Welcome back!! It has been far too long since either of us have sat down and given a solid update for the dedicated few who still log on. Much has happened as time has ticked away in Europe.
Amanda finished up in Norway with a fantastic 3 week tour of the country with her host family- some amazing photos were taken and great memories for her to have for the 8 months she spent up there. What an overall experience and adventure, she thoroughly enjoyed her whole time up in Norway, learning a new language (although she won't admit she did), making great friends and immersing herself in a new culture! Highlights from the trip include taking the train up from Flam and cycling down again, meeting the rest of Toves lovely family, making more friends along the way, but mainly getting to be with the kids, Octavio and Tove while taking in some amazing sights and sounds. But time was up and although she was sad to leave there was much to look forward too!
For myself, finishing up in Devon was all a bit of a whirlwind- the past 10 weeks have been manic for me, working as much as I could in order to save the vital money needed for our summer holiday! I managed to play cricket in a local pub competition, which was a Sunday afternoon of 9% cider and many laughs! I also did some pre-season training with the local rugby team. I got asked to play in a 7s tournament which was great fun and we even ended up winning the competition - I am sure it was only because of the huge Maori side-step I threw into the mix!! Still leaving my home of the past 6 months was strange and will be missed - especially all my dogs!
I headed north to the big smoke of London to meet Amanda and have a couple of days being tourists around Englands capital. We jumped on the open top bus tour and cruised the streets taking in Big Ben, Westminster, London Eye, St Pauls, Buckingham Palace.... you get the picture!!! A day full of laughs followed by a night at the theatre- I surprised Amanda with tickets to Les Mis which was amazing and she is still singing the songs two weeks later!! Loren & Rangi joined us as well for a kiwi night out... although Rangi did say that there was slightly too much singing for his liking!! Loren may have forgotten to mention it was a musical
Cutting out all the boring details, it was time to head off to North Africa and spend 2 weeks in Morocco. We had been so looking forward to our trip here, neither of us really knowing what to expect upon arrival. Well stepping off the plane to 42 degrees was the first shock for both of us and Amanda even complained that it was too hot- this one confused me because apparently when we go skiing it is too cold.... how can I win? Open to any suggestions on this one.......
We landed in Marrakech which just has to be seen to be believed. An amazing city of souqs, snake charmers, story tellers, mint tea and plenty of locals looking to make a Dirham or two from the tourists! We spent the first day wandering the streets and alleys getting lost through the souqs, convincing ourselves that we didn't need spices, tea pots or any rugs from the people forever enticing you into their store for 'no obligation look' to gaze at any given item that 'my sick father made with own hand'. Ah yes I read about this one somewhere in a book. Of course we had a look here and there at some beautiful different things and both knew that we would be making some purchases before the trip was over.
At night the Djemaa el-Fna, which is a huge square in the center of the Medina, comes to life. At dusk food stalls appear from no where and beautiful aromas begin to drift through the area, snake charmers, acrobats, musicians & story tellers take center stage and take the night away. We wandered through the hundreds of food stalls and picked out #22 to sit and eat our first Moroccan dinner. After struggling to read the menu (Arabic not being high on our list of languages we can read) we were served beautiful tajines, cous cous, olives and fresh bread. Just amazing. The evening was then spent watching the surrounding antics before retiring for a much needed sleep!
For the next few days we cruised the streets, taking in the Musee de Marrakech (the museum), Ali ben Youssef Mosque & the Koutoubia which is a 10m tall minaret which gives out the evening call of prayer and finally a visit to an old palace. After the madness of Marrakech we both knew that we needed a small village to relax in, preferably somewhere a bit cooler and less people, so we headed west to the Atlantic coast to a small fishing village called Essaouira. Having a much smaller medina meant that we got the feel of the place rather fast and settled into a more relaxed way of life! The food was still amazing, the beach was packed & windy and we even managed to squeeze in some culture with a visit to Skala du Port where the locals fight there way to meet arriving fishing boats to get the days freshest catches and a bargain or two. We stayed away from the masses here but still weaved our way through the boys making fishing nets, cleaning out their boats and children jumping from the rocks into the rather perilous looking sea.
After a few days it was time to move north towards Fes for our next major city, so after a night time bus, with half of Moroccos population crammed into the isle we ventured to the Imperial capital hoping for something new. The first thing we both noticed was the hills and the green! Especially after the dry and hot Marrakech the hills in the medina were a shock to the system! We spent the first day getting our bearings and visited a Tannery - amazing thing to see
but the smell
there is nothing that you can compare it to - Amanda had never smelt anything like it before (which I took as a compliment). The smell literally stopped you in your tracks and you had to push yourself to keep going despite the stench. There were thousands and thousands of cow skins waiting to be dyed and treated- young men and boys up to their thighs in putrid pits of dirty brown water washing the skins. It was incredible and hopefully the photos portray some of the sights.
Unfortunately this is where the fun and games ended as my poor Amanda fell rather ill and had a wee trip to the hospital. She is doing much better now, but we had to have a quiet few days of staring at hotel walls while she recovered. With a long day of travel back to the UK and a much needed visit to an English Speaking doctor, our trip to Greece has had to be put on hold for a couple of weeks while the patient recovers fully! So we have set up camp at Amandas Grandmas in north west London while my better half makes sure she is 100% before we move on!
The illness aside we absolutely loved Morocco and will keep many memories with us for a lot of years to come. Another amazing place to tick off the list!!
So for the short term we shall sit tight, but be sure too watch this space as we are now (hopefully) back to regular updates.
All our love and best wishes to you all,
Always thinking of you,
Bradley and Amanda
Location: Here and There, Norway
Well, I have no excuse now. I am up in the familys cabin in Ringebu, we have five days of mountains, long-drop toilet, no shower, getting drinking water from the local shop which is a drive away, sleeping a solid ten hours each night something to do with the mountain air, long day walks- luring Elise the whole way with chocolate bars, wandering sheep all over the place with bells around their necks, cabins with grass on the roofs and too many games of yatzee. So. Attempt at an update.
Things that stick out from the last six weeks are the end of the school year. I finished school a week ago- had various end of year celebrations and get togethers which was really nice to wrap everything up. The last day we had a lunch at school with all the teachers and my boss gave a lovely little speech about my six months at the school. It was sad leaving my wonderful colleagues and all the beautiful friends I have made at Hammerskole but I am so happy I got to experience such an amazing opportunity and got to be in such a great environment while I was here in Norway. The kids and the teachers a like where awesome to hang out with.
I have also helped out with AFS while I have been here, I went two hours out of Oslo to Halden, a cute little village for a Pre Orientation camp with 30 kids that are about to go overseas. It was heaps of fun, and a great experience to see how AFS works here in Norway. The kids where heaps of fun and full of energy, and the leaders where fun to hang out with good to be back in the AFS vibe again for the weekend.
Two weeks ago Tove had a week away with her University and Octavio was still in Brazil so I had a week alone with the kids! I have titled the corresponding photos as Survivor- but Im not sure who were the lucky ones to survive
me or the kids
? It was heaps of fun, and they all behaved very well. We baked muffins for Grandma, visited the local petting zoo, went to the kids art museum in Oslo, had a picnic and went to the local lake for a swim. We ate way too many lollies and waffles but hey
but as Elise kept saying
We wont tell Mum.
As I mentioned above, we are now at the familys cabin. It is beautiful here and no sound except the wandering sheep. All the cabins are old school and have grass growing on the rooves, (roofs or rooves
god, will I ever be able to speak one lanuage properly!!?) apparently in the old days the old spinster women (budaya) that couldnt find themselves a husband where employed over the summer to stay on the farms (zeter) with the sheep and goats making cheese, sour cream, cream and milk. Coincidently I tried Rømme Grøt yesterday (a kind of porridge thing with a base of sour cream) that takes a long long time to make. Despite the poor person that slaved over a hot stove making it, I couldnt finish mine
it tastes as strange as it sounds and unfortunately (I am informed) it is an acquired taste.
Tomorrow we head south again to pick up Victor from band camp, then Thursday I head to the airport with Inger- Betsy and we are up to Trømso for three days! Looking forward to seeing the midnight sun, but taking my aeroplane eye mask with me so I can get to sleep in spite of the 24 hour daylight.
Bradley will have to update on his particulars, as far as I can tell he has been working his bum off down there in Devon
trying to pay for the next 4 months of travelling! He has had some amazing news though, and Im sure he wont mind me passing on the news to those of you who dont know
He has been offered a job working in North Austria for the coming winter. It is an amazing opportunity and he will be working hard but the main point of taking the job is that he will be skiing during the day, everyday, on one of Europes best and most advanced ski fields. He is mega excited and means his Euro tour will be lasting 6 months longer than mine which makes me very jealous but in the same breath, I will be happy to go from Euro summer to NZ summer instead of winter to winter! This means I will be with Bradley John travelling until the start of December when he heads to Austria, where I will then spend two weeks with my family in the UK and then head home for Christmas.
This is a pathetic attempt at updating everybody on the last six weeks. I am having heaps of fun up here in Norway, reaping the benefits from working hard at my Norwegian and starting to see a bit more of the countryside as well. The next month is hard out travelling around Norway, and I wont be in the house for more than a few days between now and 30 July when I leave. I hope to take lots of photos though, so at least if I cant give you a running written commentary on whats going on, you will be able to see the photos!
All our love to all of you,
Hope you are all happy and healthy,
Amanda and Bradley
Location: Oslo, Norway
Yes, been a long time since I should have written..and not for lack of trying either...but I am just settling in to 'normal' life here in Norway and there don't seem many things to write about!
The days are getting a lot longer and the sun is starting to appear which is so nice. I have been getting a lot of extra hours at school and so am out during most of the days. Morning and nights I get to be with my little host brothers and sister who always keep me on my toes and who I just love being around. Life sort of flows at the moment, one week into the next and before I know it I will have to leave my host family so I am spending as much time with them as I can; whether it be taking them to kindergarten or jumping on the trampoline with them.
Bradley will be coming up to Oslo for ten days in May which we are both looking forward to. He will be here for 17th May which is Norway's Independence Day which is very much celebrated here. After that we have about two more months apart then The Bradley and Amanda Show is back in business! We are going to Morocco for ten days at the start of August which we can't wait for! After Morocco we will start out little Europe trip- we have decided want to do a few countries well, rather than flying from country to country taking photos and hopping back on a plane, we want to take our time through some countries that we really want to experience. WE THINK that the trip will probably consist of Greece, Italy, Croatia and Czech. We will probably take three weeks in each country which we will be able to use wisely and see as much as possible! After our Little Europe Trip we will probably start to make our way home. Obviously catch up with all the family before we leave the UK, by this time, it will probably be November. We hope to jet to Cananda from the UK to squeeze in Bradley's ski-fix for the year. I would love to visit Seattle to catch up with friends. We both love the idea of Cuba (if we aren't dirtiest of dirt poor by then) and then to Sydney then Auckland!
Those are the plans people, if you are going to be near us- please let us know we would love to see you,
Hope all is well, love to all,
Location: Devon & Oslo (Denmark to come), Europe
A lovely English morning to all,
I am not going to offer apologies this time round- we are having far too much fun and enjoying the 'lovely' (please note the use of sarcasm) European weather. A few people have commented on the lack of updates, so thought we had better step up and finally do an update for those loyal readers out there.
Ladies first - Amanda is still loving being in Norway, her job is going well and of course she is loving having the children around (easier that way when you can give them back to the parents!!!!). She is playing a role between second mum and big sister, with a touch of english teacher thrown in there. So of course Tove and the family are loving having her there- I think it might be hard to pry her away come the summer! She has just been on a trip to Denmark to see some sights and sounds, but mainly to take the kids to Legoland (how jealous was I??????????) I haven't seen any photos yet as she only returned last night and all I got was a tired phone call letting me know she is safe. I shall get her A-into-G and get her to fill all in with the details of how the trip was.
As for me- life in Devon is great! The people I am staying with have gone away for 2 weeks on a holiday, so I am in sole charge of Heath Farm- 14 dogs, 3 horses & 2 cats to be precise. Pretty scary stuff really. Work is work and it gets me and and a-boot which is nice. I got a little car to charge around the country side in- so far so good. She is named Daisy and is a real head turner!!!! Weather has been lousy- lots of rain and wind and coldness... although Amanda tells me to harden up and I don't know what cold is!!!! I just remind her that she is the one complaining of our second winter in a row!!!!!!!!!
Nothing really to report on the travels front from me- just happy being in one place and trying to save a bit of cash for the next bit. Hope this finds everyone in good shape.
Brad & Amanda
p.s. Amanda will write in the next couple of days.
p.p.s. English rugby is boring