On Sunday Clansi and I had the privilege of attending Ben and Rebecca’s wedding. We met Ben Gibbs at Avondale College, and he played with us in the Avondale Brass Band. We’ve known Rebecca (nee Rigby) even longer; she attended Clansi’s primary school and my high school. Their wedding was delightful, fun, touching and thoroughly enjoyable.
The first Monday in June is not, of course, the actual birthday of our monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Nevertheless, the royal birthday is a great excuse for a long weekend – and in Canberra it is also an excuse for pyrotechnics. Iteratively tighter regulations have made the Queen’s Birthday long weekend the only time of the year when it is legal to purchase and ignite fireworks in the ACT.
Having recently shifted from the surrounding state of NSW (where fireworks are thoroughly illegal at all times of the year), Clansi and I were unprepared for last year’s fireworks weekend. So this year we consoled ourselves by setting off $100 worth of fireworks in our front yard.
For her birthday 2 weeks ago, Clansi was given a kitten by her parents and brothers. Last night we picked him up from Sydney and brought him home to live with us. His name is Corbett, and he is a Bengal Cat.
On Saturday night we had a progressive tea organised by the pathfinder club. Almost 100 people came along, and many dressed to match the Disney theme. Clansi made a stunning Jasmine costume from scratch, although a significant ignorance of the Aladdin film was revealed by the majority of participants; people kept asking if she was the genie. I plundered a piratical costume from our wardrobe and the local ADRA op-shop, and went dressed as Jack Sparrow (yes, Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney movie – its based on a ride at Disneyland).
43 days, 9 countries, 2091 photos, and countless kilometres later I am finally home again. Clansi and I landed in Melbourne at 5:00 on Saturday morning, and were in Canberra by 8:00. The seasonal change was dramatic; we left the green budding of spring and were welcomed home by the height of autumn colour. It actually feels a bit strange to be home and surrounded again by life’s normal routine.
We decided to spend our last day in Britain at the Tower of London. While many people think of the Tower as a prison, it is in fact a palace and fortress (as our entertaining Yeoman Warder tour guide was careful to point out). It was interesting to see the old medieval buildings and armour, and of course the Crown Jewels.
After a pleasant train trip from Bath to London, we took a boat down the Thames and spent Wednesday afternoon at Greenwich. Apart from the Prime Meridian (and the obligatory photos), I was most keen to see the Harrison clocks that revolutionised navigation by making it possible to determine longitude at sea.
We went to Bath on Tuesday the 15th to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. After a few hours looking around the old Roman baths (now a museum), we experienced the spring water in a recently built spa/steam-room complex called the Thermae Bath Spa. I found myself wondering what the Romans would have thought of the roof-top pool.
Docking at Hull had the strategic advantage of placing Nottingham almost on our path to London. We stopped to have a look around, and thought of trying to reach Sherwood Forest. Unfortunately, security policies prevented us from being able to leave our packs anywhere at the train station. We set out to have a bit of a look at Nottingham, but soon had to take shelter from a squall of hail. We decided to give the forest a miss, and instead enjoyed a few hours at the more easily reached Nottingham Castle.
We crossed from the Netherlands to Britain on the P&O ferry Pride of Rotterdam. This was a particularly special transport experience, as it was reminiscent of the boat from Sydney to Tasmania on the holiday where Clansi and I got engaged. We had a calm and uneventful sailing, and docked at Hull on Monday morning after a pleasant sleep at sea.