Saturday, December 30, 2006


Well it has taken a while to get this update together. Christmas wasn't quite the same without Steve or our families being around but Vanessa and I tried to make it as memorable as possible.


We were surprised and of course pleased to discover that Santa thinks ahead and uses Australia Post. We entered the spirit of the season and battled the crowds on Oxford Street, Brent Cross shopping centre and the local Tesco's to find all the traditional food and decorations. We don't really have room for a full size tree so we made do with a small one.


As far as food goes, we gave the traditional turkey a go. The supermarkets over here cater to those who have limited cooking experience very well. We bought a turkey portion that came prestuffed and completely ready to roast. In fact all we had to do was remove the plastic covering. We did choose gravy over the cranberry sauce though. We ditched to plum pudding in favour of a more modern Banoffe Pie. If you haven't tried one then I recommend it, but only for a treat.

As traditional as it gets

That is all from Vanessa and myself. Although late, we hope that everyone had a great day with their own families and friends.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

ROME - day 2

On our last day we headed off to the Vatican. After yesterday’s rainy walk we decided to test out the train system. Very efficient and now we know that nearly all attractions could have been reached much faster and drier. The Vatican museum was our first stop of the day and it is incredible. The artwork on the walls and nearly every ceiling of every room is hard to describe. The colours were much more vibrant then expected. The Sistine Chapel is a must see although it did take us a while to find it, and not the easiest to photograph.

A section of the museum ceiling

St Peter’s Basilica was next and according to the guide of the group I stood near – the pope was in but didn’t do public viewings on Mondays. Inside the basilica is just as ornate and intricate as the museums. There are small private alters along the sides as well as the main alter.

We decided to take the challenge of the 300+ stairs and went to the top of the dome. The view was amazing. No sign of the rain from yesterday.

View over the Vatican City

As a whole Rome was an interesting place to visit. The history is fantastic and to see everything and understand it you would need to be there much longer then 3 days. We almost struck a public holiday again (remember Brussels) but that was on Friday and we arrived Saturday. The gelati was too good for words but the rest of the food was pretty average. Hopefully it was just the tourist thing as we plan on seeing much more of Italy with food being high on the list of attractions.

Carina – this last piccy is for you. Found it on Via Giulia which was the first main street of Renaissance Rome built in the 16th century.

Monday, December 25, 2006

ROME - day 1

We decided to travel a little further afield and headed off to Rome. Spent a couple of days checking out the sights of ancient Rome as well as the Vatican. The amount of history that is thrown at you is mindblowing.

First up was the Colosseum which was only down the road from our hotel. The structure that is left is only the stonework. All the marble and iron was stolen for construction of other buildings. The floor that can be seen in the photo is where the challenges would have occurred and the rooms underneath housed the animals and gladiators before the challenges. Each tier indicated the persons rank in society, the higher up the poorer.

Beneath the floor of the Colosseum

Colosseum from 3rd level

Circus Maximus wasn't as grand as expected. Now it is just a great big grassy area that is used as a walkway from the Palatine to the Tiber River. There really isn't anything to indicate it's past importance.

Claire at western end

The excellent weather failed us from lunchtime when the rain started and just did not stop for the rest of the day. We did although continue with the guidebook's recommended walking tour, just went a little faster and bought another umbrella. Saw the Pantheon, but it has a huge hole (sunlight) in the ceiling so not much drier in there. Kept on going to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, passing many other piazza's and monuments. Some had hieroglyphics on them and some had elephants as their main focus!

Trevi Fountain

But wait there is still day 2........

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Blackrock Masters

For all of you tennis fans out there this one is for you. The Blackrock Masters is the final tournament for the has-beens of the tennis world and is held at the rather swanky location of the Royal Albert Hall. We splurged and bought tickets and found ourselves occupying a box in the second tier with another couple. The atmostphere wasn't quite as loud and raucous as we are used to and I was feeling slightly underdressed in jeans while Steve and everyone else arrived in suits.

Royal Albert Hall

McEnroe was the first match and he lived up to his reputation - spoilt brat. We thought that he may have been playing up to the crowd the first couple of times, but after the 18th questioned call it was just tedious. The crowd did switch from pro McEnroe to pro Anders (the swedish opponent), especially after he aimed a ball at the very big organ. McEnroe still won.

McEnroe vs Anders

The doubles match that followed was an exhibition game where all the trick shots come out in a single set. It was easily the highlight of the night so far. The players were Bahrami and Gullikson vs Fleming and Willander. The crowd even livened up. Would have liked there to be another set.

Final match for the night was Marcelo Rios and Jeremy Bates. Basically just big serves and not interesting, especially after the doubles woke us all up. It also didn't start until nearly 11pm so the place was starting to empty and that included us.

Marcelo Rios warming up

We have entered the ballot for Wimbledon so here's hoping we manage some tickets!!