See You Next Wednesday
Sunday, March 29

On Thursday I went to a jazz club with Alix.
On the way home I saw Spider-Man on the Underground.

On Friday I did laundry and then Libby and I had dinner at Ruthy's. Today I watched Libby play hockey, captaining the West Hampstead Ladies Sixes. It was the last game of the season and they won 2-1, doubling their wins for the season. Hooray!

Later I went to the London Sci-Fi/Fantasy meetup. It was well organised and a lot of fun.
The clocks go forward tonight.
Friday, March 27
Pay attention.

I saw Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant today. I didn't know they were doing a signing and I only went to The Stamp Centre because Forbidden Planet didn't have any pencil cases. When I got there the signing was over, but they were still scribbling on stuff and talking to some people who had paid attention and got there in time. So I literally saw them, but that was all.
Thursday, March 26

I went there, as predicted. It's jolly interesting with the Maritime Museum, the Queen's House, and the Royal Observatory all right there to keep you warm.

It's always Christmas somewhere around the world:

Today I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. (It was too rainy, so no pictures.) One day I'll go there with someone else. That would be nice.
Tuesday, March 24

On Sunday I went to a philosophy group meetup which was poorly organized, but I enjoyed it, and there was beer, which is nice.

Yesterday I had lunch with Alix and met Emily and Natasha.

Today I'm off to Greenwich.
Saturday, March 21

Florence is old and dirty and living in the past; particularly the five years in the nineteenth century when it was the capital of Italy. Boy did they go on about that! Generally it is narrow and crowded with tourists including many, many school groups from the U.S.A., Germany, France, Japan, Italy - many school groups.

My favourite bit of Florence was this:

It is a restaurant and a brewery. Manchester United knocked Inter Milan out of the UEFA Champions League the first night we went there so we made it clear we were Australian the second night. It was the only place we went to twice (except for the hotel, but we didn't have a choice about that if wanted our stuff back).


After half a day, including a bit when I had to drive on the right, Siena is better than Florence. Another half a day of driving on the right got us to Montepulciano and back again, which was nice.

Siena has many narrow streets and much wider piazzas. It is completely walkaroundable for at least a whole day as long as you can deal with hills - there are seven of them involved in the topography. Hills do make for goodly vistas.

Hills also make for poorly maps. Actually it seems all of Tuscany is poorly mapped, or at least mapped (and signposted) poorly. Roads have names and numbers, either or both may be missing from the map. Intersecting roads and intersecting lines are not necessarily related. Nothing over ten kilometres away is signposted except Roma (or Firenze in the opposite direction). Some things are only signposted from one direction, for example we found Radda in Chianti by turning around and driving back the way we came.

The prize for best castle (and sunniest overexposed pictures) went to Brolio.

Radda in Chianti.

Radda is even cuter than Siena if you aren't hauling luggage, but can be completely walked out in less than half a day. So we went to nearby places to walk. We drove by Poggibonsi, which looked dull, on the way to San Gimignano, which looked interesting.

Next we wanted to go to Volterra for a scenic walk out of the guide book. Unfortunately there was no parking to be had in Volterra. Lots of signs suggested parking might be found, but there where no actual parking lots and the signs eventually directed us out of town.

After spending Tuesday getting the runaround from Italian roadsigns (happy birthday Libby) we decided to try a scenic walk out of the guide book near Radda in Chianti on Wednesday.

This worked out much better* until, four hours into the three and a half hour walk, we took directions from a local and went completely off the track. The next day we went to the market in Monteriggioni but there was no market.

Everybody was friendly and all the food was excellent, all the time. Three stars.
*Relatively speaking.
Tuesday, March 10
I really am in London.

Tomorrow: Italy.
Sunday, March 8
Down and safe.

Tokyo seems to have a electronical dampening field because not only can my phone find four mobile networks in London as opposed to zero in Tokyo but my camera battery is fully charged. Maybe I offended the Japanese fairy folk. Anyhow, here is a picture of Christmas stalking Libby's fish.

I'm going to have a cup of tea.
Saturday, March 7

No I'm not, I was tricking. All electronic devices which emit a signal have to be turned off for the duration of the flight.

What would you do if you had a thirty-three hour day? I'm going to sit around a lot, catch up on some reading, maybe watch a movie, take a nap, visit my sister.

Have a nice day at the office-analogue. I'm London bound.
Friday, March 6
Three, two, one, zero.

The plane goes at 06:45 so it will board at 06:15; so you need to be booked in by 05:15; which means getting there at 04:15; and add another hour to make sure they are not rushed and can take the time to check your luggage all the way through to London (otherwise you will have to pick it up at the domestic terminal and take it over to the international terminal in Sydney yourself). So 03:15 to 03:30 should be a good time to get to the airport.

Unless the airport doesn't open its doors until 4:45. (Big hugfulls of thanks to Emma-Jean for hanging around until then.)

Lift off, we have a lift off.

There were nine people in the twenty-one JAL Executive Class seats. I had three to myself but unfortunately you can't lift up the armrests and lie down in Executive Class. The seats can be adjusted in four different ways; no combination of which will support my head or prevent the footrest from sticking into the back of my calves.

Fortunately the comfort food was free.

Thirty-two minutes past the hour.

Now I am in Hotel Nikko Narita, where the toilet has a warning about the risk of an electric shock if you "splash water or hot water on the product".

I hope the cable on the desk labelled "Broadband Internet Access Cable" will deliver this to my blog... There we go. (Sorry, no photographs until I can get the battery charger out of my suitcase which has been checked all the way through to London.)
Thursday, March 5
Change of plan.

Ma hurt her back and cannot travel so I must visit my sister alone. Bother. How tarnished is my buzz. Somewhat less so as Polly can make it to the category five vacation (i.e. the Scottish trip). But still, poor Mama. The week has been spent remaking travel arrangements and tending to a mostly bedridden parental unit. People have said I look tired and less excited than expected in light of my approaching overseas adventure. It is true, I am both.

Emma-Jean gave me a new camera for my birthday (early). She rocks and is awesome. Expect many photographs of foreign parts in the near future.
This may not sound like the snappiest line from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but it evidently caught the imagination of John Landis, who has worked references to a mythical film of this name into most of his own movies - memorably as the grotty British skinflick watched by an assortment of lycanthropes and zombies in the climax of An American Werewolf in Paris [sic] (1981). Ghastly Beyond Belief, Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman

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Location: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Large balding wishful male anglo.

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