A Travellerspoint blog

Job hunting in the UK

We arrived in London just in time to see the All Blacks thump France. We spent the first couple of days reseaching jobs and applying... then we had a couple of interviews at some classic English country pubs. Phew such hard work it was, that when a friend invited us to spend a week in Wales we jumped at the chance. So after seeing the nail biting South Africa game we headed out of London and over towards Wales with Liam and Margot. Day one had us visit Bath on the way to Cardiff. Bath was a cool city, and we did the classic tourist thing by visiting the baths in Bath!
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Saw some cool buildings and got a german sausage (when in Bath right!?)
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Cardiff (unlike London) was a city very much into the world cup. Even though we visited on a rainy Tuesday, we could see evidence of support throughout the city...
Some art outside the stadium which represented each country... we couldn't read any, obviously not enough street cred... but we tried.
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Flags hung around the city and of course the massive rugby ball that they threw into the wall of the Cardiff Castle:
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We had a quick walk around the city exploring a park, cardiff castle and then ducking into a childrens museum when the rain started.
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We decided we would drive to the coast and have a look for a place to stay out that way. We headed for the Pembrokshire area and found a lovely rugged coast.
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We forgot about it being school holidays and turns out this is a pretty popular place so we drove through a few towns before settling in one called Tenby. We found Tenby to be a lovely town and a very pretty part of the coast. Here we looked at the beach and saw a fort which was only accessible at low tide, so when the tide had dropped enough we went out and had a look around. Margot put on a helmet and did her best to look military... and the boys found a hole in the rock.
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We also noticed that these strange Welsh didn't bother to move thier boats when the tide went out... in fact the entire (what we thought was a) marina had no water for a good chunk of the day. I guess they go out and come back really quickly or for 6 hours at a time... bit odd we thought, especially the yachts which were left standing with their keels wedged into the sand.
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We carried on up the coast from Tenby to a place called Stackpole Quay. Here we found "the best beach in Wales" or so it was signposted! We wandered through someones farm (which is apparently ok over here) to get to the beach and decided to show our sipport for the All Blacks in the upcoming RWC Final vs Auz.
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We then carried on up to a place called Aberystwyth where Liam and Margot had a friend working on a ram stud. From here we moved on out to Anglesey Island where we walked around the coast some more. Wales has a lovely coast which you can (if you want) walk the whole way around, its pretty far but we enjoyed the snippets we saw.
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This was the day we accepted jobs at the Swan Inn in Swinbrook. We had a few (perhaps too many) wines to celebrate, and the following day was spent returning to London.
We celebrated again on Saturday with the All Blacks winning the rugby world cup! A fantastic game and ever so sweet as always when we beat Australia! We have spent the last couple of days recovering and are now settling in to our new home (The Swan Inn). We hope to stay here for the winter and from there we will see what happens.
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As I write this Tim is downstairs practicing his barmaid skills and as of tomorrow I begin my waitress training! Who would've thought. Swinbrook is a tiny town not far from Oxford.. there are about 100 residents in the town and the pub, a church and a cricket ground (priorities). So far we are enjoying the quietness of the country and the beauty of our surroundings. Our pub/home is idyllic and was built in the 16th century!! Amazing.

Posted by stomich 06:49 Comments (0)

Kuterevo Bear Refuge

For the past 10 days we have been volunteering at the Kuterevo Bear Refuge.

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Kuterevo is a small village in the mountains of Croatia.

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In 2002 the bear Refuge was founded by the local people as a solution to a problem. Some bear cubs had been abandoned or lost by their mothers and people had helped them to survive by feeding them and providing shelter. This is a problem, as now the 'wild' bears are comfortable with human interaction and they are growing pretty big. It was unsafe for the villagers to allow the bears to continue to roam free. The option was to kill the bears. The people of Kuterevo decided to build an enclosure and save the bears from execution. In the mean time the bears lived in an abandoned house while the community and volunteers built an enclosure.

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This was the beginning of the Refuge which has since grown to now housing nine bears which have all been abandoned and fed by humans or have come from zoos.
The Refuge is a place for housing bears who have lost the option to live naturally in the wild and a place to educate people about bears. Here bears are not bred, as the belief is that they belong in the wild. The Refuge is completely run by volunteers.

We arrived the village and were warmly welcomed by the locals and other volunteers. During our stay we had a variety of tasks. We prepared for winter by tidying things away, we fed the bears (watermelon, corn, bread, plums, berries and nuts), we collected nuts for bears, painted signs, Tim fixed the dogs kennel (who still slept at the door), we dug a trench (between the rain) and in general just helped where we were needed. The bears were preparing for winter which meant they ate A LOT! ! Roughly each bear was eating about 10kgs of food per day. During the winter they will just sleep. Throughout this time they will not eat, drink, pee or poo!! So bizarre.

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We spent some time with the locals... our Croatian is poor but we got by! They were very excited that I have a Croatian last name and I was often a talking point for them! I purchased some locally made shoes from a very entertaining old lady in the village. She knits the sock then covers it in fabric then sews rubber onto the sole, making a comfortable, warm and durable winter shoe/slipper. When we arrived in her house the first thing she did was pour us all shots of rakija, which is a homemade alcohol from various fruits (hers came from a sprite bottle). We dined at the local pub and drank more rakija (bloody awful stuff in my opinion). We were also invited to the neighbours for their annual brewing of rakija. Their fermented fruit was ready and they were cooking the rakija! It was a nice afternoon with food, beers and plenty of rakija. Their fruit this year made about 100 litres. This was a good year for fruit as they were nice and sweet. Each year is different.

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During the war this particular neighbour had a few more trees and he produced over 1000 litres! He drunk it in three years! During the winter everyone has a shot of rakija in the mornings. Yikes!!! We had a wobbly walk home but our systems had a good clense!

We had a lot of fun in Kuterevo and very much enjoyed small town Croatia and learning about bears! Today we are heading back to London to search for work for the winter!

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Posted by stomich 01:28 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Croatia

Arrived in Split and stepped into some lovely heat!! Needless to say we were totally overdressed and now in need of the ocean and a washing machine. Our entire plane fit into a bus and we headed into town. We went straight to the ferry and boarded to head out to the island of Vis.
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The water (as we have already experienced in the Mediterranean) was beautifully blue and stunningly clear. We got off the ferry to a lovely lady holding a sign with my name on it (I've always wanted that to happen). Found our lovely wee apartment and went to explore. We meandered around Vis town and found it to be quite a cute place... not too touristy (yet), loads of locals sitting and staring at us.
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We found a lovely place to eat another monstrous meal, where the waiter laughed at our attempts to speak Croatian (I still don't know how to pronounce the words when there are just so few vowels in the language!!) Anyway, the following day was the same and we explored the wider Vis town by foot. Found a lovely beach and had a dip (fresh). We visited the graveyard and found some Tomič gravestones. Obiteli means family.
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History lesson: My great grandfather left Vis in the late 1800s and travelled to Australia then on to New Zealand where the family has been ever since. We think the Tomič was probably changed to Tomich for pronunciation ease.
We have absolutely no idea if any of these gravestones were relations of mine or not... but probably. The lady at the accommodation asked immediately if my family had come from Vis as she knew Tomichs in the area. We are very famous apparently two of them are currently doctors and are quite well known in Vis (not much to live up to). We also think we may have walked up the street they lived on... well we think this was it?
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We had an enjoyable day exploring and decided that things must have changed a lot since the 1800s because it was not a place we wanted to leave!
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We were then met by a huge thunderstorm and had an inside day. The following day we braved it and rented a scooter.
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Needless to say we got soaked.. but all part of the adventure right?? That's what Tim said as we came to a stop going up a particularly steep hill and I had to get off and walk the rest of the way (all part of the adventure right?)
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I wasn't so sure!
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Anyway when the rain stopped we dried out enough to want to carry on and we made it around the island in the afternoon. Quite a lovely place with a lot of little wine groves, tiny old towns and beautiful beaches.
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Of course the day we were to leave was stunning. We took advantage and found another very pretty beach and had a swim.
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We left Vis and returned to Split where we stayed for two nights in.... wait for it.... a tent! Yes, we paid someone to sleep in a tent on their balcony... you might think 'that sounds cool' but I haven't finished... the 2 man tent didn't really fit on the balcony and was crammed on there with a single bed in it!! I had to laugh. Tim "all part of the adventure right". Right. Anyway Split was nice, we got lost wandering around a park, went into the old town and up the bell tower (very cool) and generally just wandered around.
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We moved on up to another seaside town called Šibenik (said shib-in-ick). This was a lovely town.. the old town was awesome and we enjoyed walking through the small alleys and up and down stairs.
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We went out to Krka National Park, which had a pretty cool waterfall, and where loads of tourists flock every summer for swimming. It was bloody cold and we weren't feeling like a swim so we passed on the water that day.
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Our last day in Šibenik was spent on a 20km walk out to a fortress and back. It was the highlight of Šibenik! We found a place very un-touristy and beautiful. Along the track we came across some amazing views and some very neat stuff.
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I saw a snake! Yikes. We also found an old ocean tunnel which went through a headland and they called it Hitlers eyes. I guess because it looked like eyes in the cliff? Anyway it was built by the Yugoslavian army to hide boats in. Pretty spooky to walk through.
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In the same place we came across a very old church which was built in a cave in 1451. It survived the ages and through time has had many hermits occupying it. Sadly it was damaged by the army when they used it as a hideout during the war. We could still see how it worked but I bet it was pretty cool before it was damaged!
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We also came across some abandoned military buildings and had fun guessing what they were used for.
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We finally got to the fort and found that it was well worth the 10km walk! The fortress is built on an island and literally takes up every inch of the island.
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St Nicholas fortress was biult in the 16th century. It was abandoned by the military in 1979 and has been sitting there since. We found it quite overgrown but otherwise in very good shape. We had immense fun exploring the rooms in the fort and deciding what they were used for. We think we found the prison and there were many little sniper holes. Tim was like a little boy.. pretending to shoot imaginary cannons and rifles. Quote from Tim: "I think this is the coolest place I have ever been". There were tunnels and bunkers underground. The great thing was that nothing had been glamour field or touched at all. I admit even I had a load of fun here.
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The 10km walk back was... long. But the day was great and we slept extremely well!

We then got a bus up to Zadar. A place that could definitely be missed. It was nice, but it was quite ordinary really. Nothing very grabbing. We had a bit of chill time here. The most exciting thing was when we got caught in a thunderstorm walking to the bus station.. with our packs on!

We are now in Senj (it's hard but you are not meant to pronounce the j) this is another cool place, with interesting history. Unfortunately I chose about the furthest place possible from the bus station to stay.. and up a giant hill. But anyway, they have another fort here on top of a hill. This is the reason the town wasn't attacked and while lying in the middle of the Ottoman and the Venetian Empires. It remained here for over 100 years during war before Turks took over.
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On Tuesday we are going bush for 10 days and volunteering at a bear rescue sanctuary. We don't know much about it but I'm sure the next blog post will be very informative!!
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Posted by stomich 10:43 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Under the Tuscan Sun


View The Great OE on travellinghoney's travel map.

Paris

Travelling at speeds of 300kph, along with the fact that Tim loves trains and we go under the sea through the chunnel was awesome!! Sadly, the comfort of the Eurostar was not to last when Paul (Stacey's Dad) had read to us the information on the hotel he had booked for us. Not to worry we said, as we took a photo of him in complete regret and doubt.
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Oh well... we now know that Paris is very expensive for very little...

We navigated the metro and found the Lourve, where we had an awesome time looking at sculptures and paintings. After a quick lunch we were heading back in to check out more of the impressive selection until I realised that I had dropped my ticket....
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From the Lourve on to Note Dame and the bridge with all the padlocks. Some people call it romantic, I call it destruction of public property.
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Then off to the Arc de Triomphe, the victory gates of Paris, in the middle of a huge roundabout.
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This historic monument also lays to rest the unknown soldier, who has an eternal flame and a daily celebration.
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Finally, we watched the sun go to bed at the Eifel tower, and went up for a look too.
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The next day was spent shopping and eating, what else to do when in Paris?

Tuscany

On the 13th we took a quick flight over to Tuscan capital of Florence (via Pisa to save some Euro).

Florence is awesome.
Truly awesome.
Da vinca, Michallenglo, Gelato...

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After a day or two we hired a car (still with Stacey's Parents) and drove about 1hr (40km) south to wine country.
And wine we did...
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6 days in Tuscany looking at villages 1300 years old and drinking €3 bottles of delicious red worked quite well.
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And the best part, it was about 99% Italian speaking only and we felt like the only tourists a lot of the time, especially at our house, which when we couldn't find it and asked the locals we got about 5 of them shouting A Rosa! A Rosa! Meaning pink house pointing down the hill. Very entertaining. We had no idea but after 5 minutes of smiling and listening, we figured it out and off we went...
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After our time in Tuscany, we took the 250km to Roma! That took 6 hours because the roads are slow... however the scenery beautiful.

At Roma we said goodbye to Sue and Paul, and we jumped on a plane to Croatia! Vis here we come...

Posted by travellinghoney 07:00 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Sunny England ;)

A short flight took us from Greece to England where the fabulous Sue Larmer picked us up from Luton airport! Thanks Sue!!
I realise that we have been living in the tropics of Greek Islands for four months... but I was NOT prepared for the bitter cold of England. The temperature was a chilly .
Being our first hours in England, Sue decided to take us the scenic route up to Fulready (slightly unintentionally but we enjoyed it!) The English countryside was lush and beautiful (probably due to copious amounts of rain) and the buildings were awesomly ancient, making the towns seem very foreign.

We reunited with Sue and Paul that night and had a big old catch up!
They had sorted our accommodation and had clearly forgotten our size!
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After buying some wedding attire (Tim would have happily worn his Hawaiian shirt, trackies and jandals. Lucky he has me looking out for him), we explored the Stratford on Avon region. Such gorgeous towns! !
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Saturday was the day of Alice and Will's wedding. Such a beaut day! We were stoked to share it with them! And we had a chance to catch up with loads of people! Thanks Al+Will! Xx
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The sunday was a quiet one as we were all a bit fragile!

Monday took us to London town. Wooo. The boys returned the car and found a few pubs on the return walk. Claimed they were "lost". So after dinner we hit bed early and prepared for a big day.

We spent Tuesday wandering part of the city.
Saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and went in to explore.
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Wowza, great place... It's got nothing on Kauri Cres Matamata... but it was pretty nice!
We saw parliament, big ben and Westminster abbey before walking through Picadilly for dinner and a show!
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Saw the Lion King- which was pretty great.

The next day (Wed 9th Sept) we wandered some more. Along the river we saw Tower of London (who knew it wasn't a tower??!!), Tower bridge (v. cool), and a wee celebratory boat thing for the Queen becoming the longest reining British Monarch ever. Go Lizzy! After that we just wandered some more.
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We even saw the queen!! :)
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We enjoyed our English week.. especially catching up with family and friends! Looking forward to our return in a few weeks!

Posted by stomich 13:40 Archived in England Comments (0)

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