Cardiff, Manchester, Oxford, Brighton

Well we have been quite slack in writing blogs lately (as I am sure everyone is aware since there hasn’t been one for a week or 2)..

We returned to Cardiff on the 12th June for 2 nights for the Annual Welsh Beer and Cider Festival. We stayed in an Ibis hotel next to the Cardiff International Arena, so it was very convenient. We arrive before lunch on Saturday and went for lunch in a pub down the road from the hotel. Once we were full we headed to the festival. We didn’t get Id’d or anything, so it was great. Pretty much the venue was a giant hall which in the centre of it had a huge stand that had 140 different types of Ales and around 60+ Ciders and Perry’s. On Entry you got a glass and some “fake money” which you used to buy your drinks. Drinks varied depending on what you got and how much you got. The smallest amount was a 1/3pint which was about 1pound, the glass you got at entry was a 1/2 pint, so unless you specified you were automatically given a full glass of the drink you requested. Apparently you could upgrade your glass to a pint (but we are not sure how you were meant to do it- we just saw people with the glasses).. We both really enjoyed our first drinks, then it went a little down hill from there…. All drinks were served at room temperature, which really doesn’t show the full potential of the drinks in my opinion.  We had about 4-5 drinks each and watched some entertainment that was on. It was great fun. When we had enough to drink we headed back to the hotel and watched the Australia Vs Germany match… we won’t talk about that!

On Sunday we met up with Colin and Fiona and the kids and they took us out to St Fagan’s which is an open air museum that shows buildings and life in/around Wales in the past. Some of the buildings were pretty amazing, and the stairs in some of the houses were insane, you wouldn’t have been able to put half of your feet on it, so I have no idea how people shifted house or even walked up the stairs.. We went on a little train ride there too, that was fun. It rained in the afternoon when we were there but it was when it was closing so it was pretty good timing… We said goodbye to them again and spent the rest of our evening in our hotel room.

Unfortunately we had to leave early to go to Manchester, so we had to get up early. I started to get a bit sick in Manchester. We stayed in a hotel, which I thought was more like an inn. The owner was really nice and he took us out for groceries in the afternoon. As we were a fair way out of Manchester the next day we just spent in the village, we went for a walk around and down the stream, then we had a nice lunch in the hotels pub… That night the owners, Will and Natalie took us out to a huge shopping centre called Traffords. It has sections of it which are themed. The food court area is like a huge ship, it was really cool. We played in Fun House (arcade area) while they had their dinner, after they were finished we went back to the hotel.

The next day we went into Manchester City and went to the Museum of Science and Industry. The museum was pretty cool, we got to go into a fake sewer, one of the original ones built.. we also saw some of the old trains and planes and other things. After that we went on the Manchester Eye… It is the same company that owns the one in Brisbane, so it was pretty much the same size etc. It gave us pretty good views of the city and it went for about 30mins or so and we got in for students so it was really good. It was a bit hot though, apparently the UK doesn’t believe in Air-conditioning, even though it gets really hot!

The day after we went on the Manchester United Football Stadium Tour… We got in as students here too.. First we went through the museum, and you got to see old players profiles and jersey’s and team photos and cups that they have won over the years! Yes we did see David Beckam’s jersey, and also Micahael Owens.. The stadium wasn’t as big as I imagined it would be.. but nonetheless it was quite impressive.. The field had just been re-done so it was a bit dodgy looking when we saw it.. We saw the players change rooms, which I honestly didn’t think was very impressive, they were quite small, though they did have a huge Tv in there which was cool. We saw the area where the players wait before going to the change rooms, this was also apparently the area where David and Victoria Beckham met.. in this area the players girlfriends/wives hang out and get free food and drink. The players are allowed to go there after a game but are limited to one alcoholic drink, which according to the guide most of them don’t even have one! haha. We got to go through the tunnel that the players come out of.. it is really quite dark in there, we also got to sit in the dig out.. the chairs are apparently racing car seats or something.. Kath said they were really uncomfortable. We then went through the original tunnel from the remains of the first stadium which was built over 100 years ago.. Thats how long Man U has been a club for (but was known as a different name for a few years in the begining). After the 3 hour tour we caught a bus and train back to the hotel. That evening we packed our bags to get ready to leave early the next morning.

We arrived in Oxford around lunch time and luckily enough we were able to check straight in.. The hostel was run by Aussies, a few of them were even from Brisbane! We went out for a wander around the town and had some lunch before heading back to the hostel to watch the soccer match between England and Algeria match (I think it was Algeria).. We had a few drinks and the hostel was pretty full. After the match we were pretty tired so we headed to bed. The next day we walked around Oxford to try and see some of the college’s and uni campus’, but apparently everything was closed (we think there might have been graduation ceremonies on or something).. so we just walked around the outsides and looked at some of the old buildings. That afternoon we watched a few more soccer matches and the guys in the hostel put on Avatar so we watched that and ate popcorn. We had an early night after the final match as we had another early morning on Sunday.

We were lucky to take a double decker bus to London on Sunday (the first part of our journey to Brighton).. We were first on so I chose the front seats. The last time I was on a double decker bus at the front for more then 30 mins was the trip we took as kids down to Melbourne, I think that trip we counted road kill… well it seems I am a bit more mature now.. this time we counted flags that had fallen off cars… Between Oxford and London we counted 107… We thought that was quite alot. When we arrived in London we got some breakky as the hostel kitchen was closed when we left in the morning.. We then got ready to take the next bus to Brighton.. Well unfortunately this was not a double decker bus, so it was a bit of a disappointment. This time we counted 139 flags, crazy! Just to put it into perspective as to why we started counting these flags.. I am going to say nearly every 2nd car in England has got these flags hanging off their cars, and Kath and I were discussing how many we thought that people loose… so we decided to count… I would say that the majority stay on the cars, but its a lot of extra rubbish on the highways if you ask me… Or really cheap souvenirs for tourists hahaha!

Anyway after our 3 or 4 hour bus trip we arrived in Brighton and made our way to our hostel (3km out of the city centre)… When we arrived they told us they didn’t have a booking that we canceled it, then after explaining to them that we changed the booking from 5 nights to 4 they continued to say we didn’t have a reservation, so I pulled out the trusty little laptop and showed them our confirmation from (who we have used for our entire journey without a hassle) and showed them we did have a booking. Finally the dumb girl on reception said that lucky for us the room we did book was available.. but hadn’t been made up as they weren’t expecting anyone..  an hour later they had finally got around to putting some sheets on the bed.. and we checked in.. By the time we went to the grocery store it was dinner time, we were starving as we missed lunch having been on buses and trying to check in.. We had yummy spaghetti for dinner and had a new cider, Merrydown.. It was quite sweet but still tasted ok.. Kath enjoyed it most I think.

This morning we got up fairly early and walked to the centre of town by the waterfront and the ended up at the famous Brighton Pier.. We walked past the old pier and saw it’s old skeleton, rusty construction. We wandered around the “new” pier and looked at all of the rides and enjoyed the nice weather we had.. Then we headed into the city area and saw some old buildings, then we found Mountain Warehouse, where we got our shoes, jackets, pants and towels from and I got a new pair of shoes… There were none in Kath’s size.. so we are getting more in London. We then walked another 3km back to the hostel and are getting ready to have dinner soon.

Brighton is a nice town and very gay friendly. Today we have walked about 7.5km in total.. good effort I say.

Well I hope everyone is enjoying winter at home, summer here is quite hot so far.. The UK seriously needs air-conditioners!!! Especially in shops!

Love Cindy and Kath

PS new pics are up in Wales and England!

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