Jan 30 2007

My Derwent pencil tin comes to life…

When I was about twelve, I was so lucky to get a big Derwent pencil tin off Mum and Dad for Christmas. I adored these pencils soooo much but what I loved more was the scenic view that was on the front of every one of those pencil tins. That scene came to life today on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow! Running creeks with stone bridges, green lush pasture and trees – it was gorgeous. I think seeing so much ‘green’ has been an enjoyable change to the brown and dead look that is happening at home. I wish the train trip went longer than the hour it took to get there – it was all scenery that took me back to Ireland – again just so green!I have to say I have no problem in saying I am totally enjoying having TWO guilt-free showers per day – no buckets, no black cloud hanging over my head saying ‘The conditioner really only needs ONE minute Jenelle!’ – life is different in places that are drought free that is for sure.

So now on to Glasgow. Let me say – I really really wish I could love the place but… it just isn’t for me. Isn’t for me as a place to visit – to live and work well that may be a different story. I am pleased that I went, but I don’t think it will be on my ‘101 things I must do again’ list.

Leaving Queen Street station I decided to talk the long hike up to the Glasgow Cathedral which is in the Lonely Planet as one of the major places to see. I have to say it was fantastic – spooky but very much worthwhile visiting. Next door was the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. I cannot stand the word infirmary and seeing big signs saying ‘infirmary’ could bring on a fainting spell for me any minute. When I see that word, I have visions of communicable diseases, long wards of people strapped to beds, electric shock treatments argh… just all my yuck hospital feelings wrapped all into that word. It also looked very much like an ‘i-word’ should look. Grey, old… I could almost smell the death around the place… so I quickly ran to the cathedral.. after taking a photo of course.

The Cathedral itself is just unbelievable – still standing from the 1500s with the blackened exterior that is so part of any buildings in Scotland. It also has in it the tomb of St Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow. The cathedral actually has two layers – an upper and lower church. The upper church was just amazing and does not fall into the ‘ABC’ (Another Bloody Church) category that can happen when travelling through Europe and not appreciating what you are actually seeing. The lower part of the church was just downright spooky. It is a fully working church but this was somewhat dungeon like with little chapel areas off into each arm of the church. I quickly passed the tomb of St Mungo and headed back up to the upper layer of the church. I had a chuckle to myself when I first saw reference to St Mungo. When I was working at the City of Westminster there was one alcoholic homeless man who would always come into the office saying “You will just send me to St Mungo’s!” I never knew what he was talking about until walking one of the backstreets I saw at St Mungo’s hostel for men and it all fell into place.

Around the Cathedral itself was the graveyard and then it looks over to another graveyard that is on a hillside. I have posted a photo on my flickr of one of the graves there. I was the only one wandering around the grounds and it felt like it – just so haunting as so many of the church grounds are right throughout Edinburgh, and now Glasgow. Attached to the Cathedral is also the St Mungo’s museum and gallery – this is a museum dedicated to all religions and being free, it summoned a visit. The idea of the museum is actually really refreshing to see – artefacts from all religions and many traditions incorporated within those religions. So well worth a little peek anyway.

With this, I journeyed down into the main part of Glasgow and did some discovering of the Merchant area – there was a place that was recommended in my Lonely Planet called the Gandolfi Cafe that served Scottish fare and was somewhat of a ‘Glasgow Institution’ (well at least it wasn’t infirmary..!)

I knew it was now or never. It was time to order.. Haggis. Gandolfi is a quaint little place – it kind of reminded me of Rosati’s but on a much smaller, cosier scale (if that is possible)!

Out it came.. my sheeps liver, heart and lungs, kidneys… oats…onions… old shoe… whatever. It seemed to have everything in it – this serving was way too large for me and I was shocked at the look of it. The Haggis had been prepared by one of the best butchers in town and I took one mouthful and eeek. It was so very very rich and very heavy. I realised the only way I was going to eat any of this was to be a wimp and mix each part into with neeps and taters. (Mashed parsnips and mashed potatoes) I actually got through a fair bit of it but I felt bad when the girl came to collect the plate – it was definitely one of the strangest foods taste wise I have eaten but it is definitely hearty (he he!). I think I would’ve been able to finish it fine if it had gravy on it – or maybe a huge slathering of tomato sauce. The waitress actually explained that many places that you go to, give you a slice of the haggis (much like black pudding) although there, they give you the WHOLE haggis. So upon hearing that, I think I did quite well. Hurrah!

After that culinary adventure I walked the main streets and some of the back streets in Glasgow before it started to rain so I saw that as a sign from above that I should start heading to the station. One thing about Glasgow is that it seemed ever 2nd guy spat on the ground – so not nice. I found it to be gritty, grey and a bit too industrial for my liking but again I am glad that I took the chance to visit and see another side of Scotland.

In other news here, Manchester just got awarded as the place to have a brand new ‘Super Casino’ complex that is a first for England and will create a little Vegas atmosphere. Melbourne was actually mentioned by one of the people against this development regarding the crime and gambling problems that the Crown Casino has created. Though, throughout the process Blackpool was really depending on getting this ‘Super Casino’ to revitalise their town. This lady that was being interviewed on the BBC was hysterical with her quaint English voice “Ohhh I cannot believe it… just cannot. I mean… anywhere but MANCHESTER!!!!!!”

Also on the news here is the proposed changes to the awarding of pensions to single mothers and making them return to work earlier. There was a huge news piece on this and then they cut to Bill Gates speech here in Edinburgh – straight after a story on all the single mothers here and the lack of affordable childcare and what is Bill Gates opening statement? “It is so great to see such a strong economy here in Scotland!” hehehehe soooo good!

Anyway, I am all packed and ready for the early flight back to Heathrow and then my AA flight to JFK. I can’t believe that this time tomorrow I will be on West 46th Street, hearing the beeps and sirens of my beloved NYC. Edinburgh has been an amazing destination that I only wish more people could experience! (Also, as today has been damp here in Edinburgh that great Edinburgh smell that I posted earlier about is BACK and stronger than ever..!! I wish I could bottle it and bring it home!)

Jan 29 2007

The 1001st reason I own a Mac…

..Mac and Steve Jobs don’t interrupt my holiday!

I had a feeling yesterday something was going around the Parliament building as it had also been off limits to the public last week. Well I rocked up nice and early this morning and was told by the guys on security that all I could really see was the foyer due to an event. I got chatting with the ladies in the building and it is because there is a conference on a the moment for the rest of the week. Not just any conference… the Microsoft conference. Eeekk! The Windowsness of the whole place sent me into a panic. I needed to ALT CTRL DELETE out of there. Now I can only judge by the amount of security surrounding the place that he-wishes-he-was-a-royal Mr Gates was going to be there. Pfft. So long and farewell Scottish Parliament – I just needed to hear the start up sound of my Mac and get as much Appleness as I could into my system!

I did manage to go into the gift shop and purchase some little keepsakes (with the justification of – it is from a Parliament, so it is work related) I think it is the only place that I have ever bought a souvenir from but I haven’t really actually ever visited!

So today I will just wander around Edinburgh as I have gone to the station and checked out the whole deal for going to Glasgow and I’ll head there tomorrow and come back late afternoon and pack up my gear as I have to leave the Hostel at 6.30am on Wednesday to get back to Heathrow and then onto JFK. 🙂

Now also, thanks to my delightful Mum – my phone is now roaming and so my Flickr is getting populated with some pics.

Other than that I have become addicted to bbc radio 4 – I specifically bought my little Sony walkman as I knew I would have no tv here and it has been awesome. I am making sure I am back in my room tonight by 7pm so I can listen to the next episode of ‘The Archers’ and I just love the bells of big ben chiming for the start of the 6pm news. And their announcers pronounce everythig so perfectly. I-do-wish-I-could-speak-prop-er-English-like-tha-t.

One other thing that has impressed me about Edinburgh is their transport. Ok so they don’t have so many people to move around but their buses and their bus system are so organised, clean and easy to transit on, it is a credit to them – and makes me raise my hand to Connex once more and so SO LONG! Normally, travelling you learn to appreciate home more, but when it comes to transport – this NEVER happens to me. Whether it is the T in boston, the Subway in NYC, the buses here in Edinburgh or even the buses in LA – they all operate better and transport people a whole lot better than our system. It is the only thing that really makes me cringe.

All in all, great time here and I think this also has to do with the fact I have been enjoying these 10-12 hour sleep marathons – amazing how much sleep one can get without Foxtel!

Jan 28 2007

Do the Royals get tired feet?

Today has been one of the most touristy days I have had in a long time – my little tootsies are very much deserving a rest so tomorrow will be a bit more relaxing.

This morning I had plans of a nice breakfast in the Hostel restaurant and then start my day back near the Castle at 10am. I came downstairs here and the minute I stepped foot in the foyer, off go the alarms. As in fire/emergency/whatever – screeching! I wasn’t overtired or anything, as last night I had a long but interrupted sleep with the people in the rooms around me slamming doors for about four continuous hours straight. In the end I just screamed out “SHUTTTTTTTTTTT UPPPPPPPPPPP!” in what must’ve sounded completely psychotic as I didn’t hear anything after that. Yay for 3am psychoness!!! So back to the adventures this morning – hearing alarms like that, at that time of the morning is not good at all… so I bolted up to the bus stop and was at Waverley Bridge by 9.30 – grand except NOTHING is open! Then after walking one block I see the travellers shrine – MACCAS. All hail the fact they are always open, it is always warm and I know I can get some nourishment. They deserve even more worshipping here in Scotland as Maccas serves – PORRIDGE. Woohoo! I was in heaven and the porridge was piping hot – just what I needed. So I promptly made my way to Mary King’s Close. Steph, if you are reading this – thank you soooo much for telling me about it. It was awesome! What a great experience and the ghost stories were fab and learning about Edinburgh’s not-so-sanitary past was very entertaining.

It was then time to make my way to Holyroodhouse Palace. For some reason, here in Edinburgh it seems more English than England – I feel I have learnt more about the Royals and their history than I ever did after six months in London. Holyroodhouse Palace was just gorgeous – it had a lot more of a lived in feel than Windsor did and I swear I could almost feel the hauntedness of Mary, Queens of Scots apartment. Just gorgeous. If I could hang a poster on my wall of what I want to call my favourite Queen, I think it would be her. She was so cool. I have to say, I didn’t expect visiting here to bring back so many memories of my time in London – there are times that it feels like I am right back at Queensgate. So that has been somewhat of a novelty – and I am LOVING this darkness at 4.30pm!

Anyway I decided to make my donation to Prince William’s future wedding with a dainty lunch in the Palace Cafe. Ohhh I love just saying that. The food and the way everything is prepared is just like Sessions Cafe at Parliament! I got the soup which was… made exactly like at Parl – with leftovers (or what resembled them)! So when the Queen was over opening Parliament way back, she must have dropped her secret soup recipes off somewhere as the similarity was almost scary! Betty uses LEFTOVERS!

After feeling very proud of myself for spending some time in the giftshop and not purchasing anything (this is a big achievement for me – tracky souvenirs just call my name) it was time to make my way to Ocean Terminal, Leith to visit the Royal Yacht, Britannia.

Arriving at Ocean Terminal, I was expecting something like Station Pier in Melbourne. It was more like Doncaster Shoppingtown! So, in all of my outside photos of the Yacht I was trying so very hard to not get in the Debenham’s store sign in the background to ruin the Royal seaside effect! This was such a great visit and I am sooo pleased I went out there to see it. The Yacht is massive and the whole thing is basically open to us who like to gawk. Unlike the Palaces, where you hardly see anything. The family photos around the Yacht were great – including one of the them all on a family cruise back in 1997. I took a stack of pics as it was really so homely – and to see their living quarters and where they entertained – it really was an important part of their life that I never realised. Visitors are also able to see mess areas for the crew and their sleeping quarters as well as every little area – including the laundries. So with that it was 4.00 and getting dark so a quick dash into M&S to get my goodies for dinner and my day is done!

Tonight I will plan my next two days – I am thinking of making a day trip to Glasgow and will probably visit the Parliament building tomorrow.

Ediburgh was somewhere where I really had no expectations and I have never thought this place would be so beautiful and that I would enjoy it as much as I have. What a great beginning to my trip! 🙂 🙂

Jan 27 2007

There was once a wee bonnie gal in Edinburgh

Brr.. today I am back to experiencing the greatest feeling of having my face freezing and nose running! After the hot hot summer days in Melbourne I am LOVING this coldness!! 🙂 🙂

Last night I did about a two hour walk around the local neighbourhood near the hostel – pretty sleepy but lots of little places and quaint cafes and pubs. One even celebrating Australia Day. But more on that later…! I managed to find a Tesco’s Express which was about as dodgy as the Coles Express on Elizabeth St near Flinders St station. But I was able to stock up on a prepackaged chicken salad thingy that they love so much here and… wait for it… AMBROSIA CREAMED RICE!! Just what a girl needs. I was so excited I bought three and lugged them all back to the hostel!

I thought I was feeling fine but my wee bonnie eyes were getting tired. At about 4.30 I decided to have a wee nap… and next I woke up and it was midnight. To say I was angry with myself is an understatement – it was my plan to stay awake until at leat 8pm and have a normal sleep. So I stayed up for an hour reading all the brochures that I had collected and put my walkman on to find that a radio station here were playing Australian stuff all weekend for Australia Day too. Then I put it on the BBC and they were reporting on the Australian Open. So I went off into another sleep listening to Icehouse being played on Scottish radio. Go figure!

I must have been tired because the next thing I knew, I woke up at 9.30am. I vaugely remember me turning my ‘I’m going to be a great tourist and be up at 7.30am’ alarm off – but I felt refreshed and promptly got myself out into the crisp (that is putting it nicely) Edinburgh air. I was so starving so being such a health concious girl I grabbed the first thing I could find at 10am – a Cornish Pastie. Just how refined can a girl be? Whilst scoffing this down in the middle of the street (must have been a great sight!) some guy working on some roadworks was like “Oi! ‘Tis great to see a gal enjoy her food!” Well it was a damn fine cornish pastie so yay for that.

Today has been spent doing the touristy hop on/hop off thing to get my bearings and see on a whole what I wanted to do. I got a ticket that gives me two days of hopping on and off the most touristy looking bus in this place but I also got my tickets for Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Britannica Yacht thingy on it too.

It has already been a blessing – I walked up the hill towards Edinburgh Castle and the queue for tickets was so long. Eek I nearly turned around and thought I’d come back first thing tomorrow but… then I saw a special ‘Priority Queue’ – where I belong with my ticket!! Woohoo! So I spent a couple of hours at the Castle which was just great – there happened to be a wee Scottish wedding on in St Margaret’s Chapel – the oldest building in Ediburgh. All the guys were in kilts and the bagpipes were playing – it was a tourists dream! So after doing that I took the walk around the Royal mile and am all booked in to visit Mary King’s Close tomorrow and also the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Britannica Yacht.

I will head back to the hostel for an early night as I have an early start tomorrow – but one more thing about Edinburgh – the smell.

On my first trip over here in back in 1999, Fiona and I visited the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. They try and give you an idea of what the Viking times were like – including the smells. Well Edinburgh smells the same as the smells they created at the Viking Centre. Kind of like ham hocks with old water and fuel?!? I can’t describe it – if anyone else can please do! But it is unique and I certainly don’t find it offputting – it is actually kind of comforting in a wierd ancestral way? Anyway I’ve done some reading on ye olde internet and apparently it is actually the smell from the Breweries still scattered around the place. Very different from the Hops I would smell in Richmond on the way to school but.. it is definitely unique and I don’t mind it at all. 🙂

Jan 26 2007

In the land of Boots and WH Smith…

Hello from an overcast Heathrow!

Well drama follows wherever I go it seems. At the layover in Singapore I logged on to check my email in the BA/Qantas Lounge. I just happened to notice the Qantas webpage ‘Update on BA strike’. Huh? A strike? Indeedy-do – on the day that I will be leaving Edinbugh to New York on a BA flight. *sobs* It is going to be total chaos here due to no BA flights for two days. After 15 hours on a plane thinking ‘What am I going to do?’, the BA gals have been wonderful and just shoved me onto a British Midlands flight down to Heathrow at the same time as the old BA one. Perfect! No drama!

Oh. Except for one thing – my mobile roaming hasn’t activated so I cannot post anymore pics on my Flickr. I will still keep taking them and post them all at once when it gets sorted.

The flights were great for long haul! From Melbourne to Singapore I managed to stay awake and the food was delish. Dinner was Green Leaf Salad with Lemon dressing, Chicken with oyster sauce, jasmine rice and asian vegs. Cheese and crackers. A splice ice cream. Cadbury Hot Chocolate. More than sufficient for a 7 hour flight. Then just as we are are about to land around comes a baked macaroni dish with fruit salad! The meal for the Singapore to London leg was the WIERDEST fish I have ever eaten – it was rolled into what was the size of small thumbs?!?!? And was with mushroom sauce and vegies. Then a wayyy too strong chocolate mousse for me to handle at 5am Melbourne time and I was just too out of it to even have a hot choc. I managed to get a good seven hours sleep and after being able to have a shower in Singapore and here at Heathrow, I feel just great!

So I am about to get called for my flight to Edinburgh where today will simply be a nothing day before adventures tomorrow. Landing in London has bought back such wonderful memories – seeing Pret A Manger, Boots, WH Smith, The Daily Mail, the corny English Brekky shows… I kinda wish I actually had a couple of days here… always next time.

Highlight of the trip so far – The new Qantas ON DEMAND inflight entertainment system. I didn’t have to use my iPod at all on the first leg. The system is just amazing – I was just flicking channels just like at home and no more having to put up with Glenn A Baker on ‘Reelin’ in the years’ on the Qantas radio… you can simply listen to a whole range of CDs and even create your own playlists. As it was Australia Day, I created an Aussie one of Midnight Oil, Wolfmother, Powderfinger, Jet, Delta Goodrem and even this kooky version of Clancy of the Overflow and Waltzing Matilda. That kept me occupied!

So, in a nutshell, Flickr is on hold, I am feeling great and I love Qantas.

Bless. See you in Edinburgh!

Love is the drug – Roxy Music

Jan 25 2007

This is a final boarding call..

Just about to head out to Tullamarine for my longest flying experience ever. Melbourne to Singapore to London to Edinburgh. Eeek!

I’ll be blogging as much as possible, but I will be moblogging a photo a day to my Flickr Holiday 2007 lot.

Bring on the cold weather, bring on the Haggis and In-N-Out burgers and bring on foreign Amex transaction fees! Yay!

Bread upon the water – Gaither Vocal Band

Jan 13 2007

Fly me to the moon…

I have Sinatra on rotation through iTunes at the moment and just remembered that it is time to post my itinerary! 12 days until I fly out on my trip – this was all planned and booked back in September so I think I’ve been a very patient Jenelle!

Anyway here goes –


I have never been to Edinburgh before (yes even after living in London for six months!) so I am really looking forward to exploring what seems to be a truly wonderful city. Looking forward to seeing the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle and doing some good tours and just winding down before I hit…

New York

Yup 3rd time in three years! This time is going to be different again. This week I found out I have been accepted for tickets to the Martha Stewart Show. I nearly fainted! I am there for two days by myself to hang around and enjoy one of my favourite cities. One thing I want to do is head up to Bloomingdales and get this unreal frozen yogurt at Forty Carrots… apparently it is one of the best frozen yogurt experience around. I’m going to try and squish in a pedicure, some much needed clothes buying and just wandering – my fave thing to do in New York. Then Amy is flying down for Boston and we are going to have a fab time… especially since it is Superbowl Sunday whilst we are there! Yay!


I have never been to Miami before so this is all new. I am hoping to check out great food and music and also Key West and the Everglades. As a new place of discovery I try not to plan anything and just see what the city brings!


I am giving myself three days of pure touristy bliss in Orlando. I am going to Islands of Adventure and will pop across to the main Universal Studios to go on the ET ride again seeing as they took it out of Universal in LA. Also planned is a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.


I am so pumped and excited to be visiting Nashville. I have been to Memphis but then went straight up to Chicago from there. I have already got my tickets to the Grand Ole Opry and am booked in on my Nash Trash Tour with Brenda Kay and Sheri Lynne. I plan on also visiting Vanderbilt U and the Nashville Public Library as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame. And of course checking out the main strip and those awesome honkytonks… pure country for 4 days – I cannot wait!!!!!


This will be my 5th time in LA and I have decided to be brave and drive as I want to discover the Hills and do some Canyon walks… and cruise Sunset and take it all in without thinking about buses. I am excited and scared but I love LA. I hope to get to the Griffith Observatory as well and cruise around areas like Silver Lake that I have always wanted to explore but have never had the wheels.

So that is my trip in a nutshell… four weeks of fun and also.. I am making a point of trying to relax so I don’t come back more exhausted than when I left!

I’ll be blogging where I can and I’ll get my moblogging happening again. I am so excited – everything is packed and ready to go! Fly me to the Moon!

Strangers in the night – Frank Sinatra

Dec 09 2006

The tracksuit conspiracy

Yay holidays are here… well for one week anyway and I am soooo excited to be getting out of Melbourne – more about that later.

Slight problem though – my brother arranged, as a gift to my mum, for a lady to come and collect the ironing. Unfortunately, with all of his clothes, mine went as well. The clothes I had ready to take. Too late now but it means that I am set for 4 days straight of my bogan trakkie daks and clothes I wasn’t expecting to wear.

The latest fashions in Apollo Bay this summer.

But it’s all good and part of the adventure… 😉

Melbourne is covered in smoke – it is finally really getting to me and I am itching for some fresh air! The eerie calm on the roads this morning made it worse and the whole thing is just spooky. The sky is orange, visibility poor and the smell awful. Apollo Bay has come at just the right time.

I have worked out that this will be the longest time since 1996 that I have been without the internet – seriously! I *live* for email, and I am totally addicted to the ‘net and have been for a long time (using the excuse ‘Well hey I don’t drink or smoke so what’s the big deal?’)

Let’s see how I go and let the roadtrip begin!

Don’t bring me down – ELO

Dec 05 2006

My favourite albums…

With the ABC special on Sunday ‘My Favourite Album’ here is my top 10. Remember this is a favourites list not greatest ever!

In no particular order as that is much to difficult…

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Dave Matthews Band – Crash
Led Zeppelin – IV
Cold Chisel – East
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
INXS – Kick
Kylie – Enjoy Yourself
Mark Seymour – King without a Clue
Chris Isaak- Forever Blue
Crowded House – Crowded House

Masterplan – Diesel