Flo and Matthew's wedding

The Capetonian, more like the Capesuckian.

So I am back from Cape Town now, I might bore you with the details of the touristy things I did later, but for now you have to make do with my random complainings.

I stopped in a four star hotel called The Capetonian. It was in a nice location and at a nice price too (was about £30 p/n). I think I know why it was so cheep.

The staff were somewhat inept it has to be said. In fact I would go as far as saying that they would struggle to organize a piss-up in a swimming pool full of vodka when everyone is in the pool. And drunk.

When I booked in I asked (and paid) to use the internet in my room. Now to me that implies that I would like to be put in a room that can actually access the wireless. So when I went back to the desk about half an hour later and they said “Oh you want to use the internet? Well you won’t be able to use it from your room, it’s too far away from the access point” I wasn’t impressed. Grrr. Time for a room change.

Then I asked to use the shuttle bus to go to the docks, now it is supposed to run on the hour, so at a quarter to I asked if it is going and they said yes, then I waited. About half an hour later I went and enquired, “Oh, you want the bus? It will be leaving soon”. About fifteen minutes later I decided that the fifteen minute walk was certainly not worth more than a forty minute wait, so I walked.

It’s this sort of blasee attitude to life that makes me love my beloved Blighty so much.

And as for the hotel itself. Hmmm. It seems the South Africans don’t believe in fuses in plugs, or wiring plugs correctly for that matter. Every room I was in had sparks flying….

Then there is the building that was being demolished next door. When I came they put me in the room closest to it, not happy. It then took two days of being woken up at 8am before they would move me, not good when you have been working until 6am for the last week.

And of course there was the bathroom. I suspect that some kind of blind baboon installed it. All the fixings were not fixed to the walls properly and water ran along the bath, around the corner and onto the floor. Then of course into the main part of the room.

So my advice to you, if you are ever looking for a hotel in Cape Town, is don’t choose The Capetonian. Right, time to go vent some of this annoyance on hotel review sites…..

Mugged, well attempted at least.

So I was wondering down to a restaurant in the centre of town to get some nice whisky steak when two guys started to head towards me. They looked like trouble. They walked up to me and started talking at me. I didn’t really understand what they were saying as they were mumbling. Then I twigged that they were trying to mug me! The bastards.

Then one said he had a knife in his pocket and he was kinda moving his hand around a bit in his pocket to make it look big. Clearly not a knife I thought to myself. So I said to him in a rather sarcastic way, “you, have a knife in there?” At which point I turned and legged it (there was no way I was going to let them have my student card – I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night thinking someone was getting my student discount).

Luckily there was a security guard/police man nearby who then gave chase. He called his friend on a bike who pursued them into the sunset.

I knew I shouldn’t be walking around late at night. Ho hum, can’t go to Cape Town and not get mugged I suppose.

Elizabeth’s hen weekend part II….

Ok so i forgot to mention that last night, we visited a bar that served over 300 types of Beer – i was so drunk after my gigantic measures of cognac at dinner, that i couldn’t actually drink any alcohol in there….

I also forgot to mention that last night Spym got accosted by some jail bait! He was such a baby face, 18 (if that!). He had the added attraction [sarc] in that he looked like one half of Bros [cheesy 80’s pop group]….made me chuckle! LOL!

Anyway, this morning after rapidly packing my suitcase [with the hangover headache from hell] – we went and grabbed a bite to eat before visiting the diamond museum. It was quite impressive to see diamonds 500 carrots in size (take note of the pictures Bint!).  We ventured back to the hotel to check train times and bumped into others that were on the hen do that were a little worse for wear, I think they were trying to sleep on the sofas in the hotel lobby!  We met up for lunch with the others in one of the little squares, after which Spym and I went wondering into many chocolate, lace and tapestry shops. The tapestries were beautiful, i only wish we had the type of home that could benefit from hanging tapestries – yes Spym and Al I am very jealous of your home!!!!!

We finally meandered back to the hotel, the others had already driven to the Chunnel by then. Thankfully no dramas on the Eurostar nor the rest of my journey back to MK….in fact i was back home by 8:30pm! Anyway lots of pics will be uploaded to the website and a selection to facebook tomorrow. Brugges was very pretty, I wish I could paint – the scenery was inspiring. I could not believe just how many chocolate shops there were, the smell of chocolate and waffles in the air as you wandered around was intoxicating! It was good to catch up with everyone on the hen do too – Steve and Elizabeth’s wedding is only a few weeks away now….I should really figure out what i am going to wear!

South African Astronomical Observatory

Well I have been back from the S.A.A.O. for a few days (when I say back I mean in Cape Town), so I thought I would let you all know how it went.

Firstly it is beautiful up there, the sunsets are amazing and, as you would expect from an astronomical facility, all the telescopes are cool looking too! Have a look at the pics. I even went to see SuperWasp this time.

I was using the 1.9m with a new polarimeter that Steve Potter is commissioning, this meant that there were plenty of bugs to play with. I got to have lots of fun figuring out why stuff wasn’t working and if the stuff we thought was working really was.

For most of the week I was in charge of the telescope and Steve looked after the instrument. This was cool ‘cos the telescope is operated from a control panel directly underneath it (instead of from the control room like most modern domes). So I got to see the whole thing move as I pressed the prettily lit buttons 🙂

We lost three nights of our seven, two for cloud and one for humidity. It’s so incredibly frustrating losing a night because of humidity, you can see the stars perfectly but you can’t open the dome as water condenses on the telescope 🙁

About half way through the week Steve found a spider in his room. I kinda wish he hadn’t showed it to me, it was big and hairy. So every night from then on when I got in (even if I was really tired) I would shake the bed down, what a girl.

It wasn’t until the trip back to Cape Town that it was pointed out that the nearest doctor was about two hours away, and the nearest hospital three! I think it’s probably best I didn’t know that really, since I am sure that subconsciously I would have made myself walk off a gantry or something.

Elizabeth’s hen weekend part I…

Spym and I were up relatively early and decided to have a walk by the canal after breakfast, there was an antique market on so we stopped and had a look. I bought a gorgeous painting of the Beguine Convent. By this point, Elizabeth and the others had all arrived at the hotel, Freeman had gone off to book our brewery tour for later that evening.

We went out for lunch in a small square and everyone introduced themselves. After lunch the others checked into the hotel and everyone roamed about doing their own thing prior to meeting up before the brewery tour. I decided to visit the St John’s Hospital. The hospital has been recorded in documents dating back to the 12th C. and was actually used right up until the 1970’s! It was originally run by nuns and priests. There was a really good audioguide that took me through the history of the hospital, including explanations of hospital art and surgeons tools :o. Inside the hospital chapel were six works by Memling. The hospital itself is a sprawling complex with multiple wings added throughout its history. After much ineptness on my part in not being able to open an unlocked door, i eventually made it into the old apothecary. All i can say is it smelt bad! It still has all the containers and even some of the dried herbs and animal pieces (!) used in medicine. There were also some huge mortar and pestles!

Later i met up with everyone else, and we did a guided tour of the Half Moon Brewery. I got some very amusing shots of everyone’s arse as they climbed down the steep staircases. Also managed to get a shot of Freeman trying to steal a barrel! We ended the tour with a nice chilled half of beer from the brewery before all heading back to freshen up before dinner.

Someone had the sense to book our table in advance (well done!). Prior to making it to the restaurant, the cash machine ate Philipa’s card – i hope she got it back! The restaurant was lovely with very tasty food. As the beer the night before had made me a little ill, i stuck to cognac – OMG i love continental measures…. Each “single” for 4-5 euros was the equivalent of 4 shots in the UK!!!! We moved to two other bars throughout the course of the night and ended up getting drunk in a small bar near the funfair. Elizabeth’s friend Natasha ending up dancing on the bar (!) and we stayed out till 4am! Lets just say i wasn’t feeling too good the next morning…

The start of my long weekend away from MK….Part 2

So Spym and i got up at 4:45am in order to get to St Pancras for our 6:30am check in…. after so little sleep this was not good! We made it on time though, only to find that Eurostar had double booked almost every seat in our coach 🙁 not a good start!

In the end the train manager found us some other seats – after my travel sickness tabs i was knocked out for the whole journey….we changed trains in Brussels and headed on out to Brugges.

It was lovely and sunny when we arrived in Brugges, and just a short 15 min walk around the picturesque canal, small streets and around the Beguine convent till we got to our hotel. After checking in, Spym and I went on a hunt for food, and found a lovely little deli bar we visited more than once on our trip!

First tourist attraction was the Brelfort (bealfry) in the Market Square, which was built in across 13th-15th centuries. At one point it also housed important city documents and the treasury. It was 366 steps up a winding staircase to the top [which wasn’t as claustrophobic as Prague cathedral]. We stopped off in the gears room at 2pm just when all the bells started – i took some cool videos of all the massive cogs rotating and turning to make the bells ring and the time to change. We climbed up to the top and looked across the whole city. Its a strange view with modern housing spotted with random pockets of Gothic and (later) architecture.

We moved onto The Burg, a market square east of the main one, and full of beautiful decorative buildings. We first went to the Basilica of the Holy Blood and went to the shrine of a crusader that supposedly brought back a vial of Christ’s blood during the 2nd crusade. The vial was even on show, you could touch it if you donated some money. The inside of the upper chapel was stunning with brightly painted walls and ceiling and unusual stain glass windows.

Next on our list was the 14th c. Townhall, which we toured with a very good audioguide. It was fascinating, covering the history of the town, key residents and the building. The most amazing sight was the vaulted ceiling inside the Townhall….photography was prohibited, but i took some sneaky shots on my cameraphone. The ceiling was full of gold hanging arches, something i have never seen before! Pics will be posted in the photos section. Finally we popped next door and had a look in the 16th c. Renaissance hall, it was used as a treasury and a place for law officials to meet to discuss cases.

Spym and I ended the day with a leisurly 3h long dinner, sampling traditional cuisine and beer 😛 which sent us to sleep quite nicely!

The start of my long weekend away from MK….

So I’ve had a couple of busy days! I began my “weekend” at about 2pm on Thursday – we had our office party to celebrate funding brought into the department. The party was at The Plough, with free booze and not having drunk alcohol for 12 weeks, this was a dangerous combination for me. I decided to brave the red wine as i seemed to be OK with rasins (oh how i regretted it the next day! red wine = nono). I left MK and headed for Spym and Als office in Highgate and was met by a frantic Spym and Al and a very tall Jean! Spym and Al went off to Charlee’s bday dinner whilst i made a frantic phone call to Aaron to let him know of my change of plans. In the end I met with Adam and Aaron for tapas, it was gone 1am by the time we all crawled back to Spym’s. Then it was gone 2am by the time we all went to sleep.

Irresponsible neighbours – Part 2.

So after the trauma of the last “incident” where we suspected an EDS air con Ltd van ran into our garage, damaging the door and the uPVC facias (less than 7 months old!)….Olly spoke to the residesnts that own the van. They told us that the driver was no longer with them and the van would not be parked there any more. What a load of bollox! Guess what i saw parked in front of our garage less than 1 minute ago….yes the exact same van, parked in its usual spot , in front of my now damaged garage.

Luckily for me, the resident that owns the van was out in the road, happily twittering with other neighbours in front of her house, were there is a pick up truck and two other cars parked. I told her in front of everyone that the van had to be removed from in front of my garage, as last time the driver caused a lot of damage (which surprise surprise – they won’t claim on their business insurance if they have any!). I also informed her that it was residents parking four our courtyard, and that the freeholder was putting up signs shortly. I have now been pro-active and found a sign making company to produce the parking signs. I have also chatted to other residents in the courtyard who are happy for signs to go up on their property, providing we consult them as to the exact locations. I swear to god, as soon as those signs go up, if that van parks there i am going to phone the police and council straight away!

People complain about having problems with travellers/gypsies parking on their land – we just have a chavy irritating resident outside of the courtyard, using the courtyard parking spaces, damaging our garages and damaging the tarmac courtyard residents will need to pay to replace! I really have to wonder why people are so selfish. I am contemplating parking my car in the annoying neighbours driveway – in front of their garage….perhaps that will make my point clearer?