Archive for the ‘England’ Category

Llandudno Sign.jpgI stuck around with my sister long enough to enjoy her birthday, but needed to push once again so that my trip could truthfully claim to be one that went all the way around the world.

Growing up this illuminated sign on the road into Llandudno always told me there were just a few more corners left before I would be home. It might not be as famous as the sign for Hollywood, but it was a real delight to see it shining like a beacon in the night as I got close again.

How could you not be thrilled to be home when you get to enjoy views like these every day after arriving?

P1060103Getting home I had a great time with my family and wasted hours chasing Hugo, who you see here, around the house.

I was in a celebratory mood for completing my circuit and making it home largely in one piece, despite all the challenges and dangers I had experienced. It only felt right that I took everybody out to dinner as a consequence, and we enjoyed a fantastic evening.

I did it. Wooo-Hooo!

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IKBrunelChainsI had a great time in London but didn’t want to stick around there for too long. This was mostly because I wanted to catch up with my family, whom I haven’t seen in the flesh for over a year. Skype is great, but technology can’t replace a loving hug just yet.

First it was necessary to collect my surfboard from left luggage at Paddington station and then take a First Great Western train ride west towards Gloucester.

The guard on the train did his best to ruin my day by demanding a ticket for my surfboard, so it would seem that airlines are not the only transport option that seek to fleece surfers. I am sure that Isombard Kingdom Brunel would be horrified to hear that the railway he built was unable to cope with an additional 10kg.

SarahHowever prolonged verbal sparring and a refusal to remove the surfboard once it was on the train saw me eventually side step this fee, although this was probably because I was placing the train’s punctuality at risk.

I was still in too good a mood to let this get to me but am already wondering how much petty nonsense I will take before reverting to the regular pre trip sense of humour failures.

After an hour on the train enjoying the British countryside passing by outside the window I was soon in Gloucester getting the hug I wanted from my sister.

Souvenirs 3Not only has my sister been monitoring my mail and helping me sort out any administrative issues while I have been away, she has also kindly accepted all the parcels I have sent home.

I was a bit surprised myself when I saw how large the pile of boxes was that were filled with my souvenirs from all points around the planet.

International Coat 3I was also reunited with my globe trotting coat, which I had not seen since Auckland in New Zealand some six months previously.

It was a welcome sight because I have arrived in the middle of the British winter and a warm coat is certainly needed at this time of year.

The bag full of board shorts and vests that I was carrying from Asia and Africa would not be much help in this regard.

You can see that Sarah’s dog Scooby was keen to get involved in the unwrapping of boxes and help me unpack my bags on the chance of a snack or two being uncovered during the process. His patient-ish wait did not reap the rewards he was clearly looking for.

Trusty Chariot 4I was also reunited with my trusty surf wagon once in Gloucester. Sarah has been taking it for a spin every once in a while for me, and also made sure all the necessary paperwork was maintained, so I’m hoping it won’t be too jealous about all the other vehicles I have been taking to the beach while I have been away.

For the first time in over a year I will not be carrying my whole world on my back. My vertebrae cannot thank it enough!

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teethI paid a visit to my old stomping ground to catch up with loads of friends. Worryingly this also allowed a visit to my dentist, who upon arrival I discover I have not seen for eighteen months.

It is rarely a pleasant experience, but I was relieved to be given a clean bill of health. It would appear that the questionable diet I have been getting by on for much of the last year has not had a detrimental effect. My cheesy grin is safe for now!

WP_20131202_005Honor Oak Mansions that you see here was my home for twelve years prior to beaches worldwide. I had a great evening with all my former neighbours and an old school friend.

There has been a mini exodus from the block since I left, but I discovered that nothing has really changed while I have been away. It did feel a bit weird though not going back there at the end of the evening in East Dulwich, and knowing that somebody else was living in the flat that was my home for so long.

Back To WorkWhilst in London I also caught up with some of my family and a group of my surfing buddies who were keen to hear about my exploits at breaks around the world.

Being the United Kingdom all the above entailed drinking plenty of alcohol, and I am not sure what my liver has done over the last year to deserve such punishment.

Even an unexpected but welcome opportunity to join an employment networking event ended up in the pub and it soon felt like I had never been away. Although getting clean shaven and wearing a suit for the first time since the British Ball in Guatemala was a bit of a shock to the system. I had grown quite fond of my hairy face and was sorry to see it go.

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thamespathI have had a lovely weekend in the Twickenham area of London, despite watching another agonisingly close loss to Australia by the Welsh rugby team. Twickenham is actually home of England rugby so I am trying hard not to upset the locals who probably don’t realise that they have the enemy within their midst.

It all feels very normal and I am trying to get my head around being back in the UK. Travails in the tropics feel like they might just have been a dream as Richard, Hannah and I take their dog Buddy for a delightful walk along the banks of the River Thames.

the-white-swanThe difference in temperature between here and wherever I have been for most of the last year is taking a bit of getting used to.

However forty years experience of the british weather means it wont take long, and a stop for a few drinks at the White Swan at the end of our stroll warms me up as quick as you might expect.

bitterIt is as quintessentially an English a pub as one might hope to find.

It has been far too long since I enjoyed a few decent pints of bitter chatting with friends.

Now this really feels like a welcome home!

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British AirwaysI was flying back to the UK with British Airways who actually have a really bad reputation for dealing with surfers. In particular they regularly refuse to take surfboards on their passenger flights, so I was a tad nervous that I might end up losing another board on the way home.

However to give credit where it is due I was pleased that they loaded my board without issues and more importantly without any charges. I had a great seat for the flight back with loads of room too, and was looked after by a stewardess call Holly who had spotted my surfboard being loaded and wondered how anybody could have been surfing in Cairo.

London Taxis Lined Up On SidewalkBeing able to join the tiny residents queue at immigration for the first time in a year was a delight too, but things went downhill from there. Straight away I had to put a jumper on for the first time six months.

Then after clearing customs and collecting my baggage I spent an hour freezing in a cab rank waiting for a taxi big enough to carry my board, only to hear words I have not missed in my year away when one finally arrived. “I ain’t ga-ing dan there!” London cabbies don’t change and I can’t say I have missed them that much!

Left LuggageI am in too good a mood to let it bring me down though, but have to form a plan B, which entails going into the city on the Heathrow Express and leaving my bag at Left Luggage in Paddington station.

I know from past experience that carrying a surfboard anywhere on public transport in central London is a nightmare and I can easily collect from there on my way out of town later in the week, so it will save me a lot of grief.

Roast-chickenHowever the price of leaving the board there is as extortionate as I remember everything being before I left on my travels, so I console myself with my first Cornish pasty in over a year.

Ditching the board means getting out to my friends Richard and Hannah in south west London is a much easier prospect though, and it doesn’t take me long to get there.

It is great to be back and I was cooked a fantastic roast chicken dinner later in the evening to remind me of why it is so good to be home. (You can’t get proper gravy anywhere else in the world!) There may also have been a drink or two involved!

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happy-birthday

Happy birthday to my buddy Neil.

This blog would not be happening without his assistance, and he is also the only one to fly out and join me this year, so I hope you are having a great day fella.

Will be raising a glass to you from here.

Best wishes

Rob

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Get Well Soon Dad

Sending lots of love to my father who has had to undergo a horrific operation today.

I hope there are no more complications for you, and that you are feeling a bit better soon.

Lots of love

Robert

xxx

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DadA quick note to send lots of love to my father who has been in the wars once more.

He really hasn’t had any luck lately so I hope he is feeling better soon.

XXX

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Fiji WeddingI post this some what late but hope that Adam passed on this message for me on your big day.

Dear Allan and Lucy

I am really sorry I can’t be there to enjoy your special day with you both, but as you know I am currently chasing waves on the other side of the world at the moment. I write this from Fiji and hope some of the sun shining here joins you for your wedding day.

It really seems like yesterday that Allan came home to my flat in East Dulwich after a night at the Phoenix and Firkin in Denmark Hill station and couldn’t wait to tell me about the girl he had met that evening. However that was twelve years ago and so much has moved on since that time. It isn’t even called the Phoenix any more!

Really wishing you both a fantastic day and all the happiness in the world for the rest of your lives together with your beautiful family. I will look forward to catching up with you all when I get back.

Much love.

Rob

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Love SurfingI love it!

As you can tell from this shot taken at Turners Beach in Yamba

On a separate vein I have been reading about this bloke who surfs while playing his ukulele. I’m not sure I am personally ready to combine the two just yet!

 

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