Friday, 28 August 2009

A spot of boating on the Thames

...but not like you've ever seen it before! Fast, furious and completely soaking - the Thames Rib Experience is the speediest, wettest tour from Embankment to Canary Wharf currently operating on London waterways. As a delayed birthday present to our dear M, we donned our trendy black life jackets and clambered on board the speed boat, preparing ourselves for a wet and windy ride. RIB stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat, normally used by the "Special Forces" and designed for extreme conditions. Well, I'd say we were pretty special, and it certainly delivered an "extreme" new perspective on the boring old River Thames!
Things started out fairly gently, taking in the Houses of Parliament and London Eye, then sweeping round to head up the river towards the Tate Modern. The boat was beetling along at a pretty fast pace as we glided under Tower Bridge, and we were all feeling very smug as we easily passed those regular, average Joe tourist boats: mwah ha!

With a stretch of clear water ahead of us, our skipper suddenly anounced that it was time to put the peddle down and yes, this is the part where we all got soaked. Especially me. I was sitting at the back of the boat on the river side and therefore the main receptor of dirty Thames water every time we made a fancy swerving move or sped over choppy patches...which was frequent! But getting wet was part of the joy, and it's easy to see why speed can be addictive in those things. Special Forces - here I come!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Searching for the Sun

Summer is officially still here...apparently. Well it was last weekend at least, and we made the most of it with a trip to the beach near Poole. Sandbanks is just a bit further along than Bournemouth, but SO much nicer! The beaches are clean, not too busy and the surrounding house prices rival those in Manhatten, I'm told. It's entertaining to imagine which mansion you'd most like to live in - obviously I chose all of them! The water was juuust warm enough for swimming, after the few initial heart-stopping moments of wading in. The temperature reminded me of Svartlöga (very brrr!) but the clarity and colour weren't too far off the seas of Vietnam and Thailand! Who knew the south of England could be such a tropical paradise!?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Back in England: off to the Lakes

Returning to the UK after 9 months or so in Sweden has been, and continues to be, a strange shift. KBS 19 became a real home away from home for me, and Stockholm is such a beautiful city. I can see why people stay there forever. This isn't goodbye to Stockholm, merely farewell while I try and get my career off the ground and acquire some skills that could lead to further jobs in the future - wherever they may be!

Cushioning the move back was another great holiday in the Lake District with all the family, and the Swede! The Mitchells, Taylors and Williamses have been going for YEARS to Lakes Coniston and Windermere, and they never lose their charm. This time round we stayed in a listed building big enough to house all 14 of us, and it wasn't cramped! The proximity to Windermere's town centre was brilliant, especially as it made trips to the fish n chips shop very easy :). We weren't too lucky with the weather, but there were a few days of sun during which we took a motorboat out and then watched an airshow. Our traditional trips to Grasmere, Hawkshead and walking up hills were all managed, if in rain coats and wellies. The house came complete with a pool table in the basement, so many furiously competitive games were played - John won the championship...but he grew up with a pool table! That hardly seems fair to me. ;)

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

More on Svartlöga

Too many great pics for one post (if I do say so myself)! Here come a few more...


This is my new favourite place on earth. Stockholm's Skärgård (archipelago) is made up of an incredible 24000 islands and extends 60km into the Baltic sea. Although the far reaching islands (Svartlöga being one of them) are only accessible half the year round, it is a beautiful area to escape to and explore your wild, naturey side! On John's island there is no electricity and no running water. Everything is powered by gas or candlelight, and drinking water can be reached from the nearest well. The summer house itself was situated in a secluded spot, well away from all other island life...except the mozzies and ticks (gross). We spent our 5 brilliantly sunny days swimming in the freezing waters around the summer house, lying on the rocks, eating and drinking out on the jetty, BBQing, trying to catch fish, and visiting the little village on the other side of the island. 'Pure and simple' sums it up :).

Needs must: eating popcorn from a bucket!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Canadian in Stockholm

This post is way overdue, but finally the internet and a working computer are within reach! Going back a bit, here are some snippets of Laura's visit in June. We got up to a whole bunch of crazy, including sunnning ourselves with the beautiful people at 'Josefina's' (L's expression at hearing the prices of drinks was....priceless!), paddling a canoe around Djurgarden and taking a trip out to Grinda in the archipelago. This was hampered slightly by the storms which just happened to descend when we reached the island - typical. But we sheltered under some towels under a plastic bag under a really sappy tree whilst taking phone calls from it was all good! Laura was very nearly converted to the Swedish ways, well maybe just the Swedish men ;), and if it hadn't been for the alcohol situation she would've moved in there and then. But perhaps the booze prices are a good thing, at least there are fewer beer bellies on show...
Sunny Grinda