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Janie's European Adventures

I know this is slightly belated but a couple of my mates have set up pages on this site and it seems a really nifty way to keep in contact with everyone. Which, as most of you have experienced, I have been quite terrible at thus far. This is my attempt to do better :)

Diary Entries

Monday, 24 April 2006

Location: Birmingham, England

well works boring but bearable. And they've offered to extend my post til the end of May so i'm set til my next big adventure abroad.
I managed to get out and about a bit over the weekend, heading down to Bath to check out the Roman Baths.very awesome. Shame no one's yet tapped into the spring to create a modern version that you could actually bathe in. Tho, I am sure there is some good sensible conservation reason why they have not!
nothing much else to report just now

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Location: Birmingham, England

well, today wasn't too bad at work. Maybe I judged it a little quick. What with being stressed with all the driving last week I probably wasn't in the most positive frame of mind. I am prepared to give it a wee bit longer before I jump ship.
Other than work nothing much has happened. Easter long weekend came and went with the onset of yet another cold. My seventh in the 9 months since leaving home. I am now soo very very sick of being sick. I did manage to drag my arse out of bed for a little bit too much shopping in the city centre mind you. The credit cards not too happy, but it's the sales ... I couldn't not ;)

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Location: Acocks Green, Birmingham, England

Well, I started work yesterday, and sure enough they had me driving all over Birmingham visiting clients from the get go. I have mostly mastered the clutch, however I am sure I would not pass a driving test.
I haven't quite sussed whether my new job is an ok one or a really really terrible one. I have taken on a senior position, however I was not expecting it being the only OT position in the service. In fact, it is the only clinical position. everyone else in the place is clerical support for various health authorities, and I walk in in the mornings, through everyone else seated in a big open plan office, and into my own little office off to the side. Its really quite lonely! But maybe once I get to know some of the other ladies things might improve some.
No body quite knows how to answer my questions and beyond that they are struggling to even find work for me to do. It is so different from my last post where I worked as part of a team of OTs working through a waiting list that was up to 9 months long. They stress out where I am if clients have to wait 2 weeks to be seen.
I have moved into a room in a nice family home in a posh part of Birmingham. Its really nice, and clean, and modern. Such a big change from nurses accommodation. My plans thus far are only to stay for about one month but I may be moving on sooner than that if things don't pan out well at work.
What I have seen thus far of Birmingham has been pretty cool. John and I checked out the centre of Birmingham on the weekend. It was nice. which was kind of a shock really. everything I had heard before now was that it is a bit of a dump and that I wouldn't understand the Birminghamers. But I haven't had a problems so far. I am living quite inner city so perhaps I have a bit of a skewed perspective of the city thus far tho.
Well, I hope you are all well. I'm missing you all heaps
Take care
Love Janie

Friday, 07 April 2006

Location: gloucester, England

well it didn't take long to find a new post. I start a new job up near Birmingham this monday. unfortunately I need to be a car driver for this post and it is way too expensive to hire an automatic. So i have travelled to Gloucester where John has just started working to spend time relearning how to drive a manual. Given that I have had all of 7 hours practice in a manual in my entire life, and then 7 years driving nothing but automatics, I was freaking out a teeny little bit. I am not doing too bad but I still stall often :-S Fingers crossed a few more hours practice is all I need. (cause it's all i'm going to get before i have to be negotiating my way around the streets of birmingham visiting clients)

Thursday, 06 April 2006

Location: Europe

Well the last 7 months since returning from Malta have been a whilewind of travel and work.

I have spent 3 months working at a wheelchair service in Southport (right up the north of england on the west coast, near Liverpool and Blackpool). Met some terrific people where I was working, some of the most kind, caring ladies around. Also met a wonderful fella at the staff accommodation where I was living. John and I shared the same wing of the top floor and would often, [by chance or otherwise ;-) ], end up eating our evening meal together. we've been together 6 months now :)

Whilst working in Southport I managed to get away for a long weekend in the Lakes District. A lovely couple from where I was working, Sue and Ken, head up there every weekend and they kindly offered to leave work early friday afternoon and drive me up there. They dropped me off at one end of Lake Windermere (one of the larger of the scenic lakes in the area) and saw me off on a steam boat headed 1 hour up the lake to the other end. It was just as the sun was setting and was ever so peaceful. John joined me up there the next day and we spent the day checking out the lakes and spent the evenings in the pubs in the quaint town of Ambleside where our B&B was.

Next it was Venice. I'd planned the trip for a couple of weeks and all was booked when I learnt that my post was to finish three days after I would return. I wasn't too phased as I was lucky to get 3 months there (some posts are as short as two weeks). It was to be John's first time on the continent. Unfortunately the day before we were due to fly out we learnt that our flights had been cancelled due to strikes at the airport in Venice. We didn't know quite what to do and we had no luck trying to get in contact with our airline. so we decided we'd just get the taxi to the airport as planned and see what we could figure out from there. When we arrived we were informed that our options were limited - we could have a refund, we could reschedule for monday (not actually possible as we only had so much leave from work), or we could fly to someplace else in Italy. A flight to Rome was leaving in five minutes ... and we were on it. we then had the joy of finding our own way from Rome to Venice. It was a lot of fun and we felt well proud of ourselves when we found ourselves in venice 8 hours later!

Venice was wonderful. We did all the tourist things (I won't bore you all with the details as the pics kind of speak for themselves).

On returning from Venice I finished out my last few days at my post in Southport. It was sad to say goodbye.

2 days later I was on a train to Scotland for a week with Heather. We spent a couple of days in Edinburgh, visiting Edinburgh castle, wandering the old town, shopping in the christmas markets, and planning our next move. we decided Edinburgh didn't really offer enough to keep us busy for the whole week as we were both keen to see as much as possible. we decided to join a tour group that travels up through scotland and onto the Isle of Skye. We ended up with a lovely group of 8 other people and an excellent tour guide. because it was low season from the moment we left the city on the morning of the first day, to the moment we arrived back on the third day we would have seen not more than 30 people. The isle of skye was so quiet and sooo peaceful. We were all really really sad that we had to come back to reality at the end of it all.

After a quiet christmas in london with Heather and her boss' family I spent 3 weeks going a little stir crazy in southport awaiting a phone call regarding a new post. finally i got a job in Gillingham, Kent (south east of london). It was meant to be for 2 months but was stretched to three. unfortunately they couldn't afford to keep me any longer and i finished up there last week. But not before heading to Ireland for a long weekend with john. We had a hotel right in the centre of Dublin. John borrowed his dad's car on one of the days and he gave me a bit of a tour. most notably he took me down to glendaloch - which was beautiful (but also freezing cold). we also met up with a couple of John's mates for a night on the town, and I had the pleasure of meeting John's family.

Although we had had plans to hit dublin again over st patrick's day i just could not face being cold any longer. so a week somewhere warm was inevitable. at short notice and with limited budget we hit Tunisia. originally just planning to soak up the rays, we were won over by the opportunity to visit one of the starwars sets and so booked ourselves on a two day bus tour right through tunisia and down to Douz, the gateway of the Sahara, where we got to ride camels right out into the desert and watch the sun set over the dunes. As you will see in the pics (when i post them up) we all got dressed up like prat tourists (in a good way though), something i mostly only partook in cause it was a good laugh and we had been warned it can be quite cold out there after the suns down and i figured this would be an extra layer. The tour was fabulous, we had brilliant, warm weather both days, and got a glimpse into real life of tunisians as we drove through town and country side on the coach. we also got to visit a troglodyte dwelling place, a traditional market place, a couple of oases. for some of the trip we alighted from the bus and all piled into 20 or so landcruisers so we could explore rougher, steeper terrain. in these we visited a large waterfall in the middle of the dessert where a Tunisian man tried to sell us 'lovely jubbly' 'viagra dates'. :)
All in all it was a brilliant tour. we spent the last three days of our trip visiting the markets and lazing by the pool soaking up rays (until it got too cold) and enjoying wait service at our deck chairs.
I managed to get a weeny bit of a tan which has already pretty much all disappeared :(

Friday, 19 August 2005

Location: Malta

Today I took a harbour cruise to the Blue Lagoon. The cruise itself was unremakable but we stopped for four hours at the Blue Lagoon, which was amazing. The water such a brilliant blue colour. I hired a deckchair and unbrella (for the outragious price of LM2 - which translates as 8 aussie dollars!) and lazed in the sunshine, swum in the lagoon, ate lunch on deck, and lazed and swum some more.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Location: Malta

Today was good. woke up not feeling 100% so didn't get started til late morning. First thing, I organised my day tours for Thursday and Friday. Then headed back to Valetta. Although I was there yesterday it was a public holiday and everything was closed.

Today I saw the inside of the Grandmasters Palace and St John's Co-Cathedral. The former was interesting enough, although only one room really struck a chord with me. This one had some really intricate wonderful tapestries around all four walls. (funny that - I just looked it up - turns out this room is called the Tapestry Room).

St John's Co-Cathedral was incredible. You wouldn't know it was anything special from the outside tho - the exterior facade is bleak to say the least. The inside, however, is breathtaking. As you walk inside, the rigid plain lines of the exterior change into a dazzling blaze of color and decoration. Arabesque carvings cover every inch of the walls. Multicoloured marble memorial slabs cover the floor from end to end. Just amazing!

By the time I emmerged it was 3:30pm. I wanted to make it to Hagar Qim but was told at the tourist information office that it closed at 4:30pm. thought I would take my chances even tho it was all the way on the other side of the island. Figured it would be an interesting bus ride anyhow. Luckily I arrived at 4:25pm. Just made it!
As I was wandering around the man from the gate came and started giving me a personal commentary (apparently cos I had beautiful eyes). Next thing, he's lifted the rope barrier and is gesturing for me to follow him into the restricted / no tourist section. He had me touching various stones and making wishes while breathing deaply - I didn't quite know how to take this but I went along with it {cautiously}. Im glad too cos I got to see some cool stuff most tourists don't get to see (and have my photo taken whilst hugging a great big stone phallic symbol. It seems this whole place was all about fertility worship).

Hagar Qim is dated at around 2800AD
:) I have now hugged a 5000 year old stone phallus!

Sunday, 14 August 2005

Location: sleima, Malta

I finally got a job but it doesn't start for a couple of weeks yet - so I decided to go travel a bit more. (I couldn't really impose on Heather for that much longer, despite her having a heart of gold).
So yesterday I bought my ticket and booked my accommodation and today I am here - in sunny Malta!
It's wonderful, such a glorious change from the hustle and bustle of London. I walked down to the waters edge this evening and it was so so calm.

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Recent Messages

From Sarah
So Birmingham hey! Hope it all works out, pity it's not a bit closer to us down near London. I'll see if I can get there for a visit sometime in the near future.
Response: Hey Sar!
a visit would be great. I look forward to catching up with you.
From Jacqui
Hey janie, hotmail not working in asia at the moment plus have been out of internet range for a few days so that is why you haven't heard from me. Im still on for greece tho.. just incase you ever doubted it!
Response: Isn't it horrible when your lines of communication break down. I've only found one internet cafe in my local area thus far and its kind of creepy so i've vowed not to go back to that one.
Great to hear you're still up for greece, tho!
From Nan
I'm glad to hear from you, and pleased to hear you're enjoying yourself so much. We all miss you here, and it's always nice to hear from you. We love you and take care, - looking forward to seeing you back home when you come. Lots of love, - Nan
Response: Hiya Nan
Thanks for the message. Am missing you heaps. Don't work too hard!
Love J
From Dawn Frakes-Wignall
Sweetheart, so Glad you have job, hope you are happy in itand you will be able to afford many more travels. Have you decided what comes next? David saw it all with me today, and was equally impressed. Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventures. Loads of love, Gran and David XXXX
Response: Hi Gran! Hi David!
Glad you're enjoying the website. I will endeavour to keep it up to date. Love you both heaps
From Dawn Frakes-Wignall
Thrilled with your Diary, and your descriptions and the photos are brilliant. Feel as if I am with You. What a wonderful adventure you are having, and good luck with the new job. Liked the photo of John in the train, but would like to see a clearer one. I am feeling much better as time goes on. Love you Janie and go on enjoying while you have the chance, Gran. XXXXX
Response: Thanks Gran,
I'll try to put a clearer pick of John up as soon as i get a chance. Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better.
love J
From ben r
hey j, nice site
some of your photos were great...not exactly up to date tho', is it? you gotta put some more up!
keep on having fun :)
From Sarah
It's a great idea this, glad you decided to join the fun.
Response: Hiya sarah
it is a really awesome site!
how you enjoying being home? I am soooo envious - although it is just now starting to warm up a little bit over here.
From Erin
Hi Janie,

Great photos!! Lovely to see such breathtaking spots!! It obviously seems like you are having a fantastic time.

Luv Erin.
Response: Hiya Erin
thanks for the message. I am truly having a great time over here. It's just so nice having europe on my doorstep. Any plans of hitting europe yourself?
From Jacqui
Hi Janie, Im glad that you too have joined the planetranger craze! Your photos are fantastic, and it's great to hear about all of your adventures! Keep it up!
love Jac
Response: hi Jac!
I've been enjoying your site so much I just couldn't resist doing the same. Glad to hear you're having a great time in Asia. Look forward to catching up when you arrive in the UK.
Take care
From Mum & Dad
This is great, darling. We're looking forward to getting further diary notes and photos.
Were there kangaroos in Scotland?
Was Loch Scotland called that because it looked like the shape of Scotland?
Your idiot parents would love more captions.
Love you, - mum and dad :)
Response: hi mum! hi dad!

thanks for the message. I will add more captions soon. it's kind of still a work in progress but you have been nagging me for pictures for so long i thought i'd 'go live' before it was all up-to-date.

as for the sign, I didn't actually see any kangaroos but they might have been hiding ;)

love you both heaps