Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dublin: Jameson Distillery

This is Smithy the Cat. Smithy may look alive and well in this photo but actually he is very much dead. Like so many other animals in the UK (United taxidermist Kingdom) who were adored in their living years, Smithy was stuffed for posterity. He lived and worked in Jameson's Distillery. His title was Chief-Mouse-Catcher and he did an extra-ordinary job catching around 20 mice a day.

Jez was not able to stand up straight without the help of these barrels as he had not yet sobered up from our trip to the Guinness Brewery just before.

However, that did not stop him from graduating from the elite school of Irish Whiskey Tasting at Jamesons distillery*.

Here we see Jez receiving his doctorate in Irish Whiskey Tasting. In his wake, the other students can be seen weeping into their Irish coffees as their immature palettes had failed to discern the difference between Irish Whiskey and various scotches and bourbons.

* Note that the Irish spell Whiskey with an 'e' just to be sure, to be sure.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dublin: Goodbye Lansdowne Road

Live from Landsdowne, we have Jez on the line sporting his golden Wallabies jumper.

Jez, Lansdowne Road is the oldest standing rugby stadium, having hosted international test matches since 1878. This game was the last match the Wallabies would play at the historic ground before it is knocked over to make way for a modern stadium. What is the general publics' feeling on saying goodbye to Landsdowne Road?

Jez: Well, we were suprised at the lack of concern for the loss of this iconic stadium by ordinary Dubliners. We can only surmise that the history of famous drubbings that Australia has delivered to the Irish on their home turf (none more memorable than the 1991 World Cup quarter final where Campo delivered "that pass" to Michael Lynagh and steal a victory in the dying seconds) has resulted in the Irish wanting to bull-doze the physical scar from their landscape. If this is the case, then they couldn't have done a better job to erase the mental scar too by wiping the floor with the Wallabies, who turned up as quokas ready to be beaten by an Irish team that played with them like a bunch of drunk teenagers on leavers weekend playing quokka soccer.

And what was the reaction of the Aussies when they lost so devistatingly?

Jez: I dont want to talk about it but I think my wife's reaction says it all really...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Dublin: Bram Stoker Museum

We were told on entering the Bram Stoker Museum that the tour would be made scary enough to suit the audience. There were only 3 of us. The other person on the tour was some random American woman who looked like she could turn into a bat at any moment. She also hissed and laughed madly to herself so I for one did not need more convincing that she was indeed a bat. So given that we had 2 adults and 1 potential bat, we expected the tour to be as frightening as possible.

It started with an introduction to the life and work of Bram Stoker, author of Dracular. Bram, short for Abraham, lived in Dublin. His life was fascinating and it was heartening to know he was a celebrated writer during his time as well as after. His friend's list reads like a whose who of famous writers and politicians. His list of foes is interesting too. One of which is none other than Oscar Wilde. We were fascinated to learn that the two of them vied for the same woman. Oscar had been betrothed to Florence Balcome, a celebrated Victorian beauty. He gave her a cross inscribed with his name on it. When she announced her engagement to Bram, Oscar insisted she give the cross back to him. We wondered whether this was the inspiration for the use of a cross to keep vampires away...

Anyway, while we were still at stage one of the tour - reading up on Bram's life - the bat flew passed us and exited the way we entered. It was strange and meant there was no one else, just the two of us in this creepy museum.

We entered stage two.

The room was dark with small coloured lights floating around. We had to walk over a bridge that swayed, urging us to fall off. It was a mind trick, the bridge wasnt moving at all.

When we got to the otherside...we looked completely different.

The transformation from human to something entirely different made Jez very sleepy and he decided to take a nap as seen on the left.

We didnt know it at the time, but aparently lying in a coffin with a Wallabies rugby jumper would later spell out disaster for the Aussie team...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Covent Garden: Hoodie vs Pierre Cardin

Hoodie (noun): A close fitting shirt with a hood. A derogatory slang term used describe a person who wears one. In the UK hoodies have been associated with delinquency as the hood is used to conceal the wearer's identity when committing criminal acts.

It was so quick that neither of us could have identified the thief in a line up. There were 2 of them, although I never saw the other one. In fact the only thing I remember seeing was a dark figure appear and disappear like a shadow. Jez never even saw this much. He only saw that his mobile had been swiped clean off the table.

We were having dinner at the Rock Garden in Covent Garden. We were sitting outside but undercover right at the entrance to the restaurant. I was facing the doorway looking out onto the street. Should anyone have called, Jez was certainly ready to answer with his phone right next to him on the table. Should anyone decide to nick said phone however, no one was ready for that. It was really only when Jez fled from the table shouting "MOTHER F***ER, MOTHER F***ER! I’M GONNA RIP YOUR F***ING HEAD OF WHEN I CATCH YOU" that every one in the restaurant (including me) and out in the street knew something had been stolen.

I did a quick inventory check of the valuables on the table. I had landed up with Jez’s wallet somehow. I learned later he threw it to me before leaving. I sighed a relief when I realised that it had only been his mobile. I sighed an even bigger relief when I remembered it was a crappy old phone with prepaid on it. I advised everyone around me that it had been his phone but that luckily it was crappy old one with prepaid on it. Everyone agreed that it was the principle of the matter.

Meanwhile, Jez chased the thief through the market square. He did not have the upper hand in anyway. He was kitted out with his new Pierre Cardin coat and work shoes while the thief had sneakers and a hoodie which come to think of it would have been more aerodynamic than Jez’s new boof-head do.

However, many hours on the treadmill had finally paid off as Jez gained on the hoodie– despite a chair being flung back at him! Always thinking, Jez had a plan of attack. He was going to pounce, cat on mouse style, grabbing the thief by the throat ensuring the head would smack into the pavement on landing. A wise idea given a knocked-out thief would have found it hard to pull out plan B (a knife or something.) The phone went flying and the so did the hoodie. Jez turned the thief over with his fist ready for a punch. To his dismay, he turned over a woman. Apparently, it is not cool to hit a woman especially when she says things like "they make me to do it".

To my delight, Jez returned to the restaurant triumphant. He did not wear his jocks on the outside of his pants. He is too modest for that. His efforts were applauded by the crowd but not by the staff. We still had to pay the bill.

The evening had only just begun for us. Dinner was followed up by a trip to the theatre to see The Woman in Black. A ghoulish story in which the main character is a fleeting ghost who wears a hooded black outfit to hide her flesh-eaten face. After the play, we couldn’t help but wonder if the Woman in Black also had a penchant for stealing phones?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cultural Learnings of Europe for Make Benefit Glorious Antipodeans

The last couple of weeks TZ and I have been lucky enough to sample some of the more peculiar local customs here in Europe.

It all started when TZ took me to Amsterdam to celebrate my birthday. Actually, I don't remember what happened after that. I know that we got on a plane at Heathrow, and then it all gets a bit sketchy. I think it was a bit like in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy clicks her heels together and then woosh - she was back in Kansas. Except in this case Dorothy was wearing Clogs, and not much else.

Amsterdam has many unique cultural offerings. There is the Heineken factory, the canals, the sex shops, and the lovely ladies who are keen to offer you a "smoke and a pancake" or a "bong and a blince". Apparently there are also some seedy blokes called Rembrandt and Van Gogh to check out, but I felt safer staying on the main drag where it was well lit (albeit with a red tinge).

The locals are trapped in a time warp (too much time spent in Amsterdam coffee shops can have this effect) and were convinced that they were still participating in the Dutch Resistance. As a consequence they provided TZ and I with all sorts of mis-directions so that we couldnt locate Anne Frank's house. Try "go to the canal and turn right where the hooker with hairy legs is standing in a window". Well there is a canal on every street, and a hooker standing in every window!

My actual birthday (Halloween) was during the working week, so TZ took me out to our local pub, the Spaniard's Inn. This is a wonderful pub dating from 1585 built originally as the country residence of the Spanish ambassador. The pub gained notoriety as the hide-out of the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin. He was a Pommy Ned Kelly if you like. Anyway, legend has it that Dick was actually born at the Inn. Ever since he was hanged in York in 1739 Turpin's ghost has haunted the pub. All this naturally made a fabulous backdrop for our Halloween celebrations. The place was creepily decorated with pumpkin lanterns and the like, and I enjoyed a pumpkin pie with my ale.

The following weekend TZ and I were lucky enough to be treated to a trip to Leicester to watch the Leicester Tigers in the domestic rugby competition from the comfort of a corporate box. Fortunately I remembered to bring my glasses so I could see the sport. In the end it didnt make any difference as I soon discovered that top-shelf Scotch was part of the catering in the box. After the game the players came back for a meet and greet. Unfortunately most of Leicester's international players were away that week due to the England vs NZ game the following day, but I did get to meet a couple of Samoan internationals. I asked them for a photo, but was careful to wait until after they finished their dinner. They reminded me of staffordshires. You know, all cuddley and cute, but don't even think of getting between them and their food.

That night TZ and I decided to stay in Leicester to enjoy the local Guy Fawkes celebrations. There is something to be said for watching the burning of an effigy on a bon-fire, followed by a massive fireworks display. I dont think anybody knows anymore whether they were celebrating with or against Mr Fawkes, but its a bloody good excuse to let off some fireworks. Speaking of which, TZ and I were excited to be able to buy our own, which we set off on my birthday to the alarm of some neighbours. Apparently it is legal to buy fireworks, but not to set them off in public places. Who would have thunk it?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tomatin Distillery, Scotland: Mmm Whisky

Compared to the Heineken tour in Amsterdam, the Tomatin Distillary was not that exciting but a must for anyone who loves a good Scotish whiskey (ie Jez).

Here we see Jez cuddling up to 2 barrels of whiskey. Note the date on the barrels - it is nice to know some things age very gracefully...

He would have given the earth to take the ageing whiskeys home with us but due to the current liquid ban on planes flying from the UK, he quenched his thirst on a bottle of sweet Tamdhu.

Plockton, Scotland: The Seals

I have many unusual talents amongst which talking in "Seal" is one of them. I had a brilliant opportunity to try out my seal on a seal-watching trip.

Unfortunately, we learned that these lazy creatures prefer to be sung to rather than spoken to. This was a bit of a problem as no one on the boat was brave enough to sing. As a result the seals stayed put and refused to swim up to the boat:(

Highlands, Scotland: The Brunies

Never accept an invite to dinner with a Brunie for you might think you are only gone an hour but in reality, you would have been gone for a year...
When travelling through the Highlands, one cannot help but notice some very unnatural looking features. Odd mounds of earth, spirals, heart-shaped patterns and so on. So I suppose it's not that suprising to find that some very unnatural folk, Brunies (or fairies) as they are called, are believed to inhabit the region.

We were treated to discover for ourselves what they were all about - at our own peril of course. Here I am sitting on the entrance wall to what would very soon become our favourite place in the Scotish Highlands...

In the name of science, we agreed Jez would be the one to check out their castle and I would capture his adventure from afar. To the left, Jez has made it to the top of a moutain not far from the castle itself. I prayed for his safe return as he climbed through the castle and out the top...

Don't let his relaxed composure fool you, we both knew he was lucky to have come out alive...

Grateful Jez had survived the trip, I made an offering to the Brunies. Here I am being a cheap skate placing a flower instead of money in the heart-shaped offering plate.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Skye Island, Scotland: Dunnyveg Castle

This is one of the 2 castles in Scotland that Jeremy and I "broke into" - ie jumped over a fence. This castle ruin belonged to a wicked man named Donald Gorm. It was quite common practise in the Highlands in that era for a man to take a woman on contract for a year. If they got on well a formal marriage contract was proceeded with, but if not, the year's contract was duly terminated.

So Gorm took for himself a beautiful woman whom he was very proud to have on his arm. One day, the woman had the terrible misfortune of losing an eye. Gorm found her much less attractive with only 1 eye and so when the year was out he sent her home mounted on a one-eyed horse, led by a one-eyed man and followed by a one-eyed dog. How he found so many one-eyed creatures remains a mystery. One can't help wonder if he made them so?

Gorm was not terrribly popular. Even his own family thought him a bit of a shit. In fact, his own newphew, Hugh, plotted to kill him. Hugh was crafty (albeit stupid) and hired a hit man to do the job for him. The murder was to take place at a party so Hugh sent out an invite to both the hit man and Gorm. However, he unknowingly mixed up the invitations. Gorm had Hugh arrested and thrown into a dark dugeon in his castle. He was fed salty meat until he died. Aparently when his body was removed from the dugeon, his fingers had been gnawed down to the bone. It's believed this was an attempt to create more saliva to aid his thirst...

Edinburgh, Scotland: Frankenstein Restaurant

To the left is a breakfast menu from one of our favourite pubs in Scotland called "Frankenstein". The place is a shrine to Mary Shelley's creation. It is so cool we went back there for dinner!

Anyway, at 10:55am, a waitress came up to us and told us not to get a fright when Frankenstein himself would decend from the ceiling at 11:00am - as he does everyday. Sure enough on the hour, the heavens opened up (or at least it sounded that way) and a sleeping Frankenstein robot was lowered from the ceiling. He sat up slowly, then went back to sleep and ascended from whence he came.

But I digress. The menu above shows the meal we ordered. Jeremy couldnt eat the Vegetarian Haggis because it had chick peas in it. So it was up to me to taste it. The verdict - vile. Interestingly, Haggis was servered everywhere and yes, people ate it as if it were regular food and not a repulsive novelty.

Scotland: Hamish the Highland Coo

A "Highland Coo" is actually just a cow that lives in the the Highlands of Scotland. "Coo" is of course cow with a Scottish accent.

Notice that the coo is a blondish/red colour. This is because one day queen Victoria (lover of all things Scottish) was visiting the country and noticed one blondish/red coloured coo amongst many black ones. She thought it adorable and said: "Make them all that colour!" And so it was.

Monday, October 09, 2006

London: The Devil Drives a BMW

It was a coup of biblical proportions. I had not only managed to get both Jez and our flattie Ronnie to see the chick flick of the century, The Devil Wears Prada, but I had also managed to get a £5 ticket from some schmuck who had accidentally bought 1 too many tickets on the net.

The only trick was getting 3 seats together in a packed cinema when the movie started in 2 minutes. Ronnie decided to throw caution to the wind and go buy himself an ice cream. Jez and I ran around the cinema frantically trying to find somewhere decent to sit. Alas, we had no choice but to sit only a few rows from the front.

Straining to see the entire screen through our glasses I jumped over my seat to the row behind which was infinitely better. I beseeched Jez to join me. Sure it was very unposh to jump over seats but we had to work quickly. The only problem was there were only 2 seats together. Perhaps the elderly couple next to the vacant seats would move up one? I asked as politely as I could but the rudeness I received in return horrified me. "No!" The grumpy fat man said.
"We are very comfortable were we are sitting," chimed his grumpy fat wife.
"Please, the seats in front are terrible and our friend will be here soon..." I said.
"Well that's not our problem, we are quite happy here."
Jez jumped over the seat to sit with me agreeing that 1 row back made all the difference.

Finally Ronnie arrived with his ice cream. We motioned for him to sit in the single seat next to the grumpy fat man. He looked confused. I leaned over and said "sorry we couldnt get 3 seats together".
"What?" He couldnt hear me over the fat couples' bellies.
Ronnie did exactly what I had hoped he would do and use his pommy charm to get the couple to move.
"No! We are quite comfortable sitting here," was the response.

We sat stunned for a moment. There was no way they would move now so we had no other choice but to declare war.

Jez leaned over and shouted to Ronnie for a bite of his ice cream. Ronnie passed the half eaten, half melted ice cream across the enemy. Jez turned away to face me, pretending to eat the ice cream then passed it back over to Ronnie. A few minutes later I too decided to take a pretend bite of this ice cream so I called across and asked for a bite. The ice cream arrived in the same state it had left Jez. I pretended to take a bite and then Jez passed it back to Ronnie. This time the grumpy man pushed Jeremy's hand and told him it was enough and to stop playing games.
"Don't they play games in the geriatric ward?" Jez taunted.
The man began to froth at the mouth. There was copious amount of spittle on his chin now and Jez politely advised him he was dribbling all over himself.
Jez turned to his wife and said “well he is…”
They were not amused.
The movie began.
Not even 1 minute into the movie, Jez asked the wife if she was enjoying it. She chose to ignore him.

Although we had not run out of things to do to annoy them, we did want to watch the movie. But not until I scrunched up my ticket and threw it at the grumpy man. He did not know where it came from. Score!

The credits rolled and all 3 of us sat for as long as possible so that the couple would have to wait for us to move. They were trapped but since they were so slow and fat our plan was wasted on them.

We walked to our car and as I got in I spied them walking to their car. It was not yet over. As luck would have it, Ronnie managed to drive right past their BMW as they were getting in to it. We hooted like 16 year old hooligans. We lapped the car park to do it again and managed to drive past their car just as they were reversing. We stopped the car, T-Boning them so they were blocked in.

We sat there.
They sat there.
No one moved.
They were trapped.

Finally, the man got out of his car. Spittle had pooled on his red chin. He was huffing and puffing and enraged. He arrived at the Ronnie’s window viperous telling him to move his damn car.
"No!” Said Ronnie, “we are quite comfortable here..."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cambridge: Portaloo, couldnt escape if I wanted to...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thanks to my husband, it is now on public record that I am not longer a Jewish Australian Princess. That if absolutely neccessary I will find a house under construction complete with a portaloo to find relief...even in a posh area like Cambridge!

Cambridge: The Cow Incident

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I like to call the above photo "the calm before the storm". Here we have a perfectly innocent picture of a tree standing between Jez and a cow. What you cannot see is that this cow was actually trying to relieve itself of an itch on said tree. It was pretty cute so I insisted that Jeremy have a photo with it.

What followed was a series of provocations which led to me being attacked by a cow and Jeremy saving the day. Now I don't wish to play the blame game here but I believe there is sufficient evidence to prove that most of this provocation was done but the less fairer of the JETZ team.

The video below shows another a cow in the paddock we were walking through being filmed in its 'natural state'. Other provocations included moo noises and references to burger king.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I must admit, at the time I didn't think the cows minded being filmed. As you may have heard I simply told Jez in the video he lacked decorum. I told him this was Cambridge after all!

However, shortly after this footage was taken another cow headed towards me and started to head butt me. I moved backwards. She moved forwards and butted me again. I figured if I ran she would run after me, pin me to the ground and make me beg for mercy before trampling all over me and turning me into a beef patty. Oh the irony!

So I lowered my head and crouched down slightly thinking she would realise I was not a threat. This did not work. The cow advanced. Jeremy meanwhile, put on his blue cape and red undies and stepped in to distract the cow. I made my escape. The cow had found a new victim. However, Jez did not follow in my footsteps. He simply moved to the side and the cow continued on.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is a re-enactment of a cow moving in one direction. One simply has to move out of its way and not stand there pretending to be a lesser creature.

The next day, Jez received some advice from his not so local vet (his sister Jessica) on what to do if a cow attacks you.

She advised the following:

1) Cows are slow and stupid and how could one be attacked by a cow?


2) Should it come to pass that a cow does indeed start head butting you, it is best to manoeuvre around the cow so that you are behind it and then head butt it from behind. I am guessing this would aid the cow to continue to move in the direction it was going in the first place?

For more photos of Cambridge click here: http://

Thursday, September 14, 2006

London: Lost Shor Scrolls

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Based on the famous Da Vinci Code, the Lost Shor Scrolls were planted around London to solve a riddle. The Scroll Planter, affectionately known as Mikey Valentine, devised a devious riddle which remains largely unsolved.

There were supposed to be 4 scrolls but for reasons not yet known, only 3 were hidden. Where was the 4th scroll supposed to be? That was the riddle. So Jez and I head off on our mission to find out where indeed the last scroll might have been hidden...

The first scroll was found at Kings Cross station. It was hidden in the wall along side the escalator. Jez managed to see it and grab it just in time.

The second scroll was located at the very top of a 'wooden banister'. We didn't really know what a banister was but worked out it was a wooden stair rail. We found the scroll at the very top of the stair rail leading out of the station. How it had remained there is a mystery!

We were to find the third scroll in a science museum at one of the displays. The scroll could be found in a blue metal pole which ran horizontal to the display. I reached in to take it out but found a piece of paper which was so far in we had to bring out the pen knife. Fortunately security wasn't as tight as we thought it might have been for pen knives were explicitly forbidden.

We both hacked around inside the pole at this paper for about 15 minutes. Pulling out bits and tearing it to shreds in the process. Finally I managed to pull it out but to our dismay, I had pulled out a lolly wrapper. At first we thought the lolly wrapper WAS the scroll. We thought the secret message was on there but the expiry date on the wrapper said 1989. A quick calculation taking into account the scrolls are only a few weeks old meant the lolly wrapper and the scroll were not one and the same thing.

Please find evidence of the Lost Shor Scrolls here:

Note: The latest theory on the location of the fourth scroll arose when Ronnie's steering wheel developed a very strange sound much like that of sand paper rubbing. We think Mikey might have deviously planted the scroll in his steering wheel.

Warwick Castle

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Check out our first adventure in London at the Warwick Castle.
Warning: do not try the torture techniques shown in the photos at home!

The Miracle of the Stink Stone ... and more!

'The Burger King Story'
Please note: we have no photographic evidence of the story below but rest assured, it is real.
It was a long and tiring trip home from Warwick Castle. Our flat-mate and driver Ronnie was very hungry, ravenous even. Unfortunately, Ronnie has a very refined palette and would not eat anything other than Burger King. At each exit off the highway we were travelling on, we would pray for a Burger King sign but alas their inferior rival, Wimpy, would seemed to have a monopoly on all highway exits! Finally, after the third exit, we saw a beautiful bright red sign for Burger King.

Jez decided to go for the 'Tex Mex', Ronnie the Whopper and I ordered the Junior burger. We sat down to eat our meals. Ronnie was inhaling and salivating over his burger whilst Jez discovered, to his horror that his burger...contained cheese!
Outrageous! In Oz, cheese is an extra not a standard. We all sat there horrified. Jez had peeled the burger open to find that the cheese had permeated every last inch of meat. Our valiant and hungry friend leapt up to his rescue, snatched the burger and took it back to the counter. He threw the disgraced burger on the counter and announced it wasnt kosher. The Burger King guy just stared at Ronnie and then said “you havin' a laugh?” This was no laughing matter and Ronnie declared that no, he was not havin' a laugh. Fortunately, before an all out brawl broke out, another Burger King guy stepped in declaring it was all ok and gave Ronnie a new burger - without cheese.

Stink Stone
For anyone who has ever had the pleasure of lying on Jez's naked chest (which I am hoping is not any of our readers!) you will know that even with deodorant, Jez's armpits get really really stinky. It is truly a testament of my love for him that has allowed me to endure many odorous nights without complaining - much. The inaptly named title of this blog refers to the miracle cure we found for Jez's stinky armpits and the infamous 3rd armpit or 'black hole' found between his pecs. It was highly fortuitous that after spending a day at the Spitalfield and Bricklane markets that we finally found something worth buying. Sure there were clothes and jewellery and food to die for but the true gem was found in the most unsuspecting place of all. We were eyeing this stall full of soaps and sponges and loofers and all manner of things that promised to clean us. Jez picked up what looked like a 'soap on a rope' . The stall owner gave Jez a knowing look. He could tell (and probably smell) that Jez was in the market for something much more potent than your garden variety deodorant. He looked around to ensure no one else was in hearing shot and told us how the stone that Jez was holding was a miracle cure for stinkiness. He swore that the stone would last 5 years and that Jez would never be odorous again. That night, after his shower, Jez applied the 'stink stone'. After getting into bed I lay on Jez's bare chest. Something was wrong....very wrong. I could not sleep. The usual odours that I normally inhaled to knock me out...well they just weren’t there. I stayed awake for hours smelling...nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The next day we ran around London site seeing. It was hot, humid and perfect conditions for Jez to stink. We sat on the train and I told him how amazing it was that the 'Stink Stone' worked so well even under these conditions. Hold on to your seats for this because this is truly the most amazing part of the story. Jez told me he was doing an experiment. That he had not used the stone since the night before!!! Yes, the stone was still working its miracle powers. It seems that maybe our soap-selling friend was right. The stone might really work for 5 years...