Friday, June 27, 2003

Life is slightly better....

Well, the dark cloud has risen a bit. Thanks to all for the positive thoughts - they've worked.

Martin is down in London at the moment sorting a few things out like tidying the flat and seeing the real estate agents. He's also managed to get into some of the boxes that we'd sent home (thanks to the guys at Interpak - especially Hilary for restoring some of my faith in humankind for their help there) so that we can find all the documents that we've kept from when we bought the flat. We weren't sure if we had anything from our solicitors which showed that they were aware of the loft conversion but he has managed to find a document from them which mentions it, so hopefully we'll be to prove how ineffectual they were, and sue the arse off them! That does raise my spirits a bit.

HiG has also been touting us around (does that make him our pimp?) and he may have a contact for us at Adecco here in Darlington. He's been the best mate (well he was our best man) possible and has offered us to stay with him for as long as we need. His house needs a bit of redecorating and we figure we can repay his kindness by giving him a hand with a bit of DIY which he has motivational issues with doing. As long as we can make enough to cover our mortgage in London until the house sells it will definitely be viable.

I've also finished the new Harry Potter (unemployment will do that to you - finishing ~750 page books in just under five days). I enjoyed it - the death wasn't really that much of a shock - I thought it would be a more major character. I'm looking forward to the next two and what will happen to Harry eventually - I reckon he'll marry Hermione and end up with 2.4 kids with her, or him and Ron become gay lovers. Not sure yet.

The sad thing is I now have to choose another book. I'll probably start one of our classics that were going to be our Big Trip reading. It doesn't feel right to be reading them in a house as I had envisioned it more reading it under a tree whilst we stopped for lunch in France.... oh well, if our Estate Agent gets his act together it may still be achievable this year!

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The Best of Times, the Bloody worst of Times...

Well our nightmare has come true. Our house sale fell apart yesterday. The buyers pulled out as they couldn't handle the pressure to do with the loft not being approved by the council. They really must be the stupidest people I've met in my lifetime (and I have met some prize idiots), as everything was set for it to go through and they obviously couldn't grasp the fundamentals of what happens in a house sale.

So we're now trying to decide what we're going to do. We don't have furniture, jobs and a loft conversion that isn't regularised.

Big Trip is on hold, at least for the next three months. I don't pray, but if you can send some positive thoughts into the world for us it would be much appreciated as you can imagine our's are pretty damn negative at the moment. Oh, and if you know anyone who'll give us a job, that would also help.... Thank god for the latest Harry Potter book - I don't know how I would've entertained myself otherwise when we got the news yesterday.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Counting the cost

Well the house still hasn't gone through... still to do with our loft.... and its just not that much fun anymore...

Please don't ask about the house as we're starting to bore ourselves with the talk of it.... needless to say when it does actually go through, you'll all be the first to know. As long as you're looking on our website that is....

We're now back up in Darlington visiting Mr HiG as all of our furniture was sent back home to Australia on Thursday 19th June. We have left in the house the futon and a beanbag and Cath and Spence are eyeing up the futon, so soon we'll just be down to the beanbag with the two of us fighting over it in between playing games of football with a tennis ball in our living room (note to any interested purchasers of our property - we're not really doing this, you know creative licence and all that). We were sleeping on a mattress in our bedroom (the f*$king unapproved loft) to complete the skag den appeal of the flat. As we've grown tired of saying goodbye to everyone on a weekly basis in London we thought we'd head back up to Teesside and then maybe head up to Scotland to do a mini-tour up there with all the bags as a bit of a tester. We figure if these people are going to mess us around we might as well actually enjoy the time off instead of endlessly playing "Age of Empires" on the PS2 (not that that's all I've been doing of course).

Anyway, its off to the pub tonight to meet up with Ted and Carole and to drown our sorrows with a few vodka and oranges.

By the way, check out our new counter - I can't make it any more obvious that I haven't tampered with it (last count as at 23/6 was one!) so get our numbers up and keep visiting. We hope to have good news some time..... Hope you won't all be bored of my rants before than....

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Differences

What's the difference between what we want to take on the big trip and what we're prepared to carry? We didn't know exactly but the wobbly and incredibly taxing ride from Darlington to station to Chateau HiG hinted that it would be quite a bit. Today was the day when the final selection process was made and even more difficult decisions than thinning our three sewing kits down to one would have to be made. Topping the casualty lists were our entertainment products such as walkman and gameboy and we seemed to be carrying a few more spares for the bikes than we needed. The electronica had always seemed extravagant but we thought they'd be small and light enough to get away with. After about 30 minutes we were able to fill a large holdall with the non-selected articles and I guess the next job is to flag up these items "Components & Logistics".

Our all new lightweight test ride was a success and we've managed to keep all our panniers down to about 75% full - plenty of room for encyclopedias, stone statues, etc which we're bound to buy along the way...

The last slight concern is the tent which currently sits atop the topcase and, although not heavy, seems to cause centre of gravity related mischief. I don't think I have the topcase as securely fastened as possible but I'm sure I'll sort that out in the fullness of time.

Our load now seems manageable for the first time but I guess judgement should be reserved until we hit the first big hill...

Friday, June 13, 2003

It's that elbow again

Well, yet again it seems I have not yet mastered riding a bike... We arrived in Darlington last night on time (I think the first time ever on our journeys up here!) and prepared for our first longish ride with the bikes fully loaded.

Bloody hell, there's definitely stability issues involved here. The ride from our house to Harrow and Wealdstone station wasn't too bad (it is only about half a mile to be fair) and the train journey into London Euston also ran quite smoothly (apart from the morons who obviously thought it was more important that they get on the train before I get off with my (do I need to repeat this?) fully loaded bike). From there, it was a short ride to King's Cross, but not wanting to risk London peak hour traffic with our unstable bikes, ended up pushing them the kilometre or so to King's Cross. Train journey passed without incident and we arrived at Darlington at 22:30. Here we go. A couple of roundabouts and a few cheeky calls from cars with boozed up occupants (England vs Slovakia for the European Football Championships had been on just down the road at the Riverside after all) of "Can I get a lift?" and, most charmingly, "Get a car". I would've liked to have stopped the occupant of the Ford Focus and asked them how much they earnt last year and compared it with my salary. I'm not saying that salary is an indicator of standing in society, but these people obviously think a car gives them some kind of status and I would've like to seen how that other indicator of status (according to society) racked up against each other. I would've also liked to explain that I can afford a car, but I choose not to drive. Cycling is fun - driving a car isn't. It is as simple as that. I don't expect everyone to get out of their cars, but I would like a bit of respect for at least trying something different - I know I'm dreaming! Anyway, rant over.

We had a slight downhill after the roundabouts and I changed through the gears and was able to get a decent speed going. We then got to some lights and I was unable to change back to a decent taking off speed. Result. I can't get any speed up on the slight uphill after the lights change to green and fall over on the pavement landing smack bang on the already swollen and bruised left elbow. The familiar agony started again and I'm ready to call the whole thing off. Who's bloody idea was this anyway? I know, half mine, but I'm sure everyone has had one of those moments where you can just have enough - and we hadn't even started. Anyway, I pushed the bike to HiG's, had a cup of tea and iced the elbow. Huge lump coming out on it now as well as a lot of bruising. Felt better and am now determined to thin out everything in the panniers to make this riding to Australia thing a bit easier. I didn't say easy. Easier. Than what, I don't know....

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Yet another update -> Check out our Tagboard! and no we're not that bored....

After a great suggestion by the soon to be newly-wed Mr and Mrs Morgan of Watford (otherwise known as Robbie and Nicky) we have added a guestbook cum messageboard otherwise known as a Tagboard. Much searching of the internet was done over the weekend and after a lot of false starts and basically crappy guestbook designs we found the Tagboard and have added it to our page. What do you reckon - let us know what you think....

Apologies for all those people who are logging on every so often to check if we have actually left the UK yet. No, not quite is the only answer we have, but we're getting there and we do hope to have left the country by the end of the month. In the meantime, all you get is updates on my swollen elbow which is starting to come out in a fantastic bruise though it is still swollen.

The other big news of the day is that we don't have a fridge anymore as it was sold this afternoon.... Looks like we're getting in that camping spirit just a tad early....

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Updates -> We now have Inspirations

We decided to do a page where we can pay tributes to people who've inspired us (or actually we've just knicked a lot of our ideas from). There's some great sites there so have a look and let us know what you think.

Also a big hello to HiG who has asked for a mention on our website (have to do this as we're coming to stay at his house on Wednesday and don't want to have to find alternative accommodation in Darlington at 22:30).
How to not unclip your cleats and have a majorly bruised elbow....

I am typing under duress at the moment as my elbow is majorly swollen. We went to our old flat in Northolt as the contract company that I used to work for has sent my P45 and P60 there... even though I hadn't lived there for two years. Anyway, there were no occupants there at the time, so it was a wasted trip on the way to our friends, Pauline and Mark's place for a BBQ. Anyway, I was trying to balance on the pedals so I could nip quickly out when the traffic cleared... anyway, gravity and laws of motion got involved when I slowed down too much and I fell over before I could get my feet out primarily landing on my left elbow (and unfortunately my arse). Both are bruised with my elbow looking like an extra limb from the prosthetics used in the elephant man film. The only upside is that I will have a spectacular bruise in a couple of days.

So that's twice now that I've not unclipped in time. Thankfully both in no traffic with me overlooking the fact that I don't have as much skill as I though I did... oh well, I'm sure the message will get through to my brain at some stage.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Flat Sale

We're now getting there - finally! It looks as if we'll be exchanging next week and hopefully completing the week after. Well I really hope we will be because we're sending all the furniture home on June 19th so the house will be rather empty after that!

Unemployment

You know when you're working your standard 9 to 5 job and the thing you're dreaming about more than anything else is having the time off to relax at home? I have to say after about 3 days of being at home, I was completely bored - it would be different if we had a definite date for the house as there's lots of things that I could be booking and organising, but since we don't we've just been filling in time. Whole days on the PS2 don't have as much novelty when that is what you've done all day. Fortunately we have been able to get somethings done and we should now at least be rabies free due to our vaccinations as well as having a further round of leaving dos with my former work colleagues on Wednesday, our friends Paul and Sandra on Thursday and our friends Pauline and Mark tonight. There is only so many times we can say goodbye though....

Maybe a leaving date?

Next Wednesday 12/6 we're heading up to Teesside to drop the bikes off and to say some final farewells to everyone. We'll then pop back to London to go to our friends' Mike and Alison's wedding before finally heading back up to Teesside to finally head off.... I don't want to jinx it but we may be able to actually start the trip on Monday 22/6 departing from Stockton. Everyone keep your fingers crossed so that our solicitors will get their act together.

Until then, sorry for the lack of interesting information - I'll hopefully be able to have some really good news next week.