by heading out to see … IKEA!

Well it was not quite the massive excitement it must have been for the others, because I had come down to see it in the first few weeks we were back. I went down with Joe to look at shelves or something. Well to tell you the truth, the others didn’t really have quite the enormous thrill I may have indicated either. It is just Ikea after all.

Don’t get me wrong though, Ikea is rather great. It is probably somewhere I imagine we will be buying all sorts of stuff from in the future. What is rather impressive about it though, is that all the stores, within some small margin, are rather identical. Plus I really like their meatballs and their coffee is good. Not to mention the fact that they stock all kinds of cool northern European snacks and Diam Chocolate!

So we wandered and wondered at the sameness of it all. We bought a small present for a friends two year old whose birthday we were going to on the weekend. We bought a small, ceramic, kids crockery set (very cute, we have one for our own guys). Then we had some food at their restaurant, got some snacks to go (and I got a one dollar hotdog!!) and then we headed home.

Rain, chill and grey. Airports and Ikea. Hmm, I really do miss Scotland!

The journey south : Part I

Well we’re off. We have left Glasgow on another bold venture, this time targeted at the pays du dieu. Right now I am sitting by the window of our Travelodge room typing this post out into OpenOffice since the only Internet connection is wireless and I haven’t got a wireless adapter on this laptop.

Speaking of which, the first thing that I seem to be missing is my old work laptop. It was an IBM Thinkpad, and it had wireless networking, it ran games not too badly and it had one of those track point pointing devices. For those that don’t know, this is an IBM device (don’t know if they designed it, but they seem to be the only company that sell them) that has a dot in the middle of the keyboard (sometimes called a nipple) that allows you to move the mouse pointer around by leaning the pointer in the direction you want it to go.

At first I found it rather irritating, but I’ve gotten rather used to it and now think that I prefer it over a touch pad. You can just glide around the screen no matter what resolution you have without stopping and starting again because you ran out of touch pad. I also found it was ideal for gaming, particularly FPS.

But enough of that, onto the trip I hear you all cry. Well, getting out of the flat in the morning was fine, last minute cleaning and all. Then there was the first realisation of just how much baggage we had with us. Really, it is/was not much more that when we left Australia in the first place, but I’m not in as good shape as then and the weight seemed insurmountable.

Getting down the stairs was one thing, getting to the train station was another. We hefted the bags all the way down to Argyle Street and the effort was enormous, not a good sign for the trip overall. Once there, I left Annmarie sitting with the kids and the bags and ran down to the real estate office to drop off our keys. On getting back, we quickly debated how long it would take to get to the station and decided that both of us would get taxis separately and meet at the station, a scenario that would repeat itself later.

Once at Glasgow Central, we got a luggage trolley and headed in to find our train. We met Rosy, one of Annmarie’s friends from Willow’s school, near the platform. She had come to see us off. Funny that the person seeing us off out of Glasgow is an Aussie from Queensland. With her watching the bags we made our way up to the front of the train and stored our larger suitcases, then headed back to Rosy (who was giving the kids rides on the luggage trolley) to get the rest of the stuff on-board. Unfortunately my cousin Caroline couldn’t make it to see us off as well, which is a shame.

With the rest of our stuff stored, we got into our seats for a not exactly uneventful train ride, but I’ll put that into a continuation later. Right now I gotta get to sleep so we can get to my brother Paul’s flat tomorrow. G’nite!

Very late night; very early morning

It’s very late and I am up putting the finishing touches on our packing for the train. It’s been a lot of hard work getting ready and now we are as ready as ever for leaving. It will be sad to see Glasgow go, but a new adventure is opening up for us. Next time I post, I should be in London, or at least on the way.

Early morning packing

It’s 6:30 am and I’m just setting off to Tesco to buy some fruit for breakfast. Our big fridge has been turned off and dried out for storage so we don’t have much room for anything in the small fridge in the flat.

Our stuff in mostly packed up and ready to be collected by a removal company called Crown Relocations, who are part of a larger logistics company, I think. They seemed to be the cheapest and the most professional, as they use their larger logistics framework to keep the costs down. And they can deliver worldwide, so Peter, if you read this and I forget to mention them, give them a look if you do move to the states.

Well it’s now 6:40, so I’d better get going. We’re having an early breakfast because the moving people could be coming early this morning and we have to finish sealing some boxes and a couple of other little packing things.