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I decided to give this one its own space, as it was such an intensely magical adventure. While Mum went to Bath, Sarah and I delved into the New Forest near Brockenhurst, and found a childhood dreamland. The photos kinda speak for themselves…

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We spent about 5 hours just wandering wide-eyed through the forest. Then we hopped back on the train down to Lymington, where we found a totally different landscape, but similarly charming! We stopped at a strawberry farm we happened to come across while looking for the path to the beach.

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At last, after some local help, we found the walkway to the beach, via this amazing path lined with flowers!

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Finally the coast, complete with a view of the Isle of Wight.

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That day is a precious jewel I will treasure for ever.

It was a bit bright that day.

After our brief but enjoyable few days with the Owlers, we headed down to Southampton to stay with my very dear friends Sarah and Lloyd in their little home. I was so so excited to see them, as we are very close, and it has been really tough for all of us to be apart from each other.
The week we spent there was so beautiful, such good weather and wonderful adventures, interspersed with picnics and impromptu music practice. I was very very sad to leave.

We went on some outings with Sarah. (Lloyd had to work, of course, but we saw him in the evenings and weekend) We went to Salisbury and out to see Stonehenge! It was pretty surreal. I thought we might have to stand miles away, or the surroundings would be all “touristy” but actually we got quite close, and the whole presentation was pretty tasteful! I’d love to go back and explore the surrounding area. There are miles of walking trails and old barrows to roam around. You could spend a whole day there easily!

Also during our stay, Sarah and I seized the opportunity to take some portrait photos of each other, which was great, and resulted in some photos of her that I’m very happy with, and some photos of me which are the best ones I’ve had for ages!!

(Apologies for the lack of pictures of Lloyd. He doesn’t really like being in front of the camera much so I try not to do it unless it’s really necessary. He is in the film journal though!)

During a walk, Sarah suddenly declared "Those buttercups! I want to get in them!" So she did.

During a walk, Sarah suddenly declared “Those buttercups! I want to get in them!” So she did.

One of our adventures took us to Salisbury.

One of our adventures took us to Salisbury.

Some great countryside views.

Some great countryside views.

Look! It's the real-actual Stonehenge!

Look! It’s the real-actual Stonehenge!

Oooooh!

Oooooh!

It was a bit bright that day.

It was a bit bright that day.

There were heaps and heaps of these big crows about, I liked them a lot, they gave the place even more atmosphere.

There were heaps and heaps of these big crows about, I liked them a lot, they gave the place even more atmosphere.

Also in Salisbury, we visited the cathedral, and it WAS pretty impressive. Though I must say, I liked St Albans better.

Also in Salisbury, we visited the cathedral, and it WAS pretty impressive. Though I must say, I liked St Albans better.

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And a couple of “outtakes” for fun!

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This is my “Ha! You still have the 10 second timer on!” face.

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A-mazing. Just look at that shoe.

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This is going to be a (mostly visual) account of my Adventures with my Mum in the UK and in Canada, 2016.
We are headed to England to visit some family, and some friends who might as well be family, and to Scotland to see where our family came out from. We’re then headed over to Canada, to Prince Edward island, for the biannual L.M.Montgomery conference, which my Mother has attended the past few times.

We came to England via a stopover in Singapore, where we spent a leisurely few hours wandering through the indoor gardens and napping in the rest areas.

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Singapore Airport butterfly house

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The wishes of hundreds of travelers, lying forgotten in the koi pond.

Our flight from Singapore to London (13 hours) was pretty unpleasant. Mum was feeling very nauseous even before we got on the plane, but the turbulence didn’t help. We did our best to sleep but to no avail. We followed the sunrise for the last few hours and arrived in Heathrow at 5:55am.

When we arrived we were met by David and Janet, some very extended relatives, who live in nearby St Albans. They took us to their place where we had a lovely nap and a wash and then some delicious soup before heading out to Cambridge for the afternoon.

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The view across the fields on the way to Cambridge was lovely, with many new and unfamiliar wildflowers.

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Wandering the strikingly narrow alleys and streets of Cambridge

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One of many incredible buildings…imagine studying here!

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I loved the names on the punts.

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The back of King’s College, across the river Cam.

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Janet tells us that these lovely flowers have been given the unceremonious name of Cow Parsley.

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Mum alongside one of the last examples of flowering Hawthorn for the season.

We had dinner at a pace called Carluccio’s and arrived home around 9pm, just as the light was fading. The weather had been quite cold and blustery and not at all summer-ish, so David and Janet lit the fire and we sat by it for a while drinking Chamomile tea before collapsing into sleep. The following day we woke feeling a little more like human beings and set out with a mission of exploring St Albans.

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“Commit No Nuisance” (Also, the first example we saw of walls built with flint, apparently the most common building stone in St Albans’ !)

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Good spot for a picnic!

One of our most significant stops was the St Albans Abbey, a very very old and very impressive piece of architecture.

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St Albans Abbey

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Graffiti of varying ages inside the abbey.

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A replica of the astronomical clock made by one of the Abbots, complete with a symbol of a dragon, to represent the creature that “ate the sun” during an eclipse.

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The incredible painted ceiling.

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Amazingly detailed carvings of fruits and flowers. Each column depicted a different plant.

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Beautiful embroidered cushions.

We stopped in the Abbey cafe for a cup of tea and a scone, then headed out to the nearby park where many sections of the old Roman wall which used to surround the town have been excavated. On the way we saw this cute little building, originally a pigeon house.

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This pub claims to be the oldest pub in Britain…it’s a very popular claim.

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One of the long hills, which cover the old roman walls.

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Some of the walls that have been excavated.

We managed to fit in some more Roman ruin exploring, and a circuit of the Roman museum, before a late lunch and then straight home to pick up our luggage for the train trek to Southampton.

Em xoxo

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So my lovely AirBnB host suggested a few shrines and temples I should visit, so somehow I decided to visit them all in one day. Not so crazy considering there were only three, but they were pretty far apart, and given my tendency when travelling to start walking and just keep walking, by the end of the day my feet hated me. But it was worth it.

First of all, I visited Yasaka, a huge Shinto shrine complex, with many different buildings with numerous purposes, and small shrines to different Kami.

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Persimmons are one of the Japanese symbols of Autumn, along with chestnuts and sweet potato. I can see why because these beautiful looking fruits are everywhere!

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Next was a Buddhist temple; Kodai-ji. This one was a bit more of a tourist spot it seemed, and there was a very strict route around the grounds that the staff wearily directed us along. I felt like a bit of a burden, but still, the autumn colour was lovely.

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My host’s favourite was the Zen shrine, Kennin-ji, which I visited last, and I have to agree with her, it was my favourite too. It had a beautiful atmosphere, and long covered corridors where red-slippered visitors wandered peacefully, making the old wooden floorboards creak. The rails and steps were worn smooth with much wandering and sitting.

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One of the most amazing things was this incredible painting on the ceiling of the largest building. It is actually on thick paper, painted with ink by Koizumi Jinsako, and it’s roughly 11.5 meters long and 16 meters wide! It’s pretty awe-inspiring.

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On the trek home, spotted this extra tiny shrine by a street corner. Nice. :)

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– Emily

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So just a little update from today. I had a great day of interview shooting with Scott, and afterwards I decided to stay on the train to Kyoto station and do some evening shopping! (Because in Japan shops always stay open late!)
I found this gem of a store; full of traditional Kyoto sweets. My immediate thought was “Christmas presents!!”

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I bought a selection of pretty looking things, with no idea what any of them tasted like.

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Seeing as tonight is editing, I suppose I really have no choice but to eat them. You know, for research! Can’t go giving my dear friends and relatives bad gifts, can I?

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– Emily

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Hullo again from Japan! I thought I’d share a few pictures from my first day of exploring.

This is the area where I’m staying.

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On my first full day (Wednesday) I decided to catch the subway into the main city area. The subway was surprisingly easy to navigate! I got off here, on the hunt for something in particular…

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It was a cat cafe!! If you aren’t already aware, Japan has a number of these amazing things. It’s basically a room full of cats and cat things where you can have tea and coffee and play with cats. Pretty much the best.

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This one, Moka, has bad allergies so she has to wear clothes all the time.

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After I managed to tear myself away from the cats, I wandered down an interesting looking street and found an amazing network of alleys and arcades. This shop was particularly incredible. It was paper goods and art supplies. There was an entire wall of brushes!

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And all the cards, envelopes, papers, notebooks you could ever possibly want.

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There was also a lot of shrines which had their gates right in the arcades.

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After more wandering I found the river. A man was flying this beautiful kite in the evening light.

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I also saw this fantastic specimen. Maybe it’s from watching too much anime, but I always associate this kind of wire pole mess with Japan.

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More adventures soon!

– Em

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So! For my first post in ages: I’m in Japan! I’m here to make a short documentary film about Scott Groom, an SA scientist who is based in Kyoto studying bees. I’ll be here for 10 days, thought I’d try to bring you along for the ride. Apologies for the low quality phone photos, I just haven’t felt like being the huge-camera-tourist yet.

Ok so this entry is about travelling. Let’s start with an obligatory plane photo:

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Followed by an obligatory Singapore airport koi pond photo. (Really big koi!!)

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I had a stopover of about 9 hours in Singapore, so I pottered about a lot, had some delicious dinner:

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And a really good massage (but it resulted in a serious case of “massage-chair-face”)

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This is my first glimpse of Japan, flying in to Tokyo airport!

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Was pretty wiped by the time I got to Tokyo and had another 8 hours to kill. Spent a lot of it napping on chairs. Had a good comfort meal of chicken soup, rice and iced chai.

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Eventually it was time to fly to Osaka. This is Osaka airport, where I was picked up by a shuttle bus and delivered another two hours away at my AirBnB host’s home!

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This is my comfy room! Complete with sliding doors and tatami mats and futon!

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I’ll post more adventures soon!

– Emily

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It begins…

I had been pretty anxious and tense for the few days leading up to my departure, and as I waited at the gate in Adelaide to board the flight to Kuala Lumpur, I was feeling very very nervous and a little bit sick.

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Once I was on the plane, and settled in, I had a bit of a respite, as I had successfully completed part one of my journey. The whole way I was swinging between “Its really happening, wow! Here I am, its all so realistic!” and “Oh, I’m having a dream or something, right?” it was a strange feeling.

Kuala Lumpur was of course very hot and humid, even in the airport, and i had to remove my big woolen jacket and scarf as soon as possible! I arrived at 3pm and spent most of the 8 hour stop over walking about the airport, which was quite large, and well laid out, so I never felt i was going to get lost. There were several TV lounges, each showing something different (movies, sport or news) where you could go sit on a couch and chill, so I watched most of spiderman 3 at one point. other than that I went for a quick wander inside the jungle boardwalk, which was this big circular glass enclosure in the centre of the airport. It was lovely and warm in there, and I could hear birds nesting in the trees high up, as it was open to the air.

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The rest of the time, I lounged around in these leather deck chairs they had looking in on the jungle boardwalk, and at one point, when i was craving human interaction, I struck up a conversation with four Scottish retirees, who had just finished a tour of Vietnam.

I also saw this briefly, and thought it sold glace fruits or something, when I looked closer, I was a little disappointed to see…it was only durian. So I decided to pass on that.

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After a lot of waiting, chatting to strangers and writing in my journal, at around midnight it was finally time to board the flight to Amsterdam. I was seated next to a couple from Malaysia who were going to holiday in Morocco. I dozed fitfully during the flight, and reluctantly ate the very late dinner and very early breakfast that they served us. Both were delicious (especially the breakfast of cheese filled omelette and sausage and fried mushroom and tomato) but my appetite had been pretty much non existent since a few days before my departure from Adelaide, i assume in relation to nerves.

We arrived in Amsterdam at 5:55am. The airport was massive, and largely empty at that time of the morning. One of the people I chatted to the night before at KL (a retired British guy who was heading home from a photographic safari) caught up with me as we disembarked, and helped me to find the baggage claim and transfer desks.

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I liked Schipol right away, it was big but cozy, easy to navigate once you worked out the signs, and there were so many exciting looking shops! As i sat writing in my journal, I saw this family greeting a relative, complete with a happy dog sporting a “Welcome Home” balloon! It was so adorable! I realised shortly afterwards that the airport had a number of shops devoted to welcome home gifts, which I thought was just lovely. They had huge garlands of balloons and banners and even flowers and soft toys!

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As i still had several hours before i could check in and go through security, I wandered past a small shop and up to the balcony bar, where I enjoyed second breakfast of fresh orange and strawberry juice and Stroopwafels! My Dad recently visited Amsterdam and was raving about the wonder that is Stroopwafels, they have two layers of wafer, with caramel inside and they are pretty amazing.

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My favourite part was the ingredients list which informed me that my breakfast item was in fact “34% stroop!”

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At 10:30 I checked in with icelandair and went through security. I don’t know if it was the lovely golden morning light or something, but all the airport staff ¬†were so cheery and friendly! The girl at the security point was so jolly, and joked with me as I took all my camera gear out of my bags so it could be scanned separately. It was a nice change from the sour faced staff at Adelaide airport security!

After managing to get money out at an ATM and then exchange it for Icelandic Krona, in preparation for my arrival in Reykjavik, it was time to board the flight. During the three hour journey, we followed the sun, resulting in a drawn out, yellow tinged sunset, which lit the whole cabin and glowed in my chest, creating a feeling of calm like I hadn’t felt for a while. The lack of change in the light put me in a strange headspace, and I really felt as though I was passing through some kind of portal into another dimension. At one point, a hostess came past and offered me apple juice, which turned out to be the most delicious apple juice i have ever tasted! It seemed like it had honey in it, which just perfectly complemented the golden hour in which I found myself. I sat and sipped my drink and watched Scotland pass by below, through stutters of cloud.

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As we neared Iceland, the weather became more volatile, and there was some pretty bad turbulence as we came down. The whole of the country was wreathed in cloud, and there was this incredible moment as we broke through the cloud, where the landscape unfolded below me and I felt this utter terror and wonder and exhilaration as I saw the black, snow-covered mountains loom up like something from a nightmare. It was…unreal.

Once we touched down (I almost cried when the hostess said over the speaker “Welcome to Iceland”) I made my way to baggage claim and then headed out to catch the flybus into Reykjavik, as the airport is about 50 minutes from the city centre. I had some momentary confusion before I worked out that they drive on the left here, and so of course it appeared the door to the bus was in the drivers side, and the driver was sitting in the passengers seat!

On the way to Reykjavik, I chatted to the girl next to me who was from Finland and was visiting a friend. She explained that she was studying social justice, and had spent a large portion of her life in Africa.

By the time we reached the BSI terminal in Reykjavik, it was well and truly dark, but I caught a taxi with no problems and made it safely to Inga’s house, the woman I had organised to stay with via AirBNB. Inga’s house was small but warm and clean and white, such a wonderful relief after the discomfort of trying to sleep in cramped dark planes! She gave me tea in a big handle-less cup (like a milkshake cup?) and we chatted for a while in the cozy loungeroom.

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At what seemed like midnight, but was in fact 6:00, I had a shower, and learned that the water here is incredibly sulfurous. It makes for weird smelling showers, and apparently tarnishes silver! The bed in my room was soft and warm and cloud-like, just as a European style bed should be!

I recall thinking “I bet I’ll be asleep as soon as my head hits the…”

 

– Em xoxo

 

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So Acegiak and I got married in March and we went on a honeymoon adventure to Hong Kong and Beijing, this is what it all looked like! Music by my wonderful Dad, Ian Barber http://www.ianbarber.id.au/ We walked down the “aisle” to this, it was magical. All the photos at the start are by our amazingly talented friends, thankyou so so SO much to everyone who helped out, heaps of people contributed and the day was literally perfect.

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We were fortunate enough to be invited along on the adventurous road trip/spiritual pilgrimage to Uluru for Sue and Ned’s desert wedding, here’s just a few of the beautiful things we saw!

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This scene greeted us near Port Pirie on the way up to Coober Pedy. I thought it looked oddly like a painted set from some kind of old western movie (plus factories)!

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A “shoe tree” outside the Kulgera Pub.

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Some rather colourful chairs outside the camping grounds at Curtin Springs

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Dawn, at the rock. So serene and beautiful.

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The dramatic view from halfway around Kata Tjuta.

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Fireside idling.

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We went to a waterhole at Uluru, where Ellen and Claude used to go quite often while they were working up there. Aziah just couldn’t comprehend why he was being prevented from swimming!

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Sue does some last minute organising!

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I spent the whole wedding ceremony and reception barefoot. It was wonderful.

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